Category Archives: Game Experiences

Total Con 2016; Five Things I Learned About Myself

Our trip to Total Con 2016

Total Con 2016 has come and gone. For us at Move Rate 20 Games, the last year was spent play testing, making demo copies and planning for this, the 30th year of Total Confusion and it all came together perfectly, though not without a few bumps along the way. But, I wanted to focus in the blog on what I learned about myself over the convention and the previous year in prepping for it.
Total Con 2016 With Move Rate 20 Games

Stuff I learned about myself at Total Con 2016

  1. I love to teach kids how to play games. When they are into it, you can’t get a better experience than explaining how a game is played to a young mind. They pick stuff up so fast and in doing so enjoy the game so much quicker because they grasp it within a few minutes. James (a.k.a. The Gamebreaker) and we came to the agreement that younger players don’t have and preconceived notions about what a game is or wondering if the mechanic is the same as another game they’ve played; they just want to play and have fun.
  2. Not every game is for everyone. This is a no brainer, but it get’s driven home every once in a while, when a person sits down to play and you can tell their just not jazzed about your game, or they don’t see the “tactics” or “how the mechanic works” and let you know they’re not impressed. I’ve learned to deal with that, not take things personally, listen to what their saying (since if you hear the same complaint enough, it may be part of a larger design issue). Most of all I’ve learned to move on, think on all the other folks who played and loved it.
  3. I use “italics” way too much. It’s a pretty big deal when an industry legend plays your game, and likes it. Frank Mentor sat down with us on Sunday morning and played Master of Spies. I was nervous, who wouldn’t be, this guy has been in the gaming industry since the 80’s, worked with and was friends with Gary Gygax. He said the game had a “solid mechanic” and his only “complaints” were about card design. He gave us lots of feedback on the graphic layout and pointed out that I use italics WAY too much on cards, making things more difficult to read. So now I need to put a picture of Frank near my computer with a text balloon saying “Stop using Italic fonts!”
  4. When in “Costume”, bring everything you’ll need to the table,
    Looking good in a Frock Coat
    Here I am all dress up at Bartholomew Vahn-Mott, merchant and Trader in the world of Eldinar.

    including water, snacks and a fan. I like to think I come to an event as prepared as possible, which paid off. Since we we in an interior suite at the hotel I brought a small desk fan so the room wouldn’t get stuffy. Well, Saturday was unusually warm and being in an undershirt, a “blousey” shirt, a frock coat, plus a sheep wool and leather mongol hat, I was a little sweaty. So I asked my lovely wife Naomi to run back to the room and grab our fan. It was a life saver and prevent the frock coat from needing to get dry cleaned.

  5. Your Goals can be reached. Three years ago we set a goal to have the game we were developing at the time (a.k.a. by its working title, Project Lightning Sword) ready to show our friends by Total Con 2015; which we did plus having an early version of Master of Spies to show as well. Our next goal was to be an exhibitor at Total Con 2016, have a Kickstarter ready to go and get Frank Mentzer to play test it. After a year’s worth of play-testing, networking and planning we managed to get all that stuff done. Our Kickstarter will launch in a couple days (Feb. 29th) and I believe we are as ready as we can be.

So there are the 5 things I learned about myself at Total Con 2016, now we begin to set our goals for Total Con 2017, which will probably have something to do with Project Lightning Sword getting a proper name and a Kickstarter next February.

Stephen P.
a.k.a. “The Creative”

Thoughts on Game Length

An important aspect of games that needs to be kept in mind while designing a new game is its length. While not immediately apparent, game length has a surprising amount of influence on other aspects of the game including its fun and playability. While designing a game, try to imagine how long players will be able to continuously play while still having fun. Once you have a reasonable idea of how long this will be, try to set up your game so that it will finish before then. You want to be able to finish the game while the players are still interested and engaged, it is much better to hear “I just needed one more turn, let’s play again” than “how much longer is this going to take?”

Indie game designer

Mechanics are a useful tool in determining game length. Many games make use of a set amount of turns in order to keep gameplay within the expected timeframe. Some will overtly tell you that you have a set number of turns, usually delineated somewhere on the game board and occasionally dressed up thematically as something such as years or seasons. This method is most often found in games involving repeatable actions that can be taken every turn. Other games use the same principle but rely on a limited resource, such as the deck of cards or tiles being place, to achieve this effect. By controlling the number of turns, the designer has a reliable way of ensuring that the game will end when they expect it to and while players are still enjoying it.

