September Update

It’s almost the end of September, and this is the first post I’ve written since the end of July. I’ve been remarkably busy working on my house, working on new games, and just plain working, which hasn’t left me the time to write. Up through July this was a very successful year for writing, but unfortunately I will not be maintaining that pace as I go into the final three months of the year. I will continue to post updates on my game designs, but long form articles on general game design subjects are taking a break.

On to game news, then.

If you haven’t heard of it, Buttonshy Games is running a Boardgame of the Month Club. Each month you get a new postcard (in a neat envelope) with a game from a different designer, based around this year’s theme of cult movies. I’m the designer of next month’s game (along with help from some budding designer friends in my regular gaming group). So if you want a copy, you have just a week left—up to September 30th—to subscribe to the Patreon above. I’m under orders not to give away any clues to the movie, so sorry to leave you all in the dark.

Oh, and speaking of games next month, Buttonshy also runs a short Kickstarter for games in their Wallet line. I’ve started working with them to create some extra goodies for future campaigns. And (hint hint) that’s a good reason to keep an eye open for next month’s Ahead in the Clouds by Daniel Newman, a surprisingly heavy game about very light things. I played it and it’s a great little thinky game.

New Bedford is hitting retail. Due to some manufacturing issues, there were some tiles that needed to be reprinted. More information, including a FAQ and Errata, is available on Board Game Geek. The Dice Tower took a look at New Bedford and Rising Tide recently, and I’m really happy with their take. [Spoilers: they liked it.]

That’s all for this month. Next month, I’ll be able to talk more about the Boardgame of the month, and hopefully give even more details of some of the projects I’m working on.

 

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Literary Game Design 2: Designing Conflict

Sometimes, you can be working on the same idea from two different angles, and it takes you a while to realize it. The previous article, Games as Stories, was one angle. I’m also starting a new game design, and was getting a bit overwhelmed with everything that I was trying to do at once. I started looking at some of the basic ways I was trying to make the game interesting. And I noticed the parallels between the classes of conflict and the ways to make decisions interesting. But I called them by slightly different names. Player versus player conflict is competition. Player versus randomness conflict is just another way of saying luck. Player versus rules sets boundaries. Internal conflict of player versus self is what I call struggle. Finally, player versus feedback is difficult to name, but I think challenge is a good term for it.

Some definitions of what makes a game focus on the idea that a game is characterized by creating artificial obstacles. These forms of conflict are the obstacles. Players get frustrated by obstacles that are too hard to pass and get annoyed by obstacles that have too little resistance. So by considering these forms of conflict individually, we can be better at deciding how to use them.
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Literary Game Design 1: Games as Stories

I’ve always wanted to talk about the relationship between games and literature, an idea that will probably make all but the geekiest of game design nerds roll their eyes. But for those of you who haven’t left yet, literature provides a great lens through which to examine game design. Each game played is like its own story, that the designer and players craft together. And if I learned anything from high school English class, there are five basic elements of any story: character, setting, conflict, plot, and theme. And if a game tells a story, these elements must be present as well.  But there are sometimes two different levels of story. The first is the story being told within the game. And the second is the story being told about the game. This second level is the one I’m interested in examining. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lessons from Designing a Solo Variant

This article has been a long time coming. Way back before the first New Bedford Kickstarter in 2014, I was starting to wrap up the expansions for New Bedford (now collected in Rising Tides). I had noticed a real uptick in the number of “solo variants” for games I followed on BGG, so I started to think that people were going to want a solo variant for New Bedford. But it would be another year of work before I actually got a solo mode I was happy with. In the roughly two years since I started working on the solo mode, a lot of new resources have appeared to assist designers of solo games, and I think it’s helpful to talk about how the Lonely Ocean mode was developed with regard to some of these resources. Read the rest of this entry »

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Have a Dice Cream Social

The Kickstarter for Rocky Road a la Mode has just hit its second stretch goal, and Green Couch Games has announced a contest to win a free Green Couch Games t-shirt! Want a chance to win a free shirt? Of course you do! Here’s how

  1. Print a copy of Rocky Road: Dice Cream.
  2. Invite some friends over.
  3. Serve those friends a sweet, cool treat.
  4. Play a game of Rocky Road: Dice Cream.
  5. Tweet a picture of your get together using the hashtag #dicecreamsocial and be sure to mention @GreenCouchGames and link to the Kickstarter campaign!

At the end of the campaign, Green Couch Games will draw 5 winners who followed all 5 of the steps listed above to win a Green Couch Games t-shirt!

Just like this tweet from the other night:

Want the Print and Play copy, or a want a How to Play video? Simply check out the fourth update, and while you’re there please consider backing Rocky Road a la Mode.

And speaking of the fourth… the Fourth of July holiday this weekend is a great opportunity to have a bunch of friends over and serve them ice cream. (Of course wherever you are, a summer weekend is a good opportunity to see friends and serve them ice cream.)

Keep cool everyone!

 

 

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Different Approaches to Micro-game Design

This past year (and longer, really), I’ve been exercising my design muscles by making really tiny games. I talked about why designing microgames is a good design exercise a while ago. The first one was Nantucket, which ended up being a few cards, and I discussed the process behind that a in the same article. Nantucket really started with the mechanics of New Bedford, and I adapted them to the smaller simpler format. This year, I had BoxScore as a stretch goal promo with the Bottom of the 9th Clubhouse expansion. And now you can get another game Rocky Road Dice Cream as a deluxe pledge for Rocky Road a la Mode by Joshua J. Mills from Green Couch Games. As I’ve continued working and developing my skills, I’ve observed that the approach I took with Nantucket is just one of several different ways to adapt a game. So today, I thought I would talk about those three approaches with 3 other games: Espresso, BoxScore, and Dice Cream. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hittin’ the Rocky Road

RockyRoadMainIt’s the first day of summer! And Green Couch games has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a seasonally appropriate new game: Rocky Road a la Mode, by designer Joshua J Mills. It’s a great little game with amazing artwork by Adam McIver that plays a little like Splendor, but with a time track turn order mechanism and multi-use cards. Players play music to attract customers, serve ice cream, and earn points and permanent resources in a quick race to the finish.

And as part of the campaign, I’m pleased to announce that you can also get a new microgame I designed to support the campaign, called Rocky Road: Dice Cream. With a single card, a few tokens and dice, you can take a little scoop of Rocky Road everywhere you go. I’ll be back tomorrow with more details of how the game works, and the process behind its creation.

Rocky Road a la Mode is a scoop of engine building, with a scoop of resource management, and a scoop of time management in a family friendly cone. So if you like great little games, please check out Rocky Road a la Mode and Dice Cream on Kickstarter!DiceCreamInset

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