design

gaming challenge

Last year, from August through December, Hasbro’s first crowdfunding gaming challenge with Indiegogo was held, challenging game designers to create a game with outstanding game mechanics, visuals, potential, and theme.  After reviewing more than 500 submissions, Hasbro gave the grand prize to The Mr Toast Game created by Dan Goodsell.  The Mr Toast Game will launch in the U.S. later this year.

Now, Hasbro and Indiegogo are launching the second crowdfunding game challenge, inviting game designers to compete for $25,000 and the opportunity to get their game published.  According to the press release, “the crowdfunding gaming challenge provides a platform for independent game designers to get visibility for their ideas and allows Hasbro to celebrate the growing gaming community and discover and develop new games.”

Below is an excerpt from the official press release:

Beginning today through May 15, game designers can submit their ideas for a new face-to-face game atwww.nextgreatgamechallenge.com.  A team of Hasbro game experts and designers will evaluate each submission based on its level of innovative new mechanics, visual style and creative narrative and select 15 semi-finalists to submit prototypes of their game for review.  After playing each of the top 15 games, Hasbro will select five finalists to launch campaigns for their concept on Indiegogo, which will run October 13 through November 13.  Each finalist will receive US $2,000 as well as mentorship from Hasbro and Indiegogo as they raise awareness, funding, and support for their game. The grand prize winner will be announced in late 2016 and receive US $25,000, a trip to Hasbro headquarters in Rhode Island, and the opportunity to work with Hasbro to make his or her game a reality.

“The Next Great Game Challenge with Indiegogo is an incredible opportunity for us to further connect with the gaming community and uncover new games with amazing stories, like we did last year with winner Dan Goodsell and The Mr Toast Game,” said Brian Chapman, head of design and development at Hasbro. “We are looking for games with a unique narrative and visual style which can provide a fun opportunity for storytelling through gaming and we are excited to see the ideas from game designers around the world.”

“It was incredibly impressive to see how quickly Hasbro was able to discover a new game idea to bring to market through our first gaming challenge in 2015,” said Jerry Needel, senior vice president of corporate partnerships at Indiegogo. We are very excited to continue our Enterprise Crowdfunding relationship with Hasbro and look forward to seeing what we can collectively create in this next installment.”

For more details on this contest, submission requirements, and to see the Terms and Conditions, visit www.nextgreatgamechallenge.com.

council of blackthorn

Great Northern Games would like to officially announce the release of a new game by Jay Meyer, creator of Noble Treachery.  Council of Blackthorn is a game for those who enjoy “unique player powers, resource efficiency and like to balance risks and rewards.”

The official press release for this new game is as follows:

Council of Blackthorn is a board game for 2-6 players that plays in 45-90 minutes. Inspired by the inner workings of the Small Council in the Game of Thrones series, the board game captures the intrigue and betrayal of power hungry nobles trying to control the crown. Players assume the role of a member of the king’s council.

council of blackthorn comp

Each player must build influence with the kingdom’s four political factions by utilizing ally and building cards. However, grabs for power may seem like treasonous acts to a suspicious king. Players will gain hidden treason points as they gain power. The most treasonous council member is beheaded! The remaining player that is the most influential member of the council wins the game.

A game of Council of Blackthorn features long term planning as well as opportunities for tactical decision making. It offers variable player powers for each of the council members and custom dice that represent the changing sympathy of the factions. All of this combines to make a strategic balancing act that is different every time you play.

Council of Blackthorn is currently running its Kickstarter project.  To learn more about the game and support this project, visit the Kickstarter page here.

For more information about Great Northern Games, Council of Blackthorn and other games in the company’s line, visit the company web site here.

magination kids

Creativity starts with Magination. The game consists of different magnetic pieces that can be used to play a variety of games. You can think of Magination like a magnetic deck of cards, where you’re not only getting one game, but a toolset that allows you to play an unlimited amount of games. Unlike a deck of cards is it much easier to be creative and find unique ways to play. You can also use the pieces to build magnetic structures and experiment to find new ways to embrace the magnetic force.

