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"One of the nights there was 'game night' and a few people had brought Fluxx with them. It was my first time to play and it was a BLAST! We played with your 'Holy Fluxx' Jewish expansion. It is great! Immediately after getting back to school, I ordered the Fluxx 3.1 version and I looked for the Jewish expansion and saw that it has not yet been released. I did, however, find the letter from Andy explaining the idea. I also noticed the photo of Jennelle, who happened to have been staying in the same cabin that I was on that weekend! I just wanted to give you some feedback. I absolutely love your game and have introduced it to all my friends and we play all the time, at parties and just hanging out around the dorm. I can't wait for the Jewish expansion cards to be sold online! Thank you!" -- email from Hayley M


Thursday, August 31st, 2006
Sponsored by Looney Labs

What's New?

Just Desserts Rules Iteration #4

I'm a big believer in the iterative process, which I learned about during my training as a computer programmer. The idea is to make each version of what you're seeking to create perfect and complete for what it is, even when it's only a partially successful version of whatever it will ultimately become. Then, each time you revise it, you make sure everything you add works properly, installing the next new feature only after the previous build is fully debugged.. Eventually, the system you are building will be complete, with each module or element having been tested as it was added. In this way, programmers start with a simple shell that just says "Hello, World!" then add features and expansions one by one until the software meets all of its design goals.

So it is with Game Design, a process I've often compared to Software Development. Some of my favorite games are those which have taken the longest to develop. For example, it took John many years, and numerous in-between versions, to create Homeworlds (we even published an early version of the game, under the name IceTraders, as one of the games in the Martian Chess Set, in 1999). Then of course, there's Texas Hold'em, which obviously evolved from Poker, and which we updated again ourselves, so that we could play it with pyramids.

And so I come to the point of this story, which is to say that I've redesigned Just Desserts yet again, this latest iteration coming less than a month after the previous one. And happy as I was with Version 3. this new version is even better! It's been years in the making, but the gameplay for Just Desserts has finally become excellent!

You'll find all the details in the new Version 4 rules, but here's the key breakthrough: an additional icon is being added to each Guest card. These symbols divide the Guests up into groupings of 3, with the goal of the game now being simply to collect a complete trio in front of you. Otherwise it mostly plays the same as Version 3, except that your Guests are all spread out (like Keepers), and can no longer be protected from poachers. (Also, we're back to drawing an extra card as a tip when serving a Favorite.)

This new way of playing has given the game something I've long been wanting to add but couldn't quite figure out how to before: An abrupt ending with a clear winner (rather than a grind to the end followed by a tallying up of points). And I'm really excited to say that this does the trick! It gives the game that palpable sense of tension as players close in on victory, and leaves players who lost (but felt victory was in their grasp) wanting to play again. Best of all, it now really feels like an Andy Looney game!

As with Version 3, you'll need to find some permanent markers and add some symbols to the Guest cards in order to use these new rules with a Beta edition deck. But it's not very difficult, and it's totally worth it!

For the easiest way to get playing, you'll need to set one Guest aside, since the Beta edition features 22 Guests and 22 doesn't divide evenly into 3. (Since it's Agent 17 you'll be leaving out, you can just say he was sent off on a mission and couldn't stay for dessert.) However, for the ambitious playtester, there's a more ambitious option.

The Beta edition features 81 cards, but the real game is expected to include 84. I hadn't been sure until now just how I would make use of those extra cards, but now I know: I want 2 of them to be extra characters, so that the Guests divide properly into 8 groups of 3. I've also decided to replace Neapolitan Ice Cream with Candied Yams, and this week I'm putting up images of these 3 new cards for anyone with a Beta deck to download, print on sticker paper, and turn into playtest cards just like the ones I'm using myself. (The sheet also includes an updated Hippie, since without that Neapolitan Ice Cream, she only has one favorite.)

However, that still leaves one extra card unaccounted for. This final card is going to be an "It's My Turn!" card. Because different people may serve a Guest during one player's turn, it can become confusing keeping track of whose turn it currently is. The "It's My Turn" card removes this confusion, and having decided to take it out of Stoner Fluxx for version 2.0, I really like the idea of including it here.

Speaking of Just Desserts, sample artwork keeps rolling in from artists interested in doing the illustrations for the project, leaving us needing more and more to decide how we will proceed. We're leaning towards choosing the ten we like best and asking those artists to each do about 5 more, but nothing's decided yet. But one thing's for sure: If you're working on a submission, it's time to get it finished up and sent in. Decision time is approaching!

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great week!

Thought Residue
I figured out why I enjoyed "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" so much. It wasn't just that it was a comic book reality show hosted by Stan "the Man" Lee, it was also basically a competitive LARP. The players created their own superheroic secret identities, and many of the elimination challenges turned on who did the best job of staying in character. Congrats to the winner! I can't wait to see your comic book and made-for-cable movie! (And while I'm on the subject, I can't resist quoting Kristin's favorite line, which a little girl said after asking one of the superhero contestants about his favorite videogame. After the hero said it was Pong, the little girl said: "I've never heard of the game Pong. I think he made it up.")

It's a sad week for the stoners of Hamilton (and freedom-lovers everywhere) as the Up In Smoke Cafe (which we've visited a number of times) has now been shut down forever. Founder Chris Goodwin (currently in jail) pushed the envelope too far in April, by freely giving away a whole bunch of weed during a 4/20 celebration (which resulted in a raid just days before our last visit), and now the club is gone. But I expect another smoke-easy will open in Hamilton soon...

"Drugs are just less interesting here. One of my best friends here never smoked cannabis, never wanted to even try my products.  Then when she was 32 she went to America on holiday and smoked for the first time.  I asked her why, and she said: 'It was more fun over there.  It was illegal.' " -- Arjan Roskam, owner of an Amsterdam Coffeeshop called the Green House, seen quoted in a New York Times article, "The Czars' Reefer Madness"

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