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Advice for would-be designers

Links to many video game articles I value

@lewpuls on twitter

Conventions | Britannia 3rd editions | Dragon Rage | Game Design book | Twitter | Welcome

Online audiovisual classes by Lew:

I have a new site for my classes, courses.pulsiphergames.com.  The courses are still available on Udemy, at higher prices.   (Udemy takes a huge cut.)

bulletI have now opened "How to Design Levels/Adventures for Video and Tabletop Games," $19.  It will not be offered on Udemy initially, but on my own platform, and when it does get to Udemy, it will be $29 (because Udemy takes 50% in most cases).
bullet Learning Game Design.  $39.  Review here.
bullet Brief intro to game design $6.  (At one point this was free, but I am so disappointed in all the people who sign up but never actually do any of the course, that it is not free now.)
bullet Get a job in the video game industry $10
bulletThe next course will be "Writing Clear Rules (and Game Design Documents)," primarily of interest to tabletop designers.

News (I guess)

Tom Vasel interviewed me for episode #27 of Boardgame University. Download the MP3 at http://boardgameuniversity.libsyn.com/ I had no idea what he was going to ask me, so my answers are entirely off-the-cuff. 

    Corey Young @C_M_Young says on twitter, "BEST episode yet!" 

So I must have done something right.  And Tom must have asked good questions.

A "new" Britannia-like game

Wallace Nicoll has prepared a PDF edition of Roger Heyworth's game Conquest Europa. Roger was the uncredited editor of Britannia for its original publication by H. P. Gibsons in Britain in 1986. He passed away in 2000, unfortunately. Wallace was involved in the testing. http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/99400/conquest-europa-2014

The game covers all of Europe and North Africa, from the fall of the Roman Empire to Tamerlane and beyond. With some 500 pieces, 35 nations, and 106 areas, it lasts 10-12 hours with experienced players.

When I began to think about doing a new edition of Britannia, around 2004, a 1980 all-of-Europe game I had done while developing Britannia. Though not as big as Conquest Europa, it took 12 hours to play the first time, so I set it aside and then completely forgot about it.

One of the first new games I started when I came back into the hobby was an all-Europe game, which was playtested at WBC in 2008. It turned out to be a natural five player rather than four player game. Someday it may see print, perhaps in Against-the-Odds magazine or annual. In the meantime I've devised another all-Europe game that lasts about two hours, and has been played in 1:40.

These games both end with the Mongol invasion, after starting with the fall of the West Roman Empire.

Welcome

to PulsipherGames.com/Pulsipher.net, a web site for supplementary material and playtesting of games designed by Lewis Pulsipher (Britannia, Dragon Rage, Valley of the Four Winds, Diplomacy variants, RPG material, etc.), and for teaching about games. 

I started playing games more than 50 years ago. I started designing games more than 45 years ago. My first published (non-commercial) games appeared in the early 1970s, and my first commercial game over 30 years ago, in 1978 (Diplomacy Games & Variants), followed in 1980 by Swords and Wizardry.

Conventions

This year I expect to be at PrezCon in Charlottesville VA in late Feb, at WBC in Lancaster PA, and at GenCon in Indianapolis, in August.  Origins is doubtful again, but I am not certain.

Kickstarter

I expect that the new edition of Britannia (perhaps multiple versions) will show up on Kickstarter sooner or later, as the majority of publishers now use it.

I have not been a KS denizen in the past, not being cursed with the desire for Instant Gratification and not feeling a need to participate from the ground up.  However, I have just supported my first KS. This is a project to create d6s using 12-sided molds ("Doublesix Dice: Roll Better").  I need lots of dice at times for prototypes, and the unusual dice may help attract someone's interest.  I took the bulk deal for $25, which with the many unlocked stretch goals (it's more than 13 times oversubscribed) amounts to 80-some dice of several colors.  Interestingly, the idea was patented long ago, but the patent has expired.  (And that's an example of a patent that should never have been issued, as it was "obvious".)

Online Classes

My book-length audio visual course "Learning Game Design" now open. $10 off coupon ($39 instead of $49): follow this link.  (Coupon expires 1 March.)  I will post the "what you'll discover" video soon on my youtube channel.

I think of this big class as much like a book.  Here is an initial review of the class on Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog.

I have been forced by a change in Udemy policy to slap a $9 charge on my free, brief game design class, but with a coupon you can take it for free.  Follow this link.

