Google+, more than just a social network

For those of you who don’t know about Google+, it is a social network formed by the people at Google.  However, it is very different from Facebook.   Google+ allows you to place your contacts in circles.  Then when you post a message you can direct that message to a certain group of people (as defined by your circles).  You can make the post public if you wish.

I have several game related circles:  Gamers, Game Publishers, Game Designers, and G+ GameLab.

The G+ GameLab is a group of individuals that are interested in game design.  Every now and then we hold a hangout (think a Skype meeting) where one of the members of the Circle presents a design they are working on and then this is followed by a discussion and critique of the design.

Now, Google+ has added Communities.  You can start a Community – I have started a Board Game Design Community – or join a Community – I am a member of two Board Game Communities, two Game Design Communities and an Arsenal FC Community.  Communities have categories where people post anything related to the Community that they wish.  These Communities are moderated.  I help moderate a Board Game Community and moderate my Board Game Design Community.  These are great places to share ideas, resources and information.

Google+ is about the sharing of ideas, unlike Facebook which is about the sharing of every silly little thing you are doing and when you are doing (and Farmville etc…).

Here are the links to some communities you might be interested in:

Board Game Design – 81 members

Board Games – 380 members

Gamecraft (RPG, miniatures, board and card game design) – 243 members

Board Games – 129 members

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Cooperative games and how to let people make their own decisons

Many cooperative games end up being controlled by a dominant personality or a gamer who has a lot of experience in the game being played.  Group decision making is fine but one person making the decisions for all is not.  So, how can a cooperative game be designed where everyone makes up their own mind and creates their own strategy.  Some strategies include hidden information (Lord of the Rings to a certain extent) and simultaneous decision making (Space Alert – everyone agrees to do something but then the programming happens simultaneously).

I have another idea.  What if the decision a player makes might not be the best for the team in the short term but may help in the long term.  Imagine a game where players take on the role of a police detective.  All the detectives are working to solve a big crime while solving smaller crimes along the way.  The smaller crimes do not give any benefit to the team but allow the player to ‘level up’ who solves them.  This levelling up gives benefits to the team in the long term.  Now, I know many will say that the dominant player may still control the game by ‘telling’ the players when to solve small crimes as opposed to going for clues in the big crime but I think it might help.   Just another brain cramp I had while at home  🙂

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Happy 2nd Anniversary!!

I am going to give myself a pat on the back!!  I have been blogging for four years now but this is the second anniversary of my Game Design Blog!!!  This anniversary reinforces a number of things to me:

  1. That the hobby of board games is an important part of my life
  2. Designing games and being creative is just as important
  3. That I am getting great support from my family, friends and other designers

THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING AND READING MY BLOG!

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Quarantine is coming your way in 2013

I am pleased to announce (not the first to do this) that in 2013 a friend and fellow designer, Mark Klassen, will see his first game published.  I had the pleasure of playing Quarantine at the 2011 BIGCON convention in Kamloops.  Mark has told me that it is even better now!

Quarantine is being published by Mercury Games.  Some details and artwork can be found here at BGG.

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BAD ELF – NaGaDeMon the final day!

It is the last day of NaGaDeMon and my game has been played 3 times.

On Wednesday, the G+ GameLab had a hangout to discuss NaGaDeMon games and other designs.  I got to present Bad Elf to the multitude in attendance (3 other designers).  Here are the suggestions:

1.  Though the theme is cute and good, the game should be re-themed to allow for a wider audience and to increase its all year round attractiveness.  This I am already working on.  Expect some prototype art soon.
2.  Having a conveyor deck that represents the gifts and having cubes that represent gifts may be redundant.  The cubes are necessary.  So, replace the conveyor deck with a board that represents the conveyor (or in the future, mine carts) and then draw cubes out of a bag to fill the conveyor.  This would eliminate the turning and discarding of cards and the reaching for cubes from the stock.  This change, which I favour, would still require a deck of cards to instruct players on the number of cubes to be placed on the spots on the conveyor belt.  This deck would be a 1/4 the size of the conveyor deck.
3.  Possibly reducing the number of coloured gifts.  This would create more competition for gifts and more aggressive bidding.  I am not going to change this until the draw bad mechanism has been tested.
4.  A 5 player game is chaotic in the bidding.  Possibly reducing the number of conveyor spots available by the number of players – 1.  This would make the bidding more aggressive but would lengthen the game.  This may be tried later.

