The Making of Genji - Tales and Trivia
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
72 
 Thumb up
3.00
 tip
 Hide
Dear Fellow Geeks,

I've just been putting the finishing touches on Genji, soon to be released from Z-Man (rules are currently downloadable here: http://boardgamegeek.com/file/info/31483). I thought I would collect a whole bunch of fun random trivia here in order to enlighten and entertain. Genji is a game based on the romances of Hikaru Genji, sometimes referred to as the "Shining Prince" because of the meaning of his given name (hikaru = "to shine"). While Genji was not a real person, many have surmised that he was based on a real individual (or individuals) known to the author, Murasaki Shikibu. There was, reportedly, even speculation about this at the time the book was being written and released chapter by chapter (in and around the period from 1000-1020CE). Genji takes the tack that the players are nobles off to prove that they are as gentle and romantic as the Shining Prince so that they can claim to be the real-life inspiration for The Tale of Genji.

Genji has been the culmination of about a year of work and sleeplessness. What with a son, a wife, and a day job, I didn't have much time to pursue my hobby of game design. I chatted about design with my friends on the Board Game Designers' Forum and entered a few of the monthly challenges there. It was when I went on a trip to Japan to see the inlaws and outlaws that I finally had the time to get down to designing something real: my wife was going to stay on in Japan with her parents for a couple weeks along with my son*. The 9 hours on the plane alone was used to good effect, and by the time I touched down back in Sri Lanka I had an alpha ruleset.

When my wife came home, I had a prototype ready for her. She was (quite appropriately) the very first alpha-tester for this game about Japanese poetry and romance... appropriate not only because she's my wife, but because I was actually looking to make something that we'd be able to play together.

*I have now determined that one week is the maximum amount of time I can be away from my wife and son without exhibiting signs of total mental collapse - such as compulsive housecleaning and worrying if my son is near a road or sharp object... maybe... someplace.
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: The Game of Authors [Average Rating:4.46 Overall Rank:17984]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Before anything else, however, I'd just like to say this is an auspicious year to publish Genji. The Tale of Genji is officially 1000 years old:
http://ca.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idCAT139768200...
And yet, in many ways, it still reads like a modern novel. The character development is intense, and Murasaki creates rather masterful continuity in the lives of all her characters without the benefit of a "find and replace" function!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: The Battle of Lanka [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I live in Sri Lanka, but I am an expatriate (kinda - ask me privately how that works) Canadian. As a Canadian - accustomed as I am to wide open spaces and the decided lack of openly-carried assault weapons - and a dad, I tend to spend a lot of time at home. Sri Lanka has very few wide open spaces in reach of Colombo, and has a lot of police checkpoints and occasional impromptu army checks. Sometimes, due to the traffic, it's better to just stay off the road. It's additionally difficult to explain standing in traffic for an hour (on what would normally be a 10-minute trip) to a youngster who has THE NEED FOR SPEED.
I needed some kind of activity that I could do at home, where I didn't have to worry about traffic (and the occasional roadside bomb). After discovering the BGDF (Board Game Designer's Forum http://www.bgdf.com/tiki-custom_home.php), I got more and more back into the board game design hobby I had so enjoyed as a youngster.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I didn't know what had happened to me. Sure, I had made one or two prototypes before, but this one was different. I wanted to work on it all the time. I worked like a man possessed. Clearly, it helped that my wife was away in Japan and I had nowhere to put my... err... how shall I say it - creative energies.

I began reading back over the BGDF website for information on prototyping cards, I made a few charts of what card distribution I wanted and looked around for indications of good deck sizes. I started painting a few illustrations and laying out the basic card designs in Flash.

Yes, Macromedia Flash 4.0

Believe it or not, the animating frames that you can work with in Flash allow you to flip from card to card as well as carry over design elements. The vector conversion is very good and I had a lot of the functionality of a good (though old) graphic manipulation program. The cards for Genji are still based on those first tender steps, and yes, they were developed entirely in Macromedia Flash 4.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Getting my wife to play the game was a rather interesting experience.

