tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-80626240445818972072017-01-16T08:54:06.387-08:00Robin DavidHome of tabletop game designer, Robin David.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comBlogger94125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-84309440062567938372016-10-05T05:11:00.002-07:002016-10-05T05:11:26.432-07:00Movable Type is now live on KickstarterMovable Type is my second Kickstarter campaign and is redevelopment of my earlier games Litterateur and AlphaDraft. For more information, check it out by following <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robindavid/movable-type-the-card-game" target="_blank">this link</a>!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-i1mV8C1VQO4/V_TtmfIXzSI/AAAAAAAABtA/1hkYy1dEZeMkmnz_KZK9quPPdaU99_EYQCLcB/s1600/MovableType-Main.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="225" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-i1mV8C1VQO4/V_TtmfIXzSI/AAAAAAAABtA/1hkYy1dEZeMkmnz_KZK9quPPdaU99_EYQCLcB/s400/MovableType-Main.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-28797464457650176292016-09-09T08:19:00.000-07:002016-09-13T05:31:23.749-07:00Lessons from the Sub Rosa Kickstarter Campaign (part 1)Back in late March and early April, I ran my first Kickstarter campaign, <i>Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</i>. You can see the project page <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robindavid/sub-rosa-spies-for-hire/description" target="_blank">here</a>, if you're interested in the fine details. Whilst it didn't set the world on fire with it's untold success, if did slightly reach beyond its funding goals. The rewards were shipped out in early August and all backers now have what they paid for.<br /><br />I want to take some of your time to briefly go over some of the lessons learnt through running the campaign and fulfilling the game to backers. Take everything here with a grain of salt and don't assume it should apply to your campaign or everybody's campaign - this is a sample size of one.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8AyLMDOVtfI/V7XiE__3sCI/AAAAAAAABqw/UaAD9NUdthAdxmZ_fAZSMKxKNUM5HOCcgCLcB/s1600/Screenshot%2B2016-08-18%2B17.25.40.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="185" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8AyLMDOVtfI/V7XiE__3sCI/AAAAAAAABqw/UaAD9NUdthAdxmZ_fAZSMKxKNUM5HOCcgCLcB/s320/Screenshot%2B2016-08-18%2B17.25.40.png" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The <i>Sub Rosa</i> Kickstarter</td></tr></tbody></table><div><h3>Keep Your Schedule (Relatively) Clear</h3>The <i>Sub Rosa</i> campaign had a habit of becoming overwhelmingly time consuming, if I let it. For the first 16 hours of the campaign, I was glued to my computer, answering questions, going on forums, tweeting, emailing, updating, texting my marketing manager. I had spent months preparing the campaign, but still felt like I was scrambling on that first day. Make sure that the day you launch a campaign, you have the time to guide it.<br /><br /><h3>Keep it Simple</h3>I'm so happy that I decided to run a relatively simple campaign, without add-ons, excessive amounts of stretch goals, or even a particularly complex product. This made the whole process so much less stressful - I knew the project would be profitable and delivered on time, no matter how many stretch goals were unlocked.<br /><br />Being a simple game also meant that manufacturing and fulfillment were a breeze for <i>Sub Rosa</i>. After all, it was just a rulebook, 10 cards, and 30 tokens. It's size and the lack of complicated add-ons meant it could be shipped straight from the factory to the backers.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KOheFtXACWs/V9LS0_z8k9I/AAAAAAAABrk/rX7qxv8kk1QVb9PF7PIHBMoHixPMAKEXgCLcB/s1600/c85d7d50d52e65b2f409bc320d4082e1_original.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="240" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KOheFtXACWs/V9LS0_z8k9I/AAAAAAAABrk/rX7qxv8kk1QVb9PF7PIHBMoHixPMAKEXgCLcB/s320/c85d7d50d52e65b2f409bc320d4082e1_original.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><h3>Keep it Short</h3>Most of the activity on my campaign happened in the first 48 hours and the last 48 hours. In the middle of that, there were huge swathes of inactivity. I think at one point, I went a day without a single new backer. My campaign was 21 days long and while sitting in the middle of it, it felt too long. 21 days is a long time to maintain buzz about your product. I think for future campaigns, I will reduce the length of the campaign to 14 days.<br /><br /><h3>Engage the Community and Focus on Your Marketing</h3>This is probably my biggest weakness. <a href="https://twitter.com/robinwriting" target="_blank">I enjoy using twitter</a> and I have a reasonable following on there, but I hate talking on internet forums and BGG. I'm also a pretty bad salesperson - even if I believe in a product, I can't bear the idea of forcing it onto somebody. So for the <i>Sub Rosa</i> campaign, I hired a marketing manager to take the reins a little and offer some guidance. I went with the services of <a href="http://www.wilderlandcampaigns.co.uk/" target="_blank">Wilderland Campaigns</a>, and I was really happy with what they did provided. Nate, from Wilderland, came into the project early on and offered guidance on elements of theme, pricing, press releases, and ways to engage backers. For instance, Nate convinced me to post an update requesting all backers take a "Secret Agent name" and post it on the comments section. I thought it was the goofiest thing I'd ever heard, but reluctantly went ahead with it. And to my surprise, it worked really well! I don't think the project would have funded at all, had I not had Wilderland on board. And that leads me to my next point...<br /><br /><h3>Advertising</h3>I should have done some. Not a lot, but I can't help but see some missed opportunity there. I should at least have tried a small amount to see what came out of it. My next campaign will be for a word game and trying to appeal to a much more mainstream audience, so I will certainly have to look at advertising for that.<br /><br /><br />Part 2 of this post is coming soon...</div>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-21270642481680289212016-03-30T04:12:00.003-07:002016-03-30T04:12:51.550-07:00Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire is on Kickstarter!<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VUKiit8SuvI/Vvuz_z58O9I/AAAAAAAABlM/8VNIs8lS-OIOJ6AuHrvVmyqpXZmU6VXpQ/s1600/Cover%2BDay%2B6.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="297" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VUKiit8SuvI/Vvuz_z58O9I/AAAAAAAABlM/8VNIs8lS-OIOJ6AuHrvVmyqpXZmU6VXpQ/s400/Cover%2BDay%2B6.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />This week, <i>Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</i> <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robindavid/sub-rosa-spies-for-hire" target="_blank">launched on Kickstarter</a>! <i>Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</i> is a 2-4 player microgame all about bidding, bluffing and manipulation. The <a href="https://payhip.com/b/DoMm" target="_blank">low-resolution printable is available</a> if you want to check the game out first.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-78944791929822101372016-02-12T08:58:00.001-08:002016-02-12T09:19:32.488-08:00Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire<i>Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</i>&nbsp;(<a href="https://payhip.com/b/DoMm" target="_blank">download</a>) was formerly called <i>Bid for Power</i>, and is a tactical bidding and bluffing microgame for 2-4 players. <i>Sub Rosa</i>&nbsp;has been developed with the intention of being launched as my first Kickstarter project - so I wanted something small and simple. I wanted it to be a game which provided interesting decision making moments with as few components as possible. So <i>Sub Rosa</i> uses only 5 double-sided cards and 28 small bidding tokens.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HTsRnkARVIc/Vr4OfnxM-MI/AAAAAAAABjc/Z_HdTaeXsSY/s1600/Image1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="263" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HTsRnkARVIc/Vr4OfnxM-MI/AAAAAAAABjc/Z_HdTaeXsSY/s320/Image1.jpg" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Towards the end of a 3-player game.</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Players start by shuffling and flipping the double-sided cards and laying a number of these cards out on the table, depending on the number of players - these cards are the agents available for hire in the game. Each agent card has its own specific powers, and the combinations of agents that come out can alter the game significantly. In a 4-player game, there are 32 possible combinations of agents - and while some of these variations are slight, some are quite drastic and can result in some unexpected combos and some fun bluffing opportunities.<br /><br />Once the available agents have been determined, players take turns placing their bidding tokens onto the various agent cards. Each bidding token is numbered, with a value between 2 and 6. Most tokens are played face-down and are not revealed until the end - this is where much of the bluffing comes in. Additionally each player has two tokens that let them utilise the various agent abilities. Thematically, it's like the players have been able to blackmail the agents into doing various jobs. These jobs include manipulating opponent bids, moving agents around, or locking agents from bids for a round.<br /><br />Once players have each placed all but one token, they reveal all the face-down tokens, and the values on these tokens determine who has won control of each agent. The player who wins control of the most agents at the end of the game is the winner. In the case of a tie, the tied player who kept the highest value token in their hand is the winner.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XFyNCgwXL78/Vr4OWZQv8WI/AAAAAAAABjY/_-4QSBt6brM/s1600/Sub-Rosa-Banner.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="186" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XFyNCgwXL78/Vr4OWZQv8WI/AAAAAAAABjY/_-4QSBt6brM/s400/Sub-Rosa-Banner.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />The biggest selling point for <i>Sub Rosa</i> is that it is easy to teach and learn, but has a lot of interesting emergent strategies contained within it. This happens because of the interaction between the agent card abilities and also because bluffing is such a central mechanic.<br /><br /><i>Sub Rosa</i>&nbsp;was developed in the Playtest Dublin group. It started out as a tiny two-player idea and was quickly thrashed into its current shape. Because it's so small, it's been playtested <i>a lot</i> and it's been possible to send it through many iterations. All of this has been great for the game and I'm eternally grateful to the Dublin gaming community for their help.<br /><br /><i>Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</i> will be popping up on Kickstarter in about a month's time. In the meantime, you can get a free print-and-play, so you can try the game out. The print-and-play uses only one sheet of thick paper or card and is in black-and-white.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: large;"><i><a href="https://payhip.com/b/DoMm" target="_blank">Follow this link</a> and enter your email to get the files.</i></span></div>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-25730808546431739902016-02-08T09:47:00.000-08:002016-02-12T05:35:24.497-08:00The New Litterateur PNP is Available<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KasLl55NLns/VrjUDJEWOzI/AAAAAAAABjA/Lqem6Fjcq_0/s1600/DSC_0421-2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="267" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KasLl55NLns/VrjUDJEWOzI/AAAAAAAABjA/Lqem6Fjcq_0/s400/DSC_0421-2.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />Litterateur is a card-drafting word building game for up to six players. It lasts 20-30 minutes and rewards savvy planning, not just an expansive lexicon.<br /><br />The black-and-white print-and-play is available for free, <a href="https://payhip.com/b/7XfU" target="_blank">here</a>.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-8460849279176022202016-02-05T06:49:00.000-08:002016-02-05T06:49:06.633-08:00Report from Playtest Dublin #6Since arriving in Ireland, I've missed tons of things about my life in Singapore - the food, the weather, the convenience, old friends - but one thing Dublin has given me is a community of game makers to interact with. Notably, the Playtest Dublin group has been a spot to bring my designs to more varieties of playtesters, and this has resulted in huge changes in my games, as well as development of my game design skills. Here's the report from January's large playtest sessions.<br /><br /><h2>Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</h2><i>Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</i> is a bidding, bluffing, base-control microgame, which I've been developing since the middle of last year. I'll outline it's development in more detail in a later post, but for the sake of this article, playtesters were trying out a late version of the game. <i>Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</i> has been through more iterations than any other of my games and has had a significantly faster development cycle - partly because it's a small game and partly because it's quick and easy to test. The playtests in January were all blind-playtests (I just gave the players the rules and left them to figure it out), and things went swimmingly. Players enjoyed their plays of the game and I've started locking down features for the final version. A print and play is imminent.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GJFbV_anzkw/VrS1gtLI8TI/AAAAAAAABik/Cn8Sb2avYcs/s1600/IMG_5546.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GJFbV_anzkw/VrS1gtLI8TI/AAAAAAAABik/Cn8Sb2avYcs/s320/IMG_5546.JPG" width="239" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><h2>Watermelons</h2>Another long-time design. This game started development in February, 2015, and there are quite a few posts on this blog outlining its development. At it's core, the game is a push-your-luck bluffing game, where players dare one another to take cards which may or may not be poisoned melons - if you get poisoned, you are out of the short round, but still score points, so it's a matter of deciding when it's most advantageous to meet your ugly demise. Since the last post here, the main changes have been with regards to the balance of healthy melons to poisoned melons, and the score values of those melons. Players really enjoyed this one and one group played the game, just for fun, an additional two times. Several groups of playtesters have told me that this game is finished, but I still feel like it lacks something. I think the next step will be to send it to wider groups of playtesters, to see how they respond.