Have you ever taken those round, circular magnets from the refrigerator and fiddled with them, watching them push each other apart, finding the perfect distance at which they would suck themselves together?  If so, then you will instantly relate to this brand new, innovative game system coming from Norway known as Magination.

magtension

Magination currently consists of three types of magnetic components: the Single, Double, and Triple.  Each component contains one or more magnets specially designed to interact with each other in smooth, consistent, and fascinating ways.  Players can push, pull, shoot, connect and stack the magnets upon each other, which leads to an endless flow of possible games and activities.

The Magination system currently contains a variety of standard games to play with the magnets, including magCURLING (just like it sounds, tabletop curling with magnets), magTENSION, and magTHROW (bouncing and tossing the magnets over a magnetic bridge).  Magination is designed to promote player creativity, and will include a web-based forum for uploading new games, rating games submitted by others, and accessing a pool of new ways to play on a regular basis.

Magination is sold in modules, each being specially balanced to interact well with all components in the module.  Kickstarter backers can pledge at multiple levels, each level containing various assortments of modules.  Various stretch goals are also included in this project, including backer-selected color schemes and additional components.

All components for Magination are designed and produced in Norway, with an emphasis on the quality and safety of the components.

This project is set to fund on December 18, 2015, with a delivery date of April 2016.  For more information and to support the Magination project, visit the Kickstarter site here.

ladybugs box

Selecta has released some fantastic children’s games over the years, including Viva Topo! (a favorite in my house!).  Now, thirteen great children’s games previously released by Selecta are now being published by Pegasus Spiele, featuring a whole new box design illustrated by Anne Pätzke.

ladybugs comp

This new design features new, loving illustrations that will greatly appeal to children.  Additionally, a colored dots-scheme for the background of the game boxes will reflect the age-level of the game: green (from 3 years old on), blue (from 4 years old on), yellow (from 5 years old on) or red (from 6 years old on).  The games will still feature the same excellent wooden figures from Selecta.

Pegasus Spiele has announced the first four games of this new series release:

  • Viva Topo! 
  • The Ladybug’s Costume Party
  • the nominated Zoowaboo
  • Bouncing Bunnies

These new games from Pegasus Spiele will be presented at the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL in Essen from October 8 through October 11, 2015 at booth GA-31.

For more information on the new design and release of these children’s games, visit the announcement on Pegasus Spiele’s news page.

When in the midst of an intriguing board or card game, the thought may flash through one’s mind as to what makes the game so exciting and interesting.  If this has happened to you, then likely it was a particular moment or mechanic in the game that presented a conundrum, an unusual challenge, or a difficult decision.  Perhaps it was which strategy to focus on in Race for the Galaxy, or whether to risk taking that long route in Ticket to Ride, hoping you can complete it and not lose all those points at the end. Whatever your experiences like this have been, it’s these types of which-way-do-I-choose-they’re-both-good-or-bad decisions that provide nail-biting experiences to remember in our favorite games.

Grant Rodiek posted an article for Hyperbole Games that addresses board game design from this perspective, one that emphasizes the importance of providing tension in games to promote a more exciting and dynamic gameplay experience.  He explains why a game’s design should constrain the players within a box to provide structure, but not too narrow as to create monotony and boredom.

You can check out Rodiek’s interesting article here at Hyperbole Games’ website.

plateau_logo                   

Quebéc’s board game design contest, Plateau d’Or, is underway. Now in its eighth year, Plateau d’Or has seen many notable releases take top honors including Québec and Richelieu. With Les Journées ludiques de Québec partnering with publishers who have represented past winners, this year promises to be the biggest yet.

Designers must be attending the event to quality, and designs are due no later than April 3rd. For more information and complete contest rules, check out the Plateau d’Or website. Good luck to all the participants!

inquisitive meeple

The Inquisitive Meeple is a unique board game blog that began on BoardGameGeek, but has recently branched out to its own domain. What sets this site apart from the myriad of other gaming blogs is its focus on the design side of the gaming industry.

