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#84 – Simple Elegance: Resolution

Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode– A bonus episode of the Indie Board Game Designers podcast. This is the sixth and final installment in the Simple Elegance series. We spent, “We” being me and Cody, spent the last three months or so working, preparing, and entering a game into the Simple Elegance contest on The Game Crafter.

Patrick Rauland: This is just the final episode about how everything went. We're going to talk about how our process went, and also about all the other games submitted. This one will probably be a little bit longer than the rest just because there's a lot of stuff to get through. But before we get onto the contest, Cody, how are things going?

Cody Thompson: Good, Patrick. Thanks for having me back for one final episode before you boot me off the channel forever.

Patrick: There are no permanent bans, and I don't even think there are temporary bans. I think I want to talk about how the contest went for us personally like I want to talk about Bank of The Realms and the things I learned.

Placement in Contest

Patrick: I had a couple ideas at the start of this process, and I very quickly whittled them down to just one idea so I could finish it. I submitted Bank of the Realms, and it got a good number of votes. Spoiler alert, it did not quite get enough votes to make it onto the next round. The cut off was 130 points, and I had 110 points.

Patrick: I got close to making the cut-off but didn't quite make it. But in that process, I learned a lot about custom shapes, I learned about the medium box and what fits in it, and the different size boards.

Patrick: I also learned what it– It feels like I learned how to go fast. Even though I went fast, I feel like you have to go faster. Because if you remember, Cody, in the last episode I said “I'm going to rush order, urgent order something from The Game Crafter, so it arrives in time, so I can take photos so that I can upload it.” The Game Crafter has a cool status page, but it was slightly off that day.

Patrick: So even though I urgent ordered it, the package showed up the day of the contest, and there just wasn't time to take photos. Anyway, basically, I could not get my prototype to me fast enough to take photos to use them in the contest page. As fast as I went, Cody, I think if I do this again, I have to go faster.

Cody's Placement

Cody: Yeah. I obviously feel the same way, not having made a submission into the contest.

Patrick: Tell us about that.

Cody: The contests go fast, like you'll have it and you'll see– When we started this we're like– We started this with 40 days or something I think.

Patrick: Something like that.

Cody: Just a little over a month and I was like, “Yeah. A simple game. I could design that.” But with everything else that goes on in life, it just never came about.

Cody: As a last-ditch effort with two weeks or so left to go, I had a game that I think fit it good already that me and my roommate had been working on, and I was like, “Yeah I'll start doing this one. I'll submit this one to the contest.” But the problem with that is while the game I think is really solid, we have zero art for it.

Cody: Then after me and you discussed, we tried to devise a plan of– I did a little contest to find the artist, and then I was in the process of having them do a few pieces of art. But then once I selected my favorite artist out of the bunch, he also had a week-long vacation. He worked a little bit over the vacation for it, but there was just not enough time to get anything that would have– We would've had black and white art that there's no way it would have competed with all of these games that made the cut.

Voting on the Contest

Patrick: We'll have to talk about the art in a little bit. But the short summary is, a lot of games looked amazing. So, we will get to that.

Cody: I'm pretty happy I didn't go through and submit a game because it would have got my own vote and maybe one from you, but I don't even know about that.

Patrick: I voted for like 21-22 games, so I definitely would have thrown a vote your way.

Cody: Interesting. Because I only voted– I tried hard, for this contest I felt that I had a duty to look through all of them since I didn't get a submission in. I looked through every single game, not like read the rules for all of them but just got a feel of them. I narrowed it down to 20, and then I narrowed that down to 10. It was hard to cut down those last few.

Patrick: No, definitely. Cody, I want to go back. I looked up the first episode, and we recorded the first episode with 61 days and 10 hours. We had a month and a half from when we recorded the episode, and we had obviously talked a few times about it beforehand, but I think just going back to the timing there I think if you want to do well in the contest you need to– Like, you see the contest notification and you're like, “I've already had an idea,” or “I've had this idea in my notebook for two months, now I'm going to work on it.” Because otherwise a month and a half is not enough time to do it.

Cody: Yeah. That's interesting because I know you've had people on your podcast talking about– I think your most recent episode was talking about Game Jams. Like, Board Game Jams. I listened to that episode today, and that got me inspired to do a quarterly Game Jam hosted by Gold Nugget Games as a cool activity for the community. But also selfish, like I'm getting to pick what the Game Jam is about for games that I'm potentially interested in publishing.

Patrick: Cody, is every theme going to be dinosaurs?

Cody: No. Spoiler alert. The first theme, if I go through with it, I think it's going to be piranhas.

Patrick: You can't tell us that.

Cody: It's going to be phoenixes.

Patrick: OK, cool. That's a cool idea. I think the episode is episode 80, so this will probably air a week or two after we record this. But Ryan Langewisch– I'm mispronouncing his name, but he talks about Game Jams.

Cody: Yeah.