<br /><h2><br />Dropships</h2>This is a quick dexterity game I put together the week before the playtest. I've been beating around the idea of making a micro-legacy game. That is, a game that changes each time you play it and comes with only a limited number of plays, but then also contained within very few components. <i>Dropships </i>is a war game where you launch ships onto a planet's surface to fight battles. Wherever these battles take place, the terrain is changed for all future games. The game itself didn't really work very well - the dexterity element of the game felt a little flat and uninspiring. I will probably return to the idea, after mulling over it for a while.<br /><br /><h2>Space Traders</h2>This is my <i>Chinatown</i>-esque trading game, about developing the best businesses on a space-mall. Players are free to trade any items they own - business licences, established businesses, renovation contracts, cash - and then they enter into a short, tile-laying phase, a little similar to <i>Carcassonne</i>, where there are certain rules about laying certain tiles. After this, players are paid based on how well they have developed their businesses and a new round begins. The game went fine, but it doesn't provide a unique enough experience to be interesting, at this point. I have some ideas regarding how to develop the tile-laying part of the game, to make things more interesting, but it'll have to wait until I have other projects out of the way.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ksf8bcCYOBo/VrS1ofvpNsI/AAAAAAAABio/zztwndrfedI/s1600/IMG_5552.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="174" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ksf8bcCYOBo/VrS1ofvpNsI/AAAAAAAABio/zztwndrfedI/s320/IMG_5552.JPG" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Space Traders</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><h2>Cliques</h2><i>Cliques </i>is a card game for 4-8 players which I've been developing for a while, with the intention to submit it to a game design contest. My intention was to have a game which plays a high number of players without having a lot of downtime, which typically happens with high-player-count games (<i>Bang </i>and <i>Citadels </i>being among the clearest examples of this). No changes came out of this most recent playtest of this and players had a lot of fun with it. This is possibly the game that I have playtested the most, at this point, because it's easy to pull out at normal gaming events. It's currently in the hands of the judges in one game design contest, and has been submitted to a bunch of publishers.<br /><br /><h2>Modular City Game</h2>I'm a huge fan of <i>Carcasssonne </i>and in December I picked up a set of micro-expansion for the game. These are 9 tile expansions that come in tiny boxes and each add a new mechanic to the <i>Carcassonne</i> base game. This got me thinking, would it be possible to design a game which consists of a set of standalone modules, which can be played separately or together? Every module could be made available for a low price, because they are small, but if you have enough, you could combine them to make a large and relatively unique game.<br /><br />I thrashed out the idea for a while and decided that a city-building, tile-laying game could be interesting. So far I have made two modules - one is a small town module and one is a marina module. Each can be played alone, or if you combine them, you are playing a game about developing a small town by the sea. Players enjoyed the ideas presented in the game, but end-game scoring proved to be problematic. This is an issue with the tile-laying mechanic, rather than the modular concept. I'll continue to think this one through.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><br />Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0Dublin, Ireland53.3498053 -6.260309699999993453.0463133 -6.9057566999999933 53.6532973 -5.6148626999999935tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-65981959216179301622016-01-07T06:32:00.001-08:002016-01-07T06:35:14.694-08:00The Greater Than Games "Meta-Game Contest"Last year, indie publisher Greater Than Games, published two "meta-games" - by which they mean games that are self-referential and tongue-in-cheek. These were <i>Deck Building: The Deck Building Game</i> (about laying a new deck on the back of your house) and <i>Unpub: The Unpublished Card Game</i> (about making card and board games). The buzz was huge and the <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dicehateme/meta-games-for-small-pockets-deck-building-and-unp/description" target="_blank">Kickstarter project</a> was a sizable success.<br /><br />This year, Greater Than Games have announced a contest to find the next meta-games to form part of their next Kickstarter project. The details are <a href="https://greaterthangames.com/content/a-new-game-design-contest" target="_blank">here</a>, but in a nutshell, designers have been tasked to make a game called <i>[Game Mechanic]: The [Game Mechanic] Game</i>. It's going to be tough to top GTG's own <i>Traitor Mechanic: The Traitor Mechanic Game</i> (about car mechanics that betray one another), but I've been giving it a shot anyway. As I wrote in <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/02/finding-design-inspiration-odd-packaging.html" target="_blank">an earlier post</a>, these kinds of limitations are often the best way to spark creativity. Here are some of the ideas that I've been throwing around, as well as the design I'll be taking forward to submit for the contest.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yLIS3qSxX84/Vo521JQpgUI/AAAAAAAABgg/qikALxv4IAM/s1600/GTGContest.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="140" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yLIS3qSxX84/Vo521JQpgUI/AAAAAAAABgg/qikALxv4IAM/s400/GTGContest.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: large;"><b>Paper and Pencil: The Paper and Pencil Game</b></span><br />That is, of course, a game about running a stationary store. Think a little bit like Rolling Japan/America or Quixx. This game has gotten no further than a vague idea, but I totally intend to follow up on it one day.<br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><br /></b></span><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: large;"><b>Spacial Reasoning: The Spatial Reasoning Game</b></span><br />This is a dexterity game, set in space. I started designing one about asteroids, but it developed in another, more interesting direction. It's now a game about drone strikes, weirdly, and it's another idea that I'll come back to one day. Being a dexterity game, it has peculiar component demands and isn't suitable for the contest.<br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b><br /></b></span><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: large;"><b>Co-Operatives: The Cooperative Card game</b></span><br />This is a card game, similar to Hanabi and The Game, where players are attempting to arrange cards into specified orders. Thematically, players are undercover operatives, trying to take down a super-villain's empire. It will require too much testing and refining to be done in time for the contest.<br /><br /><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: large;"><b>Set Collection: The Set Collection Game</b></span><br />This is the game I am most likely going to submit to the contest. I'm not 100% clear on the theme yet, but I believe that players are going to be collectors, gathering artefacts that represent the Egyptian god, Set. Or maybe they are Egyptians gathering things to worship Set. Anyway, Set is the Egyptian god that represents disorder and deception, amongst other things - so this game is going to involve the players deceiving one another and trying to sow disorder, whilst gathering the cards they need. Expect a fuller write-up closer to the date of the contest.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-39505368943348412222016-01-05T03:37:00.000-08:002016-01-05T03:37:33.698-08:00Design Diary: The Martian Investigations: Deep Fears (Case 2)<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1K1TOf8lVHk/VopxTlz52jI/AAAAAAAABgI/u2c1l5ZLxJA/s1600/DeepFearsCover.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1K1TOf8lVHk/VopxTlz52jI/AAAAAAAABgI/u2c1l5ZLxJA/s320/DeepFearsCover.jpg" width="247" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>After Case 1 of <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/10/the-martian-investigations-story-based.html" target="_blank"><i>The Martian Investigations</i></a> was met with a lot of positive responses, I've been spending the past couple of months, very slowly working on Case 2. I decided that I want to start pushing the boundaries of what these deduction style games usually offer. If you've played Case 1, or other deduction games such as <i>Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective</i>, then you'll understand that deduction games generally do have a limited experience inherent in them. If you haven't played a deduction game before, then check out <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/10/the-martian-investigations-death-on.html" target="_blank">this post</a> for a more detailed description. Anyway, a couple of issues with the medium:<br /><ul><li>They cover a snapshot in time. Because the game maker has no control over the order in which scenes/locations are visited, the case cannot really evolve the plot over a single case, until the very end when the case is wrapped up.</li><li>They are susceptible to wild plays by crazy players - players can simply take the map, pick a spot at random and visit it. This could potentially crack the case wide open if they hit on a vital clue early in the game.</li></ul>In case 2, I've tried to work on these two issues in two ways:<br /><ul><li>I've greatly expanded the map. Case 2 now uses 3 maps in total - the main Banks Settlement map, a map of the Noman Security HQ and a map of the Banks Mohole. Whilst doing this, I've tried to make things a little harder for the wild player (because there are so many locations now), whilst also making the maps more interesting to use - now there are locations that are not in the directory, but look interesting enough on the map for players to pick out and visit.</li><li>I've included locations that are on neither the map, nor in the directory. They can only be found by talking to characters in other locations. This means that I can really reward certain lines of inquiry, and I can be sure that some locations will not be visited until a later point. Thus, I can have a plot that evolves during the case.</li></ul><div>I'm already working on Case 3, which will stretch the mechanics of this genre even further, by using a timer mechanic which evolves the case as time goes on. The biggest hurdle will be how to offer different scenes in the same location as time goes on, but I don't want to elaborate too much on that in this Design Diary. Expect to hear something by next month, hopefully.</div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: center;">You can find Case 2 of <i>The Martian Investigations</i> <a href="https://payhip.com/b/1Clu" target="_blank">here</a>.</div></div><div><div style="text-align: center;">You can also get a twin pack, with Cases 1 and 2, <a href="https://payhip.com/b/Tzd8" target="_blank">here</a>.</div></div>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-35572003236482238532016-01-04T05:38:00.000-08:002016-01-05T03:30:49.645-08:00The Martian Investigations: Case 2, is now available!I hope you kind people know just how much work goes into creating a deduction game! After I released Case 1 of <i>The Martian Investigations</i>, to a lot of really heart-warming and positive responses, I started work on Case 2. A little over two months of occasional afternoons sat in coffee shops poring over maps and directories, here it is!<br /><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1K1TOf8lVHk/VopxTlz52jI/AAAAAAAABgM/1GdkFgLQrLc/s1600/DeepFearsCover.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1K1TOf8lVHk/VopxTlz52jI/AAAAAAAABgM/1GdkFgLQrLc/s320/DeepFearsCover.jpg" width="247" /></a></div><div><br /></div><div>Case 2, <i>Deep Fears</i>, sends the players twelve kilometers under the surface of Mars, into one of the planet's enormous geothermic mines, to investigate a bizarre explosion that claimed four lives. Of course, things are not what they seem in this world of angry industrial workers, dark tunnels, and unchecked revenge.</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VFKNgbwdznk/Vop0poeuy7I/AAAAAAAABgQ/IzyX8XDERVI/s1600/Multipack.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="240" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VFKNgbwdznk/Vop0poeuy7I/AAAAAAAABgQ/IzyX8XDERVI/s320/Multipack.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div><br /></div><div><i>Deep Fears</i> has a greatly expanded world from Case 1, with maps of the Banks Mohole and Noman Security HQ, and an expanded directory, ensuring the players are challenged, engaged, and kept on their toes.</div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Case 2 is available <a href="https://payhip.com/b/1Clu" target="_blank">here</a>.</span></b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: large;">Cases 1 and 2 are bundled together,&nbsp;<a href="https://payhip.com/b/Tzd8" target="_blank">here</a>.</span></b></div>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-24306306453854680872015-12-11T11:16:00.000-08:002015-12-11T11:16:01.602-08:00The Martian Investigations on Low Player CountJust a small thing, but I was really pumped to hear this brief and improvised review of <i>The Martian Investigations</i> on the Low Player Count podcast. You can catch it around the 54 minute mark.<br /><br /><iframe frameborder="0" height="150" scrolling="no" src="http://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/64105/41532044" style="border: solid 1px #dedede;" width="220"></iframe><br /><br />In short, they're talking about games with no replayability like deduction games and legacy games:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">[The Martian Investigations] was a lot of fun. It was a cool thing to be able to do. [...] You should download it. [...] I spent about an hour or an hour and a half and even if I bought it for $2, which is full price, I'd would still feel fully satisfied with the game.</blockquote>&nbsp;Here's <a href="https://payhip.com/b/hSDG" target="_blank">the download link</a>, if you are yet to check it out.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-11733329071795093082015-11-17T13:56:00.001-08:002015-11-17T14:27:52.257-08:00Why I'm Giving Away "Eccentric Exhibits"Earlier this year, I released <i><a href="http://www.drivethrucards.com/product/143414/Directors-Cut-The-Card-Game?term=director" target="_blank">Director's Cut: The Card Game</a></i> on DriveThruCards to underwhelming success, The way DriveThruCards works is they charge a print cost for each deck sold, based on the number of cards in that deck. Then the designer of the game adds their own profit margin on top of that. The print cost and margin combined is what potential customers see. In the case of <i>Director's Cut: The Card Game</i>, it uses 107 cards. The print cost is $8.56, my margin is $1.43, and so the final cost to the customer is $9.99 + postage. It's not a terrible deal for the customer, but it's a terrible deal for me - the margin is just too low for a badly selling game.