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On the Front Burner -- Fluxx Frying Pan -- Icehouse Saucepan -- Fluxx Crockpot -- In the Oven

WHAT'S ON THE STOVE?
A Planning Report from the Chief Designer
Feb 2005
Revised, 2/24/5

People always like to know what new things we're working on, and we enjoy being open with our plans. This document is an overview of the many new products and projects we're currently working on here at Looney Labs. This list ranges from games we're almost ready to print, to others that are very much still on the drawing board. Many of these projects will require extensive development time, not to mention investment capital, and some may never emerge at all (as you can see by looking at older versions of this document). There is no guarantee we will actually follow through with anything on this page; this is just a list of things we're thinking about and planning for at this time. Everything here is subject to change...


(since June 2004)


On the Front Burner:

Moving: The hottest item on our stovetop right now isn't a product at all, but a project as big or bigger than any of our many publications. After living in the same house for over 15 years, and getting pretty well dug in, we've decided to uproot ourselves and move to another part of the world. We've barely started packing and we haven't decided where we're headed yet (though Hamilton Ontario is looking really good), but one of our goals for 2005 is to put most of our collections and belongings into deep storage, move our corporate office into a neighbor's attic, put our house up for sale, and relocate. Doing all of that, while keeping the business running and attending the big summer trade shows, will leave little time for new products (despite the longness of the rest of this document). As described in the WWN recently, we've already decided not to run any sales booths at trade shows this year, because of how much more difficult running those sales booths would be while we're in the process of packing and moving. Similarly, don't be surprised if the rest of these plans end up being delayed in various ways.

Just Desserts: Previously Known only as "Secret Project JD-59," this will be Andy's 5th all-new card game, and after years of mulling over the ideas involved, the game has finally taken playable form. The deck will feature 59 dessert cards, each featuring a different mouth-watering dessert, with one or more category icons as appropriate for the dessert in question. For example, a chocolate frosted doughnut would have both the chocolate and the pastry icons while oatmeal raisin cookies would have the cookie and fruit icons. The deck will also contain people cards, each featuring a party guest who has a unique set of preferences when it comes to accepting the desserts being offered. Everyone has different tastes, after all, and some of us have dislikes and restrictions that are as important to deal with as our particular cravings. Anyway, the idea is that the players are waiters, scurrying about with trays filled with various desserts, and that we're all trying to satisfy as many of the guest's desires as we can.

Update: Since everyone wants to help playtest Just Desserts, and since the finished art is going to be a long time in coming, we have decided to print a fairly big test run of the beta edition of Just Desserts (much like the beta version of Chrononauts we released in 2000). The B&W playtest version of the game will be sold through the Short Run Deport, sometime this summer, and will use simple line drawings instead of the full color art the finished game will eventually feature.

Amsterdam Coffeeshop Playing Cards: Last May, I spent a month living in Amsterdam, taking photos and studying the coffeeshop scene. At first the idea was that Russell and I would write and publish a coffee table book about the coffeeshops, but since we know so much more about publishing playing cards than books, we've decided instead (or at least, first) to publish a deck of playing cards featuring the best of the photos we took in the Amsterdam coffeeshops. Besides being a fully functional and really cool deck of playing cards, it will also be a unique travel accessory, which we're calling "a Playing Card Walking Tour." Here's an initial 100 word blurb about the product:

Ever wonder what it's like inside those infamous 'coffeeshops' in Amsterdam, where adults can legally buy and smoke marijuana? This unique deck of playing cards provides a tiny glimpse. Each card features a photo of one of 52 different cannabis cafes, so you can take an imaginary tour of the coffeeshops any time you play cards. What's even more fun is to bring this deck with you on an actual trip to Amsterdam, where they can be used for a zany and unpredictable walking tour. Where to next? Pick a card at random to find out!

