Dice Inc.

What is Dice Inc.?

Dice Inc is an economic dice battle game with dice auctions, stock markets and dice battles. Players are the CEO of their own company and their goal is to be the first player with $1500. Every turn, players will gain money and shares via dice movement, battle and hex income. The more dice and hexes the players own, the more money they will collect. The catch is, to earn more dice, players need to give shares of their company to other players through a dice auction. When it comes to the income phase (where most of a players money comes from), players will need to pay the different share holders in their company. While everyone is trying to build up their bank account, dice will be battling each other for control of the most valuable hexes and effects that are “floating” around the board. Effects range from bonus cash, bonus shares to cash penalties and even Tax Day so not all effects are good and effects will hurt your share holders.

Dice Inc. Board
Dice Inc. Board

What we like about it

Like is not a strong enough word. We love this game and are extremely excited to have designed a game we think can make a “welcome to the game world” statement for TGIK Games. We like the blend of mechanics across every players turn. None of the mechanics take over the game and when one mechanic finished, the game flows to the next mechanic simply and logically. We really enjoy the dual auction system Dice Inc. uses. If a player wants a die, they will need to offer shares of their company. If a player wants those shares, they will offer cash. One die auction can have multiple players on both sides of the transaction, so much fun. The battle mechanic for this game is super simple and we really wanted to keep it that way. Sometimes it is too easy to make a battle mechanic filled with adjustments and mods and we really wanted to avoid that. Even though battle is simple, the board turns into a predator vs prey dance. Certain dice can be combined to make powerful units which allows for players to transition from economic mode to attack mode. We love the player interaction being on three different levels. Players participate in auctions, battle and “dance” with each other and buy and sell company stock with one another. Along with player interaction, every player gets to move their company die on everyone else’s turn, so there is no room for downtime when other people are playing. We love that none of the parts in Dice Inc are too complicated to pick up. Each part of the game on its own is simple and straight forward. This makes the game easy to pick up for casual and family gamers, and when all the parts are combined, we feel there is meat on the strategy bone for the more experience gamer. Finally, and most of all, we believe this is a great game to introduce TGIK to the gaming world. Broad appeal, simple and fun mechanics, dice, and tons of player interaction!

Company Ownership
Company Ownership

What we don’t like about it

Most, if not all, of what we don’t like is due to the early stages of testing. We have yet to figure out the best end game trigger. Right now we sit at first player to $1500, but that feels anti-climactic. When testing the game, it makes sense and it might be the way to go, but I like my end game triggers to be a little more interesting….but for now it is what it is. We don’t know how long a game takes yet….what!!!?? Since we have had to slow play testing and work out the bugs, we have not had a chance to play a full game where every turn flows the way it should. We have had half games that flow wonderfully but not a full game so we don’t know how long game play is. While the game has been great in the 3-4 player setting, we are working on the 2p variant, and the game feels very different with 2 players. We might scrap the idea, we might keep working on it. Finally, the rough prototype we have only supports 4 players right now. We would like it to support more but lack of dice supply and other materials is tripping up prototype expansion plans. Go out and get them you say? Life gets in the way of design more often then I want it to…

Battle Dancing
Battle Dancing
To Battle!
To Battle!

What we have left to do

We need to upgrade the rough prototype, whether it be a Game Crafter copy or a better produced hand made copy. We need to get the rules into a rule book format. Right now, the rules fit on two index cards. We need to discuss plans for the artwork. I have ideas of what to do but Aidan and I have yet to talk about where we want to go with art. We need to test and test some more so we can find the base game and figure out the number of player Dice Inc will support.

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Turn Order…Sort Of

 

Future Plans

Since the base game has no theme other than running your own company, there is a lot of room for theme expansion. There are economic mechanics we would like to add in expansion, such as, Mergers and Acquisitions, running multiple companies and board formations.

All this for $5...No Joke!
All this for $5…No Joke!

Charge! A Fast Paced Army Building Card Game

We would like to introduce Charge! a fast paced army building card game.

What is It?

Each player is a General working to build an army and sabotage their enemies army while trying to avoid sabotage themselves. Charge! can be played by as many players as there are unique decks, 4-6 players works best. Charge! is a 13+ game with a play time of 15-20 min and playtime can be adjusted via the ending point total.

Charge! Backs
Charge! Backs

What we like about it!

I know what you are thinking….”Its your game, wouldn’t you like everything about the game?” The answer to that is no. I find that I am ultra critical of other games and that includes the games we work on. All games have their strengths and weaknesses and since I am critical of other games, it is only fair I am critical of ours.

