Bez ShahriariUnited Kingdom
Hindsight is 2020.
What would I change about Yogi, if I could go back in time?
Let me ignore the art/product design and just focus on the game rules/card instructions.
Yogi Guru offered a better idea for group play. Each group draws as many cards as they have players in their team. This slightly balances things if some teams are different sizes. Of course, I'd have liked that to be in the original game.
Otherwise, I don't think the rules could really be improved. I'm not saying that my game is the best out there, but I don't think it could be a better version of itself. In Ludology, Mike Fitzgeraldclaimed that every can be simplified. That's probably true (at least for published games), but there's certainly a point when any simplification will clearly worsen the game.
I would definitely remove 'Hand on a knee' if I were to go back in time. Maybe replace it with 'this card touching forehead' or 'this card touching back', both of which appear in Yogi Guru.
In Yogi, the ONLY card to involve the lower body is 'hand on a knee' and by removing that one card, the original game would have been playable by a wheelchair user.
Otherwise, I'm happy with all the instructions as a whole.
I'm really happy that I got the additional year of 'playtesting' time by publishing In A Bind first. Honestly, it took me nearly a year to realise that 'Right hand right of right elbow' is way too confusing and has no business being in the game. The replacement - 'Right hand above left hand' was inspired by the art that had already been commisioned. That worked out really well.
I am a full-time designer/artist/self-publisher and I am available for freelance work. I go to cons as a trader and help run the all-day Friday playtest sessions in London. I left my last 'real' job in 2014. I was getting benefits for a few years. I'm currently writing sporadically, but getting back into the habit of daily posts. If you have any questions/topics you'd like me to address, send me a geekmail and I'll probably address the topic within a week.
Archive for my games
- [+] Dice rolls
Around the start of 2019, I decided that I would never print another deck of Wibbell++. The deluxe edition, that was going to print after a long delay, would be the last-ever thing to bear that name.
Here are the reason:
TOO MUCH FOCUS ON WIBBELL
When I originally designed the cards, they were designed for my word game, later named Wibbell. At UKGE 2015, I decided to make it a game SYSTEM (not just a single game). After Dave Wetherall suggested the names Faybell, Phrasell, and Wordell, I enjoyed the 'ell' motif and used that to keep some consistency across games. If you find a mispelled game name ending in 'ell', it's probably for my deck. Wordell was later changed to Wibbell (after a suggestion from Dan Barker) and I named the deck 'Wibbell++'. This was a lazy way to show that it was Wibbell, along with other games.
Now, there are 8 'core' games and Wibbell isn't even most people's favourite anymore. Of my con helpers, most would cite another game as their favourite. My personal favourite is currently Categorickell. So it seems a bit odd to focus so much on the first game. Yes, I'm proud of Wibbell but the deck is so much more than that.
HARD TO SAY
Most people don't even pronounce the '++'. I've heard people telling me they've played 'Wibbell' when I know that they've only played some of the other ...ell games.
I think that 4 syllables, with 2 extended syllables, is just too long. Or maybe 'plus plus' is just awkward to say. I feel like I want to take a tiny split-second break after 'plus'.
I thought I had more reasons, but I think that's it. I don't want to focus on one game at the expense of the others, and I want the name to be somewhat easier to say.
Like most of these decisions, this is something that dawned on me slowly. I noticed people calling the deck 'Wibbell'. I noticed that people were confusing the game and the deck. As this kept happening, I had to make a change.
Krys (an ex-housemate) suggested 'Alphagorickell'. Ed Fortune (of Starburst Magazine fame) suggested 'The Deck of Baybell'. I would have been happy with either of these 2 names.
Given the situation, I made a declaration here and opened a call for name submissions. A few dribbled in, and then - when I put it on the BGTCUK FB group, another 100 or so ideas.
I've now had time to ponder those 200-ish ideas, and I definitely want to have a name that used 'ELL' at the start. Maybe 'The ELL Deck', or 'Ell egant', 'Ell ementary', 'ELL astic', or just 'ELL'.
Whilst I liked the notion of 'Baybell', that could be the name of a game. Something involving communication breakdown I suppose.
'Alphagorickell' is a mashup of 'Alphabet' and 'Categorickell'. Whilst it works well enough, it still creates strong references to 2 of the core games.
