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On the Front Burner -- In the Oven -- On the Back Burners -- In the Microwave

A Planning Report from the Chief Designer
March 2002

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...

On the Front Burner

Countertop Displays for Retailers: For quite some time now, we've been developing a semi-permanent display unit that holds one of each of our games, for use in stores that carry our line. For a long time, we were planning two displays, one for Icehouse and one for everything else, but we've settled on starting with one all-purpose display. Below is a photo of the current plain-white prototype, along with a sketch that shows our plan for making it colorful. Getting these manufactured and shipped out to stores is our top priority right now.

Nanofictionary: The card game of telling tiny stories has been repeatedly delayed, by time and budget constraints (not to mention last minute design tweaks), but we're planning to finally send the finished art to the printers in April, when we get back from GTS. (This means it's not too late for you to find a typo in the rules, so let us know if you see anything wrong with the recently-posted official instructions.) We're planning for the official debut of the game to occur at the Pop-Tart Cafe at Balticon, in late May.

Super-Fred: Our all-new, super-powerful shopping cart software still ain't done, and it stands as a shining example of why we prefer to make card games, rather than computer games: getting software produced is HARD! As those who understand software development might expect, the system now known as Super-Fred has been a classic victim of Mission Creep (not to mention resource shortages and other problems), but the end-result will be worth all the trouble, at least to us. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our webmaster and part-time programmer Dale, Super-Fred is finally nearing completion and will hopefully launch sometime soon.

Here are some of the features Super-Fred will provide:

  • A beautifully re-designed shopping cart system
  • New "stores" in the wunderland shopping center, including the Random Emporium and Good Schaufenster
  • A fully-integrated order collection, processing, and inventory management system (that interfaces directly with our new fullfillment folks) along with a new mailing list database management tool
  • A new system for updating pages at which will make it easier for those of us who build the site to maintain it, and add to it
  • A new structure for fans of our games to get involved, which will allow all Mad Lab Rabbits to maintain their own page at Wunderland (with an icon, a picture, and links to whatever other sites they may control), along with membership rosters for gaming groups (aka "warrens"), to help fans of our games find each other for gaming
  • A system for keeping track of points earned by Mad Lab Rabbits, which can then be spent to buy special neat stuff in a Rabbits-only e-Store called the Dangling Carrot



Looney Buttons: We used to sell dozens of nifty little buttons, but they went out of print last summer when we couldn't find time to place restock orders and needed to focus on products we could sell through stores, rather than just at our website. Also, we wanted to devise a packaging system that would make it practical for us to offer these buttons to stores that would like to carry them. So now, instead of selling these buttons individually, we'll be packaging them in sets of three, for $3. The first ten Looney Button packs will be as follows:

  • Trio #1: Fluxx (Peace, Cookies, Fluxx Roxx)
  • Trio #2: Aquarius (Fire, Microbus, Purple Submarine)
  • Trio #3: Icehouse (Icehouse logo, Zendo yin-yang logo, Do you Play with Pyramids?)
  • Trio #4: Chrononauts (Emily the Dinosaur, 1980' icon, No Sinking Ships)
  • Trio #5: Other Looney Games (Q-Turn Arrow, Proton, Are You a Werewolf?)
  • Trio #6: Mad Lab Rabbits (Looney Labs Logo, Tirade, the Mad Lab Rabbit)
  • Trio #7: I Love Games (I <heart> Games, Don't Forget to Play!, Would you like to play a game?)
  • Trio #8: How's the Imperial Bystander? (How's it Going to End, Supreme Imperial Govt Logo, Innocent Bystander)
  • Trio #9: All Hail Mr. Evil! (All Hail the Internet, Personifiers of the World Unite, Stop Feeding the Evil Empires)
  • Trio #10: Go Sleep for Meals (Go Ahead Ask Me What I'm Doing, Sleep is for the Weak, Please Wake Me for Meals)

Fluxx Lite: Someday, Fluxx will be so popular that the giant discount superstores are going to want to carry it. When that happens, we will have a problem. Most such stores only carry card games that sell for $6 or less and come "blister-packed" (you know, in a plastic shell attached to a piece of cardboard you can hang on a hook). But since Fluxx sells for $10, we can't let a big discounter sell Fluxx for a lot less without undercutting the game stores we've been working so hard at getting our games into. So, we came up with this plan: slim Fluxx down to the bare minimum, 56 cards. This will allow our card printer to make three decks at a time instead of two (56 x 3 = 84 x 2), which will obviously be much cheaper to produce, and which we can then sell through a big discounter for $6. Meanwhile, the full version of the game will still be available (at the full price) through our game store network. Some people may even like the new lighter version of Fluxx better, since a lot of the sillier and more confusing cards will be left out, while at the same time, gamers who want the full Fluxx experience will still need to find their way to a real game store.