Moving on to what we like, we really like that the game is easy for a newcomer to learn and explain to other newcomers after only one game. When we were putting together the rule book, we kept saying, “we wish we could teach this game without a rule book.” I guess that mentality applies to a lot of games, but being shown the game and playing two rounds, players know what they need to know in order to participate. We really like the number of players Charge! will support. As long as everyone has their own unique deck, the game can include many players or just a couple. The head to head feel of a 2p game is a lot of fun, the chaos of a 4-6 player game is where Charge! really shines. While Charge! is a fast paced game, one does not need to be a speed player to enjoy the game. There are strategies players of all speeds can employ in order to defeat the other generals. The sabotage mechanic is the catch up mechanic for slower players and players behind on the score sheet. At the end of every round, players find out if their army has been sabotaged. During the round, players might know but don’t really know if they have the most cards in their army and the anticipation as you are counting our army cards during score can be nerve racking. The amount of strategy in a game is great because players can try different strategies during one game. Most of all, we like the broad appeal for this game. We believe it has enough strategy to make hobby gamers happy, but has enough fun and chaos for casual gamers to enjoy.

A Full Charge! Army
A Full Charge! Army

What we don’t like…

The artwork, haha….or that lack thereof. I am meeting with out artist this weekend to discuss the artwork but we are in a tough spot with this game. These cards are going to live a tough life, so how much do you put into the artwork for cards not designed to live in a card sleeve? The plan right now is to go with a simple design for each unit and expand the art from there. Our other challenge, that is slightly art connected, is that this is closest game we have to being publishable and making the financial commitment required for art and all that goes with starting a game, is the commitment that needs to agree with both Aidan and me, our wives and our mortgages. I realize that Kickstarter is there for this kind of thing, but without a following it makes the success of a game almost impossible. The answer to that concern is the build a following…hence why we are here showing you what we do and why we love to design games! Being the closest game we have to publishing, I don’t think this is the best game for us to start with. The reason I think that is a podcast I listened to recently. I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was a Board Game University where the guest basically said that any games designed before a designers first known/successful game will not ride the wave created by the first successful game. Future games will be able to ride the wave but early games will not. Since Charge! is a filler game, I am not 100% confident this is the best game to run with first. Now, that being said, it will not stop us from going through and learning the process with Charge!. A potential challenge for the game could be the “solitaire” set up. Each player has a solitaire set up in front of them, and we are aware there is a stigma about that sort of game. However, that pace and chaos of the game should mitigate the feeling that players are “just playing solitaire.” The player interaction in the game is subtle with the sabotage mechanic, but the interaction of playing your card before your friend can get their card down if fun and infuriating.

What we have left to do?

Artwork! I am meeting with our artist….this sounds familiar…..this weekend and that will begin the journey that is artwork. ¬†We need to get print and play files ready for anyone who wants them. Speaking of which, if you would like the print and play when it is available email me at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com. The plan is to make the game available on The Game Crafter in July and then we will think about where to go from there. The hope is we can find a publisher to pair with us to publish the game. If we need to run a Kickstarter and publish on our own, we will take that route, but honestly, we would rather design than jump into the self publishing game.

Future Plans….

Simply, get the game published and use Charge! as a jumping off point to get our name out in the gaming world. We might look into a team based variant for the game, but for now, the game will stay as an individual format. The focus is on moving the process forward while designing other games. There is not a lot of room for tinkering with the design of Charge! We would like to make a video for Charge! as well, probably to coincide with the “public release” aka available on TGC of Charge!

Charge! Rule Book 1Charge! Rule Book 2Charge! Rule Book 3Charge! Rule Book 4

The TGIK Games Design Process

If you have ever wondered how a game goes from an electric signal in the brain to a playable game, this post is for you. We will share the general method we use to create and build our games. I say general method because an idea can come from anything. Our Robin Hood game stared from rolling a couple d10 at the kitchen table over and over for no other reason than I was waiting for my wife to get ready for a BBQ. Other game ideas come from watching and playing other games. For the purposes of this post I will start with my design book and work our way through the design of a game.

This first ideas for a game can come from anywhere, when they do, they are written down in one of two books. If I am not at home, potential ideas are written in a small book that lives in my pocket. If I am at home, ideas are kept in a larger notebook. As the general idea lists grow, I will have my favorites that interest me the most. When a favorite has been identified, a framework will be started.

Design Book
Where it all Starts
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Must have at all times

Frameworks for us, are designed to create a general flow for what a game is supposed to do. As the high level game overview forms, there might be some mechanics added to fit in with certain game situations. At this stage, there is a lot of pacing and thought experiment going into the framework. I will constantly ask myself, “what makes sense.” I should probably video tape myself going through this process one of these days just to see what it looks like. We strive to make the games have roots as close to reality as possible. Even if the theme of the game is not rooted in reality, we like to have the mechanics of a game function in a manner that makes logical sense. A framework will help determine what kind of board or card set up we will use when we produce the rough prototype. There are some games where the set up is almost automatic, but at this point, it is not a good idea to get stuck on one type of board or set up. For our Robin Hood project, I made the board first because I found a hex grid printable paper online and was so excited to create a board I did not think about what a board of it’s size and geography would do for the mechanics of the game. Now that we are a few more steps down the road with Robin Hood, the board I spent 3-4 hours creating might already be obsolete and we have not used it yet! Oh well lesson learned. I know I am at the end of the framework phase when a list of components/pieces appears detailing what needs to be produced to make the rough prototype. What I really like about framing a game is the natural timeline a framework creates. The framework tells me when the game is ready to be built and with the list of things to make, I am ready to move onto the prototype phase.

