Game Design

Find Peace With Deviating From Your Creative Project Plans

It’s nice to take a break from the daily grind and take a vacation. Maybe travel to a different city? Eat the local cuisine? Drink the local whisky? That sort of thing. The one thing I despise during a vacation is over-planning.

I’m not talking about essentials like packing and booking an airbnb or hotel—I’m talking about itemizing your day down to the hour or minute. I can’t stand taking a vacation with someone who maps out the whole day with sight-seeing and whatnot. Why can’t we just go get loaded in a foreign locale? Why do we need to go to the colosseum, the forum, then go to five different restaurants that all the tourists say are the place to go? The one thing I despise during a vacation is doing too much touristy shit.

Now you’re probably thinking, “hey Neutrino Burrito, you just phrased two things you don’t like with the insinuation that there’s only one thing that you don’t like. I’m calling the police!”

I’m on the phone with the cops right now, you’re going away for a long time.

What had happened was, I thought of one thing that I disliked and then in the moment remembered another whole thing that I didn’t like. My planned communication of dislikes expanded.

Four paragraphs in and you’re still rambling, can you get to the point?

Just like vacations are best when you leave room to be spontaneous and explore your new environment, your creative endeavor is best when you leave room to explore what’s possible.

Also, having a drink every now and then certainly doesn’t hurt.

Get drunk and slack off—got it! Any other sage advice?

No, but to reaffirm my point with personal experience—

Hard pass. Can you just stick to pairing games with alcohol?

—A year and a half ago, I decided to start developing a tabletop game based around the Roman Republic being turned into the Roman Empire. Some day, I still might make that game. Right now, my game is entirely different. The theme is different, most of the mechanics are different, the win conditions are also different.

If you asked me which game I’d rather be making, It’s the one I’m making right now, not the one I started making in the summer of 2017. Since this is the first tabletop game that I’ve ever developed, it took me this long to realize exactly what I wanted. If I had stuck to the plan, I’d still be scratching my head, wondering why my Roman game isn’t enjoyable for me. As I type this, I’m a few weeks away from opening this game up to beta tests. Meaning other human beings are going to mock play test my game.

Wait, you don’t think people are going to ridicule my game, do you?

Of course not! They’re likely going to save that so they can ridicule you, personally.



Game Reviews

Unearth and Woodinville whisky: are we archeologists or prospectors?

In Unearth, you represent a tribe of The Delvers, a once powerful people who have fallen in disarray. You compete with other tribes of Delvers to restore your ilk back to power by surveying different environments and unearthing (get it?) sturdy minerals and different technologies from ruins to build your civilization back up.

At its core, Unearth tests your luck in an interesting way with a dice-rolling mechanic. Each of your Delvers is represented by a different type of die (one d4, three d6s, and one d8). Select a die, and a landscape—which is represented by a tarot-sized card—then roll your die for that landscape. Each landscape has a number on it, once all dice rolled on that landscape meet or exceed that number, the player with the highest value on the die with the most sides wins that landscape card for end-game scoring.

For example: If there are two dice on a landscape that add up to 10 to meet the landscape card’s value, one player’s d6 who rolled a 5 and another player’s d8 who also rolled a 5, the player who rolled the d8 would win that landscape.

So it’s a dice battling game?

Sort of, but the theme and some of the counter-balancing mechanics make Unearth a little easier to lick your wounds from a loss. Another element (pun intended) to the game is the collection of minerals, represented as hexes with a cube design on them, which allow you to construct wonders. Wonders grant you special abilities and give you additional points at the end of the game. You can only collect minerals if you roll a 1, 2, or 3, so your turn isn’t completely wasted if you didn’t get a high value. Collecting minerals is also a great strategy if you find yourself unlucky at collecting landscape cards.

If you lose a landscape card to someone else, you also get Delver cards, which you can play to give you a slight advantage or put your opponents at a disadvantage before you roll your die.

For a game that is primarily based around luck, there are plenty of opportunities to try and score points with bad luck.

Doesn’t the artwork look a bit like…?

Yes. The artwork appears to be a rip-off of inspired by Monument Valley’s combination of vivid colors and minimalist “iconography” artwork that purposefully uses color and shape to depict the illusion of depth instead of shading techniques.

It’s a beautiful artistic approach and it’s good to see it embraced by a tabletop game.

Why Woodinville?

We had two drinks, Woodinville neat and mixed with Rachel’s Ginger Beer (lemonade version). Bourbon and Rachel’s Ginger Beer go well together. Woodinville straight also has a great flavor with the punch of whisky and the sweet undertones of Bourbon. Everything from the color to the bottle screams one thing at me: prospecting.

Unearth doesn’t have a theme based on a real location, rather the theme is artfully ambiguous. When I think of this game, I think of gambling; I think of gold digging; I think of prospecting. And I think of whisky. Don’t you?

I thought that you didn’t like games that relied on chance as their main mechanic

I typically don’t but Unearth balances that chance with augment-your-luck opportunities (Delver cards) and benefits to getting low values (Mineral hexes). I’ll admin that while I do like the game and have replayed it a few times, when I look at my catalogue for something to play—it’s not my first pick.