Monday, October 9

Great Weekend

Well, the weekend is over but I'm off work with this stinking cold. The cold took the edge off the weekend a bit, but I think it was a great success.

It started with lots of games at Beyond Monopoly, where I also got to meet a few new gamers, which is great. I then spent two and a half hours on a doubly-diverted train to Derby to help Dunk move house. While this was quite a long time, the journey was very comfortable, and I was able to spend a good chunk of time scribbling notes on games design.

Moving into the future I want to be able to design games successfully, and possibly even design and publish professionally. To be able to do that I think there are some skills I need to develop:

  • Be able to continuously come up with game ideas
  • Be able to design better and better games
  • Be able to design very different types of games (in terms of number of players, target markets, mechanics, themes, etc.)

I spent the time on the train writing notes on three games, Codenames: Jorvik, Sennon and Plot. Jorvik is now firmly in playtesting, so the notes on that were fairly detailed, ideas about new cards, changing the balance of card distribution, tweaking some of the rules and also some graphic design work sketching out ideas for card layouts. Sennon is an idea I had a few months ago while on holiday. It's still in the very early stages, so I took the kernel of a design I'd come up with on holiday and fleshed it out a bit, trying to come up with some core mechanics and brainstorming mechanics and components. Finally Plot was a new idea, which I just wrote a very brief overview of to remind me when I've got time to come back to it.

I was encouraged by the fecundity of my imagination, these aren't games yet, but they've got potential, and they show I've not run out of ideas yet - which is very important.

That evening I got to play a couple of games of Jorvik with Dunk. I've now made a third Jorvik prototype, significantly altering the game after playing it with my parents and Mal. I'd felt the second prototype was weak, it lacked enough player choices and seemed too luck-driven, so taking some ideas I'd had (and some that Mum, Dad and Mal had) I'd come up with a third prototype. I'd only played it a couple of times by myself, so I was keen to see how it played out. I thought it was a definite improvement over number two. So Dunk and I had a couple of games and I was really pleased with the way it played - definitely heading in the direction I had in mind right at the beginning. Before we started I told Dunk of some changes I'd thought up on the train, but we played the game as it was. The game played very quickly (around fifteen minutes at a guess, maybe twenty), and provided a lot more choices and tactics. It was still a simple game, with simple rules, but there were now more choices, and you could make decisions that really affected the game. Both games were pretty close too, I won one, and Dunk the other, but by much closer margins than we had suspected during the game. Dunk seemed impressed - he said he could definitely see the potential in the game.

Jorvik has already changed quite a lot from the original idea I had (although the theme is still intact). I've read up on the appropriate history, and adjusted the game accordingly. Border Reivers is quite weakly themed, I wanted this one to be more accurate. Right from the beginning I had an idea for the graphics design of the cards - this has now fallen by the wayside, as despite its strong tie to the theme and visual appeal, it won't work on small cards and would limit the space available for important information needed for playing the game. The player confrontation component I had envisaged has gone in the third prototype (to limit it's power, and better fit the theme), but I'm thinking of adding a different one for the fourth prototype. All-in-all, I'm really pleased with the way it's developing.

The best bit? The fourth prototype will be a modification of the third, adding some new card types, changing couple of rules and changing the distribution of the card types. Up until now every new prototype has been a completely new game. Things are starting to settle down.

The train journey home was less agreeable: the train was one carriage shorter than it should have been, the previous train had be cancelled and there were fewer trains running due to engineering works. I had to stand for the whole two and a half hour journey, most of it in a carriage that was so full the air-conditioning couldn't kee the temperature below thirty degrees. Nice.

In other news, I've sold three copies of Border Reivers the last two weeks running. Excluding the convention week at the beginning, they equal my best weekly sales so far. This week I've another convention, so I'm hoping for a decent sales count too. It's off to a good start - I've received an order via BoardGameGeek within eight hours of the week starting :-)

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