And a WHOLE LOT has happened since our last post.
For a start, we live in the USA now!
But I will catch you up on all of that in a minute. Let’s talk about all our game designs in progress right now, first!
We have our first professional prototype and it is AMAZING. It feels so great to see the game looking so real at last! And it plays really well. We are waiting for the pandemic situation to die down just a teeny bit more, then we are taking this baby out into the world to be play-tested by local Portland designers and gamers!
Any Other Name
After quite a long hibernation, AON is well on her way to being a reality, too – we just ordered a real-life prototype from The Game Crafter, so we will hopefully be able to bring her along to shows and cons from June onwards – hooray!
It’s been a busy few months, with lots of new ideas coming to life! Being confined to quarters during a pandemic is certainly a great way to stay focused on creative endeavours.
The idea for this game jumped into my head as I was driving down our road to pick up my husband from the train station, back in New Zealand. The idea hit me so hard that I had to pull over and jot down notes so that I could concentrate enough to drive!
You are a baby bunny, one of a litter of survivors, born to a doe who escaped, injured and pregnant, form the destruction of her previous warren. Terrified and exhausted, she took refuge in an abandoned burrow deep under a huge tangle of brambles, and gave birth to her litter of kits (baby bunnies).
Your ultimate aim is to become the leader of the new warren, Brambleton. To do so, you must explore the area, form connections with the other rabbits who fled the old warren and set up here amongst the blackberries, and eventually, dig a burrow and win a mate.
Mechanically, this means acquiring Dash, Alertness, and Kudos points through deck-building, exploring by tile-laying, increasing your scores in Dash and Alertness by acquiring resources, and increasing your Kudos by contributing to the community and performing acts of bravery. The first player to have their own litter of kits ends the game, but it’s the player with the most Kudos who wins, so shepherd your resources carefully.
Brambleton is still a WIP, but it’s getting very close to being ready to order, too. These photos are early prototype work.
One Person’s Trash
The basic principle behind this game is that what some discard can be of great value to others. Players who are familiar with card games where you gather sets and runs will find this familiar and quite easy to learn. There are two major differences, though:
1 – you can change the direction of play with Arrow cards, but the interesting thing is that you must each also pick up your neighbour’s personal discard pile.
2 – as with many games that involve tabled sets of cards, you can add onto your own or your neighbours’, but again, there’s a twist – if you can connect theirs to yours, you can take the whole lot over and get all the points they have amassed!
It’s also interesting that there are 10 suits, rather than the usual 4, and that you can only play 3 groups of cards in front of you. Lots of familiarity with a little difference, and plenty of strategy to help overcome the randomness of the hand you’re dealt.
The art style for OPT is inspired by the things that some people pick up and collect and others view as absolute rubbish, like shells, bottle caps, pebbles, corks… The things that are in some people’s junk drawers, and others’ curio cases.
Ladybird Logic: Mushroom Maze
This game is a classic Drayer Ink story of idea hits: game immediately insists on being made. I got the idea when I saw some ladybird and mushroom craft supplies at the store, and then the rest of the game came to me suddenly about a week later, as I gazed out the window at our flowering spring garden.
You are a team of 4 Ladybirds, leaping your way from flower to flower by matching the patterns on their petals to meet your Mushroom Missions, avoiding the Bad Bugs and grabbing as many Aphids as you can on the way past. The Mushroom Mission cards are simple: start on card x, finish on card y, and match these specific patterns. In return, you earn this many Aphids.
The fun part is that 1) any pattern match applies to everyone’s goal, a bit like Bingo, so be careful you’re not completing someone else’s card! 2) any one of your Ladybirds can complete any goal, regardless of which flower they started on. When you get a token on that flower, the goal is achieved, and that Ladybird token is safe, and removed from play.
The scary part is that, at the end of each round, the Bad Bugs move onto the nearest matching tile or flower petal in reach. If you are on that petal, it’s curtains!
A fun, competitive, and strategic game that plays in 20 minutes or so for 2 players, this feels like it has a lot of potential – we can’t wait for the prototype to arrive from The Game Crafter!
Read a bit more about it here!
Based on a folk song that dates back from before people wrote them down, Long Lankin is one of the many names given to this grim character. In some versions, he was a mason who didn’t get paid by the Lord after building him a castle. In others, he is an evil spirit, a devil, or a villain with no motivation.
