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Scout: New Game Modes!
By: Alex
Posted Monday, Feb 10th 2014 @ 23:58

At residency, I gave a workshop on how clear, meaningful game design philosophies can focus a project and solve problems in the mix. In the workshop, I asked my colleagues and contemporaries to help test a few new game modes for Scout.

When designing Scout, I scrapped a lot of complex systems in favor of clean, simple ones. I wanted to make a game with only the base components. A simple, stable system like Scout has the propensity for greater complexity without compromising balance, because new layers of complexity can be built into its reliable, consistent core mechanics. To test this, I challenged my contemporaries to help create new game modes without introducing any new game components. This is great for you, because you can play the new modes without buying anything new! And, it's great for me because, so can I! Here's what we came up with:

Hard Mode.
Deal 15 cards out of the deck at random. Eliminate these cards from play. Make sure the gumdrop remains in the main deck and shuffle it. Deal the remaining deck into three equal piles, and play. The empty space does not count as a cleared pile.

Legendary Mode.
Deal the entire deck into three equal piles, and play. The empty space does not count as a cleared pile.

Two-Player Mode.
Deal the deck into seven piles. Create a Scout game board with four piles. Create another adjacent game board out of the other three. The two boards will share the central pile.

Choose a player to go first. That player plays as normal until:
a. That player cannot make a legal move, or
b. That player kills a spider

Either resulting game-state passes the turn.

Both players may access the central pile, but otherwise, a player may only scout and clear piles on their side of the game board; with one exception.

The gumdrop, if visible, may be taken into a player's item slot on his or her turn from anywhere, including an opponent's pile or an opponent's item slot.

Have fun.

xoxo (CW) Alex

Release: Galapagos!
By: Alex
Posted Monday, Sep 2nd 2013 @ 22:40

In all the excitement over Scout, I forgot to release Galapagos! Well, never again, I say! Never again. Because the beta is over and Galapagos is now officially released!


I would first like to thank everyone that helped with the beta (This is starting to sound like an awards show, and I'm okay with that). Your feedback was invaluable and I used almost every note I received. Did you know that I sometimes commit typographical errors? It's true!

Well, since this is a release, I suppose I should include some basic information about the game somewhere in this post. Now, let me just ctrl+z...

Galapagos is a resource management game in which players take on the roles of competing species in a rainforest. Each turn, players will harvest genetic material: the currency with which they may buy mutations to change their species or propagate to increase their presence in the ecosystem. Players must balance strategy, tactics, and guile to compete in the pursuit of several unique win conditions; ultimately to ensure the survival of their genetic footprint.

It's hilarious, colorful, mildly informative, and immensely addictive. What more do you need? If you don't want to buy it I understand, though. You're probably just, super into communism or whatever. No, it's cool. No judgement.

Oh, speaking of commies! I'm going to get started on the PDF versions of these within the month so that you can get your print-n-play on. If I forget, just poke me. Unless I'm dead. Don't poke dead people. It's pointless and rude.

xoxo (CW) Alex

Release: Scout
By: Alex
Posted Monday, Aug 26th 2013 @ 22:37

A month ago, I had this idea for a game. In a month's time, I worked diligently on said game. But I did not fret. I did not stress out over deadlines. I did not freak out. Not about the game anyway. Instead, I worked on the game to relieve stress. I rendered to build skill with the pen, and to practice single-tone depth; but mostly because it had a calming effect. In fact, everything about this game has a calming effect. It's a simple, clean, solitaire build. It doesn't have particularly deep strategy or complex interactions. But, sometimes you don't need that. Sometimes, you're on a plane, or at the DMV, and you just want to turn over a few cards and breathe. I don't know exactly what it is, but this game will lower your blood pressure like Cheerios. Oh, I'm going to release it now. Let me just-

Scout: A Little Odyssey

Oh, it's also cheap! I have so much I wanted to drop in this post and there I go talking about process. I'll try to streamline from here out. Unless a tangent surfaces. I'm sometimes self-indulgent on those. And taffy. Good lord. Oh, the post. Let's start with the new cover art:

I simplified it a bit and went with a smaller box. I'm really gung-ho about the DMV thing. In Scout, you take on the role of Andrew: a young ant in search of a new food source for the hive. Find one, and you can expect a hero's welcome and a ticker tape parade. But, should you fail, you will surely disappoint Mother. And that simply won't do.

