Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Finding the Time, Keeping the Passion

You may have seen in my blog profile that I work in retail.
Truth is, I work in retail a LOT.  I am a store manager of a Walmart store and work some pretty long hours some days, and often work from my cell phone and computer at home as well.
I also have a wife and children, and love spending time with them.
So... between a 60ish hour work week, to handling household chores, and spending time with the family, my game design time is about an hour or two per day if I'm lucky (generally from 10p-Midnight when the rest of the family has fallen asleep).

I truly want to launch this product this year sometime, when exactly depends on how much better I can understand the programs it takes to create the game, and how involved I can get myself into the online game board community.  I have read that in order to have any success with Kickstarter you really need to carve a niche for yourself and create a contact list of people that would actually be interested in the game, then as you approach your Kickstarter launch time you want to keep those contacts aware as they can be your strongest supporters to spread the word of what your are trying to achieve.

In any writers, designers, and artist's How To books you will always see a few common themes:
  • Work on your project everyday, even if it's only a short time, and even if you delete or don't use the work in the long run.  It shows a commitment and passion.
  • Be willing to fail, you may create things or have ideas that just don't work no matter how much you thought it should.  Maybe those ideas will come to life later, or in another project.
  • Find and listen to critics/testers of your work, you cannot just rely on yourself and family/friends.
  • Set timelines for yourself.  Goals of what you want to achieve.  You may not hit all of your timelines, but you will hit much more than if you don't set any timelines at all.
There are plenty more pieces of advice than that, but those are some pretty important ones. That last one is something I haven't done yet... so I'm starting today.

By March 15th I plan to have all Reward card images completed in my personal card format.
By March 30th I plan to redo the Class and Advance Class cards to fit in my personal card format.
In the month of April I plan to complete all of the Event cards and the Creature cards for my formats.
In the month of May I plan to convert/attach all of my images to an online card creation site to see how they look/work (already testing as I go, but have to redo them all at once for final game print).
By mid June I plan to have a unique card back design for the cards (all decks will have the same image backing in case of rules changes or potential expansion rule modifications).
By July 1st, Canada Day, I plan to have a first full printed card set printed from an online company and shipped to me.  That will be the first true game set, what some people would refer to as an Alpha set.
By July 30th I plan to have a Kickstarter campaign designed and ready to launch, however the launch date relies on the success/failure of the timelines above, as well as the success/failure of playtesting (which will be ongoing from now until then).
By the end of September I would like the Kickstarter campaign to have started and ended, of course hoping for a successful campaign to begin a true production of the game.

There we go... some challenging timelines and goals in mind for the future of Kearth!

Learning about Game Design

I thought I should mention that, in my efforts to understand what it is I am undertaking, I am heavily involving myself in a self-study of Game Design.  Specifically board game, but any game design concepts can help.
There are broad level concepts I have read about, such as the overall principles of Game Theory, and more specific concepts I've browsed through on the web.  You don't truly appreciate how much there is to learn until you've started to explore what is out there to learn.
So far I have read articles, watched you tube videos, browsed through Forums (such as, and most recently I've started listening to podcasts from game creators who share their roadblocks, suggestions, successes, and complete failures.
One podcast I found I am liking is the Board Game Design Lab, as they have discusses general concepts and specific games in a casual yet engaging manner.
If you are planning on developing your own game make sure to take steps to educating yourself on the process and theories.  I have a ton to learn, and plan to take in all I can as free time allows.  I hope to apply the learnings throughout my game design journey as I attempt to bring Heroes: Champions of Kearth to life.
Check out the podcast website if you want to start learning today...

Board Game Design Lab

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Basic Item Card Design

This morning I took the time to create each of the Item-Weapon cards for the game.
The card design is fairly simple, which could be enhanced with the right time and/or game designer to support it.  As of right now still just trying to establish a base concept to get the full game committed to a specific unique format.
Below are a few examples...

Monday, February 26, 2018

Original Character Class Cards

In order to propose an idea like this I have to utilize original designs, which is a challenge as I have never been strong with computers/programming.
I am attempting to use GIMP and Inkscape for my initial designs, but may progress to something different based on feedback and suggestions, or personal preference.
To start with, rather than Magic Set Editor, I have tossed together an idea for Character Cards, then will progress to Adventure/Event, Reward, and Creature cards.
See below for the original basic class card designs...

Character Sheet

Yesterday I was able to pull together some free online images to create the prototype of the games Character Sheet.  Simple, straightforward, easy to understand.
I may end up adding some color to the sheet later, but for now it works for playtesting/showcasing what it should look like.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Game Website

I was able to figure out how to create a free Website from Wix, a website editor online.

