Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Tonight (Christmas Eve) I'm going to try to play one of my prototypes and either Tobago or Pandemic. Tomorrow will probably include Dominion and whatever Santa brings. What are you playing this holiday season?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kingdom of Solomon

Just a quick note in case you missed it. Kingdom of Solomon is my new game coming in Q2 2011 from Minion Games. We already have a BGG page with a few teaser images on it. Stay tuned for more updates.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ready For Christmas

Christmas is nearly here. I've bought several games for presents this year--mostly cards games, Lego games and Forbidden Island for a certain relative (hope you're not reading). Should be a very Merry Christmas!

In other news I've been involved in tweaking the rulebook for Kingdom of Solomon. The art work is dragging along but progressing. We are currently discussing card layout. The "official" layout guy won't be free to do his thing until mid-January, but I'm guessing the art won't quite be done by then anyway.

Also, my daughter, Isabel, has made a nice little children's game called Tiger Stripes. I got a quote from Blue Panther to make 50-100 copies at the beginning of 2011. I'm going to have Isabel pay for most of it (she's loaded) and keep all the books, etc. This will be a great learning experience! And she might even make a few bucks if all goes well.

I might also be doing a small run of my simple puzzle game called Square Off. I really don't want to be a publisher, but this will be a true turnkey solution. No more cutting and gluing in the basement to fulfill orders! I'll let you know how this all goes in the weeks ahead.

Guess that's about it. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas! Play some games!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since I will be traveling all week, I thought I would wish everyone and early Happy Thanksgiving! Also, look for an announcement from Minion Games this week. Some teaser art from my new game should be coming your way very soon!

In other news, my Hippodice entry did not make the cut. They got 190 submissions and took 50 (I think). They said, "This years´ limit was at a mark of  2,67 on an 6-mark-scale." Not sure what that means, but maybe I've give it another shot next year! In the meantime, I happen to have a really cool game just itching to be published . . .

Anyway, hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving. Ever if you're not American. I'm sure God occasionally blesses people from other countries, too, so be thankful! And eat some turkey!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Revolution! Castigated On BGN

Well, maybe that's not exactly the case. Apparently, BGN contributor Kris Hall had a really, really, bad experience with Revolution! recently. He managed to score only 30 points in his first game. Having played my game hundreds of times, I can attest to the fact that this can certainly happen once in a while--people can just get brutally trounced. Does this happen because the game is completely random?

A commenter had a similar experience, noting: "To me it seems that the best strategy to have in this game is no strategy at al, just place your tokens randomly." He is both right and wrong. There is no "best strategy" in Revolution! except to stay under the radar and avoid too much direct confrontation with the other players. If you develop too strong of a pattern (particularly from game to game), the other players will (or should) punish you for it. The corresponding maxim to this is that any strategy will win if left alone for long enough.

The key to Revolution! is that you are not really playing the board as much as you are playing the other players. It's not a question of the best move, but rather a question of what the other players will do. As Wil Wheaton has noted in his BGG rating comment, Revolution! should be played like Poker. Not everyone likes Poker and not everyone likes Revolution! I'm okay with that. Lots of other people do.

One thing that might help reluctant players was suggested by another BGN commenter. Use the Bid Refund Variant. Under this system, players get their tokens back if they lose or tie a space. This assures that you pay exactly what a space is worth and not more or less, though there is the penalty of lost time. And it helps reduce feeling "like one of those mice who are subjected to random electric shocks in cruel psychological experiments." I suspect the SJG people like the other way because they're sort of into cruel electric shocks, but that's a topic for another day.

So is the game completely random? That depends on who you play with. I think you'll find that, over time, Revolution! is much less random that you first thought.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Revolution: The Palace Ships Next Week!

According to Twitter, Revolution: The Palace will ship next week. Just to recap, this addition to the base game allows you to play with 5-6 players (or play with 4 using the new stuff). It adds 4 new spaces on the expanded bid card and an awesome new building! The gameplay experience goes from sweet to super-sweet! Don't miss this one. Makes a perfect gift for anyone who has the original game, or give both for a truly amazing Christmas!

I got my royalty statement for Revolution! and it looks like sales are doing quite well. The last two quarters, in particular, have been very nice.

Also, I received word that Wattsalpoag really likes the prototype I gave them. I may have to wait until 2012, but they seem to be very interested in adding it to their lineup!

