Thursday, 27 February 2014

The UnPublished Game Designer's a Blog: The Final Curtain

Greetings friends!

It is with a glad heart that today I finish off my series of posts about being an UnPublished Game Designer.

I hope that this has given you good for thought, and maybe even some ideas of your own on how you too can get started and maybe can go on to avoid the mistakes I have made and get to where you want to with much greater ease.

With today's post, it is my hope to discuss with you about how to end projects, about realising when you have reached as far as you can go and when it is time for something new.


Like many of you out there I have created a great number of game projects, the greatest of them all a game that I collaborated with my friend Tom on called Ring of Blood, a Fantasy themed Arena game with simple but elegant rules that made for a super fun game. Of course those rules were lost over time and the game is now just a fond memory.

There have been plenty of complex games, involving resource management and travel, simple card games a and countless amounts of homebrew house rules for existing games.

Every one of these projects had to come to an end at some point and as with all types of art knowing when to stop is just as important as how to start.


You see, to a lot of people, ending your work on a game is seen as a polar thing; either the game is finished, ready to ship and be played by the masses, or the game is a flop, it's never going to get finished and frankly even the creator (you) hates looking at it.

Now to most people the former is a positive experience, while the latter is negative, but allow me to spin it on it's head:

Your game is finished, you've created the next monopoly and are set to make millions from the licence alone! You've also finished something that you started as a hobby. Now you have to find something else to fill that time with (spending those millions maybe?)

The other side, your game never made it, you had some good ideas and some fun, but it just never manifested as a good, fun and marketable game. Well that's ok, because we can go back to basics, the theme, the narrative, and from there rebuild, start from almost scratch and carry on with what you enjoyed.

What if the reason you stopped was boredom?

Simple! Just isolate what it was that bored you and don't make that mistake again.


At every stage of this process I've commented on how this is a hobby and if that is not the reason you are doing this, then reading these posts will do nothing for you, chances are they will only infuriate you instead.


So have I made mistakes with my games?


Have I wished I'd done things differently and gone back and done just that?


Have I destroyed all remnants of a game in a nerd rage, the mere mention of the game causing bile spewing and vitriol?

More times than I can imagine!

Do I regret any of the time spent working on those games? Not a second!

At every stage of creating these games I have learned something, and the only reason I am confident enough to put myself out there as much as I am now (and I still have a long way to go) is because I have learned from every single game I've worked on in the past and put those lessons into practice.


So as we leave these posts, I have to raise where I see CRYPTS: A Weird West Dungeon Crawler going.

Will it be the next box office smash, or end up a small .zip file somewhere on the net, drifting in the place where forgotten games go to die?

Honestly? I don't know.

I'd love it if the game was enjoyed by others, but as a self pessimist I am aware that the chances are stacked against, but isn't that what makes us human? To see the odds are bad, that the chances of success are minimal and yet we still try anyway; for the thrill, the learning and the fun of it!


On that note I wish you all good luck in your endeavours, that you stay safe and that with hope, I'll see you Cryptside sometime.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Power of the (Smart) Internet

Good Wednesday everyone!

Last night I was overtaken by a strange demon, it reached into the back of my brain, planted it's seed and commanded me to do it's bidding: to gather up my old Games Workshop Tyranid army that I picked up from my dad's place and see if I could actually make a legal army out of it in today's 6th Ed world.

What I finally put together was as follows:

So what am I looking at here?

Well after gathering the pieces, diapering at how many models are missing arms and bases and how everything beyond a 25mm base is square (therefore invalid in today's games) I have what looks at first glimpse a perfectly reasonable Tyranid army using almost exclusively 2nd Edition models.

Got a few issues of course, but I put them aside posted this picture on the internet and asked if anyone knew of a way of seeing if this was a legal army and what would be needed to make it legal.


It was then that I remembered the latest podcast episode by Soulstone Train where they talked about army builders in particular one called Battlescribe.

So onto the net I popped, downloaded the iPhone app, installed the 40k 6th Ed data source and started putting together my army.

What shocked me was how easy it was, you just click to add units and upgrades, alter the numbers, all the while the app telling you how many points you're sitting on:

It was then I saw the terrible truth, 3 of my units, the Termagants, Hormagaunts and Gargoyles are all short on numbers. To be the minimum amount requires 10 models, I'm sitting on 9 Terms, 9 Horms and 7 Gargs. Not great, but let's be honest, how hard would it be to pop onto eBay and pick up 5 models for a few quid each? (I've checked, it's easy).

In the meantime I have removed these three units, relying on my 30 Genestealers to act as the troop force. As you can see from the previous screen capture I'm looking at 1449 points, just 51 short of a 1500 army! And that's without the units I removed (it's also omitting The Red Terror, who I'm aware is not a 2nd Ed model, but I picked it up about 10 years ago because I liked the model. I've had to exclude this because it's not listed in Battlescribe so until I know better I have to assume it's not valid in 6th Ed).

Yes this army still needs stripping, repainting and rebasing, but the fact is it's legal, and that amazed me.


There are a few issues that I face with this army, such as expansions. If I wanted to add to it there are some models I could add fine and it wouldn't be a problem, but there are some that would look super out of place. If I wanted to pick up a plastic brood box of say Horms or Gargoyles they would need to be a separate unit and not 1 large one, because they would look really strange alongside my 2nd Ed versions.


You know what really struck me? Just how easy this whole thing was!

I remember back in the day, sitting for hours with a pencil, pad of paper and army book at the ready, using a calculator to record down everything, coming to the end and realising I was either over on points or over value with a certain type of unit, having to go back over the list, cross out what I needed to, then rewrite everything so the list was easy to read.