“The Inquisitive Meeple is a blog that is dedicated to interviewing board game designers.”

In 2014, they interviewed the designers of 88 different board games. So far their planned 2015 interview queue is just as ambitious. Luckily their new site offers several options for subscribing to new content so you never miss an interview.

Check out The Inquisitive Meeple’s new home and stay tuned for the next designer interview.

Image from Connected Digitalworld

Image from Connected Digitalworld

Oliver Roeder over at the political and social trend site, FiveThirtyEight, set out to discover why heavy political game Twilight Struggle, among all the classic standbys like Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan, maintains the top spot on BoardGameGeek.

“We may now find ourselves in the middle of a golden age of serious board gaming. The number of titles, and their average ratings by players, increase each year. Impressively, amid this renaissance, Twilight Struggle maintains its No. 1 spot despite having been published in 2005.

twilight strugle map

His exploration reveals an interesting series of changes in the industry, notably the increasing dominance of strategic games, and the decreased influence of simpler luck-oriented games.

“Games in this broad category are typically characterized by deep strategy, an emphasis on skill and the lack of player elimination. In other words, they’re not Monopoly.”

Roeder’s research brought him to Twilight Struggle’s co-designer, Ananda Gupta, currently working for video game studio Firaxis Games. Their discussion ranges from Twilight Struggle’s early days as a Spanish Civil War game concept to Gupta’s frustration with historical war gaming’s unnecessary rules complexity.

“Simplification, to Gupta and [Twilight Struggle co-designer Jason] Matthews, was the name of their design philosophy. Rather than overwhelm players with a fat rulebook at the start, the designers spread the information required throughout the gameplay, on cards.”

Gupta’s theory on Twilight Struggle’s enduring popularity is similarly simple. He points out the advantage a two-player game has in both length and player downtime, as well as the balance of skill and luck inherent in Twilight Struggle’s design. Gupta plans to bring to his next project, Imperial Struggle, and provides a bright outlook for historical games to come.

“Ninety-five percent of human conflicts are not covered by games. We’re seeing more games that are less focused on America. We’re seeing more games focused on struggles that are not of interest primarily for their aesthetics.”

Make sure to check out the full article for more of Ananda Gupta’s insights and to see Oliver Roeder’s industry data analysis.

mascarade

Bruno Faidutti is known for games that pair social interaction with a looser game structure. Games like Mascarade and Citadels (a.k.a CITADELLLLS!) rely heavily on the meta game of players bluffing, misleading, and jockeying for position. These game structures can be very exhilarating and memorable, but can also be highly unpredictable earning Mr. Faidutti the moniker “Master of Chaos”.

“I’m not that fond of being the ‘Master of chaos’. I’d rather be described as the designer of games in which players cannot hide themselves behind the rules, games that are eventually played with – and against – players and not against pawns and cards.”

In his latest blog entry, Faidutti addresses this classification of his game designs and draws an important distinction between terms that are often used interchangeably: chaos and randomness. It’s a fascinating glimpse into design theory and Bruno Faidutti’s own philosophies. Next time you sit down to play a game with seemingly random elements, you might just look at it a little differently.

“What makes the game uncontrollable is the fact that all players are trying at the same time to control its many interlocked and convoluted elements.”

Head on over to Mr. Faidutti’s blog to learn more. It begins in French, but the content repeats in English right after. Fair warning, the article does compare playing games to a certain intimate adult activity, though in a completely non-graphic way.

hyperbole

Designer Grant Rodiek has written “Asymmetric Beginnings” over on HyperboleGames.com.  Focusing on goals and using examples from Rodiek’s upcoming game, Sol Rising, Rodiek builds on his previous foundation of asymmetric design and delves into where to start.  Rodiek states that:

…every asymmetrical component should have a very clear purpose or theme. If it doesn’t need to exist, if it doesn’t have a purpose? Cut it and move on. In fact, if you can’t justify the exception at an early phase, and asymmetry is just that — exceptions — you should focus on a symmetrical design.