WP_20151004_002

Game length also affects the groups of people that the game should be designed towards. Shorter games, usually under thirty minutes, tend to be less complex than other games. This simplicity, along with the shorter time required to play, makes a good target for younger gamers, who generally have a shorter attention span and may not be able to grasp harder mechanics yet. Another group that appreciates shorter games is those that play with larger groups. A short, simple game can fill the time after a longer game has finished while waiting for another group to finish so the play groups can intermix. Medium length games tend to be popular as there is sufficient time for more complex mechanics to be used, without completely dominating an entire play session. Longer games can be just as fun, with many interesting mechanics in use, but usually require advanced planning to make sure that they can fit into all the participants’ schedules. The next time you find yourself bored with a game, try asking yourself if it is the mechanics of the game boring you or if the game just went on for too long.

 

-James the Gamebreaker

Our Beloved Taskmaster Explains Our Summer Silence

So, you may be asking, “Where have we been?!?! Here it is the third week of August and you have not heard a peep out of me or the guys!”

Connecticut Comic Con
Our Beloved Taskmaster hanging out with comic con royalty.

Well…I won’t speak for the others, but I know that I have been on a much needed summer vacation. I packed up the car, jumped on I-95 South, and headed into the wilds of coastal Connecticut with the family.
(I’ve been working on the Demo cards for Master of Spies -Mr. P)

Move Rate 20 Games
The Groton Naval Base

While there, we traveled the Thames River, visited an old Revolutionary Fort, stopped at the Groton Naval Base to visit the museum there, and finally visited the Connecticut Comic Con at Mohegan Sun.

But don’t worry, I was always mindful of what we have going on here at MR20. I even talked to an artist or two at the Con to see if they would be interested in doing some work for us.

Summer Day Trips to Conneticut

Now that summer is starting to wind down, be sure to stop back here for more frequent updates!

Peace,

The TM

Mental Health: Can we be serious for a moment?

This may sound a little weird…

Talking mental health depressionI know we’re a gaming company and we try and have a lot of fun in our blog, but today I want to talk openly about something serious, mental health. After I watched Wil Wheaton’s video about his anxiety and depression on projectUROK.org, a website aimed a little (ok, a lot) below my age range, it really echoed my own experience. This subject should really be openly talked about in our gaming community, because let’s face it, we as gamers tend to be outcasts and more often than not, have some social anxiety issues. Not everyone, by any means, but if the national average of folks with anxiety disorders is two out of three, I would guess the ratio is probably higher among those of us in the traditional “nerd” space, especially those of us who grew up in the time before nerd culture was part of pop culture.

Mental Heath and the Gamer.

The object of this post is to talk openly about this issue, not to victimize anyone, seek excuses  or invoke pity. I feel that actually sharing this personally on video will be more effective than typing out a small novel so I will upload the following…

 

Please share your story.

 

-Steve P.

 

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The Future of The Local Gaming Store Hang-out?

There’s a lot of talk about the impact of on-line retailers and the “death” of the local gaming store. There are even some closed minded curmudgeons (mind you I’m a curmudgeon myself so this is not light criticism) who think board and card games are on their way out due to the electronic alternatives.  I’d have to be a fool not to recognized that the terrain is changing, or to not see that we’re in a transitional period. It’s a fact, in this day and age we have more stuff to fill up our spare time than any other time in history. Just look at my Netflix queue, my unpainted miniatures, underplayed games and unfinished game concepts if you need proof.

The Fate of the Local Gaming Store

The Uncommons NYCThe fact is, as with all retailers in the age of Amazon, that the local gaming store needs to adapt. 20 years ago there were only a handful of places you could get obscure games,  specialized imports or rare small print run indie Human Occupied LandfillRPGs (anyone remember HoL?) So today’s game store owners need to adapt to compete against the discounted prices and vast inventory of the online retailers, The way most have done so is to create a community of gamers and given them a place to meet and play together. I came across one such place during my travels in New York City wandering around Manhattan. The place is called buy or rent gamesThe Uncommons“, a coffee shop and local game store where you can buy or rent games to play with friends and strangers. It was doing a fair amount of business for a 4th of July Saturday  afternoon. The selection of games to rent was impressive, the ones to buy admirable (about half the shelf space of the rental games), but I’m sure they would bring in any thing you wanted special order. It had the feeling of a mini-convention, where people came to try new games of meet new players.

The Uncommons NYC

There is many local gaming stores that have done similar things, putting large war-gaming tables with exquisite model terrain to bring in the war-gamer crowd.