I'll leave you with this, my original Palace tile for use with the homemade version of the game:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Essen and Other News

Well, Essen is over and, once again, I was not there. This really is starting to become a "thing" with me. Anyway, at least Revolution! was there (both versions plus The Palace):

SJG had a booth this year and demoed The Palace. It even made it onto the BGG Geekbuzz list! The current ETA is mid-November for the release. Apparently, I will get my copy of the German edition at the end of the year.

In other news, Revolution! made Melody Vasel's top 100 games list. We'll have to wait and see if Tom also likes it that much. Also, I have entered the prototype passed over by Z-Man into the Hippodice competition in Germany. I'll find out in a couple of weeks whether they will need a copy mailed to them. At the very least, I'll get some nice quality playtester feedback.

This week I've been working on a new economic game. I finally finished the initial prototype and even got in one 15 minute-first-turn-only playtest with encouraging results.

Finally, the artwork for Kingdom of Solomon (Minion Games) is filtering in. I got to see some color art for the first time just the other day. Once the cover gets finished I'm cleared to begin releasing more information and talking about how it all works. Still waiting on Jolly Roger Games and Wattsalpoag for word on my other games.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Revolution! Flash Demo

SJG just unveiled a cool new Flash Demo of Revolution! Now if they would start working on an iPhone version. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Prosperity Has Arrived!

UPS delivered my pre-ordered copy of Dominion: Prosperity from Coolstuffinc today. I just finished cramming all the cards from all five sets into the new box (the old one is falling apart) separated by my custom dividers. They all fit! I managed to get in three games with my daughter. We went through every card during the course of the games. I've been really pumped about this expansion, and so far it's meeting/exceeding the hype. Several of the 25 all-new Kingdom cards are just beefier versions of old cards, but many are quite unique, usually affecting the buy phase.

Using an Expand to upgrade a Province into a Colony (10 VP, 11 Cost) is nice. The feeling of buying a Platinum (5 Coin, 9 Cost) instead of a Province in exhilarating! And using King's Court with Pirate Ship for three attacks is amazing! I can't wait to discover the crazy hidden interactions that always lurk just around the corner. I realized why Dominion is my favorite game: it's really about 1,000 games in one box. As far as I'm concerned, Donald X. can keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A New Palace Review

SJG gave away a copy of The Palace on Twitter a few days ago, and the winner posted a glowing review on BGG! That's how bribes are supposed to work! Otherwise, we have to use force . . . :) In other Twitter news, I stumbled onto this German website that has snappy little blurbs for each character in Revolution! (in German, of course, so use a translator). It's still unclear when The Palace will be available; however, I am hoping they get them in time for Essen later this month. SJG plans to have an "official presence" in Hall 6. Sounds exciting!

In other news, Z-Man has passed on my Henry the Great prototype, but Jolly Rogers is nearly ready to hammer out a contract for the Vacation prototype. They want to do preorders on BGG, so stay tuned for more info. Who knows, maybe I'll finally enter Hippodice this year!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks

I just noticed that the BGG Design Forum has a sticky post on myth-busting the copyright issue. Basically, you have minimum protection whenever you create something regardless of whether you officially filed. Sure, people can "steal" your idea, but it won't do them much good if your game is better and first. Worth a look if you're interested in game design.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fascinating Doctoral Thesis on Eurogames

Picked up this link on Twitter today. Stewart Woods has put together an impressive and very readable thesis on the history of eurogames and looks into the effect of the play environment on the play experience. I'm only on page 92 (of over 300), and I've already learned far more about the industry than I've found in any other source. You may think you know about eurogames, but you could probably stand to learn a lot more!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your 168 Hours

I just finished reading a great time-management book called 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam. It turns out that we all have 168 hours every week (24x7). As a game designer, assistant pastor and homeschooling father of 3 (4 in mere days), my schedule can get a bit hectic and disorganized. Vanderkam urges her readers to reevaluate their priorities and restructure their lives to accomplish what they truly want rather than just taking the path of least resistance.

I followed along by keeping a spreadsheet time diary, logging each activity and how long I spent doing it. I feared discovering 168 hours packed with wasted time and useless web-surfing. I discovered that I sleep about 8 hours a night (the average/recommended amount) and that I work 30-40 hours a week. This week I also spent over 15 hours reading (more than I intended, but it could be worse). I spent about 10-12 hours interacting with my family and about 8 hours attending church and related events (some of this counted as work). I spent 10 hours watching TV with my wife (this number could be a bit lower). One obvious area in need of improvement: 0 hours spent exercising.

