Final thoughts on Gathering of Friends 2014

IMG_0984On top of all the pitching we did, Sen and I also got to have some fun while we were at the Gathering! We got to see our final art prototype of Akrotiri! We got to teach many people to play it and also promoted an unofficial contest where some winners got a copy of another 2-player game from Z-man Games. We had received a lot of good buzz from players who got to play it with some of them saying things like, “I liked it and I’ve never played anything like it!” Wow – that’s possibly the best compliment you could say about a board game, in my opinion.

Tom Rosen (left) and Larry Levy from Opinionated Gamers play Akrotiri!

Tom Rosen (left) and Larry Levy from Opinionated Gamers play Akrotiri!

It was also nice to see many people checking out my Table Cloth Contest this year! This is the second year in a row that I’ve done a Table Cloth Contest and now I think I’ll do it every year. It was hanging in the main room for the entirety of the event! It was then donated to the prize table at the end and it was nice to see that it was one of the first 20 items to be grabbed! Since the Gathering I’ve had 4 or 5 people ask how they can get their own copy of it. Nice! The picture is below and consists of the top 3 games per year (according to BGG) for the last 25 years – but I scrubbed the title out of it and replaced it with the Gathering of Friends logo. So attendees had to guess as many games as possible to win!IMG_0988

Glass Road with Vlaada Chvatil (left) and Toy Vault rep, Ed Bryan

Glass Road with Vlaada Chvatil (left) and Toy Vault rep, Ed Bryan

We also got to hobnob with tons of other designers. I got to play a game of Glass Road with Vlaada Chvatil; Phantoms with William Attia; New Haven with Attia and Stephen Glenn; 504 with Freidmann Freisse (his new prototype which is pretty crazy in its aspirations!); Five Tribes with Bruno Cathala (his new game from Days of Wonder) as well as many games with fellow Game Artisans of Canada!

Friedmann Friesse holding a prototype of Power Grid Deluxe!

Friedmann Friesse holding a prototype of Power Grid Deluxe!

Bruno Cathala's new Days of Wonder game, Five Tribes

Bruno Cathala’s new Days of Wonder game, Five Tribes

As for other games I got to play:

Palaces of Carara: finally got to play this! I liked it though I got annihilated!

Splendor: A very dry game – but it’s interesting and pretty quick

Abluxxen with other game designers Gavan Brown and Chris Handy

Abluxxen with other game designers Gavan Brown and Chris Handy

Abluxxen: A fun card game from Kramer!

Time’s Up: I love Time’s Up – but I always play the Title Recall edition because the basic game uses people instead…yikes – not as much my cup of tea mostly due to my ignorance with current events … err… and historical events! J Still – I had a ton of fun!

Tichu: Always fun. I made such a stupid move early on and we couldn’t recover! Though I did have an epic hand where Sen started and passed me the dog. I then played a 2 through A straight – then followed that up with another Ace! Crazy!

Camel Up: Hmmm – not my kind of game. Too random and luck based. I can see the appeal for families though.

Helios: I really liked this one. I had a tough time with Glass Road mostly because there are just so many options and as a first time play through it’s a tough game to figure out. But Helios has a finite number of things you can do – so you can really plan your strategy. I had a good time with this one!

Zombeasts: a cute card game from Huch & Friends

The new board for Power Grid Deluxe!

The new board for Power Grid Deluxe!

As for unreleased games, I got to play Polterfass (played a few times because it’s really good!) and Leg Los (good idea for a party game!) from Zoch, Pints of Blood from Huch & Friends (a zombie game that seems like it should be themed after Shaun of the Dead!), 504 from Freidmann Friesse, Five Tribes from Bruno Cathala (great game – my fave of the Gathering), Prime Time from Gil Hova (loved all the wacky titles!) as well as a bunch from the Game Artisans (Hansel and Gretel from Max, G-Men from Mike, In Silico from Martin)

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Sen and Jay getting interviewed by the CBC

Sen and Jay getting interviewed by the CBC

While we were there Sen and I also got interviewed by the CBC! Not sure when that will air though.

