As I continue working on designs, I keep doing more and more. My prototype box now contains six active designs that I am testing in various capacities and I have about four others waiting to start on. Writing about these games each week has been daunting and it has caused me to procrastinate and skip weeks. I’m a habitual procrastinator and the task of coding each HTML page has made the tendency to procrastinate even greater. I’ve decided that a good compromise is to write weekly updates and then, write lengthy articles when I feel the need. I share so much more on Twitter than I do on this site simply because I don’t have to type much to keep people in the loop. With weekly updates, I can inform you about all the little projects I’m working on that aren’t big-story worthy, but might just be a bit interesting.
Paper Route – Finishing Up!
The first thing I’m tackling this week is Paper Route. I have kept quiet on this site about it and I’m not sure why. The game is an analog version of the classic arcade game Paper Boy. It started as a Tweet from Cyrus Kirby (@thefathergeek) who told me he wanted a game based on the arcade. A few hours later, Paper Route was born. I’ve been plugging away at it quite a bit this week because I’m hoping to release it soon. Part of this announcement is the Cardboard Arcade which is a deck of cards that can be used to design other games. I’m releasing the Cardboard Arcade stuff as creative-commons and I plan on hosting all this right here on cheveedodd.com. Paper Route will be available as a free Print and Play and it will also be available on TheGameCrafter.com for purchase. I’m excited to share the game and I will be releasing more details in the next few weeks!
Wednesday evening is when our regular group meets and it usually turns into some sort of playtest session. I rely on my friends to do the alpha testing of my games because I respect their game-playing skill and intuition far more than my own, but also because they don’t hold back. They are more than willing to tell me when something sucks and that is really important for a playtest session to be productive.
The first game we playtested was Sock Monster. I was excited. I am still excited. The game is a rather simple set collection game and I had two directions I was thinking about taking it in. The basic run-down is simple:
Players are sock collectors and in the world of sock collecting, there is THE go-to guy to get socks: The Sock Monster. He takes random socks from all over town and gives them to collectors… for a small fee. It’s how he makes his living and he’s quite good at it. The Sock Monster is the reason why you can never find matching pairs at home… someone else may just be enjoying YOUR socks!
To start the game, seven socks are dealt out in a line.
      
The Sock Monster starts on the middle space and on a player’s turn they may move the Sock Monster left or right down the line and take the sock that he lands on.
There are nine different types of socks in varying rarity. The most basic, Plain White, is plentiful with 16 in the deck. The rarest, Argyle, only has three! Pairs of socks are worth points based on the rarity as well as the number of pairs the player has.
The game in the simplest form is simply paying the Sock Monster to move down the line and collecting one sock. Each player does this, then new socks are dealt and any socks that weren’t taken get $1 placed on them. Players keep their purchased socks in front of them for all to see. To get more money, you can sell socks, but socks are also worth points!
The “advanced” game… or what I was thinking of as the gamer game, or the adult game… involved blind bidding for the right to use the Sock Monster first. Each round, we would blind bid, and the winner got to use him first. He could move a maximum of two spaces and the first space was a free move. Then each player moved him and picked up a sock, the board refreshed and we continue.
Both versions of the game played well enough. I need to adjust the point and cash values on the cards, and maybe tweak the distribution a bit, but really, you could just play the game as it stands now. The tough decision is which version do I want to work on. My immediate answer was: BOTH! Why not work on both versions and keep going. The “adult” version would be easy to re-theme and I might get two functional games out of one idea! In reality though, my brain is telling me that the kids version is what I want to work on, It’s the one I had the most fun playing and I think it can be developed nicely. So, that’s the winner.
I’ll do some proper write-ups as I continue working on it.
The second game was the latest version of Project: Dead End. My last few plays have left me really wanting for something more, and I thought I’d nailed out some details that would make the game better. I was semi-right. The game flowed much better than it did but it was still not what I am looking for. I’m disappointed honestly. I have been working on this since February and I still don’t have a game I am happy with. I like the game-play and I enjoy the underlying mechanics, but it’s just not fun enough. It takes too long to get to the mid-game (which is the best part) and then stays there for a very short time. As the first player dies, the game spirals out of control very quickly and is over in a few short turns. I want to try and get to that mid-game quicker, and stay there longer because that’s when the fun happens.
My thoughts to achieve this are to have more “big” turns. The game gets good when there are large swings. Either a player receives a ton of zombies or a player kills a ton of zombies. That’s what makes it fun. My new goal is to have more of this.
As most playtesters have noted, the card Molotov Cocktail is the most fun in the game. You have a chance to kill a bunch of zombies… or die. You can kill yourself with this card! It leads to those big “oh, wow” moments that I want to achieve. Now, I can’t just fill the deck with a bunch of those and some zombies and the game still be fun. There has to be lows as well or the highs become dull. My plan is to beef up some cards, make more zombies harass the players, but also give the players options to really wipe out the board each turn. I’ve got a big write-up planned for after I make these changes, so stay tuned!
New Bad Art
I also got to do some work for a friend this week. I enjoy doing graphic work. Even though I’m not good at it, I can make things that are passable and even sometimes partially attractive. At GenCon, I got a chance to play Empire Reborn from Farmageddon designer, Grant Rodiek, and while the game was great, his graphics were obviously lacking. When he mentioned that he was going to re-do things with better graphics, I told him I’d help. I really didn’t do anything amazing, but I was able to use some free textures and color maps to make a pretty useful map that isn’t hideous! I’m proud of what I did with the little amount of time I spent on it and I’m glad I could help a friend. I’m willing to take on more little projects like this if you have need. All you have to do is ask!
That’s about it for this week. I really appreciate everyone who checks in often and reads up on my site. I wouldn’t do this if I thought I wasn’t helping someone, but the interactions I have with you keep me going. If you ever have anything to say, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d love to hear from you!