Now that is all done for me!

It's amazing! With the power of the internet and smart phones wirelessly connected to my printer I am capable of doing all of this in a fraction of the time and still walk away with a list. It may not be competitive but who cares?

**Edit** Just found out the Red Terror is a command unit to be included with Raveners so these would need to be picked up too if I wanted to use him.

Anyway, that's all from me today, I hope you are all well and stay clear from whatever little Beasty laid it's 40k eggs in my brain.

Until next time stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 21 February 2014

The UnPublished Game Designer's Blog: Limitations & Aspirations

Greetings friends and welcome to another entry in the UnPublished Game Designer's Blog.

So far we have covered Concept, Attitude, Passion, Getting Started and Choice Paralysis. Today however I would like to raise the topic of knowing your limitations and aspiring to break them.

So you want to be a game designer. You have gone through what I've written and you think your head is in the right place. You've read some online guides and books, maybe even taken a course or two. But how do you view your limitations in regards to the process?

You see, limitations can take many forms. Perhaps you are super imaginative, you have a perfect narrative set up for your game, but you have no idea how to write table top rule or video game code. Maybe you have great skills at writing and formatting books, but can't create art at the cost of your own thumbs! Maybe you have fantastic ideas, but no matter how hard you try to put them onto paper it doesn't come out right.

Remember this; you are not alone.

We've all heard the expression that no man is an island, and it's just as true in game design. At some point, regardless of the format, you will hit a point where you as a one man operation can do no more. Something is missing.

This is where your limitations come in and it's super important to take note of what it is you are struggling with, as ignoring it is not going to help it go away, and will only help create a sub-par product at the end.

Of course there are a number of ways you can try to subvert your limitations. The fastest and 'easiest' way is by paying someone to do it for you, but that's not what we're looking at right now. For starters we have one big important fact to take into account: you're still unpublished, probably in infant steps in the design process and have no idea if this is going to take off, so spending real, hard earned cash is something you should be avoiding at all costs.

No, this is where your aspirations come in.

Let's look at my process so far when it comes to 'CRYPTS: A Weird West Dungeon Crawler'.

One thing that I'd like to think I've done well is create the narrative for the world the game is set in. I also think I have a good grasp of tabletop language and so am able to write rules in a professional sounding manner.

Despite being very protective over my work, I am open to suggestion and constructive criticism, but I am very quick to be distracted and turn into a bit of a dick if I don't agree with he direction the critiques are going.

I also lack the basic skills involved in graphic design, relying on others to create the base work that I can than manipulate through software.

These I believe are the basics of my limitations.

So, how do I get around them?

First is dealing with my interactions with critiques. It's something I struggle with a lot, and some times it is not entirely my fault, but the critiques coming across in a particularly negative, but un intended manner. I aspire to deal with this by trying to remain objective. I try to remember that the game is not 'my baby' but is just a product. They are not critiquing me or the effort I have put into it, they are critiquing what they currently see as the finished product, or how the product looks to be shaping up.

This is general human interaction and something that everyone learns to deal with better every day. You see, I'm 30 years old, but I have no qualms with admitting that I still have a lot to learn about when it comes to dealing with people and I believe that until the day you die you never stop learning this.

Next up is artistic talent.

So how do I get past my inability to draw and paint on a canvas?
- For this I would say the same applies with writing, coding etc.

I believe that the best way of dealing with this is the same as with any other hobby. You may not be very good at something now, but in no way does that mean you will suck for ever.

So I pick up free art software for my ipad and I have some fun doodling and playing. I dig put he occasional pen and paper and do the same there. Is it great? Far from it, but it's something I try and get better at, after all if the product is something that a publisher wants to pick up later, then these are things that they can help with and as mentioned before you can always pay someone else to do it for you.

Saying that however is one thing but doing it is something very different.

So how do you go about constructively aspiring to better your limitations through practice?

I think that this is something different people look at different ways. For me I like to set challenges, for example "this week, I'll be trying to draw different styles of tentacles".

For me it is no different to any other hobby challenge, every time you feel you've gotten something down to a tee, you break out a new technique, a further challenge, always pushing yourself and seeing just how far you can go before you literally reach your limits and can go no more.

Remember, if you began game designing for any of the reasons I did, then it's because it's a hobby. Never forget that, and so treat it like any other hobby.


Ultimately, that is where it sits.

As always I can only talk about what works for me, and even then, I am unpublished with no finished product to show the world (yet). Perhaps if a professional read this they would say it's all balderdash, but I can't speak for them, just like I can't speak for you.


Anyway, we are coming to an end of he entries to The UnPublished Game Designer's blog, as I am quickly running out of topics to discuss, but if you have any you would like to see me natter and whittle on about, please let me know.

Until next time, stat safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The UnPublished Game Designer's Blog: Choice Paralysis

Greeting friends!

Have you ever been to a restaurant and everything looked so good you just couldn't decide what to order?

You found that no matter what you looked at there were always two, maybe three other great choices right next to it?

In the end rather than going for the amazing looking and sounding alternative you settled for 'old faithful', the dish you always have because you know that while it's not amazing, it's safe?

That's choice paralysis right there, and on occasion the result is you picking to walk away with nothing. An even worse outcome than 'old faithful'.


In games, be them table top or video, there are always choices to be made. Some if these choices are necessary; "do I want to make a DPS character or a Tank?" Others are less necessary and can be resolved by group decisions or by passing the decision to someone else; "shall we go left , or right?"

Now in my experiences I have found a number of different types of choice issues, from the friends who struggle to pick from a choice of Chinese meals, to picking if I want my character to carry two single handed swords, or a single two handed sword. But one thing is certain; choice paralysis is not the same for everyone in regards to what causes it and the severity of what is experienced.


