Kaiju Deck Destruction Award Entry

Judges can skip to the part entitled, Cardboard Edison Award Entry.

So this is unusual for me, but I think this blog post is a great opportunity to show off my work. I’ve entered the Cardboard Edison Award to recognize great unpublished games. I’m going to place my entry here. It will provide easy access for the judges and it will give you, my dear readers, an inside look into what I might do when I’m pitching a game. It might not be right, but it’s how I do it. Judges reading this, feel free to leave comments.

So Cardboard Edison has requested three things from entrants, a short written summary of the game, a video demonstrating a little of how to play and what makes the game special, and a copy of the rules document. I have it all right here. Have a look.

Cardboard Edison Award Entry

Synopsis

Kaiju: Deck Destruction is a small box game for 2-4 players that plays in about 20-45 minutes for ages 12 and up. Imagine yourself as a giant monster crushing neighborhoods, shopping malls, factories, nuclear power plants, condos, banking firms, and finally the capitol building. Defeat your opponents in brutal combat or focus on destruction the choice is yours.

Kaiju is tight, fast paced, and a whole lot of fun. Check out what differentiates Kaiju from the rest of the pack:

  • First, it’s a card-based deckbuilding game with no shuffling.
  • Cards aren’t wasted. You can take tokens for leftover cards.
  • Players may attack and cause each other damage.
  • Taking damage thins your deck.
  • As you heal you choose what to put back in your deck.
  • Buying the most expensive cards isn’t the only strategy.

The game has room for plenty of expansion. There are a whole lot of buildings out there. There are also character cards in development, as well as a solo variant utilizing a Kaiju Defense Force, which includes tank like walkers, and an airplane with drills on it’s wings.

The last Kaiju standing wins. If you can’t knock out all your opponents, the Kaiju who’s caused the most destruction takes the cake. Welcome to a brave, new world. A world where giant monsters roam the earth. But hey, at least the games are good.

The Video

 

The Rules Document

Finally, here is the link to the rules document in my dropbox.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s visited. I hope Kaiju makes the finals so I can dress up all in black wearing a navy peacoat and blackout sun glasses calling myself Billy Boardgame as I speak in 3rd person.

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Adventures in Thought and Design

This week we have a ménage à trois of games for you. It’s a really exciting and really polyamorous article. So let’s get down with the get down.

uae-imports-exports-reexportsThe first of these lovely ladies is the rather dully named Import/Export. She has my heart for being the first, and lowest scoring, entry of mine in the BGDF Game Design Showdown.

Next we have Architetro, which is by far the shortest member of the household but makes up for it in spunk. Smash together tetrominoes and architecture on a timeline. What’s not to love?

Finally, in the lovely night gown with the horses and cows captioned above them—I’m a little unstable in the mornings and I’m not in the mood—is the game from the Design Showdowns that meant the most to me personally. It left A Lasting Mark.

1024px-cardthisisthelifeWait. Where do I fit in all this hot polyamorous love action? Girls? Oh, I see… Look, if it’s the video cam… Not that? I can put the latex suit back in the car… But… Okay, that’s fine. No, that’s just fine. I didn’t want anything to do with your sick, twisted, freewheeling lifestyle anyways. And that, boys and girls is why Ronald Reagan created AIDs. 2 years in office and… BAM! And that is how free love died. He still couldn’t erase black people and homosexuuuuaalls.

But I digress. The Game Design Showdown is a bit of a misnomer. This is something that I realized after A Lasting Mark. You’re not really designing a game at all. What you’re doing is delivering a pitch for a game idea. This is a great thing to be able to do. It’s an absolute necessity as a game designer and well worth some practice. But as I found myself “designing” these games I realized that nothing I was doing in the design was anything more than any Jane or Joe on the street does. I was just thinking about something.

thought-experimentGame designers like to refer to this as thought experiment. While this can be useful in the very early process of the design, you haven’t really designed anything yet.