Note to Playtesters: If you have a Fluxx deck and a pack of Fluxx Blanxx, you can try out the Fluxx Lite formula we're currently using. All you need to do is to remove 32 cards, then add in 4 new Goals, which are needed to fill in the gaps created when some of the Keepers are removed. Here's the card list:

    • Rules: Basic, Draw 2, Draw 3, Draw 4, Draw 5, Play 2, Play 3, Play 4, Play All, Hand Limit 1, Hand Limit 3, Keeper Limit 2, Keeper Limit 4
    • Actions: Taxation, Exchange Keepers, Steal a Keeper, Scramble Keepers, Draw 3 Play 2 of them, Draw 2 and Use 'em, Everybody Gets One, Trash a New Rule, Rules Reset, Trade Hands, Use What You Take, Discard & Draw, Take Another Turn
    • Keepers: Bread, Chocolate, Milk, Cookies, The Brain, The Toaster, Television, The Rocket, The Sun, The Moon, War, Peace, Love
    • Goals: Hippyism, Peace (No War), Brain (No TV), 5 Keepers, 10 Cards in Hand, All You Need Is Love, Toast, Chocolate Milk, Rocket To The Moon, Milk & Cookies, The Sun & The Moon, Chocolate Cookies, The Appliances
    • New Goals: Squishy Chocolate (Chocolate + The Sun), Baked Goods (Cookies + Bread), Follow Your Heart (Brain + Love), Rocket Science (The Rocket + The Brain)

In the Oven

The Dangling Carrot: Once we get Super-Fred online, we can launch the Dangling Carrot, where we'll be making various special items available only to those who earn Mad Lab Rabbit points by putting on demos, running tournaments, and otherwise helping us promote our games. Even fans of our games who do nothing more than show their friends and family how to play will be able to earn points, since Super-Fred will allow us to credit these "Blab Rabbits" with a rabbit point anytime someone new orders a game from our webstore and tells us who it was that first told them about Looney Labs. Rabbits will be able to spend these points on an assortment of special short-run items, many of which we will be creating exclusively for the Dangling Carrot. (Rabbits will not be able to buy regular Looney Labs products with Rabbit points, since we don't want to sabotage our retailers by letting our biggest fans work for free copies of our games.) Items we are currently planning to feature in the Dangling Carrot include:

  • The Carrot Box filled with promo cards
  • The "Mad Lab Rabbit" lab coat
  • A Mad Lab Rabbit T-shirt of some sort
  • Existing leftover Fluxx and Chrononauts T-shirts
  • The last of the hemp drawstring bags formerly featured in Black Ice
  • A deluxe version of Are You a Werewolf?
  • A re-issue of Deluxe Q-turn
  • Packets of plain white Paper Icehouse pieces
  • Volcano boards by Eeyore
  • 10-level Icebreaker sampler CDs (we've got 100 leftovers saved from Magnet)
  • Chess pieces buttons, packaged by the stash, with rules for Monochrome Chess

Nanofictionary is exceptionally well suited for individual customizing, so as with Fluxx we plan to sell packets of semi-blank Nanofictionary cards. Hopefully these will be available in time for Origins. And just as Fluxx Blanxx included a special new card for Chrononauts, Nano-Blanxx will include a new card for Aquarius: a wild card, which counts as any element.

Icehouse Frosting: Several of the games in Playing with Pyramids require extra equipment: shields for RAMbots, good/evil tokens for Homeworlds, a 5x5 grid, etc. It's easy enough to find household items to use for these materials, but even so, we recognize that it would be nice to have standard-issue versions of this stuff. Icehouse Frosting (name still subject to change) will be a packet of these extras. It will include 4 shields for RAMbots, 6 good/evil tokens, a simple 5x5 board, and a set of new and improved Gnostica stickers.

