Give credit where credit is due

First off, I’d like to send a big THANK YOU to Barrie Game Exchange (BGE) for putting on another outstanding show. My first time visiting this amazing event was when I exhibited back in fall of 2018. I’ve seen and heard about it for years but never thought it was going to be anything more than a game swap. Boy was I wrong.

I’d also like to thank the board and video gaming community for coming out and supporting such an awesome show, the various vendors (like me) and giving Barrie something unique to celebrate 2x a year. Yes! You heard correct. This show happens twice a year. One in Spring, the other in Autumn.

What’s new with ADLi

Traffic was slow for me at BGE 2019, and I know a large part of that has to do with the fact that I don’t have any industry recognized media or merch. At a glance I’m just some guy with a Go/Checkers looking game and a bunch of words on cards. The thing I’ve come to accept with the 20+ years of game and fan conventions (on both sides of the table) is that a glance is all it takes. In that moment, can I capture an interest. It’s either provide something people have seen and love, or something so abstract they can’t help but take a closer look. I don’t offer neither so that is my challenge.

The show itself offers a lot. The vendors there range from full on games shops to collectors unloading stuff from their basements. The amount of people I saw selling game manuals, game cases (no games included) and empty console boxes was insane. Yes. People buy empty boxes for retro consoles. It’s a thing. That’s all on the video game side of things. There were also retro and vintage collectors hawking their old board games, clocks, electronics, dishware (I know) and anything else the geek culture would find fascinating.

On my end, as an indie designer with unique unknown games, I’ve been surprised at the general interest I’ve received. Yes, it’s primarily a video game swap but there are a lot, and I mean a LOT, of tabletop enthusiasts who visit these shows. Games are games and I believe I’m in the right place. Providing a more general interest in merch is my current goal for 2019. Some of those items include more novelty ideas like custom coaster, shot glasses, vinyl stickers, better keychains, wearables/jewellery and more. Keeping them in the realm of tabletop or maybe expanding into the video games may help get more bodies to the table. Then I can hook them on the wonders that are StormGate and Word•a•Bout.

There are more conventions to come this year and I can’t wait to get behind the table again. BGE 2019 is a refresher every year. The next big show is the CottageCountryComicon (CCC) in Orillia on May 19. For more info check out their site. Below is a little gallery showing some of wares created for the show. Here’s to a successful and delightful 2019 season. Check out more social posts at my Facebook page and Instagram (@adlinteractive). OH! And keep an eye out for PostPlay Novelties. I’m finally getting into the accessories and merch game with up-cycled and tabletop inspired goods.


It was the best of times

It was the best of times

… It was the worst of times.

In all honestly the Cottage Country Con (CCC) in Orillia this year wasn’t all that bad. Reviews online may be a bit over zealous, but there is no doubt the show was plagued with amateur mistakes. From a setup perspective, space management and visitor flow, execution was a tricky, but doable for this venue configuration. Accommodations for special guests, a whole other topic of discussion, and just the overall feel was lacking. And this coming from seasoned con veterans, not some 1-a-year conboy vendor like me. And only after hearing all the opinions of those affected and understanding the real gripes that vendors had with the show, it was apparent. CCC went too big too soon. There were a lot of good points as well which I share in my post covering ADLi’s 2nd successful show.

Flashback

The Orillia Comic Con 2017 was an eye opener for the Muskoka region. Young and old geeks and fans of game and comic media showed up in droves to enjoy the North-of-Toronto convention. It was their first year and it was great. Small rec center atmosphere, limited space and guests, but a solid first year for any show. I’ve been to a couple first and second year cons, and this one felt very tight and promising. Yes, a lot of artists and vendors didn’t make bank, but it’s a super small show. Those who craft or draw for a living can’t sustain off small shows like this so a lot of them stated they weren’t coming back. Understandable.

Late night prep before the show
A little late late night work to ready myself for the show

Moving on, the show had good numbers for a fledgling con. The organizers were ecstatic and wanted to go big for year 2. Changing the name to CottageCountryCon (which is more encompassing of the area) they moved to a bigger venue. A sports complex with two ice rinks. The space works as a convention centre, but as mentioned in my opening, was not utilized to it’s best potential. Cosplay and gaming were also two big factors I feel this show was lacking. It was heavily catering to the casual con goer and maybe its lack of niche stuff like inviting professional cosplayers or a gaming room really didn’t lend itself to the crowd they were hoping for. People won’t make the trip for an average con. It must be extraordinary! CCC really only had the movie cars and creators as 2 of many things a general fancon must leverage. I hate saying this, but more pandering required.

Consensus

I look at the bright side. The show was good overall. I won’t let the poor experience of others ruin my opinion of a good show. It felt like a big con. It’s had the heart and space of a big con. It just didn’t have the numbers and guts of a big con, and that’s where I see the cracks. It is a totally different community north of the GTA and it’s hard to get a community of con-goers who are used to Fan Expo and Anime North to travel 1h 30m north to visit a fledgling show. Marketing had to be beyond average. They had the stars, they had the cars, they had the interest, they had the space, they had the energy, they had a great first year. But, the outreach, the hype, they pre-show prep, and the acknowledgement was good… but not great. Pulling people out of their convenience is a very hard thing. If we had the cosplayers and the gaming community willing to make moves I believe Orillia would have had a better turn out and this situation would be mute.