First, I think it’s important to understand what the process of design is in it’s simplest form, because one of the things that people find difficult lies in the fact that there are  two different but easily confused definitions of design. First we have the proper definition within the context of an architect, or a fashion designer, even a game designer:

1. to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.

Then we have the definition which is confusing everyone:

2. to conceive and plan out in the mind.

Does everyone see what’s going on here? Because I didn’t.

tim-gunn
One of my personal heroes.

Yes, a game designer often conceives and/or plans in their mind, but that’s not game design. Game design is putting those plans on the table and seeing how they work in the really real world. It’s assembling the parts and testing them until they are refined.

If all you have are some mechanics, a theme, and a dream, you aren’t designing a game yet. You have just performed a thought experiment. Once you have built and tested the design you have begun the process of game design.

So were any of my lovely lasses up there actual designs? As a matter of fact, yes. Every single one of them. They’re all unfinished designs, granted, but there has existed physical copies of these games. Import/Export was a Sheriff of Nottingham style game using a standard deck of cards and some envelopes. I played with my family and they really enjoyed the dynamics. It got shelved for things I was more interested in at the time.

IMG_0071Architetro never made it to the Game Design Showdown but was conceived and documented there. It’s a game about frantically building something using tetrominoes. The fun factor was meant to be high. It’s something I would definitely like to continue work on in the future. She’s a keeper.

As far as A Lasting Mark, I hope this game stands someday as my magnum opus, even if I’m a total failure as a game designer and it is only a 6.9 on BGG. At least, I can say, “It was the best game I ever made.” I’ve built prototypes, but I know nothing that I’ve created so far has done what I want the game to do. It’s a Eurogame where players play entire Chiefdoms trying to survive, prosper, and stave off colonialism as they are forced further and further away from their homelands. In other words, it’s the opposite of pretty much every Euro game ever (hyperbole).

We’re going to try something a little different and I hope at least one of you decides to take me up on this.

This is your very first homework assignment. It isn’t mandatory and won’t be graded. I want everyone who reads this who has any interest in designing something, to take your thought experiment to the scary part, the hard part, the part which requires blood, sweat, and years. Move forward to the design.

Congratulations.

You’re one of us now.

Game Design #3 – Code Mage Part V

This is part 2 of a series. To start at the beginning follow the white rabbit.

Development of Code Mage started in October of 2013 and I went insane sometime around the New Year. The Kickstarter was going live in June and the game would be out the first quarter of 2014. I needed a business plan.

Big Mistake #1: I just started a business, yo!

Logo Clear with TextI never actually wrote a business plan or a plan of any kind. It turns out it’s easy to start a business; you can do it without leaving your home. It’s also cheap. I felt like an entrepreneur.

I needed to get a game out to establish the brand. But there were some obstacles.

There was this whole playtesting thing. My family had played the game at least a dozen times. It was ready to go. But I couldn’t put it on Kickstarteruntil I had testimonials from real playtesters.

What I could do is get the art ready.

©Copyright 2014 Odysseus StamoglouBig Mistake #2: I just bought this art from these guys.

I looked up art agreements, typed up something in lawyerese—party of the 1st, party of the 2nd, etc.—and started looking for artists. I contacted artists on BGG, devianart, and several freelance farms.

I needed: promotional art, card art, board art, and box art. I’d do the graphic design because with at least 50 unique art assets, this wasn’t going to be cheap. There was no way one artist could get this done in the time frame I was looking at. The process was taking too long.

The guy I contracted to do the majority of the card art had started to develop the world through his art. He had a vision. But there were also some pieces I just picked up by other artists because I thought they fit the world I’d envisioned. The style was quite a bit different but I thought that might be okay. I mean Magic cards have different styles of art, right? Of course, the guy who did the promotional art also had his own style which was considerably different from all the others.

My work as art director was, shall we say,  subpar.

Big Mistake #3: OMG I’z gotz websitz!!!!!!!

Banner 2 - Final with LogoI didn’t mention the website?

Right, so I’d also be designing and maintaining a website. No problem. I’d made a website before. It might have been 10 years prior and consisted wholly of the words: “Hello World,” but WordPress was easy enough to figure out.