Over 3,000 people have registered for this course since it opened August 31, 2013 (current 12 Dec)

Many people who are interested in game design are also interested in working in the video game industry. So I have completed another course, "Get a Job in the Video Game Industry". While this one is not free, I am offering a 20% discount to you on this $15 course, reducing it to $12. There is a 30 day money back guarantee as well! Follow this link.

You can view the "What You'll Discover" video free at Udemy, or at my Game Design YouTube Channel.

I chose not to be part of Udemy's heavy discount marketing - I call it kamikaze marketing - so these classes, except for the one intended to be free, will never be offered for free or at very deep discounts. These are serious topics and I want students who are genuinely interested in the possibilities.

You may not be interested in this, but perhaps some of your friends would be, please let them know about it. Remember the coupon and guarantee.

Conventions

My take on WBC and GenCon is on my blog.  The next convention I'll attend is likely PrezCon in late Feburary.

Britannia Third Editions

I have spent a great deal of time testing the full Historical Version of the new edition, which is a "more accurate" representation of history than past editions.  The Introductory version of that game is much quicker, a "freeform" version.  But the versions that will likely attract the most people are standalone, separate games, a short (as little as 1:24 in non-solo testing) version and a diceless (2-3 hour) version.  Discussion of testing is at the Eurobrit Yahoo Group.

Dragon Rage

Dragon Rage, which is distributed in the USA exclusively through GameSalute, is available at Amazon with Super Saver (free) shipping for the list price of $75.

Latest review from Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog.

Game Designers Survey results

Results of my game designers' survey are in my blogs, e.g. http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/2013/04/2012-13-game-designer-survey-results.html 

 Game design book

Amazon has increased the price of the book (from their big discounts) to $34.20 for paper and $17.99 for Kindle!  List is $38 for paper.

If you've read this book, I'd appreciate you posting a customer review on Amazon.

Reviews:

From ARBA vol 44 p. 16 (final sentence): "Although a single book cannot substitute for education in game creation or practice, this book provides useful tips and resources for game designers and those interested in entering the field."  This is another professional, subscription only journal so I cannot provide a URL (I got a non-convertible PDF from my publisher).

Pages 25 ff in Diplomacy World #121 (April '13) contains Jim Burgess' rather stream-of-consciousness review of the book, as related to the game DiplomacyDiplomacy World has been the flagship magazine of Diplomacy fandom for over 30 years, and recently under editor Doug Kent is a massive quarterly free download at http://www.diplomacyworld.net/.  I was active in the hobby in the 70s, and have designed more published Diplomacy variants than anyone, I think.

From March 2013 Choice Online Reviews:  by A. Chen, Cogswell College:  "Summing up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and two-year technical program students in game design programs and professionals/practitioners."  (An image of this was sent to me by McFarland.  I don't have a URL - I think Choice, a journal for academics, is subscription-only.)

New (7 Feb 13) review by Michael Fox at Little Metal Dog Show (a well-known UK game blog).  "Rather than having someone standing in front of you, telling you what to do to move on, Lewis’ writing feels more like he’s sitting by you, making helpful suggestions on how to get out of sticky design issues and encouraging you to think your way through the stages of your game."

Book review - Game Design by Joe Huber (3 Dec 12).  "So summing it all up, Game Design does an excellent job of providing a path to become an effective game designer."

Review: Lewis Pulsipher’s ‘How to Design Epic Games' by David Bolton.  (Yes, he knows the actual title.)  "If you want to design games, as opposed to just produce them, this is a great book. It hits the ground running, though you’ll need to read it quite a few times for everything to sink in. . ."

From a reader review on Amazon.co.uk: "There is scarcely a spare word in this book, and that's a good thing. You know the author is not wasting your time because he is not wasting his. . . . He gets to the point: "You want to make games, Johnny? The only way to do it is to do it". I know it seems obvious, but sometimes you just need to be told, and it's refreshing not to feel that the author is winking at you like they have a secret which they've promised to share and never do. I did not feel that this author held anything back, and now I have something really extraordinary on my shelf: a textbook that's not only become my go-to reference, but also an inspiration - believe it or not, it's exciting!"

Electronic formats:

The book is available in a "Nook Book" (ebook) edition from Barnes & Noble for $24.99 (used to be $13.74).

The book is available in a Kindle edition for $17.99 (used to be $14.74) (compared to $38.00 for the paperback). Kindle is Amazon's format, but with a free app you can read Kindle books on PCs.