<br /><br />In May 2015, a construction management company tried to licence the game as a corporate giveaway, but balked at those same production costs. Even when ordering in bulk, the costs of the game were already too high to give myself any reasonable profit.<br /><br />I knew that in order to offer better prices and higher margins on sites like DriveThruCards, and to make games more attractive to other clients and publishers, I needed to make smaller, cheaper games.<br /><br />Enter <i>Eccentric Exhibits</i>.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yvb6Ya6LdU8/VRtesXyPLfI/AAAAAAAABHQ/SqsLvhARwEQ/s1600/SamplePage.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="113" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yvb6Ya6LdU8/VRtesXyPLfI/AAAAAAAABHQ/SqsLvhARwEQ/s320/SamplePage.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />In <i>Eccentric Exhibits</i>, players are rival museum curators, trying to assemble the best museum collection. They do this by winning tricks over a series of four rounds. The public tastes will change and some items will only impress if they can be displayed together. An unusual scoring mechanism also means that the best items are not the most likely to win tricks, so both players must be savvy in their moves. <i>Eccentric Exhibits</i> is loosely based off the traditional card game, <i>Schnapsen</i>.<br /><div><br /></div><div>At only 20 cards in size, I was excited to bring <i>Eccentric Exhibits</i> to DriveThruCards. I figured I'd be able to offer it for $5 and still make a decent margin. But then reality struck. I ordered a proof copy to check how the game looks printed, which is of no small cost when you consider DriveThruCard's international shipping rates. When it arrived the colours were screwy. I would have to fix the colours, order another proof, and still might not be finished. I decided to wait and think about it.<br /><br /></div><div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-21Ox4Ddzrr8/VkPINUwPQKI/AAAAAAAABeU/W7Fas3bLjB8/s1600/P1080500.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="240" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-21Ox4Ddzrr8/VkPINUwPQKI/AAAAAAAABeU/W7Fas3bLjB8/s320/P1080500.JPG" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The proof copy. The yellows, in particular, came out wrong.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /></div><div>Last week I released a print and play title, named <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/10/the-martian-investigations-story-based.html" style="font-style: italic;" target="_blank">The Martian Investigations</a>, which costs <a href="https://payhip.com/b/hSDG" target="_blank">$2 on Payhip</a>. Over one weekend, the game made back its costs (editing, prototype printing, etc) and another $100 in profit. Whilst making <i>The Martian Investigations</i> was no small endeavour, it made me realise that there are audiences out there that are hungry for indie stuff and are willing to put together their own printed copies of games. Thus far, I have been erroneously behaving like getting games into players' hands always has to be a big deal and a difficult task - I told myself that I have to approach publishers, or run a Kickstarter, or at least mess around with multiple proof copies at a print-on-demand business.<br /><br />I have a bunch of other finished projects that I'm more passionate about publishing than&nbsp;<i>Eccentric Exhibits</i>, so I don't want it using up valuable publisher talk-time. It's not spectacular enough for Kickstarter. And print-on-demand doesn't make enough money to be worth it. So instead, I'm giving away <i>Eccentric Exhibits</i> as a print-and-play, PDF. Boardgamers can get the file, print it out, cut it up, and quickly get to playing the game.<br /><br />Unlike <i>The Martian Investigations</i>, I've marked <i>Eccentric Exhibits</i> as pay-what-you-want, with no minimum amount. After 74 people have downloaded the game, only 2 people have paid anything. The grand total is $7.<br /><br />You can <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/11/eccentric-exhibits-is-now-pay-what-you.html" target="_blank">read more about Eccentric Exhibits here</a>, and <a href="https://payhip.com/b/aJHh" target="_blank">find it on Payhip, here</a>.</div>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-5831072505302000802015-11-11T15:06:00.001-08:002015-11-11T15:06:12.565-08:00Eccentric Exhibits is now a pay-what-you-want Print-and-Play<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-D4qhfk_SYcU/VRtcoZ2jbiI/AAAAAAAABHA/gpM_joGE0KQ/s1600/PromoCover.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-D4qhfk_SYcU/VRtcoZ2jbiI/AAAAAAAABHA/gpM_joGE0KQ/s1600/PromoCover.jpg" width="231" /></a></div><br /><i>Eccentric Exhibits</i>&nbsp;is a 2-player, 20-card trick-taking game. In this game, players are rival museum curators trying to arrange the most prestigious exhibitions of bizarre and unusual artifacts - unicorn hooves, kraken tentacles, books of pure evil, and alien skulls, to name a few.<br /><br />Over four rounds, two players will play a series of tricks, trying to win artifacts for their museum and score prestige. The twist is that the highest scoring cards are not always the cards most likely to win a trick. So huge bonus points are available if you can deduce what cards your opponent is able to play and which tricks they are able to win.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yvb6Ya6LdU8/VRtesXyPLfI/AAAAAAAABHM/xOzDn7bC6Pc/s1600/SamplePage.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="113" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yvb6Ya6LdU8/VRtesXyPLfI/AAAAAAAABHM/xOzDn7bC6Pc/s1600/SamplePage.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />With only 20 cards to keep track of, skills in deduction and risk management are paramount.&nbsp;<i>Eccentric Exhibits</i>&nbsp;is a tense, high-skill game for two players.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-21Ox4Ddzrr8/VkPINUwPQKI/AAAAAAAABeQ/9ldKBnq8QwU/s1600/P1080500.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="240" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-21Ox4Ddzrr8/VkPINUwPQKI/AAAAAAAABeQ/9ldKBnq8QwU/s320/P1080500.JPG" width="320" /></a></div><br />In a pocket-sized set, on only 4 printed sheets, you get:<br /><ul><li>20 cards in 4 suits, each depicting a unique, bizarre artifact.</li><li>4 bonus cards, which are awarded for difficult and high-risk moves.</li><li>1 round tracker.</li><li>The rules of the game.</li></ul><i>Eccentric Exhibits</i>&nbsp;is perfect for fans of trick-taking games (like&nbsp;<i>Hearts&nbsp;</i>or&nbsp;<i>Euchre</i>) and players who enjoy unusual themes. It is based on the traditional trick-taking game, <i>Schnapsen</i>.<br /><br /><h3 style="text-align: center;"><i>Eccentric Exhibits</i> is pay-what-you-want (no minimum), on <a href="https://payhip.com/b/aJHh" target="_blank">Payhip</a>.</h3><br /><span style="font-size: x-small;"><i>Note: Aside from these cards, players will need a way to record scores between each round - some paper or a phone app. I wanted to include cards to tracks scores, but scores in a single game can go beyond 500 - including score trackers would have made this a very bulky and expensive package.</i></span>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-1389703189120174732015-10-30T04:33:00.003-07:002015-10-30T04:33:33.874-07:00The Martian Investigations: Death on the Rust Planet, Design Diary<div style="text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-family: Courier New, Courier, monospace;">This article is spoiler-free.</span></b></div><br />I decided to make <i>The Martian Investigations</i> after playing through <i>Sherlock Holmes; Consulting Detective</i> (<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/06/dice-on-fire-review-sherlock-holmes.html" target="_blank">review</a>; <a href="https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2511/sherlock-holmes-consulting-detective" target="_blank">BGG</a>) and <i>Arkham Investigator</i> (<a href="https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/138963/arkham-investigator" target="_blank">BGG</a>). I was really impressed with the ways these books used the choose your own adventure format to create something intellectually challenging and thematically immersive. I figured, "Oh this will be easy. 4000 words and I'll have it finished by the weekend." I was so wrong!<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-69w3Uie5Ijg/VjNJGmNpoYI/AAAAAAAABak/H_bsB_X1TuM/s1600/Draft1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-69w3Uie5Ijg/VjNJGmNpoYI/AAAAAAAABak/H_bsB_X1TuM/s320/Draft1.jpg" width="239" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The original draft for the map of Banks, with planning notes.</td></tr></tbody></table>The thing that makes these kinds of games immersive and interesting is that they give the player complete freedom over how the narrative should proceed. Rather than being sent down a linear path, the game works like this:<br /><br /><ol><li>The players read through an opening scene, establishing a crime that needs to be solved.</li><li>Players can then consult a map, a directory, the daily newspaper and perhaps some other documents (<a href="https://pe56d.s3.amazonaws.com/p1a2ah0ptk1m013mnb1s1ls1cg7f.pdf" target="_blank">here's an example from the start of my own game</a>)</li><li>Players choose where they wish to visit on the map, using the above documents.</li><li>They open a case book to the map coordinates they are interested in and are able to read a scene relating to those coordinates.</li><li>They can do this as much as they want.</li><li>Once they think they have solved the crime, players flip to the back of the casebook and are presented with some questions.</li><li>They answer these questions and then read the closing scene, which includes the solution.</li><li>They calculate a score based on their answers, the amount of places they visited, and sometimes some other variables.</li></ol><br />This structure is <b>not </b>my own design. It's been used plenty of times before, like in the aforementioned two games, and other games ranging back to the 1970s (such as <i>Gumshoe</i>).<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jGNbNtz01Ro/VjNMBn2__gI/AAAAAAAABaw/JooWUAb-1xo/s1600/draft2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jGNbNtz01Ro/VjNMBn2__gI/AAAAAAAABaw/JooWUAb-1xo/s320/draft2.jpg" width="239" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The map that my first playtesters got.</td></tr></tbody></table>The unique challenge that this structure presents is that the player is able to visit any location at any time. So this means that every scene needs to present data in such a way that it won't assume the reader has acquired information from another scene, but will make sense if the player has found that extra information. Here's an example I've just made up:<br /><br /><b>The Case:</b><br />Somebody got gunned down outside a New York movie theater.<br /><br /><b>Location: The Theater Ticket Booth</b><br />The clerk tells you that she saw the guy who did the shooting. He had green hair.<br /><br /><b>Location: The Train Station</b><br />You see a guy with green hair rushing to catch a train to Chicago.<br /><br />Now this makes sense. If you visit the locations in reverse order, it still makes sense. However, if we try to have the player interrogate the green haired man because they were seen at the scene of the crime, then it wouldn't make sense - we can't assume the player has that knowledge.<br /><br />This all seems very easy and straightforward. Until you realise that The Martian Investigations has 61 unique locations, any of which can be visited at any time. In fact, my very first playtester picked up the game, visited a location I absolutely did not expect, and immediately was given the "smoking-gun" clue, cracking the case wide open. There's a similar scene to this in <i>Arkham Investigator</i> where you arrive to find a police bust, almost capturing the suspect - this would have been so unsatisfying if I had visited the scene out of order.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8IoFTE37SEQ/VjNOSkxlPmI/AAAAAAAABa8/upHn3M2HwU0/s1600/draft3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="180" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8IoFTE37SEQ/VjNOSkxlPmI/AAAAAAAABa8/upHn3M2HwU0/s320/draft3.jpg" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The first beta version.</td></tr></tbody></table>The way around this problem is to give clues that may seem innocent enough, until they are combined with other clues. The green hair clue is an example of this - it's innocent enough, until you speak to the ticket clerk at the theater.<br /><br />Another challenge in this kind of writing is the delicate balancing act of giving enough clues, enough false clues, and holding enough back. The first version of <i>The Martian Investigations</i> was really quite difficult and required some significant deductive leaps. It was too much for the playtesters who experienced it. I had to start dropping in more clues, more interesting leads, more characters who could suggest the right direction to you, all without making things too difficult.<br /><br />Other issues need to be addressed is the different kinds of playstyles. The first playtester I had just took wild leaps of faith, visiting the most unlikely of suspects. The second playtester I had was more like me, following through the most obvious links. The third playtester was a total surprise - they decided to canvas the entire neighborhood around one of the crime scenes (the case features two simultaneous crimes to solve) - and so I had to make sure the game wouldn't break under this kind of scrutiny. Another playtester found a reference to a characters first name and visited ALL the people in the directory with that first name. All of these playstyles seems legitimate to me, so this kind of game should be accommodating to them - so obviously this meant big rewrites for me.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TMQKPFOW-1M/VjNSCkkwbWI/AAAAAAAABbI/t5dMPiwYLwo/s1600/draft4.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TMQKPFOW-1M/VjNSCkkwbWI/AAAAAAAABbI/t5dMPiwYLwo/s320/draft4.jpg" width="239" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">A cleaned up version of the map, with different colours indicating the various neighborhoods.</td></tr></tbody></table>There are a few limitations to this style of game, which I am going to consider working with in the next case.<br /><br /><ol><li>Currently you cannot go back an re-interrogate a witness if you later found them to be lying.