Time Flies!

An apology to our regular (and casual!) readers! Jay and I have been very busy, lately. Sadly, not game designing as much as we’d like, but rather just getting caught up with life. Of course, we were also enjoying the last of the summer days with family and friends – so that was fun!

A few things that *did* happen over August / early September were the finalization of our contracts for Swashbucklers (now with Queen) and But Wait There’s More (with Toy Vault). So, be on the look out for a Kickstarter campaign from your favourite Design Duo (i.e. us) in the near future!  Whether the games  remain EXACTLY as designed, we’ll have to wait and see…

During the waning days of August was Ontario’s largest fan convention – FanExpo.  This is serious geekness at its finest!   Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Cosplay, Anime, Comics, Video Games, and – of course, Board/Card Games.  I was able to sit on the a panel with several other Game Artisans (Daryl Andrews, Daryl Chow, and Al Leduc).  A lot of the questions asked were about iPad appification, the current state of the market, and finding game playtest groups. All in all, a good time.

We got to hear one of Canada’s more prominent designers, Eric Lang (he of Chaos in the Old World and Quarriors fame) speak about some pretty cool stuff like psychogrammes of player types – as a therapist, this intrigues me. While I probably subconciously design for certain player types, Eric is trying to take it to a new level!

I purchased a commission of the Modulator from Midnight Men (a game by Yves Tourigny and myself) drawn by Vancouver-native, Jason Copland.  As you can see, he is a VERY talented artist!  Kudos to him for capturing the vibe Yves envisioned really well!

Marquis and Lucas from UniForge were also at FanExpo with their ginormous Jenga that’s always a hit!  It was awesome to see Al Leduc’s game Frankendie in it’s fully produced glory.   Great artwork as seen over there <—-.  I have a copy of that coming to me via Kickstarter as well as Yves Tourigny’s Top This! which was available to play in prototype form at the UniForge table. Can’t wait to play both with the kids – they’ll love the rolling, flicking, goodness!

Oh!  In other recent news, we’ve gotten word back that along with a German-Language edition of Belfort, TMG has also signed up co-publishers in Poland and Japan – can’t wait to see those!  The German edition will have new artwork and be ready for an Essen 2012 release, I believe.  I know that Seth Jaffee (Belfort’s Developer) will be in Essen this year to represent TMG, so I hope to get pics of happy Europeans playing the game there!

[Insert German Cover Art Here When We Find Out What It Looks Like!]

So yeah, busy month!

~ Sen-Foong Lim


Step 3: Be Versatile

Continuing with our acronym, let’s delve into the second letter. Another aspect I attribute my success to is having Versatility.

I like almost all types of games – party games, strategy/Euro games, word games, family games, video games. There are a few types of games I’m not interested in like military simulation or miniature wargaming or collectible card games (though I was a huge Magic geek back in the day).
When Sen and I decided to make our own games, we didn’t really talk about this, but neither of us cared what kind of games we made – as long as they were good ones. Some of our ideas would be kid’s games and some would be serious “Gamer” games. Our goal was to get a game published – any game, so we made a ton of different games, in a ton of different genres.
Being Versatile also went a long ways to keeping us motivated as I mentioned in my previous post. But there are even more benefits to being versatile.
We had one game called Bertolt Lost his Marbles and was a kid’s game that had four animal characters running around a board picking up marbles and trying to avoid a troll. The game wasn’t working for us because it was just too many things going on for a kid’s game.
This lead us to think that we should move this game into a more gamery game. Of course the theme didn’t make any sense any more so we changed it up. We changed the four animal characters into four wizard apprentices and the marbles were turned into Dragon eggs. The Troll was obviously turned into the Dragon and we now had ourselves a more gamery game called Night of the Dragon! We shopped it around (more on this in future posts), but it has yet to get picked up.
Years later I was working on a game design competition (the benefits of these will also be in a future post) for ToyVault’s release of the Piecepack game with another partner. Piecepack, if you’re not in the know, is a specific set of components that can be used to make any number of your own games. Since every game uses the same components, the games are often more abstract and less themey.
We were stuck on a design for this competition and eventually I thought of Night of the Dragon. We borrowed the movement mechanic from that game and fit it into this Piecepack game. It worked perfectly and this game, called Cream of the Crop, won the competition and is coming out in the latter half of 2010.
By being Versatile we were able to leverage our ideas and use them in other genres and styles of games. Think about your game ideas currently. If you’re stuck on one of your ideas, maybe it’s in the wrong genre and you should try seeing if the mechanics would be better suited elsewhere.