I suppose since one of my stories has been promoted, I'm on the spot to get off my lazy ass and describe myself. I'm a 3D modeler working on Flight Simulators by day, a doodlin nerd by night. I try to remain without system biases but let's face it, no one can do that. I do want to apologize for some of my terrible grammar. I'm hoping to correct this issue as time goes on. I want to get better.
As to which games games I'm into, which ones am I not into is a more apt question. I'm a collector with a fairly massive collection. And, maybe as time rolls on, I'll fill more of this out.
Note: This idea only appeals to board gamers or people who are interested in a hurried concept series.
One day, in a chat, someone mentioned an inability to make the classic game Gauntlet into a card game. Within a minute, I had a solution which they so cruelly cast aside. But my concept was sound, hopefully balanced(as this challenge has NOTHING to do with playtesting), and figured I would SOOOOO love to design a coop dungeon crawler that plays in 60 minutes or less. I wanted to do all this and more importantly, have it ready by Geekway to the West which, under the best case scenario, gives me about a week to go from concept to printable design.
The game, Dungeon Blitz, foregos most concepts of combat and assumes anything reached within a radius by a certain character is dead. But I also needed something to push those bastards through the dungeon and so I needed a Pyramid Head constantly stalking behind the players, forcing them through. Win or lose, the concept is to get the game over with in 30-60 minutes and more importantly, have a concept go from txt to printable in only a few days. How appropriate that I will document this progress as the Dungeon Blitz Challenge...
Day 1: The Game Crafter, Square Cards, and Monster Sketches.
Since I plan to use The Game Crafter as my printer, I start by downloading some templates for Mini Poker Cards and Square Cards. The Square Cards are 3.5" x 3.5" which, designing this game around placing squares (Zombies, House on Haunted Hill), I had to consider how many spaces I wanted on each card. Being the clever bastard that I am (not), I decided Legend of Zelda style rooms should be best for the concept.
The various monsters. The very bottom right is an instant death character that will force players through the dungeon. The others are Skeleton, Slime, Flash Cat, Wraith, and Goblin.
Each game should also be slightly different as well as have certain types of challenges only solvable by teamwork. Hell, let's even go with scenarios, and pop 10 of them bastards on. So with the workable space on the cards, I could have a 6x6 room with a little over 1/2" squares, or a 7x7 room with 7/16th inch square, or an 8x8 room with 3/8" squares. Keep in mind, these squares WILL feature reused asset with the intent to just hammer out a shitton of rooms.
One hour, several tiles...
With only a basic concept going, these tiles worked well in creating this very basic room.
That's all I got done in a limited amount of time. Tomorrow, I plan to map out simple rooms on Grid Sheets and yes, MAOR TILES.
Those who know me know that I am, as Adam Corolla puts it, Hyper Vigilante. Tiny things annoy me, minor issues explode into universes of grievances, and it can take it's toll over a prolonged period of time. This is a story which many could consider off topic, I consider it the long journey to a Kinect.
You see, I am by no means a skinny person and though my face is slightly ill formed, when added with a paunch, it just seems tragic. And so, with a friend, I decided to join a Gym named Cardinal Fitness. This gym was cheap, down the street from my home, and was typically just busy enough to have people, but not too busy that you couldn't get on a machine.
Of course, the advantage was that I could read books while running in place, and boy did I. The time I spent on the ellipticals meant I could read board game rulebooks, D&D player guides, fiction and nonfiction, etc. I did, however, lack an MP3 player and so I heard everything.
Among the things I heard were conversations that did little to impress upon me the plights of the common man. As an example, hearing two ethnic women discussing the "good news" of a cop that died recently trying to stop a domestic disturbance was depressing. Of the other things I would hear, a sorority girl had troubles convincing her boyfriend that she wasn't into choking, Obama is apparently a communist trying to convert American lifestyles, Jesus loves you but hates gays, a couple top strategies to convince ones significant other into a three way, and how disgusting and out of place fat people like myself were at a gym. These were common conversations everyone seemed to think nobody else could hear.
