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Shot in the Back

1 Dec

Since I’m posting this after midnight it is now December and NaGa DeMon is over .  How did I do? Well … erruhhmmm … it’s not my fault.  (Yup here come the excuses)  As I was in the middle of printing some of the components my no good yella-bellied computer up and died on me. No foolin.  Dead – stone cold dead.  It was like being shot square in the back.  I dragged its carcass down to the electronic undertaker/mad-scientist who assures me that all (most?) of my files can be salvaged. When he brings me my files he will be paid a handsome reward. KenMGames most wanted will not get away that easily!

So where does that leave Freedom Springs?  Cooling its heels behind bars for a few more days at least.  I’ve been reworking some of my backups but it will take time so I ask you all to be patient with me. I will make it available soon.   The game exists, and it’s not even half-bad for a rough prototype. (Not that I’d go so far as to say its half-good though).   So in the meantime I will keep on playtesting and rules tweaking and for you I put together a picture of me having fun with the game  – consider it a consolation prize from me to you – or consider it a little salt in yer wound, a little spit in yer eye … enjoy!

A Sneek Peek …

19 Nov

For the past couple of days I’ve been crunching some numbers (trying to balance certain character elements). It’s fun for me but kind of dry for you I’m sure.  It’s all about finding a good balance where every character seems a little different, but no one of them is so lop-sidedly powerful that everyone who wants to win will take him/her.

Much of this number work has been broken up with scanning pictures from old library books, reading up on the Old West, coming up with some very brief back stories for the characters, and working on an initial design for the character cards.  Here for your viewing “pleasure” is a mock-up of a sample character card front and back. Things may yet change and Lloyd may not make it into the game, or at least not quite like this … consider this a proof of concept that I’m still working on seeing this game completed by the end of November!

Lining Up the Bones

15 Nov

OK, I have my basic theme, I have stalled for time, I have played hooky and I have run out of excuses … so let’s get down to business.  The basic structure of the Game. I envision what basically boils down to a gambling game Old West style.  (Anytime gunfights are involved I figure it is a huge gamble).  2 to for players seems like a good range to work with.  Each player will be given (at random) or will choose three outlaws who will team up to try and win enough money to buy their freedom from the good townsfolk of Freedom Springs. They will use one of these three characters each over three distinct rounds. Some will be better at the gambling.  Some better at the shooting. Each will have a price on their head that must be paid off for the team to win their freedom. Some will be small potatoes (not as good at things but not in as much trouble with the law so less to pay at the end). Some women but mostly men (women generally have better sense than this). Each player will have a special ability (or two) that will allow them to “bend the rules” a little at some point in the game. Each will also begin with varying amounts of money to their name.

Each round will begin in the Saloon with a hand of (slightly modified) Texas Hold’em. The object in this turn is to win as much money as you can at the expense of the other players. At the end of the showdown the action moves out into the street. Any player character  involved in the card game can call out another player for a gunfight. You don’t have to call someone out, but you can’t refuse anyone if you are called out. The gunfight is resolved with a round of (again, slightly modified) Blackjack. [I’ve always thought that Blackjack has one of the most tense reveals in cards – just like the building tension and split second reveal of a gunfight] Through the scoring of the Blackjack hand characters may come out unscathed, wounded or dead. Additional bounties (rewards) may be paid out, again going toward ransoming your teams freedom. Problem is you still got to pay for your dead partner’s amnesty (them’s the rules). At the end of three rounds the player who has made enough money to buy the freedom of his outlaws (assuming they are still alive) wins the game.

Components for this game will then require a deck of cards, lots of poker chips / play money, and at least 12-15 outlaw characters (which will need to be balanced in what they can do and what they will cost) with some little back story for each.

Well that’s the skeleton of the game. Look for me to begin fleshing it out over the coming few days. Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know.

Freedom Springs

12 Nov

The Old West is a rough-and-tumble range where things can happen.  Bad things. Maybe you meant for it to happen. Maybe you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe you were framed by someone truly bad. I don’t reckon it matters much now. You’re a wanted criminal, partner. And wanted men don’t last long in these parts.  It ain’t no way for a soul to live, always looking over yer shoulder – sleeping with one eye open.  If only there was a way to get out from under the Law. If only there were a way to clear your name and start over again.  And then you hear the rumours of a place where your every dream can come true … for a price. And so you strap on your guns and  head out again … this time on the trail to freedom.

The Old West is a rough and tumble place to try and make a living. Life in the  town of Freedom Springs is hard enough without the added trouble of rustlers, murderers and thieves blowin through every other day.  It’s bad for business. It’s worse for the Law. And then one day after the third robbery in a month the mayor and the sheriff come up with a devious idea. An idea that has the potential of not only getting the worst scum off your streets, but also of putting a little money and fame in your town’s coffers at the same time. 

And so the word is sent out, the Town of Freedom Springs will now live up to its name. Once a year a contest will be held. Anyone in trouble with the Law can come and win their freedom. Of course it will cost you, but if you can pay (and if you survive) then a full pardon will be writ and you are Free to ride off into the sunset without ever having to look over your shoulder again. 