So that wraps up another amazing 10 days in Niagara Falls! Now we have quite a bit of work to do – which is awesome!!

-Jay Cormier

More Pics from the Gathering of Friends 2014

Here are some more pictures, this time from my POV!

This is series on game design in 3 parts:  Feedback / Revise and Playtest / Pitch

Josh, Jay and show Zev and JF from Filosofia/Z-man the reworked “Rock, Paper, Wizards” game.  After getting some great feedback from them, it was back to the lab to tweak things here and there.

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Below, we’re playtesting the revamped game with fellow Game Artisans of Canada colleagues, Martin Ethier and Al Leduc.

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And finally, once we’ve ironed out most of the kinks in the game, we repitch the game to Zev (Z-Man) – this time, with the help of our pro-players, Aldie and Licoln (Boardgame Geek), Nikki (Queen Games), and Stephen Buonocore (Stronghold Games)

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~ Sen

Playtesting Games at ProtoSpiel North

ProtospielNorthLogoSen and I recently attended ProtoSpiel North in Hamilton, ON where we got to playtest some of our games, playtest some other designers’ games and also pitch our games to some publishers that were present. ProtoSpiel is an event that started in Ann Arbor, MI where designers would get together to playtest each others’ games – and for three years now, Hammercon – a board gaming event in Hamilton, ON – has been holding ProtoSpiel North with the same intentions.
There were many Game Artisans of Canada in attendance from all over Ontario, which is great for many reasons:
  • GAC LogoWe chat with them on our private forum all the time and it’s always great to spend some time with them in person – learning more about who they are and actually getting a chance to play the games that they’ve been talking about online
  • Playtesting with game designers is always awesome. While you always need to playtest with non-designers (and sometimes non-gamers), the feedback you get from designers is almost always awesome!
  • We continue to extend our presence and awareness in our quest for global domination…er – better board games.
I’m going to break this down into three topics:
  1. Playtesting our games
  2. Playtesting other designers’ games
  3. Pitching our games to publishers (including a video of us pitching!!)
Playtesting our games
What’s That: Sen and I partnered up with Stefan Alexander and have been working on a party game the requires an App. Stefan is a programmer and has been able to program the app, and we’ve been tweaking it over the past few months. This is the game that I actually pitched to Repos Productions at the Gathering back in April – but we still haven’t handed it over fully as we’re not happy with the App yet.
whats-that-beaverThe game involves players individually looking at the smart phone and their own unique clue, and then everyone has to make their clue out of an artisitic medium. Then players cooperatively try to guess what everything has in common.
Our latest playtest was very rewarding. We found out that it is indeed fun and that it creates a lot of laughs, and we learned that we need to do three things to make it all work:
  1. Currently players have to type in the answer using an assortment of letters that appear at the bottom – but this actually can turn the game into a bit of a word guessing game. We will revert back to what we had previously – where any player can shout out the answer and check to see if they are right.
  2. We need to more artistic mediums as people didn’t like having two of the same in the game. We brainstormed and came up with two fun ones!
  3. We need to ensure the clues are super easy by themselves to create – but not too easy that you can guess what the answer is without even knowing the other clues. Should be do-able!
simplicitySimpliCITY: Sen and I were very happy with where the game was at – but after one playtest on the Friday night, one of the other playtesters gave us an idea that sounded awesome! The idea was to remove the very fiddly tracks that kept track of what players built, and instead resolve the effect more immediately. After brainstorming we realized that we couldn’t do everything immediately, but we could do it for some of the tracks. We woke up early on Saturday morning and changed some cards and found some tokens just in time for pitching it to publishers!! I’ll get more into this crazy plan in my next post!
Rock, Paper, Wizards: Sen and I have partnered up with Belfort artist – and game designer of Wasabi and other games coming soon – Josh Cappel – to make Rock, Paper, Wizards. We had pitched this game to Z-Man games at the Gathering in April and Zev really liked it and took it back with him to assess with his playtesters. A month or so later and we get some notes from them saying that they don’t want to give the prototype back to us yet, but they also don’t want to publish it as is yet. They gave us some feedback on some things that they’d like us to fix.
