Some of you may wonder if all we do is design games. Well, no. I try to give back to the community and grow the audience by teaching new gamers how to play the so-called “gateway games” and by teaching experienced gamers how to play some of the latest and greatest games. Along with some of my friends, we host the free-for-all London Family Game Days twice a year, conveniently timed after Alan R. Moon’s “Gathering of Friends” and Essen so that we can attend those events and bring back some goodies for the fine people of London to partake in.
Here’s a quick video from our local public news station covering the event:
Thanks to all of our FLGS sponsors
-L.A. Mood Comics & Games
Thanks to all of our publisher sponsors
– R&R Games (Event Sponsor)
– Uniforge (Tournament Sponsor)
– Days of Wonder
– Mayday Games
– Level99 Games
– Minion Games
– Conquistador Games
– Red Raven Games
– Indie Boards & Cards
– Stone Blade Entertainment
Thanks to our community partner, Victoria Public School, for providing the space and the food.
And thanks, especially, to our cadre of tireless volunteer instructors without whom the day would not go at all!
Jay was in London at my place for the last week and we got a lot of work done. We were aiming to finish a bunch of games, and we met most of our goals while exceeding some – so time well spent! We were able to playtest quite robustly with my gaming group, my wife and sons, and our fellow GAC member Daryl Andrews.
We tested out some new minor additions (in game goals vs. end game goals) for Akrotiri – a game that has been signed to Filosofia as our first 2p game! It’s fast, fun, and now has some different challenges and motivations during each turn. Can’t wait to see this in fully-published format!
We changed the wolves in EIEIO to be on the die instead of card-based. While this means it’ll come up more often (potentially 1 out of every 6 rolls – do the math!), it is theoretically cleaner than the conundrum that occurred when the cards came out in series. We haven’t playtested this one yet – there was just so much other stuff to do! EIEIO was slated for Filosofia as well, but they opted not to sign it, so we’re looking for another home for it.
We changed from 8-sided dice to 6-sided dice for marking words in Lost for Words. The 8-siders were just too finicky and hard to know what the actual face up number was. We also worked out some rules stickiness in which there were too many darn ties. The value of the in game goal cards may also be nerfed from 2 points to 1 so that finding a longer word isn’t as difficult. I’m really looking forward to playing it again! Word games are a hard sell, but I’m hopeful this one may break the mold – it’s faster than most and uses some innovative techniques to encourage play. If it never makes it to a boardgame format, it might make a great app!
Speaking of apps, I had a dream of an app I wanted to make – it was a word game. I told Jay about it and, by the next day, he had made a prototype of a card version of my dream game! That game is now Chainables (working title) – a game in which you are trying to combine 2 syllables into full words.
We worked a bit on Pass the Hat, our game about busking. Some new changes to be made to all the cards, using a vertical vs. horizontal splaying mechanism. The scoring seems to work, but we need to make a few more adjustments to make it flow better. It’s our most “Gamery” game, currently, so we’d like to work on finishing it more.
We played But Wait, There’s More with the Shepherd/Nicell family. It was great! We got to try out a few expansion ideas – some which worked amazingly well and some that need tweaking. It’s such a hilarious game on it’s own, we want to make sure that the level of fun increases with each card drawn/expansion added. Look for that one on Kickstarter soon!
Jam Slam was tested with no changes just to see if there was anything we did want to change. We’ve always had scoring chits AND a scoring track included when we send this prototype to a publisher but our playtesters – hands down (no pun intended) – liked the track much better than the chits. So track it is! The people have spoken!
We played a lot (I mean a LOT) of one of our new games Simplicity. It’s really simple (hence the name) and about making a city (hence the name, again). It’s a tile-laying game in which you pick a tile up and place it down. That’s all. There are in game goal cards to achieve and mid/end-game goal cards to cash in on over the course of the game. It’s so simple, it boggles the mind. We thought of the game a year ago, almost to the day, and couldn’t put it together. This time, we said “Let’s just make some cards or tiles and play around with them” and a great game was born! Is it perfect yet? Hardly! We’ve got some ideas to add some variation here and there, but the core game is sold. A big plus is that my wife LOVES IT, so I will be able to test the heck out of any changes we do make!