Freedom Springs is a Highfaluting’ Card Game for 2-4 people, where players will control a group of outlaws seeking to earn enough money to pay off the Law and win a full pardon. Will you do it by Card Sharpin’ in the local tavern? Or will you go straight for the throat by callin’ out the other scum to collect the reward when you’ve gunned them down in the streets?  Can you make enough money to buy your Freedom, or will you die like a dog? By sundown we’ll know …

So there’s my NaGa DeMon idea … what do you think so far? Let me know.  I will begin posting some game mechanic ideas tomorrow.

Time Out For Games …

11 Nov

You may have begun to wonder where I went.  I was playing hooky.  Well actually I was playing games.  It is a rarer treat for me than I would like to admit.  First I was privileged to take part in Protospiel North in conjunction with Hammercon III in Hamilton.  Many thanks to Francois for planning and organizing this wonderful event!  I had a great two days of playing some really top-notch prototypes and getting some invaluable feeback on a design or two of my own.  The guys from Game Artisans of Canada were extremely hospitable and welcoming and it was a real treat to be part of it all.

Upon returning home from that I was promptly off to a conference for work but in the evenings I was able to get together with some of the guys for cards.  What a nice way to spend a couple of evenings after a long day of filling your head full of knowledge. I taught Scopa to a couple of people and learned a new game (going by about 12 different names apparently) myself.

Did it get me any further on my own game design? Well … not really… But it did re-energize me for the design process. (All work and no play … as the saying goes).  And since I was in the car a lot over the past few days I did have time to think (always a dangerous thing). The beginnings of a game are stewing up nicely so check back tomorrow and I will have a brief introduction to the fabled town of  Freedom Springs.

Choices, choices …

3 Nov

Alright, so the first day of the NaGa DeMon challenge was given to mulling over some interesting choices.  First off – do I work out a game that is already well underway? This doesn’t seem like it would be playing by the rules.  If too much has already been done on it then it is not really being accomplished in the month of November … just finished (although finished would be a good thing too!)

Second thing – do I start completely from scratch? Come up with an idea from somewhere, hoping that inspiration will strike before the stroke of midnight November 30th?  Knowing my schedules, personal issues, and past history this didn’t seem like such a good idea either. (Not to mention that giving my self potentially only seconds to design, build and play a game doesn’t bode well for the quality either.)

Third thought – maybe I could look at an idea I have already had, that’s just sort of tumbling around in my folder – one with little or no work done on it yet. This seems better suited to both the spirit of the challenge and the spirit of my unreliability.  There are no few ideas rolling around in the back of my head that I could bring out and put forward. There is the game system I’ve been contemplating. There is the game system of someone else I have had a few ideas for. There is the project I would like to do with my son. There are a whole whack of terrible ideas that could maybe find a glimmer of potential if given new eyes or a new direction.

And then it hit me … Crow.  Well, Crow didn’t actually hit me, but the promise I made to this very patient individual some time ago sure did.  You may see in one of my previous posts a request for a Cowboy style game that I said would be interesting to try. And then life got away with me and apparently I found other more interesting things to do with my time (did I mention that I have another potential game player on the way?) … anyway…

Now’s my opportunity to fix that (mostly) broken promise.  So my NaGa DeMon game will be something to do with the Old West! (Cause there just isn’t enough of them this last while.) What form it will take, and what it will be about I’m not sure just yet. The one thing I can tell you is that it will be worth every penny I sell it for! Stay tuned for my initial thoughts. And if you have any suggestions let me know … I’d be interested in your input.

National Game Design Month (Na Ga DeMon)

1 Nov

I suppose I could begin by asking you to play a game with me wherein I will give you all the reasons (excuses) for why I haven’t been posting more games lately. I would list them out in vivid detail and you would then respond by guessing if they are true or not.  I could say things like:

I have been struggling with health issues these past  few months (True),

or That I have been asked to design a very top-secret game for our clandestine alien overlords for their use in global domination (Not so  True),

or That I’ve just been so busy with life and family and work lately (varying shades of “True” in this one).

But then, that isn’t much of an apology is it?  In place of such silliness I could also tell you that in recent months I have been in contact with a group of very talented and dedicated Canadian Game Designers and as a result have been re-evaluating what I have been doing with (and what I would like to do with) my game designs.  I will be the first to admit that much of what I have made available so far is pretty raw. If you have had fun with them I am thankful and happy. But in the coming months and years I think I want to go back through my catalog and reinvest some time and energy in improving them. Tightening the game-play, reworking the themes and/or components, and throwing out the stuff that just doesn’t live up to my (newly elevated) standards of mediocrity.

And finally, in light of both these points, I am today embarking on a brand new project called the National Game Design Month.  I found this just the other day and thought it looked really neat.  My props to Nathan Russell for getting the ball rolling on this!

So … Call it an apology for recent idleness. Call it one last kick-at-the-can for raw designs of yesteryear. Call it an invitation to travel with me over the coming 30 days and see into the mind of the man who has always been Happy to put ‘More’ into the Moronic. Over the Month of November I will be posting my thoughts and my progress as I design a game for NaGa DeMon. I would love to get your feedback and your input on the way and at the end of the process (Nov. 30th) I will – if all goes according to plan – have a new game for y’all.

Let’s have at it!