Since then, the three of us have tried so many different variations that tried to fix it, but we always ended back where we started. It has been one of the most frustrating games for us – mostly because it always felt like we were so close to something really good.
We learned that a game with guessing whether someone is bluffing or not – that players need two things: motivation on who to attack and information about some of the cards so they can have some odds on whether someone is bluffing or not.
rpwIt’s rare that the three of us are in the same room, so we spent a good deal of time brainstorming ideas on how to fix this idea. One of the ideas from Josh was something as simple as “What if the spells we’re casting always hit their target?” At first it was dismissed since that would entirely remove the bluffing element altogether – but later on we thought more about it and realized that the fun part of the game is throwing hand gestures at each other – not the bluffing. We were so locked into the game being a bluffing game that we forgot our own advice: follow the fun!
So we brainstormed our new idea and quickly came up with some motivations and parameters. A quick playtest later in the week proved that we were on the right track! I’ve playtested it a few more times and am very excited with the direction the game is taking!
It was great to playtest these games with other designers. We got some great feedback and we’re excited about each of these games now more than ever!
2) Playtesting other designers’ games
I like to think I spend more time playtesting other peoples’ games rather than my own at these kinds of conventions. I got to playtest these games:
express-deliveryExpress Delivery by Yves Tourigny and Al Leduc – an interesting fed-ex kind of pick-up-and-deliver game
Tip Top Towers by Daniel Rocchi – a cool balancing block game played on a wobbly plate
Wild West Poker game by Francios Valentyne (can’t remember exact title!)- a very thematic Wild West deck building game in which all fights are done with poker hands
Superhero co-op game by Mark McKinnon – a game where superheroes are trying to save aliens from planets that are getting sucked into a vortex
topsy-towersRescue Rockets by Josh Cappel – a flicking game that should get published! You play on any table and use things on the table as obstacles in an effort to rescue astronauts from planets – very neat!
8-bit Bomber by Daniel Rocchi and Daryl Chow – a Bomberman kind of game with a cool puzzley movement mechanic that is fun and interesting
Londonderry by Daryl Andrews and Stephen Sauer – Daryl asked if I could be his wingman during the play session of this game with Mercury. It was great playing with Doc and Kevin from Mercury! Not only have I pitched games to them twice before, but I’ve even played a game of Keyflower with them at the Gathering this year. It was fun to play a game with them again! You know you’re in a publisher’s good books when you’re both smack talking each other throughout a game! It was a great play session and they expressed some serious interest in the game.
rescue rockets
It’s always interesting playtesting other designers’ games as you can see how that person thinks and how they try to balance aspects of the game, or come up with solutions to problems that Sen and I have also encountered. I’ve always said that if you are a game designer – then surround yourself with other game designers!! You learn so much – even if you just playtest their games all the time.
In our next post I’ll share how we pitched our games to the publishers that were there, including sharing a video of one of our pitch sessions!
-Jay Cormier

Akrotiri On The Move

Just like Sherlock Holmes had a network of homeless people that helped him and Watson solve crime in Victorian England, Jay and I have the benefit of a nationwide gallery of rogues that lend aid when aid is needed in our never-ending quest for publication – the Game Artisans of Canada!

Yves Tourigny (with whom I am co-designing a nifty game of superheroics with), has been able to drop off the newest prototype of Akrotiri straight into the hands of Filosophia‘s powers-that-be at a meeting where he was playtesting Midnight Men with the publishers.

http://gusandcodotnet.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/logo_filosofia1.jpg

Thanks to Yves for doing the leg work on this one!  We hope good things come from this merger between Z-man and Filosofia.  Zev had Akrotiri originally, but with the joining of the companies, it got lost in the mix a bit.  Once the chaos finally settled, Zev was able to show Sophie and Martin Akrotiri in its original form.  We had since made some great changes to make it more interesting, speed up play, and cut out some fairly pointless rules/components from working with Quined.   So we’re very happy to finally have the revised version in Filosofia’s hands.

