Sunday, June 20, 2021

Prototype revival: Skye Frontier

 It's been about 3.5 years since the last time I played Skye Frontier, my Isle of Skye/King of Frontier mashup. Of course, it's one of those "designs with so much potential" that I know so well. I seem to have a lot of those, don't I? Backburnered, or forgotten games that I think have "so much potential" every time I read my old notes about them...

Well, a little while ago it occurred to me how easy it would be to make a TTS mod for this game, as long as I could find a mod for Isle of Skye -- just add a few infinite bags with gray, green, and blue cubes, and that's it! So that's what I have done, and now I have a virtual prototype of Skye Frontier!

In addition, I noticed a comment on that old blog post (linked above) from Michael Brown, a Utah based designer who has commented a lot on my posts, done some playtesting for some of my games, and came on board as a co-designer on Automatown. The comment was saying that if he could pick up a copy of Isle of Skye, then he'd give my mashup a try. I didn't feel at all bad about that, because even if he didn't like my mashup, Isle of Skye is a fantastic game all its own :)

I emailed Michael to see if he ever did pick up a copy of Isle of Skye, and if so, whether he had tried Skye Frontier at all. I didn't expect that he would have even remembered that, but if he had, I was interested to hear about it! As it turned out, he had not gotten Isle of Skye, but had been meaning to for a few years, so he went to his FLGS and picked up a copy, then he gathered the cubes needed to try Skye Frontier, and gave it a play with his wife. He wrote a nice, detailed blog post about his session.

Now, in talking about that session with him, it seems he played a few rules wrong... they didn't take VP out of the supply when completing areas, and they doubled the points from scroll tiles. But I think the sum total of that was mostly that the game may have gone a little longer than it should have (which favored his heavy shipping strategy over Alison's more generalized strategy) - at the very least, the final shipping phase he mentioned (which netted Mike +6 points on Alison) wouldn't have happened. But at the same time, un-doubling the scroll tiles would cause a similar net loss for Alison, so the final score might not have been much different after all (hard to be certain).

From the session report in that blog post, it sounded like the game was fairly close, with two really divergent strategies, so that generally sounds good. On the down side, Mike felt like his strategy was degenerate and boring, and if a strategy is degenerate and boring, then I'd prefer it not also be competitive. However, it also sounded like perhaps Alison would have done well to stop choosing Produce once Mike got that big lake set up... but then again, leaving that to Mike means she wouldn't have gotten as many cubes. Hard to say if she could have played differently to overtake the big shipping strategy.

In any case, I've got a TTS mod for the game all set up now, and I'd love to give it a shot one of these days and see how the latest version holds up. I worry a little if the Explore action isn't still a little bit too good/juicy.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Division of Labor (I-Cut-You-Choose Worker Placement game) - quick thought on penalties

I just had a thought about the penalty tracks in this game. Here it is for reference. I'm happy to hear opinions on it in the comments, though without much context I don't know if it'll make a ton of sense:

Currently you advance once on each penalty track per cube of that color in the group where you place your worker. In other words, if you place in a space with 3-1-2-1 (red-green-blue-yellow) cubes, you would advance the red penalty track 3 times, the green and yellow ones once each, and the blue one twice. Granted, 7 cubes at once is probably uncommon, but that's just an example. Based on this, I can set the track lengths and penalties such that they'll fill up at about a certain rate - maybe for any given color, figure an average of 2 advances per turn, so if the first penalty is at space 7, that's about 4 turns - but it's variable based on whether you're concentrating on that color's action or not.

However, this can get a little swingy. If a space ends up with, for example, 5 red cubes, that's a significant penalty, and I'd hate for spaces to get so undesirable players don't want to choose them, lest they sit around all game, maybe gathering more and more cubes...

I was thinking about possible solutions to this potential problem, and came up with a few ideas. To keep spaces from becoming TOO poisonous, perhaps I need to limit the number of advances per track per turn somehow. Here are a few ways that could be done:

  1. Limit the number of cubes allowed per group. That's arbitrary and weird, and might cause problems where you can't split cubes properly if certain situations arise.
  2. Limit the number of advances per color. A simple version is that you only advance once on each track if there are any cubes of that color there (and of course you don't advance if there aren't). Or the limit could be some arbitrary number, like 3, which would preserve the current feel, but knock out the edge case where a space has a large number of cubes on it
  3. Institute a clearing mechanism - if a split puts a group over a certain size (maybe 6?), return all those cubes to the bag. This could be used aggressively to remove cubes from the board (is that good or bad?)
  4. Combine #2 and #3 above... after a split, discard any cubes beyond 3 of each color, and still advance once per cube on the penalty tracks. That would limit the penalty to 3 per color, and limits the power of actions as well, and it COULD be used to remove some cubes from play, if that's an interesting dynamic

Option #4 sounds interesting. A player could still boost their action by discarding cubes-in-hand, though I'm not sure how useful that would be.

