Showing posts from August, 2013

What would you tell your teenage self about game design?

Next Wednesday I'm speaking at the Wade Edwards Foundation and Learning Lab (WELL) to a group of high schoolers about my career in game design and a bit about my previous career in advertising/marketing. In other words, I have no idea what to tell these kids. This opportunity comes at an interesting time, since I'll be about nine months into my first year without the safety net of a full-time salary and benefits. So here are some loose notes that I might touch on: A Little Personal History Early Years : I was first exposed to game design while playing with my step dad. I couldn't figure out how to beat him, so instead I made up my own pieces that moved in their own ways. Sometimes changing mid-game, if I saw I was losing. He was very patient. High School: I nearly dropped out of high school in senior year. I was living in a very chaotic situation throughout my childhood and I wanted to escape as quickly as possible. I thought I could get by with a GED and my food s

Trickster: Thoughts on variable trick-taking

So many of my game ideas come from puns. Presently, I'm enamored with the idea of a trick-taking card game that is themed around Trickster mythos. Which trickster, though? Loki? Coyote? Anansi? Kitsune? Heck, all of them? Well, regardless of theme, the basic idea I've had brewing is a trick-taking game with multi-purpose cards that change the terms of the current trick. I've seen this territory explored in Seiji Kanai's Chronicle, which to my mind is the pre-eminent trick-taking game. My take on it would be a little different, much more casual. The cards show a unique combination of variables for trick-taking games: Turn order, Who wins, and What they win. Turn Order Clockwise: Turns pass to the left. Counterclockwise: Turns pass to the right. Choose: Each player choose the next player to take a turn until each player has taken one turn this round. Winner of the trick: Highest Card Highest Heart Highest Club Highest Spade Highest Diamond Highest

Shrodinger's Wine: Revisiting the Counterfeit Wine Theme

Several months ago, I posted this little idea for a game about the counterfeit wine market. To recap: There's a big business in wine collecting, for various vintages and vineyards. There is also a big business in forging wine bottles, artificially aging the labels and even faking the corks. The counterfeits are so good that a real bottle and a good fake are worth the same amount until the bottle is opened. Sounds like a game to me! So yes, I originally had this rather complicated auction mechanic in mind, but I think this could be much simpler. The cards are still double-sided, with the back side showing a value range. For example, $1 – $15. The front of the bottle shows the true value, for example $2. Thematically, this could be depicted as a front and back wine label. Each player is dealt a hand of cards. Let's say seven cards for now. Cards are always dealt and held so as to never reveal the true values to the other players. So players vaguely know each other pla

Huzzah! Belle of the Ball is fully funded!

Huzzah! Belle of the Ball is fully funded! There is still plenty of time left in the campaign to get your copy. Plus, look for more news soon about stretch goals including party-crashing Grifters, advanced scoring variants, and County-themed variable player powers. Thanks so much for your support and please keep spreading the word!

Giving away fancy names to Belle of the Ball backers on Twitter

It's been a fantastic opening weekend for Belle of the Ball's kickstarter campaign. To help spread the word, I've been giving away fancy names to folks on Twitter. Here's all the names so far! Lady Liminal Lincolnwell! @GeekyLyndsay Lord Bineas Bindletop @futurewolfie Lord Jocular Jugglethump! @shouit Lord Flickery Firehoist! @the_FlyingSheep Lord Escapehatch Gingerlatch! @reldnahcire Lady Jauntily Jumpingfax! @athingforjaz Lord Metalrock Megatocks! @ClayCrucible Lord Flatherton Fantatub! @krinklechip Lord Oftherings Monkeyflings! @d20monkey Lady Lorisnap Lippalap! @PhysicistLisa Lord Tempusroy Dunditoy! @KingChrono Lady Pollyfire Tumbleshire! @slamonella Lord Jokerdeck Cuppingpeck! @ConceptCrucible Lord Fiberloom Ligerdoom! @Milambus Lord Oontsoonts Dancedance! @deejayeetee Lady Marimbaband Cucommand! @mightymur Lord Gristlebeard Hoppybeer! @theome Lord Gigglesworth Tacosalad @ShawnPurtell Lord Logarithmic Bonariffic! @loganbonner Lord Belatedly Blithery! @imprim

Let's Start the Party! Belle of the Ball is on Kickstarter!

