"Another thing I really liked about Aquarius
is that it has amazingly written rules. Not only do they GET
TO THE POINT QUICKLY, there are color diagrams, they have visual
cues for easy navigation and they keep the FAQs and alternative
play stuff for the back page. If you're an inventor and need
an example of well-written rules, spend the money and get yourself
a copy. I mean it." -- The Game Aisle's review of
it looks SO GOOD!
another batch of links and commentary on a wide range of topics
For about ten years, I updated this website once a week,
every Thursday. Then I got too busy to keep up with that schedule,
and it became an occasional thing which happened Whenever. So,
how often is that really? Well, last year, I only posted nine
updates -- almost monthly.
Looking back on 2010, there's another thing I did almost monthly:
inventing new games! I did the heavy lifting -- if not end-to-end
design -- on ELEVEN games last year! Some of those games have
already been published, some are now on the Looney
Labs schedule, and some are back-burnered, but I think they
are all very good (and in some cases, insanely great).
Here are the games I designed last year:
to the Future: At the start of 2010, all I had
done was a mostly-complete plan for the TimeLine. In September
it went on sale!
Fluxx: After years of pondering, I hammered out
a prototype just before Origins. Reviewers
are calling it the Best Fluxx Ever. It goes on sale tomorrow!
3) Muffins: A
year ago I was inspired by Action Castle to create a Parsely
adventure based (very loosely) on my earliest game design efforts,
which were primitive text adventure games written in BASIC around
1981. I ran sessions of Muffins at gatherings big and small over
the course of the year and it was always a big hit. But since
it's all about solving puzzles and discovering secrets, we've
decided not to publish this, but to retain Muffins as part of
my live act, alongside Andy
/ Launchpad 23 / Powerhouse / Sandships / Petal Battle:
I hammered out 5 new pyramid games last year! Speaking of which,
there is a TON of stuff to say about the pyramids. After years
of letting the system coast (on "life-support" as I've
often said) while we focused on our most profitable products,
and having recently discontinuing the current edition of Treehouse,
we are now on the verge of relaunching the pyramids in grand
style. We've been using the codename System 8 to refer to this,
and we've probably changed our plans for what exactly System
8 would be at least 8 times before we finally settled on the
current plan. But System 8 has developed into something truly
fantastic. It's time for a bulletized-list within a bulletized
- New Name: Looney Pyramids: After years of confusion
between Icehouse The Game System and Icehouse The Abstruse Original
Game, we have embraced a new naming paradigm. We're calling them
Looney Pyramids. This will add yet more confusion in the short
term but is much better from a Big Picture standpoint.
- No More Tubes: After years of selling pyramids in
those tight plastic tubes, we are turning our backs on the tubes
forever. (Sorry Drip
fans...) We plan to continue selling empty tubes through our
website (while supplies last), for those old-school fans who
can't move on, but the age of the plastic tube is officially
- Made in China: After years of resisting the lure of
the Orient (and allowing the system to be held back because of
that decision) we are finally having pyramids made in China.
(We will continue to print all of our card games here in the
States.) We've already approved samples of the pyramids from
the new mold - and they are even better than our US-made pyramids:
the colors are vibrant, the pyramid walls are crystal clear,
the trim is clean, the size is exactly the same as the old ones,
they nest together perfectly, and they are incapable of sticking
together. They are perfect!
Pyramid Bags: The next generation of pyramid products will
be packaged in awesome little pyramid-shaped cloth bags, featuring
a zippered back and a loop at the top. After years of occasionally
losing a small pyramid because it slipped out of an incompletely-closed
drawstring bag, I'm really excited about these new bags. (Of
course, the only cost-effective way to get these bags made was
to produce them in China, which helped open the door to making
the contents over there too.)
- IceDice & Treehouse: The pyramid bags are launching
in June and will come in two styles: Treehouse and IceDice. Treehouse
of course will be the existing classic in the new packaging,
accompanied by the rules for a bonus game, Pharaoh. IceDice is
an awesome press-your-luck dice game I invented in 2009 and which
we've been sitting on so that it could become this new headliner.
The IceDice set will include 2 rainbow stashes, making it a next-size-up
starter set. IceDice will also include a bonus game, Launchpad
23, and both sets will include the Pocket Guide to Looney Pyramids.
- The Pocket Guide: After years of not even trying (within
our retail packaging) to explain the concept of the system or
the other games you can play with a Treehouse set, we've created
an awesome little overview booklet, called the Pocket Guide
to Looney Pyramids. This colorful little 24-page handbook
provides basic info on the pyramids and a short overview of a
dozen of my favorite games for the system, each with a photo
and an info block with the vital stats on what you need to play.
