Showing posts from December, 2013

#DS13 in Review

It's been a year since my life took a major course-correction. After eight years, I resigned from my career in the ad business to pursue game design. (I kept freelancing, though. You can see the results on my portfolio .) But as for this blog and my game design in general, let's see what this year hath wrought. Popular Posts of 2013 "What if Someone Steals Your Idea?" How to Run a Small Gaming Business (Video) InDesign DataMerge on SkillShare The One Reliably Interesting Choice in Games Photoshop Sumi-E Tutorial (Video) Advice for the Playtest Hangover Adding some Spice to Roll-and-Move Playing the Fool: Getting Rules Wrong in the Right Ways Tips for Naming Your Game Scoundrels of Skullport and Tragedy of the Commons Published Games Belle of the Ball seemed most ready for prime time, so I brought it to UnPub 3 and PAX East . Fortunately, that goal was met quite early in the year when Dice Hate Me agreed to buy Belle of the Ball in March . S

Review of Designing Card Decks with InDesign's DataMerge [Video]

Hey all! I recorded this Google+ Hangout On Air earlier this weekend and I wanted to share it with you today. This is a very fast example of InDesign's DataMerge functionality for easily designing the cards for tabletop games. In this case, to make a deck of cards for my Mononoke prototype. Here's what the cards look like laid out as a river valley. All credit for this layout trick goes to Jonathan Walton , who is a very clever game designer. You should check out his stuff! I like this layout format because it makes an organic river valley, is unique from Cadwallon's and Spyrium's 3x3 grid, and breaks up the power of the central nodes in a 3x3 grid. If you want to know more about how to make a deck of cards in InDesign, or just the basics of card design, I offer a full online class with over two hours of HD video tutorials. Check it out here: Design Your Own Print-Ready Cards for Tabletop Games

Troll's Dilemma, A Free Microgame in your Pocket

Here's a simple Prisoner's Dilemma party game you can try out with your friends and family, using whatever loose change you have lying around the house. You don't even need a table! Just a bunch of players and some room to walk around. It does help to have a scoreboard visible to the whole group. You should also have a timer or a clearly visible clock. Troll's Dilemma 15 Minutes / 4-30 Players / 10 and up Heads or tails? You decide. You're trying to build a big consensus leaning one way or the other, but you only score points when players disagree with you. So really, you're trying to coerce a major consensus, so you can betray it . But there is a twist! Oh, such a twist. Goal After eight rounds of play, the player with the most points wins. Set Up Each player should have their own coin with clearly visible HEADS and TAILS sides. I recommend Othello chips since they're black on one side and white on the other, but any coin will do. Split up all

Memory Auction Card Game with an "Hourglass" Deck

James Ernest has a couple games that use a "triangular" deck distribution, most notably the very fun 12 Days and the newly released Pairs . A triangular deck means the cards are numbered from 1 to whatever, and the number is also how common that card is in the deck. In other words, the card distribution would be something like: 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 ...And so on. It makes for a nice scaffold for some interesting mechanics. In 12 Days , if you collect the majority of a number, you score that many points. In Pairs , you're trying to get a low score, pushing your luck to reach the very rare lowest cards before getting a pair of identical numbers. So here's a loosey-goosey idea for an "hourglass" deck, built around two inverted triangles that meet at their lowest numbers. 6  6  6  6  6  6 5  5  5  5  5 4  4  4  4 3  3  3 2  2 1 -1   -2 -2 -3 -3 -3 -4 -4 -4 -4   -5 -5 -5 -5 -5 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 -6 Here's a simple

Alpha Tests for Princess Mononoke-inspired Board Game

So I pulled together a very barebones alpha test of the core scoring mechanic for this Princess Mononoke-inspired board game. Randomly shuffle 40 cards, in four suits, ranked from 1-10. To start each round, deal a 3x3 grid of cards. Each player rolls four dice and keeps the results. On your turn, place a die on a vertex of the grid. At the end of the round, take any cards for which you have the greatest total sum of dice results surrounding that card. Any dice placed on the edge get a +1 modifier. Any dice on the outer corners get a +2 modifier. In case of ties, the card remains in place into the next round. If any sum of a suit goes over 10, score a number of points equal to your lowest suit. Then discard any cards of the suit that went over 10. Continue until you cannot make a full 3x3 grid and the player who has the highest score wins the game. There was a lot of really interesting emergent behavior in the alpha tests. I worried about letting so much ride on a singl

A New Look for Regime Card Game

After playing the new edition of COUP, I figured my own "futuristic intrigue and deduction" game should probably have a much more distinct aesthetic if it's going to stand out in the market. At first, I was going with a much more photorealistic look, but I do that a lot and it's hard to make my spotty collection of stock photos look consistent. Then I thought it would be interesting if these were more like graffiti stencils sprayed onto a wall. Perhaps double-exposed with a different section of the game's setting. This lets me use just about any stock photo since I would be greatly exaggerating the contrasts and stripping out all color anyway. So what do you think? Cool or hokey?

A Princess Mononoke-inspired Board Game?

Here's a quick overview of the game I'm tinkering with for UnPub4. This could technically be my first board game that could use an actual board! The game focuses on one small valley over the course of several generations, as tribal populations wax and wane, trying to keep a sustainable balance with the local ecosystem. The board is comprised of a 3x3 grid representing a misty valley. In each cell is two randomly drawn cards, one on top of the other. The bottom card is face-down and represents a conditional effect, sort of like "terrain" of the valley. The top card is the actual resource up for bids in an auction. To start the round, each player rolls 3 standard dice. This represents the population of your particular tribe this generation. The lowest total population takes the first turn. On your turn, place one die on a vertex of the grid. You cannot place a die on an occupied vertex. Certain faces have certain abilities based on the reputations you'

Firefly RPG: Echoes of War: Freedom Flyer is now available!