So what is choice paralysis?

Choice Paralysis or CP from now on is when you find yourself unable to make a decision between two or more options, the end result is often vetoing to choose neither option, sometimes doing so to spite yourself out of frustration.

You see, CP has it's roots in anxiety. You are anxious of making the wrong choice, so anxious in fact that you either annoy others into taking the choice away from you or you begin to actively avoid making those sort of choices as to avoid that anxiety.

This is a problem that I am all to familiar with, especially in tabletop games.

Back in the day of Second Edition Warhammer 40,000 by Games Workshop, I used to play a small number of armies, my largest force being that of the Tyranid swarm.

Within this army I had a number of character units who could all be upgraded using upgrades called 'Biomorphs'. I remember that every single night before a game I would plan my army, out Camden the pencil and paper, I'd gather my models into piles, dig out the army book and begin calculating the points.

Once I had established what I needed to include in the army, I then would turn my attention to the upgrades, the before mentioned 'biomorphs'.

I would agonise over which upgrades to take for which character model, knowing that if I picked one it would force the character to perform in one way, but if I went with another upgrade it would make the character act differently.

There were occasions, when I knew the army I was facing exactly that I knew what to take, but if I was unfamiliar at all then I wouldn't know what to expect. Without knowing what to expect I felt that I couldn't decide on what upgrades to use as I had no idea what function I needed to direct the character in.

As a result of this I almost always decided to save the points on upgrades and reinvest them into more units. What this meant was that I had more models at my disposal, but nothing was particularly specialised. The moment my big hitter was attacked by the opponents big hitter, mine would be squashed flat because he was the base unit with no upgrades.

This is my case of CP and how in a competitive environment turning something that should be a pleasure into a purely un enjoyable experience.


So what can be done about it?

The most commonly cited response is for the player to research. Find out what is the current best 'net list' and use that. You can also look up recommended counters; "If opponent is taking X army, take Y upgrade" or personal buffs; "if you want to take X unit, take Y upgrade to buff said unit".

What you never hear is; "remove or reduce the need to make such choices".

There's a reason why you never hear this, and that is because to do so would require changing the game itself. Yes you and your friends can create homebrew rules and rule packs for established games, but that's never quite the same.

But right now we're not talking about changing the rules around established games, we're talking about the work you're doing on your game as an UnPublished Game Designer.


So you've got your game working, you have your narrative and everything is great, but you are finding some people experiencing CP. Not everyone mind, in fact out of your circle of 20 testers, maybe only one person is having the problem, maybe they can't decide which of the 6 available upgrades they can take they want to use. They're struggling so much that they are no longer enjoying the game. What do you do?

1). You write it off. It's just not the game for them, they clearly don't have the mind for it.

2). You talk them through it, try and guide them into making the 'right' choice while making a mental note to include a similar walk through in the rules.

3). You change the rules to alleviate their burden.

Now depending on your style any of these choices are suitable. Personally, I go with option number 3.


So what's the best way to alleviate their burden?

As unlikely as it might sound, I find the best example is to look at World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment.

Now let's start off by looking at what a max level character in the game's UI (User Interface) may look like:

This is just as example that I pulled off Google. Notice all the icons along the bottom and right hand side? All the blocks in the middle? All of these are buttons that should be pushed in the right order at the right time.
-note, this is a modified UI.

If you were to give this to someone who had never played with that set up and those abilities before, they'd stare at the screen and do one of two things:

A). They would figure out what to do, read guides and lists and find out how to use that.
B). They'd give up and walk away feeling very frustrated with the game.

To counter this, let's have a look at what a UI looks like when you create a new character:

Notice the absence of icons and blocks of information?

In fact if you look close enough you will see this starter character only has a single ability!

Why? So that as you play the game, as you 'level up' you unlock more and more abilities allowing you to learn on a very graceful curve with little to no sudden increase.

This is one of the greatest tools I have found at removing CP, as you are actually doing Option 2 (talking the player through the choices and aiding them with making the right choice, but it is happening ingame as part of the actual game's process.


Now if we look at my game; CRYPTS: A Weird West Dungeon Crawler, how have I implemented this within my game?

For me it is the introduction of both numbered and optional expansions.

The base game gives you a character and a very small selection of equipment to pick from, but should you struggle with this you also have per generated characters that can either be selected or allocated at random. As your character progresses they pick up more equipment as they go, but the drop rate is low enough that the player gets plenty of experience of their new items and spells before the next lot comes along.

Then we have the first optional expansion; CRYPTS: Trinity giving each character access to up to three more abilities. It is recommended that these are allocated to players who are familiar with the base rules.

Following on from Trinity we have the second optional expansion; CRYPTS: Paths Entwined, which unlocks the paths system allowing players access to a further 5 abilities, but each one unlocked after 'X' amount of time.

At every stage the player is given more than enough opportunities to fully understand what they currently have, and what they are getting that is new so they can test it at a leisurely pace, not feel overwhelmed, and with hope not suffer from Choice Paralysis.


I hope this has been an interesting chat, is greatly appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

Until next time; stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 14 February 2014

The <i>Un</i>Published Game Designer's Blog: Where to begin?

Greetings friends!

So far in the UnPublished Game Designer's blog I have covered a couple of issues, namely creating a concept and maintaining a positive attitude.

Today I would like to discuss what is needed to get the ball rolling and how you too, favoured reader, could be an unpublished game designer too!

Just Have Fun!
I know, I know. It's easy to say that a person should just start having fun with their game and hope it comes together, but that is the first bit of advice that I need to pass on to you.

