January 29th, 2010


You try to organise a holiday, and they let a f**king agent book the cottage on the week you asked about.


Frustrated and Cross. Hassle and rethinking of plans coming up :-(

Obvious Distraction is Obvious

In an attempt to divert myself from frustration and annoyance, I'm going to talk about boardgames. But not the normal type. I've often argued that roleplaying games should be able to transcend the dungeon delving beginnings, and become more of an art, and I think they do in places.

I think actually, if you take a non-snobbish point of view, boardgame design is very much an art - how people relate to what you create, and gain enjoyment from it is a really important thing to understand as a designer.

There is a step further than this, which is most obvious in the board game "Train". Now, I've never played it, there are only a very limited number (I've read one, and three in different places) of copies. It doesn't do what a game normally does.

The designer gives an example of her daughter reciting facts about the middle passage, and deciding to bring home the truth a bit more viscerally. So she makes a few families, (red, blue green) and fills a boat with random people from each (daughter "but the families are not together anymore..."). Then a simple game, where each boat moves a random number of spaces slong the board, and each person eats one of a limited amount of food.

It becomes obvious that the food will not last. So make the suggestion - they will last if we throw some of the people off the boat. At this point the reality of the whole situation is much more real than it was in class.

Anyway, I've been toying with a game that works a little like this. I'm not sure, having not played Train, but some of the descriptions make me baulk a little - the rules for instance are written on a genuine nazi typewriter. Is that necessary? Does it add to the game? Is it just pretentious? So I'm trying to avoid that, in a game about industrialisation.

More if the project progresses.

ps I also have a very fun wooden sailing ships game, with a cool little move template for movement at different points of sail. I'm using the Pirates Collectable Miniature Game things, I got them for 50p a pack from a charity store, and they are a bargain.