The entire gym was also very aggressively against those trying to improve while providing an environment appealing solely to those who are improved. Were I a vain man in my physical appearance, this place was a palace of mirrors and a testiment to my awesome rather than a penance to be served for the guilt of being out of shape. Instead, I take vanity in my mental capacity and have mentally masterbated at the turn of a phrase. Mirrors don't help in that case, instead offering a reflection of a doughy man so woefully out of place in this Beautiful Peoples Club.
Time passed and most of these issues could at least be tolerated so long as my friend forced me to continue to go but eventually he moved and my ability to work out was limited to self-control and who REALLY wants to go to an environment they despise. But I continued, solely because I was paying for it.
Then something weird happened, Cardinal Fitness became Charter Fitness and with it came a new influx of members, lower prices for those members, and a general crowding that kicked my hyper vigilance in overdrive. If I felt out of place initially, this was where I REALLY felt like a leper at a dance off (protip: Lepers have real problems with taking the left foot out during Hokey Pokeys). You see, the situation went from "at least I can get on a machine quickly" to "damnit, I gotta wait around for 15-20 minutes for a machine."
I, by nature, am a wallflower. Though I am willing to take center stage, it's often on my terms and when I'm in a situation where attention can easily be paid to me, I try to be as unassuming as possible. In a room full of mirrors, standing behind a row of elliptical trainers and stair machines, and my standing behind this row waiting for a turn for a prolonged period of time, the perception of my character can and was misconstrued on multiple occassions. Though I wait my turn, any which way I turn my gaze has a line of well defined asses. Though my intention was just waiting for my turn, I am aware of how I look. Loose jeans, generic t-shirt, possibly one of the nerdiest pieces of literature ever to be dragged into the gym (most recently, the rulebook to the miniatures board game Dreadfleet), standing nearly motionless in a perceived lecherous intent. As time passed, my willingness to throw myself into this role evaporated completely.
But then I remembered a period where my love of gaming helped me lose weight. I was addicted to early music games and among them, Pump It Up. If you're not aware, let me put it this way. DDRs pad was up, down, left, right, essentially giving you six potentially centers of gravity you could shift to. PIU had 5 buttons in a cross shape, gaining access to 10 potential centers of gravity. Likewise, PIU had what was widely regarded as the best choreographed dance game stepcharts in the industry. As an obsessed idiot, I played the hell out of this game (remember, I can take center stage but only on my terms). More importantly, I lost hella weight. As arcades died, I lost access to these machines and as such, gained weight again.
Of course you COULD always go to the easy fitness games but I tried those before with problems. The biggest being that I have downstairs neighbors who would likely prefer I not frogstomp all over my living room. Next, keeping things fresh in these programs is a huge challenge. After all, how many times can you run in place before it bores you?
But wait, one of my favorite studios makes a dancing game, only I don't have a Kinect and if I buy it, discover I don't have the room for it, well, I'm out cash, right? Right. So I had a couple friends with Kinects and after pestering them for months, one finally lent me his Kinect. After clearing out some space, I discovered Dance Center is NOT running in place or hopping related exercise. With Target's sale this week, I acquired my Kinect and now plan to lose weight in an area where I don't feel weird or out of place, my own home.
Sometimes the world just has to realize how intimidating and hostile of an environment the membership gyms are... maybe THAT'S what is selling so many Kinects. I know that's what sold mine. See? Gaming related after all!
There is a significant amount of people clapping their hands at Double Fine's recent success on Kickstarter. On one hand, I appreciate the fact that the service is there to help people with truly unique ideas to get the money they need to make their dreams a reality. Here is the problem I have, though. Double Fine's ONLY truly unique idea going into this is that they found Kickstarter.