But I have no qualifications, tools, skills etc!


Some of the best game designers have never been to a single lecture on design or owned a computer, and skills? You can learn and home skills with time.

So what should I do?

Do what you enjoy. It's as simple as that.

Remember, we already have our story/concept in idea form, and we have already established that you hold a good attitude.

Don't start by following a paint by numbers guide or going on a course! Both of these almost always cost money and right now that is not something you should even be considering!

Would a game design guide help? Probably!

Would a course help?
Of course!

Do you need either of these right now?
Hell no!

What you need is to have fun!

You see this is why the first two steps are so important. By figuring out a story and narrative you can engorge your imagination, you can get your creative juices flowing. If you went through the attitude post and agreed with my points, then you are not in this process to make money as a primary factor, but to have fun as a hobby and create something that you and others like you can enjoy.

So I'll say it again.

Have fun!

How did you get started?

Me? I started with an overview story. An introduction if you will.

After creating a few short stories I knew the direction I wanted the fluff to go and by proxy the sort of atmosphere I wanted to portray in game.

Next for me was a bit of graphic design, something else I've always enjoyed.

You see, from the get go I've always wanted fun looking 'loot' cards for my game, and even though it wasn't needed I spent a good few hours playing in Photoshop making examples of said cards.

To some people what I did would seem like an insane waste of time, but to me it was fun, and like I've been saying all post: have fun.


It seems quite simple really doesn't it? Just. Have. Fun!

Do you enjoy writing stories? Get started on the fluff!

Do you enjoy graphic design? Do some art, concept or gameplay.

Do you like number crunching? Start planning the numbers for the game, dice/cards/spinner mechanics, it's all maths.

Do you like sculpting? Why not make a model for an NPC?


Does this get you a working game with all the bells and whistles? No it doesn't, and if this is all you ever tackle and don't even consider the other stuff then your game will never get off the ground at all.

But with this you will have something, even if that something is just an afternoon of fun.

And like we've already established, isn't that the reason you wanted to do this in the first place? To have fun?


On that note I'll bid you all adieu with wishes you stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The <i>Un</i>Published Game Designer's Blog: Passion

Greetings friends!

Today I carry on my discussion on being an UnPublished Game Designer.

What is today's subject? Well if you haven't guessed from the title we are talking about:

Now I know how this might sound. Little ol' Loxley telling the big wigs that they don't have passion for their games...

...that's bull shit. Straight up! I have seen plenty of game developers who are super passionate about their games when they belong to all manner of publishing companies; from the smaller one man operations all the way to the companies who if they were capable of being turned into an anthropomorphic being, their special fighting move would be titled: COLOSSUS SMASH!!

It's possible for anyone of any level in a game design house to be passionate about games and what they do. Hell, if you want an example then just YouTube any appearance that Chris Metzen of Blizzard Entertainment has ever done. I've never seen so much passion in one person for something that acts as an artistic extension of themselves.


But this is where the issues begin to arise.

As I mentioned just now, a game being designed, be it the work of a singular person or that of a super team of 1,000 turbo-monkeys, it is an artistic extension of themselves and like many artists you have those who will push out any sort of shit and not care because they are not passionate about the game, only their next pay cheque.

We've all seen it, we've opened a game supplement, read through the rules, stories and narrative, closed the book, walked away and gone; "Well that was a waste of money", and the reason is because you know whoever wrote it just didn't care that much.

It's a tragic state of affairs when you have some games be them video or tabletop that feel so lovingly prepared, and at the same time others, sometimes multi million selling games that are just churned out for the drooling masses.


Does it really matter though?

Regardless of your passion for a game, should it not be judged on the quality of the game itself, it's writing, it's programming and it's final product and not what goes on behind the scenes?

It's a difficult question and one that every consumer must answer for themselves. From a gaming point of view I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. Like I said, it's an artistic extension of it's creator, and like all art it is subjective.

But we're not talking about consumers here, we're talking about developers and designers.

Should a designer care about the level of passion in their work? Maybe, maybe not.

Should a one man operation design system care? Hell yes!

If you are a one man operation, then you need to get people interested in your product. You don't have the big name behind you that Games Workshop, Privateer Press, Electronic Arts and Activision have. It's just you and your unknown brand. YOU need to grab people's attention and show them your game is awesome, and no matter how amazing your game is, a lack of passion will not get people's attention.

Beyond this, to those belonging to published/publishing companies? Well that comes down to whatever they can live with.

Could I sleep at night knowing that I was creating a game that I wasn't passionate about? No, but then I'm not a professional game designer.

So there we go. Take from this what you will.

I think I have made my stance pretty clear, but that by no means I'm right.

Do you have thoughts on this matter? Hit me up in the comments and I'll happily hear your take on this or any other topic I've raised recently.

Until next time, stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Brand

Good Monday everyone!

Today I bring you a little bit of free associated thinking as I try my hardest to get my head around an issue that's burning away at me and has for a few months.

I talk to you of course about BRANDING!

Now I'm not talking about existing branding per se. This isn't about me complaining about the take over of small companies by TESCO or the misrepresentation of X in Y.

No, this is about where is see my Game Developing going in the future.

I use the word in italics for a reason.

You see, despite writing two posts about how I see my own processes of game development in the upcoming game CRYPTS, I still don't see myself as a professional designer; because I am not!

Until I've made some money out of what I've done/am doing I will not be a professional only an amateur at best. Hell, until I can do it for a profession, I am not a professional, and frankly I don't want to do it as a profession.

But I am residing myself more and more to the fact that I need to come up with a name, a brand if you will for what I am doing.

Not the game, no that is my product. Instead I need a name for me, be it me myself, or my team or whatever.

