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Thursday, April 19th, 2007

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jake's and jokes & game design helps the hubble

Haiku Reviews

Stranger Than Fiction :)

Who will save Harold Crick
from death and Ana Pascal
from taxes? Just watch!

Pale Blue Dot

Tirade's Choice

The Right Number

"Father-in-law brought the game from New Mexico, where he plays Fluxx with granddaughter and friends. We just love this game! Even my mom and sister, who never play games, love this game!
" -- Lisa H of Menomonee Falls, WI, answering the question of how she found out about our games

A trip to LA.

  • This Week's Looney News, which features a chance to Support the Troops -- with Games!

Eureka! Secret Project 3H-1!

I've been on a game design roll lately. Last week I designed Zombie Fluxx, and two months ago, I came up with a new game for the as-yet-unpublished Stonehenge game system (to be included in their first expansion). In between, I've been cooking up some fun new promo card ideas for the coming year, and to top it all off, I've just created a really cool new Icehouse game, which I'm really excited about!

Of course, as I demonstrate in my articles on Zombie Fluxx and Stonehenge, I can talk about a new game idea at great length without actually revealing much about it, and so it shall be again this week. (Sorry!)

This new game, Secret Project 3H-1, is testing really well. I don't wish to announce the name just yet (since I'm not sure it won't change), nor am I ready yet to reveal much about what the game is like (let alone post the actual rules). But here's what I can say: Secret Project 3H-1 is a fast & easy strategy game for 2 players which was designed specifically to be played with a 3HOUSE set (which is 3 matching Treehouse sets).

It's frankly rather amazing how well 3H-1 makes uses of every piece in the 3HOUSE set. Even though I started with the goal of using every part of the buffalo and as little else as possible, it's hard to believe how perfectly it worked out. It's like I designed the game and then specified the pieces I needed for it!

And here's the best part: 3H-1 is a game which uses the opaque pyramids for information hiding! (This is like the Holy Grail of Icehouse game design... we've been talking for almost a decade about the game design potential of hollow opaque pyramids, but to date, there aren't any Icehouse games I'm aware of which are really successful at this.)

Best of all, it's totally fun. Over the weekend, Carol ran some playtesting sessions at CODCon, and she said it was so popular she played it at least 50 times, after which she lost count. (She even had people borrow her pyramids so they could keep playing it while she took a break to visit the dealer's room.)

So what's with all the secrecy? If this game is so cool, why am I describing it vaguely when I could just post the rules? Because we've already concluded that this game is good enough to be published in 3HOUSE (which is, after all, what I was designing it for). This brings me to the question of why 3HOUSE has been so long delayed. Well, partly it's because we've been so busy with the day-to-day work of running the business (including all the time we've been taking lately to work on writing our new business plan) so I simply haven't had the time I need to work on it and get it finished up.

But there's another issue... our original plan was to include IceTowers as one of the 3 games (along with Martian Chess and Binary Homeworlds) but much as I wanted to believe the game worked with only 3 trees per player, it really just isn't fun enough with such a small set of pieces. So we've been quietly looking for something better suited to the available piece set to include, and at last I think we've got it! But to help build a fire underneath my butt and get 3HOUSE finished, I want to keep the new game unpublished until then.

However, as with Zombie Fluxx, locals are encouraged to ask me to playtest my new game... if you're looking for me at the College Perk Coffeehouse, the best time to find me there is during the Wednesday night Texas Hold'em tournaments. I'll be hanging out playing my games with whoever wants to join me, from the time I wash out of the 7 pm tourney until the start of the 10 pm tourney.

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great Earth Day!
(Don't forget to Play EcoFluxx!)

Thought Residue
Obviously, we're all bummed out this week about the horrible acts of violence at Virginia Tech. But I find it all the more depressing when I run a few comparison numbers... 32 dead is a lot, but we've lost 100 times that many young Americans during the war in Iraq, where the numbers of our dead now exceed the number of people we lost in the World Trade Center attacks.

This weekend, I continued my Zombie research by watching Shaun of the Dead, which just happened to be on Comedy Central on Saturday afternoon. I'd heard a lot of good things about this one, and I'd gotten a detailed report on when it would be most important to look away from the screen, so I decided to give it a try. It was pretty good. But I find it to be a sad commentary on the values of our society that even though all the curse words were carefully silenced, it would seem (judging by the length of the ghastly sound effects) that even the one really horrible scene I was warned about was apparently broadcast intact. What message is conveyed when it seems more important to censor naughty words than realistic depictions of extremely brutal violence?
"The second thing I noticed was that for 150 years, the length of time the drug as been available in the West, many creative people, especially poets and musicians, have strongly claimed that hashish or cannabis has enhanced their creativity.  This claim is wide-spread, and often comes from those who have reached the top of their art; Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Willy Nelson are among the musicians so claiming.  In some branches of music -- jazz and rock in particular, those using seem to be a majority of the active performers. Interestingly enough, no one seems to have tried to rebut these claims.  A few critics have scoffed, saying that the performers were stoned and only thought they were playing better; but no one has ever offered any evidence opposing the claim." -- Buford C. Terrell, "What's Right With Drugs"

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