Rob’s Blog

Epic Kaiju Tea Party Information

On Episode 95 of Building the Game: A Documentary Podcast I pitched a game I’m calling “Epic Kaiju Tea Party.”  In this 2 to 4 player game the players are giant Kaiju monsters who’ve just finished a long hard day of smashing the city.  Now they’re sitting down to relax with a nice cup of tea.  But of course, Kaiju don’t drink regular tea.  They drink tea made from all the people they’ve collected while on their rampage through the city.

Components:

  • 42 Meeples (or colored cubes) of various colors in the following quantities:  Blue – 15 / Red – 9 / Yellow – 7 / Brown – 5 / Green – 4 / Pink – 2
  • 1 fabric bag big enough to hold all of the meeples and other components.  To be used for drawing meeples.
  • 4 smaller fabric bags in 4 different colors, one for each player.
  • 4 small teacups.
  • Also recommended:  4 cards that show the quantity and power of each color meeple.

How to Play:

Each player takes one of the teacups and a small fabric bag.  This bag is their “stomach.”  All of the meeples should be placed into the large fabric draw bag.  Choose a player to go first.  Players take turns drawing a single meeple from the draw bag.  They then must choose whether to place the meeple into their teacup, or immediately use the meeple’s special power.  If the meeple’s power is used, that meeple is killed and put back into the game box.  It cannot re-enter the game.

Meeple Points & Powers:

  • Blue: 1 point / “Drink” – Use this power to “drink” the tea in your teacup.  That means you will dump all of the meeples in your teacup into your “stomach” bag.  Only meeples in your stomach bag at the end of the game will earn the player points.
  • Red: 2 points / “Draw” – Use this power to immediately draw a second meeple from the bag.
  • Yellow: 3 points / “Steal” – Use this power to steal one meeple from another player’s teacup.  You now get to choose again whether to use the stolen meeple’s power, or to put it into your teacup.
  • Brown: 4 points / “Dump” – Use this power to force one player (can be yourself) to dump the contents of their teacup back into the draw bag.
  • Green: 5 points / “Plague” – This meeple must be immediately placed into your teacup.  After the player drinks this meeple, they must randomly draw 2 meeples out of their “stomach” bag and throw them back into the game box, as if they had vomited from consuming this plague-infested meeple.  If your teacup contains 2 or more Plague meeples, only vomit 2.
  • Pink: 6 points / “Swap” – Use this power to trade your teacup with another player’s teacup.

Game End:

The game ends when the draw bag is empty.  Players do not score any meeples still in their teacup that have not been consumed.  Count the total score from all meeples in their “stomach” bag.  The player with the highest score wins.

Rob’s Thoughts:

I really like this game and it’s simplicity.  The design is pretty much done.  But I’m concerned that its interest might be too narrow.  And the component cost could be too high, considering the simplicity of the game.  It could be made less expensive with cardboard tokens, of course.  But the act of drawing meeples is much more satisfying.  And actually having plastic teacups included with the game could be particularly difficult to achieve on a small scale.

But there you go!  Epic Kaiju Tea Party.

Rocket Wreckers

Howdy!

Thanks for checking out Building the Game, and being interested in Rocket Wreckers.  I thought it would be a good idea to write something up about the game here, just in case you wanted to know a little more more.  Please keep in mind that this is an abbreviated version of the rules, simplified for quick reading.

The Setting:

Rocket Wreckers takes place in a retro-futuristic world, set against the backdrop of two warring factions, the Verum Alliance and the Steel Fist.  These nations have been at war for decades, and the Verum Alliance has just completed their Great Weapon: a 200 foot tall rocket packed with explosives.  Their target is the center square of Magnes, capitol city of their enemies.  If they hit their target, they’ll wipe out the leadership of the Steel Fist and end the war forever.  But in their haste to complete the Great Weapon, the Alliance engineers were unable to devise an automated guidance system.  That means they need a pilot – a Rocketer – to fly the gigantic bomb as far as possible, point it at the final target, and bail out.