</li><li>Sometimes the worlds of these games can feel a little static. I would like to find a way to have scenes change depending on which scenes you've already seen. For example, maybe you visit a suspect, spook them, and later find them visiting their partner in crime, warning said partner of your investigation, I would also like to have a variation where the plot moves on as you investigate, so perhaps every hour of narrative time requires you to read a set scene where another crime happens - thus you have to solve the case with a time limit.</li></ol><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FyW57ulrMJk/Vi_efGnlHfI/AAAAAAAABYk/LfDaP8xXDH8/s1600/Cover.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FyW57ulrMJk/Vi_efGnlHfI/AAAAAAAABYk/LfDaP8xXDH8/s320/Cover.png" width="247" /></a></div><br />In the end, I'm really proud of the first case for&nbsp;<i>The Martian Investigations</i>. It challenges the player to solve two cases simultaneously in an unfamiliar and hostile environment. It clocks in at 3 times my planned length - it's currently 12000 words - and has received very positive responses from playtesters. Now I'm simply waiting on reviews.<br /><br />If you want a copy, you can grab one for $2 at <a href="https://payhip.com/b/hSDG" target="_blank">Payhip</a>. There's a 50c discount if you tweet or facebook it at the moment of purchase. There's also a free preview of the first 7 pages there. And don't feel like you then need to print the files out - I've designed the game so that it can be comfortably played from a tablet, PC, and some phones (you need to be able to open multiple PDF files). If you do play it, please do let me know how it goes!Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-981726398764780592015-10-27T15:00:00.001-07:002016-01-04T05:28:05.486-08:00"The Martian Investigations" - A Story-Based Detective GameEarlier this year, I was able to try two cases from the excellent deduction game, <i>Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective&nbsp;</i>(<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/06/dice-on-fire-review-sherlock-holmes.html" target="_blank">review and details</a>). Then I tried to get my own copy only to find it sold out everywhere! I loved the way the game offered a new (to me) spin on choose-your-own-adventure games. First up, it provided a completely open world for the players to move through at will. If you want to go to the French Embassy, you just open the book to that page. The tobacconists, just flip to the correct section. And then you would be able to read a scene of the story taking place in that place, gathering more of the clues that you need to solve the crime that each particular case presents. And that freedom meant you had a game which truly was able to stretch players' intellects and, amazing for a choose-your-own-adventure, work together as a team.<br /><br />As a long time writer, reader and language teacher, I vowed I was going to take the system and try to do something of my own with it.<br /><br />And I've just finished doing that!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-FyW57ulrMJk/Vi_efGnlHfI/AAAAAAAABYg/SWoAgg26vwA/s1600/Cover.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-FyW57ulrMJk/Vi_efGnlHfI/AAAAAAAABYg/SWoAgg26vwA/s320/Cover.png" width="247" /></a></div><br /><i><a href="https://payhip.com/b/hSDG" target="_blank">The Martian Investigations</a></i>&nbsp;uses the mechanics I first encountered in <i>Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective</i>, and have since encountered in other games like <i>Arkham Investigator</i> (actually, I preferred this to <i>SH:CD</i>). The twist with my own game is most noticeably in the setting - rather than and old fashioned Whitechapel or Arkham, I decided to set my game in science-fiction setting - a mining colony on Mars in the year 2307. This meant that I could start throwing some interesting twists and mechanics into the game.<br /><br />So, in <i>The Martian Investigations</i>, you play the role of Detective Hayley Bendis. You are employed by an enormous mining company, who sends you down to one of its many mining settlements on Mars after a pair of murders. One person was stabbed to death in an old maintenance tunnel and another individual was locked in a greenhouse while its atmosphere was vented. Grisly stuff. You are tasked with the job of finding the culprits of these two murders and bringing them to justice. The only problems are that you're an outsider to the settlement, most people think you're a corporate spy, and nobody in town seems to get along - the researchers are threatening to blow up mining operations, the miners are all stressed, and the security forces have no manpower to spare.<br /><br />Using a map of the settlement, the daily news feed, and a business and personnel directory, you must make your way through the settlement, interviewing witnesses and suspects, investigating crime scenes, and piecing together the clues of the two crimes. When you think you have the answers, you flip to the back of the book and read a series of questions based on the cases. The quality of your answers will dictate your final score.<br /><br />Much like the games that inspired it, there is no randomness in <i>The Martian Investigations</i>. This is purely a game of intellect, where you must spot the essential clues and keep your wits about you.<br /><br />You can get <i>The Martian Investigations</i> from <a href="https://payhip.com/b/hSDG" target="_blank">Payhip</a>. You can also read a <a href="https://pe56d.s3.amazonaws.com/p1a2ah0ptk1m013mnb1s1ls1cg7f.pdf" target="_blank">7-page preview</a> of the game, to get an idea of if this is for you. The total cost of <i>The Martian Investigations</i> is $2, but if that's too pricey for you, tweeting or facebooking about it gets you a 25% discount when you place your order.<br /><br /><h3>UPDATE</h3>Case 2 of <i>The Martian Investigations</i>&nbsp;is now available.<br /><br />You can find Case 2, <a href="https://payhip.com/b/1Clu" target="_blank">here</a>.<br /><br />Or you can get the twin pack, containing Case 1 and 2, at a discount, <a href="https://payhip.com/b/Tzd8" target="_blank">here</a>.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-43646440678801454362015-09-14T03:03:00.000-07:002015-09-14T07:48:16.417-07:00Golden Rules of Game DesignLast week I pitted a simple question to a whole bunch of amateur and professional game designers across twitter:<br /><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en">Game designers, for an article I'm writing: What are your golden rules of game design? Full credit will be given!</div>— Robin David (@robindavid_dice) <a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice/status/641034490853367808">September 7, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br />In the bunch of direct tweets that followed, I asked them to share one tip they would like all other designers to take note of. Some designers responded through tweets, and some through direct messages, so pardon the unusual formatting that follows.<br /><br />I was going to write a more in-depth piece, going over each issue, in a similar way to my <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/08/game-design-deadly-sins.html" target="_blank">Game Design Deadly Sins</a> article from a couple of weeks back, but honestly, many of these designers say it better than I ever could! So here are their responses, in no particular order.<br /><br /><a name='more'></a><br /><br /><h2>Focus Your Core Mechanics and Simplify</h2><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> Keep the focus on your core mechanic. If a feature isn't driven by or fed into your core loop, put it in another game.</div>— Jon Gill (@TheJonAGill) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheJonAGill/status/641286777949450241">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery</div>— Miss Piggy's Rebound (@Jhoratio) <a href="https://twitter.com/Jhoratio/status/641235653326467072">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/ChrisHandy" target="_blank">Chris Handy</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">I "Follow The Fun", then try to remove as much clutter as possible from the design, while still trying to retain the same, or more fun.</blockquote><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/ClosetNerdBrian" target="_blank">Brian Knudson</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Keep it simple, give the player choices and never forget your audience.</blockquote><br /><h2>Give Players Interesting Choices</h2><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> never forget you are making a Game. And games need interesting player choices or else they won't last once the shine dulls</div>— Ben Pinchback (@pinchback21) <a href="https://twitter.com/pinchback21/status/641261156649299968">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><h2>Give Players Risky Options</h2><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> Here's one I learned from <a href="https://twitter.com/cheapassjames">@cheapassjames</a>. <a href="http://t.co/szdyVzyK1t">http://t.co/szdyVzyK1t</a> Offer a choice between safe&amp;predictable or risky&amp;chaotic.</div>— Daniel Solis (@DanielSolis) <a href="https://twitter.com/DanielSolis/status/641211681314598912">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><h2>Try Making Big Changes Between Protoypes</h2><br />(just to see what happens!)<br /><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> don't make tiny incremental changes. Double or halve on correction. Old video game design trick. Test big, save time.</div>— BEAR GENOME PROJECT (@toddderscheid) <a href="https://twitter.com/toddderscheid/status/641236233566294017">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><h2>Prototype Early!</h2><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/VetruvianGamer" target="_blank">Kirdy</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Prototype and playtest as soon as possible. It's the best way to get information and feedback in the early stage.</blockquote><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/playtestuk" target="_blank">Rob Harris</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Top 3 tips for game design are playtest, playtest, playtest. 4th is don't spend too long making the first prototype. Play as quickly as possible; you will feel more able to make changes.</blockquote><br /><h2>Be Willing to Change Your Design</h2><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> don't be too attached to your first design draft. Playtests can inform a lot of changes!</div>— Cam Banks (@boymonster) <a href="https://twitter.com/boymonster/status/641220789212069889">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> break. fix. repeat.</div>— PMDGames (@PMDGames) <a href="https://twitter.com/PMDGames/status/641043649510395904">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/ebaraf" target="_blank">Eduardo Baraf</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Learn about <a href="http://www.cs.northwestern.edu/~hunicke/MDA.pdf" target="_blank">the MDA process</a></blockquote><br /><h2>Playtest and Pay Attention to Your Playtesters</h2><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> "After your game is (more or less) working, the best feedback you can get comes from *watching* players play it."</div>— Randy Hoyt (@randyhoyt) <a href="https://twitter.com/randyhoyt/status/641245251873701888">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br />Randy was kind enough to elaborate for me in a direct message:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">After your game is (more or less) working, the best feedback you can get comes from *watching* players play it. Are they having fun? What makes them frustrated or confused? Do they look fully engaged and invested in the outcome? When do they disengage from the game and check their phones? Does anything cause them to smile or even laugh out loud? What part of the game takes longer than it should? Are the components the right type and shape and size? For the best results, you need to watch people *other* games too -- not just your games. I know watching people play isn't as fun as playing yourself, but you really need experience watching people play lots of games. When you have a lot of experience watching games, you can better understand what you see when you watch people play your games.</blockquote><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> I have things I keep an eye on, like muscle memory. Watch initial confusion, watch pacing, watch number of decisions.</div>— Grant Rodiek (@HyperboleGrant) <a href="https://twitter.com/HyperboleGrant/status/641036375400144896">September 7, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/RMBLees" target="_blank">Robin Lees</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Ask your play testers; what emotions they felt during game play.</blockquote><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/MikaelAllan" target="_blank">Mikael Allen</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">1. Playtest, playtest, and then playtest some more.; 2. Playtest.; 3. Stick to your concept.; 4. Playtest.</blockquote><br /><h2>Don't Worry About Perfection</h2><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en">"Perfect" is the enemy of improvement. Stop searching for the perfect mechanism and focus on making your design better. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShareAGameDesignTip?src=hash">#ShareAGameDesignTip</a></div>— Matt Wolfe (@mattwolfe) <a href="https://twitter.com/mattwolfe/status/635895281431744512">August 24, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> it doesn't matter if it is perfect as long as it is fun for as long as possible.</div>— Meg/Dan/Glenn (@gamesbyplaydate) <a href="https://twitter.com/gamesbyplaydate/status/641208531149017091">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><h2>Design with the Player Experience in Mind</h2><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> Start by designing the experience you want players to have. Then make game design choices that convey that experience.</div>— Scott Nicholson (@snicholson) <a href="https://twitter.com/snicholson/status/641201659239120896">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/PuppyShogun">@PuppyShogun</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> My golden rule: The intended experience for the player - the decision space - drives the design.</div>— Paul Owen (@PaulOwenGames) <a href="https://twitter.com/PaulOwenGames/status/641042709659185152">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/JeffSiadek" target="_blank">Jeff Siadek</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">The game isn't about the game: It's about providing tools for the players to use to enjoy themselves. Thanks for asking!</blockquote><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/SaarShai" target="_blank">Saar Shai</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">One tip would be to always focus on delivering fun and not get pulled too far by the developing game mechanics.</blockquote><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> Don't stop the players from having fun.</div>— Geoff Engelstein (@gengelstein) <a href="https://twitter.com/gengelstein/status/641233859145822208">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br />In part, Geoff is talking about mechanics such as "skip a turn", and other lame moments in gameplay.