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Subject: A little bit of background, a literal dream come true rss

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Jason Dinger
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With the release of the game only a few months away, I wanted to give some background to where the game came from, what my inspirations were, and what my goals were in the design.

To keep this manageable, I'm going to break it up into several replies here so that it's not one big wall of text.

****

First of all, a little background on me. I grew up in poverty. I had a single pair of pants in 6th grade that was worn full of holes by the end of the school year. Food was scarce at times, even with government assistance. There is much more to the story, including physical abuse, but I'll just sum it up to say that describing my childhood as a nightmare would be an understatement.

Between events of my childhood & situations I faced while deployed to the Balkans in the Army as an adult, I have struggled with depression & PTSD as a child & into adulthood.

This is not a sob story. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. I only tell you this to explain how important board games are to me & my life.

Games have become a source of therapy that have helped me overcome many battles with the negativity in my mind. Being able to sit around the table for hours with my wife, moving cardboard & wooden bits around a board may sound like a simple thing to be taken for granted, but it means the world to me.
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Jason Dinger
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We live in a small town with very few gamers. What few others there are have young children which means we *might* get a chance to game with them once a month at best.

However, my wife, Donna, & I get to play about 10-12 hours of games each week, pretty much all 2p at home. We treasure this time together. It's invaluable.

On February 16, 2016, she & I cooked a small meal for Valentine's Day. After dinner, we played Agricola, Age of Steam, & Puerto Rico. No better way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

We went to bed at 10pm & around midnight, I was startled awake by a dream that was so vivid I couldn't get it out of my head.

In my dream, she & I were sitting at the table, playing a game I'd never seen before. We were running fishing boats out of our home town, Morgan City - which has a rich and storied history of boat captains fishing the Gulf of Mexico.
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Jason Dinger
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I grabbed my phone & immediately started texting everything that I could remember about the game from my dream to my email.

The cards were multi-use, with the ability to be added to your player board to build a unique engine of crew members, fishing licenses, & boat upgrades. When you fished, you'd discard a card that had the appropriate seafood icons in the middle. You had to manage your fuel and deal with events like bad weather, good markets (increased payouts), boat maintenance, and more.

The next morning, I woke up and told Donna about this wild dream I had. She was interested, but I don't know if she realized just how much this was dominating my every thought.

Bear in mind, even though we play a lot of games, I never had any intentions or aspirations to design one...but this was different. I didn't *want* to design this. I HAD to design it.

It was all I could think about.
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Jason Dinger
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I should note that fishing is something that is very special to me. Part of my horrible childhood was a bitter divorce that saw me spending many days & nights with my maternal grandparents. This was truly a blessing that I may not have recognized at the young age of 6 when it all happened.

My grandfather, Tilden J. Fields, had served in the US Navy during WW2. After coming home from deployment to Japan, he worked on fishing boats until eventually working his way up to captaining his own shrimp boat.

With all the negativity that I was dealing with in my home life as a young child, my grandpa TJ was what I call a "lighthouse". Even if I didn't realize it at the time, he was showing me that there was a better life than the abuse & poverty I knew. He is who I aspire to be like today. If it can be said that I was half the man that he was, then I would be proud to have that honor.

He worked many long days & nights on that shrimp boat, being away from home for days at a time. Braving rough seas & horrible weather, he'd bring in the catch to market to support his family the best way that he knew how.
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Jason Dinger
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So...yeah...I truly admire & respect the men & women who make their livings as fishing boat captains. It's not an easy job & not a job many would care to do.

Knowing all that, I think you can understand why it was so important to me for Captains of the Gulf to be as thematic as possible (without making it a dry simulation, of course).

That next morning after the dream, I started sketching up crude icons & spent the next week making the world's ugliest prototype.

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Jason Dinger
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Donna & I play tested the game about a week after I had the dream.

It was so horribly broken, but it was...FUN.

I looked across the table & said, "I think I might have something here that's worth pursuing".

She smiled & agreed.

****

As I noted before, she & I play a LOT of games together. So, all of my designs start as 2-player games. I keep 3p & 4p in the back of my mind, but they have to work at 2p first & foremost.

Also, they have to be something that she & I genuinely enjoy. Since starting CotG, I have designed around 10 games that range from various stages of just a bunch of notes to a fully-playable game.

To date, only 2 of them have survived to the point of being ready for a publisher: CotG & my newest design, Crescent City Cargo (which is about the Port of New Orleans).
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Jason Dinger
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After that first play test, I worked furiously in my notebook. Making changes to some of the most notable broken parts, working on ideas to expand on the most fun parts, etc.

