2013 Designer Community Preview!
Post by: The Design Community!
The question "what are you up to?" is often asked, but folks are busy, secretive, or just not quite ready to share. On a whim, I bugged the community a few times to send me blurbs about their 2013 projects: current hopes, great prototypes, and random inklings. The response was surprisingly large. Read or skim below to find out some of the cool things your peers are designing.
Some quick notes! If you see text in Italics, those are my editorial notes. Click on the designer's name for their Twitter link. Follow and join the community. Also keep in mind that I set the loosest requirements for submissions, so every designer's "blurb" will differ. Questions? Contact me or comment below.
Dave is the designer of the incredibly popular Get Bit! Look for one, perhaps both of these games via DriveThruCards.com this year. Dave hopes to find a publisher for these games to attain wider release.
Criminals is a psychological game in the style of Mafia/Werewolf and The Resistance. Everyone is secretly guilty of a different crime, so players try to determine who committed which crime, while also disguising their own. Players can win individually or as a group depending on their ability to find criminals. Criminals supports a wide range of players, anywhere from 3 to 9, with no need for a moderator, and is quick-playing.
Inside Joke is a party game where players try to get one specific other person to guess a hidden word before anyone else does, while everyone is shouting answers. Inside Joke works for groups who know each other by making obscure references, or for groups who want to know each other better by having a conversation about what kind of references they would have in common.
I’ll be pitching Fiarrr! to publishers in the mainstream market. It’s a pirate-themed, 2-player board game for ages 8 and up. Players take turns blasting each others’ ships as they gradually pass each other in the classic broadsides tradition. I’d love to see Gamewright pick it up as the next entry in the Loot and Scallywags dynasty.
Santorini will be my first tile game, as well as my first “artisan” game. Inspired by the beautiful architecture and scenery of the Greek island region, the game will feature a nearly vertical playing board representing a growing tourist city. Players will play hexagonal tiles on the inclined playing board, building up from the waters’ edge to the windmills at the peaks of the caldera. Players compete to locate their hotels such that they have the most beautiful view of the blue domes and fountains below. I’m focusing on the game mechanisms, but the art is going to be key to this game’s success.
One Way Out (or 1WO) is getting a complete overhaul, so I don’t think I’ll have it ready to pitch in time for convention season. Primarily a racing and blocking game, the theme is time/space jumping, with each level being a different location and genre. The hooks for this game are its novel real-time level creation mechanism and its variety of themes. The core game will come with 3 level/worlds which can be played in any order. New worlds (expansions) will be sold as simple decks of cards.
Completed Projects Seeking Publication
Intrigue - A trick-taking card game for 3-4 scheming spymasters. Deploy agents from different factions such as the Templars or the Shadowmen. Success will require working with your opponents, because every player shares one agenda in common with another. Can you manipulate enemy agents into advancing your own cause? The plot thickens when players plan secret schemes that can mess with the even the best-laid plans.
Assault on Khyber Station - A tense co-op for 1-4 players escaping from aliens on a failing space station. Your sleepy outpost among the stars has just been torn apart in a surprise attack. With blast doors slamming shut all around you and ravenous aliens teeming after you, can your team coordinate their unique skills to navigate the wreckage and find the escape teleporter in time to warn Earth?
Read more about Assault on Khyber Station here.
Projects in Development
The Last Planet - A quick, tile-laying war game inspired by StarCraft. Three races vie for dominance on the last inhabitable planet in their war-torn galaxy. Establish your presence, claim valuable resources, and build your war machine before the others can wipe you out. The Last Planet features innovative tile placement for intuitive and quick play.
On the Horizon
Black Hills - A shared deck building game for aspiring chieftains of a demon-plagued village. The passing of your father, the chief of the village, has left you all vulnerable to the demons at the gates. Work together to save the village from disaster and hope that none of your siblings take the dark path when they realize only the most successful among you will win your father's headdress.
Hollywood Disaster: Who can turn this mess of a film into something successful? Players compete to improve a random bad movie by re-writing, re-casting, re-shooting and editing the scenes to create more matching plot and theme symbols.
"There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit."
One of the games I'm most excited about for 2013 is a compact tactical battle game I'm calling Sword & Spirit: Little Corporals. As you might guess from the quote, Sword & Spirit: Little Corporals is set in the Napoleonic Era. It tackles warfare in this period using a novel combat system that captures the positional tactics and volleying of the era, while encouraging dramatic action and swings of fortune. My goal in the physical design of Sword & Spirit is a compact size: it packs the punch of similar blocks-on-a-board tactical games in half the table space, and folds into a box about 8 inches square.