RW01

But the story doesn’t end there.  The Steel Fist managed to get a spy into the Alliance’s top secret construction facility and steal their plans.  Now that launch day has arrived the Steel Fist have sent one brave solider – codenamed Wrecker – to climb aboard the rocket and sabotage it in flight.  His goal is to bring it down before it strikes.  If he succeeds he will have saved his people, equalized the war and become a hero for all the ages.  If he fails, his people and their homelands will burn.

The Game:

Rocket Wreckers is a two-player asymmetrical card game.  Each player takes on the role of the rocket pilot (The Rocketer) or the saboteur (The Wrecker) in an attempt to achieve their own unique goal.  The Rocketer must fly the Rocket a total of 1000 miles to the target.  The Wrecker must force the Rocket to plunge 10,000 feet out of the sky and crash.  The first player to reach their goal is the winner.

Each player has a deck of 20 cards, and at any time will have a total of 8 cards available.  These 8 cards may be in their hand, in play on the table, or a combination of both.  On their turn, each player has two actions to spend.  Actions can be spent the following ways:

  • Play a single card on the table (Fight Cards) = 1 Action
  • Play  a Linked Pair of cards on the table (Link Cards) = 2 Actions
  • Destroy a Linked Pair on the table = 1 Action
  • Discard a card from your hand and draw a new one = 1 Action

There are two types of cards in the game: Link cards and Fight cards.  Let’s talk about Link cards first:

RW02

All of the Link cards in Rocket Wreckers have two pieces: The Power section, and the Value section.  A Link card cannot be played on the table alone.  In order to play a Link card, you must pair it with another Link card.  One card will be played horizontally on the table, to identify it as a Value.  The other card will be played vertically on top of the first card, to identify it as a Power.  The effect of this Link is that the player is choosing the Power from one card and the Value from another card.  The unused Power and Value are lost.  Because a Link is comprised of two cards, it costs two Actions to play (1 Action for each card).

RW03

A Link card cannot stay in play on the table without a second Link card.  Therefore, if you wish to destroy a Linked pair, you need only spend 1 Action to discard one of the two cards.  The other card is automatically removed from play.

Fight cards are the only cards in Rocket Wreckers that can be played alone on the table.  These are one-time use cards that are immediately discarded after being played.  Because they are played alone, they only cost 1 Action to play.

The Goals:

The Rocketer is trying to travel a total of 1000 miles.  Each time the Rocketer destroys a Linked pair, she moves Power card to the discard pile, but the Value card is moved to the Rocketer’s Distance pile.  This is how she tracks the total miles traveled.  When the Rocketer has a total of 1000 miles in the Distance pile, she wins.

The Wrecker is trying to make the Rocket descend a total of 10,000 feet.  When the Wrecker destroys a Linked pair, he cannot move the Value card to the Altitude pile unless another Linked pair permits him to do so.  If the Wrecker does not have that permission, the Value card is discarded along with the Power card.  When the Wrecker has a total of 10,000 feet on the table, across both his Altitude pile and in the play area, he wins.

The History:

Rocket Wreckers began life as a completely different game, called Splitters.  You can hear that original game pitch on Episode 32: Odd Men & Splitters.  Splitters was a game about hacking steam-powered computers by re-routing the flow of the steam, trying to earn points.  I put a lot of work into the game, including the development of a game system I called the Off-Set Card system (The OSC).  After months of testing and revision I got the game into great shape, and it was playing really well.  But there was one glaring problem: The theme.

In hindsight, it makes a lot of sense.  But it wasn’t until I put some artwork on the prototype cards that I realized how boring a game about changing pipe fittings actually was.  It played great, but the theme was completely uninteresting.  Better artwork would have helped, but not enough to make a difference.

