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Showing posts from 2015

5 Things I'm Playtesting in Regime

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Regime is one of those games that would really do best with a retail scale production. It needs too many cards to be a profitable POD product, but I didn't realize that when I first published it. It's still on DriveThruCards, and you can buy it right now, but it's pretty much at-cost. Since BGGcon, I've been taking the advice that I should work on more middleweight games with more components. Regime seems like the best fit for this new evolution. I've been working on updates to the components, which in turn led to some gameplay updates as well. None of these changes are final, they're just things I'm testing. 1. Faster Scoring So, our game design guild has a rule of thumb for game design we call Vicki's Law: A game shouldn't take longer to score than to play. That seemed to be Regime's main weakness. It doesn't break Vicki's Law, but it is most certainly a misdemeanor. At BGGcon, there was some talk of modifying the deck so so

"Curse You, Robin Hood!" seeks playtesters!

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I'm happy to say that " Curse You, Robin Hood! " is now ready for public playtesting. In the legendary days of Sherwood forest, the regular Joe merchants trying to earn an honest buck keep getting robbed by Robin Hood. They quickly learn that the trick to getting rich in Sherwood is to just not be the richest merchant, otherwise you're the biggest target for the Merry Men. Find the complete rules here along with a PnP PDF of the 50 cards. This is the next stage of development of Sharewood, the original light tavern card game a bunch of us playstormed at BGGcon this year. ( The story behind that is in this post. ) Curse You Robin, Hood! expands from 1 to 6 players, uses a custom the deck, simplifies scoring, adds shooting the moon and multi-round rules. I'm pretty proud of the solo rules as well, since they're not exclusively limited to one-player games. The bots can be added to a group of any size. It's pretty fun! Hope you get a chance to play

New Patreon Tier: Twitch Streaming Graphic Design and Layout

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For the past few weeks, I've been practicing streaming my work on Twitch. You can see some of the archived broadcasts on my profile page here: http://www.twitch.tv/danielsolis81 I'm still learning the ropes and trying to figure out the technical issues. For now, I'm saving some archived highlights publicly on youtube, as you can see above and on my youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVMiK5E4VEq7FPCNBsw1hJQ My main issue at the moment is that my archived streams are cutting off upwards of 20 minutes early for some reason. If anyone knows how to fix that, I'd be very grateful. For now I'm recording a local copy of stream. I will save those archived videos to youtube as Unlisted videos. That means only people who have the URL will be able to watch the video. So that brings me to my well-buried lead: I have a new $10 tier on my Patreon page! I'll post archived twitch streams for $10+ patrons, along with as many files from that strea

Last day to get my card games by Dec. 24!

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Hello, last-minute holiday shoppers! Today is the last day to order my games from DriveThruCards in the continental US and be pretty sure they'll reach you by December 24. Stuff those stockings!

Rhombus for the Rest of Us [Isometric Grids in Tabletop]

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I just recently finished Monument Valley , the gorgeous and brain-boggling Escher-inspired puzzle game. It's been around for a little bit, but seems to have had a resurgence since it was a free download last week. Naturally, it got me thinking about how we might use rhombuses and isometric grids in a tabletop game. Looking at some existing examples, Rome: City of Marble makes some clever use of these grids and emergent patterns, but Monument Valley has that lovely interaction with implied perspective that I really wanted to capture on the table. The Rocca line of games from Japan is closer to what I wanted to see, but still feels relatively linear compared to Monument Valley's three-dimensional gameplay. All of this converged on two different games I've got on my docket: Tile-Laying: the Tile-Laying Game This is a co-design with Drew Hicks. We're both members of the Game Designers of North Carolina and we got to talking about an upcoming "meta"

Watch Kodama: the Tree Spirits Overview from BoardGameGeek.con!

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I was very lucky to sit down with Beth from BoardGameGeek at the Action Phase BGG.con booth to do an overview of Kodama: the Tree Spirits . Action Phase says Kodama was a very popular demo at the show with a lot of customer and retailer interest. You can still pre-order Kodama: the Tree Spirits at the Action Phase Games website here. On a personal note, I've seen so many of these convention overviews on the BGG youtube channel that it's a little surreal seeing myself on one. I was a little nervous, which you can probably tell, but hopefully it's a clear enough overview of how the game plays. I'm really looking forward to seeing Kodama hit many game tables soon.

