Works in progress

This is where I’ll put information on various projects that I have in progress. If I’m feeling particularly transparent, I might even provide linkage to whatever project management platform we end up using to track our work.


It’s come down to this. All the small insults, petty betrayals, maneuvering, and excuses, all of it has led up to this moment. It’s just the two of you, but only one of you will walk away.

It was inevitable, really. From the moment you saw each other, you were fated to meet one last time in a collision of passion, rage, and violence. But how? How did it all come to be? Were you bitter rivals, escalating your rivalry until bloodshed was the only possible ending? Were you once friends, now torn apart by some unforgiven sin? Were you once lovers, with gentle caresses now turning to blows?

And does it really matter anymore? One of you is about to die; the other will spend the rest of his days with this moment burned into his memory.

For a moment, time pauses.

Your eyes narrow.

And the weapons come out.

I’ve been working on Showdown since 2008. Over these last several years, the game has been honed to a fine edge. I’m really pleased with where the game has arrived. At this point, I’m really just trying to clear space in a very busy life to launch a Kickstarter to gather some funds and produce the game.

In the meantime, if you’re interested, you can have a look at the current manuscript by clicking this link right here.

Yes, I know that the current manuscript doesn’t tell you quite enough to play. Right now, I’m okay with that. I could put time into getting an ugly print-and-play together, or I can put time into pushing this game across the finish line, with a full box set and art and all that. I’m thinking that the second option is superior at this point.

Anyways, the status on this game is that I need to put together a Kickstarter to fund production costs. My personal life (by which I mean: my job) has me quite busy for the next few months, so it’s currently looking like January of 2013 at the earliest before I can pull the trigger on a Kickstarter. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know when it happens.

I’m really looking forward to having this one out in the world.

Forbidden Secrets

Due to a convergence of factors, including Wil Wheaton talking me into buying Elder Sign, I have been reacquainting myself with the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. This started a train of thought that has resulted in my poking at a new game design idea.

As I normally do when I’m designing a game, I’m deconstructing a genre. In this case, it’s Cthulhian horror. Lovecraft himself wrote, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” I gotta say, there’s nothing unknown about the Mythos anymore. At the point where we categorized the various beasties by type and element (yes, August Derleth, I’m looking at you) and statted them out (Sandy Antunes, your turn to feel my gaze), there really wasn’t much left of the “unknown”, is there?

So, how can we recapture that sense of investigating the unknown?

Also, I don’t like how “insanity” has become thrown around in Mythos discussions as another form of “death”. In reality, insanity isn’t the death of the mind. Often, an “insane” person is making perfectly rational decisions. It’s just that his inputs or his interpretive grid vary from the norm.

Throughout history, visionaries have been accused of being insane, simply because their interpretive grid had strayed too far from the norm. As James Garfield (apparently) said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” Ah…now there’s a juicy concept to build a game around.

No idea how this one is going to come together, but it’s in my mind right now. We’ll see where it goes from here.

Poverty: The Game

I was recently talking with the pastoral intern at my church about poverty. Specifically, he was wrestling with communicating the day-in, day-out reality of poverty to people in our church. To be clear, the people in the church are open, compassionate people who want to understand. It’s just hard when the experience of poverty is so foreign to many of them.

Not to me. We never starved; my family wouldn’t have let that happen. You know, somehow. But, we were close to the edge. I read an article like this one, and I remember specific times in my life. And I want to shudder and look away and not think about it.

But maybe I’m not supposed to.

My major takeaway from reading Ian Bogost’s book Persuasive Games is that games can provide an opportunity to model a system which the players then experience, query, and question through play. If that’s so, then why not build a game around modeling poverty? Maybe this would be a way to allow people to experience some of the difficulties and tensions that shape the life experience of the poor. Maybe this would be a way to invite people into another experience that could change the way they perceive the world. Maybe this would be a way to invite people into empathy and care for their fellow man.


This one is still rattling around in my head, but if I make progress, I’ll let you know.

2 responses to “Works in progress

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