Special Rewards: Behind the Curtain

Since my first Kickstarter campaign I’ve almost always had a pledge level that allows backers to create a card or other game element and add it to everyone’s copy of the game. These are always marked so that purists can remove them, but I love doing it and backers seem to love it too. I’ve had some nice comments about how affordable I make it compared to other creators, so I wanted to go behind the curtain and talk about how these pledge levels happen and why they cost what they do.

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A Game Designer at a Comics Convention

So a little while back I went to Comicon to show off the Scandinavia and the World game. Since we’re launching in just a couple of weeks now seems like an excellent time to talk about that – but what I really want to talk about is how to be a fish out of water. I’ve done plenty of board gaming conventions, but the comic convention was something entirely different. I may have been the only person demoing a board game in the room (I might not have been – but in any event there weren’t many). So let me tell you the ways in which it was different and what I’d recommend to a game designer who’s going to be the only board game person at a convention in the future.

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Creating a Tabletop Simulator mod

I’ve found Tabletop Simulator a great venue for playtesting and I need to update the Scandinavia and the World workshop entry – so I thought that it might be nice for me to do this in the form of a tutorial. It’s been a really great venue for me and isn’t tricky to use, so a bit of a step by step guide seems like something that might help break down barriers to entry for other designers.

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Three design lessons from a heap of trouble

I don’t want to dwell on this, but I think a 2 month gap in posting needs some explanation: My health problems were somewhat worse than anticipated. I’ve spent most of the last 5 months in bed. I am very bored of bed. The next 5 months are supposed to be better, but there are no guarantees. I am probably not going to die before you do. I am going to try to attend MCM and UKGE and give SatW the attention that it deserves. Few people read this blog for news about me, it’s about game design tips and seeing the inside of the game design world. To that end, let’s talk about three lessons that I’ve learned through card design in SatW:

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Scandinavia and the Theme

Today I am preparing the Scandinavia and the World card game files for printing reviewer copies. Looking for spelling errors, instances of “player” that should say “opponent” and other such grist. In doing so I’m re-experiencing how the mechanics and theme interact. It’s particularly important in a game that is based on a webcomic, as it needs to carry the theme of the existing material strongly enough that existing fans recognise and enjoy it, introduce that material to people who have shown up for a game but don’t read the comic and not to let that get in the way of the game itself.

So today we’re going to talk about how mechanics and theme interact in card games, both in this game and in others, to deliver the best possible effect.

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Expressing Rules

There are some really awful rule books out there, many are mediocre and there are a few exceptional ones that clearly show how to play the game. Most gamers can agree with that sort of statement. What they can’t agree on is which of the rulebooks are the good ones – people seem to learn in very different ways which dramatically affects their enjoyment of games. Long time readers of this blog may remember this:

Flowchart

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Quality in Context

I’m presently sorting through hundreds of cards for the SatW game, in the hopes of cutting the game down to a more reasonable size. I’ve played a lot of games with this prototype and have plenty of notes about each card. The most useful “at a glance” measure is that I’ve been ending playtests by asking “Which cards did you like? Which ones made the game worse?” and putting a plus or minus next to each card that gets mentioned (depending on whether it’s a positive or negative mention). This is less useful than you’d think.

posinegative

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