You may know that you can get a free PC program that lets you read (and buy) Kindle books. I don't know if something of the same kind is available for eBooks.

Books-a-Million are offering NookBook copies of my book at $24.99 (used to be $28.65).   eBook is the standard for e-readers other than Amazon's Kindles.  The PDF version is no longer listed. 

I have not seen a copy of either of these formats.  Something to keep in mind for future contracts, getting a copy of the electronic versions.

Table of Contents and excerpts:

PDF Table of contents                HTML Table of Contents

The first 27 pages, and page 268, of my book are readable on Google Books.

Excerpt on GameCareerGuide: A systematic view of game design

Excerpt on GameCareerGuide: What Makes A Game 'Epic' Or Even 'Great'

The book is now being offered by some small sellers for less than the majors are selling it for (paper version).  

It's available in the UK from Amazon UK and Waterstones.com.

Unsolicited Testimonials:

"Dear Mr. Pulsipher,
      Just finished your book on tabletop and video games and it was awesome! I appreciate all the great advice and the realistic expectation level it sets for designers. The supporting website is so helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this book and sharing your knowledge and experience.
 Lori Nelson"

"I found your book to be very useful Lewis because it doesn't have a one size fits all approach. There are a range of issues to consider and solutions offered for a variety of challenges in game design. I was able to check issues I'd come up against in my game design and find either that I had approached things in one of your recommended ways (due to intuition or collective consideration by our game dev group), or you gave me new ideas to try or things to check.

Over all this a great generalist game design book for tabletop games." Kim Brebach  (This is a post on a boardgame site. The book is a video game design book first, tabletop second.)

Use in class

Scott Nicholson wrote recently to let me know that "I've decided to adopt your game design book as my primary text in my 'Transformative Game Design' class I'm teaching in the spring at Syracuse University. I reviewed a wide variety of game design texts, and found yours to be the best for what I need!

Great job!"

Thanks, Scott. The book is "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish". Dr. Scott Nicholson is an Associate Professor at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and the director of the Because Play Matters game lab. He's well known for "Board games with Scott". Transformative games are games intended to change the player in some significant way.

Outside the USA

People outside the USA might consider using Book Depository to order, as they have free shipping to about 50 countries.  I have not used it myself but see references to it.

Twitter

I am using twitter occasionally now, and will use it more in the future.   I am @lewpuls.

Blog-Recent Posts

Six words about a Christmas present for the game industry?
Game Designer Survey 2012
December 2012 Miscellany
The virtues (and sins) of using dice in game designs
Modifying chess conflict rules
Looking at game design in terms of ways of introducing asymmetry
How many dice (to include with a game)?
Two Problems for Historical Game Designers
Six words about role-playing games
The economic production cycle in games
November 2012 Miscellany
Can we characterize tabletop game publishers? Hard to say.

Intentions versus Actions (in Game Design). A warning for new game designers

Maintenance based economies vs. "accumulation" economies OR Economic "Limits"

 "Is this game like Britannia?"

Review: Atlas of World Military History

Six words about game sequels

Abstractions and plans for new edition(s) of Britannia

September 12 Miscellany

Observations about changes in game distribution (and publishing)

How to be taken seriously by publishers (more cautionary advice)

Zynga and Fundamental Problems with their Social Network Games

Comparing this year’s game conventions

Interface (and other) game design lessons from a rental car

"Seven years and a million dollars"

Review: Gratuitous Space Battles

GenCon

I have to apologize for a snafu at GenCon.  I didn't get tickets for my Sunday talks (you get tickets for talks you attend, and I thought the speakers were getting a list for talks they were giving, but I got none).  Not having anything in writing, I relied on memory, and remembered the room as 210 (where seminars are most commonly held, and which was available).  I was not on the list of the door-opening lady, however, and no one turned up at 210.  I checked the other rooms where seminars are commonly held, and couldn't find anyone.  Looking at my email now I see that the talks were scheduled for 201 (wherever that is, I cannot recall seeing it), not 210.  So I probably stood up several people, which is very frustrating.

New edition of Britannia

After sales of 16,000 the FFG version of Britannia has sold out (though it's still available in some stores, FFG has no more). I've received a notification from FFG that the contract is terminated. So I have been looking for another publisher for a revised edition, and have two strong candidates.