Side note: Red and Blue actions keep getting better and better the more cubes there are (though the returns do diminish), but if you're only allowed to build 1 building or train 1 level per action, then the green and yellow actions miss out on utilizing extra cubes. Maybe you should be able to build/train as much as you can afford. I started with that rule, but thought I should switch to 1x/turn after the first playtest.

Just counting 0-1 penalty per track might be simpler, easier to grok, and quicker to recognize/resolve. It might also clear up any question about how boosting with cubes from hand works: if there's already a cube of that color, then you lose nothing by boosting whether you count the boosted cube or not (which might be a good thing rules-wise)

I'm happy to hear opinions or arguments for any of these schemes:

  • Penalize each track at most once, if there are any number of cubes of that type there
  • After splitting, discard cubes over 3 of each color
  • Arbitrarily limit penalties to 3 per color per turn (but don't discard any cubes)

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The List: circa June, 2021

I've decided it might be a good idea to reorganize The List, and I've updated the categories a little bit: 

Published Games - this hasn't changed much lately, but I hope more games will bump up soon:

Terra Prime (BGG)
Eminent Domain (BGG)
Eminent Domain: Escalation (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Exotica (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Oblivion (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Microcosm (BGG)
Isle of Trains (BGG)
Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (BGG)
Crusaders: Divine Influence (BGG) (expansion) [printed and waiting]
Dungeon Roll: Winter Heroes (BGG)
- Gold West: Bandits promo (BGG)
- Gold West: Trading Post promo (BGG)
- Yokohama: Achievements & Free Agents promo (BGG)
Brainfreeze

Finished But Unpublished Games - in line to be published:
Eminent Domain Origins [Ready to print]
- Crusaders: Crimson Knight (expansion) [Ready to print]
- Crusaders: Amber Knight (expansion) [Ready to print]
Eminent Domain: Chaos Theory (dice game) [Ready for art]

Currently Pitching Games - actively looking for a publisher:
Olympus on the Serengeti  (FKA Deities and Demigods - might go back to this title) [Art paused]
Apotheosis (Co-Design with Rick Holzgrafe) [pitching to publishers]
Sails & Sorcery [with Michael Mindes] [pitching to publishers]
Riders of the Pony Express (BGG) [pitching to publishers]
Exhibit (BGG) [pitching to publishers]
Keeping Up with the Joneses [pitching to publishers]
All For One (BGG) (Co-Design with David Brain) [pitching to publishers]

"Finished" But Unpublished Games - abandoned or backburnered designs that are "done":
Dice Works (BGG)
Wizard's Tower (BGG) [Abandoned]
- Isle of Trains: All Aboard (expansion)
Suburban Sprawl
Watch It Played [Abandoned]
Now Boarding [Abandoned]
Rolling RealmsJaffee Realms (for Jamey Stegmaier's Rolling Realms)

Current Active Designs - these are the games I'm actively testing or working on:

Backburnered Designs - I kid myself into thinking that I'm still working on these:
- Isle Of Trains: The Board Game (Co-Design with Dan Keltner)
Joan of Arc

Promising Recent ideas:
Worker-ception [with David Short]
False Prophet [Mancala/Worker Placement]
Come And Play [Sesame Street memory/rondel game]
Candyland Game [Candyland/No Thanks mashup]


Old Standbys - games which have been around, 1/2 done and untouched, for years:
8/7 Central [Abandoned]
Hot & Fresh [Abandoned]
Reading Railroad [Abandoned]
Kilauea [a designer showed interest in co-designing, but that didn't go anywhere]
Automatown [with Michael Brown]
Dynasty [I still think this one has potential]

Misc and Really Old Stuff - most of this I'll probably never get back to, but I like keeping it around just in case:
9-Ball
Blockade Runner
- Roman Emperors (my version of someone else's game)
- Admirals of the Spanish Main (my version of someone else's game)
-Scourge of the High Seas [deckbuilding game with 2 center rows]

Here are notable comments on some of the above titles:

Olympus on the Serengeti  (FKA Deities and Demigods - might go back to this title) [Art paused]
I have started pitching this game to publishers, and I'm really having second thoughts about the whole Lion King style theme idea... I'm pitching it with the original Deities & Demigods theme, and I'm hoping that an interested publisher will worry about the theme issues I'd mentioned.

