Archive for category Games

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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Sell, Sell, Sell!

Unpub 6 is coming up, and it’s time for me to gather the games I want to take. Besides the games, there’s something really important I need to take, and that’s Sell Sheets for each of the games I’m taking with me. I’m taking sell sheets for all of the games I’m going to play, even though I’m not planning on trying to pitch them all to publishers. There are several reasons behind that, and I want to share why I think they’re important, and how I create my sell sheets. Read the rest of this entry »

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