Chrononauts 3rd Printing: We're almost out of the 2nd printing of Chrononauts, and when they're all gone it might be out of print for a few months. We will allow this to happen for several reasons. First, since we plan to make a few adjustments to the game, we want to let the retail system purge itself of the old edition. Secondly, and more importantly, we have funding issues to consider, and with all the other stuff we'd like to print described on this page, we may find it necessary to let EAC be the only version of the game that is available for a little while. Lastly, the required corrections aren't done and it's not seeming likely that I will get them done and ready to go to the printers before the existing print run is exhausted. Heck, I've been too busy even to stay caught up on the mailing list! Of particular note, we have the following changes planned:

  • We're going to completely redo the rules, dropping the tiny book format we used originally and redoing the material in the large folded sheet format we used for the rules to EAC
  • Numerous cards need minor changes and corrections, in some cases to make it more compatible with EAC
  • 3 Promos -- the Really Fast Time Machine, the Teeny Tiny Time Machine, and the Jade Statue of Tirade -- will be added to the original game, replacing 3 of the 4 Restore History cards
  • 4 new promo cards must be planned for the 4 promo card slots on the cardsheet


The Fluxx Frying Pan:

At the risk of taking the stove analogy too far, I'm putting some of our hottest Fluxx ideas together on one big griddle:

Fluxx Jr.: At the moment there are only two Fluxx Jr. alpha decks in existence. I have one and the other I gave to my niece and nephew, Sharon and James, for them to playtest. Even so, we're feeling like the game is close enough to go to the printers, at least for an initial trial print run. We've talked about holding off on this until the distant future, until after the grand color redesign we're planning for Fluxx 4.0, but we've decided that it makes sense to go ahead and publish Fluxx Jr. in the classic style of the current edition, so that they can be easily combined. The Fluxx Jr cardlist (which I plan to post soon) includes a fun set of kid-oriented Keepers (with Goals to go with 'em, of course) including the House, the Playground, the Tree, the Dog, the Cat, the Mouse, the Stick, the Ball, Cheese, and Rain. Fluxx Jr will be a smaller sized version of the game as well, with a total of only 55 cards. The other card types included will be just the core set of really important New Rules and clearly needed Actions. There will also be a special pair of theme-related New Rules, the Child Bonus and the Parent Bonus, these being cards that give you a perk on your turn if you are either a child or a parent.

Update: Check out the preliminary Fluxx Jr. card list!

Fluxx Reduxx: One part sequel, one part retread, and one part experiment, it all adds up to something we're currently calling Fluxx Reduxx. Similar in many ways to Fluxx Jr, this will be a slimmed-down stand-alone version of Fluxx, with all new Keepers and Goals and with just the most standard and important Rules and Actions. It's a sequel in that it's a whole bunch of new Fluxx cards for the fans who've been craving new stuff, which can be combined with the original or enjoyed standalone; it's a retread in that the core game is the same, and many of the "new" Keepers and Goals are cards that have previously been seen in promo card form or in earlier editions of the game; and it's an experiment in that we're interested in seeing how well people like this leaner, simpler, smaller version of the game. Also, Fluxx Reduxx (and Fluxx Jr. too) will feature a couple of cool all-new Action cards we've been trying out lately, these being Jackpot! (which lets you draw 3 more cards right away) and Choose a New Rule (which lets you seek out and play your favorite rule from either the discard or draw piles, reshuffling the former into the latter thereafter).

Update: Check out the preliminary Fluxx Reduxx card list!

Fluxx 3.1: As more and more people buy Fluxx decks, the day when we need to reprint again draws ever closer. When next we do, there are several little corrections we plan to make to the most recent edition (version 3.0) of this, our flagship product. I need to get caught up on the Fluxx mailing list to see what else might need correcting, but I know we've already got several tweaks planned, including redesigning Go Fish and dropping the always confusing I Need a Goal in favor of the always fun Jackpot. Of course, Fluxx 3.1 will also include the cool new Basic Rules card, plus we plan to revise the display carton, making it more generic, so that we can use it for original Fluxx as well as for Fluxx Jr, Fluxx Reduxx, or even a combo pack.

The Cool New Basic Rules: As just mentioned, we have a cool new version of the Basic Rules card, which all of these new editions will include. It has a bold new design which was inspired by the GrundRegel card created by the Germans for German Fluxx. We think the new Basic Rules card is so cool, we'll probably publish it as a promo card, since everyone will want one to snazzy up their existing Fluxx decks. Perhaps it will be this summer's all purpose Fluxx promo.