I put some thought into this, drafted up some rules, and made a physical prototype to try out. A Twitter follower was kind enough to implement my prototype files on Tabletop Simulator as well, so I've managed a first run 2p game with Rick. It went OK, pretty good as first runs go in fact, and I have made some changes that sound promising for a second attempt. I missed out on playtesting last weekend, so I look forward to Saturday when I can hopefully give this one another go.

All For One (BGG) (Co-Design with David Brain) [pitching to publishers]
After 17 or 18 years, it's finally time I started pitching this game! The latest changes seemed very good, and I found some time to make a TTS mod for the game. I'm hoping I can get some plays in especially if any publishers bite on it. I've always said that (until recently) the biggest disappointment of my game design career is that All For One hasn't been published. I'm hoping to rectify that sometime soon.

Worker-ception [with David Short]
Since David Short came in on this with me, we made a little headway with regard to how the game should work. I even came up with a host of mini-games to try out, so it might not be too hard to put together a prototype for this one at this point. I should probably write up the current ideas in a blog post! However, it hasn't been as high a priority for me, and apparently not for David either, as communication on it kind of fizzled out a while ago. I'm pretty sure we both want to get back to this one though.

This idea always struck me as a potentially simple-yet-fun, accessible game on the order of Ticket to Ride, and every time I look back on it I wonder why I don't put together a prototype and give it a shot. My most recent posts on the game (circa: 2008? Geez!) still sounds viable, and not even that hard to make a prototype for! I am trying to convince myself to make this the next game I work on - I should be able to get something together on TTS without TOO much trouble. Who knows, maybe that'll spur some development... if it turns out to have promise after a first play.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

I-Cut-You-Choose Worker Placement: inaugural playtest and changes for next time

 Unfortunately, last weekend I was unable to do any playtesting, but the week before that I did manage to get a 2p test of the first draft of the I-Cut-You-Choose Worker Placement game (for lack of a better title, maybe Division of Labor?), and while just about every part of it needs some work, I'm relatively pleased with how it felt!

Prototype board

I have put together a physical prototype, but I'm not sure if I'll ever actually use it... I also uploaded those files to Tabletop Simulator (actually, someone volunteered to do that for me this time, and they did a much more sophisticated job than I probably would have!), and that's how I was able to get that first test in. The board I made is pretty uninspired:

First draft board for ICUC WP (working title: Division of Labor?)

Those center spaces are supposed to represent the spaceship / starting spaces, and even though it's awful graphic design, I was using those spaces as each player's starting 2 spaces. Yes, you'd split 8 cubes into 2 piles, and put them both into that odd shaped space -- that space was to act like 2 spaces at once. When you place there, you choose 1 pile of cubes and ignore the other, leaving it for the next person to place there. I have attempted to improve on that for next time, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet:
2nd draft of game board - to try next time
When splitting, follow the arrows
This was done in MS Paint, sorry about the 2 different styles of arrow!

This 2nd draft seems likely a little clearer, and closer to my initial intent to begin with. Each player now has their own 2 spaces (in their player color) in the center 3x3 section of the board. The very center space isn't really part of it, and neither are the 4 corners of the board (though I guess they could be). That leaves 44 spaces - I have no idea if that's a good or bad number!

8 does feel like a decent number of cubes to split at the beginning of each round. I've got players making that initial split concurrently, behind a screen, then revealing and placing the piles in the starting spaces. One question that came to mind is what to do if a starting space still has the 4 cubes from last round in it... presumably you'd add to them, which might be fine. I wonder if a max number of penalty track advances (per color) would be in order, mostly for that situation...

The player board worked as expected, as did the "research" track*. I had forgotten to make a file for penalty tracks, so the guy who made the mod for me did some up on his own.

