What's my 20?

Having looked backwards a few days ago, I guess it is time to look forwards to my game design plans for this year.

A significant part of the early part of the year is likely to continue to be development of Scurvy Crew, which may end up with a different name, and which I am still actively working on in conjunction with Lewis of Braincrack Games.

I forgot to mention in my roundup that, while I did pretty well for organising playtesting sessions for the first part of last year, I pretty much sucked for the second half. Every year I say I will try to get better at managing playtest groups, and this year will be no exception.

Collaborations... Now this is something that is big for me. I have been saying for some time that I have wanted to collaborate with other designers. This is partly in order to learn from others, but also because I seem to be more productive in many ways when I am bouncing ideas back and forth with other people. I have had a few collaborative projects over the last couple of years that have nearly, but not quite, got going, but it is looking like 2020 is going to the year of collaboration for me.

Over the last few weeks I have been discussing ideas for a light "tactility" game with another designers and this week this finally turned into a playable prototype that I tested with a couple of other folk, and the other designer, Mike, is really enthusiastic at his end, so I have a good feeling about this.
The first play of the "pulling animals out of a bag" game -- and it wasn't terrible.

I also have a get-together with a couple of other designers in a few days' time to work on a potential joint project that we are all keen on, so that's another thing.

Another thing I forgot to add to my retrospective post the other day (which is increasingly looking like I did a really poor job of!) was my collaboration with Tom Coldron, with him doing some development and testing of my old game Boogie Knights and me looking at his game Elvic.  I still need to have some further discussions with him but it was an enjoyable process for me and I'd be well up for doing similar things in future.

How about pitching games? I'm not sure this year, as it may turn out to be more of a "load up the queue" year, so I might not end up with pitchable product by UK Games Expo. I'm just going to wait and see on this front.  The "tactility" game I mentioned above could easily get to a pitchable state by the summer -- or totally crash and burn, only time will tell. Other than that, I would love to get one of my older projects (maybe Corlea, which has been rattling around for long enough) up to scratch in the next few months, but with the planned/possible collaborations, it may be that I have enough on my plate as it is.

Finally, something really specific. This year I'm going to create and illustrate a small card game involving puffins. After all the drawing of puffins last year, and a few general comments along these lines, I figure this should be a fun way to carry forward some of that art practice. I only expect this to end up as a print and play game, but we'll see how things develop.



Happy new year!

So, looking back on my plans and intentions from last year, how did I do?

I said I would share more games as print and play prototypes, and utterly failed at that. 

I also said that I would continue to read up on historical events (I have mostly been reading about the middle ages, focussed on the C9th to C12th), and have a number of ideas jotted down in a notebook, so that's something. I did say that I would make some of these ideas into prototypes, and I failed to do this (mostly), but am sure I will develop some of these concepts.

Sometimes research for a game involves playing with a pile of toy animals.
The reason I said "mostly" there is that I have talked with a couple of game designer friends about the bizarre "medieval battle snails" that appear in various medieval manuscripts, and did make a light card game prototype inspired by this as well as a very rough version of a more serious boardgame on the same theme.  Neither went beyond that, but more recently I have been discussing with these same friends something more solid, and we are planning to get together very soon to see if we can rough out the basis of a collaboration.

I also didn't do another proofreading course last year, but I have the intention of signing up for one in the next few weeks.  I have worked on a few rulebook proofreading jobs over the last year; they have all been pro bono, done for people I really wanted to help out, but I feel I should probably start charging soon.

So what did go according to plan?

Well, I successfully ploughed through the year drawing a picture on paper every day and sharing a scan of that picture on Twitter.  This did contribute to wiping me out a little some evenings, meaning that I was short of energy for other things, like game design. Overall, though, I feel really good about this whole project -- I think the average quality of my pictures improved a bit during the year, the speed of my work certainly increased, and I got to experiment with some different media along the way. Plus I am very proud of a few of the pictures.

Other than that, a year ago I was talking about wanting to work on a couple of my game projects, and that was a definite success, with Scurvy Crew now signed (and in development), and The Castle War still with a publisher who has not given a final decision but has said some positive things, and I will be seeing them next week so will be able to discuss it at that point.

I mentioned collaboration earlier, and something else came up towards the end of the year. I was chatting with another designer at Dragonmeet, and ideas started bouncing around. We've been exchanging emails on this since and are working on an initial version of the game (I'm just waiting for the arrival of some components), and hope to meet up soon to see where we can take the idea. This is something exciting for me, partly because the collaborator is such a nice guy, but also because it is a style of game I probably wouldn't have approached on my own. 

In summary, then, 2019 didn't really take the shape I had originally intended, and for various reasons I had spells of being unproductive, but overall things went really well for me.