My moving 'ell' to the front of the name, the deck would have a name that - given the naming rules I have created for games - could NEVER have been the name of a game. There is no confusion and if you are presented with the name of the deck along with a few game names, you should be able to clearly spot the odd one out.
There are arguments against changing the name. The only reasonable one I've heard is that I've built up some (tiny) brand awareness. It's been featured on a BGG video and reviewed by tens of folk under the old name. How much would I lose by renaming the deck?
In one sense, I don't want the deck to be a thing that people focus on. Of course I want people to consider it as a great collection of games, great value, well curated, and a consistently high quality in every regard. But no-one buys a game system unless some of the games are brilliant.
People bought an N64 for Mario 64 or Goldeneye.
People similarly usually buy a deck of playing cards with a specific game in mind.
Folk can be easily overwhelmed. I myself have bought a game system and then realised that I ddn't know where to begin as I was greeted by rules for 30+ games.
I'd like folk to think of Coupell as a lovely co-operative word game. Categorickell as a high-energy game for small player counts. Phrasell as a party game of creativity. Wibbell as a word game that rewards fast-thinking and still allows everyone to compete. Really, the name of the individual games is what I should be focusing on. I have spoken to some reviewers about the problems associated with reviewing a game system. Reviewing a single game is far more viable. I want people to know that the individual games are of high quality - not just that there's a bunch of them.
I've only printed 4,000 copies in total. Yes, there's been a bit of energy behind the 3(!) KSs and a lot of reviewers have been kind to give me reviews, but all of these numbers will hopefully be dwarfed over the coming years.
I have made a commitment to have a new core game for the deck every 1st August until I retire from the industry. I believe that this system is worth supporting. I believe that - with the right partnerships - I could be selling tens of thousands per year. I believe there will be more KSs for future versions. I believe that with decks that focus on a single game, I would be able to get reviews for these Ellegant games more easily.
If I am commited to supporting this deck for decades to come, then I should never be beholden to the past.
I made some small changes to the border distribution between 1st and 2nd edition. This means that at least one game will be slightly different based on the deck used. But we can adapt the rules. If, in the next few years, I realise that certain letter pairings should definitely be changed, then I will change those too. I want to make the best thing I can. People who already bought it aren't getting a 'worse deck'. It's just that future folk will be getting a marginally better one.
But there's a whole bunch of folk who enjoy the tree that will only ever adorn the original deck. And each box may one day be collectible.
My point is basically - yes, I spent over 3 years telling folk about 'Wibbell++'. But if I'm going to be spending another 30 years on this project, then that 3 years is almost insignificant.
There is still awareness of the individual games that will carry on. I can reach out to reviewers again to review future games.
At this point, even if the name was negligibly better I still think it'd be beneficial to make that change.
Any pointers I may have missed?
Thoughts, as always, are very welcome.
Poll: new names Would you check this out, based on the name? no probably not yes, probably definitely! Vote Count Wibbell++ 5.0% (1) 40.0% (8) Top Answer 35.0% (7) 20.0% (4) 20 ...ELL 27.3% (6) 40.9% (9) Top Answer 22.7% (5) 9.1% (2) 22 The ELL Deck 15.0% (3) 25.0% (5) 45.0% (9) Top Answer 15.0% (3) 20 ELLegant 9.1% (2) 36.4% (8) Top Answer 31.8% (7) 22.7% (5) 22 ELLementary 13.0% (3) 47.8% (11) Top Answer 39.1% (9) 0.0% (0) 23 ELLastic 27.3% (6) 31.8% (7) 36.4% (8) Top Answer 4.5% (1) 22 Total Voters 23This poll is now closed. 23 answersPoll created by stuffbybezCloses: Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
29 Dec 2018
I was frankly shocked to read (on a FB group) someone claiming that EVERY boardgame has a typo.
Inspired by the Knuth Reward Cheques, I'll adopt a reward system starting with Wibbell++ 2nd edition and Kitty Cataclysm.
If anyone finds any typos in Yogi (English edition) or any game I release in 2019 onwards, I will:
- pay you the UK RRP via Paypal or another method
- send you a unique comic congratulating you
- send a free copy of the next printing.
(Just for the first person to spot each mistake.)
That seems like a good motivation for folk to let me know about my mistakes and help me make my games as perfect as possible.
