I am excited to announce that my game Monkey Lab is going to be published by AEG. I have been waiting on letting the general public know, but I think enough information has been let out already and it is a few months away from being released, so I figured it was time.

So, let me tell you a little bit about Monkey Lab. You play as escaped research monkeys who return to the lab to free your monkey brethren. Since you don’t have access to the keys, you must use the items around the lab to break, pry, pick, and smash the cages open. You score points by releasing monkeys from the cages, or by standing around a newly opened cage and taking credit.  You can work with other players to free a deluge of monkeys through clever card play, or you can work against them by invoking your monkey combat or by sending the guard thier way.

AEG (Alderac Entertainment Group) is publishing the game as they have just started their expansion from CCGs and RPGs to the boardgame publishing world. They have recently released Tomb which has already gotten great reviews.  I’ve been privy to the work they’ve done on Monkey Lab so far and it looks great! I got to see the drawings of the monkey figures – Who doesn’t want a game with monkey pawns? Everything looks awesome and they did a great job bringing the game to life.

The release date is still cloudy, but my hope is that it will be available before BoardgameGeek.con so I can see people play and enjoy it. I will be posting some stories about the making of Monkey Lab in the coming weeks either here on on BGG, so stay tuned!

~ Dan Manfredini

Sep 112008

Argghhhh!!! Hurricane Ike is causing Texas A&M University to shut down this weekend! Protocon takes place on campus and is canceled! I’ve been preparing my games for months now for the design contest, and now they’ve got nowhere to be shown. The convention is not even going to be rescheduled!

Sep 032008

I was feeling a little concerned about my game prototype Stellar Underworld. This feeling came from some of the feedback from the guys from Oklahoma, and from a botched playtest with some “improved” rules based on that feedback. All of that, and I feel pressure to get this game ready for the Protocon design contest.Well, last night I decided to try out some simple changes and see how that fared. We played and I am happy to report that it played really nicely!

Here are some of the things I addressed:

Your ship is your ship – In the previous versions, your ship could be stolen if a player sent enough henchmen to do it, though you could also defend it if you wanted to. The system worked out ok, but the feedback I was getting was that it didn’t feel like you owned your ship. The “comandeering” rules for stealing are no longer in effect. You can only use your ship and the two neutral ships. Suprisingly, this worked out pretty nicely. And it was one less thing that players had to worry about (keeping enough henchmen around to defend a ship).

A nice side effect of this is that when you used your ship, you could leave cargo aboard without fear of thievery. No need for the warehouse. However, when you use the neutral ships, you almost always have to use the warehouse. The usage of the neutral ships are amplified now that other players ships are off limits to commandeering.

This is a perfect case of the development philosophy “How much can I remove from the game, and have it still be the same game?”

Henchmen are worth less – In the previous version, a recruiting strategy seemed to be a main path to victory. Henchmen were worth the same as completed contracts, and they provided many other benefits. Now, they are worth half as much as contracts. Players still benefit from having a lot of them, but now they aren’t “double dipping”.

There were other feedback points that I may or may not address, but for now I think the game has improved. I just to make a new bigger board, and a few other cosmetic changes, and I think I’m ready to go!