The origins of my games (Marcel-André Casasola Merkle)
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
Germany
Munich
Bavaria
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All my published games and how I got my ideas.

Last update: Mar, 22th 2014

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1. Video Game: 2 Dreams [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Munich
Bavaria
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2 dreams is my first video game (for iOS). I wanted to create an experience that reaches from the video game world into reality. It's an atmospheric puzzle adventure set in the world of dreams. Very short production time. Made with Unity3D.
2 dreams was on the shortlist for the Most amazing game award 2014.
 
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2. Board Game: Santa Cruz [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:2238]
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Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Santa Cruz may be looking like just another "play a card and build buildings on an island" game but the idea behind is best described with the two words: second chance. I often hear players tell what they would do differently after a game if they only had the chance. That they would win easily if they only could take this particular move. That catched my interest. Is it really true or are they overestimating their own abilities?

That is why you play two rounds in Santa Cruz. In the first round you are exploring the island and thus opportunities. You may fail because plans don't work out our luck favors another player. But after that you play a second round with (almost) all the knowledge of the first round. Prove that you are able to learn from your mistakes, play the best power combos and win the game.

Eventually another big game from me. I got the idea for this one in December 2009. As always it was a delight to work with Hans im Glück and Michael Menzel because they really put hard work into their products.
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3. Board Game: Ein Mann. Ein Spiel. [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Ein Mann. Ein Spiel.
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Game is based on a concept from 2008.
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4. Board Game: Speed Dating [Average Rating:4.91 Unranked]
Board Game: Speed Dating
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Speed Dating is a game about Speed Dating named Speed Dating.

It is all about the crazy situations because the cards define the personality you have to play. I had this idea a while ago but never had the chance to test it. In January 2010 I finally did and it was an instant success.
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5. Board Game: Tadaaam! [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:7526]
Board Game: Tadaaam!
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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A Monstermaler edition including the crazy ideas of the Belgian guys from Repos.
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6. Board Game: Eine gegen Eine [Average Rating:5.03 Overall Rank:17170]
Board Game: Eine gegen Eine
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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A quite special project that originated during a workshop at the fifth Deutsche Spieleautorentagung (German Game Designer Conference) in 2009.

We were seven game designers exploring a possibility to make a game completely without the necessity to read a rule book. This idea is nearly as extreme as the Dogma project by several scandinavian directors back in the 90ties but the most interesting part of designing games is to break the rules. Yes, that is the very advantage game designers have over players

It took us several hours to sketch out the raw concept and we tried it even on the next day with other participants of the conference. We did extensive testing and optimizing for the next half year always looking for caveats in our concept.

You really learn much about intuition and how players understand the concept of game components during that process. I don't want to miss that knowlege...

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7. Board Game: Pyramid of Pengqueen [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1544]
Board Game: Pyramid of Pengqueen
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Fluch der Mumie ("Pyramid" for the international version) Nürnberg 2008 / Ravensburger

It is a design that dates back to 2006.

I wanted to design a game that really captures the feeling of a dumb minded mummy chasing for intruders of its beloved little pyramid. Thats why I came up with a special magnetism mechanism that gives the mummy no visual knowlegde of the whereabouts of the explorers but a feeling where they could be. Sitting on the other side of the vertical game board the intruders can feel the tension of a mummy "magically" moving around and great relief when it just misses your pawn by a square or two.

Developement has been quick and fun but it took over a year to refine the movement mechanism. Eventually I came up with a very nice dice rolling system that determines the movement range of the mummy. Danger of beeing captured grows and grows from turn to turn until one pitty soul is discovered and thrown into the mummy's prison.

Don't judge this one with hard core strategy in mind. There are tactics and a nice shift from cooperative play to competetive play but it's mostly about tension and immersion into the theme.

[update November 1st 2009]
Fluch der Mumie has been nominated for the Golden Geek Awards 2009. Thanks a lot especially because the game has flown quite under the radar in Germany.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/458725
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8. Board Game: Taluva [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:491]
Board Game: Taluva
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Talvua is a design that I started to develop back in 2004. You won't believe it but Java has nothing to do with the development of this one. The first idea came when I played with the triangularly connected hex tiles. Putting them on top of each other gave me the thought about erupting vulcanoes that would raise fertile land. The whole other components where completely different back then and I can't even remember the rules of my first prototype.
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9. Board Game: Julchen und die Monster [Average Rating:5.92 Overall Rank:11911]
Board Game: Julchen und die Monster
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Julchen und die Monster (Juliet and the monsters)is the first game I invented, did the graphics and published completely on my own. The idea started as a project for a publisher which was looking for a specific card game. It didn't work out because they decided not to publish any games in that direction but the game had been finished and I thought it was definitely worth to be published.

