Agent Decker

Agent Decker, boardgame prototype, competition

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Agent Decker is a mission-based deckbuilding game for one player where you’ll acquire gear and skills by facing obstacles. The alarm raises every turn, so you must pick who you take out. Do you go for the cool weapon, or take out the security camera?

You’re a rookie spy straight out of spy school, and the yellow deck of cards represents what you can do: Punch or Hide.  These are the base cards of each of the game’s two currencies, Violence and Stealth.

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As you defeat obstacles you learn new skills and get gear. For example, you can defeat an Armed Guard

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…to get a machine gun! That will give you four “Violence” when it appears again.

I’m developing it for the 2015 Solitaire Print and Play Contest on Boardgame Geek, so it will be available as a free print and play PDF when it’s done. For now there’s only the handwritten paper prototype, but soon there will be a prototype version you can test. It’s the first time I’m letting the internet play one of my games before it’s finished, so I’m pretty excited (as well as terrified)!

I’ll post about the game’s design and progresses here, but the best place to follow every step of the development as well as player feedback is at Agent Decker’s WIP thread.

“Don’t Say!” at Global Gamecraft 5

boardgame, boardgame prototype, competition, Don't Say, Game Jam

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I went to Global Gamecraft 5 with a few mechanics I wanted to try. I just had to fit them to the theme, right? Wrong. When the theme was revealed (“Party Game”, or a game you could play at a party) I couldn’t use them, so I started from scratch.

It needed to cater to a big number of players (infinite, if possible!), and ideallly it would also be fun to watch. First, I played around with this idea of a game about cupids, and people trying to find their match by asking questions to the group. I liked the concept, but it sounded a bit too easy and fast to play.

I wanted the game to be different from the other games I had made so far, and I wanted people to interact with each other in a genuine way – not because the rules say so. In all the party games I know, the ones that involve drawing are always a special kind of fun. Everyone interprets the drawings in a different way, and often be hilariously wrong.

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So this is what I came up with: a player gets a card with a surreal image and must describe it to the others, who must draw it as best they can before the time runs out. There are two words the player can’t use while describing them, (and they’re pretty obvious!), or he’ll lose points. After the timer ends, players hand their custom notebooks to other players and everyone’s drawings will be rated for accuracy. The one describing is rated too! In the next round, another player will be describing, and everyone else draws.

The best thing is: you don’t need to know how to draw! You get points by having the right elements in the right place, now how they look.

I couldn’t play it myself because I had made the illustrations which were being described, but these playtests were a lot of fun to watch.

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I won’t be developing this one further because it draws a lot from two other games: Identik and Taboo. Still, it was a great experience and the players loved it too.

Thank you all who played it! I look forward to the next 8 hour jam.

Dublin Gamecraft – Unplugged

boardgame prototype, competition, Game Jam, Grow your own Adventure

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I spent last Sunday afternoon surrounded by fellow creatives at Dublin Gamecraft Unplugged. We had about 4h30m to make an analog game. Yep, that’s right! No videogames this time.

The theme was “Grow Your Own”.

I knew we didn’t have much time or materials but I wanted to make something different. A simple adventure game that physically grows as you play. I ended up with “Grow your own Adventure”: an interactive story where you follow a line, choose your path and your choices alter what comes next.

I started folding to see what I could do with one sheet, and accidentally got to this.  Twice! If you had asked me to teach this to you I couldn’t remember how to, but muscle memory brought it back.

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I kept folding and realized you can make very interesting “page turns” from just a single cut in the middle of the sheet. It allows you to hide surprises but, most importantly, make choices that change the layout.

I started drawing a line and improvising. Taking notes, seeing how far I could go with it and how many “faces” I would be able to write on.

In the end, I got to something I’m very proud of. It’s an interactive story system you can fit in your pocket. Your choices change it, so there’s some replayability. It comes from a single page, which makes it possible to distribute as PDFs.

You can see the other projects here.

“Overpopulous” got 18th place!

competition, Game Jam, House of Brass, Ludum Dare, Overpopulous

“Overpopulous” got 18th place in Ludum Dare Jam 23, voted 10th most fun game and won the Coolness gold medal! This competition has been growing exponentially. On the first time there were 90 games in the Jam, then 174 and now 330. Added to the compo entries that makes a flabbergasting 1402 games!