I know that perfection is unattainable but it appalls me to hear people saying that 2 typos on a box cover isn't a big deal.
Imperfections and mistakes aren't a reason to start making any creator feel bad. Swearing and personal attacks are often unnecessary. But folk should strive for a level of quality.
In the meantime, I am going to claim that Yogi (the English edition at least) has no typos.
Edit: In the instance that a new edition of a given ruleset has been mass produced, the previous version might no longer be eligible. So if you're reading this in 2037, all the games in Wibbell++ 2nd edition will almost certainly have been reprinted.
I will be upload some rules onto BGG at some point. However, this will be after release. You can either buy the game(s) or wait a few months for me to upload stuff.
- [+] Dice rolls
Giving games away to those doing social good. A sincere offer to any teachers or social workers out there.
03 Oct 2018
I'd like to think that there are folk who would benefit from playing my games. They can help teach all sorts of things. Reading, empathy, co-operation, spelling, vocabulary and use of language... And sometimes they just make folk smile and enjoy life a little more than they otherwise would.
I'm aware that financial factors can be an obstacle. Honestly, that's part of the thinking behind the Series: Wibbell++ game system - opening up a variety of game experiences for anyone who can't afford to buy many things.
I'd like to work out some system for getting games to those who will use them for what I perceive as social good. Schools. Libraries. Hospitals. Social workers.
My current thinking is that I'll sell any of my things at cost to these sorts of people. I want this to be a sustainable thing though, so giving them away is clearly not an option.
However, I want to make it something that I do for the long-term future at zero profit. There will be a small £7 surcharge (within UK) applied per order, so I can basically pay for postage, and get someone else to do the packing if it ever really takes off.
If you represent a school, library or other body that you think would be eligible, please get in touch.
- [+] Dice rolls
13 Aug 2018
It's my birthday today!
If you wish to do me a small birthday favour, maybe give some of my games an honest BGG rating.
If you don't have a W++ deck and can't afford one, get the PnP.
My games tend to not be rated much - as an example, maybe 0.3% of folk who bought Yogi have rated it. (Taking a conservative estimate of how long it takes to sell a game). Not that I mind too much about that one - Gigamic is doing a great job of promoting it and a tiny percentage of a large number is still reasonable.
I would love to have folk who have played the various W++ games give them a rating/comment individually, so that I (and other folk) can see what you think.
It feels weird to me that - even after some positivity from Rahdo nearly a year ago, Coupell still has 0 ratings.
This is partly a symptom of the confusion that a game system can sadly engender but I do believe that the core games at least deserve to be considered in their own right.
I am generally proud of my games for the system over the past few years and it would be really nice to have folk who have played them give a rating/comment.
If you don't rate games on BGG, comments/photos are also acceptable birthday presents. :-p
Links to the main games you may have played:
A game, wherein you blether (a Scottish word meaning to talk at length at a fast rate; ranting, hypothesising, narrating or speaking in some other manner, without necessarily making very much sense) just for a single minute; mainly designed by [truncated]
- [+] Dice rolls
This is a weekly thing intended for me to be a public exposition and 'check-in' for myself.
- Sad that I didn't get all the stuff done last week. Worried about my general seeming inability to organise stuff and get shit done. Hopeful that I can get on track over the next month...
Last week, I wanted to:
Daily situps/leg raises.
4/7 - I missed a few. I'd like to try to do this more next week. I'd like this to become a habit.
Go to bed at reasonable hours and brush teeth. 5/7. Ditto (I'd like this to be a habit).
Remake Yogi 2.
Make feedback form.
No. I wanted to make a new copy and send it away for remote testing.
I did make a few changes to play on Thursday/Friday. But I would have liked to spend a focused couple of hours remaking it, and then doing feedback forms.
I was really pleased with how the latest couple of tests went. Also had a really important conversation about the responsibility of games and decided that there should be absolutely zero 'required' touching.
As I'll probably play it again this weekend during birthday celebrations, I think it makes sense to hold off on actually making an entirely new copy until next week.
Send off games.
Done. I sent off all the stuff (to reviewers, competition winners and purchasers).
Finish instruction manuals
Somewhat done. Honestly, I can't even remember which manuals I was thinking of. I did finish the manual for Mickell and did 3 other solo games well enough to upload to the Wibbell++ site.
