Lessons from my first GAMA

With luck (and a lot of work) I got to attend GAMA this year, the industry premier trade show for board games.  This is not a gaming convention:  This is a trade show where publishers show off upcoming games, and distributors make deals with game store owners.  No one is playing games, they are talking component count, order volume, and MSRP.  It’s an intimidating place full of strange terminology, but if you can brave the waters, it can be one of the better places to attempt to pitch a game. Continue reading

Design Lessons from Vegas

Vegas casinos are monuments to statistics and evil.  They are inspiring, in a way.  Everything is designed.  Everything is polished.  They are well-oiled machines, designed to ride that razor thin margin to massive success.  Spotting those design decisions is a fun game in itself, and seeing how they can apply to game design is an even more interesting task.

1)  “Machine malfunction voids all pays and plays”

This little sticker is on every slot machine.  What does it mean?  It means that casinos don’t like paying money.  Should a player get a high-paying hand in video poker, or a jackpot in a slot machine, the machine locks down.  An attendant is called in, to verify that the jackpot is legitimate.  That’s right.  They get to look at the data and determine if your random number is a legitimate random number.  They don’t give you your money back if you make a mistake on a bet though, do they?

Continue reading

Engine Damage Lite: Part 1

One of the things I have wanted to do was to cover the development of a game from start to finish.  Specifically, I wanted to cover discovering the initial kernel, fleshing it out, creating the prototype, swallowing your pride as you scrap your favorite mechanic, and lots and lots of playtesting.  Luckily for me, I had an idea for a new game just after creating my website, so I am going to start a development journal for Engine Damage Lite.

Engine Damage is a game of steampunk, train on train combat.  I have been working on versions of the game for about 12 years.  It was the second game I ever created, and it will always be my special project… Mostly because it is completely unpublishable.  A massive miniatures combat game requiring special arenas and hundreds of pieces?  It will never happen.  I should probably talk about the history a little, before I get to the current version.  Feel free to skip to the line break if you don’t want to hear how Engine Damage has evolved. Continue reading

Agents of SMERSH Review

agentsofsmershAs mentioned in my Kublacon Postmortem last week, the other game that I ran was Agents of SMERSH (Affiliate Link).  This is a game based on Tales of the Arabian Nights. I have not played Tales of the Arabian Nights, but the premise intrigued me.  Every turn, players encounter fairy tale situations, and must make a choice.  Based on this choice, they look up the result in a book of tales.  They could become rich, cursed, thrown to the other side of the map… I have heard a lot of complaints about it, and most of them involve the randomness of the game.  It is a cross between a DM-less roleplaying game and a choose your own adventure book.  Agents of SMERSH hoped to improve that formula by slathering it with a healthy dose of James Bond frosting.  So is it better than the original?  Review time! Continue reading

Kublacon Postmortem

Kublacon LobbyThe best four days of gaming in the bay area are over and done.  Kublacon 2015 was a blast.  Good dealers, games, and seminars.  It was great hearing tips from the proverbial horse’s mouth:  James Earnest.  I managed to make it to two lectures, one on how to sell to publishers and one on how to publish yourself (Hint:  Don’t do it!).  But that’s not why you are here, is it.  How did the games go?

After some initial problems with my game being scheduled at the wrong time, Gladiatron got a table and was set up.  Gladiatron is a gladitorial combat game I have been working on, specifically for convention play.  Every year, the lobby of Kublacon is filled with big, flashy games.  I wanted Gladiatron to be one of them.  More specifically, however, I designed it with drop-in, drop-out gameplay.  Each player plays a gladiator trying to score as many points as possible.  Points are scored by attacking other gladiators, standing on Podiums of Power, or grabbing the trophy in the middle of the arena.  If you escape, your score is put on the leaderboard, and at the end of the game, the highest score wins.  If you are killed?  Well, you gave it your best shot, right?  The leaderboard allows players to play a run or two and leave, or show up late, and still have a chance at winning.

So how did the playtest go? Continue reading

The Brilliance of Friday: A Review

FridayFriday signals the end of the week, and the start of our two days of fun.  Oh, not that Friday?  No, I’m talking about the solo game by Friedemann Friese.

Friday is a solo deckbuilding game about surviving on a deserted island.  Our Man Friday must survive three seasons, culminating with a fight with the various pirate ships circling the island.  Should he survive to defeat the pirates, he escapes, victorious!  If not… Well, jaguars need to eat too.

There are three decks in the game.  The fight deck, the island deck, and the aging deck.  Let’s talk about the fight deck first.  The fight deck represents Friday’s knowledge of survival on the island.  As you would expect, in the beginning, he is terrible at it.  The deck has a 2, three 1s, a whole bunch of 0s, and five -1s.  Whaaaat?  His average value for the deck is zero?  Yes indeed.  Challenges will allow you to flip a number of cards for free, and compare the value of the cards to the difficulty of the task.  If you meet or beat it, you can add the challenge to your deck as a valuable skill.  If not, you lose health.  And here is the first point of brilliance in the game. Continue reading

Getting Started

Welcome to www.tinkerbunny.com.  I’m going to be taking you into the rabbit hole.  On this website/blog, I will be talking about games, game design, and, in particular, my games.  If you want to find out more about the games I am running, or where you can play them, this is the place to do it.