It took about three hours to get it tweaked to my liking, its amazing what you can do with the right time and free resources.

The plan is to use the Website as a visual reference when I start promoting the game to Crowdfunding or Publishers as it shows a dedication to the Game / World, and shows that I am committed to its success (particularly with the four links for feedback).

Now I really need to get back into the playtesting and design...

Friday, February 23, 2018

Recruiting my first partner

After planning and creating the first four days, then playtesting the core ideas, I thought I would share some thoughts with a long time friend and gaming opponent, John Rocha.
John has much more knowledge about programming, software, online communications, and other things I honestly have no clue about.
I know from my work history that nothing great can be accomplished alone, you need people there to support you, whether it is constant and directly or from a distance and in the background.
This effort to produce a game of clarity and quality is important to me, and I knew his advice and help could go a long way to making the game better, and more efficiently, than stubbornly trying on my own.
I've already reached out to him a few times for support on where to find info about potential game infringement, what software to develop cards and art on, and what place has a decent free website service.
Thank you John for joining me in this exciting quest to build Champions of Kearth!

Template Cards

In order to figure out how a game is going to work, you need simple templates to test the game concept.
I am a visual person, particularly when it comes to fantasy games, I love to SEE what it is I am trying to experience (or when I was a DM for DnD I loved to draw examples of what the players would be seeing with their characters).
I decided to use the excellent and easy to use card editor called Magic Set Editor, it is so fast and easy to design professional looking cards that truly explain the game concept (rather than handwritten card and sticky notes).
It took a few long nights putting them together, but once I had the core of the game idea in my head I could hardly wait to get it put onto cards.
As I was only in play testing mode I used random art from the internet to fill the card images, knowing they would need to be changed before any type of formal proposal (regardless of whether it was crowd funded or published by someone else).

I tested the game out with my 14yr old and 11yr old, and trust me that Christopher is probably the harshest critic you can find, with an amazing eye for detail.  He is also a Min-Max type of gamer, always mathematically searching for the best possible combination to achieve a victory.  That helped him find ways to "Break the Game", and thus showing me examples of what needed to be done to improve it.

Through the first ten games I found that the XP values were a bit off, the GP offerings needed to increase, and some of the Creature stats were a little underpowered.

It has only been a week now, but I believe the game is advancing to a point where I can start to expand my playtesting to others (be it friends, or local games store gamers).
Part of the purpose of this blog is to help protect my game idea, an online proof of when and how I plan to create the game in case the idea somehow gets taken by someone else that sees it in action.  VERY unlikely, I know, but it doesn't hurt to be a little cautious (not NDA and sign the dotted line cautious)

The Beginning

I have been tabletop gaming since my early teenage years, beginning with 2nd Edition "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons."  I have played more games than I can remember, with my favorites being DnD and MTG.
I have created and played my own board games with my kids over the past few years, including a Marvel Superheroes game, a Smurf game, Home-Brewed MTG decks to match my kids interests, and even a Star Wars card adaption to apply to Crokinole.

On Friday February 16th I went to my local game store with my stepson to play some Standard Friday Night Magic.  There were not enough players that night, so instead we ended up playing an assortment of their free to play games they keep for their patrons.

I played a few card based games that gave me an idea that I was very surprised had not yet been created.  I've searched the internet, including Reddit, Board Game Geek, and specific searches for games that matched this idea and haven't come across any, so until I do I am hoping this game concept is somewhat unique and will be of great interest to game and fantasy lovers of all ages.

Basically the concept is a Card-only version of DnD (or Diablo for those of you that are very video game focused).  It will be a 2 to 4 player game where each player gets a Card-Template character sheet to place the items and equipment they will gather throughout the game.  Unlike other DnD table top games, there are NO miniatures, NO excessive dice, NO writing stats/hit points.  Its all on the Cards, with a simple Battle dynamic and a strong gameplay tempo that will have games taking only 20-30 minutes to play a round.
Every game will be different, with exciting moments of Events, combinations of Equipment, and different Class cards to experiment with.  The game has a ton of potential just on its own, as well as room for expansion sets further on (or divergent series with different themes such as Space Adventure, CyberPunk, etc).

I am starting this Blog to track the steps I take towards building the concepts, cards, templates, and art it will take to be able to launch this game.  Not certain yet if it will become a self-published indie game through Kickstarter type-support, or if I will attempt to involve a national publisher for mass marketing... But before that can happen I have to get a solid prototype put together and tested.

I look forward to building onto this Blog throughout the creation process, and perhaps one day looking back after a successful launch to remind myself, and potential game fans, of how this game began.