Overall, I discovered that things are going better than I thought. The book had many other great ideas for tweaking your schedule to get the most out of life. I definitely felt more intentional about my time when I had to keep a log. That step alone might help you get control of your life. So, are you really doing everything you want to be doing with your 168 hours?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cincinnati Comic Expo

Today I attended the first Cincinnati Comic Expo held at the Cintas Center. Next year the event will be moving to the Duke Energy Convention Center downtown. Terrible parking but much more space. Anyway, this year's expo seemed to be well-attended. I had a table in the board game room, courtesy of Yottaquest. Naturally, I was running demos of Revolution: The Palace.

Several other designers/entrepreneurs had tables, including the Spelman's with Jukem Football

and Joe & Dave Herbert of Doritos Superbowl 2009 ad fame with Triviathon.

The Revolution table stayed hot all day with barely enough time in-between rounds to grab a pretzel and Reese's Cups (the lunch of champions). All told, I held five full demos including 4-6 new people each time. BTW, I played in four games winning one, losing two (but coming up a close second) and dramatically tying 181-181 in the other! Must I brag about winning my own game? Yep. Here are a few shots of the games:

The guy with the rockin' hair (Mike) is a true fan. He interviewed me on his camcorder (I'll link to it when it gets posted), bought my game and had me sign it. In fact, so many people bought my game, it sold out--all four copies!

I'll close with a couple of Star Wars costumes. There were many, many costumes I failed to photograph or else did so poorly. And, for the record, The Predator guy got robbed at the contest. Just sayin'.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Revolution: The Palace

...has arrived! I'm doing a promo event this weekend (Cincinnati Comic Expo), so I got the SJG guys to send me some material. They also sent a hot-out-of-the-box copy of the Revolution! expansion. It's designed as a hanging bag for stores rather than a box. They've gone this route before, so maybe that's okay. All the bits will fit nicely into the main box, so you don't really need a new box anyway. Here are some pics:

The package includes: a new building for the center of the board (called, *gasp*, The Palace), a rules page, 2 new bidding screens (in purple and orange), 6 new expanded bidding boards (featuring four new spaces), purple and orange cubes, scoring tokens, high-score scoring tokens (200/300) for all colors, and more currency tokens--just in case!

BTW, it's also extremely fun--SJG really made this one shine! Thanks to all those who helped playtest the expansion. Special apologies to Thirdfloor Gamers and Xenia Gamers--I tried to get you playtester credits, but it didn't happen. I'll try harder next time! The game should be available in just a few weeks.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Update: Rolling Along

Despite the lack of posting here, I have been doing a lot of game-related stuff lately.

1. My "really cool" game is entering v2.0 and starting to come together. Still lots of possibility here . . .
2. Zev of Z-man games called tonight asking for a rules clarification. That has to be a positive sign. So now that he's played it, the question is: Does he like it? Stay tuned . . .
3. Minion Games is still looking for an artist to do my game about King Solomon. We are looking for someone who can do more of a traditional, serious look reminiscent of oil painting--someone very talented and able to keep the budget on track. Or even somebody close to this description. Recommendations welcomed.
4. Jolly Rogers is still waiting for quotes.
5. Wattsalpoag is currently working through a recent deluge of work and will talk to me sometime next month. I know that feeling!
6. Child #4 is due in less than a month! All of them are girls. And I'm cool with that. I didn't even want a boy until I saw Tom Vasel's cool "Life Changing Announcement" video this week. Man, is he excited. It's really a must-see!

So that's where things are in my gaming world. Two other items of note: I got a smoking-fast new computer and Adobe CS5 Standard is on the way next week. Dominion: Prosperity will follow soon after. I hope. Man, why didn't I buy that at GenCon? Why!?!

Games played this week:

And 2 Secret Prototypes!

Monday, August 9, 2010

New Look!

So what do you think of the new look? You'll notice I'm also using my swank new domain name. I'll probably be monkeying around with things over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

GenCon 2010

Here are a few pictures and some commentary from my whirlwind trip to GenCon Friday:

This is the Steve Jackson Games booth. They also had a prominent display in the main board gaming area. Nice.

My job was to demo Revolution: The Palace. Many people were surprised to learn that this was my first time playing the official version. I've played my own versions many times, but not the official one. I found it to be an amazing experience! The SJG guys really did a nice job on the expansion--it works well with 4-6 players and takes the game to a new level.

