Designers Talking Shop: A Few I Read

Protospiel Discussion Panel at GenConIndy 2011One part of game design (and design or engineering of any sort, really) that I really enjoy is the discussion of the process by those who are in the midst of it.  To listen to other designers “talking shop” and to participate whenever I can is an important part of my own design process.

Twitter has been an amazing avenue for me to connect with dozens of other designers of various types and skill levels.  The best part of visiting GenCon this past summer was to meet eye-to-eye with these folks I’ve been chatting with via the Internet over the past couple of years.

So, I thought I’d take the time to point out a few of the designers I’m currently reading.  This isn’t a comprehensive list … just 3 guys I picked out who have blogs that I make sure to read.

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So, hey … how ya been?

Matt Worden Games Logo

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  It’s summer time and everything seems to be going on at once.

I’ve been coaching my daughter’s travelling softball team, and working the day job.  I’ve spent a little time working on game stuff, but not enough.  And, there’s been a severe lack of camping and fishing so far.  But we are hoping to get that to change in July & August.

My game-related priority right now is to get the DANGER! Expansion for Dicey Curves finalized and published via TheGameCrafter.  I’ve sent my rules draft over to a few designer friends for review and got some very good feedback, which I need to incorporate.  So, yes — very, very close now.

My secondary game-related priority is to get copies of Subtilla out to reviewers so that people can get to know that one better.  And, my third priority has to do with getting a couple of my current prototypes ready for testing in front of other designers.

There are two up-coming games-related trips that I had put on my calendar for this summer:  Protospiel, a couple weeks from now in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and GenCon Indy, in the middle of August.  Not sure I have the funds or time to make both … so, I may skip Protospiel and use the time to go camping/fishing/canoeing with my family.  We’ll see how are plans go.

Also … I have a computer-based game project brewing … not exactly sure of the form that it’s going to take yet, but I’ve broken open my Visual Studio again for the first time in quite a while and I’m tinkering … so, let’s see what comes of that.

That’s all for now.

Warriors of Destiny, Father Geeks, Games and Games

Playing Dicey Curves with Cyrus and JeffSaturday was a long (yet fast), fun day of meeting people, talking about games (and gamers) and playing games of Dicey Curves, Subtilla, and Space Mission.

I need to give a big “thank you” to the booth babes of the day (they each got to wear my secondary booth badge labelled “Warrior of Destiny”): Whitney Watts (pictured to the right), my wife Britt, my daughter Anna, and my son Seth.  Whitney has a bad tendency to beat me at my games — winning Dicey Curves twice (once as a playtest of the DANGER! Expansion) and also winning Subtilla twice.

Playing Dicey Curves (with DANGER! Expansion) with Whitney WattsThere was also a Father Geek sighting (see picture above and to the left).  Cyrus Kirby of FatherGeek.com and another local Twin Cities game designer named Jeff spent (also a TGC user) a couple hours at my booth to talk games and gaming, watch a game of Subtilla, and then play both Space Mission and Dicey Curves.  I also gave Cyrus a sneak peek at what’s up with the DANGER! Expansion.  Good times and glad to have these guys stop by.

The rest of the time was spent doing more games-playing and games-talking and even got some more discussion in with Donovan about multiple things, including additional progress on the “Magistrate” prototype.  Met a couple of people who had liked the “Jump Gate geocache” contest I ran a couple weeks ago.  They reassured me that I can keep the clues tricky, knowing who the target audience is. 😉  So, we’ll see what I work out for my planned “Dicey Cache” find-it-keep-it event in April.

In the main room where my space is located, the miniatures games have definitely taken over today.  I love the way these games look.  Here are a few examples:

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Fellow Designer: Greg Lam of Pair-of-Dice Games

Greg Lam from Pair-of-Dice Games  

Greg Lam is another designer that I first bumped into in the Board Game Designers Forum web community (he posts there as “slam“).  He’s from Boston and self-publishes his games via his company, Pair-of-Dice Games.  

Pair-of-Dice GamesHe co-founded the company with a couple of friends in 2001 and has run it independently since 2004.  While their first hits were Knockabout and Warp 6, my eye was drawn to the game called Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000 (it really is as fun as it look).  I was able to play a few games of that at last year’s Protospiel get-together, where I also played a game of Greg’s Rock, Scissors, Paper (not the traditional hand-gesture game) and watched people play Restaurant Row.  

The BoardGameGeek page for Pair-of-Dice does a nice job summarizing the published games and history for the company, along with a link to a very interesting list where Greg has written up the details behind each of the games.  So, instead of rehashing the things you can find there, I wanted to find out a bit more about how Greg goes about designing games and what his influences are. Continue reading

Fellow Designers: Scott Starkey & Carl Klutzke of Dogtown Games

Dogtown GamesWhen preparing for my last “Fellow Designers” post about David Whitcher, I asked David who he thought would be good designers to put on my list to interview … he pointed me to Scott & Carl of Dogtown Games.

The Mother Lode of Sticky GulchI first became aware of Scott Starkey in the early days at the Board Game Designers Forum (probably 3 or 4 different wiki software changes ago for that site) as a smart designer who also was a good artist.  He was just releasing “The Mother Lode of Sticky Gulch” at that time.

I met Carl Klutzke for the first time at last year’s Protospiel in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I was impressed with the clarity and directness of StoryCardsCarl’s feedback on the designs during that get-together.  And I had a very good time dying very quickly in a futuristic group robot-piloting game.  (Beware the vermin — they will destory your machinery!)  Carl’s “StoryCards” is the other main product available from Dogtown.

I sent Scott & Carl a list of the same questions via e-mail and received responses from each of them.  Here is how that exchange turned out … Continue reading

Fellow Desinger: David Whitcher

David WhitcherMy first “Fellow Designer” post is about David Whitcher, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based designer behind PyroMyth Games.

PyroMyth Games LogoI’ve known David over the internet for at least a decade, but only finally met him face-to-face at last summer’s Protospiel in Ann Arbor.

Once I had my website updated and planned on running a series of posts about other indy board game designers and computer game developers, it seemed an easy thing to start with David … and I e-mailed him a bit of a Q&A. Continue reading