Channel A Update

Channel A is just sort of rocketing forward, in part by virtue of it being fun and relatively easy to work on and a low-commitment game to playtest.

I put together a prototype with Photoshop and got it printed through The Game Crafter. I’m not a pro designer by any means, but sometimes I forget just how much of that sort of thing I learned in college.[1] I had been thinking in terms of it being an entirely temporary thing before Clay made the real cards, but people’s reactions to the prototype have been so good that it’s going to at least be a a starting point. Of course, one of the things I had to do was to make sure I was using fonts I could actually use, which meant a lot of checking, replacing (FontSquirrel is amazing by the way), and a few purchases/donations. In the future I’m going to try to keep the number of fonts I used on any given project in the single digits, because wow. =_= Making lots of little logos was kind of fun, but drags on after a while.

Overall TGC’s backend for putting games together is excellent. It has a lot of touches that make perfect sense, but which it would be entirely too easy for a system without the same care to leave out. For example, when you make a deck of cards you can upload a back and then batch upload the files for the faces. Being able to do the cards in individual files (rather than having to put together sheets of 18) is a godsend too. Proofing is a little time-consuming if you have lots of cards, though it’s really good for spotting potential problems with things where the cutting is more involved, like tuck boxes. The big stumbling block for me is the price, and I’m going to have to find other avenues if I’m going to sell it seriously.

The one big change I made to the rules is in how scoring works. The voting card system works pretty well, but it’s easy to get ties, especially if you have a smaller group of players. When playing with with Ben Lehman and Sushu and Jono Xia (and Jono had some kind words about it afterwards), Ben came up with the idea of breaking ties by making a hand of one O and the rest Xs and letting tied players pick at random until someone gets an O and wins the round. In the middle of the night I hit on the idea of making an uncontested win worth 2 points and a tie worth 1 point. I really like this solution for a variety of reasons. In particular, it’s quick and it just feels more fair.

Because I’m insane and have a streak of creative masochism, I’m already working on two expansions. Each one will be 108 cards in a tuck box, and I got Dawn to do two more pieces of art to go with them.

  • Second Season: This is a collection of 108 extra Title Cards. 25 of these are new “Star Cards,” which let you put in any one word from a category (flowers, fruit, mythic creatures, types of songs/poems, etc.)
  • A-Soft: This gives you a variant game about pitching video games instead of anime. It includes 40 Genre Cards (that cover different video game genres) and 68 video game themed Title Cards.

I have enough leftover ideas for Title Cards to get a good start on a third expansion, plus I have an idea for an expansion called “Japanimation Fever” or some such aimed at the style of anime parodies as done by people who know text to nothing about anime,[2] but I’m mostly shelving Channel A so I can get other stuff done.

Right now the plan is to put the game and the two expansions up for sale on TGC, mainly for some friends who want sets to take to conventions and such. The quality you get from TGC is pretty good, but it’s in the nature of POD card printing that it’s going to be a bit expensive to print 310 cards. I’m thinking about an eventual Kickstarter or otherwise doing a proper print run to sell (and thereby get the cost below $35 for a base set and $15 for the expansions), but that’s a ways off, and I need to get Golden Sky Stories dealt with first. I’m also going to put together an update PNP version of Channel A, since the philosophy of having a free basic version and a spiffy commercial version seems to work pretty well.[3]

[1]Also, I know Japanese! :V
[2]Though I’m not really sure how to put myself into that mentality anymore, apart from mentioning tentacles a lot.
[3]Also, check out Jens Alfke’s set for printing on Avery perforated cards.

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