It's a mixture of bluff, deduction and combining. Very interactive and short enough to play a couple of times. There's a small dosis of "Schwarzer Peter" in it as well as some pieces of "DaVinci Code".

I was quite surprised that it was possible to win more or less 80% of my games at the fair because at first I guessed this game was much more luck dependent. In fact the bluffing is a big and important part to distract the players.
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10. Board Game: Split Personality [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:6841]
Board Game: Split Personality
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Monstermaler is a co-work with Andrea Meyer and Friedemann Friese. Nuremberg 2006: Three designers meet after the fair in a fairly nice coffee bar, talk, laugh and decide to publish the game they have invented some minutes ago.

The basic idea was to make a game about people's attributes. What are the obvious parts that tell if a person is homo- or heterosexual. What about the difference between an artist and a salesman. What things give away if someone loves sports or rather watches tv. It was all about stereotypes and we got a feeling that it would be quite boring to be a game but it led us quite directly to the basic idea of Monstermaler: drawing just a part of a person to guess who he or she might be.
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11. Board Game: Funny Friends [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1894]
Board Game: Funny Friends
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Fiese Freunde Fette Feten is a co-work with Friedemann Friese which had its origin on a long funny night at Vaugrineuse castle (thanks to Bruno) where we ultimately revealed the frightening secret of the relationship of the words "night" and "eight" in different european languages. Maybe we were just fooling around maybe we have to blame the warm belgic beer, the only beverage left in the building.
Sounds wierd? It was
Sweating of heat and with a dry feeling between the teeth Friedemann and I discussed the perfect time traveling game - one where the players can take back bad decisions they've made in the past.
I liked the idea of a jungle game where you have to fulfill some tasks like marrying the jungle queen or not being killed by this stupid trap but Friedemann insisted a game about real life would be better. He was right

We imagined a class reunion where the former classmates would tell the stories of their lifes and how they happened to become what they were. When narrating some other player would stop him telling he told the whole story wrongly, saying everything happened differently from one point on.

The basic idea was to play cards that build a storyline. The player can decide on which cards they want to participate and as the story evolves it'll be revealed if their decisions were good or bad. This would have been the point when the players could have said: no I want to change a specific decision in the past to change the outcome.

What can I say? It didn't work because in this version you played the same part of the game over and over. Very repetitive.

---

So throwing away the basic idea of your game is one of the hardest tasks for a game designer. But it's a lesson you have to learn because it's not quite uncommon that the very reason you started working on a specific game has become obsolete.

Eventually we skipped all the time traveling stuff and focussed on the story and your evolving character. We integrated all the parts (adolescence, real life, life goals and mega goals) into one system: 9 attributes tell you which cards you may "experience" and how they affect your personality in changing these very attributes.

Why did we precisely select these 9? Smoking, alcohol, drugs, wealth, illness, fat, sadness, religiosity, wisdom. They cover a great bandwidth of key experiences in a young life - and they are fun. Well they are fun if you don't take life too seriously and if you can laugh about how ironic life can be from time to time.

Some people are gasping: this game is too depressing. I think it tells you what life is about:

The attribute system features a great advantage: Every game you play there is built a virtual life in front of your eyes. And the best thing about it: it's consistent. You can tell why you ended up as freak when your first action in life has been collecting magic mushrooms.

Quite the contrary I think the message is positive. This game tells you that you're in charge. You have to choose what to do with your life and where to go. Think independent and be carful if your friends press you to do something you don't want to. And of course it tells you what game designers do after the work is done...
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12. Board Game: Flunkern [Average Rating:5.74 Overall Rank:14019]
Board Game: Flunkern
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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I met Tobias Biedermann at a party in Cologne in early 2000. He's a very nice guy but he is not really into gaming. We talked and I mentioned that I was designing games. He was quite interested and so we started joking about making a game together.
Some days later Tobias came up with the idea to turn the traditional game "Bescheißen" into a boxed version. I had never heard of it but the game concept sounded promising. I started working on an advanced concept that kept the fun of the original and added more tactical possiblities and variety.
The protoype was real fun and became an instant hit for my nonplayer friends.

Three years went by. Many laughs while playing the game - but still no contract. Tobias and I kept meeting but by and by we stopped talking about games.

Then one day in the end of 2003 I visited Tobias in his new flat and he asked why I had brought along this bottle of champagne. "Do you know Ravensburger?" I answered.
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13. Board Game: Attribut 2 [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked]
Board Game: Attribut 2
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Same game concept as Attribut Attribut 2 features new german words selected by Uwe Rosenberg. The game has been recieved well at the Essen fair so the whole Attribut thing keeps alive
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14. Board Game: Attika [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:708]
Board Game: Attika
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Attika came into my mind when I played a computer strategy game in summer 2003. I wanted the development of city building (building first the harbour to be able to build the ships) but also a very easy game system which fits to the demands of a one hour boardgame. I know it sounds like wanting the cake and eating it

When I playtested my first prototype of Attika i called it "Polis". Strange enough the theme had nothing to do with greece at all. It was more like building a Medieval town. The Attika harbour was the mill with 3 corn fields around, the town center was a farm with sheep, cows and horses.