* Side note: while I've been calling that a Research track, the buildings are more like your technologies, and the "research" ended up being extra workers and VP, so maybe better would be to call that a Training track

Training track and Workers

In the 1st draft, I went with [no effect] / [+1 worker] / [+1 worker] for the effects of the top token, and then [1vp] / [3vp] / [6vp] for the bottom token. I also started us each with 4 workers apiece. We were playing a 2 player game, and 4 workers to start felt like way too many. I could see more workers being a good idea in a game with more players, as there would be more spaces to utilize, but I'd have to try it to be sure. With 2 players I think perhaps starting with just 2 workers might be good (perhaps start with 2/3/4 workers for 2/3/4 player games).

Starting with too many workers already, adding another at 2 steps on the Training track seemed too easy, and the thought of adding a 2nd new worker on top of that didn't sound as attractive anymore, so next time I am going to try changing the 2nd space effect to [ne effect] instead of [+1 worker] and see if that feels more appropriate.

I also bumped up the VP values of the 2nd marker, as they just looked weak (not sure exactly what that should be worth yet).

Penalty tracks

I think the 1st draft penalty tracks might be a good length, but the penalties themselves need some work. The only in-game penalty that I could think of was increasing the cost of actions by a cube, but it turns out that causes some problems and raises a lot of questions. My opponent (Rick) suggested just making it loss of VP at game end, and that sounded like a good fix. I would have liked to have some in-game issue for players to have to deal with, but for now I'll try -2/-3/-5 VP (cumulative). You can still get out of these penalties (left to right) by covering hem with cubes "in hand" of the appropriate color.

The Actions

All of the actions in the game sort of worked, but it was a little weird how some of them (Explore, Experiment) worked no matter what, and some (Expand, Exploit) required a tile to have been Explored already in that location. I had figured it would work out, as Green and Blue cubes would just be "poison" if there wasn't a tile there yet, and Red cubes would become worth less and less as the board filled up with tiles. In a way, I like the sound of that, but realistically, it didn't feel great - a little too frustrating, especially if the red cubes just refuse to come out of the bag for some reason, and you just can't build anything at all.

Rick had a good suggestion for this as well: basically find a way to be able to Explore no matter what. My next draft will switch out the red action (Explore) with a new one: draw X cubes out of the cube bag and keep one of those "in hand," put the rest back in. Compare that to the Explore action, where you draw X tiles, choose 1, and get a bonus from it (which could be 1 cube in hand)... some of the tiles have no cube shown, so theoretically this new action will offer better choice of cube than Exploring (besides, if you take a cube when Exploring, then you're out a free scoring icon or building)

But we still need a way to draw tiles! So  let's say that ANY action could be used to Explore instead of the action indicated by the cubes' color. I think this will help a lot - you can ALWAYS explore, which populates the board with tiles, and gives you a thing, but maybe the specific actions are more efficient at their job. For example, Exploring can get you a Level-1 building for free, but your choice is limited, and it can never give you a Level-2 or 3 building at all. Similarly, Exploring can get you 1 scoring icon, but the Blue action can get you 1 per cube, so potentially several icons. And all of these are bolstered if you have built buildings to support them!

Oh, and on that note: I think the building that lets you draw 1 extra tile with exploring could apply that ability when drawing tiles (when Exploring) AND cubes out of the bag (when Recruiting - the new action).

Can't wait until next playtest!

Well, that about summarizes the changes I want to try next time I get a chance to play this game. Hopefully this weekend!

If this sound interesting to you, and you would like to blind test it on TTS with your group, let me know, I can probably get you access to the mod. I'd just ask for feedback in return!

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

I-Cut-You-Choose with more than 2 players

I stumbled across this video today (someone posted it in the new BGDL+ forums) talking about I-Cut-You-Choose with more than 2 players. It's not the process I'm using in my newest design, an I-Cut-You-Choose Worker Placement game, but I thought it would be really good to keep track of it in case I'd like to review it later:


The basic idea being that P1 splits something into 3 groups, P2 decides one thing they DON'T want, and trims one of the other two so they're "equal," then P3 chooses one thing... P2 gets the thing they trimmed (if it's still available), or the other, "equivalent" thing (if it's not), and P1 gets the remaining thing, and everyone should be happy... then they similarly divide up the trimmed piece.

This process would work for any number of players, but it looks like it gets pretty cumbersome pretty quickly as you add people. A pragmatic solution might be to discard the "trimmed" bit, or do something else with it (add it to the next group to be split?) - then it still should be the case that each player is happy with what they get, and it doesn't get too iterative.