Now this is not easy for me to say, there's something about me, maybe it's my misplaced modesty but I really struggle to get this out. I hear it in my head and go "Dude! You are so not deserving of a company name!"

But as a good friend of me said recently when I asked him this very question: much as the game needs an identity, so does the producer.

So here I am, your Friendly Neighbourhood Doctor Loxley looking to establish himself as an entity beyond himself.

After all which sounds better:

CRYPTS: A Weird West Dungeon Crawler - By Richi 'Dr Loxley' P
CRYPTS: A Weird West Dungeon Crawler - By X Games Studios (just a random name).

One sounds a lot more professional and marketable than the other.


So what am I thinking for a name?

Well my first thought is to look at my online presence that people are already (in one way or another) aware.

We have my handle: Doctor Loxley
We have my CRYPTS Podcast: New Fairbank Radio
We have my talk radio Podcast: HobbySofa
We have my Blog: New Fairbank News.

I see a bit of a theme here. Well, slightly anyway.

Two of my productions are New Fairbank branded; New Fairbank News and New Fairbank Radio.

My handle; Doctor Loxley, he is a character who has been recreated in the CRYPTS fluff, living in the town settled above The Dark Below, a town called: New Fairbank.

The more I think about it, the more I see that New Fairbank is the marketable product.

It's the location for CRYPTS, if I wanted to turn the game into a skirmish or army game (CRYPTS WARS?) then this would probably be set there too. It is the inhabitant of this town who make for (in my biased opinion) compelling short stories, and maybe even at some point a novella or similar.

Is this what I should be focusing on? Is this backwater town a strong enough brand for a company name?


Honestly, at this stage I do not know. Would the world be at all interested in the work of: New Fairbank Creations/New Fairbank Productions/New Fairbank Games?

Anyway, that's all from me tonight. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Until next time, stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The UnPublished Game Designer's Blog: Attitude

Greetings friends!

I'm back with another jump into the mind of your friendly neighbourhood unpublished game designer's mind !

Today we're talking about one of the most important part of how I have gone about working with CRYPTS: A Weird West Dungeon Crawler.


So perhaps this is something that should have come before the previous Concept post, but regardless it's coming here.

So what is Attitude? To me Attitude is all about how you go into the design process, but how you carry on during the process. Of course it would carry on beyond, but as I have yet to complete works, I can not commit on that at this stage.

So what is my attitude? Why did I decide to try and create my own game?

Well it's simple really. I've played in the past a number of games that fall under the 'Dungeon Crawl' genre, but they were all lacking something. I couldn't really pin on what it was, but it was there; some missing 'X' factor that stopped the game being what I would describe as awesome for me.

Now this is important. I am not saying the games I played were not great games. I enjoyed playing them, but for me they were just shy of being awesome.

Now we move to a couple of years ago, and I've looked into modern games; Descent, Pathfinder, modern DnD etc and none of these got me enough to actually shell out cash for.

This is why I began work on my own game. Make something that I personally would want to play. This was the entire pretence of the beginning.

Of course let us go back to how CRYPTS began; as the definitive Dungeon Crawl supplement for Malifaux by Wyrd Miniatures. Why do it this way? Why not just start off with my own rule set and ideas?

This is simple actually: Confidence.

I had never designed a game before, I didn't know if anyone would like any of my ideas or if I would even like it once I got it onto the table. By working as a game supplement I am removing the need to create a ground work. Essentially I am being a lazy developer and letting Wyrd Miniatures do the hard work while I go and have fun.
- Is that so bad? The original style of game was never going to be something I could actually bring to print professionally, it would be a lot of work and the end result would just be in the 'in house' games my friends and I played. You know, like most hobbies.

But I hit a few walls. You see I played the game both online and in person, yet it was missing something, some sort of 'X' factor. While I would never put myself in the same category as the great devs behind games like D&D and Descent, I had fallen short of my goal in the same way they had fallen short of making a game that I truly loved.

This was when I played Diablo3 on PC and I saw what my hand was missing: Fast & Brutal combat!

It was simple really, the basic combat mechanics of Malifaux while being great for a skirmish game were too long and complex for my dungeon crawler.

What does all this have to do with attitude?
Ok that's a fair question and needs to be addressed.

You see when it came to stop working in the previous game and creating my own base rules I knew I had to do something with the original rule set that I had created.

Now is when attitude came into it. You see all along I had been working on a game for me, something that I would enjoy. But to get there I had enlisted the aid of friends and fellow hobbyists who had all given their time and aid freely and asked for nothing in return.

This was no longer about me, this was about us.

The original game supplement, while being something I had worked on and had reached a point where I no longer wanted to work on it, it was not my game. It was our game. Which is why I uploaded it to my Dropbox and still to this day roughly 6-8 months later it's still there.


And so the ground work for CRYPTS began. I knew the formula I wanted to work on: Fast&Brutal. Something that players would play by the seat of their pants, but it would be low impact requiring little thought but maximum enjoyment, but I knew I still couldn't leave that history behind.

You see, I don't think I can ever fully express how grateful I am to the people who got the game to where it was when I started out on CRYPTS and I knew I had to do something to immortalise these people.

Enter Project: Legacy. An attempt at increasing the ease of access for the game while paying homage to those who got the game where it is now. Of course this part of the game is still incomplete as perhaps the most important person who helped me with my work has yet to be shown in this. Fingers crossed I can get the go ahead from them soon.

But you see this is why attitude is so important in game design. If you start plowing ahead as the 'head designer' treating everyone around you; a). Like idiots and b). Like they owe you something, then sooner or later they are going to turn around, give you the finger and say "F&£K YOU!"