Pandora's Box: The Fluxx Jr. box described and depicted on the previous issue of the stove has been deemed unworkable. However, with Fluxx Blanxx and all the promo cards we've made and the tendency for the cardboard boxes to fall apart after heavy use, we're still working on a way of providing our fans with a better, stronger Fluxx box. Pandora's Box will be a really cool little wooden box, big enough for a Fluxx deck with lots of extra cards, with Fluxx embossed somehow in the wooden lid, and with a special new promo card inside that's available nowhere else: an Action called Pandora's Box which requires you to flip and discard as many cards as are needed to find 3 New Rule cards, all of which are immediately put into play. We found a perfect box supplier at the last candy show we went to in Philly, so Pandora's Box will be arriving in the Dangling Carrot as soon as we can get it together to order the parts we need for it.


The Icehouse Saucepan:

The Icehouse game system is finally gaining a foothold in the gaming community, and the move towards boxed editions of popular games has made a big difference. That said, the pyramids continue to be more troublesome than they are profitable... our existing systems are too expensive and mistake-prone. We need to upgrade our mold and we'd love to find a single source that can make the pieces and build them out as packaged stashes or boxed game sets, shrink-wrapped and delivered in cases. (This is how it works with our card games and it's much easier than having to manage all that assembly work directly.) Anyway, besides keeping what we have in print and working at reducing costs, here's what's new in the tasty soup that is all things Icehouse...

Volcano: The 3rd boxed Icehouse game is to be Volcano. Marlene is working on the cover art for this one; she did the sketch shown here. Getting her to find the time to turn this into a finished painting is just one of the challenges we face in getting this to the printer. We also need to get a new generation of Volcano boards created... the ones we get from Kadon are beautiful but too expensive and too big. We have plans for a slim, lightweight, vacuum-formed plastic board, but it has yet to be fully engineered. As for the colors the set will include, we're think we've settled on white caps over red, yellow, orange, purple, and a new, exclusive color: magenta!

Hypothermia #16: When Zarf began running the Ice Game Design contests, we agreed to publish the winning games in the irregularly published Icehouse newsletter. Well, the Third contest is in the voting phase now (so please, go try out the new games!) and Zarf plans to finish the 4th before Origins, so it's not too early to start the layout and such on the games we already know we need to publish, these being Sprawl and Undercut.

 

Martian Chess: One of the oldest Icehouse games is the focus of our newest plans for a standalone boxed set. It will include 3 stashes of opaque pyramids: black, white, and another new color, gray. The set will also include a round felt gameboard, with a 5 player chessboard on one side and a 3 player chessboard on the back, thus making it playable by 2-5 players (though you'll need to provide your own Earth-style chessboard when playing with an even number). The color of the felt will be something in the orange-fuchsia range of the spectrum, so that the Martian chessboard has an appropriate "alien landscape" hue. (For more details on this new plan, check out the WWN article from 2/24/5, titled "Putting Martian Chess on the Stove.")

Homeworlds: While the 2-player version (which we call Binary Homeworlds) has definitely proven itself, the rules for more than 2 (invoking all that Good/Evil stuff) will probably become a variant, being replaced by a new game element currently in development by John and his helpers. Thus, Homeworlds will probably not come out until maybe in 2006. Anyway, the Homeworlds boxed set will include a standard four color Icehouse set and a rule booklet with a strategy section we are still learning how to write. As for extras, there will very likely be a packet of cards of some sort, featuring a starfield cardback, along with a round black felt starfield gameboard, which can be rolled up and stowed quite nicely inside a standard-size Icehouse game box. (The prototype I've been carrying around has definitely proven itself worthy.) Also, of course, the boxed set will need a cover painting.... shown here is my own concept sketch, but we haven't chosen an artist yet.