The plan for the new editions of Britannia - don't forget that plans don't always work out - is that there are several versions. The standard version that has been available in the past will be changed more than I anticipated when I started out two months ago, primarily to make it work better as a way of teaching/understanding British history - to make it closer to reality, if you will. In the process the game has changed some, which I also think will be interesting for players. In particular I've eliminated some things that I strongly dislike. First, it won't be possible for the Romans to make a deal with the Welsh, who then submit although never touched. This time, they Will Fight. Second, it won't be possible for a "starving army" to commit virtual suicide by making a bad-odds attack. Its compatriots will have to come along. Third, we won't have the Romano-British scurrying for the hills, abandoning their homes and farms. But they'll be in better shape than in the old game.

It also won't be a Roman walkover with Romans even known to be killing Caledonians. The Roman will have more difficult choices. Unfortunately, players who tend to make a hash of the Romans now, when it IS often a cakewalk for an experienced player, may REALLY make a hash of it in the new version. There's always a problem in games, whether to design for the 99% expert player or the 33% or the 75%. When the 99% expert is going to work a bit, the 33% may just get creamed. Fortunately, the Roman-British are MUCH more prominent in the game - for a while.

 

There's a smaller, diceless version ("Rule Britannia") that uses a new board (21 land areas including Ireland); and a quick, really small (nine nations) "Gateway" version (no set title, tentatively "Britannia Brevis") that also uses a new board (18 land). The Gateway version appeals to people who like Risk and Axis & Allies (but remember, 60-90 minutes) and to video gamers. Rule Britannia should appeal to people who don’t like dice (battle cards, each player has an identical set).  Less than three hours.

There's also an "Ultimate" version that uses the standard board with the addition of Ireland, and will be significantly longer than the standard game (Epic, get it?). But it will be an expansion, not part of the standard package.  Ireland will be on the standard board, even though it won't be used in the standard game.

The standard game (likely called "Epic Britannia") will come with several shorter scenarios (4-9 turns), and a new three player game that I am trying very hard to balance, and a 6-7 turn game that covers the entire period using the same colors/sides, and will take half as long to play.

Game Design Book

My book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish" is available. Publisher's web page for the book Amazon.  As you might expect, I make a lot more from a copy ordered through McFarland than through Amazon, but most people use Amazon's free shipping.

It can be ordered from McFarland or from retail book sellers.  Because McFarland's first market is libraries, you have an alternative not practically available for most books: you can request that your library order a copy.  Many public libraries will respond to suggestions/requests, though many of those want more than one person to make the request.

Why would you read a book? While the book is no longer the absolute treasure trove of information that was when I was a kid (see below), it still organizes information in an easily digestible form. But more important, a book can convey the experience of the author to the reader, and if that experience is valuable than this is something the reader won't get anywhere else. A major purpose for me in writing the book is to help beginning game designers avoid the "school of hard knocks" that I had to go through, applying my experience in teaching novice game designers as well.

When I was a kid in the 50s and 60s, if you were lucky you had three television networks to watch instead of two, there was no Internet and consequently no e-mail, no cell phones, no personal computers (or printers), no World Wide Web, no Facebook, no Twitter, no YouTube. A long distance call of any length cost real money. I first saw color TV in a person's house when I was 10 (trick-or-treat: the people let the kids come in and see their cool color TV). Music was on vinyl LPs and (later) cassette tapes. If you wanted to watch a movie you stayed up after 11 (old movies only on TV) or you went to a theater, there was no way to record a movie other than film. There was no instant replay on sporting events because videotape had not been perfected.

In that era, as for generations before, a book was a treasure trove of information, something to be read carefully and absorbed as much as possible.

Nowadays people are much less impressed by books because there's so many other sources of information, but if you really want to learn about something in depth a good book is the best way to do it other than having an experienced person teach you directly.

I gave four talks at Origins 2012 about game design, and one at WBC. 

I talked about managing frustration in game design at the East Coast Game Conference on 26 April 2012.  More than 75 attended.  I'll describe the conference in my blog.  Slides and the audio from the talk will be posted on this site.  Those who read my blog on BGG and F:AT have seen a written discussion of the same topic, though of course written and oral versions diverge considerably.

I was the guest on the Ludology podcast #26 about epic games (tabletop games, not the video game company).  This is the only podcast I listen to, because it's about "the why of games", not about new games and community chit-chat.

My blog is posted, now, in as many as five places, reaching a quite different readership at each place. The blog has existed since 2004 but I "spread out" only in 2011.