My wife thinks games are mostly for kids. I'm also a miniatures wargamer and this has somewhat heightened the degree of suspicion she has about my beloved games. She thinks the game is just a reason for me to gather with my like-minded friends and play the equivalent of dress-up with the little toy spaceships I buy and paint.

It is an excuse to play with the toys we could never purchase as youngsters, but that is an entirely grown-up activity! I mean, it costs lots of money, doesn't it? That makes it, by definition, the province of those with credit cards...

So, when I pulled out a huge double deck of cheap playing cards - each one with a painstakingly glued-on face to be used with Genji - she was a bit amused at my silly shenanigans... but she played. She played every time I alpha tested. Friends would come in and stay over with us for visits, and she'd play - always. I could tell she felt a little bit odd to begin with, but then she started getting into it, and getting more and more fiercely competitive.

I did marry her for a reason...
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: What Happens Next [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What happened next was a series of prototypes, tests, rules rewrites, and more tests and protoypes. The game started with a 9-card hand and no replenishing until the end of each round, through a 7-card hand down to a 6 and then 5-card hand with replenishing from the draw pile at the end of each turn. Symbols changed. Cards changed. Layouts evolved. I was blessed with a series of visitors to our house (and a chance to go home and see all my friends) in order to playtest the heck out of Genji. I took profuse notes and compiled them into a word file.

I was also taking the rules out for a spin with my friends on BGDF. I would copy and paste chatlogs wholesale and stick them into my playtest notes. The pages of notes and sketches and charts in my office threatened to take over.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:2551]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So how was the game prototyped?

Well, generation one was two decks of ordinary playing cards with slips of paper individually glued to their fronts. I did each one, printing the cards out on the printer, cutting them out with scissors, and then gluing them to the front of each card with glue stick. At first, I started by taking sandpaper to the fronts of the cards to get the gloss off, but then I decided that was ludicrous and just glued right on the gloss - and damn the torpedoes. Strangely enough, not a single one came off.

Second generation was printed in the same way but glued in sheets to cardboard hanging file folders. I cut them out with scissors again, and they were quite serviceable.

Third generation I did while back in Canada, by going to a print shop and getting the card fronts and backs properly done up. I had access to a guillotine, so my cuts were nice and straight. I simply printed the fronts and backs on one piece of plain bond paper, laminated both sides, and then cut out the cards. That made a rigid enough, glossy card that shuffled very well. Things were starting to look (and play) real.

You can see pictures of the fourth generation prototype here:
http://www.bgdf.com/tiki-view_forum_thread.php?comments_pare...
Here's a shot in-play.

I'll talk more about it later in the list...
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
From a usability perspective, things changed a lot from first prototype to final product.

First of all, there were two major design issues with the original prototype that had to be changed: the position of the icons and the presentation of the cards. A friend from BGDF insisted that the icons should be in the upper left so the cards can be properly fanned. That made sense. It was impossible to see all the icons on the cards in the first proto if the hand was fanned. The cards themselves I thought were originally quite simple: black on one side, white on the other. Easy to tell whether it is a top or a bottom verse, right? WRONG! This was, unfortunately, a grave mistake. People kept on mixing up top and bottom verses. I quickly went to a different design at the suggestion of one of the playtesters who also works as a graphic designer: change the shape of the text area to show which side is which.

Another change - this time to the rules - made the game far more simple: the removal of one of the elements from the princess cards. Originally, all princesses had an individual flower that could also be matched to given poems. This was founded on good intentions to base the princesses on the suits of the Hanafuda deck. This was removed as it added little to the game except work.

The final version of the Princess Cards is far more more like those of Hyakunin Isshu (100 Poems by 100 Poets) than in the original proto. In part, it's because "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." It Hyakunin Isshu has been around this long without substantial change, why gild the lily? It's also because the colours of the podia on which the princesses sit interfere with the symbols. The symbols now are far more clean and crisp set flanking the calligraphy on each Princess Card.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There seems to be a question that pops up on BGG and game design forums quite regularly: What do women want?

Well, if speaking to FLGS owners provided the definitive answer, it would have something to do with the upsurge of Euros in North America. One such shopkeeper told me that once the Euros came in, all of a sudden he had women and girls in his store, buying games. Clearly, however, after following some of the "what do women want in a game" threads here on BGG, Euros were not the easy answer to this question.

