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Game design on the fly!

Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Thu, 12 Apr 2007
Subject: Pickford Bros.

Ste Pickford

John and I meet up at either his house or my house every Friday, then go to the pub for a few pints to discuss the games and designs we're working on. It's a system that's worked really well for us over the last couple of years, since we started working from home instead of in an office together, and has (surprisingly) resulted in more, and deeper, discussion about the design of our games than when we saw each other at work every day. Naked War has been the main beneficiary of this system so far, which I think is probably the best designed, and most consistent and 'complete' game we've ever made.

Not all our Friday night ideas get translated into games - most join a long mental queue of games or products we'd love to make if only we had the time - but sometimes we come up with ideas, talk them through, and get so excited about them that maybe they shouldn't ever be turned into real games in case doing so spoils the Friday night magic.

Last week, in the Blazing Rag in Buxton, John and I designed a complete game from scratch, just in our heads and through discussion and argument, with no actual playing of it at all. It might be completely rubbish, but, in a drunken haze, it seemed brilliant and perfect at the time.

It's called Dice Warrior and is played on a chess board with a set of Perudo dice, and designed to be played in a pub. We've been out for a drink with the Team 17 lads a few times, and they always bring a Perudo set with them, and get it out in the middle of the pub. It's a brilliant game to play with a group of slightly tipsy blokes, and it gets harder, and dafter, as each player gets more and more drunk. We wanted to come up with something playable in that context, maybe even with the same equipment - if the pub didn't have a chess board maybe players could bring a cloth one along with their Perudo set?

We sat and discussed the rules, the balance, the game events and the win conditions. We argued over different rules, experimented mentally with different board sizes, custom board layouts, alternate rule sets, variable numbers of pieces, until we came up with a neat, simple, balanced, board game, which is completely original but based on familiar pieces and game elements.

At chucking out time we both promised to start playing it the next day, but I don't think either of us did. I can still remember everything we came up with, and it still seems like a great game in my head, but I'm scared to play it in case it's a nonsensical mess in real life. Maybe some ideas should just stay in the pub?

 

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