The "home" is at: http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/; on Boardgamegeek (and the other geek sites); on boardgame designers forum; on "Fortress: AT" ("Ameritrash").  Some, but not all, of the posts are also on my "expert" blog on Gamasutra, the site for video game professionals.

The sometimes-lively discussions at BGG,  fortress:at, and Gamasutra, where most of the readers are, are usually very different from one another.

Dragon Rage

Dragon Rage is now distributed in the USA exclusively by GameSalute.com.  I saw it at GenCon for $75.

A very complimentary Dragon Rage video review (in accented English this time) that could be used as a tutorial before people play their first game.  On Youtube.  Also on BGG with comments.

Michael Barnes' review on fortressat.

Boardgamegeek's video about Dragon Rage.

A review of Dragon Rage appeared in a British blog.   Also on BGG

Video review, in German, of Dragon Rage.

A review of Dragon Rage on Opinionated Gamer.   Another review on Opinionated Gamer (scroll down past Rumble in the Dungeon).

Another review, from "Fortress Ameritrash"!  I have to quote this one: "It’s an absolute grab-bag of fun fantasy memes and is certainly the most customisable wargame without miniatures that I’ve ever seen."

The multi-contributor ETC Press book "Tabletop: Analog Game Design," edited by Greg Costikyan and Drew Davidson, is now available (electronic downloads free). Greg briefly describes it. Downloads here in electronic book and PDF formats.

My piece on "The Three Player Problem" is the first chapter in the book.

Slides and audio recordings of my game design talks at UK Game Expo and Origins are here.


The reissue of Dragon Rage is in print.  The game (published in Belgium) is available in American stores, or direct from GameSalute.  You can order from www.flatlinedgames.com.

The physical components are very impressive (compared with the original microgame), on a par with Britannia.  The hit recording sheets are full-size plasticized cardboard, as opposed to the original notepad.  The board is fully mounted, and has an orc lair on the opposite side, with new scenarios.    You can see from the photo that the pieces are individually cut and have round corners, not like the typical wargame with square-cornered little pieces.

This version includes a second map (of an orc lair area, more or less) and additional scenarios for it, devised by Eric Hanuise.

Dragon Rage pages.

Welcome to PulsipherGames.com/Pulsipher.net, a web site for supplementary material and playtesting of games designed by Lewis Pulsipher (Britannia, Dragon Rage, Valley of the Four Winds, Diplomacy variants, RPG material, etc.), and for teaching about games. 

I started playing games more than 50 years ago. I started designing games more than 45 years ago. My first published (non-commercial) games appeared in the early 1970s, and my first commercial game over 30 years ago, in 1978 (Diplomacy Games & Variants), followed in 1980 by Swords and Wizardry.

After publication of several commercial games, and after I earned my Ph.D., I took 20 years off from designing games, though I played and made up adventures (which is level design) and refereed lots of Dungeons and Dragons while learning computing, programming, networking, and making a living.  In 2004 I decided to get back into game design rather than write computer textbooks, though my primary profession is college teaching.  I taught my first course in game design in fall 2004, though I did not teach games full time until fall 2007.

I do not run a public Web discussion board on this site, as Boardgamegeek.com serves the purpose very well.  The Eurobrit Yahoo Group is the main location for Britannia discussions.  Fantasy Flight Games also has a discussion board (generally inactive)  at their Britannia site.  Most of my new writing about games is posted on my blog, http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/ or at http://teachgamedesign.blogspot.com/, or on GameCareerGuide.Com.

I am @lewpuls on twitter; I see twitter as of use only for publicity, so I don't post daily.  I do find I tweet than I thought I would.

Dr. P's personal recommendation for those who want to get into the game industry and live in this area (central-eastern North Carolina).

Disclaimer: occasionally people send me unsolicited ideas or concepts for games.  Be aware that when you do this you acknowledge that I may use your ideas in any way I wish without legal obligation.  (I'm unlikely to do this, but I may have the same idea already, and I have no desire to be sued by someone who doesn't realize that ideas are not protected by copyright law in any case.)

Click here for Recent Changes

WBC 2013 tournament reported by Jim Jordan (GM, and this year, winner)(PDF)

WBC 2012 tournament account by Jim Jordan (PDF).

WBC 2011 tournament account by Jim Jordan.

I have added an archive from my game design blogs for most of the past year here.  It is 41 pages in the word processor.