Cody's Process with Art

Patrick: Cool. OK, your game basically, you didn't have enough time to get the art. You had a couple ideas, and they couldn't quite come together. Then you had this one simple game that you could have finished but there just wasn't enough time to do the art. Then wasn't there an update on your artist in general?

Cody: Yes. The whole process with rushing to get an artist is I had six artists, and I gave them a week to provide sketches, and then just went off of that. I narrowed it down to three of them, and then two of them which I think might be better artists than the artists I went with, but they were busy. Their potential was there, but the other guy just had more done, and he was going at a really fast pace.

Cody: He was the first one that submitted– He submitted two days after I put out the call, where everyone else waited until the deadline, of course. I went with him, and he's done, he's done sketches for probably about 75% of the characters. There's only 13 characters in the game, but he's done sketches for like 75% of them. I just found an artist and contacted him, he's doing Adventure Tactics for Letiman Games, and that art is perfect for what I'm looking for, where the current artist is more anime-ish style. Which looks good, but I don't know if it fits the medieval theme as well.

Patrick: Sure, it's just not where you're going for. Is the moral of that story that rushing is not a great way to find an artist?

Cody: Things take time.

Patrick: Yeah. It took me a long time to find the artist for Fry Thief. I totally get how long it takes to find an artist, and I would not– Hold on. I don't think you need an artist for The Game Crafter. Like, I don't want to sit here and convince people that you have to have an artist. I did not hire an illustrator for The Game Crafter, I have a graphic design service thingy that I work with for my day job that can help me, but I can do all the graphic design myself.

Patrick: I know some people are illustrators and some of the games that did very well do have really good illustrations, but I think that might be more about finding illustrations or stuff that's– I don't know, or buying stock art. But I don't even think you need to do that, so I don't want to tell people they have to get an illustrator.

Cody: I agree. It's interesting because my thought on this is slightly changing a bit because I've always given advice to designers and it's the stupidest thing ever to pay for art if you're not going to be publishing it. But I will say, with just how competitive game contests and just game submissions in general, you have to have something that sticks out.

Patrick: Yes. If you want to win a contest, I think you might need something, or to spend a lot of time yourself in graphic design programs. But I also– Winning a contest is a whole separate thing than making a good game. I think those are two different skills.

Cody: I completely agree.

The Simple Elegance Contest Feedback

Patrick: Why don't we talk about just some of the overall feedback of all the games submitted? I'm looking at The Game Crafter page, and there are 92 entries to this, which is a lot.

Simple Elegance Contest finalists

Patrick: What was the other contest I entered–? The holiday contest that had maybe 50 or 60, so this is a whole extra 50% of games. I noticed there are a ton of patterns. I saw a lot of battle games, I saw a lot of tiling games, a ton of games involved gems or gold which probably shouldn't be that surprising, but it was to me. I saw a bunch of games– Not a bunch, but several games like mazes or getting out of a thing quickly.

Patrick: The last thing I want to point out was for the last couple of contests, I noticed the top 10 games, only some of them had videos, but the quality of the videos went up for this contest. I saw several videos where it showed an overhead of the game, and then there's a different camera pointing at the designer's face in the bottom right. You can see the designer with his hands talking, and then you can see his hands on the board moving pieces around. That same person had two entries, and just the quality of the videos is fantastic. I was just so impressed.

Patrick: Just the quality of the art in general, there was a lot of really good art. I think that can push you over the top in a contest. If you want to win a contest, having good art is helpful. I don't know if that's the– I don't want to– I think a lot of people point new game designers to contests, but I think it's really hard to win a contest without being a graphic designer or finding art somewhere.

Patrick: So, I don't know. I think I'm just internally conflicted about saying “You need good art to win a contest,” and that's the thing that we point new game designers to. So, I'm just conflicted. Listeners understand that you don't have to do this, but if you want to win a contest, you might.

Cody: Yeah, I completely agree. I will say the other contests that I entered, the Hook Box Challenge, I had the second most votes, and there was 126 entries. It was the second biggest contest they've ever done. My game was second out of all of those for the community vote, and I 100% attribute that to the art and telling people about it.

Patrick: Yes, definitely.

Cody: Because it then finished like eighth, or seventh or eighth once they narrowed it down to the top ten.

Patrick: Did you notice any trends, just besides the good art, do you notice any trends?

Cody: I did, and I expected this. I noticed a decent amount of abstract type games, a lot of abstract tile-laying games or abstract– There was a lot of abstract gym or maze-looking games like you said. A lot of– I was expecting lots of Carcassonne-type games where you're doing stuff to try to get points.

Our Favorite Entries

Patrick: Yeah, totally. Both of us came up with a list of games that we wanted to talk about. It looks like it's about 15 games long, there might be a few extra. By the way, I voted for 21-22 games, and just for the sake of time, I cut off at least five or six of them. We're only talking about the games that– Some of the games were good enough for me to give them votes, but still not good enough for me to talk about in a– I'm trying to make this episode not last an hour, so that's why we're cutting out some games.