As a thank you to Yves for being the wheelman for this pick up and deliver, here’s some commissioned artwork for Midnight Men by Toronto-area artist/designer, Ron Guyatt, that we feel captures that sleek art-deco look but maintains the gritty, pulpy feel we’re going for.  Enjoy the teaser and be sure to check out Ron’s Etsy shop, fearless fans, where this poster will be available for sale in a week or so!

Toronto’s First “Board Game Designers’ Night” Hosted by Snakes & Lattes

A meeting of the minds is always a great thing; it’s made all the more better when it can be done at a wonderful location such as Snakes & Lattes, the premiere game café in downtown Toronto, ON.

There were a good 17+ people there simply to show their prototypes, playtest and talk about game design. Four members of the Game Artisans of Canada were present for this inaugural event:  Daryl Chow, Stephen Sauer, Josh Cappel, and me!

I personally played:

  • Sky Roy’s Fantasy Monster Beatdown, a quick and intuitive wargame that plays in under an hour.  It’s got a lot of nice elements (ease of play, nice map, artifact concepts), but the very basic version we played just wasn’t meaty enough or granular enough to hold my interest for the intended length of play.  It suffered from a bit too much randomness (perhaps having each player have access to their own personal spell deck, etc.).  I’ve sent Sky feedback via e-mail and we’ve been discussing ways to address things as he sees fit.  NOTE:  There is an advanced version of the game as well – I think that the “more stuff” in the advanced version may be necessary at the basic level to make people want to play it a second time and make the time invested in learning and playing the game worthwhile.
  • Daryl’s yet-to-be-named evolution game, a great game in concept and execution that’s in the beta stage – keep an eye out for this one as it has all the right elements to be a great game!   The evolutionary tech tree idea rocks!  As does preying on your opponents to further your own evolution!  Some really cool mechanics in here that just need to get cleaned up (e.g. eating various bug types by colour – what if you can’t?  how do you evolve? Balancing the water/food ratios.  Movement of herds vs. individual units…etc.)
  • RuneMasters by Jay and me – Daryl and I played through a few rounds just to try to work out some of the kinks.  He thought of a great idea re: morphing the RuneSticks in addition to draining and fading.  I added the element of collecting items won to the side to reduce “analysis paralysis” (a.k.a. “AP”) which really worked to streamline and limit decision making.  Also thinking of increasing granularity in scoring to reduce chance of ties…and of removing diagonal RuneSticks to simplify drawing and chaining from rune to rune.
  • We did a “show and tell” of Josh’s Egg Hunters Guild, a fun and frantic game that might just be set in the world of Belfort – a world that Josh breathed life into through his artwork.  We bashed noggins over Josh’s hastily hand-drawn board with Daryl and Stephen in trying to think of a way to reduce the amount of dice/random factors yet still retain unpredictability.  My contention is that the unpredictability should be an outcome of players’ decisions, not the roll of a die.  We came up with a concept around “Speed Chips” that players expend to try to get away from the Dragon, but to also get the Dragon to catch up with other players…this means your Speed Chips serve a double function.  If the chip values are known (i.e. you have a set amount at set values), this could lead to some neat bluff/double bluff situations as people work towards a state of perfect knowledge.  And, thus, the decisions become more meaningful as opposed to hopeful (i.e. “I hope he doesn’t have anything higher than a 3!”)
  • The last game of the night was Daryl and Al Leduc’s Mafia card game.  It was late when we played and I don’t think we all picked up on all of the rules (though there are very few!).  The only comment made was to try doing the draw and discard at the end as opposed to the beginning of a turn.  It drew things out too much and didn’t force us to use cards we didn’t like.  Plus, I just don’t think we got the strategy.  I’d like to try again as I like simple yet complex card games.