As is traditional when dealing with traditional folk songs, we have chosen our own interpretation, and in this game, Long Lankin is a faery who struck a bargain with the Lord that the Lord did not want to pay. The Lord is called away by the King and cannot stay behind to defend his household, so the servants are left alone overnight to protect the Lady and the baby Heir when Lankin comes a-knocking. Unfortunately for everyone, the baby’s Nurse is a traitor – a naturally spiteful woman, she was easily glamoured by Lankin into being his secret accomplice inside the house.
Mechanically, this is an asymmetrical, hidden movement, secret traitor game. No one, including the person playing Lankin, knows who is playing as the False Nurse, and no one except Lankin knows where he is at any time. As with other hidden movement games, Lankin marks his location on a version of the board hidden behind a shield.
At the start of the game, each servant player draws a Cardinal deck at random and keeps it secret. The one who draws the pack with specific locations is the Nurse. Everyone else’s cards only feature a Cardinal Direction, and they check all the locks on that wall.
The first phase of the game consists of the Nurse trying to unbar a window or door that she hopes the servants won’t check, and Lankin trying to guess which one it will be. Eventually, Lankin enters the outer wings of the house, and the second phase begins.
Because Lankin doesn’t announce when he gets into the house, the first phase continues until the servants receive a clue that Lankin is in the house, or the Cardinal Cards run out, so for him, the second phase can begin well before it does for the servants.
Lankin moves from room to room, gathering items to Counter the servants’ efforts to stop him, while meanwhile, the household are trying to set up traps and bluffs to slow him down or even catch him. In the outer wing, the traps involve opening and closing the right doors and then lighting a lamp at the right time so that both Lankin and two witnesses are present. In the dark, Lankin glamours anyone around him so that they can’t see him, and because any one of the household staff could be false, two witnesses must be present to catch him. In the inner courtyard, the trick is to lay Wards, which go off whenever Lankin triggers that segment. One type of Ward is a Riddle, and another is a Talisman, and the third is the Naming, which causes Lankin to miss a turn – but more than half are bluffs. As soon as he steps on one tile of that colour, all the Wards go off. Lankin must be careful not to trigger the different Wards in a way that gives away his position. Once Lankin has Countered them all, including the one at the Keep entrance, he can set off another. Once he has Countered all three types of Ward, and found the Silver Bangles, he can call the Lady down the stairs to her doom.
This is obviously a very complex game to build in a way that still feels both fun and suspenseful, so it’s a slow burner compared to the others. We are only at the starting stage in terms of board design and exact game play, although I have illustrated a lot of the cards and created the symbols because that helps me think.
Exhibit at the Daffodil
Inspired by Life Drawing classes, this game’s working title is a nod to the daffodils blooming outside when the idea struck.
You are an art student, attending regular life-drawing classes. The prestigious Daffodil Gallery has invited your entire class to exhibit at the end of term, and you are scrambling to put together the three things you need to succeed: a portfolio which counts towards your final class grade, an online shop full of prints, and of course, your actual exhibition.
Each round, all of the students bid on particular poses that they want the model to perform for that class. At the end of the class, each student has the same total number of pieces, and draws (haha) the cards to match all the bids made. For example, if you place 3 tokens on the 1-minute pose, and the other players add 5 between them, all of the players receive 8 1-minute pose cards. Pose bids cost the same as the amount of minutes, so a 3-minute pos costs 3 credits.
Once you have your cards, you can choose to either place them in your portfolio, to earn course credits which translate into tokens for future bids, put them into your online store to earn money to buy more materials, or hang them in your gallery, where they earn no money during the game, but score in the final count.
The cards are in suits, which increase in value when grouped. Basic cards can also be developed, buying better value cards less expensively than by using class credits. When the deadline hits, you receive your Portfolio and Exhibition scores. Your Portfolio score must be high enough to pass the course, or you do not qualify to win the game. The Exhibition score tells you how many pieces you sold. Add the Exhibition sales to your existing class credits for your final score, the highest of which wins.
Currently, I have draft boards and draft cards. The Portfolio board works a bit like Wingspan in that you do better as you add more cards to the layout.
This game is a lot of fun to illustrate, although warning, nudity!
So there you have it, a bit of a summary of what’s going on, game-design-wise, chez Drayer Ink!
There’s a lot more simmering away that’s not ready to show you yet, too. We promise, you won’t be disappointed.
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