For example, P1 takes 13 cube and splits them into 3 piles of 3, 4, and 6 cubes. Note that while these aren't even with respect to total number of cubes, they might be even (or close to even) with respect to total value of cubes. Then, P2 decides they don't want the 3-cube pile, and trims 1 cube off the 6-cube pile (making it a 5-cube pile instead) -- the trimmed cube is discarded, or maybe used later in some other part of the game. P3 get to pick any of the three piles, maybe they choose the 3-cube pile, because those specific cubes are really good for their position. Then P2 gets the 5-cube pile that they had trimmed, and P1 gets the remaining 4-cube pile.

P1 should be happy, because they (theoretically) split the cubes such that they'd like any pile, P2 should be happy, because they (again, theoretically) trimmed the 6-cube pile so they'd be equally happy with the 4-cube or the 5-cube pile, and P3 should be happy, because they got 1st pick of all the piles.

I'll note that "everyone being happy" is the goal when splitting a cake, but in a game there might be more of an aspect of "getting away with something." If the cubes have different (non-obvious) values to different players, then things like P3 in that example taking the 3-cube pile over the other two are reasonable, and there's an opportunity to make piles that are not so much "even" -- tempt someone into leaving you what you want by making a pile that's attractive to them! That's the crux of the ICYC mechanism in games, I think.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

I-Cut-You-Choose Worker Placement: Further progress

I spent the last week on vacation in Hawaii, and that gave me some time to think about stuff, and I chose to spend much of that time thinking about this I-Cut-You-Choose Worker Placement game design.

I like thinking out loud - I started my game design career spouting off ideas in the BGDF irc chat room to whoever would listen (even if that was just me, reading a transcript later). Terra Prime was largely designed that way, thinking out loud in BGDF chat and forums. Over the last few days I've tried something similar... I posted a few Twitter threads:

https://twitter.com/sedjtroll/status/1392214318989545472?s=20 ("poison pill" in ICYC)

https://twitter.com/sedjtroll/status/1394099337664163840?s=20 (a Menahune theme? Nah...)

https://twitter.com/sedjtroll/status/1393838830197698561?s=20

https://twitter.com/sedjtroll/status/1394832730148405249?s=20

https://twitter.com/sedjtroll/status/1394920800415715336?s=20


Thinking through those, and seeing some of the responses, has helped me visualize the game much more clearly, and I think I'm close to being able to create a prototype (if I can motivate myself to do so... that's often a stumbling block for me!). There are still some details to work out, but some of that happens for me during the actual prototyping process. Here's the shape of the game as I see it at the moment:

Players are officers in an organization that has sent multiple colony ships full of cryogenically frozen specialists out into the black, seeking a new homeworld. Now that we've arrived, groups of specialists are "thawing out," and we're directing them to do their thing, and then splitting them into smaller groups and sending them to adjacent sectors.

Each ship generates ~8 random specialists (colored cubes in 4 types) each round, which you will split into 2 groups to begin the round. Each player will do this simultaneously to seed the board with 2N spaces with cubes (plus any others that remain from previous rounds). Then you'll take turns placing workers (maybe 4 per player to start) where there are cubes.

When you place a worker on a space, you will mark off each of the cubes there on tracks per color. There will be thresholds on each track, beyond which you will receive in-game or scoring penalties, so marking off things is generally bad - but it's necessary... ideally you won't mark off too many more cubes than you need to (or too many cubes that you don't get the benefit of using). You will then be able to activate up to 2 types of cubes for their effects. Each type of specialist does an action:

Explore: For each cube of this type, draw 1 tile from the bag. Choose 1 to place in this space and return the rest. These tiles represent information about the local area. They will indicate one of the cube colors, a building type, and a resource icon, and when you place a tile, you get to choose one of those (take a cube of that type into hand, place a level 1 building of that type from your board, or take a resource of the indicated icon) 

Expand: Place a building from your player board in that space, as long as there are "enough" cubes to cover its cost. Level 1/2/3 buildings require 1/2/3 cubes, and a L(n) building can only e built where a L(n-1)  building of that type already sits. If you have enough cubes, you could build 2 buildings in one action. Only 1 type of building can be in each space, L(n) stacks on top of L(n-1), and at the end of the game, some scoring is based on the buildings showing from above. Each building you remove from your player board reveals some in-game benefit, where each type of building helps with one aspect of the game. For example, building Habitats might get you extra workers to use. Building Laboratories might help you Experiment (see below). Building Watchtowers might help you explore.  