I know because I've been dangerously close to doing it myself on a couple of occasions.


I suppose that is what attitude really comes into it.

You may get into game design because it's something you love, for your game so that you can become rich by designing the next 40k, Monopoly or Settlers game but you have to remember that you're talking to and dealing with people who at either giving their free time or worse, their money to help you reach your lofty goal.

You see, when it comes to the end of my time on this world, if the only legacy I have left to be remembered by is the game CRYPTS, then I seriously hope that those who remember it and play it remember it's creator as someone who made the game not just for himself, but for those around him, that the spirit if the game doesn't belong to him, but instead it belongs to everyone who helped build the game and everyone who has played and will play the game itself.

That is attitude, and it's something that no amount of game theory or design studies can teach.


I hope you've enjoyed the second part of my feature. With hope I can bring you more in due course.

As always if you want to be a part of the closed testing of CRYPTS: A Weird West Dungeon Crawl then you can apply via email: and twitter: @doctorloxley

Stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 7 February 2014

Becoming A Monster: A CRYPTS Short Story Monologue

Ever notice how a story often begins with a description of the weather? Detailing how the wind hammered against the shutters, or perhaps how the rain poured down on the roof? Not my story, oh no!

I've been by many names and only the other week did I pick up a new one. But for now we'll use my birth name.

Patrick Sanderson.

I came to New Fairbank like many others, seeking fame and fortune, but it was not the first one I had visited, or even the last, no not at all.

I used to be a card shark, playing the big rooms at Capital City. I was skilled and crafty, but it was the application of these skills that got me to the next city.

It is not easy you see, to convince an entire room to part with their cash and possessions, at least willingly anyway. Heck! Anyone can pull a gun and perform a robbery, but it takes a certain, something, to do what I did.

Eventually I came to New Fairbank and it was here that I started plying my trade again. You know what? It worked well!

The people here, so obsessed with their worthless stones and trinkets, they didn't even see the worth of their jewellery and cash. I was more than happy to alleviate them of their burdens.

It didn't take long however for the lawmen of this town to clue up on what I was doing. One night after a successful grift, they asked me outside where they beat five shades of shit out of me.

I tell you, I've never been beaten like I had before on that night and as I lay on the floor, my insides on the outside I noticed that something was not right.

Earlier that night I had managed to grift a small box from some guy. It didn't seem like much but I figured I could trade it for a shell or two. But there with my very life pouring away, the box began to glow from the inside.

I tell you now it was eery, white light coming out from the box like the wisps my mam used to tell me about as a kid back in the old country.

The light, it moved. I know how that sounds, but it did! It moved out of the box, flowed through the air like water and then forced itself down my throat.

You should know, I've never been a nice man, but going through this, feeling that power being literally rammed past my lips, I swore through teared eyes that I would never hurt another woman again, not like how I was being hurt at that point.

I can't really remember what happened next, other than I woke up underground, my clothes covered in mud and my hands red with someone else's blood. My injuries? Gone! Every one of them.

So I found the way up and crawled back to the surface. Heard a story when I got out too, of four lawmen torn limb from limb. They story tellers said it was a Shifter whatever the hell that is.

The next night I told myself I wasn't going on the grift. Things were getting weird and I was going to get the heck out! Then I heard the music, the sweet, sweet music. It calmed and caressed my worries, told me everything would be fine and that I should return underground, only with company this time.

I looked down and saw my chest glowing with that infernal light, it moved, forced it's way up and into my throat. I retched.

There was no bile, no sick only music. Music that swam out of my mouth like a glorious lullaby. I don't know what it was, but I was drawn to the window of my place, I looked down to the streets below and saw about half a dozen children and young women walking in a daze towards my place. Their eyes like nothing I've ever seen, just pale and vacant, drawn to the song that played from the light.

Something didn't feel right. I don't know what it was but I felt my body twist and change, my proportions shift and mutate and it was agony, true indescribably agony.

I don't know how long it was, but once everything had stopped spinning, once the pain of transformation had died, I stood and stared at my strangely familiar reflection in the mirror.

The face, the body, the arms and legs. They were not my own, but I recognised them all the same. They belonged to my childhood nightmare, a man who I was certain came into my room at night with a shadowed face and long thin arms and fingers. I had never given him a name.

The music continued, it called from within but not just to those outside, but to me, telling me to go underground, that my new look would not last past sunrise, but until then I would use the image of my own childhood's fears to bring about pain on everyone else.

I knew the music was right. Everyone else had so much and I had so little, with those red crystals they lorded about, their stupid trinkets and pockets full of cash. They didn't deserve any of it, it should all have been mine!

So I swore there and then that I would take it all from them, their wealth, their children, their lives!

That was three months ago. Every night I steal something away from a family, sometimes it is a family heirloom, sometimes it's their precious family, and sometimes it is their most treasured possession of all; hope.

As the people of New Fairbank get weaker, I get stronger. The light feeds on their losses and brings it back to me three fold.

Now I walk with confidence down main street, a cane in hand, a faithful hound at my side and pockets overflowing with riches!

I even have a new target, ripe for the picking. The Frenchman and his boy. He'll regret the day that he refuses to serve me at that poxy bar!

They'll all regret it! The men who laughed, the women who rejected me! Every last one of them.

Well... Maybe not the women, even a monster needs some standards.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Unpublished Game Designer's Blog: Concept

Good Thursday everyone!

I come to you today with a new feature that over time in hope to add to with new posts. I'm temporarily calling it:

The Unpublished Game Designer's Blog
-By which I do of course mean that it's a blog post of an unpublished game designer, not that it's the unpublished blog of a game designer.

