Category: Projects

Stuff in the Projects tab are blog posts about games and projects I’m actively making at the moment. These are things where if you find you have skills you think you can bring to my games, or work you’d like to learn more about, this is the place to check!

Cities And Towns

Let’s talk about a game idea, and what I want to be sure I’m saying with it.

This game idea is known tenatively as cities and towns. It actually started as a colour matching/multiplier game, a math game for my nephews but I liked the metaphor of it being about things rather than stuff, and so it slowly took its shape as a town builder.

The notional mechanic is that there’s a common pool of cards, the city, that determine the value of the cards in each player’s personal pool, their town. At the start of the game, you deal each player a starting card that’s not worth anything, but gives you a place to start from, and put three cards into the city, to give people a standard view of how things are valued. This means that putting cards into the city can represent an explosion of value for you, but it’s something other players can piggyback on – if you have two of type A, and there are two more A in the city, you get four points, but any player who builds an A gets two, too.

I like this mechanic for representing things like trade dependencies and culture growth. A university on its own isn’t worth as much as a university surrounded by other smaller towns with universities, and a market thrives when there are other, connected markets. Players are simultaneously building the scoring mechanism for the game as they are building their own little spaces in the game.

Then came the time to make the game pieces, and I hit an interesting conundrum. See, one thing I could do is go with a pastoral, adventure-game vibe, you know, the not-necessarily-fantasy, but-probably of kingdoms with farms and quarries and woodcutters, as you see in games like Settlers or whatever.

The next option, however, is to build assets using something like these Kenney assets, isometric city representation.

Now this choice opens up an interesting question. I think that a modern urban city and smaller town thing presents an interesting set of different mechanics – after all, you have faster communication, and maybe there are some buildings that can’t go anywhere but in the city, and some things that can’t go anywhere but the town, because of infrastructural needs. Is there a need for variety the same way in buildings when they look modern, when they could show similar buildings on different blocks with ‘zoning’ rules?

But then we hit an additional question: What about redlining? What about the history of deprivation? If these are buildings that look like cities, but outside of cities and minus the skyscrapers, am I just building suburbs? And if I am, do I really want to present a scenario to players where they want to build more schools in the city, because it makes their schools out in the suburbs more desireable?

Now, I’ve made my decision – the game’s underway. But these are decisions you gotta be prepared to consider and confront. When you make a game, you are responsible for the things you choose to put into it, and the assumptions you make about what the game should have in it.

Print and Play: Adventure Town, Pt 2

Time for more thinking on our print-and-play game tenatively titled Adventure Town. What I know I have is a game loop. I know what I want the play experience to be for the players.

One player rolls a handful of dice, and the dice are drafted; players convert those dice into currency, either by a direct conversion or using a detail on their board, showing which dice they took and what they used them for. Then, players can spend coin on their turn to build things in the town.

With this simple game loop, we define some boundaries of the game. Let’s go over them in terms of wants:


I want a key player to roll some dice, then I want the dice drafted; the player who rolled them gets the biggest share, then the next player gets fewer, then hopefully the next player gets fewer and fewer and so on. I want this number of dice to be large enough that it’s hard to ‘hate’ draft – if you’re passing five dice, you can’t really rely on taking away the one die someone two seats away might want.

I want players to care about what happens when the dice are rolled, but not stress too much about what other players are doing except in a general sense. I want people to care less about individual short-term actions, and more about what they see their opponents trying to do.

I want players to feel like they’re in charge of something. I see them as representing a group, but also making changes to the town as the game goes on. This could make them big and wealthy landowners, but if they were, why would they be hanging around in podunk nowhere? Seems better to have players represent groups – maybe family businesses, investors, workers, cults and guilds.

I want players to have their own play space, and I want them to have a common board space. I can use the common space to track things that people do to affect everyone – in this case, I want them to play and deal with the idea of the town space to see players marking territory and claiming ground. I don’t want the town board to lock options off from players, though – so I don’t want buildings to be only usable by the people who build on them.

I want the building of a building to be a little bit of an event. I want players to recognise that they’re doing something that’s kind of cool, and maybe get to mark it, or sign it.

I want the game board to change. I don’t want to remove buildings that are already in place, though, because that seems to represent a traumatic destruction of the board. Also, players are mostly interacting with the board with pens or pencils, which don’t show destruction as easily as they do creation. Even a big ole x through a square can be missed by comparison.

I want there to be some feeling of procession through time. So with the desire for board change as well, I think I want to create the feeling people are moving through the town.


With these wants in mind, here’s an example of the ‘town’ board I have in mind.

This design means that each turn, from the deck of adventurers, three adventurers arrive, and they trigger things in town. This means each turn cycle has players doing things, building an investment in the town, and then adventurers turn up, and the town does things based on those investments. This could, if I do it right, play out a bit like Machi Koro, except instead of rolled dice, it’s a sequence of adventurers.

