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Showing posts from February, 2013

UnPub Mini Highlight: Duck Blind by Tom Gurganus and Hunting Dice by Zachary Gurganus

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  (This week I'm highlighting games to be presented at Atomic Empire Unpub Mini on March 2, 2013 . Unpub helps game designers get their unpublished games in front of players. Unpub makes good games great. We have seven designers presenting on Saturday, so bring lots of gamers!) Game design is a family affair in the Gurganus household! We'll have a new game by Tom Gurganus and a dice game from his son Zachary! Duck Blind Designer: Tom Gurganus Contact: tomgurg@gmail.com Players: 4 Time: 30-45 minutes Ages: 8+ Duck Blind is a card based auction game in which players are hunters collecting ducks. Ducks and sets of ducks earn VP, give players actions, and mess with other players. Hunting Dice Designer: Zachary Gurganus Players: 2 Time: 40 Ages: 10+ Hunting Dice is a game about deer hunting. Players use dice to shoot at deer as well as move those deer closer to their hunter and away from their opponent’s hunter. Deer are worth various points based on their

Further Thoughts on Modeling Inflation in Mansa Musa Board Game

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I've been thinking more about the inflation system I posted earlier this week. It didn't have the elegance I was really hoping to achieve. I wanted to be able to tell at a glance how valuable it would be to sell a good to a particular market. Here's another way of doing that. The cards above represent cities along Mansa Musa's pilgrimage route. They begin with 1-3 random cubes and the remaining spaces stay empty. Musa moves from west to east, then east to west, along the dots indicated below the cards. Each time he lands below a column, he fills it with up to three random cubes. $ Value of cubes = (number of empty spaces on that card) - (number of cubes of that color on that card). So if the blue player above were to sell a red cube to the city on the far left, she would earn $4 because there are four empty spaces on that card. Selling a blue cube here wouldn't earn as much because this city already has so many. Selling a blue cube here earns only $2. (Fo

Unpub Mini Highlight: Havok & Hijinks by Adam Trzonkowski

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(This week I'm highlighting games to be presented at Atomic Empire Unpub Mini on March 2, 2013 . Unpub helps game designers get their unpublished games in front of players. Unpub makes good games great. We have seven designers presenting on Saturday, so bring lots of gamers!) Havok & Hijinks Designer: Adam Trzonkowski Contact: ferrel@epicslant.com Website: Epic Slant: http://epicslantpress.com/ Players: 2-4 Time: 15-20 minutes Ages: 13+ Havok & Hijinks is a fast paced, humor-focused, card game designed for people with a little time to kill! Havok & Hijinks is scheduled to appear at the Atomic Empire Unpub Mini on March 2, 2013 !

Inflatable Jewels? A Modular Method for Indexing Inflation in the Mansa Musa Game

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Here's my current experiment with adjustable values for goods that get progressively inflated or deflated as Mansa Musa passes through. (Reminder: Mansa Musa was the richest human in history. On his pilgrimage from Mali to Mecca, he spent so much gold that he caused a wave of hyper-inflation across North Africa. His procession was basically a Medieval Singularity of post-scarcity.) I'm considering using a set of cards to create a winding connected path representing Mali to Mecca. I think this linear path can serve two purposes: It's a pacing mechanic for the game a whole with Musa inexorably traveling east, then back west. It's also a sliding dial to note relative inflation. Basically, the Musa meeple acts as a progress bar and wherever you are to the east or west of that progress bar indicates the relative value of your goods. After all, checking an inflation line chart isn't exactly a fun time for most people. I wanted to index the value of goods to Mans

Unpub Mini Spotlight: Dorobo by Rocco Privetera

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(This week I'm highlighting games to be presented at Atomic Empire Unpub Mini on March 2, 2013 . Unpub helps game designers get their unpublished games in front of players. Unpub makes good games great. We have seven designers presenting on Saturday, so bring lots of gamers!) Dorobo Designer: Rocco Privetera Contact: me@privetera.com Website: Mighty Fist Games: http://www.mightyfistgames.com/current-games/dorobo Players: 2-6 Time: 30 minutes Ages: 10+ A push-your-luck dice game with a Japanese Ninja theme about stealing from houses; has strategy and player interaction but only 21 dice and is simple to learn. Dorobo is scheduled to appear at the Atomic Empire Unpub Mini on March 2, 2013 !

Unpub Mini Spotlight: Roman Conquest by Josh Young

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(This week I'm highlighting games to be presented at Atomic Empire Unpub Mini on March 2, 2013 . Unpub helps game designers get their unpublished games in front of players. Unpub makes good games great. We have seven designers presenting on Saturday, so bring lots of gamers!) Roman Conquest Designer: Josh Young Contact: joshyounggames@gmail.com Players: 3-6 Time: 30-60 minutes Ages: 12+ Each player is a Consul in ancient Rome with a small support base. Grow your support base by recruiting Legions to conquer new lands, building towns and cities, or improving Rome itself. Gain the support of Senators, or bribe other player’s Senators to expand your support base. Roman Conquest is scheduled to appear at the Atomic Empire Unpub Mini on March 2, 2013 !