Note the images are placeholder art.
Hostage Negotiator is a solo game where YOU take on the role of the Hostage Negotiator conversing with some unscrupulous terrorist or hostage taker hell bent on having his demands met. Your goal is, of course, to negotiate the release of the hostages and buy time for your crisis commander to hatch a plan to kill or capture the terrorist.
Game play features a mechanic I call Hand-Building (think deck building without the deck). The game encompasses the conversations that you have with the Terrorist. Conversation Cards are played to influence the Terrorist. The player faces difficult choices such as what cards to take and which to play and when. There is dice rolling to resolve cards, so there is some luck involved as well, but proper card choice and tactical reaction will separate the rookie negotiators from the veteran ones!
Players may take multiple paths to victory: do you concentrate on lowering the Threat level of the terrorist, which convinces him to release hostages and ultimately surrender, or do you concentrate on buying more powerful Conversation Cards to save hostages and eliminate the Terrorist? Or do you try a combination of both?
Hostage Negotiator plays quickly, in 15-30 minutes, and is one of those games you want to play again as soon as it is over.
I'm working on two projects that I expect to have completed early in 2013. I plan on seeking publication for both games, but one will be made available on The Game Crafter while I seek out publishers.
Leathernecks '43 is a simple dice game for 2-6 players. It started as a game I designed for my daughters, Princess Dice. There is significant difficulty in finding publishers for a girl-themed dice game, so I am in the process of re-theming it for a more gamer-centric audience. The game is the first of a series I am preliminary calling Assault Dice. The system revolves around seven total dice of 4 unique designs. Three of the designs represent members of the players’ squad: the Officer, Sergeant, and Radio Operator. Rolling these symbols may allow you to advance those units, but suppressing fire from the enemy may hold you back. The player may collect and use Smoke Grenades, however, to move through the fire. Once one player's unit reaches the bunker, the game ends and the player with the most Advancement Points wins the game. There are no mechanics changes from Princess Dice to this game and you can read about the development at my website.
This game will be available on The Game Crafter in early January.
Hedeby is a card driven dice game (isn't it usually the other way around?) where the players roll dice to gain goods, and use those goods to purchase workers from an available market. Once workers have been secured by the player, they may use them to build buildings which give them benefits as well as victory points. It is based on the Viking city of Hedeby that formed around 800BC after a nearby Slavic trading center was sacked. The city formed up very quickly as the craftsman and traders moved in. I will be seeking publication for this game as well and doubt that I will make it available on The Game Crafter due to costs. I have made the game available as a Print and Play at my website for anyone that wants to test it.
I have a lot of playtesting to get through before the game is ready to show to publishers because the unique buildings need to be balanced and re-balanced. To help with my playtesting needs, I also developed a VASSAL module for online play. It's available at my website as well!
Maximum Throwdown is a light, 2-6 player card-throwing battle game. Each player has a deck of cards in their specific color / faction that they will throw onto the table one after another. Cards feature icons that will provide the player with points or special abilities, but only if an opponent doesn't cover the icons with their cards. The dexterity is key, as cards must be touching each other when thrown, but you don't want to cover your own cards.
The game is in its very early stages. I originally created it as part of an internal creative game jam at Island Officials (the video game development company that is making Pixel Lincoln, the video game, and now branching out into the awesome world of tabletop games), and I've been tinkering with it ever since. After a few intense discussions, Alex Strang came on board to help take it to the next level. That's about where we are now.
My goal for Maximum Throwdown is to debut it at Unpub, get feedback, tighten, test, and tighten some more. As for publishing, it could be a fairly inexpensive game to produce, but let's see what people think first!
I've got two games I'm hoping to complete significant work on in 2013:
Bread and Circuses: A 4-10 player bluffing/negotiation game in which the players act as Roman nobles trying to manipulate events and their fellow nobles to achieve their secret objectives and make the greatest profit from a revolting peasant population.
In 2013, I'm hoping to finish a TGC prototype in January for the PPP, pitch to publishers in the first half of the year (Protospiel at the latest), and investigate self-publishing if there isn't other interest.
Microbrew is a 2-5 player light economic game in which the players are investors in a craft brewery, supplying ingredients to brew the recipes that give them the greatest return on investment. This game's a little rougher at this point, and my goal for 2013 is to do further playtesting and determine whether or not the game is viable in the first quarter of 2013. If it's viable, I'm hoping to pitch to publishers at GenCon.
