Saturday, June 4, 2011

The new hotness

There's been a lot going on since my last blog post. The main has been Kickstarter. Over the last couple months, before I noticed it was going on, a few game designers have adopted Kickstarter as a method of raising funds and gauging interest in their upcoming games.

The first I noticed, which was a while ago (though I didn't see the explosion then), was Daniel Solis's game Happy Birthday, Robot!. I thought the game had merit and I really liked the focus he had for it, that of being something to get children into playing story games at a young age. The tie to teachers and classrooms hooked me. So, I pledged as a backer. Then I went about my life.

Recently I saw he had another game up on Kickstarter, Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. It's one of those games I had been tracking for a log while all though his design process. I was fascinated and knew I would have to get a copy when it finally came out. And, here was my chance. The announcement on Twitter that he was seeking funding grabbed me. I wasn't going to let it not get published.

Then it happened.

Kickstarter exploded! Over the last month I have been able to help Daniel with his game in addition to Brennan Taylor (Bulldogs!), Eloy Lasanta (Part-Time Gods), and Jeremy Keller (Technoir). All of these guys have a track history of coming up with really cool games that hit me the right way.

Since these guys started using Kickstarter there has been discussion on blogs and on Twitter about the merits of the site. Why does it work the way it does? How does one build a campaign for their project and make it successful? And, what exactly makes people want to back a game designer?

I've been thinking about this. Sure I've seen what everyone else says about the tool. Some I believe and some I don't. All I can give you here is why I chose to back the projects that I have.

To me, games are important. They are a way to learn, a way to spend your time and most importantly something to do with a bunch of friends. Because of this I follow a bunch of game designers. Their next design could be just that thing that scratches my gamer itch.

So, why these particular games? Why these game designers? Because they are ones who have a track history of well thought out games. They design things and share them. Not only that. They don't design in the dark. They design games with their friends just as if the process of designing were a game itself. Their process is transparent. I get to see all the passion and inspiration that go into one of their projects. This passion transfers into the final result to give me (just an everyday gamer) something to socialize with in a gaming group.

They give me the awesome I crave!

That's why I took the opportunity to back each one of them.

If you want to find more out about them visit their blogs or catch them on Twitter:

Daniel Solis: or @danielsolis
Brennan Taylor: or @brennanrtaylor
Eloy Lasanta: or @thirdeyegames
Jeremy Keller: or @jeremyjkeller

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Driving the conflict [The Island]

I was out mowing the yard. It was dry enough, finally, to allow me to get to the back corner of the lot.

Mowing is one of those activities I am able to do and ponder other topics. Today's topic was conflict. In The Island I want a conflict resolution that pits the characters against one another in two-sided situations where the island itself applies leverage to one or the other side. I don't really want GM versus player conflicts but I want the players to feel as though the GM is unbalancing things one way or the other.

These are the points I was mulling over.
  1. A scene is defined by the GM. The players can suggest things but the GM has final say in framing the situation.
  2. A conflict is a two-sided end to a scene. The players pick sides roll against one another.
  3. The GM has a pool of dice to push the conflict one way or the other.
  4. The longer a conflict goes on the more out of control it needs to feel for the players.
At least those are my initial thoughts. I'm sure they will develop in time.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thematic similarities [The Island]

As I think about my game idea The Island I keep coming across similarities in other media. First the game idea was spawned from the show Lost but I keep coming across instances of other stories following the same themes.

First After thinking of Lost was a short leap to Gilligan's Island and then it was on to The Island of Dr. Moreau. Those were simple jumps. In each case some travelers end up on an island that is host to some strange mystery, more in some and less in others. ... Why, exactly, could the castaways never leave the island. After all, it was only a three hour tour and a tiny, little bout of bad weather.

The next just hit me the other day. I was listening to The Dead Robots' Society and in a recent episode Justin announces his pick for the next book they will read and discuss. At first Under the Dome by Stephen King didn't click but once I downloaded a copy and started reading it dawned on me. The characters are stranded under a dome that won't let them out for whatever reason. The are trapped there with all their foibles and cruel secrets.

Then, today I was catching up on episodes of Pulp Gamer and one of the episode is on Frank Baum's OZ stories. There it is again. A character gets swept away to a place that has it's only mysteries and to get away she has to travel through strange lands with odd people in order to get home. There have been so many adaptations of Baum's tales but each one has had some mystery the characters have had to deal with.

There you go. The theme I am going for in The Island is something that shows up again and again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Games du jour

Here are the semi-thought out game ideas I've had recently that have held up to the 24 hour test. I figure if an idea sticks with me for more than a day it might have something of use in it.

White Collar Robots - The game of robots standing in for their white collar, office counterparts.

Planet Crash - A Game Chef attempt using the keywords city, edge and desert. After crashing in a deserted city floating at the edge of known space the character experience what happened to the original citizens.

The Island - (Yeah, I know. It's not an original title once you read the theme.) The characters get stranded on an island. They can't get off until they solve the mystery of the island in spite of the secrets they keep from another. The idea was inspired by Lost but after thinking about mechanics I think it could be played zany like Gilligan's Island.

Those are the biggest three game ideas I've had that seem to keep haunting me.

A tiny spark of lighning

New... revamped (somewhat)... and back for another go round.

With a new look and a bit of inspiration this blog's going to start moving again. The goal is to do a post a day.

Maybe shorter posts with a targeted theme would work. I think maybe I'll focus on specific game design ideas and not hop around from topic to topic all the time.

We'll see what happens.