Photoshop Sumi-e Tutorial Video [Koi Pond]

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UPDATE: Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game is now available on DriveThruCards! Last weekend I put together some prototype art for the Koi Pond Card Game (née Coy Pond) that's been getting a lot of positive response from people. I thought I'd share with you a bit of my process. Clearly I'm not a sumi-e painter, but over the years I've learned a few tricks in Photoshop that might be useful for you. Follow along in the video below! 0:00 I start drawing the vector strokes by themselves. I have a peculiar process for doing this because I prefer to work in an increasingly obsolete program called Freehand. I'm old and stubborn. 1:15 I open a neutral watercolor background in Photoshop. Then I paste the stroke vector into photoshop as a smart object.  I select it as an outline and paste in a mottled gray texture so the strokes get an organic fill. This layer is multiplied so the background texture also seeps through the fill. 1:35 In quickmask, I use a very large, so

More Exclamation Cards for Suspense

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I was fortunate enough to play Suspense a few more times with southern gentleman gamer Jonathan Bolding . Together we brainstormed a handful of new exclamation cards to add to the basic Suspense deck for further replay value. In the base game, you just shuffle the whole deck and deal it out to each player until only the thirteenth card is left as the secret card. Out of the thirteen cards, only one isn't a number: the exclamation, which currently says "Lowest Sum of Numbers in Play." With some simple permutations, we came up with a bunch of different exclamation cards. Lowest Sum of Numbers in Play Lowest Sum of Numbers in Hand Highest Sum of Numbers in Play Highest Sum of Numbers in Hand Lowest Black Sum of Numbers in Play Lowest Black Sum of Numbers in Hand Highest Black Sum of Numbers in Play Highest Black Sum of Numbers in Hand Lowest White Sum of Numbers in Play Lowest White Sum of Numbers in Hand Highest White Sum of Numbers in Play Highest White S

Coy Pond - Prototype A

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» Download Coy Pond Prototype UPDATE: Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game is now available on DriveThruCards! After tinkering with Love Me Not last week, I drifted into this other more fully fleshed out idea for a game. Draw three cards into your hand. Keep one face-up on front of you, discard the other face-up and keep the third. On your next turn, you do the same thing, gradually cultivating your hand so it is as balanced as possible with cards in front of you. At first, I couldn't think of a theme for this. The most obvious at the time was a museum curator, keeping some works on display, but also keeping some works from the same artist in the archives. Alas, Knizia really has the definitive art museum themed card game in Modern Art. So I settled on just calling the game COY. Sometimes just the title of an otherwise abstract game is enough to get across its mood. But then I started thinking about koi ponds and oh gosh, that led me down the borderline between rapid prototyping an

Love Me Not [In the Lab]

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Yesterday I tweeted a little idea for a mechanic: "Always one step behind" idea: 1st Turn: Choose card, place face-down. 2nd Turn, and on: Choose, place again. Then reveal prev turn's card. Whenever I toss out a little idea like that on Twitter, it's a fast way to find out if that mechanic has been used elsewhere. Turns out this one is the central mechanic of the Killer Bunnies franchise. It's also present in the 1960s game Nuclear War and more recent game Wings of War . Gosh, that's a rather blood-soaked legacy for this mechanic. I wonder if there is a way we can take it somewhere less violent. I've got variable values on my mind this week, so let's start there with a little parlor game. I'm popping this into the Boardroomers February Game Design Contest as well. I call it... LOVE ME NOT Okay, I'm a day late for a Valentine's themed game, but the them is pretty loose anyway. This game is  inspired by wistful romantics plucki

WIP: Island Siege Iconography

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I've been spending the past few days working on iconography for Island Siege ( now on Kickstarter )! There is a lot left to do, but I thought I'd show you how it's all looking so far. First up, the game comes with custom minted coins from Campaign Coins. If you've seen their past work , you know they're good. I'm looking forward to seeing these designs cast in that weathered bronze finish. I was really tempted to put some meeples on that 10-piece crest, but I figured that was a little too on-the-nose. These will look great cast in a metallic finish. Next up, the game called for a set of four flag icons: Pink, white, gray and black. The trouble in the prototype was that the white, gray and black flags looked too similar to each other. In particular, gray and white were hard to tell apart. The initial direction was to possibly add a unique icon to each flag to distinguish them, but these icons will be really small so I thought it made more sense to ma

