Heading to Protospiel-Michigan this Weekend

Map to Protospiel, Chelsea, Michigan, July 2014Tomorrow, I leave for a pretty exciting game design related road trip. I’ll be picking up Jeff King (from All Us Geeks), Jason Glover (from Grey Gnome games), and David Sheppard (known to most as Sheppy) along the way. We’re headed to this year’s Michigan Protospiel event, where indie designers get together to test prototypes of their games with each other. While it’s always great to get games tested by a wide mix of players, getting them tested by other designers can yield espresso-like shots of great feedback you can’t get anywhere else.

King of Danger, TGC Version, Card Examples - March 2014I will be focused on testing my two Land of Danger card games – King of Danger and Danger at the Walls — along with my tile-laying, pick-up-and-deliver game set on the 1800s prairies, Abbottsville. I will also bring Magistrate along for continued testing as well.

Abbottsville, Early Playtest at Paul's Cabin, May 2014Another exciting development will be that Jeff Large from Happy Mitten Games will be there, testing my game, Aether Magic, which they will be publishing later this year. Can’t wait to watch that one being tested by Jeff and the designers there. A few of them may have played it in Milwaukee during the March 2013 Protospiel when it was still called “For Goods and Honor” … it’s undergone quite a thematic change, but the main social and production mechanics are still there.

I will try to send out tweets while the roadtrip is taking place, and throughout the weekend. So, follow me on Twitter to see how that bit of chaos works out! ;)

Hostage Negotiator – A Unique Game by an Indie Designer Friend

Hostage NegotiatorMy friend, A.J. Porfirio, runs a publishing company called Van Ryder Games (named after his oldest kids), and really likes what he calls “thematic games.” I’m hoping to have him on a Q&A blog post sometime in the next few weeks to get a more detailed definition from him on that term. (I think it’s sort of like using the word “weather,” in that everyone *knows* what it means, but it’s really hard to pin down a worded definition because it can encompass so much.)

As an example of what he brings to the market in this area, I want to point out his Kickstarter project that just launched for Hostage Negotiator. It’s a single-player game about using conversation and taking actions to get a hostage-taker to release their hostages. Very deep, thematic (obviously), and tense. Check it out and let me (and A.J.) know your thoughts.

I will be on TV! (or, at least YouTube)

Something From NothingThis coming Sunday night, July 13th at 7 p.m. central time, I will be on a web show called Something From Nothing (see previous episodes here), hosted by a handful of game designer acquaintances — TC Petty III, Chevee Dodd, Jason Slingerland and Rob Couch — with conversation around a wide range of game-design related topics. Levi Mote, designer of the game Ruse, will also be a guest on the show.

To get the link to the live broadcast on YouTube, watch my Twitter feed for a link just before 7 p.m. central on Sunday night. To ask questions, post comments or otherwise interact with the show in real time, Tweet using the hashtag #btgsfn (it stands for “Building the Game, Something From Nothing”)

Solo Flight through the Jump Gate

Jump GateAs I mentioned a few weeks back, in my post about solitaire games, I’ve been working on single player rules for Jump Gate. They are ready to share to a limited audience, so I put out a call to members of BGG’s 1-player Guild to do some focused testing on these rules.

Once I get their feedback and improve my rules doc, I’ll post things here for other owners of Jump Gate to give it a try.

In the meantime, think about what you’d like a solo-play of Jump Gate to be like. Drop a comment here or on Twitter or Facebook and let me know your thoughts! :)

Muse vs. Focus

Whisper, whisperIf you’re familiar with the classic Greek concept of the Muses, you’ll know what I mean when I refer to my muse giving me an idea for a game … or when I say that I’m waiting on my muse to help me figure out the answer to something I’m working on.

I don’t actually believe that I have an invisible woman following me around, whispering in my ear with new, creative ideas. But, I’ve always found … (more…)

Reblog from Hyperbole Games: The Love of the Craft

Hyperbole Games LogoI believe I’ve mentioned it a number of times on this blog already, but if you’re into playing or designing tabletop games, you should really be reading Grant Rodiek’s blog over at the Hyperbole Games website.

The latest example I would like to share is an eloquent way of letting folks know what designers get out of the craft side of game design. It’s not always about sales or “likes” or BGG ratings. Sometimes, it’s just about enjoying the process itself.

Check it out here: The Love of the Craft from the Hyperbole Games blog.

Solitaire Games are on My Mind

Space Mission's 3D Space Ship ModelI’ve been thinking a lot lately about designing solo-play games, and about adding a solo-play option into games that are normally played with multiple players. It’s a different sort of task — and I think a harder task — than normal game design since you can’t rely on player interaction to add an extra layer of challenge for a player … you need to have the game system itself handle that part in addition to the main challenge of the game.

Blaster Waves Setup to PlayI’ve only finished one game like this so far — Blaster Waves. This game came about as part of the 2012 Solitaire Print-and-Play Contest at BoardGameGeek.com. There are print-and-play files available for those that like to print their own for free, and also a TGC-produced version that can be ordered.

I want to get better at designing for this type of play, and I think I’ve worked out a plan for that … (more…)

What I’m Aiming at with “Danger at the Walls”

Danger at the Walls, Main Deck Back, June 2014When I first started Danger at the Walls this past January, I wanted a quick-playing, 2-player battle game that just used cards.

Initially it was going to be 2 small decks — 1 for Red, 1 for Blue. Take your deck, shuffle, and try to capture enough of your opponent’s cards to win. Both players had ways to build their own walls, tear down the other’s walls, and capture the other’s cards. Since the decks were small, there was a lot of cycling through the cards in a way that didn’t require more shuffling. A sort of deck-depleter (as opposed to a deck-builder) with room for some clever power card combos. But, it didn’t really work. I mean, it worked mathematically, but there wasn’t much “there” there. So I actually decided to put it on hold sometime in April.

Then, in May, I had an idea pop into my head … (more…)