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State of the Gaming Address

26 Mar

Imagine my surprise and chagrin when I realized that it had been over a year since I had last posted here … and that in that time I had learned the word “chagrin” … As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been taking a little different tack to my game designing, you know, like, trying to make a decent one sometime.

To this end I have been refocusing my efforts on taking my designs past the very first rudimentary stages of jotting down an idea, writing some rules and playtesting it against myself a few times. Now I actually have some friends to tell me when things are not good. (They are much more willing to hurt my feelings than I ever was – and I am most thankful for it!) Give me a few more years of toughening up my skin and I may yet reach my lofty goal of blazing mediocrity.

But just so you know that I haven’t been idle I thought I would give you a little teaser of some of the projects I have been working on in the past year.  Here they are in no particular chronological order …

First, as I also mentioned in that previous post, I have begun going back into my catalog of crap and doing some re-working. O Tannen BOOM! got a bit of a face lift, and a couple of mechanical changes to really heighten the tension, and timing. Behind the 8-Ball got totally reworked, scrapped, rebuilt into Cue It Up!, and then scrapped and re-shelved. I am hoping something gels and I get some inspiration again soon. Pay the Prize also got a major overhaul, into something I’m now calling Profit Margins. I like where it is going. I have also revisited Balloon Tycoon, and I like what I see there …

420091_10150704129492059_1014883846_ncue it upProfit Margins

Next up I have been working on some new stuff too. For now I will let the pictures do the talking. I’m getting kind of tired (did I mention it’s been over a year since I did this much writing?)

Pillars and Postshold fast picDonkeyMonkey moonInfectiousCaverns and CoffersOver the Rainbow Proto

Some of these are actually pretty good, and at least a couple of them are worth publishing (if playtester reports are true … and not just my own opinion … )

And lastly, I have also worked collaboratively with a couple of really awesome designers, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve put together. Look for promising futures out of both of these creative minds. May I present the designs of Sam Maher (age 8) and Becca Maher (age 6)

Castle BuilderPippi Game

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my missing year in game design. If you would like to know more about any of the games you see here, or serve as a playtester for something here that looked interesting to you please drop me a line and I will be tickled to send you the particular files (seriously, all this typing after a year of nothing is tickling my fingertips like you wouldn’t believe!)

Happy Gaming!

Frozen Fountain Tag

18 Jul

Yet another variation on the classic childhood game of “Tag.”

ball tag

AGES: 3+


NEEDED: One large ball (soccer ball, kick ball, etc) a group of kids, and (some) room to run.

GAME RULES: To begin the game everyone starts together in the middle of the yard or the field.  The player who is “IT” (choose however you like) begins the game by throwing the ball straight up in the air.  The ball should go at least 10-20 feet up (decide with all players what you think is appropriate based on age).

As soon as the ball is thrown all the other players scatter and run.  When the player who is “IT” catches the ball they yell out “Freeze!” Everyone must stop immediately.  Without moving from the spot where it was caught, the ball is then rolled at any of the other players.

If it touches any part of that player they are now “IT” and play continues with the new person picking up the ball, throwing it (at which all players run again), catching and calling out.  IF the player misses, they must go pick up the ball and repeat the process.

GAME NOTES: The player who is it may throw the ball at an angle as long as it still goes up high enough before coming down.  The person who is “IT” may not yell out “Freeze!” until the ball is caught.  If they drop the ball they must chase it, pick it up, and then and only then call out “Freeze!”  Any player who moves in any way trying to avoid the ball is automatically “IT.”

This game is best if played in large groups in a relatively small yard or field.  Obstacles like trees and other people are also a lot of fun!

DESIGNER’S NOTES: Many thanks to Wil, Derek, and Myles who spent many hours in granny’s backyard playtesting this with me so many years ago.  Too bad I don’t have any of the photos left for blackmail!

Pencil Dice

17 Jul

What follows is not a full-fledged game, but a game related idea that you may appreciate. (Or not …)

game books

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of the good old game books of yesteryear.  Fighting Fantasy, Middle Earth Quest, etc … you name it – I’ve probably played it!  These little game books are one of my all-time favourite ways of spending my down-time while on summer holidays.  All you need is the book, a scrap of paper and a pencil and one or two dice.  But that’s the draw-back isn’t it?  Who carries around a set of dice with them all the time?  Who hasn’t lost a die or two in their day?   Some books have random number generators built in but none are as much fun as rolling the dice, and some are just plain awkward.  If only there was a more elegant solution …

Well now there is!

Try this out for yourself.  Take a good old fashioned pencil – orange with six sides (like you will need to play the game anyway) and put the numbers 1-6 around one end of it.  It doesn’t really matter in what order, just so long as each face of the pencil only has one number on it.  Now whenever your game book needs dice rolling just use the pencil instead.  Roll the pencil and read the number that faces up.

pencil dice

Do it to all your pencils and you will never be without a d6 ever again!  Results may vary for those who tend to chew their pencils.

Waiting At Tables

12 Dec

waitOK … So this isn’t a picture of the game itself. It’s me and my brother eating poutine in Ottawa. I hadn’t even invented this game when the picture was taken. But you can bet that if I had we would have been even happier than you see us here! (Yikes) Waiting at tables is actually a series of little games designed to pretty much just waste time!

Ages: 7+

Players: 2 (or 2 teams)

Interesting features: No more trying to come up with new and interesting things to say while you wait for your food and no more awkward silences! (this game is a real marriage saver! ) Just be prepared for a lot of fun and strange looks from everyone around you!

Extras Needed: Only whatever you have in front of you on the table (or you can have your wife carry around extra sugar packets in her purse … just in case there’s not enough)



Printing Suggestions: Print a copy of the rules on EACH side of an 8.5X11″ sheet of paper. Cut it in half and you now have 2 copies of the rules! (It’s like magic) Why not give one to a friend or leave one with your server (CAUTION: you will also want to leave a healthy sized tip if you decide to do the latter).

Designer’s Notes: This past year my wife and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. What I have learned is that sometimes you run out of things to say to one another. Like when you’re waiting for your food in a restaurant. My wife doesn’t mind sitting in silence (many times I’m sure she would prefer it to some of the things I go on about), but I need to be doing something. One evening we were in just such a situation while in a local eatery. I started playing around with all the different stuff on the table. “There’s gotta be a game in all of this somewhere.” I said to myself. “That’s nice dear,” she absently replied. “Now shush!”