Tag Archives: design

Prize Giveaway – My Little Pony CCG Starter Sets up for grabs!

Hello dear readers!

If you’ve listened to the last couple of episodes of the show and seen the recent review I wrote, you’ll know that I’ve become slightly obsessed with the newly released My Little Pony CCG. It’s a cracking little game, well balanced and fun to boot – and it’s out here in the UK this week. To celebrate, the lovely folks at Esdevium have given me three copies of the Two Player Starter Sets to pass on to three lucky people! Look!


As you can see, the sets come with two Theme Decks, one each for Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy (who is best pony), as well a large playmat, action point tokens and rulebook. You could have one of these boxes in your hands soon if you’re creative enough – all you need to do is a little bit of drawing!

If you’ve watched the show, you’ll know that each Pony has their own Cutie Mark – basically a little graphic on their flank that represents a skill or ability that they’re great at. What I want you guys to do is design a Cutie Mark for a Pony that’s frankly awesome at games. Perhaps they’re a designer. Maybe they just play. Whatever it is, you have your task – draw a gamers Cutie Mark! You can do it using whatever you like – MS Paint, Illustrator, on paper and take a photo… the choice is yours.

Once you’ve completed your design, email it to michael@littlemetaldog.com before 6pm GMT NEXT WEDNESDAY. That gives you a full week to get sorted out. I’ll make my decisions (and my call is FINAL), post up the winning entries here on the site next Wednesday evening and mail out the Starter Sets to the winners the following day. This is a WORLDWIDE contest – wherever you are, you can enter, so get your markers out and get designing!

Good luck!




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#NaGaDeMon Update: Listen Up

The #NaGaDeMon truck rolls on, creative juices continue to boil away and my wee game gets closer to being finished. If you’re unaware of what NaGaDeMon is, here’s the deal: much like NaNoWriMo where people are given the challenge to write a 50,000 word first draft of novel from scratch, this is a month long task through the month of November where those who take part make a brand new game from the ground up. From the original concept to a finished working game in thirty days – and as I’ve found out, this is not as easy as you may think.

In my last update, I talked about the idea I had for a space exploration game involving a stack of double-sided hex tiles and a big ol’ pile of small plastic cylinders. The name of the game is Pocket Universe and players travel around the tiles, revealing more and more of the board as they move about, collecting resources and either stashing them back at their base for points or using them to perform special actions. Since that last post I’ve played it a lot and – in all honesty – reckon that it’s a pretty good game. Of course, I would say that. I’ve designed it. I’m proud of it. The trick is to get other people to try it out and let me know what they think.

Anyone who does anything vaguely creative has to learn one thing very early: how to accept criticism graciously and not let it upset you. Whether it’s writing, making music, painting or – yes – making games, you’ve got to be willing to listen to what people say about your creation. If they like it, great! It’s always lovely to hear them praise what you have made. What you also need to do is give as much time to those who have negative things to say about what you’ve made and, more importantly, act upon their advice. It’s fine to ignore the ones who just say “that’s crap” and offer nothing else, but if people have ideas? Listen.

You don’t have to act on everything but you should always consider what they have to say.

I actually managed to get the files for Pocket Universe out to ten different people and groups to playtest it for me, and the feedback has been great. Yes, it’s been splendid hearing from folks who’ve played it and enjoyed it… but what I’ve found even better is the reports I’ve had back from those who’ve played it and have suggested what can be done to improve the game experience. I want to make the best thing I can, a fun game that offers a level of challenge to all who play it. In particular, I’ve had some great assistance from Newcastle Gamers’ Gareth and Robert who frankly ripped my rules to shreds – but you know… that’s exactly what needs to happen.

Gareth printed out *all* the tiles on thick card stock. It looks... pretty awesome.

In my last update I mentioned that I’m not fantastic at rules. I need them to be looked at so I can go back and fix things, sew up holes, clarify points that need clearing up – nothing is perfect first time around. The game is still essentially the same but the rules are now so much better – streamlined, simplified and (best of all) not fussy. I still don’t think that they’re finished but it’s certainly getting much closer.

What I’ve also done is add a new element to the game, again under suggestion from playtesters. Each player now has a special ability that affects everyone else, such as taking over a wormhole so they can collect a toll from other users or upgrading the resources on a single planet. It just adds an extra level to the game that can give players an advantage – assuming that it’s used at the correct time. I’m still ironing out the kinks with it (especially with how they’re allocated at the start of play) but there’s still time. There’s still ten days left of #NaGaDeMon. I can do this.