Problems with this board off the top of my head:

This might wind up being too tight! I might decide to make the town squares bigger, and not include a space on this board for those cards. I may not need 3 slots, or I may need more than 3 slots. After all, they don’t need to be on the board, and the deck won’t have room to live on the board.

  • The town squares might be too small at a glance.
  • The town squares don’t have to be squares. They could be rectangles, fill out this space in
  • I might have too many town squares. I might want to make it a 9×9 or 4×4 grid, or maybe get a little odder, with some buildings occupying multiple squares, perhaps signifying their importance.
  • I might not want there to be a tree relation between spaces. As it is, I put in the lines to give myself a vague idea of what I was doing, but it’s by no means essential.

Here’s another example while I’m at it:

 

Project: Strange Days

The Pitch: It’s an asymmetrical multiplayer game where one player is an evil entity organising a plan while the other players are low-tech hackers trying to avert the end of the world.

Details

This is one of the more elaborate board-card games, where you get a fairly large number of cards in a number of sets:

  • Player cards, indicating what the players can do
  • Player action cards, indicating a loadout of skills each individual player can have
  • Scar cards, which are status effects that can be imposed on the players
  • The threat deck, which is full of cards that build out and form the encounter players deal with
  • Resource cards, indicating things you earn for success
  • The threat identity cards, which when revealed give the threat some sort of drawback or weakness

In this game, there are a handful of deck sets; the monster has a deck of cards they get to rearrange every turn to construct a type of challenge they want people to fight through. There’s a deck of cards, known as Scar cards that represent the way players are affected by the experiences of being a hunter of this terrible force.

The game has a very VHS Fuzz Aesthetic:

This is an example of a Threat card face, showing a card that gives you 2 cultists and 1 reinforcement. Players need to bust through reinforcements, while cultists are swarming them.

This is an identity set showing what the player action cards are like.

Needs

Interest! Right now while I like Strange Days, it’s an idea that’s overlapping elements of horror and cyberpunk, it’s also a game that needs tokens and cards, which means it’s going to live, like Skulk on Gamecrafter – a format I haven’t yet tested and proven as a possible avenue for selling games. Basically, this game is interesting to work on but I’d need to know people cared a lot more than I know they do.

Also, I cannot currently afford to actively comission this game project! I do not know if my state of money will change or how your relationship to the potential payment would work out! Do you think you have the skills for this? Are you interested in the idea? Feel free to contact me, either via the Twitter DMs or by emailing me!

Project: Bunny Field!

The Pitch: It’s a build-out game like our game C-QNS, but instead of abstract numbers and shapes, you’re building a meadow of lovely flowers.

Details

Each player is drawing cards off a single deck of cards to add to their own hand of cards. Then, each turn you can place a card in the grid around the deck that represent the growing spread of flowers in the field. Each card sets rules about what cards can be placed around it – flowers grow in patches that decrease and increase in density.

You’ll also have cards in the mix that let you flip cards face down, or layer cards atop others, with cards like bees (that help flip cards face up) or butterflies (that improve the value of cards they’re atop) or bunnies (that flip cards face down).

Cards would be mostly, representing a simple standard back of a grassy meadow, with the other face showing flowers in a number, with some mechanical signifiers. Cards would not explain what they do on them, so as to make the art very prominent.

The game would not need to be particularly large, and probably only about 52-70 cards, with a single deck that grows outwards. Players might start with a card that indicates the type of flower they want to play, or their last card in hand might indicate the flower type they score off.

Needs

Right now I have no art to start with with this idea. This project needs a fairly holistic artistic vision of showing a location and things in that location; it needs images of flowers, of bees, of butterflies, and of a nice, pastoral background as well.

Also, I cannot currently afford to actively comission this game project! I do not know if my state of money will change or how your relationship to the potential payment would work out! Do you think you have the skills for this? Are you interested in the idea? Feel free to contact me, either via the Twitter DMs or by emailing me!

Project: Asylum Jam 2017 Game!

The Pitch: It’s a drafting game where you’re all trapped in nightmares rent by guilt, and only one of you can escape into wakefulness. Or maybe you’r assembling a demonic rune so you can consume the souls of the other players. Or maybe you’re making deals in a demonic market. Or maybe you’re escaping a slasher movie villain.

Details

The game is played in an open rochester draft from a grid of 3×3 cards. Players each on their turn get to draw a card from each stack.

By default these cards have a face that represents some sort of virtue or ability you have for yourself. The cards have a visual element on them to make them easily sorted from one another, and each card has room for a basic symbol that sets them apart from their others, allowing them to collect into sets or protect one another. These cards are cards that make up the bulk of what you want to do, and they are also your personal resolution and protection as the trauma of the night shakes each player.