We’ve based our company out of shared space with Rivendell Books & Games in Rehoboth, MA where the owner has a open gaming nights twice a month as well as the usual Friday Night Magic and Star Realms tournaments.

Do you have a favorite gaming space or combo-gaming and social outlet? Please comment and let us know. Also please like and share our posts to really help getting the conversation going!

-Mr. P

Gamer-geddon 2015 official report!

Gamer-geddon was a great success and we would like to formally thank everyone who attended and the folks who volunteered to help us out on our, hopefully, first of many Gamer-geddons.

We would especially like to thank;
Rivendell Books & Games for hosting, Courtney Christopher & David Gulick for cooking & desserts, Brian & Kelly Estano  for smoked pork & superhero & mana cookies, Zak Lanoue for all around help, Vincent and Patrick  from Mech Deck for coming out and demo’ing their game, Kathy McLean & Mal Moen for the grill, and our friends and family. Especially my dear, sweet Naomi.

Here are some pictures from the event:

Gamer conventionWP_20150627_005 WP_20150627_003IMG_2725 IMG_2722 IMG_2720 IMG_2718 IMG_2716 IMG_2715 IMG_2714 IMG_2710IMG_2721

Now please forgive us if we take a little rest before driving into more game testing and development.

I am typing this in a half sleeping haze, please forgive any typos. -Mr. P.
I am typing this in a half sleeping haze, please forgive any typos. -Mr. P.

Thank you and sweet dreams without creepy clowns,

Mr. P.

 

Role Playing Games: Our Beloved Taskmaster Looks For Advice.

Privet, moi druz’yaigos…

So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a missive detailing how I lamented not having enough time to play all the games I owned, wished to own, or didn’t own but wanted to play anyway (did you follow all that)!

That ol’ Role Playing Game Itch.

I also stated that I had no idea when I’d have time to ever play in a good old fashion RPG campaign again. Lately that itch has begun in earnest, like a good ole’ summer case of poison oak!

This time however, I have decided to scratch that itch, and actually run some RPG sessions this summer. BUT…..I now have another problem:

What system do I run?

Role Playing GameDo I bring out the tried and true Pathfinder books? After all, this is a system almost all RPG-ers are now familiar with. Plenty of playing options are available and I am sure I can get people to play with me.
(Count me in if you go with a PF campaign! -Mr. P.)

Do I go with the new and try out the new D&D 5 ruleset? But that would take a lot more time, having to learn a whole new ruleset. And then I would have to find people also willing to try a new game.

D&D Role playing Game

Old school role playing gameOr do I go with the good old AD&D. Going old school and running some classic module adventures. Try to recapture that magic of youth when Greyhawk was young and the adventures seems boundless!

Knowing me, I’ll procrastinate so much that my plan to run a summer campaign will turn into a fall campaign!

Oh well….(now where did I put those old M.E.R.P. books?!?!?!)

Middle Earth Role Playing Game

Steve R

 

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Game Master Depression, is it a real thing?

Oger fills me with Game Master “Dread”

Oger, with his prized possession.
Oger, with his prized possession.
Oger the Mascot
I wanna promotion, this Mascot business is for the crows!

Our mascot here around the office Oger the Dwarf  has a huge dwarf-crush on Wil Wheaton and watches “TableTop” religiously. When he told me about the latest episodes featuring the horror-based storytelling game “Dread”, which uses a Jenga® tower instead of dice, my curiosity was peaked. Since the game is out of print, I went to Drive-Thru RPG to see if they had it, which they did as a $3 100-page PDF.

After watching the 2 TableTop episodes and looking over the rules I had to try my hand as a Game Master (or “Host”) for Dread. The basic concept is that instead of rolling dice the players pull a block from the tower when they have to use a skill that is not known to their character, or when they are doing something under duress. If the tower tumbles, the character making the pull is out of the game. I tried it last weekend and the experience wasn’t quite what I hoped for. That was my fault entirely, I broke 2 of the basic rules of Dread, maintain the atmosphere and maintain the suspense. My gaming group is supposed to meet monthly, but that has been difficult lately so we tried to take advantage of getting together for my goddaughter’s 15th birthday (who is in the group). Though a really cool game mechanic and idea, it was a case of too many people, no one was really in a “horror story” mood and a group of players that were almost completely made up of highly skilled Jenga® players. The tower never toppled and things just didn’t work out. On the ride home my wife congratulated me on a good game, but I didn’t feel it was worthy of any accolades.

