Every once in a while I like to step back and take a look at what I’ve been working on. Last night I was putting together some components with “final” artwork so I can make a gameplay video for Scoville and I realized that it had been a while since I made any prototypes. And that got me thinking I should step back and take a look at what I’ve been working on. Let’s start with the hottest Euro farming game ever…
This game is currently preparing to launch on Kickstarter. That means that art is being worked on with a feverish pace. I’m not really an artist, at least in these terms, so I can’t say how much work actually goes into it, but it seems to be a lot. There are so many different components that require artwork (orders, recipes, boards, player shields, bonus abilities, bonus point tiles, box, rulebook). Each of these is no less important than any others.
My work on Scoville has been pretty minimal. I am, however, hoping to receive more final artwork so that I can put together a prototype copy with that artwork and make a gameplay video for the Kickstarter campaign. When I receive more artwork I’ll see if I can give you all a little teaser or two!
I worked on this game one morning at BGG.con and made some awesome progress. I suppose it wasn’t progress as much as it was a breakthrough in the design. The game had previously been dry and lacking important decisions.
Brooklyn Bridge is a worker placement game where you send out your crew to obtain materials and build the bridge. You can also hire more crew. So far everything I’ve mentioned sounds like a re-theme of Stone Age. While elements of Stone Age are present in the design, the hook is that players not only place workers in a turn by turn order, they also remove workers and perform the actions in a turn by turn order. This adds a time dependence of when you activate workers each round. This is where the design differs greatly from Stone Age.
The breakthrough that I had at BGG.con was to incorporate public goals in the game, not dissimilar to the orders and recipes in Scoville. These goals would be for building different parts of the bridge. Pieces of the bridge should be built in a certain order and players earn bonuses for building them correctly. While Stone Age has it’s endgame scoring based on your game status (food track, # in tribe, etc.) Brooklyn Bridge scoring is based on how much your crew contributed to the bridge. I am plowing forward on this game and my goal is to have a playable prototype in January.
Dice Hate Me 54 Card Challenge
I am pretty excited for this contest. I know the awesome people from Dice Hate Me and it would be an honor to win this contest and get to work with them. For information on the contest itself go here.
Here’s the issue I have… knowing them they are seeking something that is awesome and has a unique and flavorful theme. I unfortunately currently have neither. I guess I had better start cooking something up!
A while back I mentioned that I would be putting this on The Game Crafter once I was happy with it. Unfortunately between BGG.con, Thanksgiving, and now the 54 card challenge I have not had time to work on this most awesome of games.
On the upside I have a plan for how to make the game better. Since the time after Christmas is usually a down time for a lot of things I should have time to finalize what I want the game to be. Then after I’ve played it at least 40-ish times I might feel comfortable posting it for sale on TGC. So those of you who love time traveling killer whales shouldn’t have too much longer to wait!
Ah, Conclave… what to do about you. We’ve had a love/hate relationship so far and I imagine that will only continue.
So Conclave is my game design about getting yourself elected as the next pope. The game includes manipulation of the Cardinals by persuading and influencing their votes. The problem with the game is that it is only pseudo-fun for one round and the game lasts 4 rounds or more.
I have a solution that could make the game fun and more interactive without adding any length to the game but I have been avoiding it. If I sat down for a day or two and worked away on Conclave I think I could have something enjoyable. I’m hoping to get to this during the long hours of nighttime in January and February.
That’s where I stand from a game design perspective. It’s always been fun for me to work on this stuff and I appreciate you reading about my design efforts. I hope to report back by the end of January with some awesome updates!
Hello my faithful internet friends. Today is Tuesday but I’m presenting my Monday Brews article anyway. The Monday after Thanksgiving is a family day for us to go cut down a Christmas tree and decorate our house. Thanks for understanding.
