Saturday, December 31, 2011

Game in progress - Wordy

Wordy in mid-game - bonus points for
anyone who can tell me the last word...
I spent a chunk of December working on a JavaScript-based game.  My wife and I had enjoyed playing Zynga's WordTwist very much, but Zynga canceled that game earlier this year.  So, I decided to recreate it, or something like it. This is not a very original concept - Word Whomp is basically the same thing, and there are numerous others - but still a fun way to exercise one's mental muscles, and I learned some cool stuff about JavaScript and browser-based games.

I'm still working on it, but give it a try if you want.  I haven't done much interface work - e.g., no instructions!  But it works.  We've played a bunch of games of it already.  To play, type any words you can make out of the letters provided, and try to get them all in the time limit.

I built it using a little PHP and a lot of JavaScript with a bunch of help from the CraftyJS game library, which I'd recommend to anybody.  The dictionary I used was a subset of  Kevin Atkinson's SCOWL project which was super-useful - I didn't want to use the whole Scrabble dictionary with all the really obscure words, but I wanted it to be mostly complete, and SCOWL let me decide what level of obscurity I was comfortable with.  I'm still editing my list as I discover words it doesn't have (or words that it does have that it shouldn't!).

Anyway, give it a try, and let me know what you think!  The game is here:

Helpful post on the bidding and manufacturing process

There's a post from Mike Lee at Panda Game Manufacturing over at the Tasty Minstrel Games blog which goes through the steps of getting a game manufactured in China (or elsewhere overseas, I suppose).  A very helpful post covering the whole process, a process I've only taken a couple steps into.

One of the quotes I got for manufacturing Diggity was from Panda, and they were competitive; their products are high quality, at least the couple of them I've seen (e.g. Pandemic, Train of Thought).  I'd definitely recommend them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

TheGameCrafter offers hexes and square cards

TGC Hex card template is now offering hex cards and square cards. The hexes are 3.5" the short way, 3.75" diagonal, and the squares are 3.5" on a side.  They're printed 12 to a page (regular poker cards are 18 to a page), and a page of printed cardstock in whatever form you choose is $2.29 at TGC, so if you make your deck divisible by 12, that's 19 cents a card - pretty great.

This is a really cool new feature - I love it when they add new printed options.  This one is especially good because it allows for map-building games (although the tiles are the standard thick glossy cardstock, so not too thick).  I don't think either of these will fit too well in the new tuckbox or printed small box options TGC offers, but they'd go in the big all-purpose 10"x10" boxes they use.

Here are links to the particular description pages with templates for designers:
Hexes here
Squares here

Friday, December 2, 2011

How not to handle Kickstarter

Chris Norwood over at GamerChris has a detailed takedown of a project he recently supported via Kickstarter.  The details are in his post, but it sounds like the company in question made two bad decisions - first, they sold copies of the game to random convention attendees before sending them to their Kickstarter supporters, and second, they included materials that were supposedly "exclusive" to Kickstarter supporters in every game of their initial 5,000 game print run.

The game got funded, and a 5,000 print run is terrific, especially if it sells out, but I'm betting their next Kickstarter project (running now) might not draw too much support from those who, like Chris, feel justifiably betrayed.  Part of the fun of supporting something on Kickstarter is being in at the beginning and feeling like you're doing something special; Chris' post is a great warning that the perks, though usually minor, are still really important to those who've done you the great favor of supporting you.  He's got some good advice for others who go this route, too.  Something to keep in mind if I try a Kickstarter-funded project in the future.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More printed boxes at TGC. medium box (from TGC site) adds another box size.  This is a bit bigger (and heftier) than their tuckboxes, and is apparently fully customizable like the tuckboxes.  The foam insert is an interesting touch.  At first sight, it seemed a little cheesy to me, but I haven't seen one in real life, and the more I think about it, the more I think it might work well.  I'm just used to cardboard or plastic inserts rather than foam.  The design seems pretty flexible, but it also doesn't allow a ton of stuff to fit in the box - each of the four bays can hold 68 cards or a small stash of plastic bits.  The box can't hold any of their printed boards other than the 4x4 mini-board size, but it does allow the custom 1.25" token chips with stickers, which are a super-flexible option for many games.

This is maybe more attractive than their full-size box for small games with only cards and bits (no boards).  At $4, it would be a significant fraction of the cost of a game, I'd bet, but it could also look pretty sharp if you print all over the box.  The closure might not stand up to repeated use, but games don't get opened all that much, and I shouldn't judge it before I see it in person.