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!

Freedom Springs

14 Feb

Freedom Springs: Redemption has a price … and it might just be your life!

Ages: 10+ (for thematic content)

Players: 3 – 5

Interesting Features: The gambling games you know and love … with a twist … and a guy nicknamed “locoweed”

Extras Needed: a deck of playing cards,poker chips (in at least three distinct denominations/colours) and the included Character Cards (below).

DOWNLOAD: Character Cards


Printing Suggestions: Everything prints onto standard Letter size pieces of paper. The Character Cards can be printed on a full page label and applied (front and back) to some heavy card.

Designer’s Notes: Add the NaGa DeMon Challenge, an outstanding request for an Old West game, and more gumption than brains on my part, and what you get (three months late) is an Old West gambling game. Why gambling? Whenever I think of the old west one of the first images that comes to mind are poker games in a saloon. The second is a gunfight in the dusty streets. And lets face it, any time gunfights are invovled the whole thing is one great big gamble!

–  –  –

Designer’s Apology and Offering: The fact that this November Game Design Month Challenge is only now being published here for your enjoyment says about all there is to say about my life recently. Work, health, family additions … sometimes the game design has to come second (or third or last) … BUT you dear friend(s) and fan(s) NEVER will!  To thank you for all your patience with me, and to bribe you into playing the game I propose the following.

Give the game a try. Send me your feedback (the good, the bad and the ugly). Give me your suggestions. Ask me your questions. Helpme tweak it and make it even better. In return I will design an additional set of Outlaws using YOU! Along with your feedback send me a picture and a Cowboy name for yourself (or I can give you one) and I will work you into the expansion as one of Freedom Springs notorious Outlaws. Send these to “kenmgames @” This expansion will also allow for more players to be included in each game. Thanks again for your support!

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.