Those who follow me on twitter (@benny275) will have read most of this already. Earlier in the week I was working on the cowboy game, dealing with a new idea for a mechanic. In short, the idea was to have a mechanic of drafting dice at the beginning of each round and then using up the dice you have drafted to complete actions. This created such a divergent path that it would have been a complete revision of the game. Since I like where the game was originally and the wife liked it (cause that's what really matters) I decided to leave the original game untouched by this new idea and began thinking how I could put it into a new game.
The concept of a second cowboy game emerged at that point. However, I have a very strict rule about not allowing games to overlap and influence each other. So having two similarly themed games wasn't going to fly for me. That's when I decided to put a different theme on it and away it went down the rabbit hole.
As my twitter followers and the wonderful people who play games with me on a regular basis know, I am in love with Martin Wallace's London. To me, it is one of the best game designs of the last 10 years. It is such a gamer's game! That being said, it is also sort of a puzzle game. There is a very predictable pattern of play where your strategy will be the same from game to game. This has not decreased my love for it, but it does leave me wondering about alternate strategies.
One point that gamers and game designers should be consciously aware of is the prospect of designing a puzzle rather than a game. There are a number of games that are designed in this fashion and rather than put those designers on the spot I'll let you figure them out. There has been some negative reaction on BGG about games that are essentially puzzles (single strategy games). I don't believe this is a bad thing, it is what it is.
With regard to my newest idea and plotted out game design, I am consciously aware of the is it is puzzle or is it a game question. Obviously I would like to design with multiple strategies in mind and focus on different ways that are all viable for winning. With this new one, you'll see an update when I get time to mess with it. Since the wife likes the two main designs I really should get back to work on those and get them done. However, the new one continues to nag at my conscious mind and push at me. Luckily I have friends to bounce game design ideas off of. It helps me design in a direction that is methodical and prevents me from getting stuck.
This idea is far from stuck, it continues to generate more and more sheets of paper of reference material. The last game that did this was the Airship game (still unnamed) and it turned into the beautiful game that it is. There are definitely more playtests that need to happen for it. Definitely look for more posts about the new one and expect a future blog as I get a chance to playtest the Airship game further.
For those attending Origins, I will see you there. Also, you'll probably get one of these blog posts about Origins.