Regarding the mechanics not all game elements had been already evolved. In fact some major parts were completely missing.

Everybody started out with about 30 buildings in one stack. At your turn you could draw a building and place it it face up before you or you could place a building before you on the map or you could draw a card.

Next one.

The goal: Putting down your 30 buildings.

Some people are complaining of not beeing able to track the buildings they have built. In this version there was not even a player board The follow ups were only marked on the buildings themselves.

Other things missing: Shrines, difference between black and white buildings, variable map and map tiles, amphoras, playing two cards as a joker and building a new settlement (you only had one and the settlements of players were not allowed to touch each other). You see, the game barely existed
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15. Board Game: Attribute [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:3079]
Board Game: Attribute
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Back in 1997 after the gathering in Göttingen I decided to create a card game without any text or illustration on the cards. It should rely on the imagination of the players only.

Well, that didn't work out but I tried to stick with the idea to give the players more creative freedom than in many other games. So I thought up the correlation mechanism between nouns and adjectives. The problem was to decide what`s right what`s wrong. I even put a description of the words on the cards like: "red - a thing that has one or more red parts". In autumn 1997 I showed it to Adlung Spiele but I saw it wasn`t ready pretty soon.

So the game rotted some years in a shelf or somewhere else (might have been an old bag). It was in winter 2000 at a game workshop from Christwart Conrad where finally a scoring idea sneaked into my mind. It took one day of thinking and I couldn´t help waiting to try it out.

It was still a long way to get "Attribut" published but this is another story and I might tell it in future

I'm glad to be able to announce Attribut will be printed in an English version as Attribute. That's my first "native" English game as Bakerstreet is just available in an international version and strange enough "Verräter" and "Meuterer" never made the leap to America. I drew smoother graphics for the English version and put a description text on the back of the box as many people didn't get what Attribut is all about. Hanno who worked some years in America translated the Attributes. Now it's time to see if Attribut has a real chance against famous Apples to Apples. David against Goliath I suppose
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16. Board Game: Bakerstreet [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:14978]
Board Game: Bakerstreet
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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This one has been a vampire game first. I thought bluffing for two players was kind of a new idea.

Back in 1999 I considered to publish this one for myself. I even had subscribed at the Essen fair for a small booth but then the lack of time and money prevented me from doing something stupid. The game was not ready at this time and if you have the opportunity to let your game be published by Ravensburger you should not think twice.

I created the final version in 2001 featuring a nice little thing that didn´t make the Ravensburger box: There was a little story text printed on every evidence card. So the story and the backround of the murder was told a little bit further on every evidence you collected. After collecting all your seven cards you had a complete story of the investigation featuring a murderer, a motive and a weapon. The two different cards of a letter (let´s say "A" for example) had two variations of the story so you got another one each session.

We decided to drop this feature due to the international version and because most gamers wouldn´t look at this although *I* like those little bits.
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17. Board Game: Lift Off [Average Rating:5.18 Overall Rank:18195]
Board Game: Lift Off
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
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Why shouldn't fast paced action games be somewhat strategical?

I always thought about giving fast paced games a new twist to make them feel deeper. A game played in real time but with possibilities to interact in a stragecial way not only by beeing faster.
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18. Board Game: Meuterer [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1062]
Board Game: Meuterer
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
Germany
Munich
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I like Mutiny and always wished to make a game out of the theme.
had a hard time to create the sequel of Verräter.

I thought pirates would have to be a big part of a mutiny game. But the game got too complicated so I had to get rid of my lovely corsairs. Well not completely. They was shifted into the variant which I really recommend to try.

And besides the "Piratennest" there is also a pirate in joke which was never noticed by anyone yet. Don't you think the "Affeninsel" looks somewhat familiar? If not I would recommend you to translate the name
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19. Board Game: Verräter [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1719]
Board Game: Verräter
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
Germany
Munich
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I always wanted to invent a game where two parties fight against each other and you may decide where you want to fight each round.

The other idea was to offer a whole card game on one letter sized sheet. The mechanism didn't function this way but transformed to the core mechanism of Verräter.
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20. Board Game: Elements [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:13207]
Board Game: Elements
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
Germany
Munich
Bavaria
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There was this tiny workshop that I offered this weekend back in March in 1997: Game inventing. I started with Poker and ended up with Elements.

I was quite surprised to find a publisher only two month later at the gathering of game designers in Göttingen.
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