At the start of the game these stacks are seeded so that each stack features a single marked red gem card. These gem cards represent the game ending: Each time such a card is revealed, you take it off the stack immediately, and secretly flip it over, shuffle it into one of the other stacks, and then reveal the card beneath it.

Face-up ruby cards (and let’s face it this asset will change) when revealed by taking a new card inflict a penalty on the player who takes them, and when a certain number of these cards are revealed, doom has grown too great, and the players are suffocated in the darkness. Only one player has a chance to escape this – and it depends on what they’ve drafted up to that point.

So play is about building a defensive bulwark, a way to protect yourself, and trying to lay landmines for your opponents.

Needs

Well if this idea only goes up until the end of Sunday Night (the 48th hour of the time I assigned to work on this), we’ll have to see how close we get to it. I’m still not sold on the theme either: I want this game to be a one-deck wonder and I don’t want to play with horror themes, but if it’s about escaping/surviving a slasher movie monster, isn’t that preying on fears of mental health as well? Is any horror trope borne out of mental health concerns when they come from someone who’s the survivor of mental and emotional abuse? Can I write a horror that is not tainted by the horror in my own mind?

There’s also some choices for aesthetics. We’ll have to see.

Anyway, if you want to play this game, or have ideas for aesthetics or ways to add to this game, let me know! Feel free to contact me, either via the Twitter DMs or by emailing me!

Project: Wrestling VHS Game

The Pitch: It’s a roll-and-write VHS game where you’re trying to get last-minute preparation ready for a big wrestling match. While you’re doing this, though, there’s a prima donna wrestler favoured by the company who randomly interrupts you to make your life difficult!

Details

The genre for this game, VHS Board Games is something you might recognise as modelled on Nightmare, the Video Board Game.  To play these, you sat down and played a movie and tried to play a board game as you did it. The video would interrupt the play with occasional tasks that made your life harder, slowed you down or wasted everyone’s time, but could also award you bonuses.

In this game, the video provides interjections not from a gatekeeper or anything, but from an INCREDIBLY well-financed prima donna wrestler who, for this event at least, has WAY TOO MUCH CLOUT. They can BOX YOU INCONTRACTUALLY or THROW YOU OUT OF A BOOKING MEETING or want you to PRACTICE A PROMO WITH THEM and you HAVE TO DO WHAT THEY SAY!

We have a means to get this video to people digitally; we can just put the videos on Youtube. We have means to get them made, casually – any webcam fan who wants to cut a bunch of wrestle promos can do it with an even vaguely appropriate background. We can make it then, so the whole game distributes online, and you can just change the game by using a different video to set a different tone. Each wrestler can introduce their own mechanics – dice-rolling mechanics, inflicting penalties on people,  making fast choices and so on. We can even make the components print-and-play!

 

Needs

We’re now looking for people who can be The Prima Donna, or who are interested in recording 10ish (??) minutes of video of themselves as a wrestler mugging for the camera, cutting the silliest promos and setting ridiculous, arbitrary rules while everyone else is trying to finish a roll-and-write game. We have an actual example of a roll-and-write sheet for the players who want an idea of how the game’ll work!So, if you want to be a goofy wrestlersperson…? Maybe get in contact? At the moment this project makes Zero Dollars and probably only ever will… but if you’ve ever wanted an excuse to cut wrestling promos and roleplay being a total butthead to randoms, well… it’s an opportunity!

Also, I cannot currently afford to actively comission this game project! I do not know if my state of money will change or how your relationship to the potential payment would work out! Do you think you have the skills for this? Are you interested in the idea? Feel free to contact me, either via the Twitter DMs or by emailing me!

Project: Spook Street!

The Pitch: It’s a tiny deck-builder game about playing cute monster girls trying to decide if they want to spook houses or be cute at them.

Details

Every player starts with a small deck of cards, 4-5 large, which show your monster girl character making a variety of faces in her costume. There’s a grid of cards representing a neighbourhood, showing a door, and flipped over they show a number of candy cards to be distributed amongst the trick-or-treaters.

There’s a _plan file available for this, that you can read here.

The aim for this game is around 70 cards and a tuck box. Also, if it was being produced with a fast artist in the united states, it might be available to launch on Halloween (pfft, good luck for that). If not for this Halloween, maybe a future Halloween?

 

Needs

While I have a vision in mind for this game, with icons of a small group of monster girls pulling various cute or silly faces, I don’t have any art assets, and the variety involved would require a fairly coherent artist.While it’s one thing to want a bunch of face icons of cute girls pulling faces and having happy fun, it’s a lot of art assets, and not as simple as commissioning art of a character that can be reused.

Also, I cannot currently afford to actively commission this game project! I do not know if my state of money will change or how your relationship to the potential payment would work out! Do you think you have the skills for this? Are you interested in the idea? Feel free to contact me, either via the Twitter DMs or by emailing me!