Hello? Is this thing on?

Recently, I’ve come across a few of these. Please tell me I am not the only one who sees the problem:

An article entitled “Feeling Sleepy? Blame It on Social Media” ends with a handy invitation to JUST MAKE IT WORSE –

“Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.”





Interaction first and foremost



What do I recommend players look for in a great family board game? Take a guess!

1. Interaction!

The game doesn’t have to be quick [or take forever] but interaction between players should be as close to non-stop as possible.

This is a time to actually socialize! Face to face, not Cortana to Siri. There should be a lot of talking! And smiling and laughing – unless it’s an eerie game, then make that “a lot of big eyes and ‘you take the card, I don’t want the card’”.

A time to face the impossible and not have to worry about someone actually croaking or getting stuck in a temple for all eternity. And that’s a good thing.

2. There must be tension and release.

I need a 6, or, get me that blue card, or, no more giant scorpions please! Followed by, yay, I got it!

This cannot be constant [too much of anything becomes repetition and thereby boring] but it must be present. And when it’s present, it should be BIG!!! Game changing [literally] BIG!

3. Balance.

So that each player can enjoy the game equally. This is what I think is either the hardest part or the part where too many games simply fall short. How many times have you been in a game and thought/said, ‘You are so far ahead, let’s just quit now and call you the winner’?

No one wants to beat a dead horse…unless the game is called Beat a Dead Horse, I guess.

This aspect is especially lacking in many family games. It’s either for kids or it’s really for grown ups; not both. And it should be for both. Family game time with kids is an excellent way to build lasting bonds.

4. [last but not least – and this is why my 1st game is a co-op game] That moment where the game’s outcome is going to be decided on one final turn. Win or lose on this roll / draw/ reveal…. And when you do win, it’s a wonderful feeling. You have worked as a team and just won the championship! What family would not be better off with more doses of that feeling?


What about you? What do your favorite family [or any type, really] board games have that you think makes them better than the rest? What are your #1, 2 and 3 [or add #5, 6 and 7 to my list]?

Just The Facts, Ma’am


What makes a good survey for a play test?

No really, I want to know. Here’s what I’m using for my 1st game, ALIEN CRASH SITE

First off, thanks for play testing our game. Your input can help us make a better game.

On a 1-10 scale [1 = low, 10 = high], how would you rate the game on:

Overall fun

Likeliness you would play it again

Likeliness you would buy it

Likeliness you would recommend it to a friend

Were the rules easy to understand and follow? If not, why not:

What would you add/change about the game?:

What are some of your favorite games?:

Further comments:

Thank you!


A single page. Short and sweet. Can be completed in a minute or two. Sometimes 15+; some players really have some great additions; so, rule #1, leave extra space!

What are your thoughts on it? What do you have testers fill out?

Play Testing – For The Good Of All Mankind

Philae lander

If you’re in the play testing stage of your game’s creation, then you already know that play testing is hard.

It’s not so much the criticism. Criticism is great, especially deep, thorough criticism. That shows the player already cares about your game and really wants it to be great. And no matter how many hundred times you’ve played your game, a single play from a new perspective can lead to a discovery you might never have thought of.

It’s the lack of availability.

Finding play testers – is hard. As in trying to wake up the Philae lander hard.

Go to the board game night at your friendly neighborhood game emporium and most players are there to play a specific game; probably the one they just bought the day before and have been itchin’ to unbox!

With the long term goal of building a community of shared play testing – something along the lines of how BGG has become a sort of IMDB Pro of games – I make this offer:

I will be your play tester.

And give you a solid critique. What makes for a good critique? Glad you asked [see my next blog].

These are the sorts of games I prefer – strategy, adventure, a journey, family friendly. I am open to others. I can test 1 and 2 player games. No charge, happy to help.

Note – I cannot do print and play, because I currently do not have a trustworthy printer [seems to need recalibrating every 5th page!]. I can work with rules that can be read on screen [pdfs, etc]. And I cannot ship prototypes back. If you don’t mind mailing it, I will test it.

And that’s another part of what makes play testing hard; the expense. Shipping dozens of prototypes across the country can start to strain an indie’s budget.

So, I can’t help with the expense but I can at least make myself available, and that’s half the battle! Hopefully, if and when this community grows, a network of play testers will form and there will one in every town with a library [or a Starbucks].

Hey, a gamer can dream, right?

Let’s Build A Raft


Part of the reason I’m doing this blog is to add value to others in the board game industry and hopefully build a community.

But, because I am currently [as of this writing] in the play test/build the fan base/pre-crowdfund stage, the only value I can see myself adding is to create a place where people can:

– Share their ideas

– Offer and receive constructive criticism and feedback

– Note the steps we’ve been through and discuss what has/has not worked as desired

– Discuss the balance between Luck and Planning and Prep

And probably have a forum for venting – not at one another but at the process [as in can we stop sending everything through China?! Let’s get some home-grown manufacturing back!]

To see what common ground we already share, let me explain my situation. I started with very few [as in can count on 1 hand and still have fingers left over] connections, none in the games industry; zero social media presence [what’s a facebook?]; very little money to spend [$10s not $1000s+]; ALIEN CRASH SITE is my 1st board game; at the beginning there was zero fan base.

Now? About 6 months in, I do have a few connections [good people I’ve met at CONs or during play tests], some in the games industry; I follow and comment on a few blogs, tweets, and I have my own blog, a smattering of twitter followers, and a mildly active facebook fan page; ALIEN CRASH SITE has been play tested over 100 times and has begun building a fan base. Because the game has been getting an overwhelmingly positive response I am able to rationalize spending more $$$.

I imagine there are hundreds of you out there in the exact same boat [don’t be shy, say hello!]. So join me and see how it turns out. Fingers crossed!

Another reason I’m doing this blog is – and this might be just a little bit of wishful thinking – to build something, some place – like an internet – where a person such as myself [and you, too] can find prices for artwork, rulebook writing, custom miniatures…

If only play testers grew on trees!

And that’s where the next blog comes in.

Writing Game Rules – A Recipe

Nice and clear post about rules – which are often not very clear, but usually nice, except for when they give you a paper cut and when that … wait, what did the article say about being concise. Oh.

Fairway 3 Games, LLC

There’s no magic system or formula for writing good rules for your games. Each game has its own quirks, its own vocabulary, its own gameplay.  However, I’ve found that there is a general pattern to how you can think about rules. I’ll call it my recipe.

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