Of Stone and Wood

Of Stone and Wood

Patrick: The first one I want to talk about is Of Stone and Wood. By the way, listeners, I'll put all the links to these games in the show notes. You don't need to go find them yourself, but all the games will be in the show notes. Of Stone and Wood, this was an abstract.

Patrick: The premise of the game is there's these two towns that used to fight, and then they made a game about them fighting, and now they play the game instead of fighting. It's a little bit silly, but I like that they added a loose theme to an abstract, which is what I tried to do.

Patrick: One thing that I liked about this is they have these cool mercenary pieces, which basically they're these pieces on the board, and I forget how but both players can control the mercenary pieces which I think is very cool. It's very thematic, and I think it makes a lot of sense.

Patrick: I did have one concern, though, that this game looks similar to Tak, where it's a five by five grid. Which to be fair, is also what my game is. But it's a five by five grid, and you're trying to get five pieces in a row, which is like Tak. On Tak, you move the pieces very differently, but they have the same win condition of getting five pieces in a row.

Patrick: The thing that's cool in this one is the mercenary pieces that can switch sides. Then I also– There's only one type of piece in this game, and the only unusual thing is the mercenary piece. I was just wondering, and I wonder if you could solve this game if that makes sense. Like, Tic-Tac-Toe or Checkers where– Like, Checkers is a solved game. There is a mathematical way to play that game and do as good as possible, so I worry in games like this where there's only one type of piece, and you only do a couple different moves, that the game could at some point be solved. Any thoughts on that?

Cody: That's one that made my top 10 as well. Just as you said, the story behind it is just awesome. They even go into depths of how the royals or whatever use a certain type of gem, and then the normal people use coins or whatever. But I completely agree, and that's why I steer away from trying to design abstracts. Because I'm so worried about how this game is supposed to like hold up, and then day 1 of people playing it all of a sudden there's a perfect solution by some genius that can see stuff that I cannot.

Patrick: Yes. Games where there's perfect information, meaning there's no– By that I mean there's no hidden information, like no one's holding cards and games where there's no randomizer like a die or a coin flip or whatever, those are very– Those are much more likely to be solved.

Patrick: If you at least have a die or hidden information, then it's very hard for a game to be solved. You have to be careful with games where there's no hidden information and no randomness other than your actions. It's tricky. Anyways, it looks really good.

Rainbow Cats

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Patrick: On the flip side of this awesome abstract game, there is a game called Rainbow Cats. They have hidden goals like my game, so I'm happy with that. But honestly, they have a really good video. The reason that I fell in love with this game is they talked about– They said this thing that you're not supposed to say.

Patrick: They said, “Everyone has their favorite cat and your least favorite cat.” Like, you're not supposed to say that you have a favorite pet between your pets. So there's the red cats and the green cats and the blue cats, or whatever. You want to have the most of the blue cat toys out and the least of the green cats toys out, because that's who your secret favorite and your secret least favorite cat is. The premise of it is great, and I love it.

Cody: That's funny, I didn't see that part of it or else it might have made it a little higher on my list. That one didn't make the cut for me.

Dodgy Wiring

Dodgy Wiring

Patrick: The next one was Dodgy Wiring. This is neat. This is an asymmetrical game where there are hidden patterns. One person makes these hidden patterns, and you or the other person is trying to deduce them. That sounds super interesting.

Patrick: My one criticism with this is one person is the homeowner in the game who's trying to deduce the patterns, and the other person is the “dodgy electrician” who is charging by the hour and trying to take all the person's money. So I hate the premise, I hate the premise of the game where I wonder if they had a bad contractor at some point who didn't do a good job and was charging too much money. Because I work with contractors, I work in the web world, and lots of people do hourly billing. No one I know bills this way. No one is trying to cheat people out of their money, so I hate the premise but the idea of having patterns and trying to deduce them that sounds cool. Even though there's one thing that turned me off about this game, the asymmetrical aspect of it looks cool.

Cody: Yeah, I didn't do that much looking into that. Now that you mention it, that is a super cool– Not the theme, but the premise of the game. But they have a release basic project page, so it was one that I just looked at, and I was like, “Whatever. Not interested.”

Patrick: Yeah. When there's so many entries, if you don't have a good page, it's really hard to stand out. I think I looked at the rules for this one, and I think that's the only way to work. For me, I think that's how I got the information because I don't see any other information.

Cody: Yeah. Because they have five paragraphs of text and that's it.

Auriferous

Auriferous Banner

Patrick: The next one is– I'm hoping I'm pronouncing this right, Auriferous. Which, by the way, is the number one voted game in the contest by a lot with 330 points. Other people also liked this, but it's a game about mining. I like that it's about getting gold, but it's a push-your-luck game.

