I spent last Sunday afternoon surrounded by fellow creatives at Dublin Gamecraft Unplugged. We had about 4h30m to make an analog game. Yep, that’s right! No videogames this time.
The theme was “Grow Your Own”.
I knew we didn’t have much time or materials but I wanted to make something different. A simple adventure game that physically grows as you play. I ended up with “Grow your own Adventure”: an interactive story where you follow a line, choose your path and your choices alter what comes next.
I started folding to see what I could do with one sheet, and accidentally got to this. Twice! If you had asked me to teach this to you I couldn’t remember how to, but muscle memory brought it back.
I kept folding and realized you can make very interesting “page turns” from just a single cut in the middle of the sheet. It allows you to hide surprises but, most importantly, make choices that change the layout.
I started drawing a line and improvising. Taking notes, seeing how far I could go with it and how many “faces” I would be able to write on.
In the end, I got to something I’m very proud of. It’s an interactive story system you can fit in your pocket. Your choices change it, so there’s some replayability. It comes from a single page, which makes it possible to distribute as PDFs.
You can see the other projects here.
My new game is called Fortune Tellers. It’s about predicting the future.
The idea started as a friend told me he wanted to make a game about Nostradamus. He is a great designer with several published games, but he didn’t know how to turn it into one – just found the theme appealing.
A lightbulb lit in my mind!
A while ago I sketched out a game where you combined words to make stories. While interesting as a concept, it’s too vague for a game. I needed something to narrow these stories to something relevant to the game, so this made perfect sense.
I thanked him, he said “I can take the Nostradamus idea”, but I said it’s still his. I don’t want to get stuck with a historic theme. All I needed was the bit where you predict stuff, because shady fortune tellers sound a lot more fun to me.
So that’s it: a game where you’ll predict what the other players will do during that game. You can get more verbs to predict new situations, and more assistants to do more things every turn. In short, two games at the same time!
I was invited to the latest Arcádia meeting two days beforehand. I didn’t want to wait a whole month to try it out, so I hurriedly made the first prototype. Some parts were improvised, I just wanted to check if it was fun to play – and it is!
The players liked it a lot. The “Aha!” moment when a prediction you made happens is a lot of fun, and something I haven’t felt in many games. Of course, it needs a lot of tweaks, like fixing the game’s economy, making matches shorter and even more types of possible predictions. I’m working on that.
Stay tuned! I predict it will be a lot of fun.
The latest feedback Carousel got from a very influential partner was that it was too complex for a casual player but too simple for a hardcore one. They weren’t interested in a filler game for a hardcore player.
Among my playtesters are several hardcore gamers who like to play it inbetween much longer games. It’s a puzzle, a braintease where you have interesting choices in every turn. It’s also a race, so it doesn’t drag for too long.
I didn’t develop the game with a target audience in mind because I didn’t intend to sell it. I just found an underused mechanic and had fun with it until I had something original. As soon as I noticed interest on it I started pursuing it. Times are rough and publishing a filler game for a hardcore audience could be risky at the moment.
This means I’m no longer working with Mesaboardgames on this project. I really liked working with them though, and would certainly do so again now that I know what type of game they’re looking for.
What’s next? I’ll be talking to other publishers, having fun with other themes and looking at other ways of putting it out there. Suggestions welcome!
Good news everyone! Carousel got picked by a publisher! I’ve been working with Mesaboardgames to make it as good as it possibly can.
There have been some radical changes, but the core remains intact. It’s still about combining and getting the most of those pesky action cards.
First off, the theme. I tried a simple one because it made it easier to explain. You’re a postman and you’re delivering packages across several locatoins. I believe that made talking to publishers a lot more fluid, and good ideas sprang from there.
Second, the coin tokens became envelopes. It’s now harder to guess the other player’s score just by looking at their stash. Suspense!
The biggest change og all though, was giving each player its van. There’s a lot less upkeep and it allows you to plan your next moves on the other players’ turns.
After a couple radical changes it’s become a more interesting game, with added interaction and strategic depth. These changes need more testing, of course.
Next time I say something is finished, please ignore it. Carousel is still going round and round!
You know that flat, square thing in your pocket? You can now play Pool on it! It’s now out on iOS and Android and it’s pretty neat.
At 6 months long this has been my biggest project at Miniclip so far, and a pretty ambitious one at that. Besides being our first online title for mobile, the original game already had a fanbase. The goal was to radically change it while keeping them happy.
The reviews and overall online buzz are pretty great! We currently have more than 12 million monthly online players across all versions, which is insane compared to my previous projects.
If you want to know more about 8 Ball Pool’s development, our Senior Producer wrote this cool post about it called “How our Flash game reached 18 million monthly players in two years”.
I’ve moved away from the project at the start of the year to work on other titles such as updating and localising Mini Pets, tweaking Anger of Stick 2 and 3 and helping the revamped Robot Rage, along with promising pitches for future games.
The new version of Pool was released earlier this month! I’ve been working on it for the past six months. It has a lot of new features including a level progression system, unlocks, ingame currency and tables with varied stakes – and unique cue awards!
The new features are explained in Miniclip’s blog: here and here.
It’s breaking studio records every day, and climbing facebook game charts. The number of daily active users went up to 1.300.00. There’s 92736 players online as I write this.
Players voted it Miniclip’s Game Of The Year.
New features will roll out the next months, and I can’t wait to see the player reaction. I’ve been playing it too, so come say “hi” if you see me.
If a year ago you’d told me about this I wouldn’t have believed you.
The tips from the latest Arcádia meeting were spot-on. I took their suggestions, adapted them to the game and playtested them at home to save time. I made some changes to the icons and cards and added the coin tokens.
The Friday meeting was great. Every game got played. I thought there wouldn’t be time for mine because it was getting so late but it got played at around 2am and everyone had a good time!
Wrote some notes down, tweaked some elements and now I feel like it’s done. I don’t see a single thing I want to change.
What’s next? Why, I’d like to publish it of course!