Genji was mainly playtested amongst female non-gamers. I did this as the target market was female. So I asked a lot of my non-gamer female friends to give as much scathing feedback on the game as possible. Luckily, they did!

I found there were three basic things that kept coming up in playtesting:

1) Just let me play the game!
No time for fancy-pants bookkeeping or missed turns. Every player wants to be able to do something every turn, and that something should help them come closer to winning. Lowering complexity, polishing off the rough edges from a usability standpoint... these were top priority. Nobody wanted anything to get in the way of them playing the game.

2) Appearance
It had to be nice to look at. The cards had to be well laid-out and attractive. Minimizing the number of elements on the cards was necessary in order to avoid distractions when trying to find information.

3) Theme/conflict
The theme seems to be a natural draw. It is, after all, a game about love and poetry - which is pretty unique. It wasn't so much that the playtesters were more mushy or sentimental than others, they just liked the fact that it was a game about something that's not a common topic for games. It is also a theme that doesn't include direct head-to-head conflict. I think that Genji developed in such a way that direct conflict was removed in favour of indirect competition. This was due in large part to refinements early in alpha testing. There is a high screwage factor in Genji, especially with more players. The issue is that the interaction is "player against poem" and not "player against player." Certainly, the removal of a rival player's poem is antagonistic to that player, but it is not head-to-head competition on par with backstabbing in Diplomacy. There is a psychological filter there that makes the challenge more sporting than it is personal.

All this to say that I owe a great debt to all my playtesters and wow... did I learn a lot in the process!
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
9. Board Game: Poetic Justice [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The poem translations are my riffs on other English translations, with inspiration from the originals. Granted, my medieval Japanese is not so good , but I certainly did learn a bit though the experience!

Each of the English translations keeps to the 5-7-5-7-7 metre of the original Tanka form. Of note, one of the poems I had originally put on the prototypes (and one of my favourites) is no longer in the game going to publication:

Upstanding, we part: 立ち分かれ
On Inaba's mountain peaks, 稲葉の山の
There are trees on high. 峰に生ふる
Should I hear you pine for me 松とし聞かば
like those trees, I shall return. 今帰り込む

(not a great translation, but I didn't want to get up and look for a better one!)

In my time spent looking for poems to fit the Poem Cards, I also was reminded of a poem that, like an old friend, spoke to my current itinerant lifestyle:

River of heaven, 天の川
If I gaze upon you now, ふりさけ見れば
As in Kasuga, 春日なる
On top of Mount Mikasa, 三笠の山に
Was that the same moon I saw? 出し月かも

This was written by a Japanese noble on study assignment in China. Though it is recorded he made one attempt to return to Japan, he passed away without ever seeing his homeland again, as the mission he tried to sail with was called off. Though quite a moving poem to me, it's not really a fit for Genji, so I'll keep it to myself!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
10. Board Game: Kamon [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:9538]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Kamon are the Japanese equivalents of European coats of arms. They serve to distinguish families from one another and were used from ancient times to mark their stuff. Since this game was developed with the help of a bunch of Japanese friends (and my Japanese wife), I wanted to include their own family kamon in the design for Genji. I decided to use them as a kind of player insignia, used on the Home markers and Livery tokens in the game. They are in each player's colour, but I have done my best to make these symbols colourblind friendly. I concentrated on differences in design and depth of colour so that - even if looked at only in greyscale - the icons are reasonably easy to tell apart. I realize that colourblindness is not a question of seeing things in black and white, but I thought that would be the most effective way to make the chits clear and easy to tell apart.

Below are five of the kamon included, each one is either a friend, a member of the family, or was a playtester for the game.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

1.Friend we met in Sri Lanka
2.My "adoptive" Japanese family
3.Wife
4.In-laws
5.Playtester and friend from here in Sri Lanka

The house symbols are something I thought were rather cool. I needed something to denote direction, and I wanted to tie it in with my "ancient characters" design theme. I noted that the ancient Chinese character for "house" had a bit of a pointy top, so I amalgamated the kamon and the symbol for "house" into a unified house marker.

