Friday already?

Another Friday down already? Where is the time going? Some participants have made amazing progress and I am very excited to hear that playtesting is going on – congratulations to all those demon hunters, you have just about completed your EPIC QUEST! Way to go!

If you’re languishing a little bit like myself, never fear! The weekend is here again, and although you have lots of other commitments and your loved ones are wondering where exactly you’ve disappeared to, I say you join me in buckling down and doing some good-old-fashioned catching up!

I am SOOOOO far behind. Remember last weekend, when my goal was to complete the character creation rules for my RPG? Well…. Definitely this weekend. Actually, I have booked a session of my game for next Friday, so I need everything ready to go by then. That’s kind of a rock-hard deadline for me. If you are struggling a little you might want to invite some friends around for a game sometime soon as a form of motivation, too.

Once again, way to go all of you that are on track, and keep on keeping-on those of you that have fallen behind! It’s not over till the fat gamer sings, and I’m not in tune yet!

Demon Hunter: Keith Fyans

Demon Hunter is where we grill a NaGa DeMon participant about games, their goals for November, and more. Read on to meet today’s Demon Hunter, Keith Fyans!

Hi Keith! Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Keith Fyans. I live in the sunny city of Glasgow, Scotland. These days I’m more of a consumer than a producer when it comes to gaming, though in the past I’ve been heavily involved in setting up and running all kinds of events, from clubs and conventions through to LARP festivals and banquets. These days I take a more supportive role in this sort of thing due to other commitments. Away from the gaming table my social media blurbs describe me as an Anarchist Communist, Feminist, Atheist, Poly, Queer, Geek, Transhumanist, Vegan – Peeps can make of that what they will. 🙂

Which games impress you and why?

Freemarket: This game is the closest fusion of game terminology and mechanics and setting I’ve ever seen. And WHAT mechanics they are. And WHAT A SETTING.

Houses of the Blooded: I love stories of Tragedy with a capital T. The Oresteia. Hamlet. Elric of Melnibone. The Wire. This has all the ingredients cranked upto 11 thanks to the best riff on Aspects I’ve seen to date. Again the system and setting go so well together.

Sweet Agatha: Wow. I’ve played through this a few times. Cutting the book. Reviewing the clues. Creating a story. A David Lynch movie. A modern day fairy tale. Film Noir. Every time different journey that reveals more about the people playing than it does Agatha.

Fiasco: If anyone reading this has enjoyed a Cohen Brothers film but hasn’t played Fiasco  then they are missing out on a great experience. In the time you would take to watch a film with your friends you can collaborate to make a story for yourselves. Again, the system drops in all the elements to make the themes work.

L5R CCG up until the Time of the Void and the 1st ed RPG: A story has a beginning, middle and an end. AEG may have forgot this, but the quality of their products didn’t. L5R in that moment was something incredibly special. Tragic. Heroic. A true epic. Since then all you get are high-quality standard products, but they don’t have the magic. Each edition of the RPG keeps “fixing” a near-perfect machine. Each set of cards is just another chapter in a closed book.

How are you participating in NaGa DeMon this year?

I try design a new game every NaGaDeMon, with as little knowledge or planning in advance as possible. All I know this year is that I’m going to do a game involving pirate ships, frantic crew assignment and drinking rum. This all came out of a conversation with a friend who is on the brink of publishing a small press game about ship-combat (I’d plug it here but the title is one of the last things they are going to do!). While I found us talking in  similar terms it became obvious to me that we had two very different beasts in mind, and so I decided to put my ideas on ice for a couple of weeks and then see what November brings me!

What are you expecting to be a challenge over November?

Finding the time for gaming has been a real challenge for me over the past few years, and NaGaDeMon will be no different. I’m hoping that we’ll see a couple of “Design Jam” sessions here in Glasgow where me and some of the other local participants can meet up and bounce ideas off one another.

What are you looking forward to over November? 

NaGaDeMon gives me a taste of the frantic preparation and organisation I used to put into gaming events near-enough full-time. While I don’t think I’d want quite that level of involvement and commitment again, it is nice to keep the old “muscle memory” alive just in case!

Who would you most like to play a game with?

Wow. Errrm. Well… I’d play Death at Twister! Most Excellent!

Back For More: Advice on Slaying

Chris Watts participated in NaGa DeMon last year, and is back again in 2012 to strike another mighty blow at the demon! He has carefully prepared for his battle this year, and this is what he has learnt…

I didn’t win at NaGaDeMon last year.  My little board game (and I’m writing this from a hobby board game designer perspective), Soul Survivors, suffered from my attempts to squeeze the mechanics of every single game I’d ever played into it.  For fans of role and move, card drafting, area control, pick up and deliver modular dice fests it was a WINNER.  But everyone else taking part just looked confused.

