Short Thoughts & Sketches

Ramblings - Charrettes - Game Design

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Skyline PnP is coming!

David Short
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Board Game: Skyline
Prototype Key

Now that Ground Floor's Kickstarter campaign is fully funded and successfully reaching many overfunding bonuses, my attention has shifted a little to Skyline.

It's been requested numerous times that I open the game up to PnP. My hesitation has had little to do with fear or disapproval of the PnP concept, and everything to do with the extra work it takes to make a game easy to PnP.

However, I've been making large strides in that area and so I thought I'd post about my progress.

The top left image serves two purposes. It shows both the quantity of dice required and their composition in relation to the sides of a standard d6. PnP'ers would merely print this out and place 1 die on the left for each type, successfully creating a conversion key which allows the ability to use any dice to play Skyline. So for instance, you could use white d6's for Penthouse dice, red d6's for Mid Floor dice and black d6's for Ground Floor dice. With this key, a player would know that rolling a '5' on the white d6 means that they rolled a Mid-Rise Penthouse.

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Tue May 15, 2012 9:34 pm
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Kickstarting the Ground Floor

David Short
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Board Game: Ground Floor
The Kickstarter campaign from TMG for my game Ground Floor started yesterday. The reception and support so far has been incredible. We're almost funded and it's barely been 24 hours! I'm truly astonished and humbled by the whole thing.

Reading the reviews, session reports and comments has been a real treat for me. Just the fact that people have been willing to spend their time, printer ink and money to print out and play my minimalist prototype, is amazing. I honestly didn't think that many people would take the effort. Awesome.

Everyone has been so positive and excited, which brings me much satisfication that my game is bringing others enjoyment.

Watching something finally come to life after 4+ years is remarkable. I will be publishing my Designer Diary sometime soon, which will give a behind the scenes look into Ground Floor's conception.

I'm going to enjoy this ride.
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Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:48 pm
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Discovering the Skyline

David Short
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Board Game: Skyline
Skyline Mini Boar

Skyline, meet the world. The world, meet Skyline.

Skyline is a dice stacking game about building a cityscape of skyscrapers. It's for 1-4 players, can be played in 10 minutes and is designed around the idea that "The dice control the results... but the players control the dice".

This game basically fell in my lap. The original conception of the idea came about 6 months ago, but that was simply a name and the idea of dice stacking. I didn't revisit the idea until Thanksgiving week, and during that week I had the entire game designed, prototyped and playtested within 2 days. No design of mine has ever come that quickly. Now granted, this is by far the lightest game I've worked on, but still 2 days is mighty fast.

Skyline can definitely be grouped in with similiar games like Zombie Dice, Martian Dice and Bears!, but it builds upon those games (no pun intended). Specifically it differs from those games in two significant ways.

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Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:36 pm
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GameLab sets up on Mars

David Short
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In guild G+ Game Lab
During one of the recent GameLab Hangouts, I presented my game, Mars:embarkation, to 5 other designers who were located across 3 different countries. It was great participating in a focused discussion with other designers. The feedback I received was very beneficial.

Here are the two main conclusions that resulted from the Hangout, followed by my thoughts on how to implement them and their repercussions in the game:

Combine Fuel and Supplies: As I've stated in previous posts about M:e, the game used to have 3 commodities: Fuel, Rations and Supplies. I decided after some playtests that Rations was superfluous and should be combined with Supplies to simplify transactions during the game. Instead of paying for actions with 3 things, now there would just be two currencies: Fuel and Supplies. After playtesting further, these 2 currencies worked out better than the 3, but I still felt like more streamlining was necessary. During the Hangout, this discussion surfaced and the idea to combine yet again arose. Combining Fuel and Supplies into 1 would definitely simplify things further. I would probably call them just Supplies.

Pros:
+ Steamlines the currency in the game
+ Simplifies calculations
+ Minimizes fiddly bookkeeping

Cons:
- Might water down decision tree too much
- Perhaps makes it more difficult to gauge a player's potential
- Removes the ability for Supplies to be a commodity that is carried on the Rover, instead it must be tracked another way

I'm pretty sure I'm going to combine them, but I need to be careful with the implementation in order to not dilute the decision tree nor alienate a player's ability to decipher an opponent's intentions. Previously, I could accurately see how far you could move by seeing how much Fuel you had. Now if I combine, then I only see your total Supplies, which could be used for not only movement, but also dropping off colonists.

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Mon Dec 5, 2011 9:33 pm
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Falling short of Mars

David Short
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From gallery of dshortdesign
Old Version of Prototype Player Aid

There are two main issues with the current state of M:e - game length and my support mechanic. Each have several smaller issues contributing to them. I'm going over the problems in this post and will handle potential solutions in later posts.

Game Length: As I've stated previously one of my main goals was to make a quick game that still had its share of meaty decisions. The 'decisions' end of things seems to be on the right track, but the length of the game was just about double what I wanted it to be.

Game length can be elongated for a couple of reasons in a game. Some games are really fiddly and the mere act of upkeeping the game takes time. Other games have copious player interaction that allows the banter and discussion to lengthen the game. Other games require many calculations, not decisions mind you, but calculations (math is often the culprit here - I'm looking at you Power Grid). Then, there are also games that go long due to the sheer depth of the decisions and problems.

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Fri Sep 9, 2011 11:46 pm
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Returning to Mars

David Short
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I have a couple of games that I'm working on with some other designers, but as far as my next solo design is concerned, I've decided to focus on Mars:embarkation (Cluny Monks will have to take a backseat for now).

Mars:embarkation (M:e) is what I've been calling a 45 minute euro. I love deep euros, but often they are 1.5 hours or longer. Recently, I've fallen in love with quick euros (excluding card games) that pack a punch despite their short game length. A few games that come to mind in this category are Speicherstadt, Balloon Cup, Yspahan and Mykerinos.

I was inspired by these, especially Mykerinos, and wanted to create a game that played in under 45 minutes yet required players to make copious critical decisions.

Here's the abstract for M:e :

Set in the near future, you and your team embark on Mars with aspirations to explore and colonize. Balance risks and gains while taking expeditions deeper and deeper into unknown territories. Take caution because without the right support and research, your journey could fall short in failure.
Mars:embarkation is a full fledged euro crammed into a small form factor and a short play time.

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Thu Sep 1, 2011 11:23 pm
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Freshly unshrinkwrapped

David Short
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Welcome to my new blog: Short Thoughts & Sketches.

This will be a place for me to document new ideas, consolidate progress of prototypes and report on the publishing process of my finished designs.

This blog will serve mainly as a tool for me, but any and all comments are always welcome.
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Thu Sep 1, 2011 10:39 pm
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