Make PNP for +
Not at all done. I'm going to just apologise and skip this for the moment.
Remake Kitty Cataclysm deck
No. I was going to do this for BezDay shenanigans but it wasn't worth the time.
Send off updates for KSs.
Not done. This one I really should have done.
Honestly, given the lack of progress right now, I find it hard to work out what to type.
Record new show for Tuesday
Do some ACG work on Tuesday
Done a bit.
Take a few hours off on Tuesday evening at Loading Bar.
Not done. By the time I'd done the show, it was late. Instead, I took the evening off to watch a film with housemates. For whatever reason, I was super-low on energy.
Focus on facilitating fun on Wednesday/Thursday.
Done. I think I did an OK job of this.
Go to Friday playtest and try out some of the W++ submissions.
Done. Because I had the opportunity to try Yogi 2, I did that in the morning. I did solo-test one thing in the morning and then stress-tested another thing with a few folk in the afternoon. It was an early submission from Paul Mansfield. As I said to Paul afterwards, I decided that it was a great game but there was enough complication and disconnect between components and rules that it shouldn't be the 8th core game.
I did try out 3 more things quite a bit tonight.
Do some painting.
Not done. My biggest regret, other than the KS updates. Can do this this week, I hope.
Do some 'art' for KC/W++v2.
Not done. I think that expecting me to do it this week might be a tad optimistic. Just getting back to doing brush work will be good.
Attend a birthday thing on Saturday.
Done. That was fab.
Take most of Sunday off.
Done. I spent 7 hrs with a housemate, simply having lunch, walking around an old house, exploring Hampstead Heath and talking to each other. That was glorious. I felt bad about some other stuff I didn't do, but didn't let it make me feel guilty about taking some time off.
I need to do this sometimes.
Record with Ambie!
Done. Super-fun and you can hear it soon if you want.Overall
Maybe expecting myself to finish the + Pnp was a bit much. I'm disappointed about most of the other stuff. Maybe I'll at least do better this week.Favourite moments last week:
The entire Sunday excursion.
Most of the interactions on Thursday. A brother and sister (I assume) who found Alphabetickell quite complicated (struggling with the strategy a bit) but were happy to actually play a game - something they wouldn't normally do. A pair of drunk girls who hated IAB but seemed to enjoy Wibbell and Grabbell quite a lot. A couple who were happy to be introduced to a whole bunch of things. A bunch of folk who came to buy Wibbell++ and learn stuff. Kate coming along to try new things and (I think) having a lot of fun with various games.
Playing Laura's game-like-activity on Saturday all about taking nice photos.
Friday playtest.Plans for this week (things that will take effort):
Daily situps/leg raises
Brush teeth consistently
KS updates for KC/W++v2
Sort out housing benefit
Run a fun evening at Loading Bar
Make progress with W++v2 and/or Kitty Cataclysm
Tidy room somewhat
?Do more testing/evaluating of W++ entries
make some fun games/activities for the weekend
Enjoy myself this weekend
Record a new BGWB, maybe with someone who went to Gencon
A lot of these things are ostensibly nothing to do with making games, but tidying, cleaning, exercise and meaningful relaxation are so important to having a healthy mind - the sort of mind that will do better work/design.
- [+] Dice rolls
After my announcement of Trucking Hell, here are some potential names for other games that use the W++ deck as a mere component.
Buy & Sell (An economic game. Maybe stock trading? Maybe there are companies that need you to make words to increase their value?)
Can you Tell?
Bluff & Spell
Show & Tell (Perhaps involves zany inventions?)
Cast A Spell
Are you well? (A game-like activity wherein players are encouraged to talk about their feelings?)
When we fell
Scream 'n' Yell
Tortoiseshell (Something about colours, painting, or animals?)
Counterspell (something about using words to counter-magic other wizards. Maybe they need to be related to the previous thing, like in Mallet's Mallet (the old children's show))
What befell? (Perhaps a murder mystery thing? Or some other investigation game.)
Btw, a quick reminder that the 2018 Wibbell++ design competition will be closed to entries in a week's time.
- [+] Dice rolls
21 Jul 2018
1 - have a vague objective/restriction/notion. E.g. "I want to make a game a bit like Fluxx but with more control."