After a lot of exploration, I finally decided to re-theme it as a game about two people having a fistfight while riding on the back of a gigantic rocket.  You can hear all about that on Episode 55: Pointless Goals & Wreckin’ Rockets.  The benefits of that theme over Steampunk computer hacking are obvious, adding characters, story, excitement, and tension.  But it also necessitated a lot of mechanical changes to the game.  I split it into two separate decks, rather than having both players draw from the same deck.  I added in the asymmetrical structure, with each player having different goals.  But the hardest part was dropping the most exciting piece of Splitters: The OSC system.  By eliminating that, and instead placing one card on top of the other, the game suddenly came to life in a new way that was better than ever before.

Thanks again for your interest in Rocket Wreckers!

-Rob

 

 

 

 

T-minus 1 day and counting…

Jason and I are getting ready to post episode 1 this weekend – tomorrow, actually.  In reality we’ve already recorded the first 5 episodes of the show, and we’ve learned so much in the process.  I thought it might be fun to take a little look back over our first 5 shows, before the first one is even posted, and think about how the show has already grown.

Continue reading

Board Game Movies

I saw a little feature on the MSN homepage this morning talking about the “Top 10 Board Games that should be made into movies”.  It’s a reference to the Battleship movie that opens this weekend.  I’m not going to bother linking to the thing here, because those little feature things they do are up and gone in a matter of hours.  In fact, I can’t even find it again right now to link to, 4 hours later.

I hoped for something interesting in there, but sadly I was disappointed.  They basically listed all the same games we all grew up with: Monopoly, Life, Twister, Operation, Chutes and Ladders, and so on.  There’s nothing wrong with those games, of course.  But think about how revealing that is of MSNBC’s awareness of the great games that are actually out there!

What about an epic story about one man working and fighting to build a society from the wild world of Catan?  Or the story of a noble king fighting an evil lord with armies from dozens of fantastical creatures in Small World?  Hollywood likes superheroes, so let’s go for the story of Sentinels of the Multiverse, with the Freedom Four  joining forces to battle Grand Warlord Voss in the ruins of Atlantis!

That’s only the first three things that popped into my head.  But there are hundreds of games out there.  And most of them are far more interesting than your average fair from Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley and Hasbro.  I understand that Hollywood isn’t knocking down doors to license Munchkin or Plauge and Pesitlence.  Hollywood wants recognizeable brand names to guarantee ticket sales.  But it seems like the writers at MSNBC missed a great opportunity to highlight this stuff, which means the larger public audience just got more stupid schlock to ignore on their website.

Do you have any ideas for great games that would make great movies?  Let me know!

Rob

Author combat

I was just listening to the most recent episode of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, my favorite NPR show.  They played their game where they present three silly situations and the caller has to choose which one is real and which one is fake.  This time the theme was repurposing characters from classic literature.

One of the fake ideas was that Wizards of the Coast was creating a deck building CCG featuring major and minor characters from books like Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, and so on.

Of course it’s just a ripoff of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  And they were making jokes about the whalers from Moby Dick having high ratings in their fishing skills.  But that got me thinking.  What if you went the other direction and made a game featuring the authors as crazy folk heroes?

I’d love to see a battle between Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft.  Or Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut.  Or Piers Anthony and Anne Rice!  I guess that last pair is too recent.  But still!

Rob

Royalty Free!

Jason and I had our first fight today.  Some naughty words were used.  A few dishes were thrown and smashed.  I had to pause what I was watching on Netflix for a minute.  It was rough.  But we made it through, and are stronger for it.  You may be asking, “Oh my goodness, Rob!  What on earth could have upset you so much??”  I’ll tell you:

Music.

You see, Jason and I have different tastes in music.  I like good music.  He doesn’t.  I guess that’s pretty much all I need to say.  But specifically we were trying to find a piece of music to use when opening and closing the show.  I spent a few days working with FL Studio to try and make something on my own, but I’m no musician.  Everything came out sounding awful.  My only option left (translated: I got frustrated and gave up) was to Google “Royalty Free Music”.  And my oh my, what a treasure trove!

