Now that the boxes have arrived I can make a copy of It's Alive! in just over thirty minutes. Up until now it's taken nearly ninety. I've been making about six copies a week on average so far, it would have been more, but we've had a lot of weekend plans with either friends or family visting us or us visiting them. This week I've made seven already, in only three days. It's going much better. The next order I have to fulfill is a special one. At the Expo the owner of a UK online games store played It's Alive! and really liked it. He liked it so much that he wanted to stock it in his shop. He'd never got involved with hand-made games before, only the professional ones, but this one he wanted. I was obviously ecstatic, and after I got back we ironed out the details via email. I'm trying to get his order of twelve copies together now, should be done by the weekend. It'll be really exciting to see one of Reiver Games' games for sale at an outlet that I've bought games from for probably six or more years. It'll feel like I've arrived!
This weekend we were down in Bristol visiting my parents, The Wife's parents and some friends from school. I showed Codename: Artist and Codename: Jorvik to my family, in particular my Dad, whose brain works totally differently to mine. He's not a gamer at all, but he has a very creative brain, his years as an art teacher mean he automatically thinks of the visual aspect of games, and he's always thinking up new ideas, far more off the wall (and hence innovative) than anything I could come up with. I wanted to show him Jorvik, because he and Mum had played it months ago, and it had changed significantly since they had played it. I was also considering asking him to do the artwork for it. The game's not ready yet, but I can start laying the foundations. When I got to their house I saw one of his latest paintings, half done in the living room. I really like some of the effects in it, and I thought they would be a really good fit for Jorvik, while being innovative enough to really stand out from the crowd with respect to artwork. He agreed to try out a few things for me.
I also wanted to show him Artist, as the whole game came from an idea of his. He had given me a single word, and asked me to design a game around it. I didn't recognise the word, but it was the surname of an artist. He suggested I design a game based upon the artist's body of work. So I did. It's still fairly early on, but I'm really excited about this one. I'd like to do Jorvik next as it's really simple to make, but I think this one might be more ready. It's going to be an abstract strategy game, which is something I've not tried before. I played a few turns with my dad on Saturday, and then a game with my brother, his girlfriend and my sister on Sunday. They all liked it, and Dad was very excited. The scoring was a bit problematic (12, 12, 12, 10!) but the mechanics seemed to work pretty well.
Now that I can get through It's Alive! copies much quicker I need to start thinking of the next step. I've two prototypes at home from a couple of designers (one fairly high profile :-) ) another two from a published designer on their way, and Artist and Jorvik. I'm thinking of doing a six-way face-off, getting a load of play-testers round to play them all and get an idea of which ones are most ready to go. That'll be a good night :-)