In November I was at the MACE game convention in High Point, NC, my first visit.  It's interesting how different a game convention can be when it comes from SF/F convention traditions rather than from game convention traditions.

I've posted one of my old (and popular) first edition AD&D character of classes, The Necromancer, originally from White Dwarf #5.

I'm putting some comments engendered by the conventions on my blog.

I am a contributor to Family Games: the 100 Best, which will be published later this year.  I've been asked to contribute to another anthology, a book about non-electronic game design, to be published this year by ETC Press.

More articles on Gamasutra/GameCareerGuide and other online locations (not including "expert blog" entries):

"Playtesting is Sovereign, Part 2"  2 Sep 10

"The Elephant in the Room" (varieties of game-related education, lead article in Aug 10 IGDA Perspectives Newsletter special extended issue on game education)

"Playtesting is Sovereign, Part 1"  10 Aug 10

Opinion: The "Virgin Mary" of Video Games?  Depictions of Violent Death 31 May 10

"Identifying a good game school" 3/30/10 (co-author, Ian Schreiber)

"What are game designers trying to do?" 2.19.10

"Maxims of Game Design" 2/4/10

"Some Game Playing Styles, and How Games Match One Style or Another" [a longer version] 1/25/2010

"Playing Styles, and How Games Match One Style or Another" 11.26.09

"Opinion: Are Games Too Much Like Work?" 4 Sep 09

"All I needed to know about games I learned from Dungeons and Dragons" 18 Aug 09

"Game Curricula: Differences in Focus"  4 Aug 09

"Industry Hopefuls: Prepare Intelligently" 7 July 09

"Student Illusions About Being a Game Designer"  7 May 09

"Expert Blogs":  Triangle Game Conference, Law of Gaming, Effect of Reviews on Video Game Development, What Games Amount To.  A modified version of the first is now on Gamedev.net. 

"Twenty Essential Design Questions" 14 April 09

"The Nine Structural Sub-Systems of Any Game" 17 Mar 09

The Nature of Games in the 21st Century 5 Mar '09

"Opinion: What Does 'Game Developer' Mean?" 2 March '09

Why Design Games 13 January '09

I have updated my list of Britannia-like games.  I have posted mp3s of my talks at Origins 2008, Powerpoint slides are already posted.  I've also posted a talk by Ian Schreiner.  All here.  I'll not be posting mp3s of the 2009 talks, I think.

Most of my present gaming activity is in revising games and trying to write a game design book (the articles on Gamasutra/GameCareerGuide are sometimes excerpts).

I am a contributor to Hobby Games: The 100 Best, an anthology book that came out at GenCon this year.  Press release.  Britannia is one of the "100 Best", I'm glad to say.  I wrote about Stalingrad.  Update: this book won the "Origins Award" in its category, as well as an "Ennie" award.

The 2006 print run of Britannia sold out in 2007.  It was reprinted in November 2008.  International editions (German, French, Spanish, Hungarian [sic]) were printed at the same time.    That run ended in June 2012.

**

I have developed a 6 turn version of Britannia, using the current set, that actually works, and takes me about two hours to play (first time play by others takes a lot longer, of course).  This is being tested; I intend to distribute it as widely as possible to help those who dislike the 4-5 hour playing time of full Britannia.

Just for the heck of it, I developed a "broad market" version of Brit (the kind of thing that would sell with Risk and similar games).  History may be too serious for a broad market, especially medieval British history, but it's an interesting exercise.  I already have  "Brit Lite" version, and that can be played by casual gamers, but I'm aiming at the sort of folks who might play Risk and Monopoly and a few other games, but not much else.  I have liked the result so much that I am developing a series of games using the same rules (with exceptions), beginning with a new version of Barbaria that has turned out very well.

I've added a podcast (11 minutes) "Quick Guide How to Play Britannia."

I have started an announcement-only newsletter for new information about Britannia.  This will include new editions, new variants, new articles, new reviews, new FAQ, anything that may be noteworthy for fans.  Hence there probably won't be more than ten or so messages a year.  To subscribe, go to http://pulsipher.net/newsletter/?p=subscribe.  The information gathered will never be used for any other purpose.

I received a certificate awarded November  2006 to Britannia by the Viennese Games Academy: "Vienna Selection of Games, 2006"  99 games are selected each year.   According to the accompanying letter, this certificate has been awarded annually since 1996.  Their Web site: www.spielen.at (mostly in Austrian).