It's the perfect thing to hand someone when you are playing a
pyramid game in a bar or restaurant and someone asks what you're
playing. We'll be making it in two sizes (same content, just
printed smaller) so that it will properly fill out the base of
the pyramid bag it comes in. Of course, the Starship
Captains will all have their own individual opinions about
which games should have been included in this guide, but the
list we settled on overlaps very heavily with the Stereotypical
Starship Captain's List put together by Ryan Hackel, plus
we posted the pages of the guide for review by the Starship Captains
at the fan club site as we finalized the contents, so although
the booklet bears my heavy biases it's also been approved by
- Pyramid-Only Products: In addition to the complete-game-in-a-zippered-bag
products, we will also be releasing two minimally-packaged pyramids-only
products. Called simply Looney Pyramids, they will consist of
a ziplock baggie with a cardboard display flap, containing 15
pyramids and a copy of the new Pocket Guide. Available in the
traditional Rainbow and Xeno color schemes, Looney Pyramids will
retail for just $10. (BTW, we strongly considered bringing old-school
monochrome stashes in this format as well, but decided against
it, for reasons both philosophical
- Petri Dish & Zark City: IceDice isn't the only
great pyramid game I invented prior to last year which we've
been waiting until the time was right to publish. Others include
Petri Dish and Zark
City, both of which require 3 mixed color stashes, and either
of which could be the next major release.
- Zark City: We're thinking to make Zark City
the third pyramid bag product, featuring a square, custom-illustrated
card deck. The Zark City product will include Xeno colored pyramids
and come in a purple bag which will be a little larger than the
- Petri Dish: Because of its rather large (and
totally groovy) gameboard, Petri Dish will be published as a
traditional boxed board game. As such it will also fill in the
gap at the top end of the product line. Petri Dish will feature
3 rainbow stashes, 3 special dice, and a really cool round gameboard.
9) Secret Project TW-10: In
some ways the most exciting new game of 2010 is <STILL CLASSIFIED>.
Unlike everything else on this list, TW-10 is something completely
new. And it's awesome.
Gambling Fluxx: After finishing Pirate
Fluxx, I turned my attention to another idea I've long been pondering,
namely adding wagering to Fluxx. I'm really pleased with what
I developed, but it's a good deal more complicated than any other
Fluxx. I think this added complexity is fascinating but it also
narrows the market and demands further playtesting. Anyway, as
soon as I felt I had a solid prototype, I moved on to...
11) Star Fluxx: For years people
have been suggesting that we make Star Wars Fluxx, or Star Trek
Fluxx, or Dr. Who Fluxx, or even Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Fluxx. Sometimes these suggestions are just words, other times
it's been entire fan-created
prototypes. These are all fine and feasible ideas, but licensed-theme
versions are a mixed blessing and after BTTF we're not eager
to take on another license. Moreover, it occurred to me that
there's more fun to be had in the parody route anyway. So in
the grand tradition of Galaxy Quest I cooked up Star Fluxx, with
a blend of references to all of my sci-fi favorites. And it's
great! I think it's going to be my personal favorite Fluxx! Everyone's
having so much fun with it that it's pulled ahead of Gambling
Fluxx as our Most-Likely-To-Be-Published-Next Fluxx.
Seven Dragons: As if all that weren't
enough, there's also Seven Dragons! I don't count it as a new
game since it's just Aquarius
with a new hat -- but it's a really cool new hat! Seven Dragons
will feature original paintings by the king of dragon art in
the fantasy game world, Mr. Larry Elmore! We've been working
with him for some time now, working out the details of the art,
and now he's busily painting dragons for us! And it won't be
exactly the same game either; the biggest difference will be
the inclusion of a new card type (the 7th dragon) which is akin
to the Wild card but excitingly different too. Seven Dragons
will hit stores on June 24, 2011!
cards: The latest in our series of expansion packets
for Fluxx is this 8 card set we created as an exclusive for BoardGameGeek.com.
I also don't count this as one of last year's new games, but
it does include one extremely cool new card: it's an action called
Roshambo Showdown and it's the hit of the set with my playtesters.
But you can only get this new set through BoardGameGeek.com --
even we aren't selling them!
Lastly, I just wanted to share this wonderful photo Alison
recently took of me with a couple of our pets. That's Shiro
on my shoulder and Molly
in my lap. (Don't miss Pano
Gallery #4 if you enjoy photos of my life...)
Thanks for reading, and have a great Whenever!
PS: I've already got several new ideas cooking for 2011!!!