Don’t wake the dragon!

boardgame, boardgame prototype, competition, Don't wake the dragon

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“Don’t wake the dragon” is a dexterity game created in a day for GameCraft UnPlugged at Pulse College. The theme and restrictions were:

  • Fairy Tale
  • 2 players
  • 3 rounds

I had a backpack filled with standard game components (cards, sleeves, dice) to allow me to adapt to any theme, but wouldn’t it be fun to make something different from the rest of my portfolio? That means cards, cubes and dice are out!

What else is there?

The first thing was to play with them. Stacking them, throwing them at each other.

…hey, turns out they’re thick enough to flick around!

That’s a mechanic I really enjoy. It reminds me of playing marbles as a kid, and it’s so self-explanatory when you see it in action. The laws of physics do most of the work, creating interesting situations and choices without adding rules and exceptions.

In the game your command your soldiers to steal from a dragon who’s asleep on top of a pile of gold.

To do so you order(flick) your group of soldiers (blue or red disks) to steal gold coins (white and orange) from the dragon (black disk). If you take coins out of the arena they’re yours, but as soon as the dragon touches the table it wakes up! Game over. Not only that, but the dragon steals back your most valuable coins!

The level layout is just the beginning, and it changes as players take their turns. Coins fall from the tower and litter the arena, so you don’t always have to shoot for the tower. If a soldier leaves the arena (either you miss or someone pushes you out) then it stays out for that round.

You add up your coins for the level and proceed to the next one. At the end of three levels the player with the highest total wins!

With the simple components there was no need to create anything other than the game’s rules, so there was plenty of time to playtest.

Brainstorming (“playstorming”?) the levels with Sara was excellent. Build something, play it. Is it fun? Keep it! Not fun? Why? Edit the level. Test it out. Repeat.

In the end we got three different levels which presented the players with different challenges.

There was even some time to write a rulebook!  Not sure it was necessary, but it was good practice.

Did the players like it?

Yes they did!

It was the most relaxing game jam I was a part of so far, and picking a game I could finish comfortably in the available time was certainly a big part of it.

You can see the other games (and the winning entry!) at their official Storify!

A podcast and an interview!

Agent Decker, boardgame, boardgame prototype, competition, media

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The Print ‘n Play Cast took a look at two games from the BGG Solo Contest: Austerity and Agent Decker! The whole podcast is well worth listening, but if you want to skip straight to the rules for Decker jump to 14:20 and if you want to listen to the review go to 24:22. They really liked it!

You can listen to it here.

 

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Earlier in the year I was interviewed by David Wolinsky for “No don’t die”.

You can read it here.

It’s a long form interview about my experience with videogame design, the industry and the media that surrounds it. It was a very enjoyable conversation and I’m pleased that it wasn’t cut down for publishing.

There are so many great interviews on the site already, but if you want to keep them coming I suggest you to support it via Patreon.

At ease, agent

Agent Decker, boardgame, boardgame prototype, competition

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The results for the 2015 Solitaire Print and Play Contest have been revealed, and it seems they really liked Agent Decker:

2nd Best Overall Game

1st – Best Medium Game
1st – Best New Designer
1st – Best Game with No Board
2nd – Best Greyscale Game
2nd – Best Written Rules
3rd – Best Hotel Game
4th – Most Innovative Mechanic
4th – Most Thematic Game
5th – Best Artwork

You can check the full list here. There are really good games and cool new concepts submitted to the competition, well worth playing.

As always, you can download the game for free here.

What a crazy year it has been so far! The design for Agent Decker started in January and since that time I’ve worked with three different videogame studios, gave my first lecture to game design students (which feels odd since I never got to be one), went to GDC for the first time and had the prototype with me while I met so many of my heroes. Recently I helped to start a local meetup where boardgame designers can bring their prototypes and get useful feedback.

Now i can finally correct that last typo in the rules that escaped every check before the submission.

And then, my first Essen Spiel! Can’t wait to pitch my games to publishers. My dream of publishing a board game feels closer now.

Wish me luck!

My first official review!

Agent Decker, boardgame, boardgame prototype, competition, media

Geekdad

During the development of Agent Decker there were a lot of personal achievements:

  • first time participating in a game design competition
  • first time releasing a game this early in development, and iterating based on that feedback
  • first time releasing a game as a print and play
  • first time having fan made digital versions of a game

Today I got my first official review! Will James from Geekdad printed his own and had really nice things to say about it. You can read it here.

It made my day!

Agent Decker – Contest Release!

Agent Decker, boardgame prototype, competition, media

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After a week for rules clarifications and typo corrections, Agent Decker was submitted to the 2015 Solitaire Print and Play Contest on BGG. In addition to the version with the simple graphics I was using, there is also a much prettier looking version which was made by Sara Mena!

Releasing a game for free is very rewarding, even in ways I hadn’t imagined. Getting good feedback is always cool, seeing online users spontaneously recommend my game to other users was new thrill, but nothing would prepare me for what came next:

Fans made their own digital adaptations of Agent Decker!

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BGG user Chad Mestdagh created a digital version of Agent Decker in VASSAL, a tool where you can create and play boardgames. You can get it here.

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Steam user mew AKCat created a digital version of Agent Decker in Tabletop Simulator. You can get it here.

This blew me away. I had never had such demonstrations of love for any of my side projects, and it really motivated me to keep going.

What’s next for Agent Decker? The designers who participated in the contest will be playing each other’s games over the next thirty days. After that they’ll vote and one game will be crowned the winner! I have been following the other games but didn’t get a chance to play them, so I’l looking forward to that.

No matter what the winner is, having another finished game is a victory for me, especially one that I can hand out for free.

I’d like to print a few copies with professional quality so I’m scouting around the several websites that do print on demand. Some players mentioned that they’d like one of those, so we’ll see!

As always, you can get Agent Decker here for free.

Agent Decker v0002 is out!

Agent Decker, boardgame prototype, competition

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The new version is out and brings new challenges:

  • Mixed Costs: These costs are very high, but you can use any combination of Fighting and Stealth to pay for them.  This is my attempt to fix those situations where you only had the wrong currency for every card in line. Watch out for the revamped Mission 4!
  • Rebalance: I’ve been getting a lot of feedback on and offline, and updated several cards to make the game flow better – and remove some exploits!
  • Difficulty: After playing it for a while it became pretty hard to judge the game’s difficulty. I didn’t find it hard, but I knew every single card so I could plan differently. I had to get the game out there to hear it from the player’s mouth, a fresh different point of view. Turns out most people finished the whole campaign on their first attempt, which might leave them with a first impression that the game is too easy. Why would they ever come back?  The game is now harder! The question is… is it too hard now?

You can get it for free here!

Agent Decker video tutorial

Agent Decker, boardgame, boardgame prototype, competition

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One of the toughest parts of board game development is writing the rulebook. You know the game so well, it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s never seen it before.

I have done this a couple times before, but the rulebooks were more a personal reminder for me than a learning aid for a new player. My games haven’t traveled that much without me, so I’m usually there to teach the players and answer any questions they might have.

This time I wanted to release the game online during the contest so the other contestants could give feedback on it, but I was faced with a problem: I’m not there to teach them the game!

I wrote the rules as clear as I could. I answer every question I get and update the rules document where it’s unclear. Still, the setup can be tricky and there are a lot of moving parts.

…so now you can learn Agent Decker using this handy tutorial video!

Have fun!