<br /><br /><h2>Play Lots of Other Games</h2><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> I will never only play my own designs. That's a recipe to forget what makes new frontiers of gaming "fun".</div>— T. C. Petty III (@PuppyShogun) <a href="https://twitter.com/PuppyShogun/status/641042095822794752">September 8, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><h2>Consider Your Components Early On</h2><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/mortispur" target="_blank">David J Mortimer</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">IMO: Publishers very keen on keeping component costs down. Find ways to get multiple uses from each component. For example use card backs, double sided tokens etc.</blockquote><br /><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><div dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/robindavid_dice">@robindavid_dice</a> Instead of complicating the rules I'd rather give the players pieces with which to create interesting combinations.</div>— Manuel Correia (@gamesbymanuel) <a href="https://twitter.com/gamesbymanuel/status/641035110540804097">September 7, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><br /><br /><h2>Pay Attention to Your Rulebook</h2><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/RMBLees" target="_blank">Robin Lees</a><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Always blindest your rulebook. And get someone unassociated with the game to edit it. Always include an annotated graphical representation of the setup and game components.</blockquote><br />Many thanks to all the designers that responded with their thoughts!Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-40009062627468830792015-08-27T14:42:00.002-07:002015-08-27T14:42:46.899-07:00Dice on Fire Review: Smoke and MirrorsI love a quick bluffing game, so when <i>Smoke and Mirrors</i> arrived in the mail, I was pumped to give it a try. And I’m happy to report that I wasn’t let down: <i>Smoke and Mirrors</i> is a cool little game of lies and deception, which only needs eighteen cards and five minutes of your time.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Vs55NRKJQIM/Vd-ClBujv5I/AAAAAAAABVM/86xclkjZUys/s1600/Smoke%2Band%2BMirrors.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="155" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Vs55NRKJQIM/Vd-ClBujv5I/AAAAAAAABVM/86xclkjZUys/s400/Smoke%2Band%2BMirrors.png" width="400" /></a></div><br />Here’s how it works. There are three small decks of cards. One deck has five cards, each with a single number from 1 to 5, one deck has five cards numbered with a 5, and one deck has five cards with a 1 on them. Each player gets one random card from each deck, and with the cards now in their hand, they must begin to bluff. The first player must take any number of cards from their hand, lay them on the table, face down, and announce that the sum of the numbers on the cards is 1. That’s easy enough. Then the next player must do the same, but now announce that the sum of the numbers on the cards they have played is equal to 2. And then the next player goes for 3. Of course, pretty quickly, you’re going to have to lie. In this game, you must offer convincing lies, whilst calling out other liars – if you get caught lying, or wrongly accuse someone of lying, you’re out. The last player to remain in the game is the winner.<br /><br />To keep things from being too calculated and predictable, each of the three decks also includes a “Mirror” card. This is a card that reflects the value of another card it is played with. So if you play a 3 with a mirror card, the sum of your cards is 6. Or if you play a 3 with two mirror cards, the sum of your cards is 9.<br /><br />And then, players also have a once-per-game ability to skip a turn, forcing a difficult number onto their probably unprepared neighbour.<br /><br /><i>Smoke and Mirrors</i> is quick and brutal. Unlike some similar bluffing games, there really is a strong incentive to call out other lairs. If you don’t, the round will return to you and force you to skip or lay a nearly impossible combination, like a 7 or an 8, which you will surely be called out on. Unless… you can make a 7 or an 8 and want to the round to return to you so you can eliminate other players who accuse you. You see how this gets interesting? But you're unlikely to ever see more than three rounds per game - this is pure filler game territory.<br /><br />Whilst the publishers say that <i>Smoke and Mirrors</i> is playable for between 2 and 5 players, it really shines as a 3-4 player game. With these numbers, the game is just long enough – a couple of rounds, typically – to give some fun bluffing opportunities. With 5 players, the game is really unfair on players whose turns come later in the round.<br /><br />Lastly, I really want to draw attention to how <i>Smoke and Mirrors</i> is published. It’s the latest in a series of Button Shy's “Wallet games”. These are games that come in small plastic wallets that you can just throw into your bag. I love this punk-gaming mentality, which harks back to the old Cheapass Games’ philosophy – we need more publishers like this!<br /><br />But yes, <i>Smoke and Mirrors</i> is a wonderful little bluffing game, with a bit of math and bunch of daring. It’s <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/239309591/button-shy-wallet-game-series-3-micro-games?ref=category" target="_blank">going cheap on Kickstarter at this very moment</a>, so if it sounds like your kind of game, you should head on over to reserve yourself a copy.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-78066668698522173322015-08-26T14:29:00.000-07:002015-08-26T14:29:47.860-07:00Game Design Deadly SinsI get sent a fair number of Kickstarter games in the mail for review. And while I love the idea of Kickstarter as a platform - it sure does produce a lot of terrible games! So I've put together some of the issues that I find prevalent in bad games, crowd-sourced or otherwise. These are things that, quite frankly, drive me crazy when I see them. I've provided examples of how I tried to avoid these issues in my own games, not to suggest that I don't ever fall foul of any of these issues, but just to examine them in a practical way.<br /><br /><h2>Behold, 13 Deadly Boardgame Design Sins</h2><div><br /></div><h3>1. Too much Downtime</h3>I find that excessive downtime absolutely kills my enjoyment of a game, moreso than almost any other feature. There is little else worse than the kind of game that makes you wait ten-minutes until your next turn with nothing to do than watch your opponents. Even worse if what&nbsp;your opponents&nbsp;are doing has no effect on you. Because that's ten minutes of no-games, in time you have specifically made for games.<br /><br />Classically, the worst offenders of this are games that feature player elimination, but at least in many of those games you can leave the table. Last year I played a dice game that had each player do a push-your-luck mini-game before each round to determine their upcoming resources. It could take two minutes per player and there were up to eight players. A potential fourteen minutes of twiddling thumbs. Horrifying.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sRXu8ARtVgU/VduOwdAe15I/AAAAAAAABS8/eVbVzqXuK3M/s1600/KOT.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="265" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sRXu8ARtVgU/VduOwdAe15I/AAAAAAAABS8/eVbVzqXuK3M/s400/KOT.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i>King of Tokyo</i> - player elimination done right. <a href="https://boardgamegeek.com/image/2005952/king-tokyo?size=original" target="_blank">Source</a></td></tr></tbody></table><br />Games like <i>King of Tokyo</i> handle downtime well. Even when it's not your turn, you are affected by the active player. And once you are eliminated from the game, it is typically nearing it's end, at which point you will be more than happy to laugh at other players getting beaten up.<br /><br /><h4>My own example:</h4>One of the things which I most happy about with <i>Litterateur</i>&nbsp;(<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/07/litterateur.html" target="_blank">free print-n-play link</a>) is that there is no real downtime for players. All turns are taken simultaneously with time-limits on round length, so even if you finish before the other players, things should get moving again soon.<br /><br /><h3>2. No Player Interaction</h3>Boardgames are a social medium, for the most part. You get together with your friends, get a game out, and expect to play it together. Subsequently, I usually go a little mad at games that are in reality "multiplayer solitaire". This might prove an unpopular opinion because some large offenders of this are very popular games: <i>Roll for the Galaxy</i> and <i>Agricola</i>, for instance. You can influence one another to a degree, but you can also play without ever looking up from your own player board. Other offenders might include many push-your-luck games like <em>Zombie Dice</em>.<br /><br />There should be <i>something</i>&nbsp;that you can do to effect opponents. Players should have at least <i>some</i>&nbsp;investment in what their opponents are doing, other than&nbsp;just concerning themselves wit&nbsp;what the end score will be.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_6IMHJ5u7zg/VduQUfIi0NI/AAAAAAAABTI/MO7CT4Y8VKc/s1600/Lonesome.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_6IMHJ5u7zg/VduQUfIi0NI/AAAAAAAABTI/MO7CT4Y8VKc/s400/Lonesome.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Marilyn Monroe, <i>Gentlemen Prefer Blondes</i></td></tr></tbody></table><br /><h4>My own example:</h4>When designing <i>Director's Cut: The Card Game</i>&nbsp;(<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/03/directors-cut-card-game.html" target="_blank">details</a>), I made the decision to limit the game to two players, even though it can be played with more, because high player counts really messed with player interactions. In <i>Director's Cut</i>, players take cards from a market of five cards, which is refreshed at the end of&nbsp;each&nbsp;player's&nbsp;turn. With two players, you need to watch what cards your opponent is collecting and try to snatch the cards they need before they get a chance. They, in turn, will do the same to you. But with three players, you can only really affect the player to your left, and likewise, the player to your right can only affect you. Very uncool. So I nixed the three-player version. I might not have been right in this decision though - plenty of playtesters told me I was worrying needlessly.<br /><br /><h3>3. Runaway Leader</h3>The game where once a player gets into the lead, they can never be unseated. They get first pick of resources, they get bonus resources, and they build impenetrable fortresses, And everyone else just suffers, trying for second place or just attempting suicide strikes. You can think of <i>Risk </i>as a classic example of runaway leader problems.<br /><br />Most games that award points or resources depending on player position can have this problem - though it can be mitigated and well handled. If the runaway leader position is attained through skill, then that's cool, but once somebody gets into the position of runaway leader, the game&nbsp;should be&nbsp;close to finishing.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EqHwSSBaVts/Vd4ZvimB1yI/AAAAAAAABT0/vfgelI1b0X0/s1600/risk.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EqHwSSBaVts/Vd4ZvimB1yI/AAAAAAAABT0/vfgelI1b0X0/s400/risk.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i>Risk </i>is <b>the</b>&nbsp;runaway leader game.</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Runaway leaders can be very&nbsp;reasonable sometimes. I'm a big fan of <em>Netrunner</em>&nbsp;(<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/02/dice-on-fire-review-android-netrunner.html" target="_blank">review</a>) and have played plenty of games where I have fell so far behind that I can never hope to stop the other player. And that's my own fault - I shouldn't be granted a magic catch-up card just because I suck.<br /><br /><h4>My own example:</h4><i>Director's Cut: The Card Game</i> actually does have a runaway leader, players get cash for finishing scripts and then use the cash to buy cast and crew to make even more money! The runaway leader is combated by making the money also count as the victory condition - if you leverage your good financial position to buy loads of cast and crew, you may actually just hurt your chances of winning. Additionally, no matter how rich or poor you are, there is always some crew that you can hire and the movies themselves&nbsp;don't cost a penny to make -- players should never feel totally helpless.<br /><br /><h3>4. Nothing New</h3>Probably the biggest offenders of this in the world of&nbsp;boardgames are worker placement games and deckbuilders. <em>Lords of Waterdeep</em>, though a fine game, offers nothing really new and original in it's design. I stress that the game is fine, but I don't know why I'd ever choose to buy it over something like <i>Tzolk'in </i>or <i>Spyrium</i>. And there are tons of deckbuilders which use <em>Ascension</em>'s buy row and two currencies, or <em>Dominion</em>'s buy piles. It's all just quite boring.<br /><br />I think I'm exaggerating too much to call this a deadly sin, but its something that we should all think about when designing games -- What sets you apart from the competition?<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-RTGxwS0-LrE/Vd4mU2flF4I/AAAAAAAABUQ/IIZ8wJ5wSFI/s1600/lords%2Bof%2Bwaterdeep.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="267" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-RTGxwS0-LrE/Vd4mU2flF4I/AAAAAAAABUQ/IIZ8wJ5wSFI/s400/lords%2Bof%2Bwaterdeep.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i>Lords of Waterdeep</i>.&nbsp;Old theme; old mechanics.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><h4>My own example:</h4>In <i>Litterateur</i> I decided to try a variation on card drafting&nbsp;and victory conditions. For the drafting, you draft both at the start of round (to get cards needed to build a word) and at the end of a round (where you draft the cards you will play in the final round). The secondary drafting adds some unique decisions into the game and means that rather than collecting points, you&nbsp;are trying to manoeuvre yourself into the best position for the final round. Playtesters seem to find this an exciting and novel twist.<br /><br /><h3>5. Uninteresting Decisions</h3>These are the kind of games that you can play on autopilot. Decisions are available, but&nbsp;the consequences&nbsp;are small, too obvious,&nbsp;or uninteresting. The best example of this would be something like <em>Monopoly</em>, where your biggest decisions, for the most part,&nbsp;are&nbsp;buy a property or don't buy a property. There are offenders in designer games too - this is one of the main reasons why I traded away my copy of the (widely liked) <em>Sentinels of the Multiverse </em>(<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/02/dice-on-fire-review-sentinels-of.html" target="_blank">review</a>).