And as I did this, I realized that the idea of multi-use cards that tuck under your player board was subconsciously inspired by La Granja.

I have to readily admit that before CotG was even a dream, I was a huge Spielworxx fanboy. At that point, we only had Arkwright, La Granja, & Colonialism, but there was something about Spielworxx games that just spoke to me. They hit me so hard & gave me an emotional experience at the table that no other publisher could consistently give me.

The thing about Spielworxx games, in my humble opinion, is that they are unique creatures. There are things that might be a little "rough around the edges" (for lack of a better phrase), but that's what makes them good. No Spielworxx game can be accused of being "just another cookie cutter Euro".

They are different and that's a VERY good thing.
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Jason Dinger
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When I realized about the mechanical similarity of card tucking to La Granja (I had not yet played any of Chudyk's games at the time), I immediately realized that I did not want to "take a mechanic" without permission.

I was clueless how all of that worked, but wanted to make sure that everything I did was done with respect.

I sent a GeekMail to Ode (one of the designers of La Granja) with a few pictures. I explained what I was doing & asked if it was okay that I used the card tucking mechanic.

I assumed he was very busy & being that he lived in Germany so many time zones away, I didn't expect to hear from him any time soon. To my surprise, though, he replied almost immediately.

He was thrilled to hear that his game has inspired me & explained that no person owned any mechanic unto themselves. He equated it to music: it is fine to take inspiration from another artist, so long as your song is something unique and of your own creation.
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Jason Dinger
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With Ode's blessing, I dove in even deeper. Throughout the life of CotG, I worked between 30-40 hours a week on the game - working every breakfast, lunch, dinner, night, & weekend.

Having a wife that is as passionate about gaming as I am meant that me being so devoted to the game did not cause any problems at home. As a matter of fact, she was always ready & motivated to play test - something that not everyone cares to do. Play testers are THE heart of game design. Without them, no game worth anything would see the light of day. Donna is an outstanding play tester, not shy about telling you when something isn't good & challenging you to make the best game you can.

I plugged away, taking tons of notes during each play test, and many of these ideas took form in updated versions of the main game cards.

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Jason Dinger
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*calling it a night as I need to get some sleep, but I'll pick it back up tomorrow and going into the next chapter of the story of CotG.
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Thanks for giving some insights into developement. Cannot wait for this game to come out, hope I can preorder this one. And it's good to know that the 2 player count is important to you as we also mainly play with two. But my son gets better in gaming every day so it's now three more often
What me up to now (as not so much about the mechanic is known) makes me look at this game is the theme. Fishing is so much cooler than for example building Rome. Just hope that here some aspects like where to go to catch the fish and weather conditions are part of the game. That is something I for example miss in 'Fleet'. Which on the other hand is also a cool game but really is fun with 3+ persons I think.
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Jonathan Ramundi
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I immediately thought of La Granja--one of my all-time favourites--when I first saw the promo images of this game, so I'm glad to see it was a source of inspiration. Looking forward to seeing more.

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Kent
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Wow, man, AWESOME story and writing!! Can’t wait to hear more. Bravo!! So happy for you and this game!
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DJason wrote:

He was thrilled to hear that his game has inspired me


Not only thrilled, I am honored! Looking forward to the final game, my dear friend!

Another music reference: Soon we will be label buddies!
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Ernst Juergen Ridder
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Hi Jason,

thank you for telling the story of your game.

Are there any books/novels dealing with the background story of your game? I would like to read something before your game is released by spielworxx.
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Sara Bear
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Games as therapy, thanks for putting words to something I felt, but hadn't solidified into words.

T h ey help me redirect into a more positive state of mind. They help defuse anxiety. They help me feel good, which, with all my health stuff, especially depression and pain, is significant. They help me exercise my brain on something other than excessive ruminating, reliving the past (abuse and neglect issues here aa well),,and stuff. They help get me up and moving, to get a game, engage with the rules, endure the boringness of setup, so I can get to the good part. They bring fun, and sometimes challenging in a fun way, things to work through. They motivate me to dust, and clean, so they can be enjoyed in a pleasant environment. They help me take care of myself in some ways.

So, therapeutic, very definitely. To be clear, I have plenty of mental techniques and stuff to do that helps with many of the things games do. But games are while sometimes just entertainment, are often good for my mental, physical, and emotional health. Plus, I try to get ones that are visually appealing or sensory in some other way.

Me, I dreamed of a dragon breeding game with a couple different elements. I didn't dream the whole game, so that's a hard part.

