Status Report

I’m wrapped up in end-of-year lawyer stuff, so I thought I’d use this update to provide a quick overview of where Law of Game Design’s projects are.

Over the Next Dune: the case study which was the focus of this blog for most of the year is not forgotten! Design work has been paused while I try to get enough playtesters in the room at the same time; it turns out that testing a game designed for five players is no joke.

To break that logjam, I’ll be working more aggressively to get Over the Next Dune to the table in 2015. A massive component upgrade is in the works, and will help with that quite a bit; the old components were very simple (and thus easy to change), but were almost completely abstract and did nothing to sell the theme. “Let’s try this game involving a number of circles and some squares” is a pitch that only another designer could love. The new components will be easier to work with and more attractive to the eye, which I hope will make the game more appealing to testers.

Lines of Questioning: this is my current focus, and I’ve been very pleased with how the game is working out. Feedback so far has been positive and the game plays well. There’s still lots of room for further refinement, but I feel that Lines of Questioning’s foundation is very strong.

In related news, the digital implementation of Lines of Questioning is coming along nicely. At the moment the game is in an alpha state; it’s playable, but not feature-complete. The road ahead is well-mapped, so I expect steady progress on this front. Unity 4.6’s new UI tools, in particular, are a tremendous boon.

Narrative-driven miniatures game: an older concept, but something I keep simmering on the back burner. Recently I started thinking about mapping power-ups to a three-act structure, gating power by having players guide a “leader” figure through the things a character in a three-act story must do. That would cast players in a different light than most minis games; rather than being a general or a battlefield combatant, the player would serve as author. Perhaps, just as authors must put their characters through the wringer, the player would then want to throw some curveballs at her own troopers?

More than anything else, this is the game that makes me wish for a 25th hour in the day.

Game for parents with toddlers: I haven’t been able to put as much time as I would like into this one, not least because the digital implementation for Lines of Questioning is eating into time that might otherwise have been devoted to it. With that said, I have more out-of-nowhere ideas for this game than I do any other. This is very rapidly becoming my “wake up in the middle of the night with an insight” game.

Moving forward, the priorities are:

1. Lines of Questioning, digital implementation: reach a feature-complete state and build an appealing digital experience.

2. Lines of Questioning, ongoing design work: continue testing and find the ideal variant.

3. Over the Next Dune, component revamp: build an attractive, functional prototype for OtND.

4. Over the Next Dune, testing: get OtND to the table more often, putting the current version of the game through its paces.

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