But taking part is the point, right?  NaGaDeMon is as much about motivation as it is about inspiration.  It’s about stopping daydreaming about designing a board game and getting out the scalpel and fashioning one.  My problem was that, in my enthusiasm, and despite having read a ton of advice to the contrary, I managed to overload the game with ideas while simultaneously and resoundingly sucking all the joy out of it.

So my first NaGaDeMon was about learning and that really suited me.  Here’s a bit of what I learnt for any budding NaGaDeMon-ers…

  • Find a good way to capture your ideas (I use evernote.com).  Take photos of prototypes. Write down notes.  Scribble down bits of rules as you go along.  It all helps keep you focused.  On that…
  • Be focused.  Think of a simple idea and test that first before you go adding lots of whistles, bells and warp-drive stutter crottocks.
  • Be iterative.  Get an idea, test it over an ale, refine the idea, add to it, have another ale, test the idea again, forget what you were supposed to be doing, have another ale.  Get rolling and refine.
  • You’ll have lots of ideas. Focus on using those that fit best and file the rest for your next game.
  • Don’t jump into making it look pretty.  There’s no point and no time to be making whizzo looking cards for a game mechanic that doesn’t work when you test it.  Playtest first – then work on the aesthetics.

I didn’t win NaGaDeMon last year.  But I did succeed. (See what I did there?)  For me it’s all about getting ideas out there, being creative and sharing the joy.  If you end up with a game that is fun for people to play with you, all the better. Enjoy!

For this year, I’ve kept the name Soul Survivors ‘cos I like it, but am designing a completely different game.  My blog is at: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blog/1869.

Ride The High!

Hi and welcome to the start of your first full week in November! You’ve had four days to ease into NaGa DeMon and now an entire week stretches ahead of you. What a great opportunity to make progress on your game!

You’re no-doubt still on a high from your very first weekend of demon slaying, so keep riding the high and make as much progress as you can. Use that enthusiasm to take a few more risks. Look at what you’ve done already and realise anything is possible! Go for it! Reach for the stars! Why play it safe with the humble D6, when the D32 has been so under-utilised? Dare!

As you fling yourself into this week, refer back to your goal and shoot for it. Eye on the prize people. This could well be your most productive week EVER! Keep adding to what you’ve got, there is no time for detailed edits yet – get that first playtest draft well underway!

So, how are you tracking so far?

Talkin’ About Talkin’

Yesterday I took a break from my game design to head to my monthly games club meet-up. I played a game of Libertalia (micro-review: really good!) and then became engrossed in a discussion on game design with my good friend Duff.

Duff is designing a board / card game. He has a solid concept of what the game is about, but just wanted to talk through some ideas on actual play. We chatted for a good hour or so, drew sketches of cards on scrap paper and jotted ideas for mechanisms to force decision making and create tension. I asked him questions about the goal of the game, what he wanted players to feel, and to be doing, and where on the “deep strategy <–> beer and pretzels” chart he wanted his game to live.

By the time Duff left he had a folder full of notes, a head full of ideas and a smile on his face. And do you know what, so did I! It turns out, talking about game design can help you out even when it is not your game you are focusing on!

So, have you been talking about game design, your successes, failures, discoveries or troubles? Feel free to leave a link to your latest blog or forum post below, or just blurt it all out here!

Checking In – Nathan’s project

Okay, so how is that mini-goal going? I said on Friday my mini-goal for this weekend was to get the character generation chapter for my RPG Perpetual City completed. So far I have spent a fair bit of time writing descriptions of the different denizens of the city but have not got into a lot of crunch. That is okay for now, as the setting is at least as important as the rules for my little project. However, I am really going to have to get into gear if I want that chapter finished by Sunday night!

You can read more about what I am doing (including “excerpts”) over on my blog.

So what’s working for me so far? Turning off the TV! I am lucky that my wife is happy to write on her blog while I work on my game, so there is no distracting television in the background. My plan is to record the shows I want to watch (or hit Hulu) so I can use them as rewards for when I reach those mini-goals.

How are you going? Are you rewarding yourself?

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…

Hi all,

A few people have had questions about the “rules” of NaGa DeMon – quite legitimate ones – regarding what they can or cannot do. While the “rules” state you should be starting from scratch, I have taken a much different line when people have asked me about it. The real point of NaGa DeMon is to get a game finished, play it and talk about it. I’ve spent a fair bit of time encouraging you to “finish that game you have always wanted to write” which kind of flies in the face of the “start something new” instruction.

So, since there are no judges, no prizes, and only 27 days left in November (from where I am sitting, anyway), I say get out your wax pencil and abacus and get creating, whether it is something old you intend to revitalise, something new you still haven’t quite worked out, a project based on your favourite TV show, coffee or child, or something else entirely. Just make sure you pop back here some time and tell me all about it – I really am interested!

