Monday, October 12

And We're Off!

I've actually made some decent progress across the board this week for a change.

Monday to Wednesday The Wife was away for work, which unfortunately meant I missed Newcastle Playtest on Tuesday. I'd been hoping to playtest a game for one of our London Playtest UK confederates on Tuesday, but seeing as I was going to miss it, and he wanted some feedback before Essen, I spent Monday night soloing his game and providing some feedback on the rules.

Tuesday was then free for work on Zombology, so I copied all the files from my old laptop onto the new one and then made the changes I'd been planning to the cards and started on the rules. I'm hoping to get Zombology finished fairly quickly now so that I can crack on with something else.

Wednesday was my weekly Games Night, and we had six people, the most for a while. I requested a try out of some new Zombology rules, which were considered an improvement across the board I think, plus a couple of games of Coup and King of Tokyo, a game of Martian Dice (on my phone after being knocked out of KoT) and another play of Kigi. Including three plays of Zombology that was eight games in total!

Friday I got to see The Martian at the cinema (I'd been stoked for this since I heard it was coming out - I loved the book). I thoroughly enjoyed the film too, though I can see that Wilka's comment that he wished it was a 12 episode season on Netflix would have meant less would have been cut.

And then to round it all out I made it to Newcastle Gamers for the first time in months on Saturday and got a couple of plays towards my ten plays goal: Macao and Alea Iacta Est.

It's been a great week, now I just need to build on this momentum and keep cracking on with Zombology - it's within shouting distance of the finish line!

Monday, October 5

Another Quiet Week

Not much progress again this week, my father-in-law has been visiting and we were camping this weekend near the Scottish border, where thankfully we weren't set upon by Reivers, though we were savaged by midgies.

I've done the bacteria-based background for the Zombology cards though, so it's not be a total wash out and we managed to get a game of Firefly in on Wednesday (towards my ten plays goal).

The Wife is now en route to Switzerland for work, so I'll be missing tomorrow's Newcastle Playtest, but I'm hoping to attend Newcastle Gamers on Saturday and get some more progress made on the Zombology artwork, if only getting the existing stuff off my crappy old laptop and onto the new one.

I will do better this week!

Monday, September 28

Art: Looking for Feedback

It's been another busy week, I've been in London Wed night, Thursday and Friday and I was babysitting for a friend on Tuesday. So little time at home. As a result, I chose to stay home on Saturday and miss Newcastle Gamers.

The busyness doesn't mean no progress however. I took my laptop round on Tuesday when babysitting and spent that evening finishing off the Zombie head that I showed last week:


Then (due to conditioning by The Daughter) I was expecting a couple of early starts while down in London. So I took the laptop again, and spent my mornings sat in my hotel room bed doing some more art too. I've done this (can you guess what it is yet?):


And also these:


These bacteria images are intended to be a very feint background pattern on some of the cards and the rules sheet, the next thing to do is to actually get that together.

What do you think of these? I'd appreciate any feedback you have.

Monday, September 21

Art Evolution

So I'm pretty much done with the game Zombology. The feedback from the blind playtesters was fairly critical and hence very useful. Most of them played the game 'right' (i.e. they played the rules as written and intended) but didn't follow the spirit of the game, as a result, they didn't enjoy it.

Most of my other playtesters do really enjoy it, so clearly I need to improve the rules to make it clear the 'real' way to play the game.

One of the other main criticisms was that the game was too random. They didn't like that aspect of it all. However, it's intended to be a 10-15 minute chaotic drafting game, it's meant to be random. If you don't like short chaotic games, then you are not the intended audience. I wanted it to feel a bit like 6 Nimmt! in that you've got a little bit of control, but your opponents' actions can complete scupper you. I think it has a similar vibe.

With my new plan for route to market, I want to get it out there as soon as possible, rather than radically changing the game to cater to a different audience. Before I do however, I want to improve the art, which in some places is quite nice, and in others is really quite pants. So I want to boost the art a bit before making the tiny hand-made run or uploading the print on demand files.

I've made a tiny bit of progress on that this week (I got back from holiday on Monday, was in London Tuesday and Wednesday and then went away for the weekend, so not much time available) and this week is going to be another busy one (I'm in London Wednesday night through Friday night), but I'm babysitting for friends on Tuesday, so that'll be a chance to make some decent progress, I should have three or so hours of concentrated art time.