Patrick: What's neat about it is it seems like you can either– It reminds me of the Oregon trail where you can spend as much time as you want preparing and getting ready and buying all the equipment, or you can rush to the finish line and start digging for gold earlier. I like that there's this tension between rushing there with bad tools or getting the best tools in the world and showing up late and having less turns to dig gold. It's a really neat tension that I think will make really good gameplay, and the illustrations also look great.

Cody: This one almost made my cut. Probably, to be honest, the reason it didn't make my cut is I was looking at it, and I was trying to see of ways that “Maybe I could sign this game and use all my “Mine” assets,” and I can't. Then they also, how much and how the production quality on it, I think they're probably going to self-publish this. It's listed, you can buy it on The Game Crafter right now for $27. Technically it's already a [tiberium] seller.

Patrick: Very cool. Lots of people are buying it very cool. It looks great, though, doesn't it?

Cody: Yeah. No, it looks great.

Pen & Sword

Pen & Sword Banner

Patrick: The next one I picked out was Pen & Sword, which is a– I want to call it a trick-taking game, but it has dice, and those two things don't always really go well together. But the thing that, if you– There's a couple of games that I just want to point out if you're looking for a neat mechanic, this game has a really cool– It's like a Rock, Paper, Scissors mechanic with a hierarchy with different symbols on the dice and different colors of the dice.

Patrick: It's really hard for me to explain in podcast form, but they have a five-minute video. Just watch it on The Game Crafter, or follow the– I'll put a link in the show notes. Maybe I'll include the video itself in the show notes, but just the five-minute overview of this cool Rock, Paper, Scissors mechanic was cool. This is one of those things where the game doesn't look like– The little dice stickers are– It doesn't look amazing, but the mechanic looks fantastic.

Cody: This one I think made it to my top 12. It barely didn't make my cut. But I agree with all the stuff you're saying, at first when I saw it I was like “Wait. Trick taking with dice? That's super cool.” I can never– It's hard for me to get behind rolling dice behind a screen. Maybe I've played, growing up I played with so many cheaters in my life, but that seems ripe for “I'll just pick my dice up and flip it onto whatever side I want.”

Patrick: You might have played with too many cheaters, Cody.

Cody: Yeah. Probably.

The Blessed Dark

The Blessed Dark Banner

Patrick: The next one I found was The Blessed Dark, which looks– First of all, we talked a lot about good art, but this one I want to say is not illustrations, this is just a bold color scheme. It's very dark with a little bit of red and white, which is just a very good color combination. You see it in other things, and it works for this theme. It's very good. He probably– I don't think there's a ton of illustrations. There's a maybe a couple, but just the bold colors work well.

Patrick: The mechanics look pretty simple, and where it's like a Yahtzee thing where you roll your dice, you can reroll them up to two times. But you get these spells, and you put these spells down in front of you, and the more spells you have in front of you the more things you can unlock and the more likely your dice are going to do something good.

Patrick: Then, Cody, this guy has a Kickstarter. Cody, you know how lazy we were? We barely got games in on time? He launched a Kickstarter with this game. So I messaged him on Kickstarter, I'm hoping to get him on the show for a future episode to ask him how many kittens he had to sacrifice to finish his game on time. Because I don't know how he did it all.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nmeunier/the-blessed-dark-a-cult-themed-mint-tin-card-dice-game

Cody: Yeah, and you'll have to apologize to him for me, not voting for it. It did make my top 20, but when I was cutting down, I think just while the color scheme is great, it's the exact same color scheme of an arch-rival high school football team. Those colors haunt me.

Patrick: Wow. What happened in high school? Did you play lots of games with cheaters?

Cody: That is what this team was known for. They were a real dirty team.

Snowy South

Snowy South Banner

Patrick: Bummer. All right. I don't know how to transition from that, so we're just going to go. The next game is Snowy South, a game about building snowmen. This one I voted for just because the pieces are fantastic, they used– It's basically about stacking snowmen, and they have cute little white buttons for the top, and they have a little white dice. I think you can stack things together, but it's just that white dice with little white buttons on top is just a cute way to make snowmen. This is just a– Good job with the components, game designer. Good job.

Cody: Yeah. No, this one was definitely a cute one. I probably didn't take enough time looking into it, but the whole building a snowman theme is pretty cute.

Deco

Deco Banner

Patrick: It's a very cute theme, and I love the way they put things together. The next one I have is Deco, which is a game where you're again secretly building patterns. Apparently, Cody, I'm going to assume that everyone listens to the podcast. All 92 of these entries, they all listen to the podcast, and they all got ideas about secretly building patterns. But in this case, you get randomly drawn tiles, and you can place them into some shared board. The one thing that's different is all objectors are face up. Those are my notes. I think you liked this one, right?

Cody: Yeah. This one made my top ten for sure. As soon as I saw it, I was like, “Yeah. This one's definitely going to make the semi-finals.” Because it looks exactly like the type of game this contest is looking for. I definitely think this one has a good chance.