Happy creating!*

*I really need a catch phrase like Stan Lee’s “Excelsior!” or Buzz Lightyear’s “To Infinity and Beyond!” Suggestions welcome. 🙂

The Weekend Beckons!

Here we stand, on the precipice of the first weekend in November! Prepare yourself, gird your loins, check your parachute (if you need one) and get ready to go, go, GO!

Make a plan now, and set a mini goal. Make it big and bold. Tell your friends and loved ones that you are busy, take your phone off the hook. Set aside some time and use it!

Be prepared to SUCK. The point is to finish your game and play it, not make it the WORLDS MOST AWESOME GAME EVER. *Cue guitar riff* Now, don’t get me wrong, it might be the worlds most awesome game ever, just not yet. It’s going to need playing and playtesting, a good edit and maybe even a massage (at least metaphorically). So don’t get hung up on making it perfect at this stage. Just get the thing written/put-together/done.

My goal this weekend is to write the character generation chapter for my game. What’s your goal?

Let’s do this thing!

Alright people, November is here. Time to pick up those sharpened pencils, dust off the keyboard and gather the dice. National Game Design Month 2012 has started and the Demon Hunters are off and slaying!

Good luck to everyone participating this year! I am sure we will all achieve great things. Make sure you keep hydrated, and pace yourself  – unless you only have a couple of days free, in which case, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU READING THIS FOR? GO CREATE!

Make sure you keep in contact, too. The last thing we want is for you to get lost in the wilderness looking for the mythical Naga Demon. You can share your progress on Facebook, G+, your favourite forum, or leave a link to your blog or website in the comments. And make sure you’ve signed the Roll Call – that way we know who’s involved, and it is another great place to leave a link to your work!

Don’t forget to check back regularly for pep talks, interviews and more!

Now, I’m off to create a game!

Demon Hunter: Michael Wenman

Demon Hunter is where we grill a NaGa DeMon participant about games, their goals for November, and more. Read on to meet today’s Demon Hunter, Michael Wenman!

Hi Michael! Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I’m Michael Wenman. Those in the game design world might have heard of me as the principle designer, artist and publisher at Vulpinoid Studios. Here we’ve released a few games, such as the time-travelling pirate adventure “The Eighth Sea”, the freewheeling Dada-inspired “FUBAR”, and the single player iterative game “Spider’s Dance”.  Beyond this, I’ve started producing freelance artwork for a few other publishers, while I’m not earning money taste-testing wine and spirits or designing websites, I study fine arts.

Which games impress you and why?

I really enjoy games that make players explore alternatives and make tough decisions. With this in mind, I’m impressed by games where the mechanisms of play either fall into the background or act as a conduit to entice players deeper into the world. If I have to disrupt the flow of play to go looking through a rulebook, then that’s a failure.

I’m also impressed by the games played on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop. While some impress me more than others, they remain consistently playable while pushing the envelope in one direction or another. I’ve been inspired to buy quite a few games via this show.

How are you participating in NaGa DeMon this year?

In 2010 I wrote a game called Walkabout. It was in a genre that could be called “Shaman-Punk”, a post-apocalyptic setting where spirits and gods have returned to a shattered Earth, it’s basically a fusion of Mad Max, Tank Girl and a Studio Ghibli anime film (eg. Spirited Away/Princess Mononoke). The survivors and the spirits of this setting are out of balance, and it is up to the players to discover the source of problems before restoring the balance to the world. This is a game about relationships first and foremost, relationships to specific people, to cultures, and to your ideals.

It’s been sitting in the back of my mind as a game that I’d like to refine, and all year I’ve been blogging about how I’d fix it up. NaGa DeMon seemed the perfect opportunity to get those thoughts in order and write up a second edition of the game; one that I can use crowd-funding to publish at a more professional level than anything previously done by Vulpinoid Studios.

What are you expecting to be a challenge over November?

This year I’ve taken some time off work and have been studying fine arts. November is the end of the year for my studies; so I’ve got two sculptures, a painting and two series of prints to produce, in addition to my game design work. The challenge is going to be fitting everything in.

What are you looking forward to over November?

I love being a part of contests and game design initiatives like NaGa DeMon because you can be assured that someone is going to create something brilliant, or at least something out of left field. Sometimes you get a first insight into a potential game changer for the hobby.

Who would you most like to play a game with?

I’d love to play a game with Wil Wheaton, especially on his Tabletop Web TV series. I’d love to play one of my games on tabletop. I’ve become addicted to that show, have downloaded every episode and burnt them to DVD to show others. I figure it’s the closest we’ve got to a “gaming big leagues” at the moment.

Thanks for participating!