Belle of the Ball is now live on Kickstarter ! This is just the mid-point in a long journey, but it still feels like a relief to finally have the game this close to being published. We still have months of prep and manufacture to do, but you can pre-order your copy of the Fancy Schmancy Card Game right now! Let's get this party started!

Belle of the Ball Kickstarter launches tomorrow!

So the big day is coming tomorrow. It's been about five years since I originally brought up the idea for Belle of the Ball to my wife over coffee one Sunday morning. Back then, it was going to be a tile placement game. It's only since January of 2012 that I shifted it over to a card game format and began seriously developing it for publication. And it's only since February of 2013 that I had a confirmed publisher for the game. It's been a long dance, but I'm proud of where Belle has ended up. Jacqui Davis' art really launched the whole world of Ludobel to the stratosphere. So watch out for the Belle of the Ball kickstarter tomorrow! woot!

Experimenting with Photos as Card Art

Sometimes a game idea just won't shake out of my head until I've actually seen it with my own eyes. You can follow one example of this on the Spheres of Influence tag, which has morphed a bit in terms of mechanics, but generally kept the same premise: Cards representing influential people who influence other people toward their own orientation. The whole thing has a science fiction flavor laid on top of it, like the galactic senate in Star Wars. But I wanted these cards to have a very different look. I'm much more inspired by Iain M. Banks' Culture novels than anything in movies or TV at the moment. I like the sense of far out post-human interstellar congresses hashing out details of galactic civilization. The problem is art. I can't spring the dough for a big art budget on my own, and my illustration skills are quite nil. I do know photoshop, though, and I have a big supply of stock art, and I know where to find CC-licensed photography. Maybe I can put som

Koi Pond Promo Cards "Four Winds" and "Four Walls" Now Available!

Good news! Koi Pond sold crazy well at Gen Con last weekend. Bad news: It sold out on day 2! Well, there is some hope if you missed out on the promo cards from the show. FOUR WINDS and FOUR WALLS are now available on DriveThruCards . Each costs just a buck, but with shipping it would be advantageous to order another full game along with these card. Might I recommend KOI POND ?

Belle of the Ball debuts at Gen Con 2013!

Chris Kirkman from Dice Hate Me Games was at Gen Con 2013 this weekend and he brought along this preview box for Belle of the Ball. Fortunately he also had the game inside! And boy, did it get played a LOT during the con. I was following the twitter feed from home and wow, so many people were playing the game and having fun. Let's see! Had such a blast playing @DanielSolis 's Belle of the Ball with @OrangePeeler #GenCon — Annisa Jones (@Tangerini) August 16, 2013 P.S. Belle of the Ball was my favorite game played! #GenCon @DanielSolis @dicehateme — Jason Kotarski (@jasonkotarski) August 17, 2013 More mirth, mischief and mayhem in Belle of the Ball - with @Tangerini ! #GenCon2013 — Chris K. (@dicehateme) August 16, 2013 Belle of the Ball at #GenCon (cc: @DanielSolis ) — sizzlemoth (@Sizzlemoth) August 18, 2013 I feel like a pretty princess! @DanielSolis @di

Belle of the Ball and Koi Pond at Gen Con 2013

While I'm at home, my Twitter feed is presently 100% Gen Con all the time, but the best moments are when people say they're playing my games! This is the first year I've had a card game for sale and it's been quite lovely to see the response. Here are tweets from the first day of the con! Played @DanielSolis 's #BelleoftheBall ...a ton of fun!! — The Cardboard Jungle (@CBJPodcast) August 16, 2013 Open gaming - our #GenCon2013 home away from home. — Chris K. (@dicehateme) August 16, 2013 Announcing Pantspantspants Patchpaw! #BelleoftheBall #GenCon2013 — Chris K. (@dicehateme) August 16, 2013 Just won @DanielSolis ' Belle of the Ball, coming to @kickstarter next week from @dicehateme . Really, really good! #GenCon — Jason Kotarski (@jasonkotarski) August 16, 2013 A game that looks good but was too complicated to both learn and play during dinner. #GenCon @DanielSolis pic.t

While the cats are away... [9 Lives]

While everyone is away at Gen Con, here's a little treat for those of you like me who are staying home to catch up on work. These are the card designs in-progress for 9 Lives. You can see a few tweaks to the rules reflected in this design. Gone are the stars you're trying to earn, in their place are cat-scratches you're trying to evade. I've also given each cat a proper suit, so you can distinguish them at a glance while fanning your cards. I took that a step further, making the suit a color-coded background pattern reminiscent of anime and manga. I thought Kristina Stipetic's art lent itself well to this cartoony style.

Puppy Pile: A Card Game about Puppies and Treats

Every time I play Reiner Knizia's Poison , I want to hack it into something a little more robust. But then I realize I'd probably be re-inventing Paul Peterson's Smash Up . Surely there is a middle ground somewhere between the two extremes. After all, the Hearts family of evasion trick-taking games is vast and old, so I bet we could come up with something a little gamery while still keeping it approachable. Here's a first attempt at it. So the big thing with Poison is that you're trying to have the lowest score after a series of rounds. There are three cauldrons into which you're dropping potions and poisons. If you force the sum in a cauldron to exceed 13, you must take the cards currently in the cauldron and replace them with your new card. In the end of the round, you score 1 point per potion in your possession, 2 points per poison. You score no points for a specific type of potion if you possess the most of that potion, so you might try to "shoot

Espionage: The Card Game [Prototype G]

This game has been long in-development and kept offline longer than usual, but I think it's finally ready for public playtesting. It's best described as a Gamer's version of Liars' Dice, but with cards instead of dice. It lifts the hot potato elements from Kakerlakenpoker and mashes them all up with a spy theme. [[ DOWNLOAD ]] THE THEME You are a spy tracker. Employed by your secretive organization, it’s your job to monitor the espionage activity across the world. Keep your sources active, as they’re your best tool for deducing which global actors are in play. THE GOAL This is a game of bluffing and deduction. Be the first player to score three points or to be the last player with active Sources. GAME COMPONENTS Each card in the game depicts a spy who is either a Face, Hacker, or Muscle; working for either Agency, Bureau, or Command; in either New York City, London, or Moscow. There are nine of each attribute throughout the deck. Each spy is a unique c

Where to buy Koi Pond at Gen Con: Booth 1201

If you're going to Gen Con, you can find my card game KOI POND for sale at Booth 1201, where DriveThruRPG, White Wolf and Minion Games are sharing a space this year. Here's a map! If you can make it there early, you can grab a free promo card made just for the occasion: FOUR WINDS. This is the first in a series of one-card promo expansions that didn't quite make the cut into the basic game. I hear sometimes that Cats, Cranes and Turtles feel more valuable than koi, mainly because they're worth 1:1 for each koi, whereas building up your own koi collections require careful balance and planning, only to get 1 point for every two matched koi. With FOUR WINDS, you get the full value of each of your koi, but only in one specific suit. Do you pursue the bonus, making your strategy obvious, or do you play it coy? Visit the booth at Gen Con to pick up your card and find out!

Suspense: The Card Game [Prototype F]

The wait is over! After a long period of private playtesting and development (basically since PAX East), here's the next prototype for Suspense: The Card Game . You can download the PDF from the following link: SUSPENSE: THE CARD GAME [PROTOTYPE F] This is my 13-card brain-burning deduction game where you're trying to figure out the secret victory condition while also trying to meet it. Trade information, bluff your way out of a jam, and overcome the fickle whims of fate! This little game has gone through many revisions and rethemes over the past few months, but I'm pretty settled on this silly B-movie motif. I hope you dig it, too. I had a lot of fun coming up with those classic era movie taglines. With just 13 cards, plus a few reference cards, this is a perfect back-pocket game to bring out while you're waiting in line at a convention. Give it a shot and tell me what you think!

Tyc: A New Type of Tic Tac Toe

You've heard me discuss this whole notion of " Gamer's Tic Tac Toe " all last week. Of course, my first impulse was to find some way I could make a commercial product out of this idea. That's just where my head's at this year, since it's kinda how I pay the bills now. But... If this were to be true to its roots, it would be a game that could be played with nothing more than pen and paper. So, here's a bizarro remix of Tic Tac Toe incorporating area control, set collection, and even a little worker placement, all with nothing more than paper and two writing implements. Tyc OVERVIEW OF PLAY This game takes basic Tic Tac Toe and adds several eurogame advancements to make it less predictable. Players take turns drawing A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, or I. The color of the letter indicates who drew that mark. Players guide each other’s moves and constrain their opportunities to score. While there are points to be earned from traditional Tic Tac Toe strat