Exploit (Extract?): Once a space has a tile on it, you can extract resources from it based on the icon(s) on the tile. For each cube, take 1 resource of that type. These resources are a set collection scoring type of thing... you get points for sets of different icons, and maybe a majority bonus for each icon type. 

Experiment: Studying the new world will yield benefits. You'll have 2 markers on a research track - the first will give you benefits as it moves up, and it will make room for your second marker to advance, which will increase your score. You can advance on this track as much as you can afford, using 1/2/3 cubes to get one of your marker to the 1st/2nd/3rd level of the track

After placing in a space with just 1 cube, you get that cube's effect, then take the cube into hand to use later... you can use it to cover (negate) a penalty from reaching a threshold on that color's track, or you can spend it in a later turn to boost that color's effect, as if there were an additional cube there, which will help you reach those more expensive actions such as L3 buildings and Research.

Once everyone has placed all their workers, take them all back, draw another 8 cubes from the bag to seed the initial spaces, pass a start player marker, and start a new round.

What I really need is (a) a game end dynamic (something I'm historically bad at), (b) details of building effects, tiles, and research track effects populated, and (c) a working title!

Since I'm so bad at (a), I really don't have anything in mind yet, and I'm hopeful that something will seem obvious by the time I get an initial playtest in.

As for (b), I do have a few thoughts. Like with Crusaders, I think each building type could help with one of the actions in the game. For example, one type could give a discount on building, or the ability to stack the wrong type of building on an existing one or something. Another type could help advance on the research track. A third type could help with set collection (maybe just give you icons?), and another could let you draw more tiles when exploring, or keep more than 1 of the choices when you explore. Finally, there could be a type that adds workers.

And for the exploration tiles, each one could have 0/1/2 (maybe a few 1/1/1) of cubes/icons/building options in all the possible combinations, so when exploring, you can have an interesting choice depending on what you're after.

I'm not sure about the research effects, but I imagine they should be small, on the order of a cube for the first token, and for the 2nd (the one that's supposed to help score), could maybe give icons for set collection, or straight VPs based on position.

As for a title... I'm afraid I've got nothing! I'm happy to entertain suggestions in the comments below!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The List - April 2021

With all these new ideas I've been having, I feel like it's time to revisit The List, and I might add a section to encompass the various new designs that have been cropping up.


Published Games - this hasn't changed much lately, but I hope more games will bump up soon:
Terra Prime (BGG)
Eminent Domain (BGG)
Eminent Domain: Escalation (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Exotica (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Oblivion (BGG) (expansion)
Eminent Domain: Microcosm (BGG)
Isle of Trains (BGG)
Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (BGG)
Crusaders: Divine Influence (BGG) (expansion) [printed and waiting]
Dungeon Roll: Winter Heroes (BGG)
- Gold West: Bandits promo (BGG)
- Gold West: Trading Post promo (BGG)
- Yokohama: Achievements & Free Agents promo (BGG)
Brainfreeze

Finished But Unpublished Games - in line to be published:
Eminent Domain Origins [Ready to print]
- Crusaders: Crimson Knight (expansion) [Ready to print]
- Crusaders: Amber Knight (expansion) [Ready to print]
Olympus on the Serengeti  (FKA Deities and Demigods) [Art paused]
Eminent Domain: Chaos Theory (dice game) [In line for art]

"Finished" But Unpublished Games - abandoned or backburnered designs that are "done":
Dice Works (BGG)
Wizard's Tower (BGG) [Abandoned]
- Isle of Trains: All Aboard (expansion)
Suburban Sprawl
Watch It Played [Abandoned]
Now Boarding [Abandoned]
Rolling Realms: Jaffee Realms (for Jamey Stegmaier's Rolling Realms)

Current Active Designs - I'm actively pitching these games:
Keeping Up with the Joneses
Apotheosis (Co-Design with Rick Holzgrafe)
Sails & Sorcery [with Michael Mindes]
Exhibit (BGG) [pitching to publishers]

Backburnered Designs - I kid myself into thinking that I'm still working on these:
All For One (BGG) (Co-Design with David Brain)
- Isle Of Trains: The Board Game (Co-Design with Dan Keltner)
Joan of Arc

