Here is a little sampling of where the ants are actually marching. A key part of March of the ants is exploration and control of new territory. When you explore you flip over a face down hex tile and place it anywhere on the board that you like. Hex tiles have a number of collection sites – square boxes – with icons next to them indicating the resource that will be collected. Hexes can also have centipendes, wormholes, or contain strange and powerful forces that will affect the surrounding hexes. These are just a sampling of the colors and textures that are found underground in the world of the ants.
Okay it has been a little while but I would like to report back on a fantastic trip to Kublacon that I took over Memorial Day weekend. All in all it was a great weekend full of fun games and gamers, meeting other designers and lots of playtesting of Little Pig and March of the Ants.
Here is a list of the highlights:
1. I flew into SF at 7:30 Am and rather than take the bart all the way to the city to my hostel and then all the way back I decided I would just head to the hotel and find somewhere nice to rest up for a few hours until the Con opened. Well I found myself lounging next to the pool for 3 hours and feeling totally refreshed for the day!
2. Playtested March of the Ants at the same table that Matt Leacock was playtesting a new Pandemic Dice game. I had tested the dice game the day before and it was great to be right next to a published game designer doing the same thing as me. I got to chat with him a bit and turns out he has been working on an ant game off and on for 10 years. Before leaving I offered to do some blind playtesting for him and we exchanged emails.
3. I was a little nervous about testing out my games but finally got up the gumption and set March of the Ants up. Four guys joined in and they all enjoyed it immensely. They had a great time interacting with the different evolutions and Ant cards and all enthusiastically told me they would buy the game if it were available.
4. Met Hillary a cute gaming girl who happened to be wearing striped socks that matched mine but off color.
5. Little Pig got honorable mention in the Game Design Contest coming in 3rd place and got recommended to a publisher.
All in all a fantastic and super positive experience that made me feel that Weird City Games is on the right track.
March of the Ants,
The second game in Weird City Games development queue is coming along nicely. Playable at first test it is being refined and tuned through playtesting and collaborative design meetings. The art is coming along as well with Mr. Swisher making some great design choices. Most exciting of which is the Evolutions lining up to make one complete picture of your ant (pictures coming soon). This game is full of flavor, strategy and ant madness. I am hoping to get a copy of this ready to take to Kublacon as well. With two games in the toaster the choice now becomes of which to launch first and how much time to dedicate to each one. The image included is the player mat with space for the evolution cards.
Little Pig has been submitted to the game design contest at KublaCon in San Francisco. It is still in beta mode and all art was borrowed but the board, cards and player mats all have art and the rules are written out. Getting the game ready for submission taught me a lot of things about game design and publishing. First off that producing everything in house is a gargantuan task that might be undertaken at a later date, but at this point it is enough work to just get a prototype ready. The second big lesson was to set goals before hand for how complete you want the various elements to be. I feel that I spent a little too much time on layout and graphic design and not enough of the rules. So time management is key for this.
All in all I am very happy with the final product and excited to play it and test it and for feedback from the contest.
Ryan and I started construction of the first prototype of “Ant Game” or Twilight Antperium. It is a exploration and tactical game with ant evolution as the “tech trees”. Ryan worked hard to make the game play quickly and while complex it seems like it is at a good level now and can probably be played in an hour or two. Still in rough stage but after assembling the cards (evolutions, Actions, and Victory conditions) I feel like I have a much greater understanding of how it works. Excited to be collaborating on this game with Ryan and feel like it has good flavor and legs. Six of them.
Weird City is headed to Gamestorm 2013 in Vancouver, WA. In tow will be all the Homni-friends and lots of excitement is planned. Not only do we have wacky outfits, we will be doing a ton of game testing, our own, others and already published games, attending panels and meeting other designers. Little Pig will be tested in the Gamelab and we will be working on prototyping and brainstorming games with the group. Check back in a week for a full recap and rundown of Gamestorm.
Little Pig has been rebooted and has rules finalized for Gamelab at Gamestorm. My good friend Lukas was in town last week and we got many chances to test out Little Pig. All in all the game is working well, lots of minor tweaks and adjustments will be needed but the foundation is there. Wolf cards now have special abilities, special building cards are divided by type and your houses (except for brick) can be blown down. All in all the wolf is more deadly but you are able to build up your house with friends, tools and jobs and you can gain a new pig upon completion of a house.
I am excited for some heavy duty design feedback at Gamelab and then for a reboot in time for submission to Kublacon Design Contest.
Other exciting news is Lukas is working on some concept art and the current idea is to design the game as much like a fairytale as possible with cards including rhyming verse and watercolor or pastel drawings a la Beatrix Potter. Check out our games Section for a rules overview.
Weird City Games has undertaken research of the most popular card games and I have just received my first batch of games. Last night I had the pleasure of playing Lost Cities by Reiner Knizia, with my mother. Upon first opening the box I was taken aback by the oversized cards and the board, thinking them mere gimmicks or ways to increase the price of the game. However, the cards were nicely illustrated and of good quality and the size proved very effective for the game. The three aspects of this game that stood out to me were the aesthetic value of the game, the simplicity of the rules and the sense of time.
Aesthetic Value – While initially turned off by the over sized cards they actually worked very well with the theme and as the handsize is always 8 cards it was easy to manage the larger size. Also due to the games elegance it was nice to have quality components to set that off.
Elegance of Rules – Play a card: either add it to an expedition or place it on approriate discard pile. Draw a card: from draw pile or a discard pile. These are the essential rules of the game with only a few qualifications and some scoring that is only mildly cumbersome. out of these simple rules comes a very deep game that involves a lot of guessing, risk management and various strategies. This is the most recent and one of the best examples of I have seen of what is referred to as elegance of design and the resulting emergent strategies.
Sense of Time: One of my favorite qualities of this game is the sense of time. At the start of the game you have plenty of time and are beginning many expeditions at once. In the middle you start getting stressed and at the end you are scrambling to finish your expeditions. It is simple, easy and fun but really gives a fun sense of progression that feels natural and exciting.
This game is easy and I feel I could teach it to anyone in under five minutes but I feel I will enjoy playing it time and time again.
The continuing adventures of semi-structured entrepreneurial lifestyle
Being self-employed is awesome except that it requires continuous dedication and focus and good time management skills. I have decided to dedicate the first 3-4 months of 2013 to my very own game design school with myself as the sole student, teacher and member. Well there might be some other game designers/playtesters but they won’t be graded. In the spirit of games I hit on the idea this evening of offering points for various assignments and the completion thereof. Henceforth I will be awearding myself 1 point for every chapter read/blog post posted/game reviewed/ game brainstorm write up, 2 points for every book review, prototype completed, outside playtest done etc. Multiple points can be scored by combining activities and creatively solving problems. Once I have enough points they can be spent with rewards such as buying new games, going dancing or playing magic online. These are all mental structures but that is what games are after all right. Okay back to game land and the quest for magical points.