The one remaining kamon has a special story behind it, and I think it deserves its own entry...
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
11. Item is no longer in our database
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I highly recommend reading this geeklist, all about a man who fell desperately in love with a woman - completely out of the blue. I was so moved by the story that I asked Lajos if he and his then fiancée (now wife) would be interested in immortalizing their romance by including her kamon in the design.

He informed that she didn't know her kamon, and neither he nor she were really hung up on the iconography, so after a quick discussion I proposed this design. It's two thread spindles superimposed. This is because there are two of them (duh) and the Japanese say that some lovers are tied together with a "red thread" that fates them to be together, no matter how far apart they begin life. Lajos plays with black, so naturally, the pawn and kamon are black in the game!

So, here it is: a symbol of the romance that can live on in a game all about romance!

Edited to update civil status!
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
12. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:419]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't mean to belabour the kamon thing, but there is one last interesting story about them. I asked plenty of people if I could use their kamon, and they all said yes...

...except one.

This one particular person contacted the family about the use of their kamon. Dad came back with the bad news, and explained that there's an awfully good reason for that. You see, their family had been extremely highly placed in the Shogun's court for generations. Their name was synonymous with the shogunate's bureaucratic inner circle. So, in the end, it was his wish that the kamon not be included.

Too bad, too... it would have been so cool!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
13. Board Game: Hanafuda [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2897]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A great deal of the floral art in the original prototypes was inspired by Hanafuda. As a matter of fact, to begin with, princesses also each had their very own flower that could also be matched by poem cards. There were 12 flowers, each corresponding to the flowers from Hanafuda.

This proved not to be feasible.

However, I wanted to keep the Hanafuda in the game, so I named each and every princess after a flower from the Hanafuda suits. Each princess's clothing also features a floral pattern derived from this flower. For example, the Spring/Melancholy princess has Wisteria flowers on her cape (in the Heian period, this was fastened at the waist like a backwards apron and was called a "mo"). The word for wisteria in Japanese is "fujii." Her name therefore features the name of the flower: Fujitsubo no Chuuguu. This name is written in Japanese on her card.

To add one final layer to this rather involved bit of trivia, the names of both Fujitsubo and Kiritsubo feature in the Tale of Genji, and the courtly rank of Fujitsubo is the same as in the book (Chuuguu)!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
14. Board Game: Hyakunin Isshu (100 Poems by 100 Poets) [Average Rating:6.55 Unranked]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
And, if you thought the princesses looked a little bit like the illustrations from Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, then you're very perceptive! The princess cards were based on the look of these illustrated cards.

Where did I get the art from, you ask?

My own blood, toil, tears, and sweat! OK, I admit, less blood than tears, as I'm a crybaby. I'm highly lucky that my father-in-law runs a stationery store in Japan so I could get a lifetime supply of Kuretake brush-pens. The art was penciled, then done in sumi (Japanese black ink) with the brush-pens, then scanned in, vectorized, touched-up, coloured, and finally stuck on the cards.

Not all princesses made the cut. Some looked silly. This is my first ever graphic arts gig so I had a lot to learn! I probably did a total of 2 drawings for every one that got put on a card. It ended up being good use for the Japanese watercolour I studied in Japan so many years ago!

Another fun fact: I tried to find a good high-res picture for the box front, but came up empty-handed. I ended up having to paint the picture, scan it in two halves, hand-join the two, and then colour it in Flash. This art thing... it's really hard!
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
15. Board Game: Sign It! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
On the boxfront, the Japanese writing is a simple passage from The Tale of Genji. On the left hand side, however, is a "hanko," or signature stamp. That's one of the signature stamps I carved while I was back in Canada. My wife is a calligrapher, but my favourite part of calligraphy class was the stamp carving, so she and I went out and bought stamp blanks in Chinatown and... err... went to (China)town on them.

This one is my favourite carving so far, and you can see my other work in the game box: all the signature stamps on the bonus cards are hanko that I carved, stamped, and scanned. I may not be a good carver, but what I lack in quality I make up for in quantity!