And of course, I'm sure to have some crazy ideas during the year to chase.
Charles intends to pitch these to publishers in 2013.
Standing In Line: 15-minute betting game, designed to be played while standing in line. This game is also a member of the PPP. Click here for more detailed information.
Chroma Cubes: A strategy dice game in which players color in puzzles with crayons. Players race to complete figures in their puzzle before their opponents.
How does it work? Each turn has three steps, which all players do simultaneously.
- Roll: Players roll all their dice on the first turn. On subsequent turns, only roll the dice you’ve used.
- Color: Use sets of dice to complete sections of the puzzle.
- Score: When you complete an entire figure, you get the highest remaining score. Players who finish later score fewer points.
Click here for more information.
Mission Control: A map-building game with a space exploration theme. Click here for a walkthrough of the game.
Christopher Chung // Flash Forward Games
The main title I'm working on is called Bucket List.
- 2-4 players
- Ages 12+
- About 45-130 minutes
- Resource Management game.
The synopsis of it is that your Doctor has given you one calendar year to live because of your terminal disease, so you go want to go out with a bang and complete as many tasks on your Bucket List as possible. Each task, ranging from visiting the Mona Lisa in Paris or Base jumping in Machu Pichu carries its own Legacy, Thrill, and Fatality Levels, so you must allocate your Money, Sanity, and Vitality to as many tasks as possible before your time is up. You have control over what you put into your "IV Bag," but what comes out of it is entirely random. Score the most Victory Points by the end of the year through completing Plans or scoring Counters at the end of each month and you win.
I'm working on balancing the prototype right now, and deciding if I want to introduce a cap on turns; rather than endless play, give each player 12 turns (one for each month) and see what they can do with them. I hope to playtest this at game designer meet ups, create some sell sheets, and then see where it takes me.
Daniel Baneson // Fishagon
Solar is a fast-paced deck building/dice fighting card game developed by Fishagon.
The game comes with 24 cards each being of a different "class" such as Knight, Pyromancer, Assassin, etc. It's a 2 player game where players decide who picks first and then enter a draft with each player choosing 1 card each "turn" until both players have a 12 card deck. Then they will proceed to drawing 3 cards a turn using 1 and putting 2 back at the bottom of their decks. Players then proceed to battle with a series of offensive and defensive stages using 2 die and the class skills for combat. The victor of 5 battles will win the game!
The artwork shown is concept art by our newly hired artist "Kaorien" for the Pyromancer class. The game is scheduled for release around March 2013 after a hopefully successful Kickstarter campaign!
Cardboard Edison has one of my favorite feeds on Twitter. He collects interesting advice from board game designers and publishers and shares it. Follow them!
- 4+ players
- 30-45 minutes
The first game from Cardboard Edison, Skewphemisms is a party game built on alliteration. Guess the everyday expression suggested by a series of alliterative clues.
We're debuting Skewphemisms at Cartrunk Entertainment's Unpub 3 event in Delaware in January. Because it's a mass-market game with lots of opportunities for expansion, our goal for 2013 is to find a publisher with wide distribution to get the game into as many word-lovers' hands as possible!
- 2 players
- 30 minutes
A real-time card game from Cardboard Edison, Tessen pits two players against each other in ancient Japan. To win, players will have to move fast and think even faster. Tessen uses set collection and hand management mechanics. The game rewards players who can keep track of their opponent's movements as well as their own on the fly.
Tessen also will be at Unpub in January. In 2013, we plan to settle on a publishing plan for the game. We might self-publish, seek out a young publisher who specializes in quick, light games, or offer it through a print-on-demand service.
Zombie House Blitz from Stupid Awesome Games. Zombie House Blitz is a 2-6 player speed card game. Players race to get their family out of the house and safely into an escape car before the cars are full. Will be on Kickstarter in March.
Zombie in Your Pocket from Valley Games. Zombie in Your Pocket is a 1-4 player cooperative game of survival. Players are survivors trapped in zombie infested houses, malls, and game conventions. Find your friends, kill the zombies, and don't let the bats poop in your eyes. This is a new cooperative game based on the popular Zombie in my Pocket print and play solo game.
When I found out Patrick signed Tory Niemann’s new game, I immediately began bugging him for information. If Pay Dirt is as good as Alien Frontiers, this could be Crash’s break out hit.
