Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Beautiful Game

Or in this case, the game that is fun but ugly as hell.  I am working on that last one though.

For the last 8 years I have been working on a game called FMB  (Fantasy Monster Beatdown).  See Previous Post for more on this topic.  It started out as a project to make a wargame that was simple to learn and quick to resolve.  I began doing this because every wargame I have played ended up taking immense amounts of time and having an incredibly steep learning curve and I felt that it should be possible to make a quick to learn, quick to play, fun wargame.  For 7 years I largely failed.  The game I built was simply not a good game for various reasons.  I regularly hit on mechanics that worked beautifully and some of the game was excellent, but always the cohesiveness was not there.

I think I have finally made it into something that works.  I have some amount of confidence in this because Wendy, who normally takes only minimal interest in learning new board games, actually got very much into it when I finally got her to test it with me.  I have played the game against myself a number of times and it felt like a ton of fun.  The trick is that wargames have complicated pieces.  I need units to move around the battlefield and lots of game components and they need to show a lot of information in a small area.  This isn't too challenging when you have a factory and a designer, but it can be pretty hard when you have low latent artistic talent.  However, here is what I have created so far:

The pieces are made of plasticine with matchsticks for handles.  The beads on the matchsticks tell you how strong the unit is and whether it is a ranged or melee unit.  The flags on the top represent a fast unit, while those without flags are slow.  I also built spells, rules cards and such and made them by printing them out and sliding the paper into my old Magic card protectors.  Production grade it is not, but it seems to work well. I figure I will test the game some more against unwitting friends and see how it pans out.  Once I get it working reasonably I will probably post the rules and such online for anyone else who wants to take a look.

I am getting really excited... almost giddy sometimes.  This version finally feels like a game I could be proud of producing, something that I could point to and say "I did that.  Check that $%?.& out!"  I never really began to consider how I would take the game to others (and potentially make money) until this point, despite encouragement to do so from several sources.  I was always waiting until the game began to feel beautiful to me.  This is, of course, beautiful in the mathematical sense, not the visual sense.  It isn't *quite* beautiful yet, but it is certainly pretty, and feels like it has almost grown into its beauty.  It is go time.


  1. Congrats! I know that this is a big accomplishment (getting a game to where you are content that it meets your high standards). I'd like to try it out:)

  2. Don't click the link above, probably a keylogger/virus/porn site.