Sumidagawa

Sumidagawa

Patrick: Cool. The next one, I have no idea how to pronounce, Sumidagawa, which is a game about fireworks. Let me start with my hesitation. Since Hanabi is so popular, and I didn't like this theme. I'm like, “There's already a popular fireworks themed game out there.” But after watching the video, it is so different. I think sometimes you go, “It's that theme? I've already seen that.” But the mechanics of this game are 100% different than Hanabi.

Patrick: The thing that I wanted to point out, a couple of games ago I mentioned there's a cool Rock, Paper, Scissors mechanic. This one has a very cool bidding phase, and it just seems like a cool way that you can mess with other people's plans. That was the thing that I liked about the bidding phase, and props to this designer, they used original artwork from the eighteen hundreds, which I assume is now in the public domain. They didn't have to go through all the trouble we did, Cody, of making as much artwork as we did. If we just had a theme from the 1800s or we can get artwork somehow, we don't need to worry about it.

Cody: I didn't even– Does it say that somewhere on their page? Yeah, it does.

Patrick: Under “Artwork,” yeah.

Cody: Yeah. “From the Harima Fireworks Company in Japan in the 1800s.” No, this one I saw and I was like “Cool. Fireworks.” But I didn't dig as deep as you did to get into the mechanics of it.

Patrick: The bidding phase– Cody, I thought the exact same thing. As I'm looking at the game page, I'm like, “This looks like Hanabi.” I'm just looking at it, and I'm like “This looks like Hanabi.” Then when I finally– I'm happy I read through the rules in this case. Or, maybe–? No, they have a video. I watched the video, and they talked about the bidding phase, and I'm like, “Yes. This is very cool.”

Cody: Interesting. One of the Seattle designers had a game he was working on, and I think he called it Finale, or whatever. It was fireworks-themed, and I was like, “Cool,” because I definitely think there's more room than just Hanabi for firework-themed games. But then when we played it, it did not seem like fireworks at all. It was super slow-paced, and I was like, “We are not putting on a fireworks show right now.”

BerryMander

BerryMander Banner

Patrick: The next one I found was BerryMander, and let me start with what it's based off of. For those of you who don't know, gerrymandering is when you draw districts. Like, you as a politician will draw districts, so you are more likely to win certain districts and get elected. This is the same thing, and this game is the same thing but with cupcakes.

Patrick: I've been wanting to do a game on gerrymandering because that's a really interesting topic to me. I don't think it should be legal to gerrymander. It just seemed too serious, as I've been thinking about gerrymandering and how I'd make it. It just seemed like too serious of a theme, and it didn't seem like it would be funny or fun or amusing. I love that this game designer took a very serious concept like defrauding people of votes, that's what gerrymandering is. You're distorting who's going to win based on where you draw the lines, but with cupcakes.

Patrick: The game has an “I pick, you choose” mechanic where someone draws all the lines, and someone else can pick different sections. I forget how you get certain points for certain colors and stuff like that, but just really good job with taking something very serious and adding a silly theme on top.

Cody: This one definitely made top 15 for me. It has cute little art and stuff, and I don't know, maybe just took pictures of strawberries and berries and stuff. A good example of what you could do without putting a lot of money into art for a contest. Then I agree, I completely agree with you on the theme of gerrymandering. I always thought that'd be a fascinating game, but you don't want to have a game that serious with– At least not if you're trying to sell it and make it a publishing company. Maybe as an art statement, you could make a gerrymandering game.

Patrick: I'm sure you could make it, it's just that you have to walk such a fine line. I'm sure you could make it, but it's going to be way harder to sell than when you have BerryMander.

Cody: Yeah. My company, we have Vampire Fashion Show and bugs fighting off a fly trap. I steer very away from serious things that could get me in trouble with any of the public.

Ickle Gamer

Patrick: Probably a good idea. The next one I found was Ickle Gamer, and this is supposed to replicate a video game platformer. Imagine old classic side-scrolling video games like Super Mario Brothers, where you're jumping over things and jumping on top of things and popping boxes and all that stuff. The artwork is great, as we said, lots of good artwork. The thing that was a little bit different is they have a giant mat for the board, which I thought was interesting. Instead of having a regular folding board, there's a giant mat which looks good. The art is insane on it. But then what's cool is your action cards are controls in the video game, so I'm going to– I just opened up the link, and they must have marked this as private after the contest.

Cody: Yeah, I was just about to mention that. Because this is one that made my top 20 as well, and it almost made it in just because of the art alone, but I was trying to limit it. Limit letting– Because there were so many games with good art, I didn't want that to be the only driver. But it does look like it's been marked private so you can even see all of the page to discuss.

Patrick: I think the thing that's neat about it is your cards. If I remember correctly, now that I can't even reference the page anymore, but you can– Like this card is either “Go left” or it's “Press the A button” and A does something. The other card is “Go up,” or it's “Press the B button.” I like that they give you these dual-use cards if I'm remembering correctly.

Cody: Yeah, no. That's definitely why it almost made my list as well. It is like, use it for a direction or use it for a special power.

