Thursday, November 2, 2017

"A game by Scott Rogers"



Like most of you, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Rayguns and Rocketships. I have been hearing reports of the game showing up in Australia, New South Wales and even one store in Seattle. It's been very exciting to track the game as it is released around the world.

The day has finally arrived and my copies of the game were delivered from IDW games. I came home to a huge stack of games. Needless to say, IDW did a beautiful job not only producing the game, but shipping it and it was very exciting to receive my shipment.


Receiving the final retail version of Rayguns and Rocketships marks a milestone for me. You see, for 22 years, I've been fortunate enough to say that my career is "game designer". I've helped design more than 50 published games and have been involved making even more that were never published.


But Rayguns and Rocketships is the first game I've created that has my name on the cover. Outside of the board gaming world, it's actually a very rare thing for a game designer to receive this honor. I can only think of a handful of video game creators who have earned this honor.

It is far more common in the board gaming industry and while it might not seem like a huge thing, it represents something all game designers deserve - credit for their hard work.

There have been too many moments over my career where I have seen other people take credit for someone else's work or someone has tried to take credit for my work. Once a game looks like it is going to be successful, people get weird and start trying to "credit grab" - as if having their name on a box cover or on the game screen will justify their involvement - no matter how slight it was.

The "problem" is that credit does have power.  A credit isn't about ego or bragging rights, well, not for everyone. What it represent, to me, is proof to the world that this specific creator is responsible for the work. Names become a "proof of quality". Walt Disney. Stephen King. Oprah Winfrey. David Bowie. People buy their products because they recognize the names and associate the names with good work. There is a saying in the entertainment industry: "you are only as good as your last credit" and kids, credits are everything in this business.

In the early 90's, many of my peers were getting their names on the covers of their games. You probably have heard of some of them: Sid Meier, Tim Schafer, Will Wright, Chris Roberts, Chris Taylor. While literally thousands of people have toiled away on games, almost none of them get the credit they deserve. Did you know that Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of Mario and creator of the platfoming genre, who has made some of the best selling games ever made, has NEVER has his name on the cover of any of his games? Would a screenplay writer or a novelist put up with that? No way.  I can tell people that I've worked on this AAA game or that top-selling game, but if my name ain't in the credits, there's no way to prove that I was even involved.

Personally, I think it's time to correct this injustice. I've always said that if there were a reason for the video game industry to unionize, it would be for credit arbitration - something that's a big deal in the movie industry. I've left jobs before over this issue; it's that important to me.



So, this one is for you, my fellow game designers, wherever you are. May you share the same good fortune as I have had and get the credit you finally deserve.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Jack Vasel Memorial Auction



The Jack Vasel Memorial Auction is a great annual event that raises fund for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. From the website:

One tragic event and two acts of generosity brought the BGG community together: the result was the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. In January 2011, Cate Pfeifer (Cate108) posted an auction for Tom Vasel and his family to help with the financial hardship related to the unfortunate loss of his son, Jack. The generosity of the BGG community was amazing. Tom was touched and wanted to pay the kindness forward so he created the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. He used some of the money that BGGers donated and spent to build this fund. The fund is a not-for-profit with a simple goal: raising and distributing funds to help gamers in their hour of need. 

http://www.jackvasel.org/

This year, I've contributed a premium copy of Rayguns and Rocketships to the auction. One lucky bidder will win all of the following:


1. Signed and Illustrated copy of the retail game
The auction includes an autographed copy of the retail version of the game. Designer Scott Rogers will also draw the Rayguns and Rocketships character of your choice on the interior box lid!


Example of illustration


2. Plastic tokens and bag
Plastic Blast token and Action token add-ons plus cloth bag (with design voted upon by the Kickstarter backers)


3. Dice and cards
Kickstarter exclusive secret mission cards (12) and four faction dice


4. Cards and rayguns
Convention-Only Exclusive demo four card set and twenty-four plastic raygun add-ons


5. Exclusive minis
A full set of eight Kickstarter Mercenary miniatures and captain cards

Starting bid is at $70 (the cost of the Early Bird Galactic Adventurer pledge) Condition is brand new. Worldwide shipping will be added at the end of the auction.

Expected delivery date - January 2018

Auction ends November 16th! Thanks for bidding and good luck!!

Link to bidding is here: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/230490/item/5721816

Friday, October 6, 2017

Music to shoot rayguns to: The unofficial Rayguns and Rocketships playlist



As we rocket towards the release of Rayguns and Rocketships, I created a play-list of thematic music that is great to play the game to. Enjoy!