New ideas:
Worker-ception [with David Short]
False Prophet [Mancala/Worker Placement]
- Come And Play [Sesame Street memory/rondel game]
Candyland Game [Candyland/No Thanks mashup]


Old Standbys - games which have been around, 1/2 done and untouched, for years:
8/7 Central [Abandoned]
Hot & Fresh [Abandoned]
Reading Railroad [Abandoned]
Kilauea [a designer showed interest in co-designing, but that didn't go anywhere]
Automatown [with Michael Brown]

Old Ideas that Haven't Gone Anywhere (Yet):
Investigative/Tabloid Journalism
Red Colony
- Clash of the Kingpins
Time = Money
Dating Game
Ticket Please
The Untouchables
Day labor game based on craps
-Scourge of the High Seas [deckbuilding game with 2 center rows]
Dynasty [I still think this one has potential]

Misc and Really Old Stuff - could probably combine with the previous category at this point:
9-Ball
Blockade Runner
- Roman Emperors (my version of someone else's game)
- Admirals of the Spanish Main (my version of someone else's game)

Let's take a closer look at some of the updates:

First, I moved some stuff around. The categories could probably use an overhaul... Last time I had tried to organize some co-designs, but for the most part that didn't pan out, so I re-sorted those games into other categories, and I added a category for New Ideas. I feel like those are distinct from Current Active Designs, as I'm not necessarily working on them at the moment, but they're also distinct from Backburnered Designs, as that implies I've done some work on them already. So I think a dedicated category for new, promising ideas is worthwhile.

I also tagged some of my old standbys as "abandoned" because, if I'm honest with myself, it's unlikely I'll ever really come back to those. I suppose "Misc and Really Old Stuff" is basically an "Abandoned" category, maybe I should just codify that and put all my abandoned projects there (I like the idea of keeping them around, in case I ever revive them). Ditto Old Ideas that Haven't Gone Anywhere (Yet), those are so old at this point they're effectively abandoned -- except maybe Dynasty. That one still sounds like it has potential to me.

I might also want a category for games that I'd be happy to pitch to publishers, but that I'm not actively working on... so distinct from Current Active Designs, but not really Backburnered either. Perhaps that's what Finished But Unpublished could mean? Though maybe I'd prefer to use that for projects that have been signed or are otherwise for sure going to happen, which is distinct from games I feel are done enough to pitch. I'll try to clean up The List some more each time I post it.

Here's some info on the new or updated items:

New stuff


Keeping Up with the Joneses:
A relatively new idea, and one that came together very quickly. You try to 1-up your neighbors in 6 different life aspects while trying to keep pace with The Joneses (who always seem to have everything together). Mechanically, it's a rondel game with entangled decisions. On your turn you choose a card from 3 face up in slots labeled 1-3, and get the effect on the card. Then you move a number of spaces on the rondel according to the slot your card was in, and you get the effect of that rondel space as well.

Worker-ception [with David Short]
In this worker group placement game, you are a travel agent sending families on trips. Each family has a few members, and therefore a few tokens in a stack. There's an overall game board with various "Brochures" on it, representing worker placement spaces that can change from game to game. Each round, you'll place your families (worker stacks) onto these brochures. Then, when it's time to resolve them, you zoom in and play a little worker placement mini-game with the tokens you have in that area.

Dave thought this sounded good and offered to work on it with me, but it's not a primary project for either of us, so it's pretty slow-going. I came up with a host of Worker Placement mini-games based on some of the interesting WP games I could think of, so the next step would be mocking up a prototype --  and solving some thematic issues like "as travel agents, what do we really get out of our clients having a good vacation?" And "exactly what resources are in this game anyway?"

An attempt at a Worker Placement / Mancala mashup based on an interview I saw with Isaias Vallejos where he mentioned that Margraves of Valeria was initially intended to be a Mancala Worker Placement game, but he couldn't make it work. This one is still in the "idea stage," but I have a pretty good idea how I think it might work, so it could potentially be in a good enough place to put together a prototype soon. Of course, I'll need some data before I bother with that - like what do the worker placement spaces do?! 

Another one in the "idea stage," this one inspired by Jamey Stegmaier's top 10 mechanisms video (his top 2 were I Cut You Choose and Worker placement). I have a solid instigating idea that I think could make for a strong main mechanism, but to go any farther I'll probably need to settle on a theme and get some data together.

