Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Solo Playtesting for Monster Under the Bed

The next game I’m working on is called Monster Under the Bed. It’s a cooperative card game for families– about age 8 and up, I think. The basic premise is “you are preparing to fight off the monster under the bed.” Everyone needs to have at least 1 good dream worth about 9 points or more in order for the players to win. There are three phases, with the monster deck reshuffling between phases.

I playtested it by myself today at lunch. Dealt out three players’ hands and the monster deck. Here are my notes:

  • Monster deck is too large. Needs to be 1/2 the size (it was 180 cards, needs to be ~90).
  • Player decks have too many actions and not enough items, at least for the third phase.
  • Phase 3 needs actions– I seem to have forgotten to put any in, so every card is a Nightmare.
  • Need to be more clear about things like who wins in a tie (the Monster), and whether you can choose not to take a monster Okay Thought card or not. I need to playtest this in both directions– I think making it optional means players get to make more strategic decisions, but it’s going to result in stagnating Dream cards towards the end of the first phase.

I have a few more notes on this, of course, but these are the bare-bones. I am going to retool parts of it and try to play it with my family in a couple of days.

SS Placeholder Shenanigans, part 2

futuramaNotes from the SS Placeholder Fate Accelerated game from last week, wrapping up our Innabelle 5 delivery of a giant land shark with a forehead-mounted laser. 

Arrival at Innabelle 5, contacted by the spaceport traffic control. Kiray learns this is a resort planet, so changes into her bikini (mandatory uniform for female crewmembers of the SS Placeholder when visiting resort planets… or so the Captain told her on her first day), and gets her inflatable beachball. She preps the truck and loads the shark onto it. Catburg, Jr. comes on board to take delivery of shark and gun. Catburg is depicted as an adorable kitten, being one of the cat-people races.

A plant-man arrives and talks about an escort job back to the mansion, taking Catburg, Jr. back to his father’s house. We agree, for a price. This is an overland joruney through a safari planet, after all.

Alain teleports the rental SUV through our delivery truck on Day 1. We’re heading into a more dangerous area. The truck is out of gas, so Alain and Kiray go investigate. They realize one of the fuel tanks disconnected from the truck, so they head off to recover it. Alain gives Catburg Jr. a box to play with while discussing the situation with the captain. This keeps the kid occupied until we return. The Captain makes the plant-guy pass out (drugs, yo) as a distraction from our troubles… something about not wanting him to know we’re stranded in the middle of dangerous territory.

Sidebar: We create a new ship aspect: cameras everywhere. It turns out, each of us has our own security system installed in the ship. The Captain’s is for voyeuristic purposes, Alain’s is because he’s nosy and needs to know everything, and Kiray’s is because she thinks she’s the security officer.

We fix the truck and get underway. Take a mid-day nap. Plant-guy wakes up and demands answers. We wake up and get moving again– Kiray gets a snoot full of stimulants and becomes kind of, um, puppyish.

Alain drives the truck with the land shark, Kiray, and the plant guy. Capt Steele takes the Escalade with Cat Jr. and the beachball.

Three large land sharks sneak up on us and attack! Kiray climbs onto the top of the truck and fires wildly while Jr. fires on one shark and hits. Kiray tumbles to the side of the truck but holds on. Alain runs over one shark on the side of the truck. Another comes up, and Kiray leaps onto it and punches it into submission. Capt. climbs onto the side of the Escalade and fires at the wounded shark.

The plant guy hyperventilates, sending pollen everywhere, distracting Alain and causing him to sneeze. Alain tries to send the plant guy through the wall, but fails. Badly. The truck goes end over end in a spatially inertial wreck. Alain has lost his phase device and it looks like the land shark might have gotten free. Alain is hanging kind of half in half out of the bottom of the truck (if you’ve ever seen a bad 3-D modeling job in a video game, you know what I mean).

Kiray pulls Alain out of the truck, defying physics itself to do so.

The captain takes a ‘roid ball and grabs the land shark to throw into the cage. He then hits it with a downer, and falls asleep in front of the cage door (Aspect: fails upwards).

We arrive at the mansion and reunite Catubrg Jr. and Sr., and Jr’s bros. The plant-nanny is snarky and tries to undermine our authority. Kiray throws the beachball at the plant-nanny and knocks it over, humiliating it.

We join the party and enjoy food and drink. It’s lovely. Captain gets drunk on champagne.

We toast to Junior. Alain is still trying to figure out how he still has legs.

We return to our ship.