My article "Uncertainty in Wargames"  appeared in "Against the Odds" magazine, #18, late in 2006. 

Tom Vasel reviews dozens upon dozens of games, but he is not a wargamer, rather he's a Euro gamer.  I have wondered whether he would review Britannia at all, but he has, very positively in the circumstances.  See http://www.thedicetower.com/thedicetower/index.php?page=britannia.

This only reinforces my intention to make shorter versions of Britannia (and other games) that don't use the old combat system.  I have played both "Britannia Brevis" (10 turns, no dice used) and "Britannia Minimus" (6 turns, much less luck in the dice system).  Unfortunately, FFG has no interest in expansions, as the numbers just aren't there.  But I have finally devised a version of Britannia using the same pieces, sides, colors, that lasts just six turns, yet seems to reflect everything that happens in the longer Britannia, just much faster (and with more attacking).  When finished this will be posted (free) in as many places as possible.  For now you can find the draft at the Eurobrit Yahoo Group.

There is a Wikipedia entry for Britannia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britannia_%28board_game%29

Boardgamegeek has the following entry for Britannia:  "Nominee for the 1987 Charles S. Roberts awards for Best Pre-World War II Boardgame (Charles S. Roberts Awards)."  I had not known this, as by that time I had "left the hobby".

My blogs:

http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/

http://teachgamedesign.blogspot.com

Facebook:

Facebook Britannia page

Facebook Dragon Rage page

General:

Published Games describes my published games .  Games in Process describes my unpublished games and playtesting opportunities. (Both of these load slowly via modem owing to map miniatures and photos.)  I briefly describe my design philosophy hereBritannia includes the original rules, appearance, victory points, and map for Britannia (interesting to show how the original developer changed some things).

I am looking for gaming groups in Fayetteville, North Carolina, who are interested in playtesting boardgames and non-collectible card games.

At some point I may be selling items in .PDF form, but not at present.  I do, however, sell copies of the lithographed "Science Fiction and Fantasy Diplomacy Variant Package", originally published in 1975.  Go here for details.

Most of my new writing about games is posted on my blog, http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/ or at http://teachgamedesign.blogspot.com/

My games are generally representations, not simulations. That is, the game represents some historical (or imaginary) situation, but does not attempt to simulate the factors that were important in resolving that situation. E.g., Britannia encourages players to act "historically" through a point system, not through modeling the factors that caused nations to move as they did. (And that often amounts to chance, anyway....)

On the other hand, my games generally are not abstract: the game is affected by the requirements of the scenario, and could not be "re-themed" to represent something quite different with virtually the same mechanics.

In other words, I enjoy games as games rather than as simulations, but do want a correspondence between actions in the game and (some kind of) reality.

Unlike most video games and many Euro games, in my games there may not be a "role assumption".  That is, you won't represent some castle builder or some adventurer, or even a general.  You'll represent an omniscient presence that controls what goes on (as in Brit or in most abstract games).

My "Game resume" is also here.  And the FAQ is here.  My teaching resume is also available.

I post articles about games on this site, and a list and minireviews of books about games.  See below, note about computer games.

I feel about the same way about games I design that Sir Winston felt about books:

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.        --Sir Winston Churchill

Useful links for boardgamers and designers:
http://boardgamegeek.com/

http://grognard.com/

http://consimworld.com/

http://www.bgdf.com/tiki/tiki-custom_home.php

 

Changes:

Added Designing for Cause versus Effect.  Published in Against the Odds magazine #30 in early 2011.

Added WBC 2011 tournament account by Jim Jordan.

Added "What Makes a Game Epic?" originally from ATO magazine to articles about design.

I have added an archive from my game design blogs for most of the past year here.  It is 41 pages in the word processor.

WBC 2010 Britannia tournament (by Jim Jordan, GM).  PDF.

The Necromancer, from White Dwarf #5.

August 2009:  Added Jim's account of the 2009 Britannia tournament at WBC.

June 09: Posted 2008 Britannia rules.  Added (above) articles this year on Gamasutra/ GameCareerGuide.

Almost everything I've written lately is on Gamecareerguide and Gamasutra, or in my blogs.  http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/ or at http://teachgamedesign.blogspot.com/

January 09: Added autobiography (see sidebar).

June 08: updated list of Britannia-like games, posted Origins talks

May 08: Updated Games in Progress again.