 

Post Game Master Depression

Do other Game Masters walk away from a session feeling disappointed?  I’m sure that anyone taking on the responsibility of running a RPG has off nights, or a game that just didn’t fit their group. In the above  example, I know I shouldn’t beat myself up, people had fun, the players reacted to the story pretty much the way

Game Master why
Wha-wha, “I put too much work into my game and no one appreciates it”. Lighten up, humie!

I wanted. So why does it take the wind out of my sails, and not just in this case, but most gaming sessions? Part of it’s my problem, I’m known as a “plumber”, as in I “plumb the depths” of the worlds I create. They have rich, long histories and highly detailed factions with elaborate political maneuvering going on in the background, that players only scratch the surface of. When our group can’t meet regularly all those rich details get forgotten and lost. When there’s a time constraint and I have to rush 6 hours worth of play into 4, it’s those details that get cut, or worse, completely forgotten by me on the spot.

 

Is There A Curse To Being Creative?

It’s a mind frame I’ve seen with my artistic friends, and I’ve experienced myself on occasion. You start to draw, paint, sculpt with a mental image of what you want the thing to be, and as you go on you can’t reproduce that vision in your head. When you’re finished,

RPG Games
Oh boy, you’re really taking this kinda far, this is only a game we’re talking about, right?

what you created bears little resemblance to what you envisioned, which is disappointing. Here’s’ the kicker, no one else saw what you did in your head. To them this creation is wonderful, it’s something they could never do; however, in your eyes it’s not quite what you had envisioned. If a session does do play out just as I wanted those experiences that can’t be replicated; a mix of variables ranging from my mood, the players energy, the environment, the perfect amount of libation imbibed and maybe something unquantifiable. While I may be a perfectionist, I hope I’m not being too precious.

 

Oger if you’ll shut your ale-hole and stop with the side comments, I’ll see about getting you promoted from “Mascot” to “Intern”.

 

Please  share your stories of games gone right and session gone horribly, horribly wrong in the comments below and thanks for reading this.

 

Steve P.

Why Make Games?

Everyone who has made or is in the process of making games has probably asked themselves this very question. Different creators will have their own reasons for designing games. Some want to see if they can make something others will enjoy, while some may do it for the recognition. The most driving reason, however, is the desire to play. Without this desire, there would be no need to make games in the first place.

Games and the human brain

Wide selection of board games

The desire to play is not unique to humans. Many animals also exhibit this quality, especially among the young. Play promotes companionship and teaches many important life techniques, whether they be hunting and defense skills for the animals or math, critical thinking, and sportsmanship for people. Unlike other animals, however, most people tend to get bored playing the same games day after day, stemming from our longing for the newest and greatest. This longing has led to the evolution of games from the dice and cards of early history to the multitudes of games today.

What games stimulate you?

Not all games appeal to all types of people, so in an effort to make them more appealing, rules are changed, added, or removed. Sometimes the pieces themselves are changed, such as from dice to cards, cards to boards, and boards to electronics. Each has its own style of game-play favoring a combination of chance, skill, and strategy, appealing to different audiences. Games with high chance factors appeal to those who like to gamble and enjoy uncertainty. Games of skill appeal to those who enjoy the physical aspect, often as a test of strength or dexterity. Games of strategy appeal more to those who like to be in control of their actions and outwit their opponents. Few games will focus solely on one aspect over the others as this can lead to the outcome of a game being known early during play or even at the outset, removing the fun for most. At the heart of it, games are made so we can have something new to play.

-James McLean

Another Missive From Our Beloved Taskmaster

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!

Another week, another article!

And here I sit; scratching my “follicle-ly” challenged pointy head as I try to think of something to say that will be interesting and newsworthy to you all!

Y’know, the two biggest problems with writing these weekly “state-of-the-business” missives is that:
A. It is hard to write about something that has yet to be released to the general public…and…
B. I have no idea if my words are reaching anyone!

Bored Cat is BoredI mean I am not trying to go for some deep world-changing existential prose here. I am not writing the next War and Peace. I am just trying to keep you all informed on the state of MR20….and this week I hit a roadblock!

I guess could tease out that we do have an “event” coming up in June!

Or that we may be an actual legal company in the very near future!

And that it seems our Facebook page is finally gaining some traction…

Or that, so far, most of the folks who have playtested our first game have actually liked it enough to the point that they even want to playtest it again!

And that having Mr. P at my beck and call is as fun as it seems it is!
(I live to serve, Mr. R.)

Or that all of us here at MR20 are having a blast developing our games, despite all the work that has been and is yet to be done!

Oh well…stupid roadblock…maybe I will just go and re-write War and Peace!

Until next time….stay frosty!

Steve R