Here's Paul teaching the game to some guys. You can just see Randy in his too-cool jacket at the left. Fun fact: He's the only person to have played Revolution! more times than me!

Here's the door I couldn't get into. Then the SJG folks brought me my badge and all was well.

The FF guys were there en mass, walking around in their blue shirts like they owned the place--which they pretty much did.

The ubiquitous shot of a guy in a kilt buying 20-sided dice--no con is complete without it! And here are some other cool and/or geeky pictures I took:

I also got a chance to touch base with several of the people who are currently considering my prototypes. Looks like everything is still in play. And I got to do some playtesting with Minion Games--that one is nearing the finish line! Thanks to everybody who came by the booth and said nice things about my game. It was a blast!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

GenCon Approaches!

This week, I am gearing up to attend at least one day of GenCon Indy. I plan to be helping demo Revolution! and The Palace Expansion for Steve Jackson Games on Friday. Stop by booth #1321 and say hi! I will also be meeting with Minion Games about an upcoming release as well as meeting with Jolly Rogers Games about the Europe version of a game they may be doing soon (if they are coming). I may also get a chance to check with Wattsalpoag and Z-man about prototypes they took from Origins. And will Dominion: Prosperity be on the menu?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Contract

I signed a new contract this week with Minion Games. We are still hashing out all the details of the game and knocking off rough edges, but it looks like we will end up with something really nice in the near future. More info as the project gets closer to the finish line.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Theme Players

I did quite a bit of frantic work on a design for Minion Games this week. The only problem? My game does not have quite enough theme. This isn't the first time I've encountered this comment. As I was showing off two prototypes for Jay of Rio Grande, he also thought my games were just not getting the theme right. What? My games have tons of theme! Don't they? I was confused.

Then I had an epiphany while discussing the MG game with my buddy, Michael, at Thirdfloorgamers. He also had mentioned that the theme needed work. So I asked, "How big a part of a game is the theme?" He told me that in his club (middle school group), he found some people who are Math Players--they don't really care about the theme at all. Space, Vikings, Ninjas, whatever. Just show me the numbers and let me figure out how to min/max this game and win.

On the other side of the spectrum, he notices the Theme Player. These guys (and girls) really care about the theme. If the theme isn't happening, the game isn't going to be played. I don't want to just move little bits around on the board, I want to be the Governor (or Captain, or Spider Monkey, etc.). And then you have lots of people at various points in between. Most people like good mechanics and a nice theme.

During this discussion, it became very obvious to me that I am very close to the Math Player side of the scale. It also became apparent that Michael is very close to the Theme Player side. This was a real chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter moment for me (apologies to those not alive in the 80s). Suddenly, I understood why I missed what Jay was telling me. He started our session by saying, "What are we doing?" That's a textbook Theme Player statement. Jay is a Theme Player. No wonder we had trouble communicating! I've also had trouble understanding Michael's helpful comments at times. Now I know why!

This also explains why space-themed games sometimes struggle--people just can't get into the theme as easily. Unless you're doing something in the Star Wars universe, you don't really know what you're doing.

This time, I decided to listen like a Theme Player. Michael had come up with several amazing ways to add theme to the game while making excellent use of the mechanics. James from Minion Games has been generating new ideas at Protospiel all weekend (even playing the game with Randy from SJG!), so I don't know if everything will make it into the final version, but I feel much better about the theme now.

In closing here are some good Theme Player questions to ask: What are we doing? If I am X, what would I expect to be doing even before I see the game? If I am X, what else should I be able to do or need to worry about in this game? What happens in this game that just doesn't make sense if I am X?

And here are some good Math Player questions: Is this game balanced? What is each resource worth? What is each move in the game worth? Is there an interesting dilemma? These all look absurdly obvious to me because I am hard-wired to think like this automatically. So which kind of player are you?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Origins 2010

Origins went very well this year! I took my brother-in-law, Drew, with me to help work the show. Of my five prototypes, three are now being seriously considered by publishers! More about this in the coming weeks. I met loads of new people and generally had a blast. Specials thanks to Rio Grande for providing food for everyone in the Board Room!

Looks like some printer troubles may push the Revolution! expansion's release date past GenCon. But it might still get done in time. At the very least it will be demoed there. The one space I had reservations about got a significant upgrade! The expansion is now officially awesome!

The game really being talked about this year was Founding Fathers, by Jolly Rogers Games. I didn't get a chance to play it, but I'm hoping one of the Yottaquest guys bought a copy. Anyway, I could not have been more pleased with how it turned out. Now to work on more game designs . . .