- 2-4 Players
- 75-90 Minutes (Probably 2 hours on 1st play)
- Worker Placement, Auction/Bidding
- Industrial/Environment Theme
The inspiration for Pay Dirt came to Tory because he is a fan of the show Gold Rush and thought it would make a pretty cool board game. Tory just won a Golden Geek Award for Alien Frontiers:Factions and this would be his second published game and the follow up to the smash hit Alien Frontiers.
In Pay Dirt, a gold excavation game set in Alaska, players must manage and grow their entire mining outfit, from workers and personnel to equipment and gear. The Alaskan Yukon is an inhospitable environment, so players will face hardships that affect their entire outfit – not to mention the ever-dropping temperature that will eventually shut down their operation. The player with the most gold at the end of the game is the winner but this will be especially challenging since players have to sell gold in order to upgrade their equipment, gear and personnel.
On a personal note I have great hopes for Pay Dirt and I really feel that it will be my marque publication if it is successful on Kickstarter. I really love playing the game and I feel that it provides a unique and different approach to worker placement games. I feel the game plays very thematically and I have high hopes for the art.
I am planning on having the art completely done before the project launches on Kickstarter in September and I will be showing it off at UnPub3, Origins, GenCon and then launching it on Kickstarter in September.
Belle of the Ball: After a year of intense development, I'm ready to call Belle of the Ball a fully baked game. It's the kind of game that apparently gets people to laugh out loud in bars and do impromptu interpretive dance. My plan is to put the current prototype up on a POD online store, build buzz, and pitch to publishers. Whether I DIY it or license to a publisher, I expect Kickstarter to be involved somehow, too. My hope is to have Belle of the Ball be my first published box title by the end of 2013. Ambitious, but I'm going to give it my best shot.
Diverse Testing! A few months ago, I noticed I had something like forty playtesters, but only five women. So, I actively put out a call for more women testers. It's been a blast getting their feedback in the development and this is something I hope to continue in the new year. I'm going to highly recommend to all new game designers that they improve the gender balance of playtest pool.
My Measure of Success for 2013: I want the number of person-hours playing one of my games to exceed the number of person-hours I spent designing it.
As designers, we're in initial playtests for a trick-taking, everyone-for-themselves card game with changing contracts -- possibly with a gangster theme, but virtually any theme would work, including none.
We're rebooting Minimum Wage Gorilla, a blind-bid area-control game set in a zoo. 9 turns total, averaging 60-90 min with 4 players. We're excited about this one, and we hope it's back into playtest mode.
And if we can find a way to not be utterly derivative, I'd love to take a crack at a modern-day ghost-hunting cooperative game.
As publishers, we're also looking to import and/or seek out a few card games next year, as well as at least one dexterity game. The Merchant of Venus fiasco has put us in "measure three times, measure once more" mode in terms of ownership, however, so expect us to call our shots VERY carefully. This might mean pushing back to 2014... but rather that than the dual-ownership headache.
Also, this will not be the year we stop using Kickstarter. We hope to rely on it less and less as Split Second Games becomes a known commodity, but we're just not there yet. Expect some offering(s) from us in 2013.
Marc isn’t a designer, but he’s deeply connected to the community and is putting on a convention, GrandCon. He asked if he could share this info and I heartily agreed.
GrandCon features tabletop gaming in all its forms, as well as comic books and the creators behind them. We provide an atmosphere that will allow gamers and comic book fans to mingle and appreciate their shared interests.
Come to play or chat your heart out with fellow enthusiasts in a community that understands your passions. Get lost in the adventure of your favorite role-playing game. Admire costumes and art from vendors and attendees. Meet the creators behind your favorite mainstream and independent games and comic books. Check out unpublished games and sneak a peek at things to come.
I'm currently working on 3 game designs to watch for.
1st being Lords, Ladies & Lizards. It's a one-of-a-kind role playing adventure set in a medieval fantasy world threatened by an all powerful Dragon! Up to six Players get a chance to create and develop Characters through a complex journey that involves strategy, economics, politics and war! Players are able to play as either a Lord, a Lady or a Lizard, each with unique properties and leveling bonuses. Over the span of many game years, players will face personal struggles with jealousy and greed, deceit and rage! They will travel across three continents by land, by sea and by air, clearing the way of treacherous monsters. But there will only be one winner and that is the one who defeats the Dragon! Do YOU have what it takes to defeat the Dragon!?
2nd being Icefall. Players take on the role of ice climbers risking it all on the world's most dangerous icefall! With a modular game board players will be adding to the top of the board as they climb and must stay away from the bottom of the board as it is removed periodically.
