Apr 082011

I just finished laying out the game postcards for Six Gun, a quick little clapping game where you play gunfighters trying to shoot each other quickly. I talked a bit about the design of the physical cards themselves a bit over on unDesign, but I’d like to note a couple of things about the game design here, as well.

As I mentioned over there, it’s based on a childrens’ game called High Noon. The play is really almost identical, except for one or two bits that I changed. First, I added a limit of six bullets to the game; in the original, you can just go on loading and shooting forever. This seems okay at first, but in practice, it leads to any number of degenerate strategies that will make the game just go on and on – the “always hide” thing, the following by one thing, and so on. Which is totally fine for a playground game! Fun!

But my inclinations being what they are, I need to impose some kind of closure on the play, so I added the “six shots to win” rule. That way, if someone is stalling, the other player can rattle off half a dozen bangs and blow the lollygagger away. (You can still sandbag your opponent a little, or both jump right on doing load-bangs, but the “if you both shoot your last bullet simultaneously, you both lose” rule is my band-aid for that.)

The other major change was the addition of a verbal component to the game. This, it turns out, makes it so much harder, for me, anyway. Maybe I’ve got some kind of mouth-brain-hand dumbness, but it really takes a lot of concentration for me to only count down the bullets when I’m loading the gun, instead of shooting it. It’s pretty fun to break down in the middle of a game like this, though – it kind of reminds me of the simple/impossible 1-2-3 clapping warmup from improv – but it’s a good way to build that mental dexterity, and it definitely adds pressure when the you hear the numbers going up like that. Of course, my screwing it up all the time makes it a little harder to playtest, but it’s all part of the fun, in my opinion.

Fortunately for me, playtesting a game that only requires two people and plays in about fifteen seconds is really easy. This is where my design process falls apart most of the time – I usually either can’t get the bodies together to give something a good go-around, or I personally can’t find a gap in my ridiculous schedule to get new designs to the table. So, this was a refreshing little break from the larger stuff, and I think it worked out really well. Grab a partner and give it a shot, and let me know how it goes!

Apr 072011

Recently, my buddy Troy Gilbert hooked me up with an invite to dribbble. Dribbble is basically kind of like a twitter for creatives, with a few extra rules; you get twenty-four “shots” every month, each of which is a small screenshot of something that you’re working on. The maximum image size that you can post is only four hundred by three hundred pixels, so everything there is mainly just some kind of glimpse or peek of the whole thing. This is nice for a couple of reasons – you don’t have to have a whole huge finished piece to post, and you can give a small tease of the greater work, which sometimes is more fun than seeing the entire deal all at once. It also lends itself to a nice kind of graphics simplicity on the site itself, and acts as a nice little creative constraint to work within when you’re creating a shot to post.

Anyway, I created my account on the last day of March, and the way it works, you get all twenty-four shots refreshed when the month rolls over, no matter how many you’ve posted. So, if you use all twenty-four, you get them all back; if you’ve only used one, you just get one more, bringing you back up to twenty-four. (“Drawing back up to your hand limit” is how I described it to someone else. So, since I had only a few hours to post everything that I could lay hands on, I got to work picking a few things that I had on various burners and cutting them to fit.

I wound up playing with some spray-paint graffiti techniques in Photoshop to create a “hello, world” post, and then moved on to the projects in front of me. I’d been drawing a hundred robots for a self-imposed challenge, so I found an interesting corner of my big art pad, and put up a shot of that. I’d also recently taken a couple of photos of some dungeon geomorph cards that I sketched up a while back (that were just sent to trade for a Machine of Death card), so those went up, too. I’m reworking Skin Men to fit in a much smaller format, and I posted a bit of the re-designed shrunk-up map from that, and finally, a piece of the Papair Hockey sheet that I was in the process of laying out.

Then midnight rolled around, and I took a little breather. I’m also getting back into exercising some of my illustration and design chops – which are more like … something clever that’s the opposite of a chop… – so I posted a bit of the Monkey Princess Palace that I’d been working up over at my unDesign blog, and that’s where we sit now. I have a bunch of older art that I could totally cut up and post, but it kind of feels like that’s going against the spirit of the thing. I could post old game boards and prototypes, or card designs or art from the cover of Twenty-Four Game Poems, but those are all done, and I’d like to keep generating new artwork and design bits for my dribbble stream, so maybe I will, and maybe I won’t. I have a bit of free time now to spend working on that kind of thing, so I should take advantage of it, right?

Taktika was just mentioned favorably in a front page article on Boardgame News today. Sweet!

If you’ve been eyeing it for a while (or saw the beautiful photo that accompanies the article) now’s the time to break down and get yourself a copy. You deserve it!

Jan 132007

In my quest for Crokinole discs I have found a couple of sites that sell inexpensive discs. The first is Workshopsupply.com. I have placed an order with this company, however I have not received them yet. The other is Mr Crokinole, which carries many different styles of discs and rings.


Jun 132006

I found a good article recently on Do’s and Don’ts of Components: things to consider when choosing components. It includes good links to other articles: color, material, box dimension, etc.

In case you missed it, Peter Morrison has a long history of the production of Viktory up. Long, but well worth the read.

Following the same vein, you might want to read Tom Jolly’s thoughts on the subject of manufacturing and marketing.

Does anyone have any other good places to start?