Chinese Editions of Koi Pond and Kigi back in stock!

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Good news! I have a few more copies of the Chinese edition Koi Pond and Kigi direct from Joy Pie. Order ASAP if you want it at your doorstep before the holidays. These are the actual Chinese editions of both games and are normally unavailable in the US. I got a few complementary designer copies and now I'd like to send them to you! Find them at my Etsy store! Thanks!

Card at Work: 5 – Designing Poker Cards and Troubleshooting DataMerge

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It's time for a new episode of Card at Work, this time covering how to design a deck of playing cards in Adobe InDesign's DataMerge. This mostly follows the same techniques established in the previous episode, but the latter half also covers some troubleshooting you may need to do when you're designing your own deck. The last episode drew some feedback asking for more supplementary assets to go alongside the video content. I'd love to hear more about what you would like to see, especially as exclusives for patrons. For now, here's an oldie-but-goodie posted back in 2012, but goes along well with this episode. https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bzba7Uiit9gpSlJyOVR0cGN6SGs That contains an InDesign file and support for a simple deck of playing cards using Noun Project icons. Hope that helps get you started on your way!

Stocking Stuffer Sale!

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A bunch of DriveThruCards titles are deeply discounted today! This sale is on top of the already deep discounts for my card games like Trickster: Starship and Koi Pond . These make great stocking stuffers and deliver within at most 2 weeks for most locations in the continential US. Plenty of time to wrap them up as a gift! Enjoy!

Double Discs: A Speed Puzzle Game Idea

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I've been told in the past that speed puzzle games don't really sell well, but I saw a lot of Dimension and Dr. Eureka being played at BGGcon, so surely there's some room for that category in the market. Here's a quick idea for a speed puzzle game: You have 16 discs featuring conceptual pairs on either side of each disc: cat/mouse, dry/wet, sun/moon, city/country, plus/minus etc. Flip a puzzle card. Two teammates must arrange the discs in the correct shape, with the correct sides visible, within the 30-sec time limit. In the example above, you'd score 1 point for for each disc in the correct position with the correct face visible. Then you swap out teammates La Boca style and tally individual points across several puzzles. It's a start, but the kind of component-based design I'm going to develop more often as I explore game ideas beyond the chrome ceiling .

BGGcon Recap: Chrome Ceiling, A New Hope, and the Fun Bits!

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Alrighty, time for some more long-form thoughts on how BGGcon went for me professionally. I spent most of my time approaching publishers with my prototypes or demoing my self-published games at the main hall with new friends. I had enlightening conversations with several very smart experienced members of the community, including Eric Lang and Kevin Wilson. I thought going into meetings having just finished a $99,000 kickstarter campaign would be a boost to my credibility, but more people came by talking about my blog, tweets, or my new youtube series. More than once some famous games person came by while I was pitching to a major publisher and say nice things about the game. It was pretty dang awesome. I got some sobering feedback about the current state of my portfolio, but hopeful advice about the future. Let's start with the sobering stuff first. The Chrome Ceiling There was one bit of advice that kept coming up as I worked through each presentation: My games are

Sharewood, a game we playstormed at BGGcon

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Hello! This post comes to you the day after BGGcon when I'm still bleary-eyed and recovering from a fast-paced four days of pitching and playtesting. It was a wonderful experience and I'm sure lots of folks will have much better documentation of the event than I do. Instead, I wanted to show you a snapshot of what it was like with such a critical mass of game designers in one place. Emerson Matsuuchi, Chris Rowlands, Adam S., Mark Streed, and I were hanging around the main hall on the last day. I pulled out a deck of cards and openly noodled a few different interactions I've had tumbling around. In particular, I had idea of being a merchant in Nottingham trying to earn wealth, but not so much that Robin Hood would steal your ill-gotten gains. Sort of the inverse scenario of Sheriff of Nottingham. Here's what we came up with after lots of playstorming and collaboration. I can't claim sole credit for this game, it was definitely a collaboration between all fiv

