Saturday, July 29, 2017

The List - July 2017

GenCon is coming up again, and it's been a while since I've taken a look at The List to take stock of my designs and prototypes. Let's take a look at where things stand, shall we? Published Games:
Terra Prime (BGG)
Eminent Domain (BGG)
Eminent Domain: Escalation (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Exotica (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Microcosm (BGG)
- Isle of Trains (BGG)
Eminent Domain: Oblivion (expansion)
Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (BGG)

Finished But Unpublished Games:
Exhibit (BGG link)
Eminent Domain: the Dice Game
Dice Works (BGG link)
Wizard's Tower (BGG link)
- Now Boarding
- Isle of Trains: All Aboard (expansion)
Suburban Sprawl

Current Active Designs:
Deities and Demigods
Joan of Arc

Recent Designs That Are Not On The Front Burner:
Odysseus: Winds of Fate (BGG)
Alter Ego (BGG link)
The Pony Express
Moctezuma's Revenge

Old Standbys - games which have been around, 1/2 done and untouched, for years:
8/7 Central
Hot & Fresh
Reading Railroad
- All For One (BGG)

Old Ideas that Haven't Gone Anywhere (Yet) - some of these have been getting stale as well:
Investigative/Tabloid Journalism
Red Colony
Clash of the Kingpins
Time = Money
Dating Game
Ticket Please
- Scourge of the High Seas
Rondel Role Selection

Let's take a closer look at some of these:
Published games:
Terra Prime (BGG)
Last time I said "I'd love to bring back Terra Prime as a 2nd edition, with updated rules, expansion included, and set in the Eminent Domain universe. It'd be called Eminent Domain: Origins, and one of these days it may be possible."

Well, the time is growing nearer and nearer! Eminent Domain Origins is officially on the list for TMG publication. At this point it might be good to have that be a "TMG's 10th anniversary" release (maybe along with Homesteaders re-release) -- but like James Ernest did, maybe we could do that, but not really wait until the 10 year mark. Maybe a 9-1/2th anniversary would suffice, which would be late 2018 (which is when this might actually happen).
Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (BGG)
I'm happy to report that this game is about to go into production, not only as a fine game from TMG, but as a Deluxified(tm) product! The kickstarter for it runs through August 4th (6 more days as I type this), and we're currently about to break $230,000 in funding. With 6 more days, and considering the common influx of funding at the end of a project, I would not be surprised if this game breaks $300k. Not TMG's biggest funding, but close!

The Deluxified version will have awesome plastic minis for knights and buildings (in addition to silkscreened wood), spot UV on the knight order tiles and game board, and a few other great upgrades. The retail version will be very nice as well, but the Deluxified version is going to be super fancy!
Eminent Domain: Oblivion (expansion)
The 3rd expansion to Eminent Domain is finally in production, and should be out later this year -- possibly debuting at Essen!

Finished But Unpublished Games:
Exhibit (BGG link)
No change here. I'm still disappointed in the status of Exhibit. A European publisher was very interested, but a difference of opinion on whether a certain person's IP rights were infringed caused it to be canceled altogether. I checked with an IP lawyer to ensure that my understanding was correct, which it was, but I don't blame the publisher for not wanting to get into the middle of it. The whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth. It's too bad, because the game is good.
Now Boarding
I worked on this with Tim Fowers, who's since published several games via kickstarter: his co-op game Burgle Brothers, his 2 player deduction game Fugitive, and most recently, a follow up to his deck building word game Paperback (the follow up is called Hardback). He took Now Boarding in another direction, and I thought he was about done with it. Maybe it'll be his next kickstarter project :)
Suburban Sprawl
My entry to the DHMG/GTG dexterity game contest also fits their previous contest, using only about 56 cards. In Suburban Sprawl you toss cards into play to build Residential, Commercial, Industrial, and Civic buildings. I'm going for a light, quick game with a sort of SimCity feel that's easy to learn and play. Matthew Dunstan helped with this one, but it did not win the contest. Maybe it'll see the light of day some day, but I haven't tried to pitch it to anyone yet. I was thinking maybe TMG could set it in the Flip City universe, with similar artwork, but I'm afraid that perhaps a dexterity game might not go over too well with our audience.
Isle of Trains: All Aboard (expansion)
Dan Keltner and I created an expansion to Isle of Trains for Dice Hate Me/Greater Than Games to follow up our contest winning entry. We submitted the final game to them quote some time ago (December 2015 I think), and they kept planning a Kickstarter, then delaying it for various reasons. However, Chris Kirkman assures me that they're still excited about it, they've started getting art done for it, and that it will likely go up on Kickstarter in 2018.

Current Active Designs:
Deities and Demigods
Another attempt at Deck Learning, Deities and Demigods is like a role selection game, but the game calls the roles, and in random order. Players will have some control over which roles are in the deck, and can upgrade their efficiency at each role. The effects of the roles will allow players to move armies around a map in an effort to complete quests/tasks and control cities.

I put a lot of work into this one lately, and I think it's about done. Most recently I added a bunch of player powers to try out, and I haven't had a chance to do that yet.