<br /><br /><h3>6. Unnecessary Mechanics</h3>That game that just has extra crap stuck to it, because it's cool. Whether it's games that just want an excuse for custom dice, or games that have to stick special card powers on an already fine mechanic. Or the kinds of games which have so many paths to victory, that the average gamer only touches half of them - games that are typically referred to as point salads. The mechanics should serve a distinct purpose in the gameplay, and not just be there to fill a gap.<br /><br /><h4>My own example:</h4>I wrote <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/02/the-space-cannibal-game-and-feature.html" target="_blank">a long article</a> about one of my first designs, for a space-based take-that card game, to which I just kept adding more and more features. I thought, wouldn't it be great if eliminated players could come back as ghosts and mess with the surviving players! No. It wasn't great. It was horrible and messy and most of all, confusing and pointless.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-dCzxC3rURLg/Vd4nIFsVk5I/AAAAAAAABUc/TxHZaG4Gvx0/s1600/P1080246.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-dCzxC3rURLg/Vd4nIFsVk5I/AAAAAAAABUc/TxHZaG4Gvx0/s400/P1080246.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">An old design of mine. There was so much going on.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><h3>7. It takes too Long!</h3>This is particularly true when you have games that feature a lot of randomness - if you couple that with a long play-time, then I'll likely fall asleep. Many good games have a distinct end point (maybe it's the number of rounds or when a draw pile is empty) or a distinct sense of inertia that builds up, so the ending is within sight.<br /><br /><h3>8. No Way to Handle a Tie</h3>If your game has the possibility for a tie, and those ties are not so infrequent as to be negligible, then there should be a way to break the tie. It's a bit of a bummer to get to the end of a game and have such an anti-climax. It doesn't have to be complicated, but it should be something to edge out that one player was even just slightly better.<br /><br />Very quickly, I just have to mention my favourite tie breaker ever, in the tree-themed game, <i>Arboretum</i>, from Z-man Games (<a href="http://zmangames.com/rulebooks/Arboretum.pdf" target="_blank">rules</a>). After a more traditional tie breaker, if a player still can't be declared the victor, then tied players each have to plant a tree. The player with the biggest tree in five years is declared the winner. This is so much fun that I totally stole this idea for <i>Litterateur</i>. A tie in that game is broken by the player who used the single highest scoring letter, but then after that, it's the first player to write and publish their own novel who wins.<br /><br /><h3>9. Unwieldy Instructions</h3>Bad instructions are horrible! They make that first playthrough of a game such a chore - particularly when you realise, after a hour, that you've been making huge rule mistakes. But this is a sin that can be remedied so easily: use blind playtesters and&nbsp;get an editor!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dmHzmcITbVE/Vd4oBvQO2vI/AAAAAAAABUg/8g51QWZThQc/s1600/NoIdeaWhatImDoing.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="225" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dmHzmcITbVE/Vd4oBvQO2vI/AAAAAAAABUg/8g51QWZThQc/s400/NoIdeaWhatImDoing.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />A blind playtester is a playester who plays the game based only on the rulebook -- not having been taught the game by other people. They are the simplest way to see if your rulebook is up to scratch and they may surprise you with the issues that they discover. Editors will usually look at the structure and language of your rulebook, and as far as I'm concerned, they are invaluable. I worked as an English teacher and writing coach for five years, yet I still find tons of errors in my own work. This isn't because I'm a bad writer, but because, I, like everyone, need a second opinion. You don't necessarily have to pay for an editor -- you could run it past a few well-read friends or even send it my way, if it's not too long.<br /><br />I wrote a couple of articles about how to write a good rulebook. You can find them <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/02/writing-boardgame-instruction-manuals.html" target="_blank">here</a>.<br /><br /><h4>My own example:</h4>Outside of boardgames, I also write fiction. For a recent book, before I sent it to a publisher, I hired an independent copyeditor to check for language issues. I was horrified and embarrassed at the kinds of issues they pulled up. Things I had told my students about hundreds of times -- amateur stuff! But these things always slip through.<br /><br /><h3>10. Not Tested</h3>It's heartbreaking to get a beautiful Kickstarter game to the table, only to quickly find that it is fundamentally flawed. It could be outrageously unbalanced, or maybe the designer didn't forsee a particular play style or strategy. I've been given a few review copies of games that suffered from a lack of testing -- where in even one play, it was immediately obvious that something was off. Test your game. Test it a lot. Test it solo, test it with your partner, send it to blind playtesters (see point 7), bring to meetups. Something!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0srRf2UWVgw/VbT2jBo08BI/AAAAAAAABM8/S2HuOYdxjnA/s1600/AlphaDraft%2BPlaytest.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="298" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0srRf2UWVgw/VbT2jBo08BI/AAAAAAAABM8/S2HuOYdxjnA/s400/AlphaDraft%2BPlaytest.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><h3>11. Bad Artwork</h3>I don't think designers necessarily have to pay outrageous sums for artists, but&nbsp;designers should realise that some art is bad and will detract from the game. I would much rather see some creative commons&nbsp;or public domain&nbsp;artwork being used, then some terrible MSPaint or childlike scrawling. If you need some guidance, check out<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/03/thepublicdomain.html" target="_blank"> my article on how to find good, free artwork</a>.<br /><br /><h4>My own example:</h4>In <em>Director's Cut</em>, I used public domain movie posters to add theme to the script cards. This has gone down very well with players and reviewers. With the cast and crew cards, I wanted to have images of people, but realised that (1), I can't use photographs without permission and (2), I can't afford good custom work. Instead, I relied on a simple image of a film negative and some funky graphic design. It's not as good as real artwork would have been, but not as much an eyesore as bad artwork.<br /><br /><em>Litterateur</em> uses wholly public domain artwork on it's print-n-play cards. All the images are taken from books printed in the 1800s, which fits the theme perfectly, and, best of all, are freeeeee!<br /><br /><h3>12. Bad Graphic Design</h3>This isn't&nbsp;that cards and boards&nbsp;need to&nbsp;look fantastic, but rather that cards and boards should at least&nbsp;be functional. Cards should have information in the top corners so that they can be fanned out in a player's hand. Font choices should be logical, so they can be read quickly. Colours shouldn't clash horribly and distractingly.<br /><br /><h4>My own example:</h4>I have no skills with graphic design. None! My first prototypes for all my games are absolute disasters in terms of graphic design - weird fonts and colours and uneven layouts - you name it, I've done it. So I had no choice but to work with a designer to help work out these kinds of things. I'm pretty pleased with the graphic design of my games so far, but can take no credit for it! All of the below examples have been designed by <a href="http://tiffymoon.com/" target="_blank">Tiffy Moon</a>.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-odHpnyHNQqU/VRDUpfkxdMI/AAAAAAAABGY/1CPwPrCbU4s/s1600/previewstrip.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="186" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-odHpnyHNQqU/VRDUpfkxdMI/AAAAAAAABGY/1CPwPrCbU4s/s400/previewstrip.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i>Director's Cut: The Card Game </i>(<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/03/directors-cut-card-game.html" target="_blank">details</a>)</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yvb6Ya6LdU8/VRtesXyPLfI/AAAAAAAABHQ/SqsLvhARwEQ/s1600/SamplePage.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="141" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yvb6Ya6LdU8/VRtesXyPLfI/AAAAAAAABHQ/SqsLvhARwEQ/s400/SamplePage.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i>Eccentric Exhibits </i>(unreleased)</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Tt_csB1Fe-s/VblVNGW4EDI/AAAAAAAABN0/9hdLbQty0rU/s1600/Litterateur.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="136" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Tt_csB1Fe-s/VblVNGW4EDI/AAAAAAAABN0/9hdLbQty0rU/s400/Litterateur.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><i>Litterateur </i>(<a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/07/litterateur.html" target="_blank">free print and play</a>)</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><h3>13. Lack of Accessibility</h3>Closely related to graphic design, there are too many games out there that do not accommodate for the needs of players with accessibility issues. One very prolific and easy to fix issues is choosing colours that are suitable for colourblind players. 1 in 10 men have a degree of colourblindness, so for a game not to address this is utter madness. I recently played the otherwise excellent game,&nbsp;<em>Broom Service,</em> which uses the colours, purple, orange and green for it's potions and towers. Two of the players were colourblind and we were utterly frustrated. We could exercise no subtlety in our plans as we had to keep on asking neighbours, "What colour is this tower?" Other offenders have included <em>Race/Roll for the Galaxy </em>and classics like <em><a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/02/dice-on-fire-review-carcassonne.html" target="_blank">Carcassonne</a></em>&nbsp;(red and green meeples...). Choose colours wisely and&nbsp;use patterns and symbols.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WbT-HFCaMSg/Vd4qq-yyt3I/AAAAAAAABUs/gwgPgc134-g/s1600/meeples.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="160" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WbT-HFCaMSg/Vd4qq-yyt3I/AAAAAAAABUs/gwgPgc134-g/s400/meeples.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">I added belts to my meeples so I could identify them.</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Other accessibility issues that should be considered and addressed include size of text and choice of font for those with vision difficultly and size of components for those with motor issues. Obviously, some of the solutions are more practical than others, depending on the kind of game being made.<br /><br /><h3>14. Anything Else?</h3>Of course, there are many more sins in boardgame design - these are just the ones that stand out to me. I'd love to hear your thoughts on other things you'd like to see done away with.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-35464163646890500402015-08-26T08:58:00.002-07:002015-08-26T08:58:54.258-07:00Super-Science Adventures in Twisted Space-Time (Print-and-Play)Here's something I've been working on for quite some time now - a narrative based game, light on rules, heavy on theme and atmosphere. It's really been made to allow a bunch of friends to come together and have a laugh while creating silly stories.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zw_GRlzKAxQ/Vd3hlMSBnDI/AAAAAAAABTk/3POBQlWAgq4/s1600/previewimage.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="256" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zw_GRlzKAxQ/Vd3hlMSBnDI/AAAAAAAABTk/3POBQlWAgq4/s320/previewimage.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />The story goes like this:<br /><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Vastly evil inter-dimensional forces have destroyed the world as we know it by tearing apart space-time itself. Luckily, the world-famous and slightly crazy scientist, Dr Damon Thum, has developed a device that allows you and your adventuring team to travel through space-time to fight the minions of this evil force and set things right. An odd complication caused by Dr Thum’s device means that every time you use it, your own past is twisted into a new configuration, often granting you unique special abilities that you can use in each battle.&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">The world needs you, adventurer, and your team, to defeat four evil enemies and recover the dimension stones that they possess. With these, Dr Thum can set things right with our universe. If you fail, it will be as if humanity never even existed.</blockquote><br />You'll need to print out the 7-page black-and-white document, grab a single dice, and up to three more friends. The game will produce environments, super-powers, weird anomalies and horrible enemies, leaving it up to you and your friends to figure out how to escape these terrible dimensions.<br /><br />This is currently a demo - I will produce a fuller version depending on responses. Please give the game a try and let me know your thoughts.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: large;"><a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3NlegJDi7aPeWVNenpRZTNYMG8/view?usp=sharing" target="_blank">Download the Free PDF</a></span></b></div><br /><br /><h3>Print and Play Help</h3>Take the PDF file and print it, double sided, instructing your printer to flip along the short edge. This game has no graphics, so you may as well select the ink-saver option, if your printer has one. Then chop up the cards and arrange them into stacks based upon the card-backs.<br /><br />Some computers may show the PDF as having strange dark lines in place of letter L's. This is a display problem caused by the fonts, but it will only exist on your monitor and will not effect the printed copy. If you zoom in 300%, you will see that the fonts are displayed correctly. It's weird, I know.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-3496505871472283442015-08-21T04:47:00.001-07:002015-08-21T04:47:09.384-07:00Currency for Prototype BoardgamesHere's just a little thing. If you need a sheet of currency for your next prototype, save yourself the bother of making up a sheet. Here's one for you:<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: large;"><a href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/15DuOOTN24tnvPmpudpSADPQqZPXdiZkwNqkA66Wcj4U/edit?usp=sharing" target="_blank">Colour</a></span></b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b><span style="font-size: large;"><a href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HOywGz-xpN3YTsYNisu_B4TCuNJ9K5zMhDxjCAIZieg/edit?usp=sharing" target="_blank">Greyscale</a></span></b></div>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-67797808918948006982015-08-13T06:30:00.000-07:002015-08-18T02:46:30.590-07:00Litterateur CreditsThis otherwise boring post details where all the various images from <i>Litterateur </i>come from. This has mainly been done to cover my tracks and show that all images are public domain. Warning: screwy layout happens after the break!