Every round players face the challenges of ice climbing by revealing tiles they are approaching. These tiles will present varying degrees of ice thickness, how slippery the surfaces are, the moraine gradings, crevasses, boulders and more! Each tile requires a different response from the player. Do you dig in and keep climbing? Do you swing to another location (tile)? Or, do you bust out the ice screw and hook in? Either way, you better decide fast, because every time the sand-glass runs out the lowest portion of the mountain crumbles into an avalanche. The players' positioning on the board (mountain) will determine if they become part of the avalanche or live to make another tough decision.
The goal of the game is to reach the summit, where a rescue helicopter is waiting. The game incorporates press your luck elements with time control and quick decision making. Co-op games involve a steeper challenge requiring extensive team work including rope systems, leading and belaying.
Lastly, King's Town. A 2-4 Player Civ Building Card Game. More about this one coming soon.
Knot Dice and Crossing Swords will be presented at UnPub 3, and I am discussing both games with publishers and considering self-publishing as well.
Knot Dice - Knot Dice is a box full of games, puzzles, and art. The dice themselves are custom Celtic knot pieces that can be put together like tile-laying games or into more traditional knot designs.
There are 40 dice in the box along with a two-sided game board and a scoring board. The game rules included are:
- Kells - a cooperative game for 2-6 players, in which you try to form a closed design using as many dice as possible
- Celtic Cross - a competitive game for 2 players, which feels somewhat similar to Scrabble
- Speed Knots - a competitive game for 2-4 players, in which you try to form a closed design with your dice as quickly as possible
- Hill Fort - a competitive game for 2-4 players, in which you try to form closed designs on a verticals space
- Gordian Knot - a competitive game for 2 players, in which you try to form closed designs that wrap around all of the sides of the dice in a 3-dimensional space
- Osbox - a competitive game for 2 or 4 players, which feels somewhat similar to Tetris, designed by Cameron Browne (used with permission)
I've come up with some other game ideas that won't go into the game box, but will be posted on the web along with player-contributed games that I hope players will come up with once they have the dice in their hands.
Finally, there are a number of puzzles to be worked, solo or with 2-4 players, and plenty of designs to create and enjoy using one or more sets of the dice.
Crossing Swords - This is a sword-fighting card game in the fencing era (think musketeers, pirates, all those great sword-fighting movies). The idea was to come up with something that approximated the feel of a film sword fight, including both speed and strategy. I'm still working on some of the gameplay, so I hope to do a lot of playtesting at UnPub.
Unnamed - Lastly, I'm starting work on a worker-placement game. This is the kind of game I actually spend the most time playing, but it's taken me a while to come up with something that I feel is good enough to pursue. I'll post more on my blog as the game develops.
Ready to Go?
Empire: This is my big hope for 2013 and has been submitted to a publisher. Pending their input, it'll hopefully be developed and published, or I'll revise it for the Con season and new pitches. Empire is a medium heft area control Euro/war game for 2-4 players in about an hour. The game features four unique factions and entirely card driven gameplay for a low-luck game of strategy. The cards are simple and provide one key piece of decision tension: Do you play the card for Reinforcements, or combine it with others for a powerful Tactic? Read more, check the rules, or get the PNP here.
Livestocked and Loaded: This is the expansion to Farmageddon and will be published by 5th Street Games. The game adds Animals, Weather, and new Action cards to the mix. The game still needs testing time for polish and balance. The game will be put into circulation in the PPP soon and should be out sometime in 2013.
Insurrection: I'm on my fourth significant design revision for this game. It is now a 2 player tactics game broken into two distinct layers. Firstly, you have the high level game, where players play powerful cards to position their fleets and put Units in place. Actions take place on a 3x3 grid of cards with "orbiting" fleets on the outskirts. The key is positioning to strike when it is most advantageous.
Then, when a battle takes place, players bust out the dice and meeples and quickly battle through a simple skirmish game that incorporates cover, suppression, and flanking tactics. You can read about some of the earlier ideas for this here. My hope is to enter Insurrection into the TGC Map Builder Design Challenge. We'll see where it goes afterwards.
Extra! Extra!: This is a silly game where I'm trying to take some of the laughter of a party game and mix it with some light strategy. 3-5 players are newspaper reporters trying to gather and write the best stories for the deadline. Players will build stories out of Who, What, and Why cards. The key is playing the cards to the right story at the right time. This game is set to test early next year.
Poor Abby Farnsworth: This witchy game might make a return. Maybe. As something completely new.
Have a great and fortuitous 2013 guys and gals!