Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Moving Penny

I’m still chugging along on Penny, and I’ve finally set up the Gameslinger Enterprises website to promote it. Future updates on Penny‘s status will likely be over there, as I’m not really in the designing phase any more. I’ll still be commenting over here, of course, and I’m going to leave the project page up. Don’t be strangers; come on over and say hi sometime.


May 8, 2008 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | Leave a comment

The Song Remains The Same

I just tossed the latest draft of Penny over the fence to Ryan, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. This draft includes the heart of the game: the rules and the rest of the material you need to learn and teach it. We’re shooting to have the the remaining two chapters we need for the beta playtest (AP transcripts and alternate rules/designer’s notes) done by the end of the month, and I think that’s doable. It’s fascinating to watch this document, which started almost exactly a year ago, morph over time. Last night I cut two sentences that I think were in the Game Chef draft. Despite the changes, the game is still conceptually the same as what I came up with in the back of a bus on the way to go skiing.

Speaking of which, I’m off to do that now.

March 14, 2008 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | Leave a comment

Get Other People To Solve Your Problems For You

That’s the real reason to go to Dreamation, as it turns out. Ryan ran two playtests of APFMT, and when there were problems with the first one, I sat around talking about it with experienced game designers until we came up with a solution I was happy with.

The big tweak is that APFMT will use a “ground rules” document to establish certain facts about the world before play begins. This will help prevent the unexpected shifts in genre that occasionally derail the playtests. There will be a default document that comes with the game, but there will also be options to create your own or to play without one.

Along those same lines, I’m considering a change that allows Guides to raise the possibility of veto over the “Yes, And” questions. Basically, I don’t want the Traveler to be able to weasel out of questions that he or she doesn’t want to answer. But if one of the other Guides thinks the question is breaking genre/expectations, he or she can suggest the question is incorrect, which the Traveler has the option to confirm. (This works sort of like Moon suggestions in Polaris). We’ll see about this.

Finally, Ryan suggested reworking the third question and asking “Do you want to remember?” as a separate capstone question. That seems to make sense.

Any comments from folks were there?

January 28, 2008 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 6 Comments

My Life with Master Mines

As you all already know, I’ve not been posting here much (read: at all). There are a two major reasons behind this: work and moving. In the last quarter of 2007, I had the opportunity to show of my skills at my new job, which required a good bit of time commitment. Then, right after Thanksgiving, my wife and I found out we had to move. Fortunately, we didn’t move far (about two miles), but it really disrupted my normal routine.

So now I’m back. That means two things. First, I’ll actually be commenting again. Second, I’m going to keep pushing APFMT towards publication. I’m going to be talking with the Editor and the Art Director at Dreamation to come up some sort of new schedule to get this thing done.

This brings me to goals. As I mentioned a while back, I think it’s important to be explicit about what we want to accomplish. So, my goals with APFMT are to get it polished into a form that anyone can pick up and play, and to get it published. To that end, I’m going to need a lot of textual feedback, probably starting sometime around April. I’m not in a hurry to get the book out; I want to take the time necessary to get it right. But if it’s going to go slowly, I want it to be right. Otherwise I’d just declare it finished and be done with it.

So there we are. I’m back, I’m still a bit busy, but I’m committed to holding up my end of the deal here.

January 10, 2008 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 1 Comment

More Of The Same

A Penny For My Thoughts is still chugging along on pretty much the same course I laid out last time. Writing is going more slowly than I would like, but that’s mostly due to a shortage of time to work on it. What we are getting done is great. I’ve also gotten a few AP recordings of playtests that I haven’t had a chance to list to yet. And I’m in the home stretch for my PBeM playtests. So, it’s business as usual right now. That should start to change as we near the end of the year. The current goal is to have the revised manuscript text finished by Thanksgiving. Wish me luck!

October 30, 2007 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 5 Comments

Get Out Of My Head

What am I doing with A Penny For My Thoughts right now? Playtesting and outlining. On the former front, I’m still running the four play-by-email playtests I talked about before. Hopefully those will finish up this week, though I suspect it’ll probably be next week for at least one of them. Once those are done, I’ll be picking the participants brains about the experience. I also got some great playtest recordings and feedback from some fellow podcasters. I need to listen to those recordings, but the comments are really useful.

On the latter front, I’m working with my editor (Hi, Ryan!) to get the outline for the book settled. I’m at the point in the design and development process where my primary concern is that I communicate effectively what I want the game to do and how it’s supposed to work. This process is doing a reasonable job of forcing me to get it out of my head and onto the page.

What does the future hold? First, lots of writing, and then, more playtesting. The current plan is to do a beta playtest starting around the beginning of November with what will (hopefully) be the actual version of the game text. I’m going to be re-writing a lot stuff from the ashcan version and adding material as well, so I want to make sure that that version gets extensively tested as well.

October 1, 2007 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | Leave a comment

APFMT PBEMs: Many Birds, One Stone

Because the world doesn’t have enough acronyms.

It occurred to me last week that A Penny For My Thoughts is well-suited to Play By E-Mail, so I posted on Story Games to see if there’d be some interest in trying it out. Lo and behold, I got twelve players. Today, I started four simultaneous games of it. They are, unsurprisingly, moving at different paces, but even if only one of them finishes, they’ll be worth it. Why? Let me count the ways.

  1. Playtest feedback. Duh.
  2. Exposure. Building buzz, as Jeff H. points out, is good.
  3. Instant Actual Play transcripts. These will be useful for #2 above, but also because I want to include some play transcripts in the book. This way I don’t have to “fake” a session (which wouldn’t be very good anyway) or type up a recording (which would be tedious).
  4. Get my Art Director some experience with the game. He’s playing in one of the playtests because it’s good for us to be on the same page about how it.
  5. Play the game I designed for myself. The demos I ran at GenCon reminded me how much I liked the game, so I wanted to play it more.

I’ll let you all know how goes.

September 10, 2007 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 4 Comments

From Design to Book

I had an amazingly productive conversation with Fred Hicks the other night about the future of A Penny For My Thoughts. (Fred is art directing the book, although with the amount of input he’s giving me, it might be fairer to call him the developer.) The result of the conversation was that while I previously had a good idea of how the game design worked, I now have a much clearer idea of what the book built around that game design is going to be like. The basic structure is this:

  1. Rules, as explained in-character by Dr. Peter Tompkins
  2. Transcripts of previous therapy sessions, with annotations by Dr. Tompkins
  3. Excepts of real-world articles on the nature of memory and memory loss
  4. Parting words from Dr. Tompkins, with the possibility of a “big reveal” (or perhaps just subtle hints)
  5. Brief designers notes from me

I like this, because I think it will allow me to maintain the “this isn’t a game, it’s an in-game artifact” feel as much as possible. We’re definitely approaching the art and book design from that angle. It does mean, however, that while the game design is 90% done, there’s a lot of writing left to do. Those middle three sections are going to take some doing. Still, it’s very nice to have a clear idea of what I still need to get done.

August 24, 2007 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 4 Comments

A Pretty Penny, Part 2

Because Mike demanded it…


August 14, 2007 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 1 Comment

A Pretty Penny

I forgot to take a picture, but yesterday Gwen and I assembled the fifty copies of A Penny For My Thoughts I’m taking to GenCon. Thanks to some cool production design on her part, I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. Now to lug them to Indianapolis!

August 13, 2007 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 1 Comment