By all accounts, the first Board Game Designers’ Night was a rousing success – S&L is amenable to hosting more in the future, so watch this space for updates.  If you are a Toronto-area designer looking for playtesters and feedback from other designers, this is the place to be!

~ Sen-Foong Lim

The Bamboozle Brothers Invade HammerCon III

In it’s third year (as denote by the “III” in the name), HammerCon III is *the* major gaming event in Hamilton, ON – the very city where a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Jay met a strapping young lad destined for greatness named Sen.  These two young go getters forged a friendship that has stood the test of time and now the designing duo is set to return to the city of their birth to play some prototypes and showcase their publications, Belfort and Train of Thought.

HammerCon III has something new this year – an official prototype portion of the convention.  Run by Francois Valentyne (Chaos, TtR: Legendary Asia), Protospiel North is an offshoot of the annual Protospiel event (now in it’s 10th year) that takes place in Michigan – just a hop skip and a jump from SW Ontario.  Designers can meet and play each others prototypes on Friday night; others will get to see the newest of the new during public gaming on the Saturday.

We’ll be welcoming our fellow brothers from the Game Artisans of Canada to HammerCon as well.  Ken Maher, Al Leduc, Daryl Chow, and Yves Tourigny will be showing their wares as will our artist/designer friend Josh Cappel.

Belfort and Train of Thought will be played during open gaming sessions.  Belfort will be one of the games in the Great Canadian Boardgame Blitz segment of the convention as well!  Jay and I are proud to have Belfort be a part of that tournament!

HammerCon III
November 4-5, 2011
Plaza Hotel, Hamilton Ontario

Going to Essen!

For those not in the know, Essen is not just a city in Germany, but it’s also synonymous with the world’s biggest board game convention. Also known as Spiel, Essen is attended by as many or possibly even more people than the San Diego Comicon! The amount of space this thing takes up is unbelievable: 12 Halls and each of them are many football fields in size. Almost every publisher will be there from all over the world, with many of them using Essen as a launch pad for their newest games. Essen is the place to get the latest and greatest games, that might not make Stateside for another 3-12 months.

The primary reason I’m going though is as a designer and to meet up with publishers. Following Steps 18-22 of this blog, I’ve emailed them in advance, prepared, packed and am now ready for Steps 23-27: at the convention. I am bringing 6 games to show to publishers and have about a dozen meetings set up throughout the event. At the very least it will be a good opportunity to network and get my face/name out there.

The secondary reason I’m going is to try and find a European or Asian publisher for Train of Thought or Belfort. I’m bringing a copy of each (oh, did I mention that I just received my copies of Belfort?! Huzzah!).

The tertiary reason I’m going is to demo Belfort! I’ve already had some people email me with some requests to play it. Should be a good opportunity to get some awareness out while I’m there.

The great news is that I won’t be doing this alone. Three other members of the Game Artisans of Canada will also be coming, which will be great for networking and actually playing some games!

So my posts will be infrequent for a week or so, but then expect a flurry of posts as I regale the adventures I’ve had during my first trip to Essen.

-Jay Cormier

Step 31: Get to Know Other Designers

<caveat – this probably should be somewhere near Step 12, and will be ret-conned in later!>

As a game designer, I have found it extremely helpful to surround myself not only with great playtesters, but also other game designers. Initially many people think that you might not want to talk to other game designers about your unpublished games because they could steal your ideas. I have never thought this was an issue, mostly because everyone and their brother has a dozen ideas for their own board games. The ideas aren’t what’s lacking. What’s lacking is the ability, and often the experience and knowledge of how to get a game to market. This is where fellow game designers can be a big boon to you.