Not Ready For Kickerstarter
As a dude who's jumped in and funded games ranging from the mobile platforms to even board games I thought looked unique and interesting, there is one thing I typically notice. Who is ready for Kickstarter and who isn't. There are people who had their games in prototype phase for a good long time and after having had problems getting a publisher to help them out, they turn to the community. In the way of video games, these guys have a design doc, beginning art, a set schedule, and basically answer to you as if you are the publisher. In the realm of board games, these are people making all new contacts, worrying about production costs, printing games, making distribution partners, and these are people who essentially have a game ready after months, sometimes years, of rigorous design and testings.
Most of the time, these are people who have an idea, have a reason and a purpose for the money they want, and have their hands out in the fervent hope other people share their vision. I've backed projects that have succeeded and failed and the ones that failed are often people without a solid plan. The phrase "not ready for Kickstarter" is often uttered amongst the board gaming community as Kickstarter has become a great place where new and interesting projects have been coming from.
After years of running our business poorly, please fund us.
Now you have Double Fine who, despite all odds, is still around. They spent millions making a Sesame Street game, embargoed Brutal Legend reviews to make sure the truth of their game doesn't get released, and essentially had massive problems all around. They are the underdog that has made a bunch of bad decisions and to quote John Hammond, "I don't fault people for their mistakes, but I do ask that they pay for them." Double Fine has access to contacts within major publishers, they have contacts with distribution channels, they have access to industry know how that NO ONE ELSE IN THE HISTORY OF KICKSTARTER has access to.
Now, I don't mind them running a kickstarter if they had a plan, concept, even a solid direction, they have NONE of that. They have a history of business failings and their hands out for you to buy 100% purely on faith. Therein lies my problem. While other companies spent, literally, months preparing for their kickstarter presentation, Double Fine just showed up, talked their history, and said, "we promised we'll give you a game someday... super pinky swear." Don't believe me? Go to Kickstarter right now (keeping in mind, I didn't test this theory, that's how sure I am) and look at the other projects, especially in gaming. These are people with solid foundations, detailed plans, and something beyond "we're totally making a game, guys." These are people who actually have something to show long before they attempt to get you to fund it. Double Fine did none of that and this is a fundamental issue I have. They have no plan, no direction, all the contacts to get funding any other way, and now, they've set a dangerous precedent.
Big Dog Coming Through, Outta The Way, Pussies
Now Double Fine is on the main pages, they're the top response on Kickstarter, and they've, in turn, crowded out the little guys. The dude who wanted to make his platformer but couldn't afford the software license to Maya, fuck him. Double Fine is more important. This other guy? Doesn't have contacts within publishers, doesn't have industry veterans backing him, has nothing but his dreams. FUCK HIM, DOUBLE FINE IS MORE IMPORTANT.
I know there are SOME people who went to Kickstarter and funded something other than Double Fine, but the bulk of others came, paid, got the fuck out. Schaffer used his celebrity to choke out the real unknowns, the future Notch's, and now, with that dramatic of a number, it will cast a shadow over the service. I mean, how can the dude writing an RPG system based around space pirates possibly compete with Tim Fucking Schaffer. In a way, Tim Schaffer came in and totally Activisioned everyone else on Kickstarter. Because he was so successful doing this, who do you think will pick up where they left off? I heard Jaffe's forming a new company, maybe he needs some funding. Johnathon Blow fought long and hard self funding Braid and his current project, why fight at all? Clearly Mikami should get in on that shit. The greatest thing about it is the Double Fine success means you don't have to show ANYTHING. It could be a game about a child raping clown for fuck all you know, because they didn't have to show ANYTHING beyond showing up. How ironic that, in the day where we're fighting for truly independant gaming to succeed, we allowed Tim Schaffer to big time a channel for people who truly needed the funding.
Update: Combing The Kickstarters And Who NEEDS Your Money
After giving a bit of time lapse between writing and posting the blog, I sought out some projects I feel could use the funding. Sure, they're significantly under $400K goals but THESE are the kinds of people that need your Kickstarter help.
