Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

UnPub 5: Friday

Keith Ferguson and I are at UnPub 5, presented by Ad Magic at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland.  Darrell Louder has really cranked up the gain on UnPub this year, with a terrific new location and a slate of activities for the pre-convention Designer Day, which just concluded Friday night.

It is great to see familiar faces in the gaming community again, some of whom we haven't seen since UnPub 4 a year ago January, as well as to meet people I'd previously only known via social media.  In particular, I finally put a face to the voice of Roger Hicks of Dice Tower News.

Before events got started, Peter Gousis, Jason Hancock, and I joined Keith Ferguson to playtest his latest version of "Santa's Workshop."  We had to cut the game short when the Designer Day panels started, but I think he got some good notes that may or may not result in some tweaks to worker placement restrictions in the final turn.  There are just a couple of fiddly scoring bonuses that we agreed could be safely dropped without affecting gameplay.  To all intents and purposes, though, I think the game is largely good to go as is.

Daniel Solis delivered a talk on graphic design in boardgames, with an emphasis on the considerations that game designers need to take into account.  He gave a couple of internet references for detailed matierial, including The Noun Project, game-icons.net, and other sources of Creative Commons licensed images.

A panel of experts discussed the state of the gaming industry.  Participants included

  • Chris Kirkman, owner, Dice Hate Me Games
  • Shari Spiro, president, Ad Magic
  • Michael Lee, managing partner, Panda Game Manufacturing
  • Ralph Anderson, "Game Evangelist," Eagle-Gryphon Games
  • Karl Kemmerer, proprietor, The Games Keep
  • David Chott, designer, Lagoon: Land of Druids
Topics of the discussion included the impacts of Kickstarter on the boardgame industry, cost as a design factor, and the role of conventions.

A question-and-answer session with accomplished designers Mike Fitzgerald and Richard Launius yielded several nuggets:
  • Mike Fitzgerald approaches design doing what he wants to do within the constraints of what the company tells him to do.  
  • He tries to start with a theme and then go from there.  
  • Diamonds took only a month to design and another month to clean up.
  • Quote of the night:  Game design "is the most joyful thing I do in my life and ever have."
  • Richard Launius considers game design more art than science.
  • He feels that "a game has to live up to its theme."
  • A little known fact about Arkham Horror: "The original version had no end to the game."
  • He designed Elder Sign in one week.
After a group dinner at Pratt Street Ale House, I was able to run a playtest session of "Reactor Scram" with Kiva Fecteau, Alf Shadowsong, Burke Drew, and Alex Strang.  The game resulted in a reactor meltdown due to loss of coolant.  There might have been some better moves by the players, but more importantly, the playtesters came up with some excellent suggestions to make the game more fun and to tighten the swingy nature of the random events.  I look forward to modifying the game and trying it out again.

Near the end of the evening, I met up with Jay Treat, who showed a fellow named Tam and me his bluffing memory microgame tentatively named "Which Witch is Which?"  I liked it so much that I snagged Keith F. to try it out as well.  Such a great little game - I would love to see this published!

No comments:

Post a Comment