๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (2024)

Before we begin: weโ€™ve launched our Kickstarter pre-launch page! Give it a follow below if you feel so inclined ๐Ÿ™

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I've been asking podcast guests about whether or not mechanics or theme come first. Oftentimes they say theme, which makes sense, as developing the right mechanics to suit the theme sounds like a purer way to build rather than trying to shoe-horn a mechanic into something that might not fit.

For me, it's a bit more complicated. I have three different elements swirling around at once: theme, mechanic, and for lack of a better term, 'vibe'.

Theme is pretty self-explanatory, and involves starting with a subject in mind and thinking about the actions you want to mimic, and then deriving the best mechanics to let your players perform those actions. In Blue Lagoon, the object is to take certain territories, and the mechanic of placing tokens onto territories made the most sense when thinking about how to most easily stay true to the theme.

Mechanic is a bit more abstract, but involves figuring out a type of move, or mechanism that is interesting and then looking for a reason to use it that makes sense. For example, you might like trick-taking games, and want to apply the trick-taking mechanic to a theme. Skull King is a great example of taking a mechanic (trick-taking in the style of up and down the river) and applying it to a theme (pirates).

A vibe however is the feeling, movement, or image of the actions that a player should take. For example, chess involves studying the board, picking up pieces and taking other pieces off the table. I've wanted to develop a game that has that basic action - studying the board (strategy), using simple pieces to take other pieces off the board (action). Poker is another one, involving drawing cards (action), managing your hand (strategy), calling or passing (interaction with a bank, often with hand gestures), and making mounds of chips (currency). That same feeling and look could be used as a style-check for a game with similar actions.

I'll usually explore each of the three elements individually, before choosing one to build a game around.

With HotShot Pickleball, the theme was first, but the vibe was not far behind. Over the course of about an hour when first thinking of the sport, I thought it would be cool to literally have a court and for someone to reveal a card and physically send a ball back over the court to their opponent. It felt both thematically appropriate and vibe-wise it made sense.

In terms of mechanics, that was a bit harder to balance. When I went to the UK Game Expo last year, I had a great time play-testing other people's games and having a different one I designed play-tested (it assuredly did not go well. Which was super helpful!).

One game I played involved drawing cards and placing them down in a specific order that then when flipped over dictated the direction a piece would move. Players would take turns flipping their pre-set cards over to determine what happened. It felt really cool, almost like old card programming. It had a sense of strategy and then reward seeing how your strategy played out.

I thought it might work well for Pickleball:

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (1)

It...didn't. While it was interesting for people to think about strategy, the lack of many spaces and the degree to which you'd need to place the ball correctly ended up feeling like each player didn't have any agency. Version 1 had no long shot deck, yet relied heavily on chance, to the point where it just wasn't that fun.

Fast-forward through 13 versions and we've played with having 1 deck, 3 decks, different cards for singles and doubles, 150 cards, 60 cards, and countless other changes that has got us to where we are now.

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (2)

It feels simpler yet more exciting, and gives different opportunities for strategy (Rally cards) or uncertainty (Long-Shot cards).

If you'd like to see more about how the game looks and give us feedback about how the game feels to you, we'd love to hear it! You can see a video showcasing the basic rules here.

And now as always, onto some amazing projects we've seen this week!

๐Ÿ”ฑ Dragonbond: Lords of Vaala | Get all expansions + New one (57%): New narrative expansion for this action-programming miniatures game plus all previous ones. Play as dragon, hero, or dragonbonded team. ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (3)

โ›ด SAKE (Sorcerers, Adventures, Kings, and Economics) Rulebook (27%): TTRPG that blends strategy game elements with fantasy game - adventure in the wilds and build up Your domain. www.sake.ee ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (4)

๐Ÿฆ Money Maker: The Goldsmiths Tale | Build your Banking Empire (105%): What ifโ€ฆ you could print your own money? ๐Ÿ’ฐ Build your Money Empire. Screw your friends. Create the most profitable bank! ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (5)

๐ŸŒŠ Overfunding

๐ŸŽฒ The Megan Plus - Board Game Table by Geeknson (โ—299%): Tested and trusted Megan Table is back! Together with Expanded Furniture Series. ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (6)

๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ The Laundry Roleplaying Game (โ—340%): The award-winning RPG of cosmic horror, tech-driven magic, and occult spycraft returns! Based on โ€˜The Laundry Filesโ€™ by Charles Stross. ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (7)

๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€โœˆ๏ธ Solace - Board Game (โ—103%): Solace is a mission based 1-5 co-op sci-fi game set in a world of immortals in which players are agents of a futuristic SWAT. ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (8)

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿณ Can't Take the Heat: A two-player paranormal romance tabletop RPG set in the fast-paced world of fine dining. ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (9)

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Encore!! ECG: A high-intensity performance card game! ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (10)

๐Ÿ˜ฑ Frightshow Classics: Two new classic horror tabletop RPG adventures, "Vengeance of Bathory" and "Pine Barrens Devils" ๐Ÿ‘‰ Kickstarter

๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (11)

That's all for this week!

Know a game that's launching or just want to say hello? Get in touch! ๐Ÿ“ฎ

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๐Ÿฅ’ Getting to Version 1 (2024)
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