2 - ponder possibilities.
3 - Draw a deck. (I mean, literally. With a pencil and/or pen.) Play it. Look at what the fun parts are.
4 - Come to terms with the fact that the fun part is nothing to do with my initial objective. Change my objective. E.g. "All the silliest cards that challenge your running, hopping, contortion and voice-acting. Let's just see what happens."
5 - Ponder possibilities
6 - Draw a new deck.
7 - Repeat steps 4-6 (removing anything 'below the table')
8 - Repeat steps 4-6 (removing the vocal stuff)
9 - Eventually, I start just redrawing parts of the deck rather than the entire thing. Iterate.
10 - Continue iterating.
11 - Continue iterating.
12 - Continue iterating.
13 - Continue iterating.
14 - Continue iterating.
15 - Continue iterating.
16 - Make a crazy change (E.g. Removing points - each card was worth '1')
17 - Continue iterating.
18 - Make a crazy change (taking away a 'score' and adding player elimination)
19 - Continue iterating.
20 - Continue iterating.
21 - Continue iterating.
22 - Finally realise what I'm making - a game wherein tasks are done simultaneously and becoming exponentially more difficult. This is the point where I'd say the 'concept' was finished.
23 - Focused research into similar things. (Mainly via BGG) For inspiration and to avoid making something that already exists.
24 - Continue iterating.
25 - Try something completely different, just for the sake of it, partially 'for a laugh' and partially justifiable in retrospect as 'doing due diligence'. (e.g. a new deck that had no physical 'binds' at all.)
26 - Confirm - after a couple of playtests - that this idea is terrible. Go back to the earlier iteration.
27 - Continue iterating. Start demoing it with intent to market it.
28 - Continue demoing & iterating.
29 - Continue demoing & iterating.
30 - Check prices with printer. In retrospect, I'd say that my design was finished at this point, but development had barely begun.
31 - Run a KS
32 - Tell people about my KS. Be lucky enough to have it fund.
33 - Ponder things. Solo test. Honestly, a couple of weeks' pondering and a full day solo-testing was all the development that I think this game needed. Because of the lack of interaction, solo-testing and pondering was far more useful than real-life testing would have ever been (in terms of hours spent. Note - the expansion deck had its own journey and had a lot of testing but I'm just focusing on the main deck.
34 - Write the rules
35 - try different layouts/ideas for art.
36 - Make decisions and do more solo-testing for the final cards.
37 - blind testing & rules iteration
38 - blind testing & rules iteration
39 - blind testing & rules iteration
40 - Start final art.
41 - Get anxious.
42 - finish final art.
43 - scan
44 - edit digitally and resave images
45 - put into a pdf
46 - rewrite the rules, with some 'flavour text'... lay them out.
47 - edit my own rules (I had no cash to hire an editor)
48 - Send to printer.
49 - get the games. Give them to backers
50 - ring up shops, asking them to stock the game.
51 - organise demo days for August.
52 - run events.
53 - be lucky enough to have a friend (Dave Cousins) take the game to Essen and show it to publishers.
54 - reply in a reasonable manner to Gigamic's email of interest, letting them know that I'm waiting for a reply from publisher X.
55 - (A few months later) Tell publisher X that their offer wasn't as good as Gigamic's.
56 - Sign with Gigamic.
- My responsibility kinda ends.
I mean, I did tell Gigamic a few months later to radically change one card. But the art/product design was entirely them.
So, in summary, the way I made it (and even the way I had the idea...) was 'a lot of iteration'. That's become my stock answer for when folk ask. But if someone is genuinely interested, I could talk for hours about it. :-p
- [+] Dice rolls
19 Jul 2018
Nearly 2 years ago, I was shown a game called "Trucking Hell" by David Brain.
A simple pick-up and deliver game which asked you to spell anything you were delivering.
You might go to a depot to pick up cards. Various towns may be asking for animals, furniture or other such items. You could then use those cards to spell out the items that the town might want. 'Cat', 'dog', 'alligator' or whatever. I loved this whimsical idea!
As you probably guessed, the cards you pick up happen to be Wibbell++ cards. Indeed, this is planned to be the first boardgame that happens to contain a Wibbell++ deck. Maybe a tiny half-sized deck so the cards fit better around the board.