The aim of this feature is to give you all a little insight into how I have come about with what has so far been done with my game in works: CRYPTS.

Ok, I admit it, this whole pretence is very... what's the word? Narcissistic, and honestly it is not something I am comfortable with, but as you know I have called a temporary break on my actual game design while I get a few 'real world' issues sorted. Despite all of this I still have a need to share with you what I've been working on, which due to it's closed development status is very difficult.

With that in mind however, I do predict it only a matter of months before I go from closed testing, into open testing this is because by publishing our games via one of my podcasts I am indirectly revealing a lot of my secrets. The difference with that and the closed testing is that I can bounce ideas around without it being released to the public, so that if it's a massive belly flop I can minimise the shame.

And on that note we reach the first stage of my game design work:

That's right, with concept we're going back to the very beginning, how did I come up with the concept for this game, what influences were there and what tips can I give you the audience on how to come up with your own concepts?
bloody hell do I sound pretentious!

So, as you may know, CRYPTS is a dungeon crawler miniatures board game set in The Dark Below, a twisting cavernous system below a frontier town in 1885.

The town itself is called New Fairbank and acts as the main narrative for the game despite not actually being where the game play itself takes place.

Now, many of you may remember that this game started as an unofficial expansion for the game Malifaux by Wyrd Miniatures, but if I was to say that the world of New Fairbank was created for this, then that would not be doing the world justice.

You see, I've always been a fan of the Weird West theme, even when I had never heard of the phrase and I think it all began with the cartoon Bravestarr. As time went on my enjoyment of this theme expanded with Pen&Paper games such as Werewolf: The Wild West, films like West World and Wild Wild West and of course Back to the Future part 3! As time moved on I got to experience some fantastic forms of horror, possibly the most notable being the works of M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft both of whom I believe inspired me in my own short stories that you have no doubt found in this very blog.

This is you see the beauty of the Weird West Genre. It's an umbrella term used for anything 'wild west, with a touch of he fantastical'. By being Weird West you can tell a story that allows for traditional western characters, rubbing noses with steampunk inventors, Cthulhu style monsters, damned demons of hell, zombies, werewolves, ghosts and everything still being 'on theme'.

Weird West is essentially an excuse for a person's imaginations to go wild, and what have we seen so far? We've had Imps, Spiders and Skin Walkers, and just this week I introduced a new boss character called Mr Long Fingers, a humanoid creature with elongated limbs that draws children away in the middle of the night. Think of him as a monstrous version of the Piper of Hamlin, and believe me, Mr Long Fingers will be coming back in another story.


And so we reach a telling point, that for me the game of CRYPTS serves two functions; to create a game that I want to play, but also to give me an opportunity to tell a story. To reach out and draw people into this world, of the Sheriff, Frank Hodges and Eli Rush. Of the Dark Below, Last Light Tavern and the New Fairbank Chapel, of Blood Stones and the Winds of Blood, Bone and Elements and of course the machinations of Luth'Nak and the human elements that tie everything together.

And it is my belief that this is where the concept comes in.

If you want a concept for your game then you need to live it. You need to be able to reach into the back of your mind, pull out the characters, locations and events needed and tell the story through with your game.


Of course there is one major flaw here as I am only talking about narrative games here. You could not include the likes of Monopoly or Chess in this reasoning, but regardless, I find far to many narrative games are missing this 'X' factor, this storyline.

I'm not going to list any of them, but I've seen them. Sometimes even in prominent positions at events like Salute. I've seen the game seen the models and in some cases even seen the rules, and very often it's failed to grab me. Why? Because it's has used it's story as a secondary resource, rather than primary.


Did you notice what I did there? Gone is the word Concept and in has creeped Story.

You see with a narrative game, the two in he very first stage are almost interchangeable, for we are dealing with two types of concept; Storyline and Gameplay.

Perhaps I'm way off the mark here (after all these are the writings of an unpublished designer and writer) but I think without the concept for the story, you can not even begin to tie the gameplay into that narrative.


And on that note I draw this to a close, I hope you have enjoyed he first insight into my own game design process, and maybe as time goes on this little window into my mind will help explain why certain parts of the game are the way they are.

As always if you wish to take part n the closed testing please send me an email at or via twitter @doctorloxley

Until next time, stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Exclusive Communities?

An extremely short one today that I would have asked over twitter but there are not enough characters so I felt it more suitable to put here.

In short I have a question for those within wargaming communities:

"Do you find your communities are exclusive for one game?"

I've noticed over the past year, but even more so in the past six months (but this could be for another reason which I'll cover in a sec) that the Twitter Based Malifaux community is very exclusive over it's content.

By that I mean they are very quick to cover 'Malifaux Only' content, and almost denounce and exclude content that while being about wargaming is not exclusively about Malifaux.

Now don't take this the wrong way, for starters this is not a reflection on the community as a whole and there are still a good few people who I keep in contact with, I read and listen to their productions, and they do the same with mine, but there have been others who are not the same.

The thing is, I am largely ignorant outside of the Malifaux wargaming community, as it was this game that brought my wargaming presence online. That said what GW based blogs, or just 'other game' blogs I read, they tend to be just about wargaming and whatever the author is currently playing. If however you read the majority of those that cover Malifaux, then a huge (and I mean HUGE) proportion of these are Malifaux exclusive, describing themselves as a Malifaux blog rather than a wargaming blog.

Now perhaps a part of this is me feeling butt hurt, seeing events like #ToMB and wanting to take part, but as I'm not playing v2 Malifaux and have no intention of doing so feeling a bit excluded, while at the same time seeing a good number of blogs that used to link to mine removing their links, and when asked being told it's not about my content per se, it is just they only want to link to Malifaux blogs, and even though I still enjoy v1 of Malifaux, I am not a 'Malifaux Blog' and therefore shouldn't be linked to.