It's really neat to see someone's dream come true.
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Jonathan Ramundi
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Board games are indeed therapeutic for me as well. I recently compared my meticulous--some would say obsessive--organization of a game's components, both when stored in the box and when set up on the table, to maintaining a zen garden.
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Johan Drubbel
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With such a thrilling story, it's only logical we all will pre-order a thrilling game. Looking forward to Spiel even more now!
 
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Jason Dinger
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skazz wrote:
Thanks for giving some insights into developement. Cannot wait for this game to come out, hope I can preorder this one. And it's good to know that the 2 player count is important to you as we also mainly play with two. But my son gets better in gaming every day so it's now three more often
What me up to now (as not so much about the mechanic is known) makes me look at this game is the theme. Fishing is so much cooler than for example building Rome. Just hope that here some aspects like where to go to catch the fish and weather conditions are part of the game. That is something I for example miss in 'Fleet'. Which on the other hand is also a cool game but really is fun with 3+ persons I think.


Thank you!

Yes, the game has elements that affect the players including weather conditions, where / what kind of seafood repopulate to different areas, and more.

It plays in 8 rounds where each round is like 1 week of the fishing season. Each round has a card that might give a bonus (like Boat Show - a card that Ode came up with for the game) or a penalty (like tropical storm - where bad weather causes rough seas that make your fuel costs higher that round).

Also, 1 aspect that I am most proud of in the game is how the seafood repopulation works. It is only 12 cards & 2 rondels, but it gives so much variety to the different types of seafood and what location they come out to, while still being controlled to produce a variety of different types of seafood instead of just 1.
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Jason Dinger
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Jotora wrote:
I immediately thought of La Granja--one of my all-time favourites--when I first saw the promo images of this game, so I'm glad to see it was a source of inspiration. Looking forward to seeing more.



Thank you!

La Granja was definitely an inspiration and a game Donna & I love, though I believe both games stand as truly unique from each other.
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icarusmustburn wrote:
Wow, man, AWESOME story and writing!! Can’t wait to hear more. Bravo!! So happy for you and this game!


Thank you, Kent! Your continued support means the world to me.
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Jason Dinger
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bayerbube wrote:
DJason wrote:

He was thrilled to hear that his game has inspired me


Not only thrilled, I am honored! Looking forward to the final game, my dear friend!

Another music reference: Soon we will be label buddies!


Yes and it is is my honor to be able to call you my friend. I appreciate everything you have taught me & inspired me through all this time.

As a matter of fact, when I made the rulebook for C3, I used the advice you gave me about using the recording. It was brilliant!
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Jason Dinger
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androgeus wrote:
Hi Jason,

thank you for telling the story of your game.

Are there any books/novels dealing with the background story of your game? I would like to read something before your game is released by spielworxx.


Thank you!

The only book written specifically about this is an autobiography that my grandfather wrote, but it unfortunately, it is not widely-available. A few of us in the family have photocopies of it, but it was never printed except for a couple of copies he personally made before he passed.
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Jason Dinger
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sarebear62 wrote:
Games as therapy, thanks for putting words to something I felt, but hadn't solidified into words.

T h ey help me redirect into a more positive state of mind. They help defuse anxiety. They help me feel good, which, with all my health stuff, especially depression and pain, is significant. They help me exercise my brain on something other than excessive ruminating, reliving the past (abuse and neglect issues here aa well),,and stuff. They help get me up and moving, to get a game, engage with the rules, endure the boringness of setup, so I can get to the good part. They bring fun, and sometimes challenging in a fun way, things to work through. They motivate me to dust, and clean, so they can be enjoyed in a pleasant environment. They help me take care of myself in some ways.

So, therapeutic, very definitely. To be clear, I have plenty of mental techniques and stuff to do that helps with many of the things games do. But games are while sometimes just entertainment, are often good for my mental, physical, and emotional health. Plus, I try to get ones that are visually appealing or sensory in some other way.

Me, I dreamed of a dragon breeding game with a couple different elements. I didn't dream the whole game, so that's a hard part.

It's really neat to see someone's dream come true.


Yes! You bring up several detailed points that I did not touch on, but they are so true. The visual element alone can be therapeutic. Sometimes, just being able to look across the table at a beautiful game in play can put me into a positive, healthy state of mind.
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Jason Dinger
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Jotora wrote:
Board games are indeed therapeutic for me as well. I recently compared my meticulous--some would say obsessive--organization of a game's components, both when stored in the box and when set up on the table, to maintaining a zen garden.


Good analogy!
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