More on Channel A

As I write this the Channel A Kickstarter is nearing the halfway point funding-wise. It’s still achievable, but things will need to pick up a bit. On the plus side, Asmadi is fully committed to making the game happen regardless. Either way, I’m really grateful for all the support we’ve gotten.

One thing that’s been on my mind lately with Channel A is how it’s in some ways a result of my involvement with Maid RPG. I’ve become increasingly interested in “interpreted chaos,” where random elements form a picture and it’s up to you to complete it. Rolling up a Maid RPG character gives you a lot of information, but it leaves a lot open too. If (as is becoming my cliche example) you roll a chainsaw-wielding cyborg mermaid who became a maid for bridal training, you still have an awful lot to work out yourself in terms of personality, history, and so on. What makes it so interesting is just how much of a boost that kind of randomness can give. Creative constraints make creating easier, whereas a blank page can be pretty amazingly hard to turn into something. Without all the Title and Premise Cards, all of Channel A could fit onto an index card, but instead of the amazing results it does produce, even from people who aren’t usually given over to creativity, you’d probably end up with a lot more of people staring at each other.

I’ve posted up some photos of my Game Crafter prototype (the “OAV Edition,”) before, and now I can show off some of the designs for the final version with Clay Gardner’s fantastic graphic design work. While my own work is at least non-terrible, I’m still really happy to have Clay on the project. Collaborating with people can have difficulties no matter how well-meaning you are, and Clay has a certain knack for not only getting what I want, but doing the stuff I didn’t know I wanted. Below are some of the revamped Title Cards he did:

channel a cards

The Future!
Needless to say I’ve been prematurely thinking about possible expansions, because that’s how I roll. The ridiculously easy thing (on my end at least) is adding new Title Cards. (It’s quite a bit harder to come up with new Premise Cards though.) Looking at my files and doing some math, I literally have about 350 extra Title Card ideas. Some people are inevitably going to want some more (and suggest title words I haven’t included), and I don’t mind giving it to them. On the other hand I don’t want to just go crazy making new Title Cards; I’d like to try some things that mix up the gameplay a bit.

  • Chaos Blitz would be a set of “Chaos Cards” that mess around with the rules each round, ranging from funny accents to instituting rules variants. It’s kind of like what I was doing with the special actions on cards in i.hate.everyone.
  • I have a few different ideas for themes for expansions that are mostly Title Cards. The one I especially want to do would be called something like “Japanimation Fever,” and purposely be a collection of stuff aimed at bad Western imitations of anime. The mascot/chibi character for that would be a catgirl with cyan hair, with the most overdone, busy design possible.
  • I had the idea for “Star Cards,” Title Cards that let you drop in anything from a given category (fruits, planets, numbers, etc), but in play they fell a bit flat. The notable exception was the “Duplicate” Star Card, which put in another of the word before it (so you could change “Love Revolution” to “Love Love Revolution,” say), and I’m interested in playing around with similar elements.
  • Another of my experiments that still needs work is A-Soft, which rewords the game to be about pitching video games, and comes with a deck of 40 “Genre Cards” that list different kind of video games (dating sim, FPS, RPG, etc.). It seems to work okay so far, but I definitely need to refine it and nail down the rules more.
  • A few times people have suggested some kind of bidding/business type mechanic. That’s a strong candidate for an expansion, though with the game as it is now you could pretty much take a Channel A set and use it with the rules for the old Cheapass Games edition of The Big Idea with no particular changes. Making something similar that’s reasonably easy to manufacture (instead of asking players to provide play money, chips in six different colors, and a d6 themselves), fun to play, and distinct from TBI will be a major challenge.
  • Another random idea I had was a “Q&A” expansion where you can play something more in the vein of Cards Against Humanity, using Channel A cards to answer questions/fill in the blanks.
  • Since Asmadi Games is publishing Channel A, I’d like to try making some kind of crossover thing with We Didn’t Playtest This At All (though Chris already has “We Didn’t Playtest This Channel At All” among the Channel A stretch goals). I’m not sure how to approach that myself, and I think I need to start getting more into WDPTAA to really figure it out.
  • Blank cards are a definite possibility too. It’s not the kind of thing I would readily think of (being the guy who gets to decide what goes on the professionally made cards), but Chris has told me that people have asked for it. Hell, last year at APE some friends of mine who had a booth got a bunch of index cards and markers and improvised their own deck. Not unlike with my RPG stuff, I’d like to see what people could come up with.

Another random thing is that I’d like to do something with the chibi art from the game. There are the 8 characters I commissioned Dawn to do, and if the Kickstarter goes through there’s be several more for people who pledged at the $65 level (16 so far!), which could make for a really awesome poster or T-shirt.

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