And when the music stops...

One of the entries on my "hooks" list is "Musical chairs (but not Midnight Party clone)", which I originally wrote down because Midnight Party is so clearly (and successfully) based on that kids' party game, and I wondered where else that inspiration can go.  Pondering on that a little, I figured, heck, why not just make Musical Chairs, the board game?

I figured that the first thing I would need was some chairs, which I drew onto some blank cards, and I would need some meeples to act as kids playing.  For a first (solo) test I made a line of nine chairs (alternating facings as is traditional in party games) with three meeples of each of three colours, sitting on them.  When the music starts, the meeples get off their chairs and travel up one side of the line and down the other; when one of the end chairs has no meeple next to it, it is removed, and then when the music stops, players try to get their meeples to sit down.  Initially I was toying with movement by simultaneous selection of cards (a from a subset of a suit of playing cards for each player), and the music stopping when certain cards were played.  This didn't really feel right.

Attempt 2, showing beautifully hand illustrated game cards at their very best.

For a second attempt, I switched to two "players", each with three meeples, and I constructed a small set of special cards for each, with various movement options on them, including options to jump over chairs or barge other meeples out of the way, for a little more realism.  Each player had two cards in hand to choose from on their turn, and reshuffled their mini-deck when it was exhausted.

This version seemed to work a bit better, but I need to play it with someone else as I think much of the game will be figuring out what options the other players have available to them, and I find it particularly hard to bluff myself, so I have no idea how well this works.  I should have an opportunity to give this a spin with real people at the weekend, and will see what I need to do to make this into a working game.


24 hours of fairies

As I stated a couple of posts back, one of my objectives this year was to enter at least one game design competition.  Well, I have now done just that.  It was a very small competition, but it counts for all that.
Prototype 3 in play.  The mug of tea is not an essential component but it was helpful.
So, since the summer of 2012, a guy called Kai, who goes by the handle of schattentanz (I love that name!) on Board Game Geek, has been organising a monthly 24-hour game design contest.  The idea is that he gives a word or phrase that is intended to inform theme or give some sort of restriction, and then at some time in the month, participants spend a single 24 hour period working on a game, at the end of which a game must be made available for judging.  A winner is decided by interested parties "thumbing" the respective submissions, and the whole thing is run on an honour basis, and is intended as just a bit of fun.  It is also a really interesting challenge.  If you want to find out more, you can look at this BGG thread.

I have just completed my attempt.  This month's theme is "Fairy", which can be interpreted however you like.  After some pondering (you are allowed to think about it as much as you like, but no creating anything at all tangible until your window starts) I decided to work on something about tooth fairies paying children for their teeth and presenting sets of teeth to the king and queen of the fairies in exchange for rewards.

On Friday, just after lunch, I got started on the project and made an announcement in this month's thread, and started off by writing up my initial thoughts on rules and scribbling out a small selection of cards (it was going to be a card game) on a pile of blank cards I keep around for just this purpose.

I had to pick up my daughter, Miss B, from school that afternoon, but she helped me out by playtesting the cards and rules I had come up with so far, and this showed that the basic game seemed OK, but flagged up plenty of improvements that were needed.

That evening I worked on an expanded set of cards and tweaked rules, working my design into some nanDECK code and data, printing out a set, mucking around with it a bit and then scrapping it in favour of another set of cards.

This third set of cards got playtested on Saturday morning (this time with both wife and daughter), which threw up a few more tweaks which I managed to implement before bundling up a couple of PDF files (one for the rules and one for the cards) and submitting my entry with half an hour of time to spare.

So now it's a matter of waiting; voting will happen in early March.  I'm pleased with how Tooth Fairies has turned out so far, but there are still a lot of changes that need to be made before I consider it "done", but in the meantime we have a new game that the family enjoys and I have gained some valuable experience.  All good.  I think I'll try doing more of these 24 hour challenges.

If you want to take a look at the game, you can download the rules file and the cards file.  If you play the game (or even if you don't), please let me know how it went and if you spot any problems with it.


Why don't you stick to one thing?

You may have noticed that I am not concentrating on one game and focussing on getting it finished.  On the contrary, I have several games on the go in assorted stages of development.  Surely, if I just put all my effort into one game, I might get it to the point where it can be published...?
OK, stupid, lame joke. [Image yoinked from Wikipedia]
Well, maybe.  A few thoughts on that...
  • I'm actually not trying to get anything published.  I am currently doing game design as a learning exercise and hobby.  Hopefully I will occasionally come out with something that someone else might like to play, and if a publisher wants to give me money one day that would be truly awesome, but for now it's fun thinking of ideas and seeing if I can develop them.
  • Ideas keep coming up for all manner of reasons.  Quite a few of them are because of something someone says, or maybe I see a game and think about how a similar idea could go in a different direction.  Most of these ideas just won't really be good enough (or I may not have the skill to make them good enough), but how will I know if I don't explore them?
  • Conversely, if I put all my energy into one game, I may become blind to its faults and find it hard to make major changes or even abandon a failing project, so having multiple projects at the same time should give me some protection against this.
  • Also there may be a mechanic or other element in a game that I particularly like, but doesn't really work in the game that I have put it into.  If I have a heap of games on the go at once, then maybe I can find a proper home for that mechanic.
  • I find it a lot more fun this way.
That said, I do need to get at least some of my projects to a state that could conceivably be described as "finished".  It's a discipline that I need to work on.  This is the reason that I have a couple of objectives for this year that effectively involve getting a game "finished" and making it available online.  Actually, possibly my next post will be about this, as I am planning to enter February's "24 hour" game contest, in which the idea is to create a playable game from scratch within a single 24 hour period.  I'm planning to do this in a few days, so watch this space...