Monday, August 29, 2011

Rules-writing guidelines

Michael Keller over at has some notes from a GenCon seminar by a Hasbro executive named Mike Gray about writing effective and useful rules documents for your game. The notes and tips are interesting and very specific - I wish I'd been able to attend the seminar. Definitely worth a look, and includes a copy of a summary handout from the seminar which is also concise and useful.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vehicle Design Contest at TheGameCrafter

Described here. The prizes are promotional points on's site, which is interesting - you can get your game entry (or another game) featured there, which is nice, and obviously winning the contest will give you some small notoriety/marketability.

The restrictions are interesting, too - the most restrictive parts are that the game must use their vehicles (although only one type makes it not too bad) and that your game must price out at under $20, which is pretty limiting, since even Diggity (which is only 100 or so cards plus rules, no extra parts) comes in at about $15. If you want a board or other tokens, it could be tricky to hit that limit.  Another "prize" is getting to judge the next contest, which is interesting also and comes with some free games.

There's not much info on what the criteria are, too, which is a bit tricky, although there are some suggestions (artwork, polish).

Deadline is October 1.  Obviously a better fit for people with new vehicle-related ideas who are used to the TGC production system.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Really great playtesting advice from JT at TGC here. I've done most if it for Diggity. I do win nearly every game I play, which isn't good (Wookiee Test), and I'm not sure if all newbies can play fast enough to make it fun (Speed Test). Very useful advice throughout - this should be a must-read for all new designers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Diggity sighting

Diggity, near the elbow of the guy in
the blue shirt and dashing facial hair.
Diggity made an appearance at Gen Con at's booth, thanks to Matt Worden. Photographic evidence here, on the TGC page of Matt's new game, Dicey Curves.

How's that for link-mongering?

Jump Gate - first thoughts

I've played a couple games of Matt Worden's Jump Gate now (and won zero of them).  It's a different game than I expected, but I've enjoyed it a lot.  Some observations:

  • The game is way more fun to play than I thought it would be from reading the rules the first time.  That's mostly a good thing (far better than the opposite) but it would be better if the fun showed through from the rules.  I worry about that with Diggity some.  For Jump Gate, it seemed like there would be some pretty simple set collection, some different kinds of moves to make, and then not much complexity, but there ends up being a surprisingly non-obvious set of strategic decisions you've got to make to use your relatively scarce turns, and figuring out how to maximize your score is tricky.
  • The theme is neat, and fits the game well, but it's only loosely integrated into the game - what I mean by this is that you could pretty easily switch the whole thing to, say, a carnival theme, where you're picking up sets of stuffed animals and candy, rather than the space ship one.
  • The art is great - very neat design and layout.
  • The manufacturing part seems also to be great.  The rules are in color, the components bagged and good quality, the box really neat.  This was a self-publishing effort by Matt, and he's clearly done well with it.  I'm not sure how many he got made in his print run, but I'd guess these cost him in the neighborhood of $10-15 each minimum, maybe more, for 2000-3000 copies, which makes it hard to sell them at retail through a distributor, which I don't think he's doing given the relatively small set of companies it's offered at.  This is nothing wrong that Matt did - it's just a really hard part of being a small publisher.
I'll save a full review for when I've played it a few more times, but I like it.  My son chose it in particular to bring to show his cousins.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I played Clue with the kids last night.  We didn't have this when I was a kid, so I never played it much growing up - only with friends.  Back then, I thought it was pretty simple, but fun.  Playing as an adult, I realized there's more to it than my 8-year-old self saw.  Where kids mostly just focus on getting the clues noted correctly and puzzled out efficiently, there's this meta-level where you analyze what others are doing with their suggestions, and then a kind of meta-meta level where you watch what other people are noting, especially in response to OTHER people's results, and then a meta-cheating level which I tried to avoid where you can sort of see what part of people's note paper they're marking and determine whether they're noting a weapon, room, or suspect.

There's still a lot of luck.  My daughter (age 14) played well and won, and was doing more fakery and strategy than I thought (is it good when you realize your kids are deceiving you?), but some of her success came from getting the room nailed down very early, which was a function of where she happened to start on the board and what cards she was dealt.  My son (age 12) also did well, and played Colonel Mustard in character as a bombastic blowhard the whole time. What a clown.

The rolling and moving mechanic has always seemed pretty stilted to me, too.  There's likely a better game trapped in there somewhere.  But it was a fun time - gotta love the classics.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jump Gate

My copy of Jump Gate arrives on Monday, and I'm looking forward to seeing fellow indie designer Matt Worden's award winning game in person.  I ordered a copy of the 2nd edition of the game, so the one he had printed up, not the version, so it should be interesting to see what he was able to accomplish with a reasonably small print run as an independent publisher, something I've been considering for some time now.

Plus, I'm sure the game will be fun to play as well!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Contest at TGC is running a game design contest through their site. Prizes are from their new point system, which you can use to get your games featured on their site. I have no idea what the value of featured status is - whether it translates to more views or more sales - but it's an interesting idea, and I've been entering contests with no prizes for a while now at BGDF and at Hippodice.

Unfortunately for me, the contest focuses on their vehicle parts, which isn't really my thing - I guess I go more for abstract stuff rather than using fiddly miniatures. Of course, I could just use some of the vehicles as pawns or markers, I guess. I'll have to see if I can think anything up.