Preview of Dionysia Jones' Art for Do: Fate of the Flying Temple

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It's time for another preview of the art coming up in Do: Fate of the Flying Temple, the new Fate-powered RPG set in the Do universe. Y ou saw Jacqui Davis' cover last time , so this time I wanted to show off Dionysia Jones' amazing work on the double-page spreads. Here was my art direction: The three pilgrims gather in the middle of ancient ruins to discuss what they will do now that the temple has disappeared. They agree that their mission of helping people in need should continue, regardless of the temple’s existence. It’s just the right thing to do. They agree to this new pledge with an all-together handshake as shown in the placeholder art. [1] In the distance, amidst the ruins, we might see the silhouette of the dragon observing this pledge intently. The dragon will be learning from the pilgrims while they go on their adventure, so they must set an example for what will potentially be a very powerful force in the universe to come. Still, each pilgrim approaches

Card at Work: 4 - Introduction to DataMerge

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Hello folks! It's a new episode of Card At Work , my ongoing series of lessons on graphic design in tabletop games, particularly cards. This episode introduces the basics of using DataMerge to create prototype cards. This lesson covers how to make simple resource cards like you might find in a euro strategy game such as Settlers of Catan. Please like, share, and subscribe! Support further episodes at http://www.patreon.com/danielsolis Thank you!

Last day to back Kodama: the Tree Spirits on Kickstarter!

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Whoa. That's all I can say for how amazing the Kodama: the Tree Spirits campaign has been the past 30 days. Hard to believe what began as this weird little idea a few years ago has grown so big. As of this post, we're just over $90,000 and 3000 backers with 14 hours left. This is by far the most successful project I've been a part of and a wonderful way to close out the year. If you haven't backed yet, please do so! And tell your friends! Thank you!

Stowaway: A Quick Idea for a Tavern-Style Card Game

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Here's a quick idea for a little tavern-style card game where everyone has a hand of cards, but one of which is moving around secretly from hand to hand. I imagined it as a stowaway on a boat sneaking around trying not to get caught. --- The Stowaway A tavern-style card game for large groups, from 5-10 players. You’re the crew of a pirate ship hiding an innocent stowaway. The Stowaway sneaks from one dark corner of the ship to the next, trying to avoid being caught by the cruel Captain. Eventually the crew will have no choice but to point out where they think is currently harboring the Stowaway. Setup: From a standard deck of cards, gather two cards per player, minus one. Take the joker and add it to these cards. The Joker is called the Stowaway. Shuffle the cards (including the Stowaway) and deal two cards to each player’s hand. If you ever hold the Stowaway, you’re called an Accomplice. Gameplay: Each player simultaneously and secretly passes a card to the p

8 Quotes for Game Designers from BoardGameGeek's Reiner Knizia Interview

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W. Eric Martin had a very, very good interview with legendary game designer Reiner Knizia. You can watch the entirety of it above or at the original BoardGameGeek post. I pulled out a handful of quotes that I thought were relevant for designers at all levels of their career. On understanding the production side of things: "If you’re going to do good game design, you must understand a lot of things. What can be afforded, what can be put in, how quickly can you do it if you work to a deadline." On global licensing: "Once you have put in a lot of energy into creating an IP, creating a game, it is most natural to not only market it in one market, but to market it worldwide." On starting with small publishers: "Getting your first game published is always a very wide step. I was lucky that I went with small publishers. If you go with small publishers, they take you seriously and you learn from them. A small publisher cannot afford a flop." On &

Sale Sheet Sample: Light Rail

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I'm going to BoardGameGeekcon for the first time this year and I'm a little nervous! I'm pitching games in a more formal context than I've ever done before. Until now, I've sold three US card games and several international licenses without going through the usual face-to-face pitches and meetings. But it's time to step up a little and do more legwork. Part of that is making a sale sheet for the games I intend to pitch. Usually sale sheets are sent from a publisher to a distributor as a promotion to get the products out to retailers. In this case, my sheets are one step before that process, going from designer to publisher. Different demands in that case. I followed advice from Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim back in this post from five years ago . I also looked at the Akrotiri sale sheet posted a year later, since I'm a big fan of how that game ended up. As Jay and Sen recommend, I'll be bringing this sheet and others along with me as a quick pi

Designing Victory and Loss in Games ("Can we just call this one a win?")