Cyberpunk Shadow Faction

Cyberpunk Shadow Faction Banner

Patrick: Cool combination of mechanics there. The next one, this one is Cyberpunk Shadow Faction. I don't love the name, I'm like, “What is this?” But it's a cool premise. People can order crimes via app, and you need to fulfill these crimes. I like that it's like Uber Eats, but for crimes. I enjoy that.

Patrick: I want to give this designer kudos on making a custom board. By that I mean, you can get a board and draw fancy shapes on it. But he must have did a large cut out of his board because what I think is brilliant is two sides are straight, and two sides have like little hexagonal little shapes cut out in the very edges of it. What's cool is you can fit in these certain items in the edge, and I love that it's cut in such a way that you can't accidentally place a token on the straight sides, so you don't need to have a rule about “You can't place the item here.” It naturally only fits on two of the four sides, and I think that is brilliant product design. I wish more people did that, and I wish more people did that in the game design world, where it's like the boards in sight. It's just so nice that certain elements can only fit in one spot, so you can't mess it up.

Cody: Yeah. That was definitely neat, and I think you're shortchanging him some credit. None of the sides on the board are straight.

Patrick: You're right.

Cody: The other sides have two little slots for each thing, so it even makes it harder to– You can't just put something over there.

Patrick: Yes. Correct. But the whole point is we only put them in the spot they're supposed to go, which is brilliant. 

Cody: He also made– The whole big bad boss thing is made all out of chipboard.

Patrick: Yes. It looks so cool. There is a very cool gif, and I will link to it or steal it for the blog post or something. But it looks fantastic, doesn't it?

Cody: Yeah, no. When I saw that I was like, “The Game Crafter doesn't have that component.” Then then I realized that he made that all out of their laser cut chipboard. I'm sure you get it, and you have to hand-assemble it and everything, but it's super cool.

Patrick: It is very cool. Cody, I'm not– We have three more to go, or three more mine and maybe some of yours, I'm sure. But I am just so impressed. All of the entries, Cody, are so good. I'm not upset that I didn't make the top 20. Does that make sense? Like, they're all so good.

Cody: I completely agree. When I saw them, I was like, “I am glad I did not make a fool of myself by entering something into this contest.”

Pool King

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Patrick: Pool King is next. This was, I think, number two. This was number two in the contest with 230 votes. Sorry, number two so far. We haven't gotten past the semifinal round. So, number two so far. But the thing that looks– It looks like a pool table, it's six cards, and each of the six cards is a section of the pool table. You put them together, and somehow you roll dice that look like the pool balls, and you put them in different corners and try to put them in the pocket. The mechanics didn't stick out to me, but the visuals look fantastic, and the dice look fantastic.

Cody: It's funny because I have the same assessment of that. The reason it didn't make my top 10 was I didn't quite understand how– I don't want to go read the whole rulebook, and I didn't understand how the game played. I didn't know if it's dexterity or what's going on. It just shows “This one's moving over there to hit that, to go like that.” I didn't know, “Is it doing that based off of a roll? Or are you flicking the dice or something?”

Creature Crèche

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Patrick: I'm not sure. I wish we had more information on the page. This next one is ridiculous, Creature Crèche. I think that's how you pronounce that word. You are basically running a daycare center for monsters, and every turn you get a new card, and you have to add it to your tableau. But certain creatures don't like to be next to other creatures, so you want to put them and organize them, so you get the max amount of points.

Patrick: I'll be honest, and I thought the game looked OK. Honestly what pushed me over the edge and made me give them a vote was an illustration of a three-headed Pomeranian. That illustration makes me so happy. I know there should be– If you have a game that's on The Game Crafter in a contest and you have a three-headed Pomeranian, ping me, and I will give you a vote. It's in the bag. A cute three-headed Pomeranian, you're good to go.

Patrick: This was just like a specific thing that just made me chuckle, and the game looks good. I've just seen games like it, so I wasn't super impressed with the trying to lay out the tableau creatures, but the artwork and specifically the three-headed Pomeranian where all three of them are smiling is great.

Cody: It's funny because I have basically the exact same feelings, I saw the theme of the game, and I was like, “This is an instant vote.” It booted out probably games more deserving, except for I do not like the three-headed Pomeranian.

Patrick: What? But it's smiling at you with all three heads.

Cody: I know, but I love dogs. I don't like Pomeranians.

Patrick: I get that.

Cody: But with that being said, I have a Pomeranian corgi, and he's adorable.

Patrick: Have you seen a Pomeranian dressed up as a lion for Halloween? That might change your mind.

Cody: Maybe, but not as much as this manticore. This lion, scorpion, dragon-looking thing.

Streetcars

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Patrick: Yeah. There's some pretty cool stuff there. All right, the last one I got is Streetcars. This is a roll and write game where you make streetcar routes. What's cool is this was designed by a guy who does this in real life. I think that's cool. There weren't many roll and writes in this contest, and I just wanted to say this one seemed deep in terms of strategy.

