Friday, 13 February 2015

A developer's preview of the Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp App!

Here is a developer's preview of HexWar's Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp App, which is the digital conversion of my solitaire boardgame. w00t!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A gamer translated Infection into French so their 83 year old father could play it

So as many of you know I designed a solitaire boardgame called Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp published by Victory Point Games.

So it came to my attention that one of the people who owned my game who lives in France shared the following story:

I know the game since it was published. It plays fast, it's puzzly, it's thematic, it's challenging. So many qualities... I like that game a lot. 

What I didn't notice before last month was that there is a story in it.... and it's funny.

Personal back-up story

Last Christmas, my father - who will be 83 in a week and has never played a boardgame in his life - asked me to find a solo boardgame he could play.

First idea that came to my mind while talking with him was Infection. However, he doesn't understand English: I had to translate the rules and the cards in French.

I assumed, it would not be an easy task.

Before initiating translation, I asked for advice in the 1st Player Guild Forum on BoardGameGeek. I received a lot of very interesting suggestions (I'm still working on two of them) but as I "sold" Infection to my father in the first place, he was really interested in playing that particular game.

It took me more time than I expected.

It is especially challenging to translate cards. Very often, it takes several words in French whereas English use one or two to express the same idea.

Anyway, I did finish the translation just in time to send the game to my father for his birthday (it was the initial goal).

My revelation regarding infection story

When I play, I focus on the effects (place a molecule here or there, subtract 1 or add 2 to your die roll...) and not on the ambiance text.

The translation forced me to read every single word on the cards.

That's was a mistake to ignore the ambiance text. It's really worth it.

There is a true life in this Laboratory!

Adam, who is the youngest team's member, is really a nice "kid". He fells asleep regularly which pisses of Amanda whereas Sylvia is more forgiving. He disguises Marvin - the Lab Rat - when he's got some free time and watches TV a lot! The relationship are tensed between the Lab guys and the story develops in few-well-chosen words.

On the other hand, there is also a life outside the Lab. The death section tells that story like a never-ending-scrolling information at the bottom of the TV screen while watching the TV-news.

Just don't know how I could have missed the excellent job they did with the story in this game.

It cannot be called a "story-telling" game, though, but there is a story. I will play it with new eyes now.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Meeplesburg notes from play testers at FallCon 2014. Photos included!

Meeplesburg notes from play testers at FallCon 2014
So I had a great time at FallCon this year in Calgary. I had 6 play testing sessions with Meeplesburg. I got in a couple of 2 player games, a couple of 5 player games and a couple of 4 player games. I received plenty of valuable feedback from the play testers. Mainly they found it to be fun, challenging, compelling game and it only takes an hour to play!
Here a few pictures from the event:
Here is the setup for a 2-player game

Here we are near the end of 5-player game

Hugh Polley is considering his options

A couple of turns into a 2-player game--and there's a copy of INFECTION on the table

Here is the signage I whipped up in Photoshop for the table

This is the FallCon scheduled Playtesting area

Almost at the end of a game by the looks of it

John Montague is weighing his options as he contemplates his next turn
Here is the useful feedback I got:
·         Put Construction, Purchase, Upgrade labels on both sides of the board
·         Move Apprentice area up and label it.
·         Put an arrow to move cards from Construction area to Purchase area
·         Use an arrow or some other kind of symbol in the Mason area for moving masons to the other 3 areas
·         Could use the phrase Legacy Points instead of Victory Points; less militaristic
·         Use a block or heavy boarder between the Worker area and the Purchase area
·         Use part of the Action board for Player action instructions
·         You can spend $35 to copy write your rules in the USA
·         On the building cards, move up the construction area so it is at the top and lines up with the double meeple symbol. Use the same background as the board
·         Change the row/column layout so that opposite meeples are different colours. Yellow-Blue
·         Check out Alien frontiers for the iconography they use. Keep this in mind for the “Or” symbol on the card and the Wall or Income on the action board
·         Tap card for money right away? NO!
·         Get rid of the building icon on the building tile. Put the Meeple inside a house of the same colour.
·         Put spots on tile for placing the house, tenant and monument
·         Move the money symbol to a different location on the card. I think it should overlap the construction section and the meeple section. The $3 coin will be a different color. Make it clearer. Don’t need the money symbol on the tile either.
·         Use 3 platforms instead of 5 for all number of players. Different platforms have different number of tenant spaces on them: 1, 2, 3. There will only be one space for a mason per round for getting a platform

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp - First screenshots of the Video Game

Hunted Cow Studios have now issued a press release that they are developing my game into a video game and have shared 8 screenshots of the game; 4 from the PC version and 4 from the iOS version.

Here is some verbiage from the press release: 

We're pleased to release the first alpha screenshots of John Gibson’s Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp by developer Criss Cross Games. Scheduled for release in December for PC, Mac, iOS and Android; this is the first release from the announcement of the partnership between Hunted Cow Studios and Victory Point Games.