I belong to a group called the Game Artisans of Canada. This group was founded in 2008 by a few game designers with an interest in sharing stories and experiences in an effort to help each other get their games to the market. Many of the GAC members have games published already, including Rob Bartel with Two by Two, Sean Ross with Haggis and Matt Tolman with Undermining – to name but a few. There are different chapters across Canada which each meet up on a regular basis for play testing. In addition to this, they have an online forum which everyone across Canada can ask questions, share playtest sessions or debate game design philosophies. There’s a whole process to become a Game Artisan, which involves a trial period as a Journeyman and a lot of mentorship from your local chapter.

Attendees of Cardstock 2011! Look at all that brainpower!

In addition to our chapter meet ups and the online forum, GAC has an annual get together called Cardstock. This is heaven for game designers. 20 or so designers meet up and playtest each other’s’ prototypes over a long weekend! This year it was in Calgary and many of us flew in to take part in this experience. I was flabbergasted at all the creativity and brainpower that was at Cardstock. Every game that Sen and I brought to Cardstock left a much better game. Talk about invigorating!

The Game Artisans even have their own newsletter called Meeple Syrup that is dedicated to celebrating the organization’s successes. Issue 3 was just released and is available here.

Sen and I joined them in 2010 and have had numerous examples of how they have helped us become better designers and probably published more often.

1. Game Designers make the best playtesters. Game designers understand the need for balance and how a suggestion can lead to other issues. They understand that sometimes a playtest session needs to stop in order to tweak the rules before starting again. The feedback we get from playtesting with other game designers is always fantastic and leaves us excited to take another crack at it.

2. Game Designers have a ton of various experiences that each of us alone don’t have yet. Have a question about how a contract should be worded? Ask GAC. Not sure how to contact a publisher? Ask GAC. Trying to figure out how to solve a game design problem you’re having? Ask GAC. There’s a ton of knowledge amongst all the members of GAC.

3. Game Designers have contacts. We have already experienced a few examples where one GAC member has helped another get a game to a publisher and get published!

  • Michael Mindes of Tasty Minstrel Games asked me and Sean Ross about our opinions of the game Alba Longa, designed by GAC member Graeme Jahns. It was being published in the Netherlands by Quined and Michael was thinking about bringing it to America. I told him my honest opinion, as did Sean, and he decided to co-publish the game with Quined.
  • Quined then asked Graeme if there were other designers with games that he think they’d be interested in. Graeme thought of our game, Akrotiri and they were interested enough to send an email to us asking us for the rules. After reading the rules, they asked for a prototype. They’ve played the game twice and are still fascinated by it. Time will tell if that turns into a publishing contract!
  • Rob Bartel introduced us to Gamewright and they now have our game Jam Slam and are still deciding about whether they are going to publish it or not.
  • Dylan Kirk has contacts in China and when one of them asked if he knew of any games that might be a good fit for them, he told them about Train of Thought. On my trip to Essen coming up, I have a meeting set up with that publisher to see if they’d be interested in publishing the game in China!

4. Blind Playtesting! With different chapters across Canada this gives everyone that’s part of GAC the ability to get their game blind playtested. This means sending the game to another chapter with the rules, and letting them figure it out on their own. This is so valuable as this is the experience that a publisher would get when we would send a game to them – so the feedback from these sessions are extremely helpful.

5. Improved Quality. While this goes hand in hand with some of the other points in this list, it deserves its own callout because I’m referring also to the perceived quality of all games by members of GAC by publishers. Publishers are already starting to recognize the abilities of GAC. They know that if they receive a game from a member of GAC, that it has been playtested by other designers and most likely, even blind playtested. The goal would be to get to a point where a publisher comes to our group to ask for game submissions.

So while you may or may not be able to be a part of something like the Game Artisans of Canada, you should definitely surround yourself with other game designers. Try online places like Meetup.com or Craigslist, or even by asking your local game store if they can host a game designer night once a month – and see who shows up! You’ll become a better designer because of it.