Big Mistake #4: Communication

Something I didn’t feel confident about was my ability to communicate with other sentient beings. Someone had to actually talk to people and tell them about the game. It certainly wasn’t going to be me. I needed to be on social media and let the world know about my game. But it would have to wait; I had too much else to do.

9aY6jBmJ copyBig Mistake #5: Not being Stan Lee

One reason I had so much else to do was that I had decided to release a comic book with the game. It would feature a character who is forced to fight in the grid as an evil Code Mage’s avatar. it was basically the storyline from Tron if Mickie Rourke’s character from Sin City played the part of Kevin Flynn.

So I was also speaking to comic book artists. I’d found a couple who seemed interested in collaborating. But I must have oozed desperation because what I really wanted was someone to pass the whole comic book thing off to.

I had to get back to this game that was getting in the way of my business.

it was time to playtest the hell out of this thing.

Game Design #3 – Code Mage Part IV

The next part of my story is where I really start making some bad worse decisions. I will be sure to point them out as we go along but this one may stretch over more than one post. So, to summarize the biggest mistakes briefly, this is point at which I: started a company, paid for a website, hired artists, recruited my partner as my social media expert and PR guru, and tried to do a crossover comic book. Had I been slightly more delusional, this is when I would have also started my Kickstarter.

Of course it would have been a mistake. But I feel privileged to know that a lot of people would’ve funded this project just because they care about me. But do you know what people don’t care about?

Games that can be played on a chess board.

Code MageAnd that brings us to Code Mage, which is a game you might come up with if you’d just watched: Tron, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Spartacus, and Searching for Bobby Fischer back to back. And in case you’re wondering, yes I did.

In Code Mage you take on the role of a wizard in a cyberspace world known as the Simulacrum. You have an avatar-construct which you pit in battle against the avatar of another wizard in an arena known as the grid(chessboard). If your avatar is killed or pushed off the grid you lose the game.

At first your avatar is bare. But soon you’re able to equip your avatar with mods like: claws, piston fists, laser eyes, armor, shields, rocket launchers, and steel whip legs. All the things a girl needs on a night out.

In addition to your Avatar, you also have these large cubes(dice) that alter the board state. These cubes can be moved around the grid and manipulated. They can also take damage and be destroyed.

Finally, you have spells and threads which allow you to further impact the game with your wizardry. Spells are generally more expensive and require game time to activate. Threads are generally cheap and are played immediately. All of this is paid for with resources which you gain at the beginning of each round.

The primary mechanism which all of these objects revolve around is a dice system that I came up with while working on Das Schloß. While the system is quite clever it forces players to refer to charts for everything from how successfully you cast your spells to where you do damage. Basically, I recreated Battletech with wizards.

My goal was to essentialize a skirmish level miniatures game and make it playable in 30-60 minutes. This should’ve been my mission statement. It mentioned nothing about a chessboard or convoluted charts or tracking damage with a wet erase marker. And it sure doesn’t mention making it a collectible card game.

We’ll get back to that.

I played through my initial prototype several times before bringing it to my playtesters(family). Always do this. No one else wants to play something that doesn’t work. It will keep your friends and family from getting burned out playing your half-baked games.

It had potential so I played it with my son and he thought it was great. And then I played it with my partner and she thought it was great. I was ecstatic. No more lackluster encouragement from the family. No more chucks on the shoulder. I was happy and they were happy.Code Mage Game Boards

I made a real game.

The other designs were just warm-ups. It was just a matter of ironing out a few rough spots in the mechanics, investing in enough art to get this thing on Kickstarter, and my reputation as a game designer was assured.

You know, this was all meant to be a bit tongue in cheek but talking about this game has me a bit excited about the world and the ideas. My son asked me a month or two ago: “Could we work on Code Mage together? I really liked that game.”

Oh my, would you look at the time. The next entry will be about my first ever open playtesting event at my friendly local game store(FLGS).

Status: To Be Determined