Patrick: A lot of roll and writes seem like they are– I don't know, 20-minute filler games. Like, very fast. I love 20-minute filler games, but this one just seemed deeper than most. I was impressed with that. One of the things I like is you can indirectly mess people up with what dice you take and what dice you leave for them, so I like that you can indirectly mess people up with what you leave for them.

Cody: Interesting. I saw this one, and I'm not a big– I know the designer now that I'm looking at the page, I know the designer from The Game Crafter chat and stuff. But I'm just not a big fan of the theme, and I am getting roll and write fatigue from the thousand that have came out this year.

Patrick: Do you hate public transportation?

Cody: No, I take the bus every day. I think we need more public transportation and better public transportation.

Patrick: Aw, I wanted to back you into a corner. No, I hear you. Were there any games that I didn't highlight, Cody, that you have to highlight?

Goblins and Gold

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Cody: Some other ones, I only have a couple that you didn't touch on that were in my top 10. Goblins and Gold, it's interesting because I saw Goblins and Gold and the Auriferous game, and I was like “There's a lot of mining-type games.”

Cody: Except that one is not mining, but I just thought this one had an interesting mechanic of– It's like Clank, except I think every player also can control the bad guy down in the dungeon. It's the same thing for that sword and stone game, where there's a neutral piece that anyone can use. You're going down to try to get the most money or gold or whatever while avoiding the goblin or whatever is down there, but everyone gets to control it. I thought that was neat.

As The Earth Crumbles

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As The Earth Crumbles, that one made my list. That one is another one that has fantastic art, and it's basically a done game. It looks like it's interesting too because it has– I've never seen it, it has Mahjong-style stacking tiles, except they're not big clackety tiles they're like chipboard. It has a thing where you're just grabbing– You can only have access to the ones that are uncovered, and it looks like an engine building type thing. Also, he has a sweet gif of him flipping a tile, it has nothing to do with the gameplay, but that pushed it over the edge for me.

Patrick: Gifs, got it.

Knights of the Diamond Table

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Cody: Yeah. One that I definitely thought was going to make it that I don't think quite made the cut– Let me check. It didn't quite make the cut, and it had 110 points, was Knights of the Diamond Table. That one's really, I don't want to say Carcassonne-esque, but it has– You're laying down tiles and stuff, except you have your lord and your whole army and stuff, and you're populating the different tiles, and there's some rule about how you can't go to the same spot as the lord or something like that.

Cody: I saw this one, and it didn't quite make my– No, it did make my cut, but I almost didn't, but I was like “This one is going to do well in the contest because it seems perfectly in theme of what they're looking for in the contest.” Another one that I think was like number two or something, or no number three. Forage, that one has cool– I'm not a huge watercolor fan, but it has cool watercolor-y looking art. I don't know a ton about the gameplay, but it just looks fantastic.

Patrick: Yeah, the cover looks great.

Fusion Lab

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Cody: Fusion Lab, it's a cube drafting game, but they made up a thing where you draw cubes from the bag, “The big atomic generator.” That one made me laugh real hard so that one pushed it over the edge for me to make it into a top 10.

Bank of the Realms

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Cody: Bank of the Realms, which you haven't talked about. That one made it into my top ten even if it didn't make it into the semifinals.

Cody: The designer did a good job of probably one of the best, top five, project pages on the contest for sure. I don't know how he didn't make the semifinals, but you did a good job on that. You had a nice– You could definitely tell you've ran a Kickstarter, and you set it up like a  Kickstarter-lite almost. Where you're like, “Here's the goal of the game. Here's how to set up how to play.” You just had everything hit to where it's like, “Yeah. I see what the game's all about.”

Patrick: One thing I will say, Cody, is I didn't actually have the video on– I probably didn't have the video until the start of day two, so that might have been– I only needed two more votes to tie for 20th, so I might have done better if I had that. Which, thank you, Cody, for saying that, I try to make things “Here's the goal,” and I have nice big headers, “Here are a couple graphics,” just so it breaks stuff up and people can scan and understand what they get. That's what I try to do. My product pages, I want people to understand the game by scanning. I think if I had that video up earlier maybe I could have gotten a couple extra votes, and maybe gotten to the next round.

Cody: Yeah. Interesting. Because that's exactly the right philosophy to have. Because when looking through one hundred and– Or no, this wasn't the 126. But 96 games or whatever, you open one up, and you have ten seconds to hook me into what you're trying to do. It made me think because there is a game of mine that I think I will do a Game Crafter release of and not a full Kickstarter. I've been thinking about this for a long time. It's a lighter small game, but it made me– Your page made me think a lot of how I would set up the page. I'd probably go make a Kickstarter-esque looking page and have the best shot page on The Game Crafter. Then hopefully that helps sell copies of the game. With the thought of maybe if it's successful enough on The Game Crafter, then I'll put that effort into doing a Kickstarter.

Patrick: Interesting. It's a neat idea.

