Showing posts from May, 2013

Pitch Tag 2013 Vol. 3!

Welcome once again to Pitch Tag, the creative exercise where Fred Hicks and I will take turns tossing absurd titles at each other, then respond with somewhat sensible game ideas using that title. We keep doing this until we plotz. This year's Pitch Tag session is documented in the first and second installment. Today's installment includes streetwise ballerinas, Incan foot messengers, breakfast cereals and spicy mobsters. Daniel: TATTUTU It's STEP UP, the deck building game! You're playing out the archetypal "teacher saves a class of troubled urban youth" fantasy, this time by teaching a group of rabble-rousing hoodlums to dance ballet. Each player is a teacher with his own "classroom" of cards, which begin with your standard set of suboptimal cards. In time you acquire dance lessons to win acclaim from the dance world, but must still fend off the dangers of the streets like gangs, drugs, and so on. Your Turn: DOILY Fred: DOILY DOIL

Collect the tiny pandas! [Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple | Play Report]

(Art by Amy Houser from Do: The Book of Letters ) Yesterday I ran a very fun session of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple for a group of five players! Together, they answered a letter from a third-grade class asking for help with a big problem. Actually, lots of small problems. Small, adorable panda problems. Dear Pilgrims, My name is Sam. I am in third grade, and our class is having a lot of trouble with our classroom pet. Our teacher, Miss Hollsworth, asked us what kind of pet we would like this year, and we decided that we would like to take care of a panda bear. It took some time to find one, but this morning we came to school, and there he was! We decided to name him Xing-Xing, and everybody gave him lots of hugs. When Miss Hollsworth left to get our morning snacks, we were playing with Xing-Xing and climbing on him, and someone accidentally knocked him over. We were very surprised when he broke into ten thousand little pieces when he hit the ground! It’s okay, though,

Beyond the Books: Next Steps for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple and Happy Birthday Robot!

It's been a while since the news that Do and Happy Birthday Robot would be going out of print . We're working to set up our files for print-on-demand for those who still want to get their hands on a physical copy, but any new hardcover copies are not planned for the foreseeable future. Beyond the books, I've been thinking about whether either brand would be a good candidate to enter  the burgeoning storytelling board game market. In particular, Do may be well-served by converting many of the mechanics into card components. I can see a deck of cards expediting several parts of the storytelling process without changing any of the core rules. But would a direct port of Do into a card game be a worthy endeavor or should a Do card game be its own unique thing? Still set in the same universe, of course, but with entirely different mechanics more akin to a co-op strategy game? Happy to hear your thoughts on the matter!

This Complete Breakfast: A cereal themed card auction game [In the Lab]

Fred and I are still playing Pitch Tag and this little idea came up that was too much fun not to share on its own. This has that combination of casual strategy and fun art direction potential that seems to be my sweet spot. Sweet. Heh. Here's a very rough overview of how it would play. Each player has a hand of Cereal cards featuring various fictional brands. (Sugar Shock. Fiber Blast. Etc.) Each card has nutritional information noting the vitamins and calories available from the featured cereal. (Each card is uniquely numbered, maybe?) To set up, each player is dealt a hand of three cards. Simultaneously, each player reveals one card from her hand and places it face-up in front of herself as a "serving" to the other players. Thereafter, play is as follows: Each player reveals one card from her hand and places it face-up in front of her as a *second* serving. Each player only has room for two servings, so if there is ever more than two after this reveal, the olde

Four States of Play: Hone, Learn, Watch, Flow

I recently saw this video of Richard Garfield speaking on the subject of luck and randomness in game design. More interesting to me were the four states of play he mentions in passing, but doesn't really dive too deeply into during the course of this discussion. He describes these as a kind of gamer, but I think it's more useful to consider these simply states of mind. An individual can transition through any of these several times during the course of a single game or even a lifetime. You might even extrapolate this further, identifying cultural trends towards one state over another across generations, but that is outside the scope of this blog post. Identifying these as states of mind during play are also more practically useful for any aspiring game designers. You can certainly create a type of play, but you can't create a type of player. (If we could, we'd all be selling a lot more games!) First, it helps to identify two axes along which these states are o

Koi Pond version 1.3, plus plans for Koi Pond: Moon Village!

I'm back from Toronto! Lots of stuff to share, but first I'm updating the rulebook for Koi Pond on the DriveThruCards page. I've also sent along this message of thanks to those who have picked up the game so far. ----- Hello Koi Pond Players! First, thanks so much for picking up this first game from Smart Play Games. I hope you've had a chance to play and enjoy it with your friends and family. With luck and spirit, this will be the first of many clever little card games to be released on DriveThruCards. One of the great things about releasing games through DTC is that I can respond to your questions by updating the live rulebook. Version 1.3 answers two main questions that were left a little ambiguous in 1.2. Q: If multiple players have hybrids in their rivers, who decides their hybrids' suits first? A: This can be a tricky situation if an opponent has a turtle that could score from one of your hybrids, depending on which suit you decide. This is a som

Pitch Tag 2013 Continues!

