After the interview with Ando and Katie Mae, see last post, about AndoCon 2014 we got to talking. The idea came up to make a contest for people who preregister for AndoCon 2014. I love doing these kinds of contests, and so we decided to do the AndoConcoction contest. The wonderful artists at VectoriaDesigns have once again stepped up, and agreed to provide the art for the contest. Ando gives all of the details on the AndoCon website, so check it out here:
Recently, I had a chance to talk with Ando, and Katie Mae the founders of last year’s surprise hit board gaming convention AndoCon. If you’re not familiar with AndoCon you might have a few questions about the convention, and the name. I’ve asked all of those questions, and from the people best suited to answer them.
David: Ando, Katie Mae, it’s nice to see you, thank you for meeting with me.
Ando: Thank you, Dave. It’s always a pleasure.
David: Many gamers local to Atlanta know you, and by extension AndoCon, still I sometimes meet people who haven’t yet heard of AndoCon.
Katie Mae: We like to call AndoCon a “Gaming Convention Plus”. Open gaming is kind of our biggest feature, but we have a lot of other things going on as well.
Ando: That’s right – we will never forget our gaming roots, but we have a lot to offer.
|AndoCon’s iconic Viking Cow.|
David: As a gamer it sounds like a fun project. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about AndoCon in time to attend last year, but before I get into that I want to talk about the question that I suspect people have had for awhile. Your convention shares your name. I’m guessing there is a story behind this?
Katie Mae: (laughs) I can attest to the fact that it’s not just an ego trip for him!
Ando: You would both be correct! AndoCon’s roots are with a group of our friends from college, and a series of house gaming parties. We had a tendency to give each one a cute, unique name like “Dead Week Bash” (that one for our friends at Georgia Tech) or “Because Cake”. But one time in 2009, I convinced two coworkers who were also geeks, to fly from their homes in New York and Washington state to Atlanta to game with us. We also had our first ever multiday party, spanning Friday and Saturday. At the end of the weekend, one of them was describing how much fun he’d had, and told me “You should do this every year! I dunno, call it……ANDOCON!” We laughed at it at first, but it kinda has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? So it just…stuck.
Let’s see. Where am I?
I have a game idea. I’ve expanded it. I’ve written rules. I’ve defined the world and tone of the game. I’ve run some playtests and gotten some feedback. I’ve refined the rules and started running some more playtests.
If you’re even half-way serious about actually publishing a game, there comes a point when you have to put that game in the hands of other players. After all, the stuff in my head and rules outlines aren’t easily transferable to others. Eventually, I might be able to download my thoughts into someone else’s head, but for now I have to write it all down.
For the past few weeks, I’ve set rules design aside and ventured, just a bit, into book design. That is, I’ve been writing up Murders & Acquisitions as an actual game book that others can read and use to play my little game. This is a new endeavor for me. In a sense, I’m “boldly going where I haven’t gone before.”
A few days ago, I sent playtest documents out to a dozen or so friends and industry contacts for playtesting and feedback over the course of May. If I’m going to have any chance of getting useful feedback, I need to put everything I’ve developed for M&A into a form that others can use. I’d like to think I’ve accomplished this goal. I sent a preview to Dave and he liked it, noting that it all made sense to him.
The way I see it, I need a Player Guide, a Supervisor Guide, some playtest adventures, and some pre-generated character sheets and stat blocks for my playtesters.
Before I began writing up the Player Guide, the first of my endeavors, I took a look at some of the game books I own and addressed a couple of points to guide me in exactly HOW I would write this thing up—organization and voice.
The first thing I realized about the organization of the game books I reviewed was that they each use a specific organization, unique to each one, that is designed to reflect and promote the game being described.
For example, “Vampire: The Masquerade” begins many of its chapters with a bit of prose, a story that presents the game in narrative terms. This isn’t surprising. The Storyteller games are heavily built around the story. The rules, while robust, are secondary to the tone, style, and atmosphere of the game play experience.
The Deadlands books do something similar, including stories at various points, but even going so far as to present all of the rules information in Old West lingo. This helps set the tone for the campy, comedy/horror Western game that Deadlands is.
Some of the more technical, strategic, and complex games I reviewed present piles of technical information. They don’t shy away from this. They dive right in and don’t stop. After all, if you’re interested in playing a very complex game, one would assume you’d be fine with reading very technical stuff and putting it all together in your head as you go.
When designing M&A, I’ve tried to stay focused on the tone and world of the game to get these points across. How is M&A different from other games (and how is it similar)? How can I provide examples of how the world of M&A differs from the real world so that the players realize it’s just like real world Earth except for points A, B, and C?
To that end, I designed the Player Guide to first focus on tone and setting. The first page hits on the basics of the game—what it’s about and what things you need to play it. The next two pages describe the tone and the world of M&A. I follow this up with a breakdown of each part of the character sheet. This plays into the rules, certainly. But it also reinforces the tone and world. The character sheet looks like a resume…but isn’t quite the same. Just like M&A is set in the real world…but isn’t quite the same. Two full pages are spent on breaking down the character sheet.
I spend the remainder of the 17-page Player Guide on the rules, including the core rule set as well as the first modular rules add-on I’ve developed—spellcasting rules.