About the Game

Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp was named one of the Top 30 Solitaire Board Games by Box of Delights and one of the 2013 Best Thematic Solitaire Games for the Spare Time Challenged on BoardGameGeek!

In Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp, by designer John Gibson, you are the director of the Department of Plague Control (DPC) field office in New York City. You make the decisions about what parts of the virus to study, which personnel to hire, and what equipment to purchase. You’ll soon discover you are working with an eccentric group of scientists who don’t always work well together—and one very resourceful lab rat named Marvin. As the casualties increase, so does the stress and mistakes made, as you try to complete your vaccine before time runs out for all of mankind!

This strategy game uses simple mechanics in a multitude of combinations to create engaging, deep gameplay as you try to eliminate an evolving virus that could spell the end of the human race. While random events from the Status Report cards might throw a wrench in your plans (or occasionally help you out), you’ll use the Lab Personnel and Equipment cards you’ve hired to piece together randomly generated proteins into the different parts of a vaccine, all while managing dwindling funding resources as the Death Toll Track climbs. Each time that your Containment roll fails you come one step closer to losing this battle, so make sure that you push everyone to their limits before the infection reaches critical levels.

Here is the default view for the PC version of the video game

Here is the default view of the iOS version of the video game

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

I walked a Mile in high heels in Calgary last week

Hi All,

So That Cowboy Guy walked a mile in high heels last Thursday in Calgary to raise money for the YWCA WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES®  fundraising event. The event raises funds to help women and their children take steps to walk away from family violence.

The YWCA of Calgary is helping women escape the cycle of abuse, helping children receive the safety, support and nurturing they deserve and helping men learn healthy ways of interacting with their families.

You can still donate by visiting my personal page:

Thank goodness I managed not to twist an ankle, but boy did my feet hurt by the time it was over! Oh, and I might have flashed the judges.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Meeplesburg design changes

So here are some of the changes to Meeplesburg I play tested last Monday

Play testers liked incremental cost of getting a Mason disc ($3, $4, $5 and $6)
Limited spaces for Masons for the Action spots made players add Tenants early in the game. (2 spots for Bridges per round, 3 spots for Monuments per round, 3 spots for Tenants per round)

Potential Issue:
The following units now generate income: Building tiles, wall segments, Monuments (no more cubes now), Bridges and Tenants. So this means there is more money in the game. A player with 4 building tiles, 2 walls and a Monument could make $7 with a single Income Generation action. A new player--Jerome?--ended the game with $25 which got him 5 victory points. So my concern is perhaps there is now too much money in the game, at least at the end. I might cut Tenants and Bridges from list.


What I have left was a challenge from Paul Saxberg to make the game playable with 2 players, and I figure I might as well make sure it is playable with 5 players, since the 2-5 Players is the sweet spot for Euros.

To make it a 2 player game I would have to make the game boards double-sided. In a 2 player version the players would remove all the yellow meeples from the game. 

So the City Map board would have no yellow worker row or column, making the board grid 4x4 instead of 5x5. 
There would be 12 squares for placing buildings and 4 river spaces. 
The players would also remove all the building cards/tiles with yellow meeples on them: 10. This would leave 15 buildings/tiles for a 2 player game. 
3 Building cards would be available each round instead of 5.
8 Meeples would be drawn from the bag each round, so each player would have 4 workers to use.
One less Mason spot for each action space: 1 spot for Bridges per round, 2 spots for Monuments per round, 2 spots for Tenants per round
One less Mason added per round (Round 1: 3, Round 2: 6, Round 3: 9)

I feel I am getting close to a finalized designed game.

The question is about having too much money in the game. At the end of the game every $5 is worth 1 VP, and the new player ended up with $25 at the end of the game, which made him 5 VP. Money used for the following in the game:

• To place a building on the city map board costs $1, but if it is adjacent to one of your own properties then it cost $1 for every building in the group, including the new one.
• To purchase a building it requires 1 worker and $1
• To use a Mason it starts at $3, then $4 for the next one, then $5 and finally $6
I was worried money would be tight in the game, but for some players it wasn't

I myself tried to construct a building I needed and put it on the board, but then I discovered I had no money to place it. So I spent that turn generating income, at which point the next player bought the building I wanted.

So how do you find the right balance of money in a game? Is it based on how much is left at the end of the game? Or players complaining about not having enough money, or complaining that they don't have enough actions to spend their money on?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Another successful play test session at the Sentry Box

Another great play testing session last night with the GAC gang at the Sentry Box. I feel very comfortable with all the changes I have made and I feel I am just about ready to commit those changes to my rules document. 

What I have left was a challenge from Paul Saxberg to make the game playable with 2 players, and I figure I might as well make sure it is playable with 5 players, since the 2-5 Players is the sweet spot for Euros.