Essen is coming up and people seem to be split on whether or not to be excited about this year’s crop. Personally, I’m in the enthusiastic camp but I’ll have to be excited from the states so that means I probably won’t actually get to play most of the games until next year. Luckily there’s still lots of non-Essen news and articles for those that don’t care and those that are sad they can’t attend. So here’s some of the best stuff that I read this week. Feel free to share some of your favorite links in the comments!
Articles From The Community
Some of my most memorable game experiences are from punishing games: In the Year of the Dragon, Galaxy Trucker, Agricola, Battlestar Galactica (the list could go on). I enjoy tension in games, overcoming harsh conditions, and occassionaly doing less worse than the other players. But not all the time, there are many design philosophies and Kevin Nunn talks about why he thinks it’s better to reward players than penalize them. Luther Hendricks follows up with a bit of his own advice on when it’s ok to utilize penalities. I agree that penalties garner a strong emotional reaction and they are best used to play off of that reaction. But as Luther says so eloquently “there are absolutely no absolutes”, a tricky prospect indeed.
Don’t worry Kickstarter lovers, this isn’t a doomsday article claiming that the end of Kickstarter is near. In fact, Chris from Today in Board Games goes on to conclude that “I think Kickstarter is here to stay and won’t become a dying cause … But the pendulum has swung back a little and I do think that it is starting to reach its equilibrium”. I haven’t really kept up on the health of Kickstarter board games but I did find this article fascinating and am interested to see what happens in the years to come.
Ben from Troll in the Corner shares a personal and touching story of how board games helped his daughter recover after surgery. It’s wonderful and heartwarming, especially for you parents out there. I know I’m looking forward to sharing games with my own daughter some day in the future.
With autumn in full swing it’s a good time to talk about change. Over at The League of Game Makers, Randy Hoyt shares about how Lanterns: The Harvest Festival transformed from flowers to lanterns. It’s interesting to hear about re-theming from the publishers perspective. Make sure to be on the lookout for part 2.
I shared my love of math last week so you can only imagine how fascinated I was when Tom from The League of Game Makers pitched making a game utilizing a game theory matrix. Yes, this article is as great as it sounds (if you love math). And yes, I do want to play that game.
It can be important to keep your ego in check but Nat at Oakleaf Games encourages budding designers to let their ego fuel them towards success. The kind of ego that he’s referring to isn’t a blind, arrogant ego but rather a self-reflective one. It can be easy to become discouraged during the design process and Nat’s encouragement to be confident in your ideas and designs has a lot of merit.
I can’t imagine how nerve-racking it might be to read a review of your game. Grant from Hyperbole! shares his experience of how to filter and use reviews to help improve your games. There’s a lot of really good practical advice that Grant has actually taken to heart with Farmageddon. I did find it interesting that he decided to filter out both extremely positive and negative reviews. I can understand finding overly negative reviews to be harmful or waste of time (as he describes) but surely there are useful things to learn from people who love your game.
It seems like theme has been a popular topic lately. I’ve read a lot of good articles discussing what theme means, how to integrate it with mechanics, and how much it even matters. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Grant’s article on researching theme is one of the best and most comprehensive articles on the topic. Seriously, this is a must read.
Thematic Execution Questions – Who, What, When, Where, and How?
But wait, I thought Grant’s article was the definitive last word on theme? Surely there isn’t anything left to say? Let me recommend just one more article before we close the book on theme. Games Precipice has been discussing theme lately and Alex brings us a very practical look at what questions you need to ask when considering theme. If Grant’s article was comprehensive then Alex’s article is practical. They both have a lot of merit so I say read them both!
Last Week on iSlayTheDragon
We’ve been keeping a pretty packed schedule lately bringing you great news, reviews, and previews every day of the week. Coming up this week we’ll have three more reviews: one fancy, one dicey, and one ragnaröky.
What We’ve Been Playing
Peptide: A Protein Building Game/Linkage – I had another busy week so that meant nothing got played, very sad indeed. But on the bright side I did receive an AWESOME package with a copy of the upcoming game Peptide: A Protein Building Game by Got Genius Games (along with Linkage). If you’ve read my review of The New Science you’ll know that I majorly geek out over a good science theme (even though I usually don’t care about theme). I live with three doctors (yes that’s right, three) so we’re pretty excited to try this one out. This game isn’t messing around people. You know there’s some pretty serious science going on when you have an “organelle resolution phase” to utilize the Ribosomes, Vacuoles, and Mitochondria you collected. Also, the winner is the one with the best Amino Acids in their Peptide Chain. You should already know if you’re excited about this game.
Thanks for the link.