• Category Archives Geek
  • Grad Pad Games and Heffers Games

    Last Saturday I headed down to the double bill of the Grad Pad Games monthly game day and Heffers fortnightly evening games night. Eleven games played in total, six of them new. Loads of new players as well. He’re a rundown below of the new games I played.

    Quite an interesting game set in an underwater kingdom where you are trying to influence the council to select the new king. You start by collecting cards with low influence which use then spend to get Lord cards that give you both VPs and extra powers. A unique card drawing system means that every card you draw has to be offered to other players in an auction, where they can pay you to take the good cards before you have a chance. Quite tactical towards with several routes to get victory, but I won in the end. 🙂

    Then after lunch I joined another table to play some shorter games.

    Fun and quick games where you have to secretly build structures out of six dice based on a blueprint card you are given. Your structures are then scored depending on the colour of dice you used and the winners get victory points for the highest scoring building, with extra points awarded for style. Very fun but misleading as you can often do better by doing your own thing rather than sticking to the blueprints. Now that gives me a great idea for a film!

    Love Letter
    I bought this last week and it is my new favourite quick game. I won this one too after coming from 3-0 down to winning 4-3-2-2. I see a new Batman edition is coming out soon!

    A more serious game where your dice represent space ships with different abilities, which need to colonise different planets. I got annoyed with the player next to me as he kept asking questions, despite all the info being clearly listed on the play sheets we were given. Then again he may have been bluffing as he ended up winning as I missed his potential for a win while I was setting up my win the next turn. We played with 4 players which had an interesting mechanic, where two of us leaped into early leads while the other two fought each other until they noticed we were winning and then attacked us. Interested to see how it works with two players but there seemed to be several board variations to keep it interesting.

    Cthulhu Fluxx
    Fluxx – Cthluhu style. Just a quick 2P game with a first time player. Quite short but I managed to pull off a win with an Ungoal and Secret Cultist. 😀

    Camel Up
    Finished the session with a 7 player game of Camel Up. I liked this the first time I played it and bought myself a copy, but when I played it with my friends none of them did, despite it winning the Spiel du Jours! Fortunately I managed to sell my copy for £20 earlier in the day so it wasn’t too bad. Came second this time round.

    At this point it was getting close to six and I had trouble finding other games for a group to play. The group really likes eurogames and when I look around the hall a lot of the games look like maps with lots of coloured blocks on them. While I like the odd eurogame, I do like a lot of flavour in my games too. While I enjoy playing with them, and tried lots of great games, many of them can be quite disparaging about games like Fluxx or Last Night on Earth, which I had taken down hoping to play.

    So I decided to leave early and check out the new games night I had just heard about. This one is a fortnightly Saturday night club ran in the Heffers bookshop after it closes.

    Now this is more my group. Younger (Lots more students – but with enough other older people that I didn’t feel old) and more fun. We could talk about Tabletop and see it as inspiration, rather than something looked down on in a hipster fashion. I could also see lots of copies of games I already owned. People were playing everything from Magic: TG to Axis and Allies. One person even had a bag of all versions of Fluxx. Within minutes of turning up I was with a group of eight to play an introductory game, which worked out well as both a way to get people playing straight away and meeting new people.

    A cross between pictionary and chinese whispers. We didn’t score but we had fun drawing and guessing and then going over the answers at the end.

    Another TableTop game I hadn’t tried yet. I was worried that I wasn’t creative enough to really get into it – and I was right! I had fun playing it but wasn’t surprised when I had finished last. I’d play it again but I wouldn’t pick it.

    The Resistance: Battlestar Galactica Edition
    I’d been wanting to play this for a while – and the Battlestar Galactica theme fitted quite well, even if it did contain spoilers for those who hadn’t seen the whole series. I ended up being a traiterous cylon, trying to bring down Galactica. I was doing quite well and had them convinced I was a trustworty human, when I made a fatal error because I didn’t know the rules of the game and they weren’t explained properly (There was no official rules). When they tried to explain a special rule I thought they were dicussing strategy – not a rule. So due to my imcompetance we lost. 🙁 Shame as I had set it up for a spectacular Cylon victory.

    Forbidden Island
    We then split into smaller groups while waiting for another game to finish and played Forbidden Island. We were doing well until we noticed I had gotten a rule wrong. The game then got a lot, lot harder. We still scraped a win, but now I understand why I had won so many games in the past.

    Last Night on Earth
    As soon as I turned up and mentioned that I had brought LNOE with me the organiser and her husband said they wanted to play. We soon had a group of six interested once we were all available and despite deciding to swap two players at the last minute for taking too long we then had a fantastic game. Lots of arguing, rules change, roleplaying, and most of all fun, everyone enjoyed playin the Escape in the Truck scenario. I was rolling like Wil Wheaton (My first hero started outside and moved 1 space a turn for 4 turns before being surrounded and killed by zombies). But with two turns left and me on my 4th hero we eventually escaped victorious. Well I say “we” but I mean “they”, as my last hero missed the truck by one space so they left me behind!

    So overall I had a fantastic time at the Heffers event. I’ve already arranged with the organiser to have a Mansions of Madness game at the next session and we have all the players already lined up. Really looking forward to that.

  • The Big Comedown

    So I’m sitting here at CB2Indies and feeling a little bit lost. Now that I finished the game over the weekend I’m not sure what to do next. Work on previous projects? Start something new? Tweak Super Bomber?

