Carnagecast 52: Penny Press

carnagecast-rss-image-300At last week’s Game ‘n Grill game day, I got to interview[1] Robert Dijkman Dulkes and Matt Golec, two local gamers who not only designed a game of their own, Penny Press, but entered it in a design competition and emerged as co-victors. Now they’re raising funds to make the game even better than what their prize money enables.

We talk about how the game plays, their design process, the experience of participating Tabletop Deathmatch, which is part concept pitch, part reality series, and more.

Go listen to it!

[1] Fun fact: we recorded this episode in a Sunday school art room.

Game Design Discussion on the TotalCon Podcast

Episode 12 of the TotalCon podcast is a panel of game designers taking questions from the moderator and audience. It’s a mix of folks I have met in real life, on the web and only know by repute.

This was the first time I dipped into the TotalCon audio corpus and I’m glad I did. The panelists are all very down to earth and matter of fact about how they do what they do and why. They get into the behind the scenes shop-talk of freelancing and self-publishing, which is always my topic of interest in these matters. It only takes a couple clicks and some art to be a publisher these days, as one panelist notes, but it takes a lot more investment and work to be good.

Thanks to Ben at Troll in the Corner for the link.

Global Game Jam 2011

Global Game Jam is a yearly event in which participants have forty-eight hours to design a game. These are most typically electronic games, I think, but there’s a movement to promote board game design as well, particularly by Scott Nicholson, a professor of information studies at Syracuse University, which is participating in the game jam this year. In short:

Main goal of Global Game Jam is to bring people together to create digital and non-digital games during a weekend long event. You will be working in groups to quickly draft an idea, design it, create rapid prototypes, and develop the game.  There will be a common theme provided by GGJ on the day of the event. The time given to you may sound short but it is enough to encourage creation of innovative and small games. Some of the games developed in last year’s event became world-wide realized.

Sadly, there are no participating locations in Vermont this year, or I’d ponder taking advantage of the resources available there, both in computers and people. As it is, I’m thinking about taking the initiative to do some board game design that’s been on the back burner since visiting Border Board Games in November. During the drive back, Alex, Rachel and I talked about what a modern Doctor Who board game might look like, taking its inspiration from titles like Battlestar Galactica and Pandemic.

If you were heading out to spend a day designing a game, what would you pack in your tool kit? I’m thinking index cards, markers, dice, scotch tape and lots of tokens.

Powerchords Kickstarter Campaign Begins

Phil Brucato, former line developer of Mage: The Ascension and the lamentably confused Deliria, began a fund raising campaign on to publish a role-playing sourcebook called Powerchords, “dealing with magic, music and urban fantasy.”

It will nominally be set in the world of Deliria, according to Brucato, but adaptable to any setting — which can’t be difficult, given how little of a written setting came with Deliria. Check out the blurb:

Music enchants. Elevates. Destroys. Literally shapes our world.

It’s also a cornerstone of urban fantasy adventures.

The modern bard. The faerie singer. The mad fiddler or vampire rock star – this is their domain.

But the wild allure of mystic bardery is a hard path to pursue. There are devil-deals and heartbreaks, load-ins and flame-outs and two-minutes warnings where the crowd might literally eat you alive.

Do you have the courage to throw down with legends?

Let’s ROCK!!!

Sometimes Brucato’s past work wandered far enough into “woo” territory to make the rationalist in me fidgety — which is, in retrospect, an interesting reaction for something that’s fiction from start to finish — but I really like the sound of the premise. Then again, I really liked the sound of Deliria and was hugely let down by the lack of setting material in such a thick book — in all honesty, I can’t remember finishing the book, so maybe I just gave up before getting to the setting chapters.

The perks of donating are pretty cool. $25 or more gets the backer a PDF of the book, plus the opportunity to name a band mentioned in the book. $50 gets one a color hardcover copy of the book in addition to previous perks.

I’m personally underwhelmed by pledge-based publishing ventures. The last one I participated in, the original printing of Wild Talents, was a letdown as well, in the sense that I just really didn’t care for the book created. That’s the gamble one takes with putting up money for something that hasn’t been published. The benefit is that books that wouldn’t normally see the light of day because of their niche appeal do so, but the people who put up the money don’t know what they’re getting until the dust has settled and the money spent.

If Powerchords sounds like your bag, think about flipping the design team a couple bucks. Urban fantasy’s an underrepresented genre in role-playing. Opportunities like this give people the chance to directly express their interest or lack thereof in urban fantasy role-playing.

Greg Poehlein on All Games Considered

On episode 127 of All Games Considered, they had on game designer Greg Poehlein as a special guest during their live show at Conglomeration. Greg, perspicacious readers may recall, designed the adventure outline sheet whose virtues I extolled last month.

In addition to his skills as a GM and game designer, Greg’s also a terrific storyteller. He shared some great anecdotes, both from the days of yore, when he designed the original Star Trek role-playing for FASA, and more recently, when he pioneered electronic document retail, culminating in his current endeavor, MicroTactix Games. Check out the episode, if you’re not already a regular listener to All Games Considered.

Books for Board and Card Game Designers

Board Game Doc, blog for the work in progress Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary, linked to an Amazon list this morning of Books for Board and Card Game Designers.

I’ve yet to be bitten in any meaningful sense by the “Hey, I could do that!” bug that seems to prey on tabletop game hobbyists, but it’s reassuring to know there’s a mountain of research behind which I could hide for a very long time before feeling pressured to put up or shut up.