Mar 08: Updated the "Games in Process" page after a long interval.

Dec 07: Added review of Understanding Comics.

Sept 07: Added Twin Earths III Diplomacy variant rules.

August 07:  Added WBC 2007 report.  Added Normannia (TM) board to games in progress.

July 07: added slides and large podcasts for two talks about game design at Origins (see Teaching about games)

June 07: added one-page advice on playing Blue in Britannia, playing Yellow in Britannia

May 07:  Podcast Quick Guide How to Play Britannia.

Apr 07: added reprints of two Diplomacy strategy articles of 1982.   News about my talks at Origins. 

Mar 07: added Britannia News newsletter links.

December 06.  Added Diagram, Process of game design and development"Something in it" (playtesting), and What's important when playing red in Britannia.  

November 06. Sweep of History Games Magazine Issue 3 is available.  Added What's important when playing green in Britannia.   Added David Yoon's article Judging Who's Winning (Brit 1).  (Was in Sweep Magazine #1.) 

October 06.  Revised the layout of the Britannia page and this page.  Added What's important (in one page) when playing to win Britannia 2

September 06.  Added an article about the short 3-player version of Brit2 by Stephen Braund.  Added an article about choosing up sides in Brit.  This has proved to be very interesting to experienced players.  Updated list of Brit-like games.

August.  Added Jim Jordan's account of the WBC 2006 Britannia tournament.   Added Reducing the Effects of Chance in Britannia.

Late May.  Added Sweep of History Games Magazine #2.  Enlarged the statement regarding rights to Britannia-like games.

Local (North Carolina) game links (video and otherwise)

Lewis Pulsipher and Pulsiphergames.com do not accept or consider unsolicited submissions, ideas or materials, such as games, game ideas, treatments, books, story ideas, or characters. Any unsolicited materials submitted will be disposed of without review.

 Note about video games:

Recently (October 2011) played video games: Gratuitous Space Battles, Angry Birds, and several "social network" games.  I played the latter (all Zynga games) because I was talking with them about the possibility of working as a game designer in Bangalore India.  But the current emphasis in these games is on frustration (to persuade people to spend real money), and that's the opposite of what I want to create.  Further, I suspect Zynga is stuck in the rut they've made, a company so large that they may not be able to risk trying games drastically different from the ones they now support.  I know what kind of social network game I would make, first and foremost to make it truly social, not solitary.

 

More recently I've reconciled myself to using Steam and have bought Civilization V and Skyrim to go along with Portal, but who knows when I'll have time to play them!

I have never designed a published "computer game", largely because I have not known anyone able and willing to do the necessary programming and artwork.   I have never been interested in starving in order to produce a video game.  Nowadays, of course, computer games are the products of teams, not of individuals. Back when one individual could write a game, I was a database programmer, which doesn't help much with computer games, nor do I have a hint of an artist in me.

Why would I want to design electronic games?  I'm better off as is:

1. The "AAA list" electronic games are really designed by committee.  When I design a game, it is almost all MINE.  (The rest is playtesters and publisher.)

2. Video games, until fairly recently, were almost always interactive puzzles, not games.  Games are about people, interactive puzzles are about computers.  I like games, not puzzles.

3. For most of the age of video games, you had to work full time in the industry, yet the pay was poor (and per hour worked, still is).  I'd rather help young people as a teacher, get paid at least as well, and have lots of time to design games.

4. The working hours can be bad.  "Crunch time" (unpaid overtime) is common, though designers are not involved in that quite as much as programmers and artists.

5. Fighting with the electronics obscures the purity of design.   You worry about what the computer can do instead of what the players can do.  At worst, you "hide behind the computer".

People become computer game designers after working on computer games for a company in other capacities, especially level designer. Practically no one is hired directly as a computer game designer, though level designers (a subset of game design) may be hired directly from school.  The production costs for "big" off-the-shelf games ($10-100 million) make a person without a track record too much of a risk.

Click here for advice for those who want to get into the game industry.

Hits since August 07: Hit Counter

"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest." Mark Twain
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."  Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery
"A teacher is never a giver of truth - he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. A good teacher is merely a catalyst." (Martial Arts quote)
"We have met the enemy, and he is us."  Pogo (Walt Kelly)                                      "Enjoy the Journey"
Send mail to webmaster (at) pulsiphergames (dot) com with comments about this web site.   Last modified: 01/01/14.  Copyright 2012 Lewis Pulsipher