~ Jay Cormier

Online, there’s the Boardgame Design Forum – http://www.bgdf.com – where like-minded people post about their designs. You could also use http://www.boardgamegeek.com and post in your local forum to try to find a design group or start up your own. An online group is a great place to bounce ideas off of people and a local group is excellent for playtesting.

Another thing that a group gives us access to is a huge collective boardgaming experience. Jay and I have played a ton of games, but there’s only so many hours in a day! With the difference in tastes and personal collections, we can draw on the gaming knowledge of many instead of just the two of us. So when we propose an idea, we’ll often get the reply of “Have you played yet? It sounds pretty similar.” While you might think this is discouraging, it isn’t – either we take a look at Game X and decide that it’s similar and we’ve saved ourselves the time of re-inventing the wheel and potential embarassment of pitching it to a publisher; or we find out that our game is different and, hopefully, better!

The group can also help bolster confidence in your designs – there have been a few times when people in the GAC were thinking of abandoning a project, but other members helped the game stay on the rails and move closer towards a final versions.

We also help promote each others’ games through things like newletters and Rob Bartel’s “Canadian Heritage Collection” catalog – a catalogue of games designed or published by Canadians that is sent to Canadian game retailers. Jay will be bringing one of Al Leduc’s prototypes to Essen to give to an interested publisher, Jolly Thinkers. We help with suggesting publishers, using our links and contacts when possible, to get our colleagues’ games in front of the decision makers. Jay will be pitching Matt Musselman’s “Bordeaux” to Queen and Alea at Essen later this month. Fingers crossed!

Help can be as simple as amking a suggestion. Why, even tonight, I suggested that a new designer take a theme that Jay and I had been toying around with and run with it, because his game fit better than any we’ve been able to think of so far! Hopefully, something becomes of it. We just want to make good games and help good games to be made.

In fact, both Jay and I are even working in collaboration with other GAC designers on separate games. Jay is working with Graeme Jahns, Ryley Tolman, and Gavan Brown on a party game tentatively called “Like It” while I’m involved in co-designing Yves Tourigny’s brainchild “Midnight Men” with him.

Like It logo

Like a boss.

“Like It” was sparked at a late-night session at Cardstock 2011 after the group had played “Clunatics” and Gavan seeded an idea. The next morning, Jay, Ryley and Graeme were eagerly discussing it and a quick prototype was mocked up in short order. There’s some really great mechanics in this game that have been great to watch develop over time on the GAC forums. That’s the beauty of the internet – connecting people in Vancouver, Calgary, and Lethbridge in order to create something new.

The Nightwatchman, from "Midnight Men"

The iconic Nightwatchman, bane of evildoers everywhere, brings justice to the streets of Cosmo City in Yves Tourignay's "Midnight Men"

My involvement with “Midnight Men” comes much later in the development of it; Yves had already done much of the work, including the all-important part of getting the game signed to Canadian game publisher Filosophia for a 2012 release. I became enamoured with the project as soon as Yves began discussing it, due to my love affair with comics from a young age, and was eager to try it out. I finally got to play it at Cardstock 2011 and it was apparent that the potential was there, but that there were kinks to work out. I was determined to help with that. After re-creating my own prototype version and tabling it with my local playtest group in London, I provided even more feedback to Yves. So much so that I think I was driving him to drink! I suggested that Yves discuss the possibility of me being part of the development team with Filosophia, but Yves did one better and offered me a role in the actual design of the game. I accepted immediately as I’ve always wanted to make a superhero game myself. Yves has created a richly detailed world and I am honoured to be part of bringing it to life. The progress that Yves and I have made on the game since we began the partnership has been a real testament to the power of teamwork.

This year has been a banner year for Jay and I as designers and it’s in no small part to our links to the Game Artisans of Canada.  2012 will be even better, if all goes as planned.  So, If you’re serious about game design, do yourself a favour and seek out like-minded people. It makes the job that much easier – as the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.”

~ Sen-Foong Lim