While my Thanksgiving week didn’t come close to my BGG.con week in terms of games played, it was surprisingly good. Here’s a recap of the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed last week:
Fleming’s Scotch Ale: This is my newest homebrew and the first few bottles I’ve had have been quite delicious. It is named after Sir Alexander Fleming, discover of penicillin among other accomplishments. All of my 2013 brews have been named after renaissance men (though Fleming isn’t technically a renaissance man, he was the closest person Scotland has to one). In 2014 all my brews will have a board game related name!
Glass Road: While I haven’t yet figured this game out, I know that I enjoy it. It is fun to work with the dials and try to plan my turns the right way so that I can be able to do stuff on my turn. I like the interaction with trying to choose the right cards. And overall I’m satisfied with the game. I may, however, add a house rule that we add a round to the game. Most of the times I’ve played it has felt like I was barely able to get an engine going and then the game was over.
Carcassonne: I enjoyed this classic with my in-laws family. We played with the Inns & Cathedrals expansion and the Traders and Builders expansion. I got beat handily, which was annoying since one player kept targeting my areas and trying to either share points or win the majority.
Stone Age x2: I introduced this game to my in-laws foreign exchange student from Denmark. He really got it right away and was glad we could play it again before the weekend was over. I really enjoy this worker placement game because it is so accessible to new players. I’ve pondered getting the Style Is The Goal expansion so it can play with 5. Do any of you have any thoughts about that expansion? Is it lame?
Littlest Pet Shop x2: My 4yo daughter enjoyed playing this game while we were at the in-laws. She kept making up rules to her advantage. I’ll have to teach her about following the rules. But it was a lot of fun to watch her excitement when she earned one of the little animal figures.
Kingdom Builder x2: I know this is a controversial title, but I really enjoy the game. There’s a good amount of strategy if you get the right cards. Even when you get bad cards, the game doesn’t last too long. We played with the Crossroads expansion.
Undermining: This is another game I like to put in front of new gamers. It’s fun to imagine actually digging down for the precious materials and then using them to upgrade your Universal Mining Vehicle. This game, though, is one where I usually use a house rule or two. One of them is to adjust the scoring for the contracts and another is to have the endgame trigger be the emptying of two contract piles. Fun game though!
Compounded x2: Speaking of fun games, the in-laws really seemed to like this game. I got demolished both times we played. I just kept drawing hydrogen and carbon and I needed neither of them! Oh well. It’s a really fun game and I’m looking forward to the next time I get to play!
So overall it was a pretty good gaming week!
I actually made some game design progress this past week as well. While I was at the in-laws I sat down for a while and worked on Brooklyn Bridge. I like the overall concept that I’ve put in the game, but some of the details about how it works are a little too thematic. So I’ve decided to step away a little from the theme and make the game more fun, which is always a good thing. I have a little up-front work to do to get the game playable, but I’m hoping that I can do some great first playtests around mid-January.
So those are the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed and the design progress that I made in the last week. What did you enjoy?
It’s a good news – bad news Monday here at Boards and Barley. First, the bad news: the Scoville Kickstarter campaign is being moved to mid-December. We’ll all just have to be patient a little longer. Now the good news: I’ll be at BGG.con demoing Scoville and meeting a lot of you awesome people this week!
That’s right. It’s gonna be a slow week on Boards and Barley because I’ll be down in Dallas enjoying some full on boards and barley with fellow designers and gamers and publishers. It’s gonna be awesome!
Never-the-less, today is Monday so I present to you the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed last week:
Newton’s Oatmeal Stout: My own oatmeal stout is a decent homebrew. However, it is gonna have some competition soon as I recently bottled my scotch ale, which will be named after Sir Alexander Fleming.
Lost Coast Eight Ball Oatmeal Stout: This is a pretty good oatmeal stout, expecially since it doesn’t have that “homebrew” characteristic that my beer possesses.
Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout: A straggler from the 6-pack I purchased was thoroughly enjoyed. I find this double cream stout to be very drinkable.
North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout: It was a strange week for me barley-wise. I only had stouts. A few years ago that would never have happened. I do believe my beer palate is maturing! Unforunately I enjoyed this brew after those other stouts and so I only went for half the bottle. But if you want something potent then I would recommend anything that says “Russian Imperial.”
