Category Archives: Card Games

Channel A is Funded!

BF-w7lCCEAAHVT2It would be a bit much to try to make some kind of Easter metaphor, but some time within the final 24 hours of the Kickstarter, Channel A hit its funding goal of $10,000. It wasn’t looking good for a while there, but things really turned around when the creator of Superfight!, another promising party game (there wound up being like four party games kickstarted at the same time), was kind enough to give a shout-out to Channel A to his 1,200+ backers. It’s normal for a Kickstarter to lag in the middle and pick up towards the end, but the difference before and after that Superfight! update is night and day, so that game’s team has my gratitude. That Asmadi Games added some new reward levels with some promotional items and such from their prior titles definitely helped us ride off of that boost, as did some targeted promotion.

I’m really grateful to everyone who made it happen. To everyone who pledged, to the people around the world who pledged despite paying insane amounts for shipping, to all the friends and family who pledged to support me, to all the friends who helped playtest the game and make it as good as it is, to Chris Cieslik for publishing and believing in the game in the first place, to Mike Stevens (my RPG publishing partner in crime) who did such a great job demoing it, to Clay for making the game look just gorgeous, to Dawn for providing great art and signing up to do even more for our Director’s Pack backers, to everyone who helped spread the word on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/G+/forums/blogs/etc., and I’m sure I’m leaving someone out but you get the idea.

finishedSome people pledged simply because they came across a game that they felt they’d enjoy. Some people because they’ve enjoyed Asmadi Games’ other offerings. Some were my friends and family and other people supporting the game on general principle even if they might not play it much. A few people said they were fans of my work, which to me is the most amazing thing. I’ve been making and posting gaming stuff for ages now, and it seems like I’m finally hitting critical mass and getting somewhere. I mean, I made a game that got over $10,000 in Kickstarter pledges, and there were actually a few people to whom my weirdly pronounced name was a selling point. I can’t even wrap my head around that, and I guess mostly I’m just glad people are enjoying this stuff I make.

Of course, this is an important milestone for Channel A, but it’s more a beginning than anything. Chris is aiming to have the first production run of the game ready in time to sell at Anime Boston (and if things work out I may be able to sell it at FanimeCon, which is that same weekend), which will mark the beginning of the convention season, during which Asmadi Games will be aggressively promoting the game. It’ll also be going into retail distribution, so I’m looking forward to seeing it show up at local game stores. And of course there’s the matter of getting into working on expansions, for which I already have far too many ideas.

With this, and the Yaruki Zero book, and the Golden Sky Stories Kickstarter coming up terrifyingly fast, I think I’m going to remember 2013 as the year that all my messing around with making games finally bore fruit, the year things really began.

Thank you, everyone. :)

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.

Channel A Kickstarter!

pic1088575_mdI’ve got some really, really big news. Channel A has a publisher! Specifically, Asmadi Games, which is probably best known for We Didn’t Playtest This At All, but has put out a number of other games, including 2010 Golden Geek Award winner Innovation. It’s difficult to find a publisher willing to take on a project in general, and there aren’t too many board game publishers that really know anime either, but Chris Cieslik (the main guy behind Asmadi) has been great to work with and gets what I’m trying to do with Channel A. (The publisher of Whack a Catgirl definitely knows more about anime than your average board game publisher.) He’s also highly dedicated, and you can expect to see him and his cohorts from Foam Brain Games offering Channel A at quite a few conventions.

Asmadi has just launched a Kickstarter to fund Channel A too! The base goal is $10,000 to cover an initial print run, but we’ve got a bunch of bonuses and stretch goals lined up. Also, if you’d like to try a demo before the Kickstarter ends, Chris & co. will be at TotalCon, Genericon, MomoCon, WPI Gaming Weekend, and PAX East running demos. If you’d just like a quick look at what the game is like, the Kickstarter video does an excellent job of showing a typical round of Channel A.

ChannelA-Box3D-FinalThe new “TV Series Edition” of Channel A will feature new title cards and premise cards, a spiffy box that actually fits the cards properly, and a total of 300 cards (maybe more depending on stretch goals and such), all for a mere $25. Chris managed to innovate a new scoring system that doesn’t require voting cards (see the video for a demonstration), so this new version will feature additional premise cards and title cards. Clay Gardner is updating the look of the game too, so you can expect the kind of slick design work he’s provided for Minion Games products like The Manhattan Project and Tahiti (not to mention his excellent layout work for Golden Sky Stories). The Kickstarter features some other goodies, including buttons, custom chibi characters, and the chance to get a custom fake DVD case for your own made-up anime series, complete with a theme song!

