Tip of the Day: Idea Boards

When I start designing a game, my first step is to scribble all my thoughts about it down into a notepad. What’s the theme? What’s the scope? Who’s it aimed at? What are the key mechanics? How do you win? How do players interact? What do I want the players to feel? All of this gets jotted down in no particular order, just to get it out of my head and clear some brainspace. I’ll invariably find that, as I’m doing it, fresh ideas pop up - so I write them down, too.

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Tip of the Day: First Steps

Starting a new design can be a daunting prospect, because in your mind you’re always going to compare it - however subconsciously - to all the finished games you know. One of the most common issues I see among new designers is the notion that they can’t start until they’ve thought of everything, or that they can’t try the game out until they’ve written all the rules down. This is rubbish, and it’s one of the best ways to run out of steam on a project before you’ve even really started.

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Design Diary: A Sense Of Closure

It’s safe to say that Hellboy took a bit longer than expected, once you factor in all the bells and whistles that got added in during the campaign! And our schedule wasn’t exactly sparse to begin with, so Sophie and I have basically transformed into stunted work-goblins over the past few months, only leaving our dank cave to eat food, go to meetings and gather raw materials to feed the ever-hungry prototyping table.

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Design Diary: Finishing Touches

Hellboy: The Board Game has been in solid development for around seven months now, and it feels like even longer than that. It's lasted over half of Needy Cat Games' lifespan! (Oh, we had our first birthday last week - I meant to do a blog post about it, but we've been too busy...) There's still loads more Hellboy in the pipeline, but I'm proud to say that the rulebook for the main game is about to go into layout…

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Podcasts and Self-Confidence

When I’m in the car by myself, I listen to podcasts. I’ve got a few favourites (I’ll chuck some links below for anyone who’s interested!) with the Adam Buxton podcast hanging around somewhere near the top of the list. I love a bit of Buckles; he always seems to have genuinely interesting conversations with his guests, and he tends to get a lot of people on the show who you don’t hear anywhere else.

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Design Diary: More Than Punching

One of the things that's been most hotly discussed is narrative - some people are concerned that the game just doesn't have enough story poking through the mechanics. I absolutely understand why they're concerned - after all, it's Hellboy! If the narrative isn't front and centre, we're wasting our opportunity. The stories are about as far from generic dungeon-crawling as you can get… 

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Hellboy Week: Fun with Budgets (Honest)

One of the benefits of the B.P.R.D. being a well-funded shadowy government organisation is that the gang are rarely short on resources – the flipside, of course, is that you have to stay within parameters. This is represented by the Mission Budget, which the players can spend before the Case. This budget scales depending on the number of agents, and is one of the ways in which the game scales for different player counts.

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Design Diary: Echoes of the Past

With Hellboy: The Board Game hitting Kickstarter on Wednesday, I've really been enjoying the response to the snippets of information we've been releasing. People seem to be getting pretty excited about the game, and I couldn't be happier - after all, this is the first project I've done for Needy Cat to see the light of day! I've had a few questions, and I felt that this one in particular deserved a more in-depth answer: 

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Hellboy Week: The Deck of Doom

Yesterday, the lovely Rob did a great job of explaining how the HQ board works, and what its various bits are for. One of these was the Impending Doom track, which acts as a kind of timer, ticking down turn by turn until it launches the Confrontation, regardless of whether you're ready for it. A shrewd group of players will investigate their hearts out and uncover the big boss before this happens, but through playtesting I've seen countless cases where the agents took their sweet time, thinking they had ages before things took a turn for the worse. 

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ART FOR TABLETOP GAMES PART 1: Always seek feedback

Needy Cat Games recently attended the industry week for Confetti - a local, Nottingham based college who specialises in all thing digital, games design, game art etc. We had a fantastic time, got some great feedback on our latest game Ancient Grudges: Bonefields (you can download and give feedback on the Beta rules here) and I gave a series of talks on freelancing as an artist in the tabletop games industry.

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