Cable Car: This is one of the best games to get a game night started. The strategy is light. The decisions are few. The screwage is immense. It has everything to get people into the gaming mood. And since it plays quickly, Cable Car makes it to the table relatively frequently. Fun game!
Last Will: I played this at our board game night as well. And I lost badly. I am usually pretty good at this game, but I made a HUGE error on the very first turn and really botched things. Plus, the Old Friend wasn’t available for me as the first player in the first round. That really hindered my game. But despite my pitiful performance this is a game that I love playing. It is a really awesome design.
Compounded: I taught Compounded to four family members over the weekend and the consensus was that they loved it. One of them is a chemist so it was right up her alley. My older brother, who isn’t really a gamer, dominated everyone by getting some compounds completed really early. If you have yet to check out Compounded, maybe it’s time to pick it up!
Kingdom Builder: We played Kingdom Builder with the Crossroads expansion. It is a great expansion and I love the new “objectives” to strive for during the game. This is a really enjoyable game for me as it is light enough to keep my wife interested, yet deep enough to make me care on every turn.
Dungeon Roll: I played this solo and had a decent game… or so I thought. I fought hard to get those 19 points only to learn that that only makes me a Village Hero. I must be doing something wrong since I barely ever score in the 20s. Oh well. Also, if you haven’t seen it, there is a Winter Heroes promo pack on Kickstarter right now for a super low price. But hurry up since there’s less than 24 hours to go!
As I mentioned last week I’ve been in the designer doldrums lately. This time of year is usually so busy for me that I brain rarely gets a spare moment to work on hobby stuff. However, since I’ll be down at BGG.con this week I’m going to bring my notebook and idea box to see if I can come up with anything for my current games or possibly to come up with a few new games. I’ll keep you posted.
So those are the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed last week. What did you enjoy? And will I see you at BGG.con?
It’s usually this time of the year that I don’t put much effort into game design. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas each about a month apart there’s always something to be looking forward to during these months. And that also typically means I travel more than normal to make sure I visit family.
So I find myself in the designer doldrums. A place no designer wants to be, yet I’m guessing we all find our way here at one point or another. My visit to the doldrums is aided by the upcoming Kickstarter campaign for Scoville. There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes and it has captured my attention like going on a first date. Never-the-less, I am adrift in the game design ocean and the wind has stopped blowing.
Today’s self-help article is all about how to get inspired and out of the doldrums. I am presenting 5 ways to get back in the game. So when you find yourself without inspiration or desire to design, try out these five things:
Play New Games
This one is a fairly obvious option. By playing games that are new to you you can get inside the mind of other designers. New games often have new quirks to mechanics that you may not have seen before. Those quirks might inspire you to try out a new mechanic of your own.
Read a Book
Often when you enter into someone’s creative world you can pick up little things that might inspire you. By reading a book you may find that you love the story and could be inspired to design a game that fits the theme. The other benefit of reading a book is that you get whisked away from everything else on your mind. You can get lost in the world inside the story. It’s often these moments of escape where you brain gets inspired!
Watch a Documentary
For inspiration I prefer documentaries over normal movies. Documentaries often share the nitty gritty of some topic that you otherwise might not find interesting. And often it is the nitty gritty that can give you inspiration. My first hand example is with my design for Brooklyn Bridge. I was watching a BBC documentary about it and the whole idea of sending workers into a caisson while risking caisson’s disease was really inspiring. It seemed to be something that could be a fun game mechanic. So find an interesting documentary and see if it reveals any interesting game mechanics!
Visit a National Park
One of my favorite ways to get inspired is to simply get outdoors. Despite the cold weather moving in, if you can get to a park and let your mind relax and forget about all the other stuff that makes your life busy, then you might be able to get inspired. While nature itself isn’t necessarily the thing that I look to for game mechanics, it is the place I can go to do some clear thinking about game mechanics. Plus, who doesn’t like to smell the fresh air and get away from things for a while?
