12 Designs in 12 Months

Art for “In-App-Purchases” (working title)

Every year, I make a to-do list of my goals for the year.  “Go to the Dentist,” and “Eat more fiber,” are examples that have graced my to-do list for the last four years. However, this year my list was as stark as the north of Westeros. My only goal for 2017 was to create 12 prototypes in 12 months.

So far I am on track to achieve. Here is a list of some of the projects that I have designed/developed over the past few months:

1. January: 21 Days

21 Days is the average time a human can survive without eating.

Some material components for “21 Days”

This game is meant to be a large scale RPG that focuses on storytelling and player driven narrative. The game takes place on a tropical island and the players are survivors of a mysterious plane wreck. Some players are idealists and others are anarchists. The idealists are attempting to work together and anarchists just want to watch the world burn.

The playtest was roughly 3 hours long and we had 12 players and 2 Game Managers. The players had to create a story and work together to achieve their goals. One of the  highlights of the game was one group attempting to bleed out corpses to drink the blood to avoid dehydration.

The game was dark, but somehow really funny. Ultimately, as an experiment the game was a success. I plan on revising the ruleset and rerunning the game in August. If the game is viable as a RPG system, I may publish a rules booklet.

2. February: Battle of Wits: Poisoner’s Dilemma

This was interesting. I was tasked by our good friend Scott Silsbe of Liveware Lab to design a game that is only 4 cards. The game is meant to be printed and given as a promo much like a business card, but better…because it’s a game.

This image is the game in its entirety:

The game is basically a one sided version of rock-paper-scissors with the dealer serving either poison or wine to players and the player choosing the glass to drink from. The game is inspired by that fantastic scene from the princess bride and a game called Chalice, developed by James Mayr.

We ended up giving the game away as a pay-what-you-like promo for International Tabletop Day. People really seemed to enjoy it.

3. March: Doomsday Paradigm

Doomsday Paradigm was by far, my least successful prototype this year. My attempt was to create a game as a hour-long event game that can be played with up to 20 players. It featured hidden roles, voting, and cold war era in-game effects that are meant to highlight suspicion and deception.

The game’s core was fun, but ultimately the systems need a massive overhaul. The takeaway from this playtest was that designing for scale presents challenges that may not occur in a smaller environment.

4. April: Match Three Gem Game

My guilty pleasure is very very very dumb phone games. I absolutely love Heroes Charge. Its a Moba-lite with a pay-for-power mechanism. I also love most match three-style games.

There’s a paradigm in these types of games and, sadly, it is the business model for most ‘free’ phone games. And that is the pay-to-win mechanism. In other words, most games are ‘free’ and offer in-app-purchases that will give players huge advantages.

So I figured, I’ll make a game of that.

The game is a match three set collection game with a corruption mechanism. I feel like it really exemplifies these types of game systems while remaining engaging and strategic.

5. May: Area Control Programming Game

I’ve only had the chance to play this prototype once. The systems work really well, but the gameplay and overarching strategy and narrative really needs work.

The game is mostly designed to be an euro style area control game, that works to keep player disappointment and salt to a minimum. To achieve this, I’m trying to put in systems that allow players to feel like they are building up an engine that can work, regardless if the main goals of the game are being accomplished.

6. June: …And That’s When…

This game prototype isn’t so much of a game as an activity. It’s a story-telling game with a fun twist, literally.

Players start by reading a story prompt. Then they have to talk about the subject for a specified time (30 seconds or 1 minute), minimum. After they finish their story, they flip a non-sequitur card and that becomes the story’s conclusion. An example would be, “Describe your favorite childhood memory…” The player does so. They are prompted by the game to be as descriptive and as genuine as possible. Once their story is complete, they flip a card that says, “…and that’s how I learned that peanuts are neither peas nor nuts!”

The goal of the game is to allow people the freedom to talk about their lives in a open and fun way. And, hopefully, the non-sequiturs are super random and very hilarious.

Future Times

I have future projects coming up as well. I look forward to sharing them with my friends and the world. I plan on updating this blog with my projects as I move through the year.

Happy Game-Making,