- Automatown
A new idea that I quickly made a prototype for and I've tested a few times so far. The idea is that you work in a factory making robots, so you make robots to work the assembly line for you. But why stop there? With an army of robots behind you, you could take over the factory, the city, or even the world! It's a worker placement game where you get and exchange resources in order to build more robots from blueprint cards. Each blueprint has a specific cost, a strength, and an ability, but any blueprint can be built out of scrap to just be a simple robot with no ability. So far it seems to have potential, but it still feels like an early design.
- Joan of Arc
I had an idea to do a follow up game to Orleans about Joan of Arc, co-brand it and put it out as a TMG/DLP partnership. I have made some good progress so far, but I still have a lot of work to do on it. In the game, players are each a different saint, giving visions to Joan of Arc. That is to say all players control a single Joan of Arc figure on the game board. You'll move her around, train her in different weapons, and have her win battles for points or in-game benefits. The action is driven by a bag building mechanism, where you draw tiles out of your bag and place them on your player board, then activate certain subsets of them. Originally, your player board was going to be a rondel, but that didn't work right. I tried a different idea, and that was a step in the right direction, but now I have what I think may be an even better idea, I just need to try it. There are a few other changes I know I want to make, I just have to get around to making them and trying the game some more.

Recent Designs That Are Not On The Front Burner:
Alter Ego (BGG link)
Mike's always been a fan of this one. Alter Ego finally shaped up a while ago, but I just haven't been playing it, so it hasn't finished up. I had hope that with a little TMG Utah input and some nice art, this could potentially be ready for a GenCon 2016 release, but that never came to pass. I need to get this one back on the front burner and finish it up!
Odysseus: Winds of Fate (BGG)
I keep circling and iterating on this one. I need to implement the most recent change ideas and try it again. This is basically the story of this game's life... I should probably move it to the "Old Standbys" section.
Moctezuma's Revenge
This one ALMOST returned from the dead, as John Gilmour started to work on it with me, but that was short lived, as he had something come up and couldn't devote the time to that project anymore. Still, revisiting the game brought some improvements to it, so some progress was made. I don't know if or when I'll revisit it again though.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On the theme of Crusaders

The Crusades were a thing that happened in history, and with them are associated myriad things -- not the least of which were atrocities committed in the name of religious war. There are some who have seen the title of my new game on kickstarter, Crusaders: Thy Will be Done, and assuming it is based on those atrocities, have decided it's not for them -- which, to be clear, is perfectly fine. However, just to let everyone know where I was coming from, here's how I came to that theme and title.  If you are a long-time reader of my blog, then you probably know this already: 

Originally, the theme was the Knights Templar. Players would increase the influence of the Templars until such time as King Philip freaks out and disbands them. However, as players competed with each other to win the game, it didn't make a lot of sense for them all to be Templars, so I looked up a bunch of other similar factions. Sure, they weren't all active at the same time, and they didn't all suffer the same fate as the Knights Templar -- but this was never intended to be historically accurate to begin with, so I took some artistic license there. But now that there were other factions, I needed a title that made sense, one that incorporated various different militaristic orders of knights, and preferably one which sounded cool. "Crusaders" made sense, as many of those orders were notably involved with the crusades.

That said, the game is mostly about those order building up their influence, not about the crusades themselves (and the atrocities involved there). Hence the name "Crusaders," and not "Crusades." Unfortunately, I guess those two words are similar enough, and the proximity of those orders to the action of the crusades is close enough, that some people are not going to be interested in the game just based on the theme -- and again, that's fine. There's a thread on BGG about it, which is pretty civil as complaint threads go. It's odd, on the one hand I have people saying "how can you have a game about the crusades that doesn't include the Holy Land on the map!?" (i.e. it's not realistic enough). And on the other hand I have people saying "how can you make a game glorifying wars based on hate?" (i.e. it's too realistic).

I'd take a lot of flack if I said the game wasn't about the crusades. I mean, it's called "Crusaders," and there's a "crusade" action in which you fight against [enemies that wikipedia told me those orders fought against]. So I've been saying that it's LESS about the crusades, and MORE about the orders building themselves up. But even if that information would assuage some people's concerns (and for some, it won't), they probably wouldn't get that far before getting a bad taste from the title and perceived theme :/

This is the first time I've had to wrestle with this kind of dynamic on one of my games... nobody complained about the potential genocide involved in annexing planets in Eminent Domain, and nobody worried about whether the rail workers in Isle of Trains were paid a fair wage. I've played a host of games with potentially problematic themes or dynamics, some, like the slave cards in Five Tribes, spurred a lot of discussion in various forums, while others, like assassins in Five tribes, notably didn't. 

Maybe I'm naive, but when I learned and played Puerto Rico so many years ago, it did not even occur to me that the "colonists" were de facto slaves. I just assumed they were your "workers", which meant they got paid -- just outside the scope of the game. Only years later did I notice people pointing out that the pieces used to represent the colonists were dark brown in color. I never considered that that might have been a deliberate choice, or have any meaning to the game. Even still, Puerto Rico was played by thousands, and topped the charts for a decade, despite this whole colonist/slave thing.