Clean Your Workspace
This last one isn’t nearly as fun as the first four, but I find it can be just as inspiring. My workbench and design area often fills up with clutter, game components, tools, and more. The result is that it becomes a non-useable space. The clutter ends up hindering my design abilities. So every once in a while I like to spend an afternoon and completely overhaul the space and get it cleaned up. Once that workspace is pristine I find that I can sit there and really think about game design. If your workspace is cluttered, then perhaps your brain is cluttered too. Clean up your desk and your mind will be able to work better.
Those are some of the ways that I like to break out of the designer doldrums. Where do you turn for inspiration and ambition?
Happy Monday everyone! It’s supposed to be snowing here today. The Green Bay Packers lost yesterday. And I lost my voice over the weekend. So it’s not really a happy Monday. That’s why I bring you the Monday Brews each week here on Boards & Barley. I’m going to skip the Designer’s Corner section of the article today since I did no design work whatsoever last week, what with the Scoville campaign on Kickstarter launching soon.
Never-the-less, here are the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed last week:
Capital Supper Club: I enjoyed this while bowling. It’s a “not bad” beer from a local brewery that is easy to drink and is quite enjoyable.
Spaten Optimator: I also enjoyed this one while bowling. It was on tap but it sort of tasted like it made a stinky and long trip overseas from Germany. I’ve definitely had better Optimator.
Bell’s Two Hearted: This beer, also enjoyed during bowling, is about where I draw my hop line. I am not a fan of overly hoppy beer, but this Pale Ale toes that line nicely.
Bell’s Double Cream Stout: When they say “Double Cream” they mean it! This is a smooth and creamy concoction of deliciousness that was worth purchasing. Very enjoyable.
Tyranena The Devil Made Me Do It: This is a special beer from their Brewers Gone Wild series. It is an imperial Coffee Porter and it is awesome. Though it is an imperial, it doesn’t pack the alcohol punch that many imperials possess. The best part is the smooth coffee nature of the beer. It was an all around enjoyable brew.
Newton’s Oatmeal Stout: I enjoyed another of my own homebrew. Thankfully it doesn’t suck.
Lost Coast Eight Ball Oatmeal Stout: Here’s another oatmeal stout that I enjoyed. I had it back to back with my homebrew and was pleased that they both tasted pretty similar. The Lost Coast had a better finish and felt more refined, though. Pretty good brew.
Star Wars X-Wing: I continued my streak of winning while playing a 125 point battle that included the Slave I and the Millenium Falcon. I was part of the Imperial Force and was in control of a Tie Bomber and a Tie Fighter. My team mate was in control of the Tie Interceptor, a Tie Fighter, and the Slave I. Overall we had a really great space battle that took a while to play. But in the end my team was victorious and I am not 4-0 while playing X-Wing. It’s a super awesome game!
Settlers of Catan: I had the privilege of not only teaching the game to a new player, but I also had the privilege of playing the game with three women. That’s not a very common occurrence, unfortunately. Two of them love Catan and were very competitive, which might have helped the new player. The new player ended up winning as she was able to steal the longest road at the end for victory.
Quantum: My level 1 friend, Jeremy, had the privilege of making his first ever appearance at the Spieltage at Essen. Quantum is one of the games he picked up and we were able to play it on Saturday with our friend Ben. WHile I’d like to say it was utterly and completely awesome, I can’t. Jeremy beat us in about 14 minutes. “Beat” is actually a pretty weak way to say it. He completed crushed us. He was able to get all four of his quantum cubes out there before Ben or I got our second cube out. It was pretty embarrassing, really.
Compounded: After the pummeling in Quantum we decided to play Compounded. I really enjoy this game. It is such an elegant design and is so much fun to play. I love the theme and how well everything is integrated together. Darrell Louder (designer) and Dice Hate Me Games (Publisher) really have a great game and great production here. I just wish it came in a bigger box, because the amount of game in the design is definitely worthy of a big box.
So those are the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed last week. What did you enjoy?