Mars - Bringer of War (Gustav Holst) (7:21)


Zathura Soundtrack: Zorgon's Return (John Debney) (1:07)



Flash Gordon Soundtrack: Vultan's Theme (Queen) (1:13)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtABjm9aB5I

Flash Gordon Soundtrack: The Battle (Queen) (2:18)


Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Soundtrack: Robot Army (Edward Shearmur) (3:01)

Sky Captain and World of Tomorrow Soundtrack: The Flying Wings Attack (Edward Shearmur) (6:31)


Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Soundtrack: Manta Squadron (Edward Shearmur) (6:33)



Zathura Soundtrack: They Aren't Friendly (John Debney) (2:25)


Star Wars Return of the Jedi Soundtrack: Sail Barge Assault (Alternate) (John Williams) (5:06)


 Starship Troopers: Klendathu Drop (Basil Poledouris) (4:32)



Star Wars Return of the Jedi Soundtrack: Battle of Endor I (John Williams) (11:50)


Rocketeer Soundtrack: The Flying Circus (James Horner) (6:30)


 Captain America: Captain America March (Alan Silvestri) (2:35)


 Star Wars The Force Awakens: The Resistance March (John Williams) (2:37)


Zathura Soundtrack: Main Theme (John Debney) (2:23)


Starship Troopers: Destruction of the Rodger Young (Basil Poledouris) (3.28)


Zathura Soundtrack: Zathura is a Black Hole (John Debney) (1:20)


 Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: Main Title (Edward Shearmur) (1:07)




Some advice to new designers

Recently on a board game design forum, a first time designer expressed concern that their design didn't have deep enough strategy. As someone who deals with first time designers (in my board game design class) I thought I might be able to help. This is the advice I gave him and I thought others could benefit from it as well:

An exercise I like to give to first time designers is to review all of the actions that the player can do and all the affordances the components provide.

For example in your game you have:

The 5 different classes of gems
The tiles with 2 different types of gems
The hand of cards
Drawing a card from the deck
The numbers 1-5 on cards
The card attributes - just dirt, +1, -1, mine closed, steal card, etc.
The action of revealing the cards
The action of collecting the gems

You want to think of all of the things you can do with these components and actions and what other things the players can do with them. For example, you could have a tile with 3 types of gems, the gems could have different values or allow the player to buy certain actions, there could be a restriction or method to how the cards are drawn (draw 2 and keep 1 and discard 1 or draw 2 and give 1 to another player, or draw 2 cards and keep 1 and place the other on the top of the deck) or how the gems are collected - the gems are of limited supply and you can choose whatever color you'd like or the gems must be taken in a certain order that causes actions to happen when taken (for example, a cave in) or that the gems must be thrown into a bag and selected blindly but they can be stolen or traded between players. As you can see, with just the elements you have you have lots of options.

So, what is a designer to do? Which are the best choices? First, I would say use these choices to make the player play the game you want them to play. What is the "primary action" of the game? Collecting gems? Playing cards? Something else? What type of game is it? Blind bidding? Push your luck? Screw your neighbor? Make EVERYTHING in the game move the player towards this type of game play. If it conflicts with this, then it probably shouldn't be in the game.

Also consider another (at least two) ways for the player to win the game. It might be "get points by collecting gems" or it might be "play sets of cards and get points for those" - I like to make games that you can get points during the gameplay and points at the end of the game. This is often called "points salad" in Eurogaming and it can get out of control in heavier Euros - but lightly done, I find it interesting. It obfuscates the answer to "who is winning this game" until the very end (and you always want to end with an exciting finish)

Finally, I designed a "make a value go up or down by making it +1/-1 game" and when I shopped it around, I was politely told by publishers that they weren't interested in that type of game. That it was too basic and not engaging and they see a millions of these types of games. The game now lives on my shelf. I merely mention this so you might benefit from my own experience.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

New games for 2017!

I am bringing the following games to Gen-Con and would love to talk to you about them. I have a wide a wide variety of games set in a wide variety of genres.


    

Diamonds and Dinosaurs is a miniatures and card-based action game for young and old. Intrepid explorers have landed on Dinosaur Island in search of fabulous diamonds! Setting out from their base camp, the explorers hack their way into the jungle in search of the lost gems but will they get attacked by vicious dinosaurs first?

