Sunday, 12 May 2013

If I was a game designer...

Good Sunday everyone!

I have just had a conversation with my wife where she hammered home that right now, all the work I am doing on MaliQuest is a waste of time and space.

This might sound a little harsh, but that's because I have left out the content/context.

You see, at the moment I am tied by legal issues. As much as I may want to, I am unable to push this game any further than a completely free, completely armature Malifaux supplement.

What was suggested was that I put this time and attention into making my own game, using my own IP, my own ruleset which I can send to printers and publishers and have sold in stores.

This would never be a big seller, I would never be able to retire early, but a few £ in my pocket and the ability to have other people be able to play a professional quality version of the game would be a great thing for me and the game.

So here comes the ideas:

The placing, that would stay the same, New Fairbank is just a frontier town, there is nothing particularly 'Malifaux' about it.

The theme: Old West-Steampunk-Horror, despite how apparently tied to Malifaux this is, I would argue it is still open enough. In the miniature market, we have Wild West Exodus, and in the film/comic/anime worlds we have stories like PRIEST which are just this.

Gameplay: I feel that in order to set this game apart it needs to loose the card duel mechanic. This is for many reasons, largely because it's too tied into Malifaux's IP, but also because the duelling system makes each encounter longer than would be ideal.

I think the standard d6 system could work for this, maybe making combat more like the game ZOMBIES!! only with special powers (I mention Zombies!! because its the fastest combat system I've ever seen).

The Loot Deck: this is the IP of MaliQuest. This is what sets this game apart from its existing peers like Descent and D&D.

So what do you think?

Should I stick with MaliQuest and get the 3 expansions out, or should I start focusing on my own version, currently called RichiQuest - Loxley's Lament (joke title)?

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley


  1. If you go for a dice system I'd go for D10 over D6. They give you a better spread to play with, and percentage dice to boot.

    I'm going to read your stories this week in prep for my Iron Quill entry this round :)

  2. Thanks for the suggestion! I hadn't even thought of using d10 but that's a good point about spread

  3. This may also sound harsh but its intended to make you think long and hard about this, not to put you off the idea.

    Is the Loot Deck really a unique ISP? Both Heroquest and Warhammer Quest use a loot deck mechanic and whilst the rarity level isn't used in those games its a very common mechanic in plenty of other games.

    Losing the Fate deck mechanic just drops the game into the same pool as plenty of other dungeon crawl games - the ones from Mantic spring to mind.

    Dont underestimate the ammount of work you will have to put into your art assets as you would have to have all the art created for the game, can't just use something you found on the internet.

    Without miniatures etc. you are very unlikely to make any sales of this, so why - especially if it is going to require you to put money into it as well as time.

    The market is becoming more and more flooded with what I call 'extended board games' like Zombicide and Super Dungeon Explore. What is going to make you stand out from those?

    Again, none of this is intended to say, don't be silly Richie, this isn't going anywhere, its just to make you think as going from the amatuer to professional market is a huge huge step.

    1. Thanks for the reply Mike, don't worry I know exactly what you mean, and at the moment I'm just spit balling with ideas because its fun to do.

      When I say that the loot deck is the USP, I don't mean that the deck itself is, but that character progression is done that way, not via XP.

      Back in October I had a chat with a friend who played loads of RPGs and dungeon crawlers and this was something that he was excited about, saying that it was a simple mechanic that he loved the sound of and no other game had tagged in on it.

      Now there may be a reason why no one else has used it, but that's not always a certainty.

      In regards to the art, this is something I'm aware of, but as was pointed out by Sarah yesterday, I know graphic designers and artists, and so I can commission them or give them shares in potential future sales etc, but I am more than aware that EVERYTHING would need to be redone.

      For miniatures, I'm not bothered about that.

      But yeah, I know that I will never be able to make a lot

    2. Of money off this, but as it stands there are certain things that I am unable to do being under Wyrd's shadow.

      I would love to be able to have the book professionally printed, if only for me and my friends, the same with the cards. But as it stands I face potential legal issues if I try and do that.

  4. I'm going through a similar situation as yourself, with similar statements from my wife, so understand many of the questions you have.

    At the end of the day there's no getting away from the fact that this project started life by piggybacking Malifaux. With their flagship game, Wyrd covered many genres in one hit so it appeals to many gamers, they produced awesome minis… the game became a big hit. Following in Malifaux's shadow came the likes of WWE, In Her Majesty's Name, etc. and so I feel your project may be late to the steampunk party.

    You ideally need to be able to produce something that has not been done before, and if that isn't realistic then try to find a niche that hasn't been addressed before (or properly). I've had to swallow a bitter reality pill in this respect and, rather than produce a copycat or amalgamation of games I like, I had to try to conjour up something that was original enough to attract interest and deep enough to last the distance. It is going to cost a lot of money to produce your rules and market them – if you produce a downloadable PDF for folk to print out and spend no money marketing you may get a cult hit out of it.

    The other thing to remember is that a lot of rulesets are given away for free to support miniature ranges. That's not a bad thing as it can get your name out there and recognised (and it's all experience). Money is in the models for the most part. Why should somebody pay for your rules if someone else is offering rules for nothing? When you can answer that question well, you may have a winner on your hands.

    1. To be completely honest, I really want to stick away from getting involved in model manufacturing.

      It is obviously where the money is, but there are so many pitfalls that I just want to stay clear.

      The more I think about it, the more I think I may be completely over my head. I am just one person, who's trying to do this in his spare time whilst trying to raise a toddler, work a full time job and study an accounting qualification.

      Maybe this is a step too far

    2. I would disagree that you're over your head. I think you're more than capable of pulling this off. I think you need to take a step back, take some pressure off yourself – my lord, a toddler, job and education… that's a lot of pressure! – enjoy what you're doing.

      Explore every possibility with your rules. Park what you've done to date somewhere safe and try rewriting it to avoid anything Malifaux related. I guarantee ideas and new avenues will present themselves along the way. Things could evolve into a completely new game, then you could release your MaliQuest as a free to download mod and sell your evolved game as something similar but new. Just consider it an extension of the hobby for now, the commercial side will come in time. My wife works in business development and I get constant earache that I'm not quick enough in developing my 'product' and that I'm missing opportunities – but I've done my research and I know what works for me.

      Don't give up, Doc, that has to be rule number 1. If you get the chance read Jake Thornton's "Quirkworthy" blog. He gives a great narrative of what it takes to be games designer – lots of helpful thoughts and observations.

    3. Thanks.

      One thing I want to be open about is I don't care so much about the finances behind it, I don't care if I make any money at all, I just want to have the freedom to get copies printed without treading on copywrite toes