As a little teaser of where I'm going, here's a quick look at the new Zombie:

Zombie WIP

The rest of the art of the game is quite simple and iconic (not unlike 6 Nimmt!), so I wanted to improve the current (really bad) Zombie icon and knock it up a notch. This is clearly a work in progress, but I think the direction is clear (above the nose!).

Let me know what you think...

Wednesday, September 16


I've been away for the weekend for a short family holiday, followed by friends round for dinner and then an earlier morning trip to London for work (I'm writing this from my hotel room, before breakfast). So needless to say, not much progress and the blog post is a couple of days late.

I did manage to get a Games Night in last week, and we played a couple of games towards my ten plays goal (The Bridges of Shangri-La and Village), but sadly that was the only Games Night in five weeks, I'd missed the last two due to trip to Manchester for work and I'll miss this week's and next week's due to trips to London for work!

I'm hoping to get a bit more done on the Zombology artwork this week though, taking advantage of InDesign Creative Cloud and being about to use my decent laptop. I'm aiming for a November launch of Zombology, once the art is complete.

Monday, September 7

The Only Constant Is Change

Regular readers will know I've been prevaricating for the last two or three months about whether or not to go through with my plan to do a limited edition hand-made run of Zombology this year.

One of the reasons for this has been a secret up until Friday, but now the cat is finally out of the bag I can admit to it! I've been in the running for the last few months for a promotion at work. Seeing as several of my colleagues (and friends) read this blog, I didn't really want to be discussing it here until a decision was made and they found out through official channels. On Friday I received the job offer and accepted it, so it's all go, starting next month.

The new job is a big step up and will require a load of new skills, learning on the job and responsibility, plus more travel, i.e. less time for games design. For the last couple of months I've already been travelling around once a week, which often clashes with Games Night or Newcastle Playtest, further complicating making progress on games design.

The majority of my mates in Newcastle are also colleagues and have helped me with the lion's share of my Zombology, Codename: Dragon and Codename: Vacuum playtesting. These mates will now all be reporting to me. Which is going to be really weird, and also probably not conducive to playtesting.

So everything is changing. What I don't need on top of that is a huge commitment of my spare time and additional stress around marketing and trying to recoup an investment. So I'm ditching the plan to hand make 150 copies of Zombology and instead going with Print on Demand, which requires no effort from me other than the graphic design.

As I mentioned in my review, there's a few downsides to this, not least the cost of shipping to the UK. Most of my 17 pre-orders are from the UK, almost all friends or family. I don't want them to have to pay silly money to a company in the states for a copy of the game so in addition to the print on demand edition, so there will be a Super Limited True Fans Edition™ of the game, featuring a hand-made tray and lid box and laminated cards. I'll make 20 of these: one for me, one each for the 17 family, friends or true fans who've pre-ordered a copy and 2 spares. These will be selling at the original £9 plus shipping price quoted earlier, so I'll not make any money on them - I'm just doing it because I enjoy it and to support those who've supported me.

There's two spares... Just sayin'.

In other news, I made it to Newcastle Playtest this week for the first time in ages and got to play both Codename: Dragon and Border Reivers Second Edition and got some good ideas for both of them.

I've also invested in Adobe Creative Cloud as a little 'promotion present' to myself. It means I'll be able to work on the Zombology graphic design without having to wait a week for my old laptop to boot up and then continually fight with its glacial slowness. W00t! I've already started on the changes I want to make to Zombology before release.

Monday, August 31


It's been both a very busy and a very unproductive week. My parents came up last weekend, just in time to help out with The Daughter's third birthday party and then stayed with us all week (they left yesterday morning). So we've been entertaining them (badly - I've been knackered all week!).

With mum and dad here I've made no progress on anything, just a little discussion with dad about my company logo one evening after work. There was no Games Night last week (travelling for work and mum and dad here) and there's none this week either (travelling for work again - scheduling FAIL!). So I haven't even made any progress on my play every game ten times goal. The one redeeming feature of travelling for work is that it's often with Ian, a Games Night regular and I take my iPad full of games with me...

This weekend just gone The Wife was away too, so after mum and dad left on Sunday morning I was sole parent in charge of The Daughter until The Wife returned at eight this morning. Lots of fun, but surprisingly hard work - I'm knackered again!

This week I'm hoping to make it to Newcastle Playtest tomorrow night, so fingers crossed I'll at least get a chance to get some playtesting in and go through the feedback I got from the other Playtest UK groups re. Zombology.

Hopefully, things will pick up next week!