Project 1: Saturday Morning RPG- Episodic RPGs featuring 80's awesomeness and Skeleboar...
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyjosh/saturday-morning-rpg With an asking price of only $6000, these fellows are asking to help them finish up their project and queue some awesome iOS episodic badass into 2012. With the first episode being free, they've got a long road ahead and hope to have episodes ready to go before they start launching. The team is rapidly running out of money and presenting a truly unique concept to be brought to market, first for iOS, other platforms to follow. Check them out, watch the video, and for fucks sake, throw some support their way. After all, who else will put Rainbow Stripe Gum Zebras as a summoning spell in RPGs if these guys don't?
Project 2: Dueling Blades- Super Chibi Battling to Facebook, PS. Support these guys before Zynga just steals the game.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1595463124/dueling-blades When you think Facebook game, admit you think Zynga and their MafiaVilleTowerHarvestFuckingRipoffCloneEmpire. Don't think that way because there are SEVERAL people trying to make legitimately fun, engaging, and interesting concepts for Facebook and HourBlast Games is among them. Designed as a simultaneous action style game, you have to predict your opponents movements and be right there to deal damage. Featuring 7 character classes, campaign, customization, and even character tech trees, there's enough to do in this game even without playing against other players live. They need $8000 and what do they need it for? Advertising, software licenses, and server costs. Sure, it might be hard to justify investing in a game you never truly own, but think of it this way, they have an extremely small window to make money before Zynga releases DuelVille. So throw a few bucks their way.
Project 3: Farmageddon- A Card Game of Farming... At All Cost
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1892930431/farmageddon-the-frenetic-farming-game This dude and I have some personal history. You see, as I was working on Imps Vs Puppies to print through TheGameCrafter, Grant Rodiek was always in their chat, helping folks out because he was selling this game through their POD service. Helping people like myself out to getting our cards ready to print. No money was in it for him, he was just a swell guy. He also has a history working on The Sims. When Haiku (a game design of mine) was picked up by Cambridge Games Factory, he was among the first to congratulate me. Now the problem with POD (Print On Demand) is that it's expensive since it is literally printed one copy at a time. In a perfect world, you could buy Imps Vs Puppies for $12 (instead of the $15.99 it's currently available for here https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/imps-vs-puppies ) but because of the high cost, $15.99 is the cheapest I can go, making less than a dollar per copy. Farmageddon was in the same boat but despite this, it was doing good and one day, it disappeared, finding a publisher, 5th Street Games. Now 5th Street needs your help to print enough copies of this game to get them in everyones hands and you should really help them accomplish this goal. This was a dude who helped others at the drop of a hat and he needs your support.
There you go, three worthy Kickstarter projects that need your help. Give'em a boost, Dtoiders!
Among the many douchebag comments in the CheapyD announcement, including mine, was a general bitching about CheapyD, how Scoville should be in (although, to be fair, I was bitching about the horrible Jim review of the game), how shitty of a person CheapyD is, how his site sucks, and how he obviously totally swindled his way into the game.
CUNTS! The whole lot of you, cunts. Offended? Annoyed? Angry because your favorite internet person isn't in? Well, tell you what. Let's turn back the clock.
In 2010, a volitionite (those referred to as Volition employees among the local gaming community) got caught in a fire and despite everyone's prayers, she fell due to infections. She worked there, saving money for college, to eventually graduate from tester to game creator. Tragedy fell and one of the local gaming community was lost. Voliition, being the damn decent people they are, held charity auctions to help the friends and family. Among the many items on the block was a voiced appearance in an upcoming game, rumored at the time to be Saints Row 3. CheapyD, being a fan of the franchise, won the auction for $1750. The money went to a great cause and Volition always said it would be free DLC.
