Under the Hood of the Modern Icehouse Set

Looney Labs Design Memo, 7/22/99

Now that factory-made Icehouse pieces are actually in the works, it's time to start clarifying our plans for the packaging and marketing of those pieces. This document outlines these plans in great detail, but please keep in mind as you read them that the future is always in question and everything here is subject to change.

The modern icehouse set will include 3 books and 2 informational cards, plus of course, 60 beautiful plastic pyramids.

The Pieces

The pieces themselves will be very much like what we speced out in the quote request we posted here last winter: hollow, with thick walls; designed to fully nest without sticking together; and molded in translucent crystal polystyrene, in red, blue, yellow, and green. The pieces will probably conform to the established traditional sizes (we will know for sure in a few days when we get the final drawings from Dwayne.) Each will have our URL etched in tiny letters on the base.

The Packaging

The packaging for the modern icehouse set will be as unusual as the game itself. Instead of hiding the pieces inside a cardboard box, we're going to use a crystal-clear plastic box, with 4 sides exposed, so that you can see the pieces rattling around inside. The box we've chosen is nearly cube shaped, being 4.5" tall, with a square base measuring 3.5" x 3.5". We will pack the books and cards in on either side of the box, so that you'll be able to see and read the fronts of the 2 cards even when the box is sealed and shrink-wrapped. The 2 cards then will fulfill the functions of the top and bottom panels of a traditional board game box, with one card sporting full-color splash art, and the other providing as much info about the product as we can cram onto a slightly narrow index card. Lastly, the lid will bear a round black Icehouse sticker.

The Informational Cards

The Mars Card: Facing out on one side of the box will be a color glossy card, a little smaller than a postcard, with a new Martian cityscape, painted by Dawn Petrlik, and the words "Icehouse: The Martian Chess Set." Seen through the crystal clear plastic and shrink-wrap, this will serve as the top of the box. There will be a new rendition of the Icehouse rules reference card on the back.

Note, however, that the actual rules for Icehouse will not be included in the game set. Years of test marketing and focus group feedback have convinced us that Icehouse itself is too complex and inaccessible a game for most players. The reference card will include a preface, like this:

Icehouse is a complex game involving strategy, diplomacy, fast thinking, physical dexterity, and etiquette. It is played in real-time (no turns) on an unstructured playing field (no board). It is recommended for advanced players only. What follows is merely a reference card; for the complete rules, as well as the rules for other icehouse games not appearing in this box, please visit our web site at: www.LooneyLabs.com.

The Box Bottom: Facing out on the opposing side of the box will be another card, with a description of the games within, plus the UPC, contact info, etc.

The Books

Book 1 - Martian Chess: The first book will feature the rules for Martian Chess, accompanied by a previously unreleased work of Icehouse related fiction by Andrew Looney, entitled "The Martian Archeological Society." This newer piece of fiction will help put Icehouse into perspective, promote the original fiction that started it all, and explain why the cover art features an alien cityscape composed of pyramid-shaped buildings.

Book 2 - Zarcana: The second book will feature the complete rules for Zarcana, designed by John Cooper.

Book 3 - Glotz (and Other Icehouse Games): The contents of the third book are still been under consideration, and indeed, the third book will not be included in the initial version of the product. Book 3 will contain several other games, notably including Glotz, a yet-to-be developed game that makes use of the stacking feature of the new pieces. (The publication of this book will necessarily be delayed until after we have the pieces and can do some serious play-testing.) The other games we're currently planning to include in this volume are Ice Chess and Ice Traders, though of course, this is subject to change.

Release Schedule

Version 1.0: As noted above, the initial release of the new icehouse sets will only include the first two books. Version 1 will go on sale just as soon as we receive the pieces from the factory, which should be no later than the beginning of October.

Version 2.0: Whenever we settle on the contents of Book 3, we will begin inserting that volume into the game sets. Since we don't know how long it will take to develop a satisfying stacking game, we do not have a schedule in mind yet for the release of Version 2. However, when we do publish Book 3, we will make copies of it available at no cost (except postage), for owners of Version 1 who wish to upgrade.

Somewhere in there we will also make available a spiral bound volume containing a complete printout of the Icehouse website, as well as the rules for the other icehouse games (Focus, Igloo, DNA, Trice, etc) that aren't included in the actual game set, for the benefit of those without web access.

Lastly, we will also stock and sell the Londa Tarot, the deck we prefer/recommend for use when playing Zarcana. These will go on sale at the same time we release Version 1.

Well, what do you think? Any questions or suggestions?

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