Play test woes

photo (1)

I was finally able to test the new design for the game I’m working on last night, and…it did not go very well. Before I talk about that, though, I should probably take some time to better explain what this game is all about. Sometimes when I write these posts, I feel as if I am coming across as unnecessarily vague. Of course, it’s hard to describe a game when so many things are still in flux, but I figure I should be able to describe the basic framework in more detail.

Okay, here goes (more…)

Evolution and rebirth

board game evolution

Nothing works the first time you try it. Even the best ideas require a lot of iterations before they turn into something remarkable. When people ask where the idea for Gloomhaven came from, I tell them that the game started as dice-less tactical game where players controlled an entire squad of characters. It was clunky and slow and I threw it away for a long time until I hit on some new ideas that allowed me to take some aspects that I liked out of that game and evolve it into something completely different and more streamlined (more…)

Finding the right theme

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As I stated in an earlier post, I recently started working on a new game idea that I am very excited about. It’s a logistical game of producing resources and moving them around, upgrading them into more valuable goods that increase your money and point income. It’s based on a genre of factory video games and is very factory-esque, but I just can’t bring myself to make and actual factory-themed game. It would bore me to tears (more…)

That lightning bolt

bolt

Before yesterday, getting struck by that cliché creative lightning bolt had only happened to me once, when I suddenly had the idea for Forge War and started scribbling down rules in the middle of a physics meeting.

Gloomhaven wasn’t so much one big lightning bolt moments, but rather just many, many little moments. I had been thinking about the project for more than a year before it started to take shape in its current form. And even after that (more…)

Thoughts on the new year – 2016

cragcol

Well, we’re a week and a half into this thing now, so I guess we better start talking about the new year. I spoke last year about the perception of time slowing down or speeding up depending on its significance, and I still really like that idea. These last two years have been the most significant of my life and their imprint on the timeline in my mind is certainly more prominent than the many years that went before it.

I hope this trend continues. I hope I don’t find myself in some boring job, pissing away the weeks like they are nothing. I hope I can continue to do what I love, making every week significant because I am working on powerful, meaningful things.

Will the trend continue? I’m reasonably confident it will, given the success of Gloomhaven thus far. As long as the fulfillment of the Kickstarter goes well, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to continue doing what I’m doing.

So let’s talk about the fulfillment of the Kickstarter for a second, since that is the main thing looming above me for the first half of this year. We’ve already hit some embarrassing delays because I didn’t properly anticipate just how much work would need to go into getting the game out the door.

One might say I bit off more than I could chew, but that’s not necessarily accurate. It’s taken a lot of time to chew it, but I’ll get it down eventually. I’m afraid of further delays, but I think I’m more afraid of just how much this damned thing is going to weigh and what size box we’re going to end up with. I’m hoping for something in the 10″x14″ range, but we’re still working it out.

I just don’t want the game to be intimidating. I firmly and honestly believe Gloomhaven is going to be the best and most engrossing dungeon crawl on the market for years to come, but because it is essentially a board game plus three or four expansions, I’m afraid it’s going to scare people away, which may stop it from fully living up to its potential.

After going through this ridiculous experience (or most of it, at least), I can now see the value in releasing a game in smaller chunks through expansions, but I just couldn’t figure out a way to do that with Gloomhaven. Everything is so interconnected. The game just is what it is, and I hope that it can find a place in the board game economy – that people will see the value they are getting for the high price of the game.

Because if it does find a place, I think it’s going to go far. I’m going to print off as many copies as I can because I really think once it gets into the hands of the community and reviewers, it is going to fly off the shelves.

And there is so much to discover in the game. I am really looking forward to community discussions of the game like we’re seeing for Pandemic Legacy right now. And I want to see people discover the big secret nestled at the heart of the game. That should be a lot of fun, too.

I am of course also looking forward to getting Gloomhaven out the door so that I can work on other projects. I have a grand idea for a worker placement game across two parallel dimensions that is screaming at me to work on it, but I just don’t currently have the time. I figure that should be the next project to get Kickstarted, ideally in September again, but the timeline is still really fuzzy at this point. The idea is to have sort of a buffer between the release of Gloomhaven and a Kickstarter for another Gloomhaven project in order to give the game a chance to find its legs in the gaming community and get the plays it deserves before I expand the Gloomhaven brand further.

Because I definitely think that Gloomhaven could be a brand. It’s an exciting, unique world with a lot of potential for growth and a lot of story to mine. It’s distinctive, and I think a lot of people will appreciate it. So there are plans to work on more Gloomhaven stuff beyond the base game in the coming year as well.

gloomhaven_main

First of all, I still have this area control deck-building game that I have talked at length about previously. About a year ago I had to decide between moving forward with getting it on Kickstarter or switching my focus to work on Gloomhaven and I think I made the right decision with that. You see, I was waiting on a resolution to an intellectual property situation and got kind of stuck on the project. I really wanted to theme it with a series of novels I really like, but I just couldn’t get a definitive answer from the representatives of the IP.

I know I’m just a no-name board game company, but I feel so disrespected by them at this point that I have a definitive answer, even if it’s not explicit. Plus, I have my own strong brand now, and while a year ago it would have broken my heart to theme the deck-building game with something else, now it feels like a perfect fit for the Gloomhaven world.

It’s not an expansion to Gloomhaven, but a completely separate game that should give fans a much larger perspective on the world as a whole. Gloomhaven is just one small town on the outskirts of a much larger civilization, after all.

And after players get a glimpse at the larger world, I think it’ll be a perfect time to zoom in on another region of the map to work on a proper stand-alone expansion to Gloomhaven, but by that point we might be talking more about 2017. I mean, I’ll start developing it in 2016, but it probably won’t see the light of day until later.

There is also the thought of a Forge War expansion, too, but I’m just not sure how that fits into the larger plan. I love Forge War, but it is more of a niche game, and an expansion to that is going to see a much smaller amount of success than something Gloomhaven-related, I think. Since I’m still trying to keep my head above water in this industry, it’s hard to justify dedicating time to something like that at this point, but it’s not out of the question.

I’ve toyed with the idea of retheming Forge War from generic fantasy to the world of Gloomhaven. Bring it into the fold to help continue building the brand, but I don’t know. It seems a little silly.

Anyway, I think that’s enough of my disjointed thoughts. There are certainly plenty of big, lofty goals, though we’ll just have to see what exactly I have time for once I can finally wash my hand of the Gloomhaven monstrosity.

Either way, it should be an exciting, eventful year.

National Board Game Writing Month

NaNoWriMo

I have no interest in writing a novel. At one point I did. As a kid, I was always making up stories about various fantasy worlds with giant trees and massive, man-eating worms. The typical tropes regurgitated from whatever video game I was playing or book I was reading.

Certainly there is merit to writing a novel. Having complete control over the story you tell allows you to express something in a more intricate and detailed manner than any other medium.

But once I discovered Dungeons & Dragons, I quickly realized that I wanted to tell my stories through games (more…)