    Maybe it’s just too soon. I’m in a mixed head space whether to go back and while I’ve thought of a new game idea, it’s way too complex for the stage I’m at.

    That rush went quick.

  • When is a bug not a bug?

    When it’s a “feature” in Unity. 🙁

    So I started development on my weekend game last night while watching Inception at a friend’s house. After a great burst of speed at the start I then started running into problems trying to get triggers and collisions to work. I’m making a very simple 2D game so I thought it would be a good time to try out the new 2D features that come with Unity 4.3. Tutorial after tutorial, page after page I keep comparing their code to mine and it wasn’t working.

    Further investigation reveals it’s a known bug or “feature” according to Unity and triggers don’t work the same way as they do in 3D.

    So after many wasted hours last night and this morning I am ready to start another sprint and converting everything back over to 3D. Hopefully I’ll have a lot more done by the time I have to leave for the cinema.


  • Who wants to be a Games Developer?

    So I spent five minutes at the end of work trying to decide if I should take my laptop home again and if I do whether it would just sit in my bag overnight as usual or will I actually use it. I always have the intention to hook it up to my home office (which in reality is just a computer desk in my bedroom)  but too often I get distracted by Netflix, Facebook and my tablet to actually get around to coding, and when I do get in the mood it’s often too late to do anything except go to bed to avoid being grumpy at work the next morning.

    But tonight I have taken it out of the bag, hooked it up and started coding, because that’s what I want to do.

    Well honestly I set it up, played some Marvel Puzzle Quest on the iPad, checked Facebook and tried to copy up some old music to play. But the intention is there. Once I finish updating this Blog and nip out to the shops and get dinner.

    When I have such low willpower I often wonder whether I want to be a games developer or not? If I truly wanted it would I be trying to code whenever I get a chance. After all, when I put my mind to it I do enjoy it. I’m just not very good at following through.

    I guess it’s what I want to do because that’s what I’m thinking about. When I’m in meetings at work. When I’m playing other games. When I’m cycling. When I’m trying to sleep. Especially when I’m trying to sleep. I come up with ideas, and mechanics, and really cool tricks to get certain effects and solve interesting problems even if I don’t know how to actually code the solutions I come up with.

    It’s been going on for years. I first started coding games on the ZX Spectrum out of magazines and 30 years later I still want to develop games. I just haven’t gotten around to learning how yet. To be honest that’s probably not quite true. I’ve spent a few years learning code, getting disheartened, forgetting how to code, learn to code another language, forgetting how to code that, etc. etc.  I think the problem is I get ideas of what I want to produce in my head and all the tutorials are read never take me anywhere near to where I want to be.

    But recently I’ve decided to take on Unity. After a year learning Javascript at Codecademy and running into the same issues I’ve jumped straight into Unity where at least I can see progress easily, not have to worry about getting game-engines to work and have loads of really useful tutorials at my fingertips.

    I still haven’t written a game yet.

    One of the best pieces of advice I have seen for writers is response to the question “How do I become a writer?”. The answer, of course, is “Write a book.”

    [I’ve just fired up Hearthstone while typing this. Typical. Back in a minute.]

    Some other advice I had from a friend of mine who wanted to be a writer was to meet more writers. He started going writing meets and when he started he felt like a fraud, as though he was working at his craft he hadn’t published anything at that time. He is now published but part of him still thinks he’s a fraud. Since starting to follow lots of authors on twitter I’ve heard this feeling never truly goes away.

    So I’ve started to follow some of this advice but it’s hard. I’ve started going to Indie dev meets, reading blogs and following devs on twitter but I still feel like a fraud. I guess it doesn’t help that I live in a town with several successful development studios and count several professional developers amongst my friends. I want to do this by myself and don’t want them pester them for constant advice and help as I know how irritating it is from my line of work. I also don’t want them to laugh at my code, which no doubt looks like a child’s scribble compared to picasso. (I’m sure they won’t really).

    Well this has gone off the rails a bit and a bit dark, so how about some of the more positive points. Why do I still think I can do this?

    Well a big one is that I still haven’t seen a lot of my ideas out there in the market. So I like to think they are new and unique. Kevin Smith once said that the only audience you should make films for is yourself. Because if you like it there’s sure to be some other weirdos who like it too. Or something like that.

    Another is that often I get stuck on the most basic things. Well at least to me they are basic ideas. I am always surprised when trawling through hours and pages of tutorials that it appears that no-one has had these ideas before or is trying to make the same thing. Unfortunately this leads into one of my biggest fears when asking for help. I’m not the fastest coder so I’m frightened that if I do explain my new idea to someone they could knock up a full working prototype in a weekend and take the credit for it while I’m still struggling. Not very trusting but I never said these weren’t irrational fears. Oops. Negative again.

    So what can I do about it? Taking some advice I’ve seen, I’m going to put my current project to one side and create a game this weekend. On Monday I will post it on here for people to play.

    At least then I can say that I have written a game. 🙂



  • Indie Meet

    So last night I went to my 3rd local Indie developers meet. I say my third but really it was my second as I didn’t talk to anyone last time, or my first as I really didn’t know what I was doing the first time a couple of months ago.

    First off, everyone was really nice and welcoming and very helpful with my questions. I did hit one of the nightmare scenarios when someone checked my code, mentioned I was doing it wrong and suggested I used loads of methods I hadn’t even come across yet. 🙁

    I know he was helping and my code wasn’t perfect but it was still something I was worried about.

    At least my ideas still sound new and looking on the bright side I now have something new to study.


    Still looking forward to next week.