Icehouse: Fifth Edition: After the last copy of the Martian Chess set edition of Icehouse sells out (any day now), the only way to get an Icehouse set will be to buy the individual components a la carte. However, later this year we plan to release a new version of the complete-in-one-box Icehouse set, which we currently plan to call Icehouse: Fifth Edition. (Another name we're considering for this product: Sixty Pyramids.) This new set will feature 60 pyramids, the book Playing with Pyramids, and (hopefully) a copy of Icehouse Frosting, in a colorful cardboard gamebox just big enough to hold all that stuff. We might even decide to jack the price way up and throw in some Zendo stones, stash pads, and a drawstring bag! (The box cover may look something like this picture, or it might look totally different.)
The Empty City: Our second paperback book will be a new edition of the original novel, with an introduction by Alison and some author's notes that have yet to be written. "The Martian Archaeological Society" will be included as a epilogue to the original story, along with the nanofic "It Happened When He Played the Tower."

The Gnostica Tarot Deck: They've been working on it a long time already, and it still seems like they've just gotten started, but Alison and Petra are actively slaving away at creating an all-new tarot deck which is being custom-designed to serve as the perfect Gnostica deck. Here are some samples of their first 6 cards, in various stages of completion; with a total of 78 cards in the deck, it will be a long time before this project is complete.

Completed, with border and text

Colored with shading
(only minor tweaks needed)

Colors blocked in, shading needed

Colors partially blocked in
(major tweaking needed)

Inked but uncolored

Incomplete picture, foreground only

On the Back Burner

The Black Ice Booklet: The now out-of-date product known as Black Ice included a little "This is a Beta release" coupon, which promised to someday be worth a copy of a yet-to-be-released Black Ice book. At the time, we were selling Icehouse in the Martian Chess Set format, and we were planning to create more small booklets in the style of the three included with that product. Although we then went on to publish an actual paperback book instead, we're still planning to create one more book in the old style, to make good on those little square coupons, and to include in a new version of Black Ice that we plan to release one of these days. We're still trying to decide on (and design) the games to be included in this booklet, but our selection criteria is focused on the following factors: easy-to-learn Icehouse games that require only two stashes, or games that take special advantage of the opaqueness of the black and white pieces (which is what the new version of Black Ice will contain). We welcome recommendations as to which new games this book should include.

More Ways to Play with Pyramids: After we publish the Black Ice booklet, we will begin taking suggestions for games to include in the follow-up to Playing with Pyramids. By then, we should have a system in place that will allow the Icehouse community to rate and rank all of the games on the SLICK.

Special Editions of Fluxx: Fluxx is obviously well-suited for adaptation to particular themes and cultures. We've long imagined doing foreign language versions of the games (German in particular), and we're also being urged to make an adult-themed version of the game (prototype versions of which are rumored to be undergoing playtesting). We're still thinking about how best to accommodate these ideas, and are considering licensing the distribution rights for special editions of Fluxx to other companies.

Other Gameboard Bandanas: Now that we're selling the chessboard bandana on its own, we're thinking of making others like it in the same format. Ideas include a go-board bandana, a hex-board bandana, and a backgammon-board bandana. Which one should we make first?

In the Microwave

This section relates to minor adjustments we are making to existing products we're in the process of reprinting. (It's like we're warming up some leftovers in the microwave, see?)

New Chrono Promos: The current printing of Chrononauts is getting close to selling out, and when we reprint, we will need to update the 4 promo card slots at the end of the card sheet. (Anyone who got an uncut deck will recall that we also printed a micro-catalog and the 2001 Origins and Gen-Con promo cards along with the Chrononauts play deck.) We're still trying to figure out what these 4 cards slots will be, but here's what we're thinking about:

  • A new Fluxx card, probably a New Rule called X=X+1, which will be the promo card we give out at this summer's gaming conventions (depending on the size of the print-run, this might require 2 slots)
  • An IceTowers rules reference card (useful to have plenty of when running an IceTowers demo with giant cardboard pyramids)
  • A card that is blank on the front and just has our company logo on the back (to replace the dwindling supply of totally blank Fluxx cards we've been using for new game prototyping)
  • A Cosmic Coasters special powers reference card/advertisement

The New Paper Icehouse: We are currently reprinting Paper Icehouse, and with the release of Playing with Pyramids, we've decided to stop including anything other than assembly tips with the Paper Icehouse pieces. We've also decided to stop including an extra card of each color (which we fear may cause confusion regarding stash size) but since it's useful to have a spare card to practice on, we'll be including one card of white pyramids with the kit.

The New 53 Spades: Our novelty playing card deck, featuring an Ace of Spades cardback, is out of print, and for the next edition we're planning a bigger, more cost effective print run which will also allow us to make changes to the fronts of the cards. We're trying to decide now what extra fun we want to add... can you say Tirade jokers?

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.

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