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Origins Approaches!

I'm counting down the days and making a few last-minute preparations for Origins in Columbus, Ohio, next week. My brother-in-law and I will be there all Thursday and Friday, hawking my FIVE (different) completed prototypes to any and all publishers. Feel free to stop me and ask for a sneak peek. I'll also have one more game for playtesting, if time permits. I'm looking forward to hitting the CABS board gaming room again this year. I might actually pay this year, lest I risk being thrown out (which almost happened last year). Whoops. Live and learn. Look for two guys wearing Revolution! shirts--hope to see you there!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Revolution! Discussed by Sean Malstrom

Recently, I noticed lots of hits to my blog coming from this site by Sean Malstrom. I've never heard of him before, but I guess it's a pretty popular site. He brings Revolution! and my experiences with it into an esoteric conversation about video games and D&D. I'm just glad he enjoys it!

In other news, I'm trying to get all my ducks lined up for Origins. At the same time, I have at least three new ideas for games that just won't leave my brain alone. I'm also planning to upgrade this blog and transform it into more of a general site about more of my games.

The Revolution! BGG rank is nearing the 700 mark with over 600 ratings!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gluing and Cutting

Lately I've been making some new prototypes in preparation for Origins. I intend to have five new games ready to introduce to game companies at the convention (one prominent appointment has already been set). Unfortunately, some of that time had to be spent re-making a prototype that was lost in the mail by a certain West Coast game company--after I had paid all the return shipping. This would not have been such a tragedy except that this game requires my printer. Everything except the board had to be printed fresh. One problem--my printer doesn't print yellow anymore. Or red. This game happens to be mostly blue, but there was still a lot of coloring by hand. Despite all this, the prototype is now finished.

Now all I have to do is finalize my last game, do all the graphic design, print it up (on someone else's printer) and put it together. It's currently being playtested by the Thirdfloorgamers in Wisconsin. We should have things smoothed out in another week or two. This design has been the most stubborn I have ever worked on--I hope it turns out well!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The German Revolution Begins!

Pegasus Spiele has now officially released Revolution! in Germany. The finished board looks a little different from the preliminary picture below, but is still very nice (maybe nicer):

Also, I found a video interview from the Nuremberg Toy Fair (in German, but shows off the new graphics pretty well):

N├╝rnberger Spielwarenmesse 2010: Revolution from Cliquenabend on Vimeo.

Monday, March 22, 2010

500 Ratings

Revolution hit 500 ratings on BBG today! It's currently better than 750 in the rankings!

In other news, I did some successful testing this weekend . . .

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Expansion Is Coming

This high-res picture from the NY Toy Fair last week was taken by David at Purple Pawn. You can see all the new bidding spaces and the new Palace overlay for the center of the board. There is no official word of a release date, but it may be as early as this summer. Special thanks to my two remote playtester groups, Xenia Gamers Club and Thirdfloorgamers, for helping double check things. Will (SJG), as before, gave us significant opportunity to contribute to the process.

In other news, I recently gave an interview to Crows'n'Bones, and I also found a new review. And one more bit of news--Revolution! has (nearly) broken 800 at BGG.

In non-Revolution news, I'm nearly finished assembling the art and layout for another game. My plan is to take a backpack full of games to Origins and see what happens!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Revolution!: The German Version

News is slowly leaking out concerning the soon-to-be-released German version of Revolution!, produced by Pegasus Spiel. Today, we got a picture of the new board from Nuremberg:

As you can see, this design is quite different from the Steve Jackson version. It gives the box art a bit of context as well. This picture is a crop of a larger one showing some of the bidding board. The new version features pictures of the characters on their respective spaces. There is currently a discussion taking place on BGG--most comments seem positive.

Here is another one, fully equipped with meeples instead of cubes (H/T):

By the way, here is the box in all its wild and comical glory:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Only In the 21st Century

It's really cool to be alive in the future. At least that's how it seems sometimes. I participated in some remote playtesting tonight. I emailed some prototype files to a group in Minnesota. They printed them out and playtested it. Then we had a very insightful Skype session hashing things out. Maybe you do that all the time, but it was a first for me. Zero cost and lightning fast!

Also, Revolution! made two bid podcasts will I wasn't paying attention:

The Dice Tower (Ep. 157 @13:45) and
The Spiel (Ep. 89 @25:00 - this one is pretty long).

Both were very positive about the game. Thanks, guys!