Category Archives: Orchestratraitor

Stretch goals and breaking rules

I’m in the process of putting the “Shenanigans: The Musical” Kickstarter page together and it’s becoming increasignly apparent that I want to break the rules. The core game consists of 24 cards and works perfectly well as a core. Then in addition to that we have three 10 card expansions. Conventional wisdom is to include the expansions as stretch goals, but increasingly I’d like to reject conventional wisdom.

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When “too short” becomes a problem

Recently I tried a gross simplification on Shenanigans: The Musical (as it’s now titled). I figured that the most interesting bit of a social deduction game is the discussion about who to target so wondered what would happen if I made the discussion encompass the whole game. I developed a version that I felt worked nicely on a mechanical level and did some playtesting, the results were unanimous: The new version is terrible.

titanic Continue reading When “too short” becomes a problem

Slash and Burn

Sometimes you’ve got a game that’s a fair way through testing and further refinements aren’t bringing any significant improvement. At this point you may be approaching the best game possible within the limitations set by the major decisions that you’ve made. This is a good place to be, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to rest on your laurels – it’s time to slash and burn.

sab Continue reading Slash and Burn

Games for teaching

Working for a charity is giving me a fascinating glimpse into how organisations of this nature deal with their duality. On the one hand we’re fundamentally about doing something to make the world better, but on the other we’re embedded in a system which obliges us to pay the bills if we want to keep using the office in which I now type. There’s always a tension between generating revenue (whether directly or through grants) and achieving our actual goals. None of this is really my part of the operation, I’m just supposed to make a game that can be added to the post-performance merchandise stand, but eavesdropping on these conversations has refined some of my thoughts on educational games.

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Victory Conditions

There are a variety of ways to win the artiste game, as each card has its own win condition. While there is always a manager who wins by catching the artiste and an artiste who wins by escaping, the other players could be up to anything. They could be trying to get a specific other player to win or to lose. They might be trying to make their suggestion influential or to make incorrect suggestions but have the artiste caught despite them. In today’s post I’d like to discuss different approaches to adding a variety of victory conditions to games.


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Analysing Social Deduction Games

Now that I’m a fair way in to developing a social deduction game I find myself trying to work out how to analyse social deduction game states. A competitive game should be winnable by either side, depending on their skilful choices and decision making, I want to get more into how social deduction games achieve this goal as a means to working out what to include in the people’s orchestra game.


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Tinkering with things that work

In last week’s playtesting two things were universally agreed:
(1) The ‘performance’ expansion is the best expansion as things stand.
(2) The ‘performance’ expansion does not live up to its potential and some of its cards do nothing.
This seems like an excellent time to start thinking about the ins and outs of tinkering with things that work, because sometimes if it ain’t broke it can still be made betterer.


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Signalling (art and titles)

Today we had a meeting with an artist and graphic designer who we may hire to work on the Artiste project. I’ve previously advocated placing a great deal of trust in artists – on the basis that there’s no sense in hiring an expert and then having a non-expert (i.e. me) telling them how to do their job. However in this case our prospective artist isn’t a gamer, so while I can trust her on the art, I need to be careful to indicate artistic and graphic elements that have specific meaning in the context of board games.


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