Oct 302007

I found out yesterday that Travelogue has failed to move forward in the Lucca Best Unpublished Game contest. It stalled out in the top 10. It is my understanding, though, that it will be available for all to play at the Lucca Comics & Games convention. That is assuming they translated my rules into Italian or someone is willing to teach it. In any case, I look forward to reading any feedback I receive about the game from the contest judges. I’ll have to make a nice copy again for my own collection, but I think I’m going to wait until I get the official “death certificate” email from them.

You have to have a thick skin to take the rejection you get as a fledgling game designer. Once you make it past phase 1 (idea, design, playtest, development), you’ve got something that people tell you is a good game. Rest assured, they told you it sucked at some point along the way, but since then you’ve made your game into something they really like now. You’ve got the prototype and the rules as polished as you can. You’re happy with it, and you’re ready to push it out into the real world. Yay!

You then move on to phase 2, where you send it out to a contest or a publisher. Get ready, get set, wait! It is best to just forget about your game for this period because there is little you can do to move the process forward (besides nagging to the publisher). As the months progress, you may wonder about what kind of adventures your game is encountering, and if it is making friends. The big day will come when you’ll find out that your game doesn’t suit their needs. It is very anti-climactic. It just ends after all that wait. Your little game went out into the big world, only to be squashed like roadkill. Sometimes they’ll send it back in a box, most of the time they won’t. Maybe the game deserved it. Maybe it didn’t. Poor game.

On the bright side, a game is only an idea. You can make another copy! You can send it out again, but this time better prepared. Hopefully someday it will make it to the published world, where you can move on to phase 3, where you can feel a new type of rejection: apathy or even disdain from the gaming public. Every game has its lovers and its haters. Some games even fade into the background after its initial hype. It is to be expected.

Anyways, I don’t want this to be a depressing post because I’m feeling fine. It’s a repetitive process, and, if anything, I’m feeling a bit exhausted. Its a lot of work for little feedback. I’ve got all the time in the world to continue this process, and I intend to do so. So it looks like back to the drawing board.

Oct 162007

I dusted off the Ubermause prototype and brought it over to design night. I got to meet John finally, who turned out to be interesting and pleasant. I had not really looked at the game in about a year and only had a ream of printed notes with the rules scattered throughout. I was able to convey the basic concept of the game and we played until John had to go. We got a lot of things wrong, mainly because I misinterpreted Drey From the Past’s notes to me, Future Drey.

One of Dan’s strong suits is creating elegant designs. I tend to throw tons of ideas into a design, fill it with all kinds of bells and whistles and options, but I often end up with this unwieldy beast.

Dan had some brilliant ideas to simplify the game and actually increase the fun factor. His idea was to integrate the ship power-ups into the mice themselves. That way players are immediately invested in the value of their crew even before they land on a planet. Also, we talked about making the ships themselves mini-boards, environments for the mice to move around in. For instance, an engineer could normally sit in one of the purple engine slots, increasing the ship’s movement. But if the ship got damaged, the engineer could move to the repair slot to fix it, but then you’d lose the extra speed. I was very excited about this idea as it took away several layers of complexity while adding a new fun element.

I shall mock up the new ships when I get a chance and maybe next playtest we’ll actually get to land on a planet and see the mice in action!

Good news everyone!

You may remember that I entered my prototype card game Travelogue into the Lucca Games competition. Well, I just found out that my game is one of the finalists. It is in the top ten, which turns out to be the top 25% because there were around 40 entries. The top three will be announced on November 1st along with the first place winner. The winner will be published and will receive free copies of his game. I am very excited about this! To me, what this means is that my game rules were read, understood, and taught to Italians. AND it was good enough to make it to the finals. It is really cool to have my game being played in another country by people I don’t even know.

In other game contest news, I plan on entering Hippodice this year again. I skipped out on it last year because I wasn’t fully prepared, but that won’t stop me this year!  I think I will enter my new war game. I haven’t written the rules down yet, or refined most of the cards, but I want to put something into the contest just so I don’t miss the opportunity this year. There’s nothing better than having a deadline to motivate you!

On Friday night I was able to play a six player game of Salvage. Now, originally, the game was only from two to four players (mostly due to the components I had on hand). Well, after reading the rules to the game, a publisher said he would only look at it if it handled up to six players since that it more marketable. I complied and made more cards, tokens, and card racks. The test went pretty well, and nothing totally fell apart. So with that, I’ll be sending out Salvage next month.

Speaking of sending out prototypes, Monkey Lab is currently en route to England where it will be played and hopefully considered for publication.  Go, Monkey Lab, Go!

One more thing, the Chains of Fenrir rules have finally been posted on boardgamegeek.com. Also, it is now available to purchase here.

Every Tuesday we have design night at my place and I usually shoot out an email with some agenda details and a call for who is coming. From now on, I figured I’d post this here on the blog instead so everyone can see what we’ve been up to.

One of the things I’d like to discuss this week is the ad we’re placing on The Dice Tower podcast. We’ve all pitched in and written little blurbs for our games, and hopefully we will attract some interest. In addition to that, Marc has updated the gizmet site with pages for our new games. Exciting times! Speaking of Marc, I saw that he had a playtest of his prototype Rocket Yard on Friday night with some rules tweaks, and I’d like to hear how that went. Hopefully Ian will bring his latest version of his prototype for Galaxy in Flames, a real time space combat card game, and maybe he’ll update us about the production of his game, Taktitka. I’ve got my genericly titled game “War Game” ready again to playtest with some hybrid ideas from the first and second versions. I’m not sure what is on the docket for Drey, Mark, or our newest attendee.

On another subject, I guess I forgot to update my story on my last post about the game I’m publishing. Well, first let me say the game is called Chains of Fenrir (formerly called the bead game). Secondly, to wrap up my story on the bag cinch: it worked out just fine since the stones I bought were too big to fall out if closed properly. That was actually the easy problem to fix. The bigger issue came when my stones arrived in the mail. It turned out that the purple stones and the orange stones were near identical on the table and could only be distinguished if held up to a light. I compare it to how a glass of grape soda and cola are hard to tell apart unless they’re backlit. My solution to this problem was to shop locally for some white stones as a replacement. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to find plain white stones. As luck would have it, one of my friends recently bought a ton of stones, and he happened to have a surplus of white stones. He let me have them, and I have enough for a little over a dozen games. I’ll eventually have to buy more, but at least I have some to start off with. If you’d like to check out the game, the rules should be posted on BoardGameGeek shortly. I’ve got some pics of the components up there too. If you’d like to buy the game, we’ve got it all set up for you to do that here.