Game Design #8: Side Effects May Include…

Drug Card Back
Drugs are bad, mmmkay…

Do you ever wonder if you’re taking drugs just to counteract other drugs?

That question and my own very personal experience with it were the game’s impetus. I was going to design a game that people can just laugh and have a good time with.

I started development at the beginning of July of 2014 and had a prototype for GenCon. This game has some of my favorite graphic design work so you get lots of pictures today.

The primary mechanic comes from a game known by many names, among others: Ranter-Go-Round, Chase the Ace, and Bohemian Poker. In our house though, it was always Screw Your Neighbor. I loved the game because my mom always paid my way in, and I got to say the word screw.

Side Effect36It goes like this.

Players are dealt a single card. They must decide whether to keep their card or pass it. The dealer decides whether to take a card from the deck or keep her card. The person with the lowest card loses. Generally there are a set number of bets and the last person with money in front of her takes the pot.

Condition Cards24
It’s funny because that’s what I have.

Now my game.

Each round a Condition is drawn and players “manufacture” drugs for the condition. The dealer sits out and decides which drug wins. She deals one card to each player. Then the game plays like Screw Your Neighbor but the cards aren’t revealed just yet. Players collect 5 side effects and then pass them to the judge in envelopes along with their drug card. The judge reads them; hilarity ensues.

I tried to add more game to it with special powers but it was more fun without them.
I tried to add more game to it with special powers but it was more fun without them.

image 7And you know what? It really did! Everyone who played at GenCon laughed. And I’m not  talking giggles. I’m talking belly rollers.

One playtester came back with her partner to play again. Amanda and Vece you are awesome and I’m sorry we missed each other at GenCon this year.

This one always got at least a few laughs.
This one always got at least a few laughs.

So, this is a success story, right? Oh, clever reader, you know me well. These are the Exploits and Misadventure of an Amateur Designer. So what happened this time, Billy?

Just after GenCon I learned that Gil Hova was working on a party game with the same theme. Gil was an absolute professional about the whole thing when it came up on Twitter. He even went so far as to offer to drop work on his project.

I decided that the game was going to go to Kickstarter. But I never launched and Gil eventually released his game, Bad Medicine. It just arrived in the mail.

When I got home from GenCon I was really excited. Then I spent all of an hour coming up with new Side Effects before I lost steam.Side Effect35

Once Gil announced that he was going forward with his Kickstarter I put the game up on BGG. And as usual, here is my consolation prize. Side Effects May Include… is my first game to be entered into the BGG game database. The files are available to anyone for download.

I had a discussion months later in which I stated that I didn’t want my first game to be a party game. It took me some time to realize I had lost sight of my goal. I want to be published. I want this site to be Exploits and Misadventures of a Professional Game Designer.

I don’t care if my first game is Jersey Shore: The Board Game as long as my name’s on the box.

image 4


3 thoughts on “Game Design #8: Side Effects May Include…

  1. It was fun to be apart of the experience and to play the game.
    Its a shame we didn’t get a chance to get together this GenCon, but we’ll see you at 2016!
    Keep at it!


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