Embracing the Oubliette

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dungeons of despair

John Paul Messerly
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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Touchstone:Oubliette


Ive been struggling for a while to find the focus and inspiration necessary to finish Touchstone: Oubliette. Every time I sat down to work on it a new game idea pops into my head. I was starting to despair of ever finishing. So for now the next week I'm ignoring all my other ideas and I'm determined to finalize the Dungeon card designs (even if only in thumbnail form).

Here are my current thumbnail sketches...




I'm happy with the path layouts. The struggled with finding justification for skulls or jewels to just be lying around. I finally came up with the idea of having the jewels mounted in carvings in the doorways or on statues. The skulls are easier to fit in the environment but I've been working to hint at the trap or danger that killed the last passerby.

The biggest challenge so far are the portals. I really need to decide how mysterious I want them to be. A few of the sketches have beasts and vampires emerging from the portals but I think this might cause confusion with the actual beast/vampire cards.

I'm also working on a series of color studies for the spirits that are drawn to the Touchstone. They seem to work best when they are more abstract. I'll post those once they are further along.



Dynamite Nurse:

I finally got around to playing the new version of this game, Dynamite Nurse Returns. I was really disappointed even though it perfectly lived up to what it claimed to be. I fell in love with the first edition which had a light comic art style (zelda like) and a silly portrayal of cartoon violence but since its impossible to find I decided to try the new one. The new one does not really claim to be a comedic game, but I still had my hopes that it would create some interesting situations or combination's. In the end it is simply Dominion with some ruthless "take that" mechanics and a very thematic Victory point system.

I loved that victory points are represented by patients saved/killed but really hoped that the main action cards would have more flavor. The games concept sounds hilarious but nothing about the actual cards (gameplay or flavor text) live up to its great entertainment potential.

I still plan to start work on my own take on this theme... but it will have to wait till next year.





Rend: inspired madness

I started to take the mech game in a new direction thematically. I've been quite obsessed with some of the great sufi poets and though it might be interesting to add them to the mech game. How many mech games can claim to have the talents of Rumi, Hafiz, or Mirabai piloting their machines of destruction.

As I look closer at the games and movies that keep my attention the longest they all mix genres in unique ways. Firefly mixes cowboys and scifi and cowboy beepop mixes jazz and scifi. I recently saw a ipad game where classical writers would fight (street fighter fashion) with words. The image of Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Austin fighting is quite entertaining BUT the unique combination of a fighting game and word building game also felt fresh and exciting.

"The greatest mystics have returned to share the truth of the beloved with the last generation but no one will listen to their whispered words. They have had to change their methods, embrace the madness of the times, and enter the the arenas atop massive avatars of steel. As the win the adoration of more fans they are able to spread their passion, the intimate knowledge of the beloved. They have always embraced ecstatic methods that some found distasteful or heretical, but now through this medium their voices can reach millions, and rend the veil of shadow forever."

In the works of Hafiz a Rend was an inspired libertine. I really like that the term both plays of the graphic image of giant metal machines tearing each other apart as well as hinting at the ecstatic mystics that pilot them.

"Only these drunken holy fools are fearless enough to embrace the chaos that is the arena!"
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