BGG link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/220853/diamonds-and-dinosaurs



The Magician's Club is a "trick-making" card game. The year is 1921 and the Academy of Magicians has gathered once again at their swanky club to perform their greatest stage tricks. The competition to win the title of World’s Greatest Magician brings out the worst in these rivals who won’t hesitate at a chance to ruin each other’s act. Fortunately, a good magician always has an assistant by their side and a trick up their sleeve…

BGG Link here:  https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/212721/magicians-club



Scram! is an abstract strategy game for the whole family. In SCRAM! up to 4 players are represented by a color on the game board. Players share from a common pool of tokens - each with their own special ability. Players take turns placing tokens to create chain-reactions that move their tokens into scoring position and send opponent's tokens scrambling away... or make their token SCRAM! by driving it off the game board! The player with the highest value tokens on their own color at the end of the game wins!

BGG link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/171427/scram


Seance is a card game where players are spiritualists trying to make contact with "good spirits" while dispelling "bad spirits" from the mystic circle. Play cards onto the séance circle to “make contact” with Spirits – contact your spirit by matching its incantation or steal another player's spirit by spelling out the word “Séance”. Use special chain cards to "lock" incantation cards in place or scare the other players silly with game-changing "fright" cards. Collect Spirit cards for points.

BGG link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/177718/seance



Spinnenweben is a family game where players are spiders who move around a colorful web eating delicious flies for points. Roll the die to determine the number of action points and play cards to gain advantages and increase movement. The player who has eaten the most flies at the end of the game wins!



A Town Called Showdown is a card and dice game for two players. Steeped in theme, tension builds as the gunslingers pace their way down the street each turn. Players are dealt a hand of cards and each turn, advance down the street, increasing the street's tension level. When both gunslingers reach the end of the street they "shoot" using their pool of six-sided shooters - adding and subtracting for bonuses from bystanders and modifiers. Hit your opponent enough times to remove him from the competition.

You can watch a how to play video of the game here:  https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/121934/town-called-showdown/town-called-showdown-how-play
BGG link here: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/199860/town-called-showdown




Who’s Hue? Is a party game for 3 or more player who guess colorful characters created from colored cards and clever clues. Once all of the players have created a character, the player with the most points wins! It's who you know that matters!

You can watch a how to play video of the game here: https://boardgamegeek.com/video/79687/whos-hue/whos-hue-pop-culture-playtime-episode-1
BGG link here: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/181042/whos-hue

Thursday, March 30, 2017

THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!


I have been sitting on this news since last year and thought I was going to explode!

 I am so proud to finally announce that Rayguns and Rocketships is heading to Kickstarter this April!! Please spread the word to all of your gaming frienda and hang on tight, as I will be sharing much more about the game right here and how you too can join the ranks of the Planeteers!

Here we go!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The best games I wished I had played in 2016

Happy (almost) New Year!

While I own several board games, I don't often get many chances to play them. Rather than post yet another "best of the year" list, here are the 10 games I wished I had gotten a chance to play in 2016.

NOTE: Most of these games on this list are still sitting on my shelf in shrink wrap.  So, these are my ill-informed impressions of what may or may not be the best games of 2016.

10. Star Wars Clue


I don't care how hokey the original game is, I still really like Clue. I have a few versions of it (still need to get the Dungeons and Dragons version) and when I took one look at that 3D model of the Death Star I had to have it! I mean, look at this thing!


I already have some cool Star Wars Command figures and that Death Star is going to double as a rad playset for them! My lovely wife got this for me for Christmas but when I asked my family if they wanted to play, they all watched "It's a Wonderful Life" instead. Maybe I'll get it out of shrink-wrap before 2017 is over.

9. Star Trek Panic

Let's get this straight. I am a Star Wars fan. Star Trek was always 2nd (actually 4th or 5th) down the line in my favorite space-centric franchises, but there is something about that cardboard Enterprise that you can attach explosions to that is just so cool!

2016 is going to go down in my book as the "year of the rad cardboard 3D models in board games" (see other entries below). I have always loved the "toyetic" nature of games and that is what drew me to Star Trek Panic. I had played the original Castle Panic (meh but my son likes it) I resisted buying this at Gen-Con because I was already lugging enough games back to California as it was. So I waited until to buy it when came out in stores. Now I am waiting to actually play this game with someone.

8. Raptor

First of all, Raptor is designed by two guys named Bruno. And they're really good game designers too. Secondly, I was working on my own "dinosaur island" themed board game (It's called "Diamonds and Dinosaurs" - I'd keep the name but the D&D acronym is already taken. Who knew?) and wanted to see how this one played. Thirdly, take a look at this game! Miniature Dinosaurs and 3D mountains!? It's like Jurassic Park in a box!


