If you’re following along in our weekly posts, you’ll remember that last week, I said ChefSuki and I would be making some decisions about the future of Space Monkeys Down. It was Thanksgiving here in the US, which meant we cooked and over ate with our family and friends last Thursday. We did not partake in the madness that is modern Black Friday, mainly because why? Anyway, I’m going to step away from my soapbox and move back to my podium. 🙂 ChefSuki and I realized we need a better way to learn how to make games, a way to build our lore, and a solid way of communicating what we’re doing to you, our fans. Encompassing all this is a way to track all the tasks, big and small, that go into building a successful company.
Designing and Building Small Games
Post Metatopia, I’ve talked to a few game designers and I have asked all of them “How can I learn to make games?” Invariably, the answer is “First you play lots of games, and then you make games from what you’ve learned.” At first, this answer frustrated me. I like to read and learn about a topic before I engage in a task. For example, in my day job, I’m a software developer and when I need to use a new framework, I go out and read blogs and a book or three about it. It helps me feel comfortable about what I’m doing. It took a few weeks for me to connect that “playing more games” serves the same purpose as “reading blogs and books.” A key difference is that when I’m playing the games I need to analyze them and not just enjoy them. Without the analysis, I only get the fun out of the game – which is great but not what I’m trying to do now. To be completely honest with you and myself, that little tidbit of knowledge just clicked while I’m writing this post.
Well I think I can handle playing more games – hey, it’s a rough life but someone has to do it. 😉 I also have a notebook that I will keep with me so I can record all the things I learn while I’m playing a game. All those fleeting thoughts of “that’s an interesting way to resolve that” need to go somewhere. That takes care of the first half – “play more games.” On to the second half – “make games from what you’ve learned.” A concept I’ve been toying with for a while now is that of a dungeon crawling dice-based game. I own Tasty Minstrel Games’ Dungeon Roll and I have a good time with it, however, there are things I would do differently in a dungeon crawl game. ChefSuki agrees, and with that, some sort of dungeon delving dice game will be our next game. In fact, that’s our codename for it, Dungeon Delving Dice. Be on the lookout for more details in the coming weeks.
World Building in All Its Terrifying Glory
By no means are we going to abandon Topexx Dominions and all the work we’ve put into it. ChefSuki and I have had lots of fun designing the game as it exists today and more importantly, we’ve had a grand time building the world that it’s set in. In fact, we realized that building the world has been more enjoyable than building the game. I’ve played role-playing games all my life, and I’ve built a world once before for my ongoing Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, so I’m not a stranger to the concept. However, I’ve never actually built the world and the framework for the setting. This helps us as it keeps all our games connected, which is important to us. We want our fans to be part of a larger universe where the games all connect to each other. Other forms of entertainment use connected stories all the time, books – Stephen King connects many of his worlds, movies – Pixar movies are set in same universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is completely connected. If books and movies can be connected, why not interconnect tabletop games? This is what we at Space Monkeys Down want to do, create interconnected tabletop games that allows the player to get more enjoyment from the games they’ve purchased. 🙂
Engaging With the Best People – You!
This represents the eighth week of posts on our Crash Site, and that’s a miracle all on its own. I have struggled with getting into the groove of writing posts for most of this year. I always mean to sit down and write and then I distract myself with something, anything, and then three months have gone by and still no post. Sigh. Well, I say no more! I have proven to myself that I can write and I can keep to a schedule. Starting in January, I’m going to write a second post every week. This gives us a post on Monday and a post on Thursday. Monday’s post will be free-flowing, not following a set topic, instead just rolling with what Space Monkeys Down is doing. The Thursday posts will follow a set of topics. Tentatively, I have selected the following topics and the order they come in.
- First Thursday of the month – what I learned in game design this past month
- Second Thursday of the month – con schedule and con related topics
- Third Thursday of the month – playtesting notes and related topics
- Fourth Thursday of the month – backstory and lore development updates
- Fifth Thursday of the month – a topic from the audience grab bag, which is questions you’ve asked us; this happens in March, June, September, and December in 2016
So look for these topics starting on January 7, 2016 with what I learned about designing games in December 2015. I hope that by then I’ll have some snappy names for the topics.
A Focus on Goals and Planning for 2016
While all the above-mentioned stuff sounds like and will be fun, it’s not all that’s needed to run a business. ChefSuki and I are adopting new ways to track our projects, to create tasks, and make sure we follow through on those tasks. I have to be honest with myself this is where the hard work comes in. Writing stories, creating content, designing games – that’s the fun stuffs! Those things make a great hobby. We don’t want just a hobby; we want a business, and a profitable one at that. Eventually, I want to quit my day job and make a living at this. I’m not going to bore the readers with lots of details on the tools and processes we are using; instead, I will trust that if anybody is interested they will leave a comment below.
As I write this, December is but a few days away, and I reflect back on the year. I see many good things, a several meh things, and only a few things that I cringe at, which is very awesome. There are many more good things than non-good, so I call it a win. Now is the time to look forward and start planning to make 2016 an even better year. ChefSuki and I are going to work on building a small game codenamed Dungeon Delving Dice. We’re going to build a world and a start building a framework to tell epic stories about that world (hey, maybe I’ll convince ChefSuki to write a blog in 2016). None of this work means anything unless we share it with our audience and more importantly engage with our audience to make the world better. Surrounding all of this is a business that will grow and feed back to the audience with more games and more fun.
Stay awesome – FiveHead