Pirate girl is hailing us, we put her on, mute her. She yells a bit, then looks smug. We stream video game porn of a pirate girl to her viewscreen, then log off. Alain records her audio, and then her reaction, which is to stare agape, then blush furiously.

We call the home office, Tabitha Winns. She agrees to funnel more jobs our way, reluctantly and without even looking at our numbers. Alain rats out Capt. Svennie’s attempted sabotage. He may have been sabotaging more than our ship, and is getting employment elsewhere. Capt. Steele suggests our poor numbers in the past were due to this. Either way, we’re still employed.

Kiray listens to the pirate girl’s recording, who has been waiting for us for a day and a half! Very upset, etc. Then she’s saying that obviously, we’ve accepted her offer to work for her, and get “top position on the ship,” and “some kind of punishment.” And all we have to do is say yes to get the best position in the ship.

In retrospect, we seem to have sent her a stream of the best “position” on the ship, which she ordered shut down.

Incoming: Someone bounced a job off Space Race’s servers to make it seem like it’s from Space Race. It’s a job offer coming in, if it’s worth our time…. Hm… maybe.

Gamer Cakes and Fondant

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This is basically a “look what I made” post. Enjoy.

Last month, I took the Gum Paste and Fondant class at my local JoAnn’s fabric store. This is class 3 in the Wilton’s cake decorating series.

The parameters for the class are to work with fondant and gum paste to make flowers. So, I learned how to make a bunch of flowers, notably a type of rose, daisies, mums, and carnations.

I hate making carnations, by the way. Mine turned out awful.

Anyway, the final day of the class was 10 days before the Empire Game Shop Grand Opening and Tabletop Day on April 5, so I wanted to make a special cake for the opening.

My instructor suggested that I should make something that still demonstrates I know how to do flowers, so I made the pretty, purple practice cake shown here.

My fellow student Mink made the adorable Easter cake shown, with the bunny and the butterflies and everything. She is very creative!

My purple cake is basically purple marbled fondant with gum paste daisies and a gum paste bow. The cake inside is a basic chocolate “box” cake, 6″ around, with chocolate pudding between the layers.

I ended up serving it to my Ladies League of Invells players– they enjoyed it immensely.

During class, I also rolled out and covered the cake for the Grand Opening. It’s also chocolate. The fondant I used for the base was a rich dark royal blue, and I made a flag cake topper using the Warhammer 40K sigils for Ultramarines and Chaos. Apparently my Ultramarine symbol needs work, but everyone recognized Chaos!

I highlighted with a gold laurel leaf which was supposed to represent the store’s logo. I could have left this off, to be honest– nobody really paid it much attention, and it just made the top of the cake seem a little cluttery.

On the morning of the event, I stacked my cakes, put them on my bright orange cake board, and did a bright orange ribbon around. I affixed the topper and leaves to the top and headed out for the event.

The store owners didn’t know I was making this cake, so when I arrived and casually said “I have a cake in the car for you,” they replied with “Aww, you made me a cake!”

Then I brought it in and it was more like “WOW! You made me a cake!”

The cake was a hit, both visually and gastronomically, with the gamers, who appreciated something sweet after all the pizza that was provided. The event itself was a huge success (though not because of the cake– because of our awesome volunteers and attendees).

How to make things fast

Leila Johnston has a 6-minute video presentation she did at Ignite London recently about “Making Things Fast.” Not about speeding up stuff, but about making things very quickly.

It’s worth a watch, and it’s only 6 minutes long, but if you absolutely hate Internet video, here are the highlights, as interpreted by me:

  • Let go of your standards and ambition (Let go of the future.)
  • Let go of your ideas and collect them all the time so you always have new ideas. (Let go of the past.)
  • Over time, motivation drops, so do things quickly and be inspired quickly.
  • Improv. (Stay in the present.)
  • Let go of credit and statements of intent.

It’s like a how-to be an ENFP. You know us– we’re the ones who start a project and get bored withing 6 months to 2 years and need to move onto something else, whether the previous project is finished or not. Believe me when I say this, deeply and sincerely– Leila’s views will not work for everyone. In fact, if not for the vast parts of humanity who need to analyze, drill into details, be perfect, and pay great attention to the whole project all the way through, no bridge would ever have reached completion.

I’m putting it here as a reminder to myself that the “14 in 2014” challenge is about the process of making games, not the product of 14 games. I think my Game Designer Meetup group doesn’t understand “process for the sake of process” except in a learning environment, so I find myself repeating that this is a method for learning, not (necessarily) doing.

Making Things Fast – by Leila Johnston from chichard41 on Vimeo.

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