So there are spiders that you have to kill with needles and scary terrain you have to traverse and also there's some not-so-scary terrain, that you also have to traverse- additionally. Oh, and a gumdrop! I'm usually better at describing things.

So, um, to recap or whatever, Scout is a simple solitaire game with magical calming properties that I can't quite explain. It's not extreme or flavor-blasted, or anything-core. It's not meant to be. Sometimes, you can do more with less.

xoxo (CW) Alex

Cover Art: Scout
By: Alex
Posted Monday, Aug 12th 2013 @ 11:03

So I went a different direction.

I've been engaging in a bit of research on George Maciunas and the Fluxus movement; realizing at every turn that the guy has a lot in common with myself. Here are a few snippets from the wiki:

"Fluxus encouraged a 'do-it-yourself' aesthetic, and valued simplicity over complexity. Like Dada before it, Fluxus included a strong current of anti-commercialism and an anti-art sensibility, disparaging the conventional market-driven art world in favor of an artist-centered creative practice."

"Shared by its sibling art movements Pop Art and minimalism, Fluxus expressed a countercultural sentiment to the value of art and the modes of its experience –distinctly achieved by its commitment to collectivism and to decommodifying and deaestheticizing art."

"By undermining the traditional role of art and artist, its humor is reflective of a goal to bring life back into art..."

"Where many multiple publishers produced signed, numbered objects in limited editions intended for sale at high prices, Maciunas produced open editions at low prices."

"Whilst Maciunas was still alive, no fluxus work was ever signed or numbered, and many weren't even credited to any artist."

So that's cool.

While still determined to experiment in exquisite corpse in the near future, I decided that the art direction for scout should be simple and clean, matching the aesthetic of the gameplay. Simple game, simple art. I wanted to produce it in a style cognisant with the simplicity and elegance of fluxus art. I thought of a poster I had seen in the Oak Room at Goddard. It was a single-color print, using line work to create depth. Yeah, that was the ticket.

The pink was an accident.

xoxo (CW) Alex

Exquisite Corpse: Scout
By: Alex
Posted Monday, Aug 5th 2013 @ 18:44

So, a little update on Galapagos for starters. We're nearing the end of beta and the whole thing looks stable and set. I have a little bit of artwork to upload and a couple of minor tweaks to the rules, but all in all I think we're nearing release time. If you still want it on the cheap, I'd say order up pronto.

Now, it turns out this little game we've been playing at the art table was invented by surrealists and has a sweet name: Exquisite Corpse. The game, in which artists pass work around the table culminating in a single collaborative artwork, was played by the likes of Andre Breton and Marcel Duchamp in its heyday. I'm particularly inspired by two aspects of the exercise: the willingness to let go, and the complete trust in your contemporaries.

I've decided to experiment in the game while producing artwork for two of our upcoming projects: Scout and Prologues. At my first table session back from residency, I drummed up a concept for Andy, the protagonist in Scout. It went from meh to marvelous in no time, and my Art Rangers jumped on it. Here's the initial sketch from my first pass:

Wilson and Holly did some micro-passes in between, working diligently like... um, like some sort of hard-working, diligent species might. A little ink, a little color, a little junk food, and voila. A new challenger has entered the ring.


Update: After the awesome electronic pass made by my art ranger cohorts, I have thrown in a few finishing touches: mainly a lovely logo for the game. Collaborative powers activate! Form of: Poster!

xoxo (CW) Alex

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