Hello again! Here's the second installment of our Pitch Tag report. A long time ago, Fred Hicks of Evil Hat Productions and I decided to shake each other out of our game design ruts with a little creative exercise. One person "tags" the other with an absurd title, to which the recipient must reply with a sensible pitch for a game with that title, then tag back with a new absurd title. We do this until we stop. So far we haven't! Here's what we've pitched since our last update . Daniel: CREATIVE BRIEFS This is a game about art requests getting lost in translation between a series of middle managers. It's best played by email. Each player has an assigned "receiver," such that all players are effectively around a virtual table. Each player writes a 500-word description of a random image from Wikipedia. Each player emails the description to their receiver. Upon receipt of a description, a player must cut that description by half, down to 250

Koi Pond Tuck Box - Free Print-and-Fold Download

By popular request, here's a Koi Pond tuck box available for free download. It's sized to accommodate the complete basic Koi Pond deck, plus wiggle room for your card sleeves. Below are two PDFs. The first has the art and guides on one page. If you're feeling fancy, the second link has the art on one page on its own with the guides reversed on the second page, so you can print this PDF double-sided and have a nice clean finished product. » Tuck Box with Guides » Tuck Box with Guides on Other Side

Rank these cats for 9 Lives!

You've heard me talk about my card game 9 Lives a bit already . Well, I've been fortunate enough with Koi Pond's success on DriveThruCards to have enough in my budget to order art from an actual professional rather than doing it myself. Above you can see the nine cats drawn by Kristina Stipetic , each with its own personality. Now I just need to decide, how will they be ranked? The game's cat theme is fairly loose to begin with, so the numbers 1 through 9 don't really mean much mechanically. Though I suppose you could look at the math and say that 1s will be least likely to come into play while 9s are most likely. Note that it is not a measure of actual rarity in the deck, just how useful they are in play. All things being equal, I figured I'd open it up to the public. So, now taking your recommendations for how to rank the cats above from 1 through 9. Feel free to use whatever logic you wish. Age? Mood? Energy level? Take your pick!

Pre-Order Gaming in the 'Verse, the Firefly RPG Gen Con Exclusive

We've been working hard on getting the Firefly RPG project flying over at Margaret Weis Productions. This is the highest profile job I've had so far, but hopefully I'll do y'all proud. On my end, my duties mainly involve laying out the books, designing various promotional materials, and recruiting artists. So far I've got a kickass art team that includes Kurt Komoda , Jenn Rodgers , Robert Wilson IV , and Ben Mund . I also put out a call for more women artists on the team that eventually reached Whedonesque and, wow, do we have some amazing talent waiting to get started. HIRE ALL THE ARTISTS! But here's how it is... I can't keep spending MWP's money hiring all the artists forever. We need to light a fire in this capitalist engine to keep bringing top talent into the team. So Margaret Weis Productions has announced a pre-order for Gaming in the 'Verse , an anthology of gaming material set in the Firefly universe.  Including... Sample Ar

The Sorting Hat Effect: Avoiding the Hazards of Endgame Scoring

I've been playing Ascension on iOS for a few months and in that time I've had a lot of fun... Until the endgame, wherein I discover all my efforts have been in vain as my opponent has doubled or tripled my score. I can deal with consistent loss in a game, but consistently losing when I think I will win is frustrating. This speaks to the value and purpose of endgame scoring in general, I think. As all modern gamers would recognize, hidden endgame scoring keeps all players engaged until the very end. There's always this chance that you'll beat the odds, because you've had a clever engine building for the whole game. There is a lot of dramatic fun in pulling back the curtain to reveal your grand idea, even if another player ends up beating your score. When designed well, these endgame mechanics can be learning experiences for players to try again with a slight adjustment to their strategy. However, they can also appear to be black boxes, capriciously deciding a

Watch: Wood for Sheep: The What and Why of Board Game Culture

Can't believe I'm just now finally getting around to posting this on the blog! The video above was taken at Wood For Sheep, a panel on board game culture I was lucky enough to be part of at PAX East. We cover a broad spectrum of topics including culture's impact on board games, their impact on culture, what they'll be like in the future, plus some silly gaming jokes. The panelists are Mackenzie Cameron [Founder, Going OverBoard: The Board Game Webcomic], Samuel Liberty [Co-founder, Spoiled Flush Games], Kevin Spak [Co-founder, Spoiled Flush Games], and the inestimable Emily Care Boss [Green and Black Games].

Appearing at the MESH13 Conference in Toronto, Talking about My Golden Ratio

I'm on a panel at the mesh13 conference in Toronto May 16th at 2:30! The panel speakers include Mark Story , Karl Schroeder and Melanie Gorka. Corey Reid will be moderating the panel: Faster Iterate, Faster! All that really matters is iteration speed. Faster iterations, from start to finish, mean better solutions faster than any other process. It sounds like it will be a free-flowing conversation. I will mention my rapid game design iteration cycle and how it's changed over the years. You'll probably hear a few points from my reckless prototyping post from last year, too. I actually want to really mention my personal golden ratio of game design. I consider my game successful if the total time spent by others playing it exceeds the time spent designing it. In other words, if I spend 100 hours making a game, I will consider it a success when one hundred people play it a average total of ten hours each, or when one hundred people play it an average of one hour eac