Here is the list of the top 25.  This time I judged a mix of games from both the compo and the Jam and some of my favorites were azurenimbus’ elegant “Microscopia”, Draknek’s “Dr. Biology’s Educational Game” and 01101101’s eyecandylicious “Exposed”. Also, brackcurly’s “it’s a tab” is a very fresh concept you should see for yourself!

This time I noticed a lot of the top ranked games had nothing to do with the competition’s theme. In my opinion, that is the biggest constraint and the only way to gauge if the team made their game fair and square. Without that what stops me from starting to work on a game right now and deliver it when the next competition ends, three months from now?

In other news…

Rejoice! On the 21st of May Fantastic Creations: House of Brass (Mac) reached 1st place in BigFishGames’ Top downloads list, dethroning their own Mystery Case Files: Escape From Ravenhearst! PC version reached 2nd place and both are still getting really good reviews.

Ludum Dare Jam 23

competition

Check out “Overpopulous”! Once again I was part of team Make a Game and we made this space colonization game where you are a team of astronauts from an overpopulated planet that needs to expand. Thing is, the rocket is upside down and the whole planet is propelled along for the ride!

Ludum Dare Jam is an online competition in which you are given a subject and have to make a game in 72 hours. The game is currently being judged along with all the other cool games and the results will be known in 19 days.

You can play it here.

Good job everyone!

House of Brass, Sinking and the newcomer Carousel

boardgame prototype, Carousel, competition, House of Brass, Multiuniversum, Sinking

“Fantastic Creations: House of Brass Collector’s Edition”, the game I’ve been working on for a year and eight months is now out! It is a light steampunk Hidden Object Adventure for Bigfish Games. The reviews are great and everyone seems to enjoy the fresh ideas we brought into it. It’s currently in second place of BigFish’s Top 10 PC downloads and you can check it out here.

I just closed the box with the “Sinking” prototype for testing in the Ludopolis contest. I really enjoyed the process of creating it so far. The players enjoyed it as well so I’m pitching the game to publishing companies that seem appropriate.

While I was translating its rules I had started taking notes of another idea, this time for a card game. I played around with some ideas for a couple of days until I got to something I believe to be original, accessible and fun. If it’s anything like “Sinking” I should to a playtest right away so can I take the broken parts out and focus on the good stuff. I quickly made the prototype you see in the photo above so I can test it this week. I’m calling it “Carousel” for now.

Arcádia Lusitana de Criadores de Boardgames

Arcádia, boardgame prototype, competition, Sinking

Recently, the “Arcádia Lusitana de Criadores de Boardgames” was created. The main goal is to share information, resources, provide playtesting and feedback for portuguese boardgame projects. Currently the main discussion platform is facebook, along with regular meetings. Seems there are quite a few more Lisbon-based designers than I thought!

In the first meeting Vital Lacerda tried out my game. He seemed to like it and suggested I switch the placement of the minimum bid silhouettes with the action effects to make it more intuitive. I don’t know how I didn’t think of that before. I laughed and wrote it down right away. This weekend I had the chance to test it and he was absolutely right – it does make it easier to teach and play.

The second meeting is coming up! It will be on the 20th of February and you can find all the details here.

Also, Last week I read Raph Koster’s “Theory of Fun”. If you’re interested in making games I advise you to check it out. The first half is about the human brain and how we define what’s fun for us. The second half points a possible path games should take for them to be seriously respected as an art form.

“alone I art” got 4th place!

alone I art, competition, Game Jam, Ludum Dare

“alone I art” got 4th place in Ludum Dare Jam 22, with gold medals for Humor and Coolness! This time there were even more games! 174 games in the Jam, opposed to the 90 in Ludum Dare 21. I’m really proud for the team and for being a part of it!

Here is the list of the top 25.  My favorite game in the competition – and I tested more than 90 – was number one. Midas has stylized graphics and almost no animation but the mechanics are sound. I can see this being a pretty popular game if they further iterate on it. /follow, the sweetest eye candy in the competition, came in third. It’s more of an interactive narrative than a game, but it looks and sounds gorgeous!

I recommend these game jams to anyone who wants to get involved with the industry. It’s trial by fire, and it is such a rush!