25 May 2009

'Round & 'round

Just when you thought your design was done and ready for beta testing, the staff revolts and wants something completely different, like a throw in from left field that beans you unexpectedly. Being a game designer means having to say no, no way, forget it, etc, and then compromise, 'cause maybe you might be wrong. This is one of those no's, but with reservations just in case.

It comes mainly from me being a game designer, while others are history buffs who want the simulation side covered no matter how difficult that may be. A car analogy is appropriate. Some are willing to slap chrome onto the design until the engine — my bailiwick — cannot even move the car. My job is to keep the engine running and the chassis lean and functional, and the wheels aligned in one direction. That is harder than it first appears, as everyone wants it to run in different directions, at different speeds.

22 May 2009

Libraries & Reading

Unfortunately, these are two different things. My library is very impressive, but my reading is well behind my acquisition rate. There was a time I could keep up, but that time has most definitely passed, due to 1) time pressures of other aspects of my life, and, 2) my tendency to buy in excess of any notion of when I will accomplish reading all these wonderful books. Just like the rules junkie I am, I see great titles that have been reviewed well on topics I am interested in and out comes the wallet. Sad to say, I will have to stop before I am virtually surrounded by groaning bookshelves. But just one more cannot hurt...

17 May 2009

I Hate It When This Happens

You are designing a game, and well into the first playtest you discover a major flaw in the design. It was pointed out to me by an off-the-cuff, sort of throw away remark by one of the playtesters, but it resonated loudly. Now it requires a very thorough change in one of the major elements of the design, which, by the way, is the next campaign for General Quarters. Too early to say what it will be about, because it is not even in beta testing yet. So we have no idea when it will be released. But once we have a MSS, we will be broadcasting, you can be sure.

16 May 2009

AAR's, and why they help

There are a lot of After Action Reports in the ODGW Lounge section, most from the Miracle Mile Gamers (MMG) of Los Angeles. We play MP exclusively, and have been involved in playtesting down through the years. Taking pictures of the game is second nature for us, and our game host, Sacha Schwarzkopf, loves putting together the detailed narrative of the games, which — surprise! — always end with German victories. But anyone can contribute, and we wish others would. It is a great way to help along the hobby, and promote the game. Enlightened self-interest, doncha' know.

15 May 2009

Command Radii and Regulating Battalions

Almost two thousand posts on TMP on these two issues alone, and they were very detailed arguments backed up by plenty of primary research that I managed to get hold of. Just phenomenal. Hope I can put some of it into version two of Battlelines. Pretty overwhelming, though. Lots of reading of documents from the mid-18th to early 19th centuries.

Meine Truppen

Work continues on the infantry module for Mein Panzer 2, titled Meine Truppen. It is going to be a lot more than simply infantry though, and will have drop-ins for about six to seven of the chapters. All of the game has been heavily playtested, but we would certainly welcome more. There is that playtest problem again.

It would be great if we had some dedicated volunteers who loved tinkering with games. Other than us, of course.

12 May 2009

Origins Awards

Two years ago I sent in eight copies of General Quarters III for consideration as Origins Awards. Turns out that was just to get them on the ballot. The actual voting was done by the members at Origins, who had maybe never seen the games they were voting for or against. I will never do that again. Waste of eight perfectly good games.

11 May 2009

That website thing again

Everybody by now knows that ODGW has had recurring problems with its website. Even I have them. But we are working on a new site. Honest. And it will have the latest software we can get hold of, so that no one is frozen out, including me.

10 May 2009


One of the toughest things to get anyone to do is playtest. Everyone volunteers, and once you get rid of the people who just want a free copy of your rules, there still is the problem of people actually sitting down and critiquing the game — its rules, charts, graphics — everything. It is not fun, because you cannot play the game to win, and often have to do the same thing over and over again to see how different outcomes may occur. Right now I am trying to get playtesters for Meine Truppen, our next offering in the 20th century ground era, and a logical offshoot of Mein Panzer. The response to my request for help has been decidedly underwhelming.

Not good, since the more a system is banged on the better the shape it is in when finally released.

05 May 2009

The Latest Stuff

So, the latest stuff happening from the Old Dominion is updating of the Mein Panzer 2 Databook. Bob continues his encyclopaedic work on the massive tome that is the Databook. I cannot imagine the patience in putting the thing together — really beyond me. And we all await the final work on the WWI Supplement for Fleet Action Imminent. This will give us the French, American, Japanese, and the other smaller navies that could have seen action in WWI.

And there is more in the works...