In Raptor (according to the back of the box) you are a pissed-off Mamma Raptor defending her adorable little babies from tranquilizer dart gun wielding scientists! It's actually an asymmetrical game that looks like it could be really viscous and a lot of fun, but I wouldn't know because I haven't played it yet.

7. Above and Below

I had the pleasure meeting Ryan Laukat at Gen-Con this year and he was a very nice guy. That's why I bought "Above and Below." In addition to being a nice guy, his games are beautiful (he does all of the art himself) and I hear they are fun to play. They look nice in the pictures.


I wanted to check this one out because I had been working on a design about a village that lived above a dungeon and heard "Above and Below" was essentially the same idea.I wouldn't know if it is any good however, because I haven't played it yet. One day. One day...

6. Zombie Tower 3D
 

Look at this thing! It is a thing of beauty! Who cares if it is yet another Zombie game? It has a 3D building!! And this is what I was thinking when I backed Zombie Tower 3D when it was on Kickstarter  Right after I backed it, I just missed demoing the game at Strategicon (they were packing it up as I got there) but once again, I am a sucker for a 3D board. It might have something to do with playing Voice of the Mummy as a kid.


 Zombie Tower 3D is a cooperative game where you avoid getting eaten by Zombies as you pass items through cracks in the building. The only thing that would make it better, would be miniatures. Maybe in an expansion. I can't wait to try it out. Maybe in 2017?

5. Orcs Must Die the board game

I've called the video game of Orcs Must Die the game that "I wish I made." The video game plays like "Tecmo's Deception" and the main character even looks a bit like Maximo. This is another game I backed on Kickstarter and it took FOREVER to arrive. I had actually forgotten that I had backed it when it showed up at my door late this year.


As far as I can tell, it's a tower-defense style game (like the video game) but in board game form. You set up traps and fight against waves of orcs with your heroes. All I know is it has a modular board and lots of miniatures - two other things I am a sucker for. But will it be any fun to play? I'll let you know when I actually play it!

4. Vast - the Crystal Caverns


This was another game I backed on Kickstarter - twice. Once for the game and a second time for really cool miniatures that the game didn't intially come with. The art on this game is stellar and the concept - a dungeon crawl (again love) where you can either play the knight, the goblin horde, the thief, a dragon or... the cave itself!! So great.


Now I've heard the game itself is a little arcane. I tried to figure out the rules to no avail - but that might have been because I was trying to read them at 2 am after a full day of attending Gen-Con. Maybe I'll get a chance to play the game before Gen-Con 2017.

3. Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space


I have heard that Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is the "scariest board game ever" and the concept sounds like something straight out of the original Alien film. In it, players attempt to reach the airlock of a space ship (or space station) while being stalked by a horrible alien which will take over take them and turn them into aliens as well.


The challenge is that the player can't see where they are going. There is no shared board - only a battleship style map that each player use to plot the last known locations of their fellow players. Everyone is stumbling around blind until they escape or run into an alien. It sounds amazing. I hope to play it soon.

2. Pandemic Legacy Season 1

Guess who has two thumbs and still hasn't played the "best game of 2015"? I don't know much about Pandemic Legacy since I didn't want to spoil the game for myself. All I know about it that it plays like Pandemic, it is really good, it finally bumped Twilight Struggle out of the #1 spot on BGG and has some huge plot twists in it. Oh, and that there is no difference between the red box and the blue box. I heard that one straight from the designers themselves.

But if getting people to play Pandemic Legacy is as hard as it was to get people to commit to playing the also-awesome Risk Legacy, then I probably won't be playing Pandemic Legacy until 2018.

1. Star Wars Rebellion - Fantasy Flight Games

Dice Tower reviewer Tom Vasel calls this game "Star Wars in a box" Considering that we have already gotten Star Wars in a box several times over, this seems like a pretty bold claim. What Rebellion appears to be is a galaxy-spanning strategy game that features all of the heroes and villains of the original trilogy (sans Rogue One - perhaps in an update?) and lots of gorgeous and tiny miniatures of stormtroopers and rebel troopers and x-wings and TIE fighters.


The game even comes with three models of the Death Star - two built and one under-construction! This game has been topping many list of "the best of 2016" and I guess my list is no different. I look forward to spending a little time in a galaxy far, far away very soon.

UPDATE: Just as I wrote this entry, I was invited over to a friend's to play Rebellion. However, I had other obligations and had to decline. I can't wait for this year to be over.