Before I get to the prototyping phase, I should mention the white board.

The white board is a great tool for designing games. The white board can be used during any and all parts of the entire design process. During the framework phase, I can use the white board to help visualize my thought experiments and make quick changes when need be. The white board is great for layouts of boards and cards before we take the time to make them. The versatility and ability to make quick changes, the white board helps get me though situations where I am blocked and really just need to try things out without having to commit other resources. The white board makes for a quick and easy place to jot down notes. I have 50 or 60 photos on my phone of notes I have written on the white board. I take pictures since I will be erasing the board several times during the design process.

After framing is complete, I will make the parts to build a rough but playable prototype. The playable prototype serves two purposes. First, show and explain the game to Aidan Short, my co-designer and have a copy of the game we can use with our buddies who are willing to play test with our handwritten index cards and poster board game boards.

Now that the game is in front of both Aidan and me, we get to the last pure design phase. Up to this point I have not played with many numbers. The basics have been applied but Aidan is the math guy in this thing we call TGIK. I will offer my initial pitch regarding numbers and mechanics and Aidan will confirm, make adjustments and add his own ideas. I should say, this part is a it nerve racking for me because I tend to think my mechanical ideas are “pure genius” and when I am delivering my pitch, Aidan will think before he replies, and a good reply from him will range from a simple “OK” to the top shelf reply of “I like that”. On a rare occasion I will get a “that will be a lot of fun!” I am sure we remember this part of the design process differently but I will leave that to him to provide more detail. We generally stick to the theme as it stands, but we are not “married” to any particular mechanic. The additions Aidan has are added to the game so they can be tried out with our first round of play testing. That testing might be just the two of us, but we have a habit of making games that play best with a minimum of three players.

In our group of friends we have 5 or 6 that are willing to give our hand written games a go. We get their feedback and we make changes as we go along. I won’t get deep into the weeds about play testing because that is a beast all its own.

Now that we are at the testing phase, we will test a few times and determine if we will continue on to refine our games. If we continue, we will make design changes during and after test sessions. What makes the design process so much fun is the control we have over the universe that is the game we are working on. Is something not working? Change it! And the options we have available to make that change are only limited to what we can dream up.

I hope you have enjoyed this look into how we design and I hope it inspires you to try designing a game of your own.

 

TGIK Games: Who We Are and How We Got Here

TGIK Games was born from a trip down the game aisle.

My name is Chris Renshall and I am one half of TGIK games. I spotted a game in the game aisle(a large corporation of red concentric circles) and expressed some interest in giving it a go. My wife took the timing of my birthday as a reason to purchase the game for me. The game was a football game (american football) that required a lot of dice rolling and some basic math skills. I took the game over to my buddy Aidan’s house and we played one game. We both had the same feeling after finishing the game, it was terrible. We proceeded to talk about how we would change the game to make it more fun and realistic. Aidan had the bring idea to stop in the middle of our conversation and grab pen and paper to write down the changes we were talking about. While we did not have a name for our new hobby, TGIK Games had been born.

I will leave the specifics for Line of Scrimmage for another post, but to this day, we believe it is the best game we have designed. The problem is, we designed the game with too many custom dice and the cost to produce is beyond what is reasonable. The lessons of how to design a game and keep production cost reasonable was not something we were worried about in the early days. (Pfft, cost, who needs to worry about cost!)

Aidan and I had found a new hobby we both enjoyed and could work early(7am early) on Saturday mornings when our wives were sleeping. The hobby became something different when we tested our first game with our non-football fan friends and they really liked it. If we could make fans of non-sport gamers, we could make games for hobby gamers and casual gamers. At least that is the thought we have been running with so far.

18 months have passed since we sat down to play a terrible football game and now are are making and testing prototypes, testing fledgling ideas and having a lot of fun in the process. We have expanded our ideas to include educational games (education being a passion for both of us) and have even been able to test a couple ideas in live classrooms. There is no reward greater than watching a student get into a game and you know that because of your efforts, that student is learning or strengthening their math skills.

There is a lot more to come from TGIK Games and we look forward to getting to know you all. The ride so far has been a blast and the community has been even better. I hope you join us on our journey as we turn our “out of nowhere” hobby into a thing that is more than a hobby, whatever that thing becomes…..