One of our personal “holy grails” of gaming would be to make a game about movies, as Jay LOVES movies with a passion. He’s at VIFF, TIFF, etc. as much as possible. He had a radio show reviewing movies back in University. He collects and saves all his ticket stubs and documents who he saw each movie with… okay, we’re getting into OCD territory. Anyway, we’ve been working away at Box Office, in one shape or another, for years actually. Now that we’re more seasoned designers, the latest version is actually coming along nicely. Jay had a brainstorm re: this sliding scale thing…should be really good! We didn’t playtest this with anyone as it’s really only in Alpha stage and we never want to subject playtesters to games that aren’t at least in their Beta phase. Unless that game happens to be named The Dig.
On a sad note, we found that Pictionary: The Card Game (a 2009 Dale Yu design) was very very similar to our Hog the Remote (a 2006 Bamboozle Brother design). We had a bunch of interest in HtR, so it was disappointing to find the similarities. Carrie had bought Pictionary: The Card Game for her work. Luckily, I saw it and read the rules. No one wants to go up against Hasbro. Not even the fabulous Bamboozle Brothers!
Lions Share was played a lot – we’re changing how play is done so it’s more 7 Wonders-style in that there are areas to play between each player and you only interact with the players to either side of you during the card playing phase. The sharing of the trick is still super interesting as that’s what allows you to interact with players you can’t normally deal with. A new scoring mechanism we devised makes team and vs. play much more interesting. We need to add more cards to accommodate more than 4 players (hopefully up to 6). We’re thinking of adding a Chameleon type animal that can act as any animal and another animal as a suit…not sure which one yet – they’d just be a general animal.
We got to try out Clunatics as well, which was well-received. We’re just cleaning up the rules a wee bit to reduce scoring issues and keep cards in front of you to a minimum. I made a mini-dry erase board and stuck a small dry erase marker complete with eraser in the box. We’re hoping to shop this one around soon to NorthStar games perhaps. They publish a little game called Wits and Wagers. You might have heard of it!
Whew! I *think* that’s it – there may be more that we did! Thanks to Carrie, Ethan, Eli, Elly, Daryl, Jeff, Vince, Brian, Steven, Jeff, and the whole Shepherd/Nicell family (except you, Sean!) for gaming it up with us over the week and helping us take our games to the next level. Your feedback was invaluable!
Oh yeah, I’ve started to take stop motion videos of our playtesting session using my iPad, a Makayama Movie Mount, and the iStopMotion app. Gerry Paquette, another GACer, showed us how he did this at “Cardstockawa” (our annual Ontario grand game design moot) over the summer and I’ve wanted to do this ever since.
Having fully moved into my new home, I’ll be back to a more steady stream of posts on this blog. First up is an announcement for those that live near Vancouver, BC or London, ON.
I will be hosting a Demo Day to showcase Train of Thought at Connection Game store on Saturday, April 16th from 1pm to 4pm. I’ll be showing people how to play the game and one lucky person will win a signed copy of the game.
Meanwhile, Sen will be in London at the Toy Shoppe on the exact same day (Saturday, April 16th) between 10am and 4pm doing the exact same thing! Truly a coincidence that we’re both doing Demo Days on the exact same day!
So if you’ve been wanting to try the game – or even meet one of the designers, and you live within driving distance (unless you want to fly in to meet us! 🙂 ), then please stop in and say hi and check out Train of Thought!
Date for both: Saturday, April 16th
Vancouver Demo Day: Connection Game Store, 2945 Renfrew St., Vancouver, BC – 1pm-4pm
London Demo Day: 685 Fanshawe Park Rd, London, ON – 10am-4pm