After a rather long hiatus, the Indianapolis Tabletop Game Design Playtest Group will be meeting this Saturday. These meetups are always fun, and helpful as we have several talented aspiring and published designers. It is great to try out new games, see what everyone is working on, and get high level feedback on any of my games that may hit the table.
It was at just my second of these meetups where I encountered Jake Leeman, the designer of IncrediBrawl and head of the Vision 3 Games, who published my first game Strife: Legacy of the Eternals. So, as one might imagine, these meetups hold a special place in my heart!
Jake will be there tomorrow, and one of our topics of discussion will surely be the upcoming Kickstarter for Strife: Shadows and Steam. The picture to the left is of a champion from the new set, called the Plague Doctor. We are very excited to launch the second set in the Strife Line, and hope to go live in mid January of 2016, following the holidays.
Obviously, I am looking forward to more Strife goodness, but there are also a number of other projects on which I am working. These meetups taught me the importance of getting one’s games into the public eye, as you never know what might happen even in an early stage of development. I would love to hear of any games that you have prototypes for or even crazy ideas that maybe rolling around in your head! To get the ball rolling, here are some of my other current games and the stage of development they are in!
Zark is a zero luck abstract, with tentative thoughts to theming it about mythological sun gods, for 2-4 players. It is an area majority game at its core as players earn points for having the most pieces in each area of the board at the start of their turns. On a player’s turn, they may either move an existing piece or add a new one in any of the four spawn points that are not currently occupied by another player’s piece. After moving (all pieces move like queens in chess) the active piece “fires” a beam in every direction. If this would connect to any of the player’s other pieces, all opposing pieces in between are removed from play. As with most abstracts, there is an advantage to going first. However, this is mitigated by having players bid in the pregame how many points negative they wish to go in order to be first player. Given that the game has a fixed point total for victory, there is an upper limit to just how deep in the hole one can go to play first and still overcome it even with perfect play…if such a thing is possible…I am looking at you computers.
So far Zark has been very well received and is at this point submitted to Greater Than Games for consideration. Wish me luck, because this game doesn’t have any!
Killing Jenkins is darkly humorous (I hope) game about a company called Widget Co, where all of the employees and the manager have despised the owner’s awful, incompetent, mini-fascist, middle management son, Jenkins Jr. for years. They have been fantasizing about killing him, but suddenly one day, someone finally goes through with it! This game is not about solving the crime, as everyone is glad he is dead, but rather about dumping some pretty damning Jenkins hating paraphernalia (Bloody Golf Trophy, Receipts for Shovels, Lime, Tarps, and Jenkins Voodoo Dolls…etc.) that looks awfully bad now that he is dead.
Using a mechanic similar to the classic game of Bullshit, players attempt to empty their hands of potential evidence against themselves by dumping it on other players work stations. Each player, takes on the role of a work place archetype: IT, Receptionist, Shipping and Receiving, Sales, and more with an ability related to said job. Over the course of two rounds, players play cards from hand, claiming to play all of one type. If they are unchallenged the play stands. If they are challenged and lied, they must pick up cards from where they played and the break room. If they told the truth, the challenger must pick up cards instead. At the end of each round, players add up the total points in their hands and half the points on their workstation. The player with the lowest total after both rounds wins and the player with the highest total is charged with the murder of Jenkins.
So far, the two play test sessions so far, have resulted in laughs and helpful feedback to improve the game. Both are great!
Pork Nuggets and Pleasantries
Pork Nuggets and Pleasantries is game for 2-4 players who are competing to be the most successful BBQ Rib restaurant owner on the circuit. They do this by allocating secret sauce points to modify their original recipe to fit the tastes of the local judges as much as possible with very limited resources, presentation, and a special power unique to each restaurant. Secret sauce is used to adjust traits such as: Tenderness of meat, amount of smoke, tangy or sweet sauce, and light or heavy rub. These changes are made behind a screen as each restaurant takes great pains to keep their preparations secret. The circuit is always the same five traditional regions of BBQ: KC, St. Louis, Texas, Memphis, and Carolina, but the order is random. Each region has recipe preferences, so the order is important when setting one’s initial recipe as this is perfect information. However, a deck of judges that modify the preferred local flavor a little is used to shake things up. Players are only aware of a handful of judges at future locations and only gain information as they get closer, with more judges being revealed. The random order of regions and manner in which the judges come out each game create a great deal of re-playability. The player who has the lowest deviation from the final preferred local taste wins that contest and the blue ribbon. Each other player receives a lesser ribbon based on their deviation. The player with the most points after all five stops on the circuit wins the game.
One play test in, and the reception was positive. However, it was a bare bones version, without the individual powers and I found it to be a little fiddly. I also felt it is necessary to increase the scales on which the various elements of recipes are judged. I am hoping to have the next level prototype ready for tomorrow.
Honey Badger Rampage
Honey Badger Rampage is a light card and dice game about being a Honey Badger and not giving a shit. Players are Honey Badgers, who are trying to not only maintain their reputation as the fiercest creature in the world, but to prove they are the most fearless Honey Badger of all! This is done by rampaging across the open plain encountering animals, bee hives, scientists, and all manner of other trouble that Honey Badgers are notorious for getting into. As it is a race to a specific point total, reckless play is encouraged to a degree as is befitting a Honey Badger’s nature. This sets up the games core idea of pressing one’s luck and balancing caution and risk taking at the same time.
While there is skill in playing the odds and your decisions do matter, this is more of a casual game where the players will get as much of kick out of the misadventures of each other as much as their successes.
Honey Badger Rampage has really been enjoyed everyone who has played it so far, even through some limited blind playtesting! The audience for this game is primarily the non-hardcore gamer crowd and so far that is exactly who has enjoyed it. Of course, any game with this many cards requires tons of balancing. This is both for mechanical reasons as well as shaping the experience for the players in hope of making it as fun as possible.
Those are just a few of the games that I am working on, and all that are in a working prototype stage at this point. I would be interested in hearing any thoughts you may have about these ideas as you never know what will be the final piece of the puzzle to make a game just right! Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share your ideas as well!