The latest PDF adventure for the Firefly RPG is now available! Echoes of War: Freedom Flyer has our plucky crew meet up with Maggie Miller, who is all set to leave home and find greener pastures on the Rim. She just needs help paying off Ma Miller's medical bills, dodging a bounty hunter, and nabbing a ship from an old flame. You know, little stuff. You an 80+ page adventure for just five bucks. FIVE BUCKS . You can't find a shinier deal this side of Eavesdown Docks. Come and get it!

Family-Friendly Bundle of Holding (now including Happy Birthday, Robot!)

You have just one day left to get a bunch of family-friendly RPG PDFs, including Happy Birthday, Robot! Just go to the Bundle of Holding site and pay whatever you like. Beat the average threshold and you'll get even more RPGs! Here's the complete list on offer: Hero Kids : An ideal introduction to fantasy roleplaying for children aged 4 to 10. Mermaid Adventures : Exciting undersea adventures and strange mysteries. (Ages 6-11.) The Princes' Kingdom : Young heirs to the throne of Islandia, visiting the citizens of their land and solving problems. This bundle is the first .PDF version of The Princes' Kingdom sold anywhere! (Ages 5+, plus an adult.) Happy Birthday, Robot! : The charming storytelling game by Daniel Solis for families or classrooms. (Ages 9+ -- and especially good for grownups.) Adventures in Oz - Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road : A loving journey into the lands of L. Frank Baum. (Ages 8+.) Project Ninja Panda Taco : Jennife

Diminishing Returns Mechanisms in Dice-Based Auctions

I had the pleasure of playing Eric Zimmerman's Quantum last night. It has some very clever abstract mechanics that make it easy to learn and adds plenty of thematic add-ons that greatly expand the tactical options in later turns. Highly recommended. At the core of Quantum's system is an elegant balance between speed and strength. The die face represents how many spaces a ship may move, so a 6 ("Scout) speeds across the board very quickly. However, combat is resolved by adding the number on your ship to a 1d6 roll. The lower total wins, with attacker winning on ties. So a 1 ("Battlestation") is very strong, but cannot move very fast. All other mechanics are built around this skeleton. It got me thinking about other dice-placement games in recent years that incorporated some clever mechanics, notably Kingsburg and Alien Frontiers. Auctions have been on my mind, too, particularly auctions that work well with two players. (Folks on Twitter had several recomm

Royal Draft

Here's a game that originally appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Casual Game Insider . It's an exploration of the basic half-blind drafting mechanic that I tinkered with earlier this year for Princess Bride 's poison cup mechanic, which in turn was inspired by Antoine Bauza's two-player variant of the Little Prince: Make Me a Planet . You may also notice some familiar turn-order mechanics that I would later use in Nine Lives . This game was paired with an article about how to present a choice between chaos and order to make an approachable filler game. ROYAL DRAFT This simple drafting game has players present chaos/order choices to each other. It requires a standard deck of playing cards with one joker. It takes two to five players and lasts about ten minutes. The goal is to score the most points. It’s quick enough that can be played multiple times with scores tallied across all plays. Setup Remove the four kings and the joker from the deck. Shuff

Penny Farthing Catapult (Alpha Test)

Hey, it's been a crazy-busy week but I just wanted to quickly document the results of the alpha playtests for this even crazier new game PENNY FARTHING CATAPULT. You may have seen me tweet the development for this game over Thanksgiving, but it really had a successful first playstorm session at Atomic Empire the following Monday. Here was the resulting game: Premise You're mannerly nobles who settle their grievances in the time-honored tradition of dueling with catapults attached to old-timey penny farthing bicycles. These contraptions are so rickety and poorly engineered that when you launch your catapult, you get pushed backward an equal distance! Goal Your goal is to have the highest score by collecting valuable trinkets that get launched during the duel. The Deck The deck is comprised of fifty cards in ten suits with five sequential ranks in each suit. The suits are things like "Rubbish," or "Pillows," or "Silverware." Set Up

November 2013 Sales Report

Time for a look back on November 2013 and take stock of how business is going. ( You can see past sales reports here. ) This month saw the launch of Nine Lives in the middle of the month, which boosted overall sales while other products were approaching their long-tail phase of life. That's always the plan, launch a new product right at that moment and hopefully the staggered schedule will be sustainable for my ol' brain. More on that in a bit. First, the numbers. Note month-by-month sales growth is noted in italics. 11-2013 15x Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game -3 from Oct 8x Koi Pond: Four Walls (Promo Card 2) -2 from Oct 7x Koi Pond: Four Winds (Promo Card 1) -3 from Oct 14x Suspense: the Card Game -1 from Oct 19x Nine Lives Card Game $509.40 Retail $197.99 Royalties Grand Totals To Date 459 Products Sold (+63 from Oct ) $2,713.43 Retail (+$509.40 from Oct) $686.04 Royalties Earned (+$197.99 from Oct) Note, I spent about $40 in review copies to send out seven

Koi Pond and Nine Lives 10% for 24 hours only!

Head's up, dealhunters! For 24 hours only Cyber Monday (10am EST Dec 2, 2013 – 10am EST Dec 3, 2013) both Koi Pond and Nine Lives are each 10% off! Koi Pond is a zen-like card game with subtle interactions and emergent tactics. It's great for players who like to get into a flow state while they play. It can also be surprisingly cut-throat, so don't get too complacent! Nine Lives is a much zippier, high-interaction, take-that set collection game. Players are each trying to rescue stray cats from a city alley and trying not to get scratched in the process. Collect majorities of breeds, collect rare breeds, and have the fewest scratches. This is a great game for the kids, too. Thanks very much for your support, everyone!