Filed under Design Diary

Creative Juices: Time for #NaGaDeMon


Flicking about on Twitter today, it seems like the whole internet is throwing itself into one of two things. People are either going mental for Movember, the practice of growing moustaches for charity (good work to all involved) or going headlong into NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo, I’d suggest you head over to http://www.nanowrimo.org and do some investigating. It’s basically a month long spurt to create a piece of writing of at least 50,000 words. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be that good – the challenge is to actually show yourself that you’ve got the beans to stick with the project and complete it.

I admit that I actually tried NaNoWriMo last year. I was religiously tapping away on my keyboard every day, working away not on a novel but a new RPG system that I’d called Flow. I was doing alright actually, about 15,000 words down… when suddenly my desktop computer (nicknamed The Beast) died, never to power up again. I didn’t have the heart to go on, all those words lost.

Twelve months on and I still don’t see myself writing that many words. However, I do have another project in mind – #NaGaDeMon

I stumbled across it at the Peril Planet site and I am totally up for it. At last, a project that I could feasibly finish! Most gamers will know what a Naga Demon is (especially if they’ve dabbled in D&D or World of Warcraft) but this one is a little different. Standing for National Game Design Month, you have one simple aim: design, build and play a brand new game from scratch in the space of thirty days.

Here are the full rules as laid down by Peril Planet:

Create the game in November. It can be based on ideas, notes and other resources, but the putting together of the game should occur during the month.

Finish the game in November. Complete the game! A complete game should have everything required to play – no hand-waving (“Oh, I’ll make those cards later”) allowed! In the case of an RPG this means rules for character generation, resolving conflict, experience, and setting. Boardgames will need the actual board, pawns, cards and/or other objects gathered or created. Wargames will require rules for all the pertinent action and probably a couple of army / force lists (and you will obviously need some armies to battle with when it comes time to play the game!).

Play the game in November. It doesn’t matter whether you play your game in the garage with your mates, on line with a stranger, with your Nan over a cup of tea, or by yourself in the attic – just play it at least once!

Talk about your experience. Either during November or after, talk about what you did; share the game with others; blog about the process; tell everyone how awesome you did or how epic your failure was. What’s the point of creating your own game if you don’t tell everyone about it!

(Cheers to the folks over there for laying them out so eloquently.)

So that’s it. I’ll be taking part in #NaGaDeMon and coming up with a brand new game in one month and document my adventures each week. It could be fun, it could be terrible, but at least it’ll be vaguely interesting (I hope). If you’re up for joining in the fun as well, post below; I think we’ll need all the help we can get…


Filed under Design Diary, News

The Story of Espionage – Part Two: Coming Together

So here’s part two of me and Mark’s Designer Diary for our new project, Espionage. This time around, Mark takes the lead and explains exactly what our game is about… If you’ve missed Part One, click here to read it!


As you would have noticed from previous posts here and on Michael Fox’s Little Metal Dog Show, he and I are designing a board game called Espionage.

We have been putting in a lot of time and energy into the design and are now at the point where we can begin the process of play testing. Thankfully we already have volunteers to do this and I have already sent out files to them.

Its all very exciting and frightening as we open the doors to others to have a peek! Is the game perfect? Not at all. But play testing will help us to get it into (hopefully…) a condition to interest publishers. We are confident that we have a good theme – pre-World War 1 spies in London. We also are very focused and committed that Espionage will be a gateway game, suitable to all types of gamers and non-gamers with, simple, concise rules. A game to be played in roughly 30-45 minutes. Most of all, we think it will be fun!

Main premise of Espionage

Espionage is a light-hearted team based game for 2, 4 or 6 players, set in London in the period prior to the breakout of the First World War.

The players take on the roles of German Intelligence Agents or British Counter-Intelligence Agents who carry out various “Missions” to gather or prevent the gathering of military intelligence in one of the world’s most important cities. To win the game, Players gain victory points by completing missions as described by Mission cards they collect.  There are two types of victories.

Team victory – the team with the most victory points wins

Ace of Spies – The individual with the single highest total of victory points is proclaimed Ace of Spies!

Missions are completed by traveling to different locations in London using travel cards that indicate how many locations can be travelled through in a single turn.  Players can use Intervention cards to prevent other players from accomplishing their missions.  There are only 10 rounds so the players will be under pressure to complete as many missions in their hand as possible, also knowing that any uncompleted missions will count against their victory point total.