So CheapyD did a damn decent thing bidding so much on the auction. Volition donated any money made from this DLC to the family of the victim. Finally, we reap the benefits of this generous action.
That's why Scoville, Sterling, or Holmes are not your SR3 DLC...
Deck-Building is the latest trend in board gaming and everyone is jumping on. EVERYONE. Including, of course, the Penny Arcade guys and Cryptozoic is counted among this mass and have presented us with the official Penny Arcade: Deck Building Game. After acquiring it, enjoying a few games, and receiving the Fruit Fucker Prime promo set, I'm chock full of opinions on this baby, so let's proceed.
2 of the 10 characters
One of the biggest problems hitting Deck-Building today is that the theme seems to be the biggest thing changing in the genre. Dominion created, Thunderstone furthered it, and Ascension presented the last new round of ideas in the genre. Other companies played at fresh ideas but right now the stagnation in concept is setting in and the truly unique Deck-Building game concepts are either coming from more niche corners (Blood Bowl, Rune Age) or Kickstarter (Eaten By Zombies and Miskatonic: School For Girls). So with a setup like that, I wonder where Penny Arcade comes in.
Well, the mechanics of their system is essentially Resident Evil, Ascension, and Dominion all rolled into one. The only unique concept presented here, game wise, is the "Boss Loot" piles. The part that worries me is the box names this engine which has two possible implications, either this system is going to support multiple licensed properties within the same game (ala, UFS and Vs) or this exact same game is going to be reskinned to hell and back with as many franchises as possible. Neither are good scenarios but hopefully Cryptozoic will shut Pandera's (intentional) Box before it's too late.
In Ascension, these cards are called Militia and Apprentice...
So how does this game work? Well first, you have a character with a special talent and a starting deck. So the Scoutmaster from the Winter King special gains a benefit any time any player defeats an evil Boss Loot card. AnnArchy gains a character specific card, the Bat'leth. This mechanic comes from Resident Evil's deck-building game. Next, you set up the gaming area with 7 Green (Gamers) and 7 Red (Evil) card stacks, ala Dominion. After setting this up, you add the Pax Pox cards (Curse/Disease from Dominion/Thunderstone) and finally set up the Boss Loot stacks. What's this? A new idea up in this bitch? It had to happen eventually and this is the ONLY unique thing this game brings to the table.
To play, you have cards which generate either Tokens or Power. With Tokens, you can buy a Green card, which pertains to Gamers, or Good abilities. With Power, you defeat Evil. Aside from Boss Loot cards, Evil cards, added to your deck upon beating them, are the only way to earn victory points, which are a number in a star, on the lower left hand corner of a card... JUST LIKE ASCENSION. Just like the Tokens buy cards, Power defeats them... like in Ascension. Catching onto the pattern yet? So with so much blatantly stolen from other games, let's go into the Boss Loot cards.
Only a couple of the cards you can buy/beat...
In each game, there will be a Green Boss and a Red Boss. The bosses have Lv 1, 2, and 3 variants which essentially means that the game progressing makes them harder. From this, there are also 8 reward cards for beating/buying them. You shuffle these 8 cards and place the Lv3 card down first, then four reward cards, then the Lv2 cards, four more cards, and finally the Lv1 cards. So when you beat a Lv1 boss, you take the top card from below the boss card. When four cards have been taken, the boss levels up. This repeats until Lv3, where the card is tougher, but defeating it ends the game. It should also be noted that acquiring these boss cards but you at an excessive advantage and they are worth a bunch of points to boot. In fact, Boss Loot cards are the ONLY Green cards worth points at the end of the game, meaning running the numbers pushes every player into a Red Strategy despite the claims in the manual. Unless, by some miracle, you can push enough Boss Loot cards into your deck and force the game to end early. The Green Boss Loot cards are also powered on a d20 roll though the included d20 feels cheap and imbalanced.