This also means that I’ll be discontinuing the “OAV Edition” from The Game Crafter. It was always meant to be an interim thing until I did exactly what we’re doing now, though needless to say I’m grateful to the six people who bought it. The free Manga Edition will still be available, though it will continue to be a basic, no-frills version of the game.

i.hate.everyone

Not too long ago I was in contact with a game publisher who was interested in a game in the general style of Cards Against Humanity, a tasteless drinking game type of thing. I got a good start designing and testing such a game, but the publisher went with something else. I don’t bear them any ill will (I will admit to being disappointed), but I like the game I created enough to want to share it. I may eventually pursue publication, but I have enough other projects going on that without a publisher lined up I’m going to shelve it for the time being.

i.hate.everyone is a game of social media whoring. It follows the query/response from a card format of Apples to Apples and CAH, but everyone plays a response, and everyone votes by giving a Like token to the player whose response they liked best. Cards can also have special effects, ranging from reading cards in a French accent to various shenanigans with the cards. For me and my friends the silliness with drawing and discarding cards fixes the single biggest issue with the game’s predecessors, namely the tendency to get stuck with a lousy hand.

I picked the name “i.hate.everyone” partly because I feel it conveys about the right sentiment, and partly because it leaves it wide open for expansions and alternate versions called “i.hate.[something].” I already started on one called i.hate.fandom, which was the game I was kinda sorta thinking about doing before the aforementioned publisher came into the picture.

To play you’ll need to print out the cards on cardstock, preferably with a different color for the Status Cards, and you’ll need a decent supply of tokens of some kind. I find bingo chips or sorting chips work well, but pretty much anything will do as long as you have at least 100 or so. You can also pretty seamlessly shuffle them in with the print and play version of CAH if you want.

Players: 3-8
Play Time: 30+ minutes
Recommended for Ages 17+

i.hate.everyone Rules PDF
i.hate.everyone Status Cards PDF
i.hate.everyone Comment Cards PDF

Channel A: OAV Edition

Channel A is now available for purchase through The Game Crafter for $35 plus shipping. I’m calling this the “OAV Edition,” the idea being that there’s a progression from manga (the black and white PNP version) to a short OAV series to a full TV anime series. I’m hoping to do proper release by way of a non-POD printing to get the price down, but the OAV Edition is available for the people who want the game right now. The set comes in one of their basic game boxes (which admittedly isn’t great for storing lots of cards), and includes 200 Title Cards, 80 Premise Cards, and 30 Vote Cards, plus a printout of the rules.

As mentioned in my last post, I also put together two expansions–Channel A: Second Season and A-Soft–which I’ve also made available, for $15 each. Second Season is a set of 108 new Title Cards, while A-Soft has 68 Title Cards and a set of 40 “Genre Cards” to make the game about pitching video games instead of anime.

Channel A
Channel A: Second Season
Channel A: A-Soft

From here I’m going to be aiming to publish a more professional version of Channel A, either by way of a Kickstarter or maybe through a board game publisher if I can find one that would be a good fit. In either case this will be after even more playtesting and getting a proper graphic designer (most likely Clay Gardner) to improve on my design work. I’ll be making very little money from the OAV Edition, so if you order it you should do so because it’s a game you can’t wait to play. (It is IMHO a really fun game though!) If you just want money to flow my way (some people have said as much, which is flattering to say the least), the eventual more professional version will be a better way to accomplish that because margins and stuff. (Though sharing the game with lots of people will help me out in the long run too.)

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.

Studio B PNP Prototype

As usual I’m screaming through this stuff, making a thing and flinging it onto the internet. Studio B is a variant/reskin of Channel A, but for American B-movies instead of anime. I’m specifically going for the kind of stuff that came out of the drive-in culture that sprang up because of the removal of film-making restrictions in 1948, the cheesy black and white stuff like Robot Monster, Teenagers From Outer Space, and Plan 9 From Outer Space.[1] The rules are pretty much the same as Channel A, though the part about being able to add simple articles (of, the, etc.) is going to be much more important.

Studio B Print and Play Prototype PDF

Anyway, I also have some news about Channel A. I decided to make a fancier prototype for further testing, so I assembled the necessary files in Photoshop to get it printed through The Game Crafter. I just put in the order last night, so we’ll see how it goes. Their backend for assembling a game is actually really good overall, though I do wish the proofing process was more efficient. POD printing for 310 cards makes it pretty expensive, but I’m thinking I’ll make it publicly available since some friends have expressed interest in getting sets to play at anime cons and such. And thus I lament that I’m at this point in developing the game when the convention season is pretty much over.

I’m reasonably happy with what I was able to produce on my own,[2] but for the final version I’m hoping to hire Clay Gardner to do proper graphic design. He’s done a ton of amazing work for Minion Games, not to mention Golden Sky Stories. And now that I think I’ve gotten that out of my system for now, back to working on RPG stuff!

[1]Though I’m definitely going to do an expansion for mixing in 80s cheese. I’m thinking of calling it “Studio Z.”

[2]Sometimes I forget just how much stuff about Photoshop and whatnot I learned in college. I’m definitely not a pro, but at least I have some idea what I’m doing.