Valour: The Game

When we left off last week, I had the first physical prototype of my board game in-hand. Not knowing any better, I thought I might be near the end of the road. Now, after countless hours of play testing and revising, I know two things: a) I was WAY off the mark back then, and b) while I don’t yet know exactly where the road ends, I’m moving in the right direction. Read on to see the ins and outs of the current, and hopefully near-final, state of gameplay.
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Valour: The Backstory

With all the posting I’ve done about Protospiel, board game testing, and marketing, it dawned on me last week that I have yet to actually put out a canonical post on the game I’m designing and developing. Whoops! Then I started writing it, and it got a little long, (which is why this post ended up coming out late this week!) so here’s the first in a three-part series about Valour, the board game I’m working to get out the door this year. Continue reading

On Marketing

A theme I see faifieldofdreamscornrly often among makers, geeks, and other tech folks (three groups to which I wholeheartedly swear allegiance), is a dismissal of “marketing” as a discipline not worth committing effort against. But everything in my personal experience as a developer, “start up guy” and product creator leads me to believe otherwise. Most loudly, for Mobility on Demand, I was extremely fortunate to have Andrea Tuttle as cofounder. Marketing is her area of expertise, so she dictates our strategy, while I try to absorb as much as possible as we execute it.

Early on, we started a goofy tradition where we would txt each other “NEW ORDER!!” when a sale came through on our website. What blew me away was when she started following these messages up with “Oh, this one came from our writeup in [whichever specific blog or online magazine]!” How did she know??? Additionally, our site has gone from non-existant to four-figures of monthly visitors in only a few months. How did she do that??? Continue reading

Rise and Shine

Recently my friend Nick sent me this video, during a discussion about staying motivated through the hard parts of building our dream projects. I’d forgotten how much I loved it when it first came out ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Such an amazing motivational piece. I’ve bookmarked it; it now lives right between my 2015 Roadmap, my Catch Sheet, and all my bookmarklets for this site. Thanks Nick!

Watch it whenever you need a little extra push to finish that next task, or to get after it first thing in the morning.

Yearly Goals 2015 Edition

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.

—Bill Copeland

I know a lot of folks who poo-poo “New Years resolutions”, and with good reason. Firstly, New Years itself is fairly arbitrary: there’s nothing intrinsically special about one spot in the Earth’s trip around the Sun compared to another (well, there are technically two unique places, but New Years is neither of them) and secondly, and more importantly, they don’t actually work.

But what to do, then? Continue reading

The Hazard of Scheduled Posts

After jotting a note in my Catch Sheet to write a blog post about the Five Thirty Eight/Twilight Struggle article, it took a while to get it put together, which, as already noted in my post, gave time for the WSJ to drop the Green Bay Packers/Catan bombshell before it was even completely written.

And then I dropped it into the posting calendar[1]… which gave time for internet superhero The Oatmeal to drive his kitten-shaped juggernaut through not only Kickstarter, but the table top game community, and the internet at large. So yeah, there’s that. 120,000 Oatmeal fans who will now own a card game that isn’t traditional playing cards, and who are now in the Kickstarter ecosystem and may well go looking for other games and projects to back. Kinda makes my post yesterday feel almost quaint in scope.

Damn. Pretty exciting time for table top games when an article can feel timely one week and like ancient history the next.

[1] Why schedule it, you ask? I wanted to make sure the play-testing tips post made it up before the Feb. 2 Valour update went out so I could include it.[2]

[2] Valour update, you ask?? Don’t miss out on the next one: ;)

“Golden Era of Board Gaming” — 538

At the end of last year, this morsel came across my radar several times… (shout-outs to Andy Stone, Eric Budd, and Mitch Hulse for passing it along! I love that so many of you thought of me when you saw this). You should go take a moment to read it now.

Designing The Best Board Game On The Planet | FiveThirtyEight

While there may be a few somewhat spurious claims made throughout, [1] this article’s mere existence signals something larger to me. This hobby is going mainstream. Continue reading

Tips for running an effective board game play-test

The Invasion begins…As I find myself deeper and deeper in the design process for Valour, the more I’ve come to appreciate how tight so many commercially-available board games are. In that vein, I’ve been doubling down on the play test schedule, because (to my mind), there is no better way to smooth the experience than to have group after group of insanely smart people take on the design, find the weaknesses, exploit the loopholes, and identify the “fiddly” parts which should be unceremoniously ripped out.

After dozens of person-hours spent around the table beating up on my design, I’ve started trying to systematize the process so I can get the most out of every opportunity, and be as efficient as possible with my volunteer play-testers’ time. Continue reading