Any comments would be welcome

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Tuesday Night Gaming Session – Awesomeness!

Last night we had a full table!  Five good friends playing games – awesomeness!  There is so much trash talking going on during the simplest of games that if you did not know we were friends then you might call the police.

The game session last night was one of the best (for me) as we did not only play games but got to do much more.  We started preparing for Mutant Epoch, an RPG designed by a local friend.  I had already rolled my character and so we rolled characters for the rest of the group.

  • I am a Pure Stock Human, Student Class
  • Kelly is a Pure Stock Human, forget his class but he weighs a lot!
  • Justin is a Pure Stock Human, Technician Class
  • Derek is a Ghost Mutant – Technician Class – we still have to roll for mutations
  • Trevor is mildly Mutant – Street Thug Class – we still have to roll for mutations

After rolling D100s and D20s etc. we moved on to play a 5 player game of Bad Elf.  A game I designed last month.  We had already played a 3 player and a 4 player game of Bad Elf but thought we would try for a 5 player game.  The game worked well but the bidding mechanism isn’t really set up for that many and so it was a bit chaotic.  In Bad Elf the order of the bidding results determines the order of gifts taken off the conveyor belt.  In most bidding games the highest player chooses their prize and so on…  With 5 it was harder to adjust your bid to pick up a specific location on the conveyor.  This might be mitigated by reducing the number of conveyor cards revealed each turn.  So, with 5 players only 4 conveyor cards are revealed and with 4 players only 3 cards are revealed.  My only issue with this is that it would increase the length of the game.  I am also looking at reducing the number of gift colours.  This would reduce the number of cards and create more competition for gifts.

After Bad Elf, I pulled out 5 decks of playing cards.  These decks were modified.  They were identical, had only 18 cards, and the card values ranged from 1 to 10.  This was the first play test of my If You Go Into The Woods… game.  This was a good exercise.  In this game each player, in turn, turns over one of their cards to create a pathway into the woods.  The value of each card is representative of the noise the player’s animal makes while foraging for food.  If a player’s noise threshold goes over 20 then the dragon in the middle of the forest awakes and all players still foraging for food lose any food they have collected as they scurry home.

In this play test, different coloured cubes represented the food collected.  Game play goes as follows:

  • Each player in turn plays a card
  • When the play comes round the second time a player may (a) play another card from the top of their deck and continue into the forest or (b) collect any food and return home, discarding any pathway cards played
  • If a player passes the noise threshold then all players discard any food and pathway cards collected and a new round starts with the next player to the left of the player that was too noisy

The game played okay.  It certainly would play better if the cards and pieces were themed.  Not sure how the end game scenario would work.  Suggestions for end game scenario are:

  1. First player to get x number of food tokens
  2. Play until all players have played cards from deck.  Once a player has used all the cards from their deck they are out of that round.  Players continue and when their is one player left with cards then that player may continue until they either pass the threshold and awake the dragon or decide to pass and take food and return home.  I think with this end game scenario it might be best to play a set number of rounds.

A suggestion was made that when you wake the dragon the only players that are affected are the players immediately adjacent to the noisy animal.  Will have to play test this idea.

After the non-normal gaming we settled down for a game of Lords of Waterdeep followed by Hotel Samoa.  Though I completed two of the largest quests, I was soundly in third place.  The winner had the Lord that rewards owning buildings.  I also stunk at Hotel Samoa.  Actually, I stunk the whole evening.  I lost at my own game, Bad Elf, scoring 0 points!  The winner had 12 or 13.

A great evening of gaming!

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Regular Tuesday Game Night

Tonight is games night!!  After tonight some of the short term goals can have little check marks placed next to them.  They will not be totally marked of the ‘to-do’ list.

Tonight we will play Bad Elf again, play test “If you go into the woods…” with regular playing cards, and my friends will role their Mutant Epoch characters.

I love Tuesday nights!!!

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