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Here There Be Dragons

October 13, 2012 in Completed, Games


The first board game I ever designed was in college…a cult classic called “Beer Run,” where you started in your dorm room with $1.83 (the amount of cash I had on me on the night I put the prototype together)–the game board was modeled after the game, “Life”–, and had to make your way to the gas station across the street, buy some alcohol, and return without getting caught. Along the way, you had to try to secure more money and a fake id (which improved your chances of success once you got to the station).

I like to think I’ve come a long way in terms of my design abilities, and in 2009, I had a chance to enter a local design competition with a title called “Here There Be Dragons.”

The hook here is that you play AS the dragon, trying to secure treasure and a lair site.

At game start, each player draws a card that defines a starting ability (all dragons have the basic flight, some magic, and breathing fire, but each player also gets a little something extra, as defined by the cards).

As you move around the board, you fight fantastical creatures, capture human towns, get hunted by angry humans, secure a lair site, stock it with guardians (monsters you control), and gain other powers, spells, and abilities.

The first dragon to secure ten gem stones for his horde, wins!

I took second, losing to a WWII tactical game, but I didn’t mind. All the judges got together every weekend to play exactly those kinds of games, so I was not surprised.

Still…second’s a pretty cozy place to be. :)

Ostensibly, the competition was the reason for designing the game, but if you’ve been following the little timeline, you’ll note that this was right in the middle of the “Dead Broke Cos of The Recession” period, so the main reason was…Christina had a thing for dragons.

Anyway, to my knowledge, only three copies of the game exist. Dave Sobotka has one (he did all the artwork), my ex wife has one (it was her birthday present that year), and I’ve got the third.

It’s not for sale, but this list would not be complete without giving it a mention.

Somewhere on my hard drive, one of the Candle’Bre volunteers (Dale!) made a little computer game version of it which is quite fun! (thanks Dale!)

Awesome stuff.

Project completed, September 2009

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The Courts of Candle’Bre

October 13, 2012 in Freebie, Games, Ongoing

I have to admit that after the success with “Five Days,” I felt pretty invincible.

I was active in the gaming community, and a conversation came up about who would be the “dream team” in terms of creating Civ 4.

To my surprise, my name came up on that list, and I was honored by it.

That got me thinking…hey, I’d written a few books to this point, and while hard, if I could do that, I could do a game, right?

So I jumped in with both feet and…

Oh. My. God.

Up to this point, the books were the hardest thing I’d ever attempted.

The computer game was harder.

Waaay harder.

Probably harder than all of them combined, and then a bit extra for good measure.

Jesus Christ…I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I intuited it fairly quickly though, and also learned that I had exactly NONE of the skills I’d need to make the project succeed.

That’s when I started casting about for help, and that’s when the Workshop became populated by more folks than just me.

I have learned so much thanks to this project (and am learning still…every single day I discover something new, either about the game, the process, or myself) that it boggles the mind.

One of the most important lessons learned though, is how much more enjoyable creating is, when you do it collaboratively.

Writing books is all well and good, but the real magic comes when you get a group of people in a room (virtual or otherwise) and start up a creative jam session.

From the first such “jam session,” I was hooked, and I haven’t looked back since.

Candle’Bre as a game will never be “done,” and I don’t care. There will always be something new to add, and I’ll enjoy every second of it.

Clicking on the website image on this post will take you to the site, if you’re curious to see what we ultimately created. It’s a turn based strategy game, set in a 100% original fantasy world, and beyond that, I will say no more, leaving it for you to explore.

Pssst! And guess what? The game’s free too!

** Solver and I talked about it, and we’ve learned so much from our first attempt, but we also feel that the game would be better served by starting on Candle’Bre 2.0. To that end, we’re calling this project done, so we can start with the re-imagined game, taking into account all that we’ve learned, keeping what works, and ditching what doesn’t.

Stay tuned for details!

Project begun 2002, formally ended October, 2012

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