Come And Play [Sesame Street memory/rondel game]
An attempt at a kids-level game that I made out of some Sesame Street figures and a Sesame Street branded Memory game that Corbin has. It actually works pretty well, though Corbin's still a tad too young to properly follow rules.

Deal out the cards face down in a circle and place a figure on every other card. On your turn, choose a figure, move it 1 or 2 spaces (maybe specifically clockwise, but maybe either way is fine). Skip spaces that have no cards in them. Then reveal the card in that space - if it matches the figure you moved, you get to keep it! Otherwise, put if back face down, and try to remember who you saw and where you saw them!

Candyland Game [Candyland/No Thanks mashup]
My latest idea is a simple mashup of No Thanks and Candyland. I tried a proof-of-concept playtest on TTS, and it felt pretty good, now its time to settle on a theme and make some adjustments (such as re-design the board spaces).

Other changes

Sails & Sorcery [with Michael Mindes]
I decided to add this to the list, since I put some work last year into developing the game into what I think is a pretty good finished product. I am happy to pitch this one to publishers, though it's technically a co-design with Michael.

Exhibit (BGG) [pitching to publishers]
I decided to get this one back out and pitch it to publishers. We'll see if that leads to anything.

Apotheosis (Co-Design with Rick Holzgrafe)
After unsuccessfully pitching Apotheosis to one publisher, I had a very promising pitch to another publisher... over the course of several meetings with them, during which we played full games, we made Apotheosis a lot more focused and better, but ultimately they were not interested. I'm continuing to pitch it, and I've got 2 more publishers showing initial interest -- I'll be meeting with them soon to see if they would like to look more closely at the game.

This one has come a long way since its inception, and I think it's finally close, but progress has been in fits and starts, with a lot of time in between. At this point I even have art done for the cards, but it was sort of abandoned 1/2 way through graphic design... of all my backburnered designs, this one is probably the lowest hanging fruit, I should really just put some finishing touches on it and get the graphic design finished, then either print it, or maybe pitch it around.
 
All For One (BGG) (Co-Design with David Brain)
Reviving this at the end of 2019 was awesome, and I think the latest version was in very good shape. Once again, the design stalled while waiting for a board redesign (which will probably prompt a card redesign), and the 2020 hellscape didn't help matters any.

I really ought to just get this one into Tabletop Simulator as-is, and worry about a board redesign later. 

- Isle Of Trains: The Board Game (Co-Design with Dan Keltner)
For years I had held out hope that Isle of Trains: All Aboard, the expansion to Isle of Trains, would eventually come out from Dice Hate Me Games. I even saw some cover art for it! but alas, I think it's folly to continue to expect that at this point. Prompted by the publisher, a few years ago Dan and I decided to try and make a bigger game out of Isle of Trains (maybe including some of the expansion stuff), and I maintained this idea that the publisher would still be doing it, so I kept that scope in mind as we tried to make an Isle of Trains board game... Dan more reasonably noted that this publisher was unlikely to really move forward with the project, and wanted to make a deeper, more complicated game. At this point, I think he was on the right track, but the project kind of stalled out a long time ago, so I don't know if we'll ever get there :/

We were looking at it being a rondel game, where you drive your train around a loop of spaces, taking actions there, building stuff on those spaces (for multiple rewards), and push up the value of the various cargo you're delivering to maximize your score (cargo delivered x that cargo's value). My version attempted to be lighter and quicker, closer to the scope of the card game, while Dan was looking to have more stuff going on, unique train cars, etc. I think either way could work, especially if I can just drop the illusion of having to fit a particular publisher's ideas for the game.

I was very interested in this idea a few years ago, but alas, it fell to the wayside and onto the back burner, and as yet has not returned. I got excited about a year ago when a prominent design duo expressed interest in co-designing, but they've been busy with their own stuff, so I don't think they've even looked at this game.

One day I would like to return to this one, but I fear it's time may have passed :/

Reading Railroad [Abandoned]
After reviving this one recently, I think I've decided that the game just isn't really that great an idea after all. I still LOVE the idea of a word-themed cube pusher where the cubes are tiny alphabet blocks, and I think this one had some decent mechanisms in it, but playing it recently I just kind of feel like it's not quite right. I might have to ride this mashup (word game / connection game) out on a rail, so to speak.