Friday, 27 November 2015

Old Town - the past

If you have not ready WHY i'm keeping a journal, I recommend you do that first :0) I have to clean up my kitchen and pack my stuff before I go away for the weekend, but before I do I’m going to sit here with a coffee and tell you a little about my current design. To write this post will take me the length of time it takes me to drink a coffee (cause I have given myself an arbitrary limit)

I have 4 active projects living in my head and on my computer at the moment. I’ll start this journal by tell you about the one I am “focused” on at the moment. Its working title is Edinburgh Old Town (not the title I would want to use if published, but I can’t waste brain power working out that would be at this stage).

The background to this game is thus; I went on holiday to my girlfriend’s home town of Edinburgh about 6 months ago and we took the Mary Kings Close tour under the current city to the streets of the old town below. Here’s the history bit: After something like the 9th plague to hit the city, the council decided to build a new city over the top of the disease ridden old one. They knocked down the top floors of the buildings and used the materials to literally seal of the streets below. I will not going into everything about that now but I will tell you the stories of 17th -18th century old Edinburgh are incredible and as we took the tour and the more I spoke to my girlfriend about it the more I wanted to make a game about it. Ideas where bouncing left right and centre in my head for the rest of the holiday.

So I’m now making a game about the life and times of Edinburgh old town. It’s gritty, nasty and full of characters and stories. Murder, plague, grave robbing, ghosts and much more. It’s not going to be a game to play with your kids, but I hope it will be a game that evokes the feeling I had when I was walking those streets imaging what life was like back then.

Ok, ok.. that’s the flavour now you want to know what ingredients I plan to use. Interestingly, I have this fairly well fixed in my head at the moment and yet, writing it here is not proving to be easy. My first prototype had a core mechanic of action selection done in the way you pick races in Small world. I like the “you can have the first one for free, put a coin on the first one and take the second one or keep putting coins out until you get to the one you want” Mechanism. I also don’t feel it’s often used in games. I took this and made it 3 columns wide and 5 cards deep. I added actions like plagues etc that where just bad, but that after a while you might want to take just to get all the money. What you were doing with the actions in the first draft of this game was basically area control. You had your tenants around the city and you wanted to keep them safe and healthy while trying to kill/scare off your opponents tenants.

There was more to it than that but I don’t want each of these entries to be too long. This prototype was playable and it was not a terrible game. With lots of tweaking it would have been ok I think. However it did not do want I wanted it to regarding getting across the stories and feel of the old town. It also did not have a “who you are” angle to it, which I felt it needed.  I like narrative and flavour in my games and the direction I had picked was not going to hit as well as I wanted it too..

So now I am working on a deck builder that has much more to it that the standard, buy cards that allow you to buy better cards and then buy victory points. I’m afraid though that what I am doing now with the old town will have to wait until the next entry as I have just finished my coffee…

Why a design journal?

Hi, I'm Nate and I have been designing board and card games since I was a child. I am about as into board games as you can humanly be while still having a girlfriend. I always have a number of designs I am working on. These have historically been on scrapes of paper, backs of envelopes and in note books (now on my computer).

Basically if I have 5 minutes to spare I will find something to write my game design ideas on. I am now 35, so you might be wondering how someone who has been working on games for this long has not got a fully published game or two under his belt (there is Geek Army, but we will talk about that some other time)?

Well there are a few reasons for that and they tie in with why a man who is short on time has decided to try and keep a journal. The main reason my games don’t tend to see the light of day is that I have so many ideas. This sounds like a bullshit thing to say, but for me it is a problem. First, because I jump from one idea to the next (because its new and shiny) second because I tend to add too much into one game (because I really like the idea of just adding this extra thing... Oh and this thing too, but I can’t leave this bit out). 

In short, and I aim to be completely open and honest here, I lack focus when it comes to designing board games. I am not currently a game designer (writers are not people who have an idea for a book, they are people who write books) because Ideas are easy and fun, creation is hard and slow. I plan to change that statement with your help.

This is where this journal comes into play. I am ultimately a team player. I work best with others. Unfortunately I live in the ass end of nowhere and nobody in my small gaming group has any design ambitions. So if I can’t bounce ideas off someone over a cup of tea, I am going to get them out of my head and on here and see what happens. 

I think this process will help me get past blocks in my designs. I tend to over think things and can get caught in a circular thought pattern. When I have to vocalise a problem it tends to become clearer in my mind and I find a way past. My son is three and we often go for walks. Sometimes I will tell him about my game designs and as I speak I gain clarity and focus. Making something clear to someone else in an understandable why helps me move my thought process on.

So, now you know why I am going to try to do this. I am aiming to make the posts bite sized but will not hold back if the subject needs it. Time to write my first official entry!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Pocket Adventures - becoming a big thing

Pocket Adventures - becoming a big thing

Side Quest - Pocket Adventures is Steve Venezia's first published board game. So it is quite amazing that this action packed dungeon crawler, that fits in your pocket, funded on the first day!

With just a deck of cards and a couple of dice you and up to 3 friends battle your way through a decision-packed dungeon.

“We are less than half way through the Kickstarter campaign and we already have over 650 backers and are over 325% funded.” says BAFTA-nominated developer and Side Quest designer Steve Venezia

"Its amazing how much support we are getting from the board game community for Side Quest. The team is working day and night to give backers the best game we can and the enthusiasm our backers are showing is a good substitute for sleep."

"Side Quest is a fully co-operative game, where working together is key, but in this fast flowing game each player makes their own decisions - if any Heroes (or maidens!) die, the game is lost."

See the Side Quest campaign for yourself here:

You can also keep up to date with the naming of characters and monsters on the Side Quest Facebook Page or Twitter