 

The Binary Homeworlds Carrying Case: As we wait for the day when the full boxed set becomes available, we're contemplating getting some of these really cool Binary Homeworlds Carrying Cases made, as a new item for the Dangling Carrot. If we do, they will very likely come with a free flashlight, since in reality this case is made by the Mag-Lite people and to get the cases we will probably have to buy them with flashlights inside.

The Fluxx Crockpot:

Here are some other, even more half-baked ideas we have for future Fluxx releases:

Goal Crazy: Fluxx Jr. and Fluxx Reduxx were designed to be stand-alone expansions, playable either on their own or in combination with the original. Once both are in print, you'll even be able to combine all 3. However, when these games are thus combined, there will be a keenly-felt desire for Goals that combine one Keeper from Fluxx with one from an expansion. To answer this demand, we are planning to create a series of booster-pack products, much like Fluxx Blanxx, containing mostly new Goal cards that connect a pair of Fluxx decks. Goal Crazy #1 will feature Reduxx-oriented cards like I Love Cake, The Book of Love, Chocolate Frosting, Death & Taxes, and Coffee Break, while Goal Crazy #2 would feature Fluxx/Fluxx Jr. Goals, which we haven't even started thinking up yet. The downside to this plan is that it will lead to some serious "Goal Bloat," so we're thinking each "Goal Crazy" pack will also include a New Rule (inspired by comments from Dim Bulb on the Fluxx mailing list's discussion of all these ideas) called Goal Rebate, which works like this: "You may discard from your hand as many Goal cards as you wish, then draw back that many new cards. You may only do this once per turn, and only if another Goal is already in play."

Eco-Fluxx & Zombie Fluxx: When Alison came home from camp last summer, she had with her a nearly complete plan for a nature-themed collection of Keepers and Goals on which to based an ecology-themed version of Fluxx. Also last summer, during a series of meeting with his Zombie consultants, Andy came up with an interesting set of concepts for a Zombie themed version of Fluxx (because, as is well known, gamers loves zombies almost as much as zombies love brains). But these ideas are just stewing now...

Fluxx 4.0: It definitely won't be happening soon, but eventually we will revise our flagship card game yet again. Version 4.0 will feature full-color Keepers and a snazzier design, partially inspired by the look of the German translation. And all these other various versions of the game will need to be redone in the new style... so like I said, it's not happening soon. At one time we were thinking of delaying all these other editions until after we'd made the leap to the new format, but having decided instead to postpone that leap, it will probably be a long time in coming.

In the Oven:

ÜberChrononauts: Just as Fluxx Reduxx will create a need for Goal Crazy, Early American Chrononauts has already created a need for a set of special cards which make use of elements from both games and are useful only when the sequel and the original are combined into one big game. Much like Lost Identities, ÜberChrononauts will be a booster packet of extra cards that expand the game. The packet will include 5 new Missions (each requiring a mix of artifacts from the two games) 7 new Identities (similarly, each requiring TimeLine settings that span both halves of the ÜberTimeline) and an oft-requested pair of do-it-yourself specials: a blank Mission, and a blank Identity card. (And by blank we really mean only semi-blank, with blanks for you to fill in using a permanent marker.) We're still planning to accept 55 word stories for these ÜberCharacters and ÜberMissions, and still have no timeframe in mind for moving forward with this project. It's just in the oven, keeping warm.

Sporticus & Festivus: Much as we love the artwork on Aquarius, we've come to accept the fact that some people just don't dig it. On the other hand, the gameplay has shown itself to be worthy of imitation. After we heard about Search, Ponder, and Play! we got to thinking about other themes and art styles we could apply to the same basic game and thus hopefully capture a new audience. We came up with a couple of ideas we really like: one meant to appeal to sports fans, called Sporticus, and one featuring artwork celebrating various holidays, called Festivus. We've gone so far as to get concept sketches for Sporticus from an artist whose style we think is well suited to the project, but otherwise, this project is languishing.


Of course, these are just some of the ideas we are currently contemplating... some projects are still secret, and others are just so far back-burnered as to not be worth mentioning at this time. However, if you're really interested, be sure to skim through the back issues linked to at the top of this page, as they contain all manner of ideas we may decide to use someday.