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I'm a member of Game Designers of North Carolina , a local group of tabletop game designers who exchange playtests and insights in the craft of game design. We were playtesting a game where a particular endgame state resulted in a loss for the whole group, as in a co-operative game. Barring that outcome, there would only be one winner at the end of the game as in a traditional competition. The tricky thing is that each player individually accumulates their own points so even if the "group loss" state occurs, if I have the most points, the game can't stop me from feeling like I won. This brought up a brief and very useful discussion about the essential social contracts surrounding games when players agree to certain game-states as being desirable and worth pursuing. We discussed simply calling the "group loss" state an "endgame" state, which would fundamentally change everyone's strategies and tactics without changing any of the mechanics.

Card At Work: 3 - Planning your Card Design

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Hi folks! I released a new episode of Card at Work this week. This is my ongoing youtube series on graphic design and art direction for cards in tabletop games. This series is supported by patrons like you. Thank you! In this episode, I discuss the process of planning your card design using basic Constants and Variables. Constants are the things that won't change from card to card, usually structural elements like positions and sizes of art, icons, and text spaces. Variables are the things that change within those constraints, like the actual images and text content. Featured examples include: Heir to Europa Monsoon Market Kodama: the Tree Spirits Magic: the Gathering Zeppelin Attack! Koi Pond Arf! Solar Senate Light Rail Support further releases at http://www.patreon.com/danielsolis Thank you!

Do: Fate of the Flying Temple - Cover Preview

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Check out the cover art Jacqui Davis just finished for Do: Fate of the Flying Temple! It's so pretty! Fate of the Flying Temple is the new RPG written by Mark Diaz Truman set in the universe of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple , first introduced in my story game waaaaay back in the ancient mists of 2011. This updated edition is redesigned for use with Evil Hat's very popular Fate Accelerated system. I'm on layout and art direction duties this time around, recruiting an A-team of illustrators to handle the art. This is the first of many pieces to come in future months so stay tuned!

Making a Living as a Game Designer, and Other Stuff [Going Last Podcast Interview]

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The Going Last podcast is a great, friendly show for tabletop game news and banter. I started listening back when it was hosted by the DoubleClicks, but new hosts Rich and Kenna have done a wonderful job shepherding the podcast into a new era. It's a great breezy listen for your commute. I was on the show a few months ago to talk about Trickster , Kigi , Heir to Europa , and the general topic of how I'm kinda-sorta making a living as a game designer. It's funny listening to it now because I had to be so coy about Action Phase games, the American publisher who would eventually develop Kigi into the new game Kodama. The interview is still a fun one and I'm amazed how well Rich and Kenna managed to make me sound. It's almost convincing! I hope you'll enjoy listening to it. :) P.S. Speaking of Kodama, it is blowing up on Kickstarter. 200% funded on day one. Nearly 300% funded as of this post. Funny how quickly these things come together, eh?

Kodama: the Tree Spirits is live on Kickstarter!

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Kodama: the Tree Spirits is now live on Kickstarter! In this game, you and the other players are caretakers of the forest and its inhabitants. You must grow a tree as a new home for Kodama, the tree spirits. Each Kodama has its own preferences, so you'll have to grow carefully and select the right adornments to get it just right! I'm so pleased with how much Action Phase Games has put into this project already. Watch the video below for an overview: Here's the rulebook or watch the tutorial below for how to play: To find out more about how Action Phase and I developed a new game based on Kigi, check out this designer diary on BoardGameGeek . And, of course, back the project to get your copy! US shipping is free and it's EU-friendly! Thanks so much for your support! 🌱

Cardamom: Perhaps a Silly Idea

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This weekend I tweeted about a product that I'd been mulling over for some time, but I just thought might be too silly to even try. I was feeling restless though, so I just quickly sketched out some cards by hand. I figure, what the heck, it can't hurt to blog about it. Cardamom is an expansion for a standard deck of playing cards. It's a separate specialized deck of cards that act as SmashUp-style bases for which players compete by playing standard playing cards. It's a little bit worker-placement and a little bit area control. Setup Reveal three bases Place them face-up in the center of the play area with plenty of room between them. Keep the base deck nearby face-down. Shuffle a standard deck of playing cards. Deal 5 cards to each player. Keep the card deck nearby face-down. Keep a large supply of chips or paper money nearby.  How to Play Players take turns clockwise around the table. Start with the person who last had cardamom. On your turn