Living, Eating and Breathing Game Design (Part 1)…

As I near the end of graduate school, I find that a combination of classes, long term company goals and short term ‘I need money NOW’ issues, is brewing up into a storm of game design that is keeping me hopping like a flea on a hotplate. I am living game design 12 or more hours a day, every day of every week except Saturday (got to see my family sometime). If I’m not actually doing it, I’m thinking about it and seeing the world in relation to it. I’m not sure whether this is a good or bad thing, but that’s how it is.


This semester is my last, and like all the ones before it, I am using my time to the best advantage by combining my academics with business.



Map (© 2013 Jabberwocky Media)

The project I started last semester, the Federation Commander Tactical Display App, is still going on. I’m extensively testing out the Proof of Concept version (you can see the details on that here) by running a Federation Commander Campaign for my Professor and my good buddy Chris Krueger.

Interestingly enough, the Campaign I developed for testing the App actually led to the creation of a simple, short 1-2 hour, 2 player wargame set in the Star Fleet Universe that I’m going to try and convince Steven V. Cole (publisher of Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander) to publish. It’s focused on a small part of the larger General War in that universe and would make both a great board game and campaign system for Federation Commander.



5-8 player map (© 2013 Jabberwocky Media)


When Barbarians of Heavy Metal failed to reach its funding goal, I had many questions I needed answered before I Kickstarted my next project, For Glory!!!, so I’m researching crowd-funding for an independent research class this semester.

This project is actually the completion of a longer project cycle, which began last year with the creation of For Glory!!!, continued with the prototyping and play-testing of the game and will end with the successful or unsuccessful funding of its production through Kickstarter. There are a few papers on crowd-funding in the works as well (that’s academia for you) but hopefully it will not only result in a game ready for sale next year, but a much better understanding of the crowd-funding process on my part for future projects, including a new Kickstarter for Barbarians of Heavy Metal.


My previous thesis (an interactive, voice-controlled audio game based on The Shadow) got derailed by a lack of facilities this semester, so I had to make a quick adjustment and come up with something entirely new that could be completed in a 12 week period. The idea came to me while visiting my family one Saturday and watching them watch football. It occurred to me that there are NO table-top football board-games (unless you count Electric Football) and this struck me as both an odd omission and an ideal opportunity to do something different.

You see, I didn’t know jack about football. Unlike the rest of my family who, along with a massive number of Americans, are obsessed with it, I never really understood the draw of it. This made it an ideal Thesis project, because not only would I be researching a fairly complex anthropological facet of American culture in specific (and sports culture in general), I would also be studying what is, in effect, one of the most mechanically complex games in existence and trying to translate that into an accurate, but easy to play representation of that game for play on a table-top.

So far, over the last three weeks, I have succeeded in doing all of the above. I’m still picking up the nuances of the game, but my knowledge and interest in it, and all of the intricate subtleties of what is essentially a game of peace-time trench warfare, have grown exponentially. The historical and marketing research has been fascinating, and my growing understanding of the game has made it much more interesting to watch, and I can even predict the plays to a limited extent. But what is really tweaking my grey-matter is the mechanical conversion from real life to table-top. It’s just clicking so well I’m not sure why I didn’t do this before.


A few Custom Dice Icons for the game (all images © 2013 Jabberwocky Media)

I can tell you why no one else has tried it: because the licensing issues are over-the-top ridiculous. They were worth a 4 page paper all on their own. But that’s all right, because I have a plan to market the game whether I get the license or not. I’ll be posting my Demo Game up at the end of the semester and you may well see the Kickstarter for it popping up in the Spring.


Along with the important, school related stuff, I’m also trying to come up with some small, interesting games that I might turn around quickly for some fast cash. These games are much less complex than my ‘academic’ games and the subject of my next post…

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