The characters on my personal hanko have a theme: the words "Blue Sea." That's also what the two characters of the written signature mean. This is because Dylan is the name of the Welsh God of the Sea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dylan_Ail_Don). Ever since I lived in Japan, I used the characters 青海 to identify myself.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I had set myself a hard limit to when I wanted a completed game. I wanted the experience of submitting a game to Hippodice so that I could see how the whole submission process worked. I also worked better with a tangible goal in sight, so Hippodice was a good target to shoot for.

For those of you who don't know Hippodice, it's a rather prestigious game design competition where the only real prize is honour and pride... but for MANY of the top competitors, it means contracts! The competition itself is not specifically geared towards getting games published, but so many publishers are there - and it is now such a well-regarded contest - that it's almost unavoidable. The top games get noticed.

The contest begins with a submission of abstracts, rules, and photos. These are looked at by a panel of judges and culled to determine which games would be considered for submission of prototypes. I was excited to get a prototype in, and a friend of mine in Hong Kong produced two prototypes of Genji for me as a favour.

Please, if you are in Hong Kong, drop by and buy a few games from her! The store website is here: http://www.jollythinkers.com/

Since she made two prototypes, I had a cunning plan. I wrote a submission letter to Z-Man and he wrote back saying that he'd like to see a proto as well. I had been up front and said that I was in the Hippodice contest, but he understood and I arranged for my friend from Hong Kong with the protos to meet him in Essen to hand one over.

Sounds a little cloak and dagger eh? "Hand over the parcel at Messe Essen, the codeword is Hikaru"
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
17. Board Game Designer: Simon Hunt
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Remarkably enough, everything lined up. Not long after Zev returned from Essen, BGDF spies reported seeing him and Simon Hunt engaging in a game of Genji at ProtoSpiel in New York. The news filtered back to me through my unofficial spy ring channels...
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
18. Board Game Publisher: Z-Man Games, Inc.
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Then there was a hitch: Hippodice eliminated Genji from the first round. That meant the second prototype didn't even leave home - eliminated without a playtest. I immediately sent an email to Zev to tell him the news, and proceeded to go to work and sulk the whole day. Given that I'm on the other side of the world from the US, my work time is bedtime for the East Coast. When New York of the US was waking up, I was just getting home from a rough day of dejection, ready to curl up in a corner with my comfort blanket.

The email I got back that evening (morning on the other side of the world) from Zev turned my day around with an:

"I am interested"
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
19. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:218]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Then came the work. A game of 107 cards, 12 princesses who needed painting, season cards, chits, the box... I'm glad I didn't know how much work it was going to take to get where we are now. I don't know if I would have had the energy to persevere! Rules alone take forever to shake down, and I'm translating them into French and my wife is translating them into Japanese. I have been going basically non-stop since November and it finally came together in March! Still, as my old manager always said: "It's like how you eat a whole elephant: one bite at a time."
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
20. Board Game: Crouching Hamster, Hidden Translation [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Translation of the rules is a tough slog. It's hard enough for me to write in English - my own native language - let alone in French and Japanese. Lucky for me, I have friends to help me along.

I did the base French translation for Genji starting from google language tools. The whole thing was unusable and every phrase had to be corrected, but it was something to start from. I am consistently impressed by the stuff you can do with French that you can't really do with English. The subjunctive and conditional moods are so attractive and speak to my anachronistic heart. If you ever speak French with me, though, you'll find I have a Québecois lilt: I learned French in Gatineau, after all.

(And as I like to say, the two Canadian official languages are not English and French, they are English and Joile)

Japanese is luckily a language my wife agreed to take over, and bless her heart. I would be able to have a conversation in Japanese, but technical Japanese is simply beyond me. We exercised my wife's strong networking skills here and found a few people to help us with the translation and it gradually came together. Zev fired it off to a Japanese translator he knew just to make certain the game had the right gamer terms: my wife, not being a gamer, didn't have "geekspeak."

So, Genji is offered in English, Japanese (the language of Genji), and French (the language of LOVE)!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
21. Board Game: Genji [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:7867]
Dylan Kirk
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So there you have it. Genji will be out soon and I hope you all enjoy it. This game about love was a labour of love from the beginning, and I'm very glad I'll have the opportunity to share it with everyone!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}