Also included in the game is a place for all the cards... unless you have the strange desire of not having the cards shift all over the box. $.05 foam inserts will keep you from having to resort the bulk of the included cards everytime you move the box and, frankly, should have been included considering the price. ($45)
A sample of the Boss Cards
But with all my bitching, you would think I find nothing redeeming about the game. On the contrary, this game is fun. Fact of the matter is, when stealing, it's important to steal things that work. The reason Thunderstone, Dominion, and Ascension are ruling the Deck-Building genre is simply, they work. Thus any game that directly apes them will also work. Penny Arcade: Gamers Vs Evil works. More importantly, it's genuinely funny. In general for all players and especially for video gamers, but seeing Mr. Period or Rex Ready work in the game along with all the Penny Arcade references pushes it to that next level. Loaded with crass humor, it may not be for everyone and admittedly, when someone implores other players to Touch Weiners, you'll get odd looks from surrounding gaming tables.
Of course, right now, there is the threat of the funny wearing off with play but considering how much empty space exists in the base box set, more cards are definitely coming. In fact, there is a promo right now to add the Fruit Fucker Prime to your copy.
This past weekend, I headed out with a mission. In my possession, I had three card games of my own design so I wanted playtesters, opinions, and generally ways to fix my creations. Using generic excuses like "picking up my copy of Quarriors," I travelled as far as Bloomington with my games in tow, hoping to share the concepts and try to track down the issues that exist.
Of course, anytime I test out a new design, I'm nervous as all fuck. The first aspect is simply placing something you worked very hard on out for display. Whether people love it or hate it, all their opinions, whether good or bad, reflect on you. No game design is perfect and sadly you, as a designer, spill your crudely drawn heart and soul onto a table for many others to come and essentially bash the holy bejeezus out of it. Even though I know the game will turn out bad, there is the confirmation that stings.
The other issue is in the simple concept that you, as the designer, know how to play the game and thus, you've built in strategies and concepts beyond the simple scoring. The challenge you face is if other players can pick up on how the game is supposed to be played. After all, the design is only as strong as people can figure out.
This reminds me of one of the many times I point to in explaining why David Jaffe is a damn good dude. Turning back the time to Calling All Cars many, many playtests. David Jaffe was blogging everything he was feeling during this time and it's 100% true. He was humble, funny, frustrated when people didn't know how to work it, and ultimately showed a bit of the nervousness I face everytime I have people play my games. David Jaffe, having met him, a cool dude. Aside from all that, guess I should get around to talking about results.
The highly controversial smashed puppy card. Some want more, some want less gore...
Haiku: The Card Game
Currently being considered for pickup from a game publisher, this is the one I have least to worry about. As a quick party game, anytime I got this one broken out, people agree it's a good party game. Criticism typically centers around having the syllable count pointed out and, well, not silly enough. In general, the feedback here is positive and no real changes are needed.
Imps Vs Puppies
This is another success. The concept is a trick taking game like Euchre or Hearts. Players have a team of Imps with different strengths and Abilities. Placing them face up let's their ability trigger while face down, their identity is secret. After most of the abilities go off, strongest imp smashes the crate which may or may not be a bomb. When the game is over, whoever smashed the most puppies, killed the most imps, and defused the most bombs, becomes the winner.
If I wanted to slave over this one for the next 6 months, I'm sure I could make it even better. Right now, people love it in the current form and a couple people wanted to buy copies during the test. So I just need to finalize some stuff and this one will be ready to go.
Of the three, this is the one which needs fixing the most. You remember the section where I mentioned a desire to get the game working? Yeah, that's Bedlam all over. First thing is the explosions are too big and the chaining is broken. But more importantly, only I really seemed to know how to play since, of the two playtests, only I ended up with a positive score. You see, the penalty for blowing up the wrong city blocks is steep, but it's designed as such. The explosions are also too big. I'm hoping to fix this issue in a couple days and giving this another shot.
You may see this game in your local game store in late 2012...