Long story short:  We settled on a piece by Kevin MacLeod from his website, Incompetech.  It’s called “One-Eyed Maestro”.  And in keeping with the creative commons license he listed on his site, I wanted to give credit where credit is due.  We’re really happy with the track we’ve chosen, but everything he’s got there is fantastic.  The guy’s range is amazing.  The possibilities for ambient music to play during an RPG session is limitless!

So if you’re curious, find “One-Eyed Maestro” on there and give it a listen.  Or wait until our first episode debuts soon and discover it along with us.

Cheers!

Rob

Learning about audio

Hey gang!

So this whole idea we’ve had here is kinda crazy.  We’re making a podcast to talk about making our own indie games.  A documentary podcast.  Wild.  I’m super excited about it, and a little nervous.  Who knows whether we’ll have any success or not?  But I guess that’s not really the main goal.  The main goal we’ve got is to document the entire process, both from the creative side as well as the business side.  We want to talk practically and artistically about everything and share our learning experience with anyone who might be interested.

In an effort to do that, it seems logical to start by documenting the process of starting a podcast.  Is that too “meta”?  Eh, oh well.

Jason has been handling the online components – setting up the website and the social media stuff.  I’m terrible at all of that, in addition to finding it horribly boring.  I’ve been focusing so far on two things:  graphics and audio.  I’ll talk about designing our logo and cartoon heads another time.  Today I’d like to talk about the audio stuff.

The one thing I knew for sure at the start of this project is that I knew NOTHING about recording good quality sound.  I’m not a musician.  I didn’t own ANY audio equipment, apart from a crummy headset microphone that came with an old PC.  So I went to the only place I could think of in town that might be able to teach me some stuff.  I went to Guitar Center.  When I walked in there, I made a point to stop and stand right in front of the door and just look around confused.  Easy pickings for a salesman who will want to look super smart in front of an amateur, right?  Barry, the assistant manager pounced on me in less than 30 seconds.  He kept me entertained for the next 30 minutes.

I won’t go into everything we talked about.  What matters is that he gave me a free crash course in recording sound on your home computer.  He told me what specific equipment I would need, what software to use, and what pitfalls to watch out for.  But I didn’t buy anything from him immediately.  I shook his hand and took his card and thanked him profusely, promising that I would be coming back.  Then, like any good modern consumer, I went home and bought the same stuff online for less money and free shipping.  Here’s what I ended up with:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/TASCAM-US-122MKII-USB-2-0-2-channel-Audio-MIDI-Interface-105802805-i1474243.gc

That’s a digital converter box.  You plug your microphone into that, and it converts the analog signal to a digital one, then sends it to your computer via USB.  You need that if you want your sound to not be crappy.  Don’t just use the microphone port on your machine.  It’ll sound terrible.

http://www.guitarcenter.com/AKG-K-44MKII-Headphones-105153514-i1469833.gc

The AKG K-44 MK II headphones.  Barry said these are the best headphones you can buy for $50.  Great all-around sound, comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and reasonably priced.  I’m very pleased so far.  Barry also warned me against buying DJ headphones.  Those are designed to specifically boost the bass so a DJ can hear his beat in a loud club.  For a podcast, that’s a terrible idea.

We’re not buying a microphone yet, but we probably will eventually.  To start with we’ll be working with one Jason already has from his film projects.  Those aren’t really designed for studio recording like we’ll be doing, but we’re going to make do.  Still, Barry said we should expect to pay $300 for a good quality mic.  I don’t know if we’ll ever go that far, but it’s a place to start.

So that’s where I am right now.  The next things on my list are to get some software, learn how to use it, turn my home office into a recording studio, get some sound into the computer, and create a podcast.  No big deal…  right?

Rob