You'd also get a unique board, cards and other bits that the game needs.
I'll try to develop it fully and ensure that it's good enough to justify its cost and be a quality game in its own right.
I'm excited by this concept! As fun as Wibbell++ is, it can only do so much. But if you use the deck as just one component, you could add cards for extra prompts; a map to move around on; pieces to play with; perhaps some currency.
Maybe there might be future 'Wibbell+++' games that use dedicated components for a better gaming experience. The 3rd '+' denotes the further expansion.
As for Trucking Hell itself, it was a fun game a year ago, and I'm sure I can make it even better with a touch of development. I hope that I can do some decent illustrations/etc and make the whole thing a game worth your time & money.
- [+] Dice rolls
When I first published Wibbell++, the instruction sheet said there would be a new 'core' game for the deck every 1st August. It said that the 6th core game would be Puzzell - an abstract solitaire game that had been rules complete for a while.
In the end, I decided to go with Coupell instead. I felt that a 2p co-op did a better job of broadening the appeal, and I would like to thoroughly test out the 20 possible setups to properly organise the 19 non-introductory setups in order of difficulty. Maybe that's an unnecessary goal, but that's how I felt - that having a checklist and being able to advise people to 'complete each setup before the next' might result in a better journey for players.
I'd like to ponder what a 'core game' really is.
This is kind of my way of saying that 'this game is as finished as can be', bearing in mind that nothing is ever finished.
More than that, it's a way for me to highlight the diversity of the deck.
Wibbell is a realtime word game. As much as I enjoy Wobbell (James' spinoff), I probably won't add another realtime wordgame to the 'core list' for quite some time.
Similarly, I don't need another 2-4p storytelling activity as a core game when I already have Faybell. Maybe a future core game will provide a very different sort of storytelling, maybe something a bit faster that works for larger groups or something that is designed for a personal solitaire experience. But exploring other genres first seems prudent.
I don't need a partygame about language for large groups. I already have Phrasell.
We also have a quick 2-minute speed game, an abstract game about considering probabilities and (now that Coupell is a 'core' game) a co-operative word game for 2 players.
I'm not saying that I don't want another 2p co-operative game for the deck. Of course there can be more word games, or abstract games. I'd love for all the Grabbell variants to be easily available online.
But the 'core' games are my way of saying, "These are the games I recommend you consider trying."
Nothing is perfect for everyone. Some folk might hate any one of the games. Maybe some are unsuitable for your playercount. But I believe that these games are a good way to begin your journey of exploration into what the deck offers.
Looking at the list of core games, there are a few omissions. Nothing yet for solo play. Nothing super-competitive for more than 7 players. There's actually not any turn-based competitive word games yet, which is odd as that's the first thing that most folk might expect to play with the cards!
Puzzell is available online. I think it's a good game. The rules are as 'finished' as can be. It is an abstract game but plays very differently to Alphabetickell. It would be a fine addition to the list of core games.
Over the past few weeks, I've decided that Mickell (a 1-player solitaire word game, which can be expanded into 'Muckell' if you have multiple decks) is actually a better option.
It's new to folk. Unless I personally showed you this game at a playtest or at a con, you've probably not played it. By contrast, Puzzell has been online for ages.
There's interest in solitaire wordgames. I didn't realise this, but Giles (of Both Sides of My Table) told me that that they were very interested to see how a solitaire wordgame might work. I've written down rules for 4 and am starting the blind testing for them all.
I want to turn Muckell (the massively-multiplayer version of Mickell) into a thing I play at events (maybe starting with Airecon 2019), so it feels like Mickell should be given more importance.
Before, I felt that having more games that aren't word games was a priority. I'd still like to broaden the diversity of genres. I still feel like Puzzell is a brilliant game and it should probably be a core game one day.
But there's no shame in admitting that this deck is great for wordgames. Even within that broad genre, there can be a lot of variety.
Mickell is just more what the deck needs right now.
Mickell's rulesheet had some points of uncertainty found on Monday night and I hope to have a version I'm happy to send for remote testing within a week. And then I'll need proof-reading and folk to tell me their scores (so I can better establish the 'grades') and playtimes (purely to make that stat more accurate).
If you're interested in helping playtest over the next month, please let me know.
- [+] Dice rolls