<br /><br /><a name='more'></a><br /><br />First up, here are the beautiful original images:<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-g2CvACNyGB8/VcyXSP8MXwI/AAAAAAAABO8/8J4Zof43s_8/s1600/A.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-g2CvACNyGB8/VcyXSP8MXwI/AAAAAAAABO8/8J4Zof43s_8/s200/A.jpg" width="200" /></a></div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8I0jtRzmNfU/VcyXSd4D0dI/AAAAAAAABPA/Gm8T8Wmu9fg/s1600/C.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="198" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8I0jtRzmNfU/VcyXSd4D0dI/AAAAAAAABPA/Gm8T8Wmu9fg/s200/C.jpg" width="200" /></a>&nbsp;<a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ndNQzbbPYy8/VcyXSG4sMXI/AAAAAAAABPE/hkh1fPEinoE/s1600/B.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ndNQzbbPYy8/VcyXSG4sMXI/AAAAAAAABPE/hkh1fPEinoE/s200/B.jpg" width="199" /></a><br /><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ntbeEK2ZeBY/VcyXTxHsumI/AAAAAAAABPk/LjF6YgFYrW0/s1600/F.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="187" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ntbeEK2ZeBY/VcyXTxHsumI/AAAAAAAABPk/LjF6YgFYrW0/s200/F.jpg" width="200" /></a>&nbsp;<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OvNHIJvlUwU/VcyXTG_ibnI/AAAAAAAABPM/xZcF6z3YK-M/s1600/D.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="196" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OvNHIJvlUwU/VcyXTG_ibnI/AAAAAAAABPM/xZcF6z3YK-M/s200/D.jpg" width="200" /></a><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PBPz_rMKv8Q/VcyXTiIhtNI/AAAAAAAABPY/3W-cc-B_l14/s1600/E.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PBPz_rMKv8Q/VcyXTiIhtNI/AAAAAAAABPY/3W-cc-B_l14/s200/E.jpg" width="196" /></a><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ZUnxmRzn5yA/VcyXVCSslrI/AAAAAAAABP4/HSfHotlN_Oc/s1600/I.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ZUnxmRzn5yA/VcyXVCSslrI/AAAAAAAABP4/HSfHotlN_Oc/s200/I.jpg" width="196" /></a><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aatc2BFHiqQ/VcyXUMOQkII/AAAAAAAABPc/x1uqftPhu4s/s1600/G.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aatc2BFHiqQ/VcyXUMOQkII/AAAAAAAABPc/x1uqftPhu4s/s200/G.jpg" width="196" /></a><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_WxeTlIKuGo/VcyXUyH3cII/AAAAAAAABPw/oJ4iuDOX8eE/s1600/H.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_WxeTlIKuGo/VcyXUyH3cII/AAAAAAAABPw/oJ4iuDOX8eE/s200/H.jpg" width="200" /></a>&nbsp;<a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EnHuIC0yAfc/VcyXVE4CPHI/AAAAAAAABPs/H7QAQCETyw8/s1600/J.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="196" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-EnHuIC0yAfc/VcyXVE4CPHI/AAAAAAAABPs/H7QAQCETyw8/s200/J.jpg" width="200" /></a><br /><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MKR3EYWcUeg/VcyXVlseapI/AAAAAAAABP0/p6MfVY-okSo/s1600/K.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="176" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MKR3EYWcUeg/VcyXVlseapI/AAAAAAAABP0/p6MfVY-okSo/s200/K.jpg" width="200" /></a><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-J8lCdnjPfn8/VcyXV2FJO3I/AAAAAAAABRY/x4P8b9ao1xk/s1600/L.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="191" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-J8lCdnjPfn8/VcyXV2FJO3I/AAAAAAAABRY/x4P8b9ao1xk/s200/L.jpg" width="200" /></a><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-H-qRhtTMFQs/VcyXakJQm7I/AAAAAAAABR8/6eEFvkWYSXc/s1600/m.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-H-qRhtTMFQs/VcyXakJQm7I/AAAAAAAABR8/6eEFvkWYSXc/s200/m.jpg" width="185" /></a><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Eb8TA10u-Is/VcyXbOE0NnI/AAAAAAAABRc/Lf_seGxs9JA/s1600/n.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Eb8TA10u-Is/VcyXbOE0NnI/AAAAAAAABRc/Lf_seGxs9JA/s200/n.jpg" width="199" /></a><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0EEvie4Sa6U/VcyXbvjHSSI/AAAAAAAABRg/_oPAd3cuN44/s1600/o.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="185" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0EEvie4Sa6U/VcyXbvjHSSI/AAAAAAAABRg/_oPAd3cuN44/s200/o.jpg" width="200" /></a><br /><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oF_n_FKb76E/VcyXWMGCe6I/AAAAAAAABP8/gy5sys92Das/s1600/P.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oF_n_FKb76E/VcyXWMGCe6I/AAAAAAAABP8/gy5sys92Das/s200/P.jpg" width="194" /></a><br />&nbsp;<a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r6z1xP0_iXI/VcyXWU8x0rI/AAAAAAAABQE/5pSXNNaA2Vk/s1600/Q.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r6z1xP0_iXI/VcyXWU8x0rI/AAAAAAAABQE/5pSXNNaA2Vk/s200/Q.jpg" width="195" /></a><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-A3BGOXQHjWw/VcyXWuFdwlI/AAAAAAAABQI/dRULuiQ8Iug/s1600/R.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="199" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-A3BGOXQHjWw/VcyXWuFdwlI/AAAAAAAABQI/dRULuiQ8Iug/s200/R.jpg" width="200" />&nbsp;</a><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ycKDUAkvGfk/VcyXXALcIWI/AAAAAAAABQQ/HSW6I2wN4Wg/s1600/S.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ycKDUAkvGfk/VcyXXALcIWI/AAAAAAAABQQ/HSW6I2wN4Wg/s200/S.jpg" width="195" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5GUnsBSTbx0/VcyXXpkhAeI/AAAAAAAABQk/h8xiUZd8rvE/s1600/T.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="191" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5GUnsBSTbx0/VcyXXpkhAeI/AAAAAAAABQk/h8xiUZd8rvE/s200/T.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>&nbsp;<a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0WUQzRNy_NU/VcyXXrlH0TI/AAAAAAAABQY/Y8jZ0j3qVHg/s1600/U.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0WUQzRNy_NU/VcyXXrlH0TI/AAAAAAAABQY/Y8jZ0j3qVHg/s200/U.jpg" width="196" /></a><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-46eW9ZjPbLw/VcyXYDIzaKI/AAAAAAAABQw/yZyvV0IW5Ao/s1600/V.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="196" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-46eW9ZjPbLw/VcyXYDIzaKI/AAAAAAAABQw/yZyvV0IW5Ao/s200/V.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>&nbsp;<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QcqOp7WJ6OE/VcyXY8iDbpI/AAAAAAAABQs/URlmgdMiW3w/s1600/W.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="199" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QcqOp7WJ6OE/VcyXY8iDbpI/AAAAAAAABQs/URlmgdMiW3w/s200/W.jpg" width="200" /></a><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-G7wVAzgjMws/VcyXZncBTiI/AAAAAAAABRE/dqVFxnQh_-A/s1600/Y.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-G7wVAzgjMws/VcyXZncBTiI/AAAAAAAABRE/dqVFxnQh_-A/s200/Y.jpg" width="196" /></a></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yI77MJ71pQc/VcyXas9iHAI/AAAAAAAABRQ/175WDrfwFg4/s1600/Z%2B%2528needs%2Bfixing%2529.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="163" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yI77MJ71pQc/VcyXas9iHAI/AAAAAAAABRQ/175WDrfwFg4/s200/Z%2B%2528needs%2Bfixing%2529.jpg" width="200" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This was edited to be the Z</td></tr></tbody></table><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-m82CtxmitF0/VcyXZb0oblI/AAAAAAAABRA/icL3q5huIs0/s1600/X%2B%2528needs%2Bfixing%2529.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-m82CtxmitF0/VcyXZb0oblI/AAAAAAAABRA/icL3q5huIs0/s200/X%2B%2528needs%2Bfixing%2529.jpg" width="193" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This was edited to be the X</td></tr></tbody></table><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XZPl7BVZqzI/VcyZ8baYb1I/AAAAAAAABSQ/qlV4ncDJO5A/s1600/Footer%2BImage%2B1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="68" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XZPl7BVZqzI/VcyZ8baYb1I/AAAAAAAABSQ/qlV4ncDJO5A/s200/Footer%2BImage%2B1.jpg" width="200" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This is used on the round cards</td></tr></tbody></table><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g6NwFLmLNy8/VcyZ9ECHVGI/AAAAAAAABSc/if2jcah1Jg8/s1600/Round%2Bbackground.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; display: inline !important; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="74" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-g6NwFLmLNy8/VcyZ9ECHVGI/AAAAAAAABSc/if2jcah1Jg8/s320/Round%2Bbackground.jpg" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This is used on the card backs</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-X0azye980Ww/VcyZ8bnGIMI/AAAAAAAABSM/NjIaOYILiu4/s1600/Round%2BCard%2BF.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-X0azye980Ww/VcyZ8bnGIMI/AAAAAAAABSM/NjIaOYILiu4/s200/Round%2BCard%2BF.jpg" width="191" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This is used on the round cards</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KUFrjlGPRSk/VcyZ8fTBqYI/AAAAAAAABSY/71D_9ZNQUfQ/s1600/Round%2BCard%2BR.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="200" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KUFrjlGPRSk/VcyZ8fTBqYI/AAAAAAAABSY/71D_9ZNQUfQ/s200/Round%2BCard%2BR.jpg" width="192" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This is used on the round cards</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />And here are the sources:<br /><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;">E:&nbsp;"A collection of right merrie garlands for North country anglers" 1864</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">C:&nbsp;"A Monk of Fife. Being the chronicle written by Norman Leslie of Pitcullo concerning marvellous deeds that befell in the realm of France in the years of our Redemption, 1429-31. Now first done into the English out of the French by Andrew Lang" 1896</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">F, J, P, Q, U, V, Round Card F, Card Back:&nbsp;"An English Garner. Ingatherings from our history and literature" 1877</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">Round Card R:&nbsp;"An Out-of-the-way-Place. A story" 1884</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">M, O:&nbsp;"Dorinda." 1889</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">D, H, N:&nbsp;"Driven to Bay. A novel" 1887</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">K:&nbsp;"Pietas Puerilis: or, Childhood's Path to Heaven, and other poems, etc" 1865</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">A, L, R, W, Round Card Footer:&nbsp;"The works of Ben Jonson. With a biographical memoir, by William Gifford." 1875</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">B, G, I, S, T, X, Y, Z:&nbsp;"The Works of John Locke, etc. by J. Le Clerc" 1722</span><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: inherit;">All of the images were found through <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/" target="_blank">the British Library's incredible Flickr account</a>.</span><br /><span style="font-family: arial, sans, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;"><br /></span>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-4136519523780300162015-07-30T09:46:00.000-07:002016-02-08T09:49:09.100-08:00Litterateur<i>Litterateur </i>is a card-drafting, word-building game. You can think of it as a little like <i>Scrabble&nbsp;</i>crossed with <i>Sushi Go</i>.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Tt_csB1Fe-s/VblVNGW4EDI/AAAAAAAABN0/9hdLbQty0rU/s1600/Litterateur.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="136" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Tt_csB1Fe-s/VblVNGW4EDI/AAAAAAAABN0/9hdLbQty0rU/s400/Litterateur.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><i>Litterateur</i> takes place over five rounds - four normal rounds and one special round. For the first four rounds, players draft letter-cards into their hands, taking cards that are useful to them and trying to deny cards to their opponents. After the drafting is finished, players simultaneously try to create the best word possible using both the cards in their hands and a small shared pool of common letters. Each letter has a different point value, and this determines the ranking of the players in each round.<br /><br />In a normal round, the player who scores the highest word takes three cards that have been played in that round, and places the cards in their score area. The player in second place takes two cards in the same fashion. And the remaining players each take one card each. This is essentially a second phase of drafting because in the fifth round, all the cards that players have managed to score will make up their new hands. If a player has been winning the earlier rounds consistently, they may have up to fifteen cards to use in the final round. And this is important because it is only the score in the final round that determines who wins and who loses.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KasLl55NLns/VrjUDJEWOzI/AAAAAAAABjA/Lqem6Fjcq_0/s1600/DSC_0421-2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="214" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KasLl55NLns/VrjUDJEWOzI/AAAAAAAABjA/Lqem6Fjcq_0/s320/DSC_0421-2.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><i>Litterateur </i>takes between 20 and 30 minutes to play and is suitable for 2 to 6 players.<br /><br /><i>Litterateur </i>may one day make it to Kickstarter or general release, but for now I'm giving away the black-and-white print-and-play for absolutely nothing. Please go ahead, <a href="https://payhip.com/b/7XfU" target="_blank">click this link</a>, and download <i>Litterateur </i>for free. Once you've tried it, I would really appreciate if you could head on over to <a href="https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/181441/litterateur" target="_blank">BoardGameGeek</a> to rate the game and leave your thoughts.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b><a href="https://payhip.com/b/7XfU">Download Link</a></b></div><br /><h3>The Graphic Design</h3><i>Litterateur</i>'s graphics are scans of old books courtesy of the British Library online archive. You can find it <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/">here</a> - it's incredible. Details on the source of each individual image are <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/08/litterateur-credits.html" target="_blank">here</a>. And a huge thanks to <a href="http://www.tiffymoon.com/">Tiffy Moon</a>, who spent aaages cleaning up the scans with photoshop magic. The full colour set is stunning, but I'm saving that for later.