An Auction Game in Search of a Theme

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COMPONENTS Players have an equal supply of bidding cards numbered 1-10. (Each bid card also has a secondary number used to break ties.) There is a deck of goods (stone, wheat, meat, wine, and coins in equal proportion) and a deck of actions in the middle of the play area. There is also a value tracker board that notes the abundance of Stone, Wheat, Meat and Wine and the relative value for possessing those goods. START EACH TURN Each turn, goods cards and action cards are dealt out in a row in the middle of the play area, starting closest to the deck and working your way out. Deal a number of cards from each deck equal to the number of players, plus one. So a four player game would have a row of five goods and five actions. The first pair of action and good is called the first lot, the second pair is called the second lot, and the third pair is called the third lot. The last lot actually includes both pairs of actions and goods, so the fourth lot is the only set with four car

Experimenting with Card Reveal Mechanics

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I've had this post in my Drafts folder for months and never got around to posting it. The weird thing is how much of these ideas filtered into other game ideas in the mean time. So anyhoo, here is some designerly stuff to chew on today. I'm a big fan of any players simultaneously revealing a secret choice. It creates a nice rhythm to play and keeps all players engaged at the same time. When options are limited, it creates an especially savory deductive tension. I long time ago, I noted a little hack for Rock Paper Scissors that works a little like this. Multi-player Rock Paper Scissors Rock: Score 1 per Scissors Paper: Score 1pt per Rock Scissors: Score 1pt per Paper. Track with off-hand. First to 5 wins. Translating that to a deck of cards would be interesting. Let's assume a generic farming theme for now. I can see some interesting data pulled from some basic ingredients: Cards revealed and discarded. (Events) Cards revealed and kept in a tableau. (Build

UnPub Mini at Atomic Empire in Durham NC!

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Mark your calendars, folks. I'm running an UnPub Mini at Atomic Empire in Durham, NC. The Unpub games festival helps game designers get their unpublished games in front of players (and sometimes publishers). Unpub Minis are smaller events where local gamers can help local designers make their games great. Atomic Empire 3400 Westgate Dr. Suite 14B Durham, North Carolina 27707 Saturday March 2 1pm to 8pm We've already got seven designers registered for the event: Roman Conquest by Josh Young Dorobo by Rocco Privetera Havok & Hijinks by Adam Trzonkowski Fog of War by David Perry Cows vs. Chickens by Matt Wolfe Hunting Dice by young Zachary Gurganus Duck Blind by his father Tom Gurganus If you've been to Atomic Empire before, you know how big and inviting their play space is. It's going to be a fun time! The event is free and open to the public, but Atomic Empire has a wide selection of games so you'll probably come away buying something

A Fictional Setting for Belle of the Ball

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Belle of the Ball was originally inspired by the Shindig episode of Firefly , which presented a lavish party with clear visual influences from Victoriana and the Antebellum South, but mixed with lots of other aesthetic cues. Since then, I've described Belle's setting as a Victorian or Southern ball, since that's an easier explanation to new players. I'd still like the game's art to take both as a source of inspiration, but both come with a lot of historical baggage. I prefer a more contemporary, balanced representation in the art than would pass "historical accuracy" nitpicking. To get around all that, I'm developing a fictional setting for Belle of the Ball . Not too vast, mind you, just a simple, short bit of worldbuilding to make clear that the game is set not in England or in the American South. Rather, it's some other place at some other time that just so happens to have dapper wardrobe and silly names. I've actually already given

Creative Commons and the Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge [VIDEO]

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A few months ago, I was invited to speak in a round of lightning talks at Red Hat. The event was in celebration of the Creative Commons' license's ten-year anniversary, so my talk focused on the winner of the Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge, which was released on that license. They were kind enough to record the talks, so you can see mine above. Hardly the makings of a TED Talk, but I think it went okay. Here's the official synopsis from OpenSource.com . Daniel Solis (@danielsolis), an art director by day and game designer by night, describes what sets ancient games apart from the ones sold in today's market. Beyond big boxes, colorful pieces, and lots of noise, ancient games employ three main criteria: access, elegance, and fun. Access—across language and geographic barriers. Elegance—applying a few rules that are easily understood but take a long time to master. And fun—we all know about that. Solis tells us that while Chess is only 800 years old, older gam

Suspense: The Card Game

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2–3 Players • Ages 10+ • 10–15 Minutes Prototype D » Download Rules PDF » Download Print-and-Play Cards SUSPENSE: THE CARD GAME is a contest of wits, deduction, and cunning!  The deck has six white numbered cards 1–6, six black numbered cards 1–6, and one "!" card which is considered a zero. Each card also displays a unique victory condition. The game is played in a series of matches . Each match is comprised of a series of turns . In the first match, the youngest player is the dealer. To start each match, the dealer shuffles the cards and evenly deals them out to the players face-down. Players keep cards in hand hidden from other players. Dealing the cards evenly should leave behind one extra card. The dealer places this secret card face-down in the middle of the play area. DEALER’S PRIVILEGE Only the dealer may look at the secret card. HOW TO PLAY Each player takes turns, starting with the dealer, clockwise around the play area. On your first turn of a