Game Process

A game of Espionage consists of 10 Rounds where all players each take their turn

Each Round has the following steps – All players

Choose the starting player

Draw Mission/Intervention cards

Draw up to three Travel cards from the Travel Card deck

Draw FIVE Shillings for Agency Travel Expenses

Individual Players in turn order do the following

Move your Hansom Cab player token and Place Start and Finish Mission Tokens as appropriate

Players can end movement on a Special Ability space to collect a Special Ability

Other players can play Intervention cards during another player’s turn

Play then passes to next player.

Last turn is at the end of 10 Rounds when the last player completes their turn actions.

End Game Phase – All Players turn over their alignment cards to reveal which alignment will be rewarded with Mission Victory Points

The winning team has the highest total of Victory Points.

The Ace of Spies is the player with the highest total of Victory Points earned.

I’ve included some images created by Michael here of our play test, in other words, very rough draft materials to give everyone a sense of the look and feel. Of course, this will change as we move along but for now, its a prototype.

Prototype London Map

Mission Card - British players complete the green missions, German players the red.

Character card - each one has a little flavour text and start location.

So far, we are generally happy with our rules as a starting point. Its been hard work and very interesting and enjoyable. We have also managed to find how best to collaborate in terms of using our strengths, skills and experiences.It has been really a rewarding exercise and who knows, we may just have something here!


Michael here again!

So, this is pretty much the sum of what we’ve been working on these past few months. Obviously both Mark and myself have full time jobs so this is something we’re plugging away with in our spare time. There’s been lots of early mornings, especially at the weekends, where I’ve dragged myself out of bed and huddled over the computer armed only with coffee and BBC Radio 5 Live attempting to get things rolling.

As you can tell from the images above, graphic design is far from my strong point. The basic look that you see is actually much better than the first shambling attempts I made – these are at least legible. However, every time I do something different on Photoshop, it’s a learning experience – slow learning admittedly, but I’m making progress nonetheless. I’m quite sure that other stuff is being forgotten as I make room for these new skills, but that’s the tradeoff I make!

Mark has been amazing. The idea originally came from him and the rules are kind of his responsibility, so blame him if they’re broken! Seriously though, he’s rewritten and rejigged them more times than you know. The original ruleset has, through our regular discussions, morphed into something that actually feels like a solid engine – but now the fun begins: playtesting. Frankly I’m bleedin’ terrified. I get worried enough about sending each episode of the show out into the ether, so having people check out something real and solid that I’ve had a hand in creating is utterly horrifying… Here’s hoping the feedback is OK. If you see a copy of Espionage around and you get to try it, please be constructive!

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Episode 15 with Days of Wonder’s Mark Kaufman and the return of Daniel Solis!

It’s taken a little while to put Episode 15 together, but at last… here you go! Once again, there’s a pair of interviews for your listening pleasure, beginning with a discussion about the past, present and future of Days of Wonder with one of its co-founders, Mark Kaufman. DoW are (of course) responsible for some incredible games, not least Ticket to Ride, Memoir ’44 and the excellent Colosseum. We discuss how technology is impacting on the company and how they become one of the most recognisable names in the industry, as well as their upcoming new release – Cargo Noir. After that, it’s the return of one of my favourite folks to talk to: Daniel Solis. Following his last appearance on the show, I had many emails asking when he’d return, so who am I to fly in the face of public opinion? We talk about designing in public, something Daniel has occasionally been known to do, and what’s more important – theme or mechanics?

Chris gets another episode off – preparing for a wedding is taking it’s toll! – but I hope this week’s competition makes up for it. You may be aware that one of my favourite Trading Card Games is the brilliant World of Warcraft TCG and I’d like to share the love. Thanks to the guys over at Tomy, The Little Metal Dog Show is giving away TWO Worldbreaker Epic Collections. Doesn’t matter where you are in the world – everyone is eligible to enter. There’s a question in the show that requires an answer which needs to be sent to littlemetaldog@gmail.com, making sure you’ve put ‘WoWTCG’ in the subject header. Closing date is Saturday 12th February 2011! Winners will be chosen at random from all correct entries and will be contacted via email, as well as on here.

Now, if you fancy an extra entry, you could always become a fan of the show over on Facebook! Yes, I’ve finally succumbed to the march of progress and put a Little Metal Dog Fanpage up. Have a look, spread the word, and keep an eye out over there for exclusive updates and upcoming competitions… you can find it at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Little-Metal-Dog-Show/118250901580941

Thank you, as always, for listening and supporting the show! It’s available now on iTunes or directly from this link right here – enjoy!

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