<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div>Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comDublin, Ireland53.3498053 -6.260309699999993453.0463133 -6.9057566999999933 53.6532973 -5.6148626999999935tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-43648994086694191422015-07-26T08:03:00.000-07:002015-07-26T12:59:45.476-07:00The Big PlaytestYesterday was my first visit to a formal playtest event - as opposed to playtesting with friends or mailing out games for blind playtesting. It was a fantastic experience. Nine amateur designers turned up to a cafe in central Dublin and we thrashed out some of our designs.<br /><br />I'm not going to go into other people's games and how they played out, because I don't know how other designers would feel about me talking about their works in progress, but playthroughs of two of my games, Watermelons and AlphaDraft, were enlightening.<br /><br /><h3>Watermelons</h3>This is <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/search/label/Watermelon">my bluffing game</a> where players are daring one another to take cards from a face down deck which may or may not have been "poisoned". Many of the mechanics seem to work fine but two issues became apparent.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R-rsPpoDpiQ/VbT2eZunBUI/AAAAAAAABMw/nlGiWWpt3SI/s1600/Watermelons%2BPlaytest.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="239" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R-rsPpoDpiQ/VbT2eZunBUI/AAAAAAAABMw/nlGiWWpt3SI/s320/Watermelons%2BPlaytest.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br /><ol><li>There is not enough of an incentive to avoid taking the poisoned melons, because players still score them. The problem may not be as easy as simply making the melons worth zero points, because it removes an aspect of bluffing from the game. Besides, there is an interesting situation that can be created if you have a high scoring, but poisoned melon -- you may want to eat it yourself.</li><li>The range of melon points may be too wide. It seems that the high value melons are just too valuable, and this no matter how you bluff, players will always eat them, because even if they are poisoned, they are still 5-points. Furthermore, a couple of random 5s in a stack or hand can send a single player to an almost sure victory.</li></ol><br /><br />Changing the range of points on the melon cards from 1-5 to 1-3 may fix both of these problems. I also need to introduce more poison dose cards to alleviate card counting - they work well but come up too infrequently.<br /><br /><h3>AlphaDraft</h3>This is the <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/search/label/AlphaDraft">letter-drafting, word-building game</a> that I put together recently (which is in dire need of a name change).<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0srRf2UWVgw/VbT2jBo08BI/AAAAAAAABM4/_LNKqhntfNI/s1600/AlphaDraft%2BPlaytest.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="239" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0srRf2UWVgw/VbT2jBo08BI/AAAAAAAABM4/_LNKqhntfNI/s320/AlphaDraft%2BPlaytest.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />AlphaDraft went down very well with the plastest group and had only some minor problems.<br /><br />A few fringe rules came up that needed clarifying -- for example, what happens if two players draw in a round? Who gets to first choose which cards they score? Secondly, what if all players draw for first place but there are not enough cards in play for them all to score the three cards that they each need?<br /><br />Also, a few of the individual cards need tweaking for playability. The Z cards, for example, should also be playable as ZZ, so it can be used in a word like "buzz". With only one Z in the deck, I'm limiting some of the interesting possibilities. Same goes for letters like Q, which should stand as both Q or QU. And so on.<br /><br />I was really happy with how AlphaDraft played out and will be putting together a graphic version of it within the next few days - hopefully in time for another playtest on Tuesday.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-47127352280410601532015-07-14T14:29:00.000-07:002015-07-14T14:39:43.378-07:00Design Diary: AlphaDraftI'm a big fan of word games and have been itching to design my own for quite some time -- they are interesting to me because they require a very distinct skill, quite different from most tabletop games. This makes them perfect for people who don't normally play board and card games. Some recent plays of <i>Alphabear </i>on iOS, flexing my word game muscles, gave me the final push that I needed to put something together.<br /><br /><i>AlphaDraft </i>is a word game which uses card drafting as a central mechanic, so players must first build their hand and then use their hand, combined with a central shared pool, to play the most impressive word possible.<br /><br />One aspect I have tried to incorporate into this game is that their should be many meaningful decisions. Firstly, card drafting is a very powerful mechanic, which allows you to both improve your own lot as well as affect other players around you - <i>do you take the high scoring but difficult letters to deny your opponent, or try to starve them of vowels? </i>It is also occasionally deliciously frustrating!<br /><i><br /></i>Next, after each round, the players with the highest scoring words, take a number of cards from the game into their score area. The cards they take will not be available in future rounds, so again, a meaningful decision is presented.<br /><br />Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the final round is played with the cards which players have scored throughout the game. So players who have won earlier rounds have had the opportunity to lace their final hand with cards that can work well together. But the overall winner is determined only by this final round, so players who have collected cards without much thought will be harshly punished.<br /><br />I'm quite proud of this design, which has worked well from it's earliest prototype. If you would like to try and print-n-play, just check <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3NlegJDi7aPNVVrRm5qZ0lPZU0/view?usp=sharing">this link</a>. If you get to play it, please send me your feedback!Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comDublin, Ireland53.3498053 -6.260309699999993453.0463133 -6.9057566999999933 53.6532973 -5.6148626999999935tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-24323987557279534642015-06-29T14:31:00.001-07:002015-06-29T14:31:47.679-07:00Design Diary: Watermelons, Part 3One of my biggest problems in game designing is getting playtesters. I simply feel horrible asking people to play my possibly broken games at established game nights, and the times that I have done so have not been as helpful as they should have been - I've been too eager to let people stop playing and playtesters, being my friends, have been too kind with their comments.<br /><br />So to allow me to test Watermelons with more players, who will hopefully be more honest in their comments and more willing to try something silly, I decided to port the game over to <a href="http://berserk-games.com/tabletop-simulator/"><i>Tabletop Simulator</i></a>. If you are not familiar with <i>Tabletop Simulator</i>, it is a program that simulates a boardgaming environment, including things like cards, boards, counters, dice, etc. You can grab a dice and roll it, draw cards from a deck, place tiles on the table, and so on. The possibilities are manifold. The really cool thing is that you can download all manner of tabletop games for <i>Tabletop Simulator</i>, as well as make and upload your own games.<br /><br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0b-ws2WY_8Y" width="560"></iframe><br /><br />Now, while I know my way around a computer, I'm not a particularly technically adept kind of guy, so I was pleasantly surprised to find <i>Tabletop Simulator</i> quite easy to use. The program doesn't have to ability to enforce game rules - this, like real life, is done by the players - so there is no coding to be done. You just need to import your games components and give players the rules.<br /><br />First up, I had to create card faces and paste them all into a giant image, which Tabletop Simulator will tear apart when it loads up. I also needed images for card backs.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hd7WYyHNO9s/VZG22kOKLzI/AAAAAAAABLs/TuY7-iY0udU/s1600/Watermelonstestfile.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="391" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hd7WYyHNO9s/VZG22kOKLzI/AAAAAAAABLs/TuY7-iY0udU/s400/Watermelonstestfile.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Ugly, but it does the job.</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Then, I simply had to go into the game, input the parameters for the deck, duplicate cards as required, save the workspace I had created and upload it into Steam's Workshop - a database that allows players to download modifications and expansions for any particular game. Shockingly easy. Within a couple of hours, fourteen strangers, with no prompting, had downloaded my <i>Watermelons </i>game. I put a request into the game, asking that they provide feedback - I'll see if that comes to fruition.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vdiEbcg64Q8/VZG4mF9iMbI/AAAAAAAABL4/wZborzzRoWE/s1600/2015-06-27_00005.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="215" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vdiEbcg64Q8/VZG4mF9iMbI/AAAAAAAABL4/wZborzzRoWE/s400/2015-06-27_00005.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">How it looks in-game.</td></tr></tbody></table><br />If you want to try <i>Watermelons </i>yourself, and you already have a copy of <i>Tabletop Simulator</i>, you can find it <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=470387176&amp;searchtext=">here</a>. Alternatively, you can get the Print-n-Play copy, available <a href="http://www.robindavid.info/2015/03/watermelons-free-print-n-play.html">here</a>.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8062624044581897207.post-57790382761122155732015-06-29T14:08:00.000-07:002015-06-29T14:08:00.733-07:00Dice on Fire Review: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective<div style="text-align: center;"><strong>This review is spoiler-free. I promise!</strong></div><br />Much praised, but eternally out of print, it seemed&nbsp;<em>Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective</em>&nbsp;was merely&nbsp;stuff of myth. Until I found myself in Dublin one day, looking at a boardgame store which had a stack of about twenty copies! Brilliant! The game has been reprinted and&nbsp;is supposedly widely available, so now's a good time to offer my thoughts.<br /><br /><em>Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective</em>, puts players in the shoes of a bunch of crime solvers, trying to beat the legendary Sherlock Holmes at solving ten famous cases.&nbsp;Each game, players try to solve one case. A&nbsp;casebook is pulled out of the box, a great big map of Whitechapel is spread out on the table, and relevant newspapers from the period are passed around.&nbsp;One of the players (this can be played solo or with... well, maybe up to 6 or so players) reads out the introduction to the case from the casebook&nbsp;-- usually someone&nbsp;has been murdered&nbsp;-- and players&nbsp;must then decide where to take their investigations. Immediately, of course, there will be witnesses to speak to, perhaps a suspect, crime scenes to visit, places from the victim's history, something related to an event in the day's paper, or maybe just the coroner or the detectives at Scotland Yard. As a group, you must decide where to go and who to speak to, and will then turn to the relevant page in the casebook, reading out the next scene in your investigation.<br /><br />The aim is to solve the crime, while visiting as few places as possible. When you think you have all the details that you need, you turn to the back of the casebook, where you will be presented with a set of questions - usually along the lines of <em>who did the crime</em> and <em>how did they do it</em>? There is also a bunch of bonus questions often related to vice which is tangential to the main crime&nbsp;in the case, but may have come up if your investigations went in the wrong direction. You get points for each question you answer correctly and then deduct points for each additional location you had to visit in order to get the correct answer. You will also see Sherlock Holme's score to compare with your own, and a rundown of how he managed to solve the crime in some&nbsp;inhumanly quick manner.<br /><br />Getting to the bottom of a crime is an incredibly rewarding experience! Between debating where you should head next, unearthing some key bit of info from a newspaper, collating some older information, and reading out the very well written (if badly translated) scenes from the casebook, <em>Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective</em> had my game-group on the edges of the seats.<br /><br />Well, they were all engaged that&nbsp;is, except for one player, who roundly denounced it as not her kind of game. And I can see why. This game is not for everybody. You really have to be a storytelling kind of person. This friend of mine isn't and she got very hung up on some of the stretches in logic that the game requires. Occasionally, you will get a case where you end up chasing the most bizarre of leads to find the solution. I can't elaborate too much without spoiling things, but in one case we had to ask ourselves, "wait, why are we wandering over this part of town again?"<br /><br />And there are a few other things that can be a little frustrating. For instance, there is no mechanic there for questioning a suspect or witness a second time. Even if you later found out that they had been lying, you cannot go back and get them to clarify.&nbsp;Also, the game doesn't have any inbuilt mechanics for dealing with multiple players - nothing really changes between a one player game and a six player game. I feel like there were a few opportunities to explore interesting ideas and the opportunities that are provided by boardgames, and <em>Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective</em> didn't look into these ideas. It sticks too closely to a choose-your-own-adventure format.<br /><br />One major complaint I've seen online, but I cannot agree with at all, is that the game lacks replayability. Once you have played the&nbsp;ten cases in the box, you can't play them again because you'll know the answers. This is true, but each case takes around an hour to solve, and&nbsp;I can't think of many hour long games I have played more than&nbsp;ten times. I think you get plenty of game in the box!<br /><br />So yeah, I sincerely recommend checking out <em>Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective</em>. It's not perfect, but it does a lot of fun and interesting things. If you have the right kind of game group, I think you'll&nbsp;get a lot&nbsp;out of this title.<br /><br /><h3>Colourblind Information</h3>Colour is not used in any meaningful way.Robin Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16603128790228748017noreply@blogger.comDublin, Ireland53.3498053 -6.260309699999993453.0463133 -6.9057566999999933 53.6532973 -5.6148626999999935