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Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Thousand Years of Blood

I have released another print-and-play game titled A Thousand Years of Blood.  It was designed for the June 24-Hour Game Design Contest, which was very intense.  It looks like the 24-hour design contest might become a monthly contest, with each month presenting different restrictions or challenges.  This month, the trial month of the contest, was open-ended.  Participants could design whatever they wanted!

To start the clock, the participant posts on the contest thread, announcing that they are beginning their game.  They then have 24 hours to create a game entirely from scratch.  No revisiting half-finished prototypes, no starting the graphic design or mechanical testing prior to the start, nothing.  Of course, this is all on the honor code, but we experienced designers have a good idea of what can and cannot be done in 24 hours.

My submission was designed, tested, tweaked, and released in a whirlwind weekend.  The game is about an alternate reality wherein a superhuman named Heinrich Kirchner took over Nazi Germany after Hitler's assassination.  Heinrich has lead the Nazis to victory over the human race.  You, as a fellow superhuman, must escape capture and bring down Heinrich's regime.

The game fits onto a single PocketMod, a sheet of paper that can be folded origami-style into a little booklet.  The player starts the game by selecting two super powers, then proceeds through each of the three levels to reach and defeat Heinrich.

It was definitely a fun and intense challenge.  I learned a lot about my design methods and sensibilities. I definitely work better starting with a theme and then matching mechanics to it.  The original concept for the game was to make a board game version of a side-scrolling adventure, but I quickly realized that there was no way to create that sort of game in 24 hours.  A side-scroller really needs artwork to distinguish the various obstacles and enemies, and there was no way I would be able to pull that off in a day.

It occurred to me, though, that I could have the players draw their own enemies and obstacles.  It was a stupid idea, and there was no way I could actually get players to do it.  But it did lead me to the idea of having players generate the maps, themselves.  Once I latched onto that idea, I decided to try and squeeze the game onto a PocketMod.  The small space would restrict the design possibilities--which is a good thing when you only have a day.  Additionally, I know from experience how to craft PocketMods, and I was confident that I could craft one quickly and get to testing.

The fact that the game was solitaire was extremely useful.  I could get in a lot of testing in a short amount of time, and tweak the game quickly and easily.

There haven't been very many participants in the June contest, yet, but we're only halfway through the month.  I'm hopeful that we'll be able to drum up more interest.  The prize isn't hugely compelling, but the challenge is very fun and quite instructive.

Anyway, feel free to check out the game!  The rules can be downloaded here, and the PocketMod is available here.