iDIG Music Festival

Agent Decker, boardgame prototype, competition, Contactics, event, Multiuniversum, Pizza-go-round, Sinking


I spent the end of last week at the iDIG Music Festival showing my games to the visitors! I was surrounded by irish game developers showing their awesome games, and my boardgames stood out due to how different they were.

A lot of people wanted to know more about them, and some even sat down to play after asking how they worked! Agent Decker was the one that got played the most, mainly because nobody had heard about solo games and I could help them rather than compete against them.

I quickly put together a digital version for the show, and two players managed to complete it!


The main goal was to have a version which looked a bit better than my scribbles on paper, and figure out how much room there will be for proper art later on. It worked pretty well!

It was my first time showing games at an event, so I didn’t know what to expect. A word of advice: if you’re presenting at an event bring some eucalyptus drops! If you’re lucky people will check your games out and ask about them, so you’ll be talking constantly and the voice will start to go away.

Time to write the Agent Decker manual so I can publish it online!


Eliminating player elimination

boardgame prototype, Sinking

I was asked why I chose to include player elimination in “Sinking”. The question intrigued me. It made sense with the sinking ships theme so I didn’t really think twice. Everyone is sinking and the winner is the one that managed to stay afloat.

They explained to me it’s considered an old-fashioned mechanic which is frowned upon nowadays, so now I can see why and I’ll tell you so you won’t make the same mistake. It’s suited to some games, but not all.

In my quest to try and publish my game I had to further define who my target player is. I reached the conclusion that it’s suited for family play due to the light complexity of the mechanics and rules. Well, let’s imagine you’re playing this game with your kids and one of them loses. You don’t want to tell him “Now go and find something to do while we finish this game”, do you?

I don’t.

That’s why I changed my game.

Now when the first player sinks to the bottom the game ends, and the player’s positions on the water board define who’s second, third and so on. This simple change made it a lot more family-friendly.

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.

New boards and new Ludum Dare!

boardgame prototype, competition, Sinking

Here’s a sneak peek of the new player boards! The action effect texts have been resumed into icons, the minimum action costs are clearer now and the colors are more colorblind-friendly. I can’t wait to test these out.

Ludum Dare Jam 22 starts in 6 hours! I’ll be part of Make A Game team once again, we’ll be making a computer game in the next 72 hours. There are more and more submissions every time, and we’ll do our best to stand out.

You can check out “Eggscape”, our game for the previous Ludum Dare Jam here.

Lisboacon 2011 highlights

boardgame prototype, event, Sinking

Lisboacon 2011 was great! I don’t know the official visitor count, but everyone was saying there were more people than last year’s 1000.

It was inspiring to see other Portuguese designers and their creations. All of them were kind enough to answer all my questions about publishing and copyright. I had met some of them previously and it was really cool to see that they remembered me and they asked how my game was going.

Hat’s off to Criações a Solo and “Trench”! It’s an abstract strategy game that revolves around the concept of WWI trench warfare, and most of your strategies will be around using it for your advantage. It’s clean, polished and has a lot of potential. I get why they’re marketing the game as an art piece as well because it’s easy to imagine it being displayed on any modern house – it’s playable jewelry.

I also playtested “Sinking” with great feedback. I also found out that two of the colors I am using for the game (red and green) are very hard to tell apart by the colorblind. I brought all of my available tokens the following day and we chose new colors that don’t cause as much hassle. I’ll update the boards ASAP.

I had no idea this issue was so common. If you’re curious about this and want to see the world through the eyes of the colorblind, check this site. I’ll be paying more attention to this in the future.

Lisboacon 2011

boardgame prototype, Sinking

Don’t know what to do with all that free time? Are you board?

Lisboacon is this weekend. It’s a boardgame event in which you can try games out, participate in tournaments and meet cool people. …and it’s free!

I’ll be there with “Sinking”, trying out the Hive tournament and being impressed that these things have happened for years without me ever knowing about them.

All the details are here.

“Sinking” Milestone 1 – Design

boardgame prototype, playtest, Sinking

The design for “Sinking” is complete! The changes to the way ties are solved worked just as I hoped. The rules are now easier to memorize and after a couple of turns new players seem to really get the hang of it. As a matter of fact, yesterday the new player ended up winning!

I’d like to keep testing it to better define how long the games should be. This doesn’t involve changing the player boards any further, just changing the limits on the center board. For the record, last night teaching the rules took 5 minutes, the game itself took 35. Obviously this number will change as players and strategies change. If it wasn’t for this devastating double attack it could have easily taken 10 more minutes. My goal was 45 so it’s pretty close.

What’s next? First I have to write the rules in a clear way so that players can learn how to play the game from there. That is mostly done. I know from experience a bad manual can wreck the whole experience so I’m paying special attention to that.

After that it’s time to work on the iconography and further develop the look of the boards.

The main part for me is done, though. My goal was to create a game from scratch with interesting dynamics and tweak it until it was fun. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the process, so I’ll keep going.