But I digress... As far as Crusaders is concerned, I reiterate that from my point of view, the game is about the militaristic orders building up influence until eventually disbanded by the king. I do not support the atrocities associated with the crusades, but neither do I think this game glorifies them. That was certainly not my intent.

I hope that people aren't being mislead by the theme of this game! But if you are, then maybe my comments above will help give a better idea of the extent to which the theme applies. And if it's still not your thing, then that's fine -- plenty of other games to play!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Crusaders: Thy Kickstarter be Funded

TMG has been seeing some success with our Deluxified(TM) line of games...

Orleans Deluxe was (and still is) a big hit. Yokohama Deluxe set a record for TMG first-day KS funding ($85,000) as well as total funding for the project ($430,000). The people have spoken, and what they've said was basically "I don't want to miss out on TMG Deluxified(TM) stuff!".

As such, I was super excited with the decision to make my next game, Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done, a TMG Deluxified(TM) product! I was sure this meant that a lot of people would go in on it, and the game would end up being played and enjoyed by a wide range of people. And based on Yokohama's performance, I was pretty sure we'd see some decent funding numbers as well.

Now on Kickstarter!

But Yokohama had been released by the original publisher, a bunch of people had already played and liked it, and I would wager Hisashi Hiyashi is a bigger name than Seth Jaffee. So I did NOT expect Crusaders to outperform Yokohama's first-day AND second day funding! Crusaders hit $85,000 by 5pm on launch day, and hit $100,000 by the time I woke up the next morning.

But I guess it makes sense. With each Deluxified(TM) project, we gain more followers. More people who miss out on the deluxe copies and regret it. More people who get excited for the next one.

I hope this trend continues, it would be great if my game holds the record for biggest funding level in TMG history, at least until the next Deluxified(TM) kickstarter ;)

And I think there's a strong chance it will continue... the stretch goals are really nice, and they certainly add a lot of value to the box. Here's the current stretch goal image showing what we've unlocked so far, and the next few items which we'll unlock if we reach the funding levels indicated:

Stretch goal graphic from KS page - 7/15/2017

We have some more ideas for good, useful things to add if and when we exceed $230,000 as well.

So, if you read this blog, then you've probably seen me ramble on about my Knights Templar game for the last 4 or 5 years. If you haven't done it yet, check out the kickstarter project and see how it's shaped up!

I don't like to ask people to buy something, but please take a look and see if it seems like your thing. If not, no big deal. The only favor I'd ask is that if you know someone who might be interested, please let them know this exists so they can check it out too!


Frustrating mistake! Deleted comments and they hadn't posted :(

Yesterday I noticed 3 comments on my blog, and they were from a new reader. I love to see that people are reading what I write! I mostly do this for myself, but it makes me feel better to think I'm not just screaming into the void :)

Blogger has a page where you can review comments, and you can publish them by clicking "publish," delete them by clicking "delete," and mark them as spam by clicking "spam." Unfortunately, I get WAY too many spam comments to avoid this type of moderation, but it's not that big a deal... I just go to that page sometimes to see if anybody's posted, read it to make sure it's not spam, then publish the comments.

So last night I hit "publish" on each of these comments, and then I deleted them Only it turns out that for whatever reason, they didn't actually post! So they're gone now :( I don't see any way to get them back (no "trash" tab like email has, for example).

So I apologize, Anonymous User (who said his name was.... dang... Michael I think?) who has just started reading my blog. I am very sad to have lost your comments! I hope you keep reading an comment again in the future!

- Seth

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Dallas and Seattle trip

Not much game design in the last week or so, as I've been on summer vacation...

I spent the 4th of July in Dallas with Michelle's family, and was also able to see my friend Brian. We ddin't do much in the way of gaming, but one afternoon we did play some Werewords and a little Wordsy. Werewords has gone over really well two out of two times so far.

In Seattle I normally play a lot of games, though so far we've done some touristy stuff and have only played one. We went on the Underground tour, which was cool, and we saw a lovely winery (Chateau Saint Michelle). We also saw what my sister billed as the tallest waterfall in the country (Snoqualmie Falls in Issaquah). We went to a movie, Wonder Woman, which was OK I guess, not sure it lived up to all the hype I've heard. And we met some of my friends for dinner. After dinner, we did play one game: Rialto, by Stephan Feld. Rialto is one that TMG imported a few years ago, and I haven't played it in a long time. I enjoy that one, and managed a win despite having very little board presence for end game scoring. I got some blue buildings, and used them to get quite a few points directly, I scored one of the two 5 point bonus tiles, and I dominated 1 region for 12 points or so, and got a 2nd place and a few 3rd place majority scorings.

Today I'm heading to MOX Boarding House, and I look forward to playing some more games! I'm bringing a full-art prototype of Crusaders with me to show off, and I intend to get photos of people playing, and maybe record reactions afterward for potential use in the kickstarter project, which goes live NEXT TUESDAY, July 11!

I will probably try and play Bear Park to show my Seattle friends, but Michelle isn't as big a fan of that one as I am, so maybe that's not as high a priority.

Time to go to MOX! :)