Monday, 21 December 2009

The Difficult Second Post

Brap! Welcome back to the Cardboard Box Games blog.

(2005) Where am I? When I began designing games it was with my brother, then aged 6, simply to amuse ourselves. The first game we made was set in a nuclear reactor. There was some rubbish about collecting four components from the corners of the board, rolling and moving through twisting passages. When all four components had been collected, you had to move to the reactor core in the centre of the board, then roll four numbers in a specific sequence in order to unlock the reactor and blah blah blah... I can't remember how the code worked or what the components were for, and the game was very thin, but I seem to remember us having fun playing it. He was only six, remember.

Later in the year I designed Two Moons. The game relied too heavily on chance, but the gimmick of only being able to play certain turns when under the influence of the phases of the moons has kept the spirit of the game alive. It'll probably lose the mock-fantasy theme during the next prototype stage (surely a long way off) and be replaced with something creepy, something midnight, something dark. I'm also thinking about a co-operative slant to the game, but haven't put much thought into this yet. Another angle I might take with this game is the use of puzzles, riddles, clues and so on, but no idea how.

(2006) Quats was born after a meal during my second year at university. My best friend's then girlfriend suddenly decided that we should invent a board game. Naturally, I was all for this. I wanted the game to feature two playing pieces that relied on each other in order to move about the board. The game, then known as Quoits, remained as it was until I went to bed that night. Thinking about the game in bed, I realised how the game could work better than we had planned that evening, and I immediately changed the dynamics the next day. Now, I can't even remember the original rules. The game became known as Quats a few weeks later.

(2007) Quats was a success with my friends and I wanted to follow up with another absract strategy game. I had a vague idea under the surface that I couldn't quite manifest, which eventually came out as Bridges in 2007. After putting a lot of effort into making a picturesque board, the game turned out slightly stale. I'm convinced there's still potential in the game, but having put so much time into making the first prototype, I was reluctant to change anything, and therefore the game has remained as it is. When I need to, I'll come back to this game and turn it into the beast that it deserves to be.

(2008) The year of Gravity's Rainbow. This game came into the fray late in the day. Ex nihilo, I designed and created this game a couple of weeks before Christmas 2008 (if my memory serves me). Since then I have played this game well over 100 times. Another "abstract" strategy, Gravity's Rainbow has usurped the popularity of Quats in my circle, and is certainly the game of which I am most fond. It is also the game I am most likely to publish in 2010 - the first in Cardboard Box Games' ludography!

(2009) Ideas for games began to come to me more frequently, often as very vague ideas for mechanics, tone, theme, etc, but sometimes as fully-formed games. Many of the ideas that I would like to flesh out in 2010 I outlined in my first post. I've taken one of those games to prototype stage - Tangle - and if 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 were the years of Two Moons, Quats, Bridges and Gravity's Rainbow respectively, then 2009 is certainly Tangle's year. A very different Cardboard Box Game (though I'd like to hope that they're all different) Tangle could almost pass as a party game. I playtested the game with my class during maths lessons (many of my games have a strong pattern, space and shape awareness vibe) and received a positive reaction. Anyway, it's sat on my girlfriend's coffee table now so is bound to be played at some point during the Christmas season.

(2010...) I'm trying to pull together all the necessary components in order to self-publish Gravity's Rainbow as Cardboard Box Games. I'm nearly there. I'm currently having problems sourcing (ironically) the cardboard box for a relatively cheap price, but due to my small print run this could prove tricky. I ran into another local designer who owns this own games publishing company (Jackson Pope of Reiver Games) and he very helpfully pointed me in the right direction. It's actually very reassuring to know that there are people, even locally, who are self-publishing and even turning publishing into a profession.

Coming up: Generally, I'll keep you on top of my progress with setting up Cardboard Box Games as a company and publishing Gravity's Rainbow.

In 2010: "But is it canon?" Sometime I'd like to talk about creating Cardboard Box Games as a brand, and also how I try to find coherence between each game in the Cardboard Canon.

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