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Subject: David's Designer Diary (part 1) rss

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David Harding
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Traditionally in Britain, morning tea time is referred to as 'elevenses.' At around 11 o'clock each morning, families and friends would gather around a cup of tea and a sweet snack. This custom was taken further in socialite circles where 'high tea' included a variety of treats and warm drinks for guests to devour.

Welcome to my first (of three) designer diary entries where I will share the story of how my new card game Elevenses came to be.

Prototype box design

My design background
I've been playing board games since I was a kid. I used to love Friday night games with my parents and brother. We only really had the traditional roll-and-move type of game but you know what? We didn't care! I used to go to the back of the toy shop in our town of Princeton NJ and check out the weird and wonderful games they had there. We rarely got a new game so it was my job to drool over the pictures and try and figure out how the game worked from all the information on the back of the box.
Because I could only dream of owning a game collection, sometimes I would make my own. I would draw tracks for counters to move along, cut up cards and search through the house for spare dice. I loved creating board games in my notebook that no one would ever play. Later, I would create lots of silly games with my brother and cousin that were sort of 'roll-and-move meets party game,' where to win, you had to get to the end of the track whilst wearing a silly hat, shirt, gloves, or whatever. Most of these games were heavily influenced by the Mad Magazine Game which my brother and I loved. By this I mean they were roll-and-move but with a silly/satirical twist on the genre.
My first 'proper' foray into game design was a card game a few years ago. I quite like it but it just sits in my cupboard as it is a game for children about bombs (not the best marriage of theme to target market the world has seen.) I have seen many children enjoy it but it definitely needs a tweak before any publisher would pick it up!
Recently I brought a further two designs to completion. One is a light card game about monkeys, the other a dice game about gorillas (notice a trend?) - both of which I enjoy - but feel they need a bit of extra oomph before I submit them to a publisher.

Why Elevenses?
And that brings us to my first truly finished design - Elevenses: The morning tea card game. When I first showed the game to outsiders, it was met with both shock and laughter. "This is a game about what?"
However, when you take a look at what I wanted to accomplish in this game design, I think it will be easy to see how I was led to tea parties as a concept.

My goals were:
1) A short, light game that non-gamers might enjoy.
2) An original and intriguing theme for gamers and non-gamers alike.
3) A card game with special actions on all the cards that would affect the game as they are played.
4) A small card game like the ones my brother's company Adventureland Games had had experience in publishing. (Check out Sushi Go! and Archaeology as examples.)
5) A game that could utilise the art style of my friend TJ Lubrano.
(At then end of the day, my goal really was to make a game that my wife would play with me!)

Why 1? I love lightweight/gateway games that are simple to teach yet offer lots of strategical meat on their bones. Why 2? I like being different! Why 3? I love games like Innovation where every card you draw has the potential to change the landscape of the game. Why 4? Because then I thought he might be interested in publishing it! Why 5? Because I love her work and knew it would be fun to work together!

I feel all of my goals have been achieved and that's a nice feeling. Whether or not Elevenses gains critical acclaim, it is thrilling to see my creativity expressed so successfully.
I have had lots of fun designing the game - next post I will share about the design and development process that Elevenses went through to reach completion.
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