Boomtown

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Cody: Yeah. Then one final game that I have that didn't do well, it only got 70 points, but it was my top game in the whole contest. Boomtown, which I have contacted the designer, and he sent me a prototype of the game, which I need to open and look at because it's super neat looking. It reminds me of, are you familiar with Palm Island?

Patrick: Yes. 

Cody: It gives me a Palm Island-y feel, except it's not all– Like it has, you have two sides to the card instead of– And it's not in your hand, but you rotate the card, and one side of the card is worth something. You lay them all so that only the left end of the card is showing, and then you have to manipulate where they are in your lineup to tap the resources to then upgrade them to different things, which upgrading them can give you points or special effects or whatever.

Cody: The super cool part about this is it's not a– Palm Island is basically a solo game. They technically have a two-player mode, which is just a race to get through, where this is actually– How many players, is it? I think it's like 2-6 or something, but it's all simultaneous.

Cody: So every player starts with a certain amount of cards in their tableau, and then basically when you tap your card and spend the resources to upgrade your card, you put them into this shared thing which then– I don't know if there's an adjacency, but the other players now have access to your discarded stuff, which they can then add. So everyone's doing it real-time, trying to upgrade their things and everything until a certain point threshold is met, or it's timed. It's either most points after seven minutes, so you play for seven minutes and then whoever has the most points wins. Or if you get to a certain amount of points you can be like, “I'm at X amount of points, I win.”

Patrick: That sounds cool. I do like the rotating the cards, and I'm looking at the product page, and I get how the cards rotate. That's a cool idea.

Cody: Yeah.

Future Contests

Patrick: Awesome. We went through 21 games, so hopefully, we didn't bore anyone to death. If you died, I apologize, but there's nothing we can do now. Is there anything else, Cody? Just about the contest? How about this– Are you going to be doing future The Game Crafter contests?

Cody: Yeah, I think because since I've been doing my publishing thing, I've dropped off of doing contests because I have just focused on developing. I have plenty on my plate developing games and stuff, but I'm starting to get the design bug and starting to– I have a bunch of ideas that I'm working on, but backburner-y. I'll probably keep a lookout for future Game Crafter contests to see if I did have a game “This is in progress, I'm going to just throw it on there as well, because why not?” But I honestly haven't been keeping too much up with the contests like I used to, until you contacted me and you were like, “Did you see this contest?”

Patrick: Got it. One thing I noticed is that it seems like they tend to announce a contest right after the last one ends, so if you do want to look for contests, Cody, keep an eye out. I bet they'll announce the next one soon.

Cody: Yeah, it looks like they have them every two months or so. It's not super on the dot, but like every one to two months, sometimes there's three months in between.

Patrick: Yeah. For me, I think it's three months. But yes, it's pretty often. So, Cody, I want to thank you for joining me on this journey. I got a lot out of this. I enjoyed this series. Listeners, let me know if you enjoyed the series or if you delete these episodes, in which case you're not hearing this. But let me know if at all possible. Thank you, Cody.

Cody: Yeah. Thank you for having me. It was cool being part of a series like this. It definitely was a challenge to try to balance everything, and I obviously failed at getting a game into the contest. But I learned a lot and got to participate in one of my favorite podcasts, so there's that.

Patrick: I think it's also not a bad thing that you didn't submit something. I think it shows people that it is hard work. It is not easy to submit a game for a contest. If it was easy, then there would have been hundreds of entries, not 92 or whatever.

Cody: It's interesting because I think you hit it on the head there. Because in episode one or two I mentioned that I think this was going to break the record for contest submissions, but it didn't. Because it's very open, where a lot of their contests are– Like the holiday one, or social deduction. But this is, and I think a lot of people saw this and same with I talked to some of the people in The Game Crafter chat and they had the same feeling. They're like, “Yeah. I have this game that I was working on, so I might as well throw it on there because the submission guidelines are pretty vague.” 

Patrick: Got it interesting. Cody, you just reminded me. You were I think in one of the earliest episodes, like episode 1 or 2, we took bets on how many submissions there would be. I do not remember exact bets, but I want to say you were over 100 and I think I said if it was over 80 you'd win. So I'm pretty sure, Cody, you won that bet. You get a high five in the next conference or something.

Cody: Yeah. Next time we see each other at Origins or something.

Patrick: There we go, yeah. Very cool, thank you one more time. Listeners, please chat with us. If you like this, great. Let me know. Let me know if you entered a game, let me know, I'd love to take a look at it. I'd love to– If you wanted, I could give you feedback. But also, who knows if I know what I'm talking about. But yeah, just let me know. You can visit the site at IndieBoardGameDesigners.com, and you can follow me on Twitter, I am @bftrick. Cody, where can people find you online?

Cody: At the good old @goldnuggetgame on twitter.

Patrick: It's so sad it doesn't have that “S.” Very cool. That is all from us, so hopefully, you got something out of the series. Have a good night, bye-bye.

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