Archive for category Games

New Year New Games New Plans

It’s been quite a while, but I’m finally back with some updates! I’ve been quite busy with the birth of my first child at the start of the year, but I’m finally getting into a routine again. Here’s what happened in the meantime:

Time Management: The Time Management Game arrived with backers and is now available in stores. This makes it my third officially published game. It’s come a long way! On the left, a very early prototype, back when it was called Human Resources. In the middle, the version I submitted to the publisher. And on the right, the final version.

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truckNew Bedford tile reprints have finally shipped out. So if you haven’t gotten yours, or you bought the game in retail, you can email contact@greaterthangames.com to get your replacement tiles.

I’ve been preparing for Unpub 7 in March. I only have a Tag Table this year, but I’ll be showing two new prototypes. These are both quick family friendly games that I’m looking to really tighten up:

  • ’52 Pickup, where players take turns collecting car parts from the junkyard in order to repair their ’52 Pickup.
  • Iceburgh. A workerless worker placement game about a town built on sliding blocks of ice

iceburghtitleAnd I’ll be working with the fabulous TC Petty III to show off a card game we’re codesigning, codename DECIMATE. It is a game about reality cooking competitions, and while it looks like a trick taking game, it doesn’t play like one.

I’ll also have several additional experimental prototypes that I might get to.

  • New Bedford expansion prototypes. A lot of different things from more buildings, to mini expansions, to big box expansions that extends the game and adds whole new routes to victory.
  • New Bedford Card Game spin-off. This is still very preliminary will still be early in testing, but it aims to hit a lighter mid-weight 30 minute mark.
  • Titusville: A big box game of Trains, Oil, Industry, and Pennsylvania History.
  • My movie game, previously Now Playing, previously Role Selection. The game is nearly in its complete form, but I still need to find the right title.
  • Rolling Through Town, a city-building roll-and-write game I’ve been working on that uses a shared board instead of individual sheets. Grab a copy!
  • Nano games for Buttonshy. I’ll be contributing some Nano games to the Boardgame of the Month and Wallet Games Kickstarter campaigns. Come check out a hint of what’s ahead.

Speaking of Buttonshy, my first “Nanodaption” was Pont d’Avignon, based on Avignon: a Clash of Popes. It was available as an addon for the January campaign for Avignon: Pilgrimage. I was really happy with the amount of theme that I was able to fit into this game, even though it’s only one card.

2015-16 was the year of small games for me. But 2017 will hopefully be the year of big games. I have at least 4 bigger games I want to get through, including Titusville and a reworked Terracotta Warriors (one of my early design attempts), and a few new ones, plus a couple of codesigns. I’m looking forward to a productive year.

Last but not least, I’ll be giving a talk at Bethany College this April about game design. I haven’t finalized the talk, but I will be focusing on the connections between my job as an eand my hobby as a board game designer. I’ll have more information for that soon!

 

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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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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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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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Design Philosophy

Three plus years into designing games, I’m starting to really find my own identity as a designer, and I’m ready to set out my design philosophy. I was initially inspired by a few posts last year by Grant Rodiek and Gil Hova, but I never quite completed writing my manifesto. I think I’m ready to try. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Time is Now!

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Time Management has launched on Kickstarter in the near future, right now! (I forget which is which).

It’s all a big joke, but the campaign is 100% real, like last year’s successful campaign. Please take a look and consider backing Time Management, along with the two other meta games: Trick Taking, and Traitor Mechanic.

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