So I'm just left wondering, is this normal for wargames? Are there a tonne of 40k Exclusive blogs out there that I'm just unaware of?

Before I finish I need to say, while I am saying I have recently seen an increase in this, I need to add that I am aware that there is a large portion of this could be because I have stopped playing the new game, as such I am no longer a part of this 'exclusive' group. It could be this separation which is why it is more prominent to me now more so than before, and actually it's always been like this.

- one last thing: I am also aware that very often a wargaming community is full of low self esteem R-Tards who need to put others down to make themselves feel better, and so it would make sense if the Malifaux-Twitter community did block off others to try and separate themselves from the dicks of the wargaming world.

I dunno, just throwing the idea out there while I have a quiet moment.

Stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 3 February 2014

Lock Your Windows: A CRYPTS Short Story

Philippe checked the rounds in his revolver. Six rounds, the same six rounds that had been there ten minutes before. The same six rounds that would be there in ten minutes time.

It wasn't that Philippe thought his revolver would be empty, far from it. No, Philippe liked the exacting nature of this act. He liked predictability and at times like this, surrounded on all sides by The Dark Below with little but a small posse and a poorly lit fire to keep him company, the predictability of his revolver gave him comfort.

Philippe remembered the day his son was born, Anton. He weighed only six pounds and seven ounces, but the doctor had declared him healthy. The same could not be said for Philippe's wife.

His friends had advised against the journey, that travelling from France to America was too dangerous with his wife so close to child birth. Despite all of this Philippe knew it needed to be done or else they risked a life with him behind bars and his wife to raise their son alone.

Philippe smiled at the irony. It had not been easy raising Anton alone in America relying largely on the kindness of strangers to provide him with enough to feed his son while he mostly went without.

Philippe remembered one stranger more than anyone, a broad shouldered burley man with a well maintained moustache. He had called himself Mr Hodges and had told Philippe of a bar he had recently purchased in the rural wilds of California and that he was looking for someone of a good will and nature to help him run the front of house.

The news of work and board was better than Philippe could ever imagine. It was without hesitation Philippe joined Mr Hodges from Capital City to this far away town all the while with a very small toddler close behind. The journey was not easy, but Philippe made sure to help out enough for three people, giving no one any reason to complain about his presence or his son's.

As the years went by Anton began to grow big and strong, but it was on his eighth birthday that Philippe began to grow concerned for his son and the life the had established in New Fairbank working at the Last Light Tavern. It was late that night when Anton approached his father, tears running down his face and deep gulps and sobs emanating from his throat.

"What's the matter son?" Asked Philippe, sure it was just another nightmare that had bothered his boy, no different to the other nightmares that had plagued his son in recent years.

Anton stared up at his father, thick gooey tears filling his eyes. The boy opened his mouth, but not a sound came out before he fell to the ground clutching at his father's legs, more sobs poring out of him.

Philippe put his boy back to bed but made sure to stay with him until he was fast asleep. Philippe remembered a conversation that he had shared with a bar patron the other night, a story the stranger had been told by his own kids no older than Anton was now.

The story sent a shiver down Philippe's spine at the time. Recalling it now, he longed to go back to when he thought it was nothing more than the dreams of children.

The patron's story was focused around a character that his kid had called 'Mister Long Fingers'. He said that the character seemed no different from the traditional bogey man, coming to kids at night in the corner of their eye and the shadows of their room. The difference with Mr Long Fingers however was that he spoke to his kid, asked the child to go with him to a land of darkness and shadow.

Thinking back now, Philippe remembered how this patron had never been seen at the Last Light again, but rumours had spread of this man running into the Crypts in the middle of the night shouting his son's name. Philippe smiled at the irony.

"One, two" Philippe began to count his rounds again and thought back to what had lead to this. How on numerous nights since his son had come to him crying of nightmares, and yet more of Mr Long Fingers and the devilish song that accompanied the misshapen creature.

"Three, four" Philippe continued his count remembering only a matter of hours ago. He had woken in the middle of the night, a strange lullaby creeping from outside his door. Philippe remembered shivering how he had opened his bedroom door, the music almost calling him down the corridor to his son's room. The memory lingered as he opened his son's door, saw the misshapen creature looming over his son Anton who in turn stared up at it with vacant pale eyes.

"Five, six" Philippe flipped his revolver shut, all rounds accounted for. His memory shifted and he was back in his son's room, staring dumbfounded at Mr Long Fingers as it beckoned for Anton to follow him through the open window.

Thinking now, Philippe struggled to remember what Mr Long Fingers looked like, remembering the elongated limbs, the shadowy body and the white ghost light that drifted our of the monster's mouth. It was from here the tune drifted, calling to both him and Anton, calling them both away.

It was then the creature saw Philippe and the music stopped, the light died and Philippe stood in shock as the creature grabbed his stunned son and disappeared into the night. Philippe remembered clearly how his wits returned to him, how he ran for his gun and out into the dark.

Philippe was able to assemble a posse at short notice, as he had gathered many names and favours over the years behind the bar, and he was grateful to every one of them.

Philippe would find Mr Long Fingers, he would find the beast and he would ensure that every single of his rounds were buried deep into it's shadowed head. Philippe's mind was clear, for every single scratch that had been inflicted on his son he would fully reload his pistol and empty it again.

It was then that Philippe stopped and holstered his pistol. Before him, from the shadows of the dark below that unmistakable lullaby began again. Without even thinking Philipe began to wander in the music's direction, drawing him forever home.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley