Showing posts from October, 2013

October Sales Report

As the year winds down and 2014 approaches, I'll post more regular end-of-month sales reports since I plan to release new product every four weeks or so. (You saw the previous big giant year-to-date sales report , yeah?) This month's new product was Suspense: the Card Game , a spooky product befitting the season, I thought. So how'd October turn out? 10-2013 (to Date) 18x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game 10x Koi Pond: Four Walls (Promo Card 2) 10x Koi Pond: Four Winds (Promo Card 1) 15x Suspense: the Card Game $371.07 Retail $121.60 Royalties Grand Totals To Date 407 Products Sold $ 2,701.22 Retail (I did my math wrong here, sorry, it's $2204.03) $ 587.13 Royalties Earned * ($488.05) Product Performance Koi Pond sales are down to their August/Gen Con levels, which is to be expected. Koi Pond's second-month sales were the highest ever, so I hope Suspense will follow the same performance pattern. Meanwhile, the two Koi Pond promo cards continue to sell a

Tsuro + Pickup and Deliver Mechanics

I had an odd idea last week and I decided to post some pictures just to think it out loud. Basically, I was imagining a Tsuro-style pathbuilding game in which pawns would pick up goods along their route and deliver them to their final destination tile. There would be no outer border, just a freeform table with lots of room for other tiles. On your turn, add a tile that extends the path your pawn currently occupies. Above, Orange begins his turn. Move your pawn along that path until it reaches the end of the path. Along the way, you may gather up to three goods on the intervening tiles, then drop them on your final tile. Above, orange picked up a white, purple and black cube and delivered them to his final tile. You score points for delivering those goods to that location. Each tile would have its own demand for certain goods, perhaps indexed to the quantity of that good on surrounding tiles? In other words, if there are lots of purples around a tile, it doesn't

Symmetry vs. Practicality in Card Games

Tonight I'm testing the first prototype of Nine Lives with significant changes to the deck structure. For background, check out my posts on wabi-sabi card game design vs. symmetrical mandala card game design . Nine Lives thus far has been a very symmetrical composition featuring nine different cats, each on nine different cards. The cards were sequentially numbered from 1-81, but because of the symmetry, I could organize each cat so it an equal chance of being the highest or lowest card in any random hand. Five out of every nine cards of each cat had 1 to 5 scratch marks on it, in ascending order, capping at the highest sequential number within that cat's sub-set of cards. In several rounds of playtesting, I made tweaks to the rules but I knew eventually I was going to need to fix some more fundamental problems. For one thing, the deck was unwieldy to shuffle. 81 cards is a feature in any retail game, but the POD market's price tolerance is slim so I gotta find a

Card Design Inspiration from Package Design

My game inspiration comes from all sorts of stuff, but most often it comes from stumbling upon a cool image, illustration style, or graphic design. Package design in particular has a lot of similarities to card design. You have to maintain a consistent brand aesthetic across multiple instances, but still create enough diversity within that line to distinguish each individual product. That's very similar to designing a deck of cards, making sure there are some consistent elements like typography, composition, contrast, art style, etc. But at the same time, each card must be different enough to avoid confusion in actual play. Much like card design, a good package design must double-code to make those differences clear to people with different visual abilities. Can the package/card be distinguished by color-blind buyers/players , for example. It's all about Iterative Visuals . Start with one baseline, change one or two things, and always only change those one or two thing

A Case of Awkward Rules Wording

Happy to report that the this week's playtest of Nine Lives went very well. The new trading and set collection rules are working well, encouraging plenty of decision-making each turn. In the next update, I'm adding some special abilities and I'm stumbling on how to word some of the more complicated ones if they're going to fit neatly onto the cards. They don't necessarily need to fit on the cards, but it would certainly help early learning of the game. For background on the game's terms, cards in your hand are called your hand (naturally). Cards that are face-up in your possession are called your kennel . Cards in the middle of the table available for capture are called the alley . And the deck is called the deck . That in itself is a sticky wicket. I could come up with generic terms for kennels and alley, like tableau and pile, but I like integrating thematic terms where they will be the least confusing. I did the same thing with Koi Pond's Pond (

Watch: How to Run a Small Gaming Business

The Escapist : Escapist Expo : How To Run a Small Gaming Business Here's a video from the panel on running a small gaming business, either as a publisher, designer, or even on the retail frontline, in board games, RPGs and even a little bit into other merchandising. We assembled an Avengers-like panel to discuss their origin stories, how they grew their businesses in incremental steps, and the nature of entrepreneurship in such a small industry. It's a really good panel, folks. Highly recommended.

Suspense: the Card Game, for sale on DriveThruCards!

Hooray! I'm very happy to announce SUSPENSE: The Card Game is for sale on DriveThruCards ! It's a tiny game for big brains, full of fast deduction and bluffing. You'll be shocked at how much fun you can get from just thirteen cards. There is a secret victory condition each round. Sometimes you want the lowest number in play, sometimes you want the highest number in hand... there are thirteen unique victory conditions in total, but only one is the actual condition for a round. Fortunately, you have some clues in your hand to help your process of elimination. Because one unique condition is noted on each card, you can look at your own hand to deduce what the condition is not . Your goal is to figure out the victory condition and also trying to meet it. There is a twist: If you're the dealer, you know the secret victory condition! Don't get too cocky, the other players will closely watch your choices for clues! Then again, you could try th

Italian Cats? Further Notes on Nine Lives Card Game, Influenced by Scopa

Since the most recent post on Nine Lives , I've had a chance to playtest the game about five times with two different groups comprised of around ten players, aged 9 and up. Naturally, I've found some bugs. Scratches : Presently the penalty for scratches is that only the player with the fewest scratches from a specific cat can score for that cat. In other words, once you had a few cards with no scratches, there was no reason to ever risk getting another card if it even had one scratch. If you did, you would risk allowing another player to undercut you by getting just one no-scratch card. Trading : The trading mechanic itself was a little complicated. Eventually I streamlined it to something more simple: You may take one card for free from the alley, or you may take X by trading in X cards from your tableau. Bidding : It was cool that bidding a card added it to the alley. This made bidding a tense decision, knowing that a card might give you better position but also make

Hey Daniel, how's business so far?

It's been ten months since I resigned from my full-time job , just about six months since I started selling Koi Pond as a print-on-demand product. As I covered in detail back in July , I still consider Koi Pond an early success. I thought you'd want to see a more focused listing of earnings and sales since this venture launched. 4-2013 31x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game $288.72 Retail $69.80 Royalties* 5-2013 28x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game $399.19 Retail $100.83 Royalties 6-2013 16x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game  $234.30 Retail $58.17 Royalties 7-2013** 42x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game  25x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game (Retail Version)* 80x Koi Pond: Four Walls (Promo Card 2)* 80x Koi Pond: Four Winds (Promo Card 2)* $896.68 Retail $162.88 Royalties 8-2013† 18x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game  11x Koi Pond: Four Walls (Promo Card 2) 5x Koi Pond: Four Winds (Promo Card 2) $260.62 Retail $68.82 Royalties 9-2013 35x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game  6x Koi Pond: Four Walls

Tianxia on Kickstarter, featuring art by Denise Jones!

Just a quick head's up on a new RPG book I've been laying out the past few months. Tianxia is a Fate Core-based RPG in a fantasy wuxia setting. Denise Jones ' art is the real highlight of the project to me. Check it out: That's just the tip of the magical glowing iceberg. There is tons of Denise Jones ' art in the book. It's a real pleasure to lay it out in the book. Fortunately, you'll be able to see it yourself because Tianxia funded within 24 hours! So go back it and get your grubby mitts on this gorgeous book!

An Interesting Idea for a Planet-Building Game

I love the Little Prince board game that came out this year. I was curious about the design history behind its elegant drafting and scoring mechanics. Originally, Antoine Bauza conceived the game with several tiny planets per player, rather than building one planet as a whole. He and Bruno Cathala eventually went a different direction, but I was still curious about that theme. I thought there might be some potential in a game where you still built planets, but a little faster and using Keyflower's orientation-based ownership. Below is a slide presentation outlining my initial thoughts for the cards and gameplay. Here's an overview of a typical planet card. Each card shows 1/4 of a planet. The elements available on this planet are noted by the color+shape. (Some might be dual-colored.) Some planets may also have an “X” mark to note hazardous features of this planet that make it less than habitable. Collecting these X’s has progressively worse penalties for the owner.

Train Town Prototype E made it to finals! (But didn't win.)

Train Town has had a short, odd little history. I sketched it out at the last minute, untested, and submitted a print-and-play PDF to a Korean Board Game contest on a whim. (In the interim, Julian Murdoch got ambitious and even had an Artscow prototype printed up for his own use, as you can see above.) Against all odds, it made it through to finals! I shipped over Prototype E for the final round of judging. Unfortunately, it didn't make the top 3 . Robin Lees also tested Prototype E with his family as a two-player and three-player game. It seems the biggest challenge of the game was analysis paralysis. Even with a restricted 2x2 grid, players would feel compelled to calculate every possible location. Also, including the Action cards as an endgame condition is a problem since it can cut a 3-player game to down to as little as 3 turns per player. And on production note, the background terrain was a little hard to distinguish for the color-blind. On the bright side, scores a

Suspense: The Card Game on DriveThruCards by Halloween!

I'm really trying to get this tiny little deduction bluffing game ready for a late October release on DriveThruCards. In November, I plan to release Nine Lives. In December, Koi Pond: Moon Village. But for now, here's a preview of the spoooOOooooky Suspense cards! This is the "cover" card on the top of the deck.             The deck will also include rules cards. I was debating whether to include them in the deck, since it slightly reduces my profits and makes the game more vulnerable to errata. In the end, I compromised by also including a link to this site for up-to-date rules and FAQs.