It’s disheartening to see that a local fan con such as this get flak and discredited from a lot of vendors. It may possibly hurt the show’s rep. The con vendor/exhibitor community has mixed feelings, and once the word spreads next year’s show may suffer. I doubt there won’t be a 3rd year, but big vendors from the GTA may be gun shy about ever setting up in Orillia again. I, for one, will do it again IF they keep the pricing relative to this year and sort out the follies they made. Learning from mistakes is possibly more crucial than learning from other’s successes. Funny enough the same organizers have another convention set for August in Bracebridge. This one is a Comic and Toy convention primarily, but those that missed CCC may second guess going to Muskoka Con due to the backlash. I’m going to roll through the Muskoka con either way as I enjoy going to those events. I’ll be observing how this one works out, from a con-goer’s perspective, and look out for some of the artists that may have been at CCC. I’m not a comic guy but I do like toys and collectibles. And cons are like family gatherings for me.

I’ve kept the review and my opinion of the con light hearted as I really don’t want to get into the politics that is convention exhibiting. You can watch my post-con thoughts below and share with me what you think. If you were at the show I’d love to hear your point of view. I share my opinion of the bad stuff for only the first minute and seventeen seconds. To get to the ADLi experience skip to 1:18.

[youtube id_video=”IUnAPK-uTtI” autoplay=”false” ]

Like with any community there is a lot of drama, usually founded around experience, expectations and bias. Bottom line, it had its faults and didn’t live up to the hype and expectations according to some. Here’s hoping the Muskoka Con is a good one and Orillia can bounce back from this fumble and get back to small town con roots. I’d love to  have a convention in my neck of the woods.

Fingers crossed.

Clone Wars – Axia meets its twin

Clone Wars – Axia meets its twin

If a designer publishes a game and you’ve never heard of it, does it exist? Better question: If a designer publishes a game and you’re not around to play it, is it still good? Well, someone was there to review it and it was poor apparently. This “clone” had my interest piqued at first glance. Why concentric circles? Why 3 rings? Why varying paths between rings?  I was blown away … maybe that’s too strong a words. I was surprised to see this in my Tumblr feed. I was going to do an update on a post (for another game) and read through some of my previous game dev posts when I decided to refresh the page. Scrolled through, dropped a few likes, and THEN … duh duh duuuuuuhhh. Jumping out at me with its orbit-like appearance was, what I can only guess is, a game that basically one I’m developing right now. Not just closely resembling, mind you. It’s a friken clone of AXIA!!!!

Axia Clone? I don't think so

Resemblance is uncanny

“That’s AXIA!” I told myself out loud at work. Then I realized where I was and looked around. Phew. No one staring. I looked closer at the structure and placement of things and instantly had to reference my original post about the evolution of AXIA. I just wanted to share what I’ve thought about different ideas from different people not differing that much. Especially when you’re working with a visibly specific type of board design. Now circular boards aren’t anything new, but how they are used is pretty specific.

Now, based on who’s game was developed first either of us can say the other is a “clone”. Fine! I don’t mind being a Sammy-come 2nd. This post is from a Japanese game review site called Boardgame Memo (Tumblr) that I’ve followed for over a year now. Some that interest me I tend to translate and read up on it. This was no exception. I HAD to read it. Here is the original posts and here is Google’s best attempt at translating the review.

And the two of holding hands

Rating: 3/10

Cooperation game in which two people who began to bad relationship regain the relationship.

While controlling the emotions, we continue to achieve the goal.

A look at the summary I I thought or “Dikushitto” specific association game of the system to the emotional element is not.

Using six of the public hand of each other, it will move the piece to the color of the mass of the goal.

Is moving emotional balance of players for each mobile, this is going to be limited action can not hand replenishment and not in the center.

So, with no attempt of ingenuity to playing, I felt I think we account for a large part of the game of win or lose the card luck.

Since the theme is changed, … be enjoyed if the theme-oriented person”

So yeah. That made a lot more sense now that it’s in shattered English 😛 But recently I found out the English information of this game on BGG. Here is the English grammatical version.

…and then we held hands

…and then we held hands. is a co-operative game about finding balance. To win, the two players must complete objectives and reach the center of the board.

The players take turns trying to fulfill the current common emotional objective by discarding emotion cards to move from node to node. They must do this without verbal communication, empathizing and always considering each other’s situation when making a move.

A player can use their own cards or their partner’s, but if their move causes their partner to be unable to move, the players lose and the game ends. While moving from node to node, their balance shifts, and they are not able to refill their hand.

The players win by meeting in the center while in a balanced state and within one turn of each other – something quite difficult, and therefore very rewarding when achieved.

Both players cooperate to achieve a goal, without verbal communication, to build a successful relationship. The cards you have relate to objectives that are positive or negative in a relationship and you play that card or matching a similar “emotion card” with your teammate. If you draw a card with a red band, you must move to the nearest red dot with matching icon. And for each card played you do that, eventually both players meeting in the center, in perfect harmony for the win. Very interesting co-op game.

Axia – The clone wars

It’s pretty obvious, the visual similarities are between the two games. I wish I could see more game play or read the rules about ATWHH (and then we held hands). I could compare how close the mechanics between the two games are. From what I’ve read it does vary quite a bit from Axia.

 

[columns]
[two_columns title=”Similarities” ]

  • Circular board design
  • 3 concentric rings with a goal in the center
  • Varied paths between points in each ring

[/two_columns]

[two_columns title=”Differences” ]

  • Colour coded spaces
  • Meter for each player (corresponds to coloured spaces)
  • Dice vs. cards
  • Co-op play
  • Hand management
  • Point-to-Point movement

[/two_columns]
[/columns]

So quite honestly, it’s not a clone. And since ATWHH was published in 2015, Axia would technically be the clone. That’s my life. Always late to the party. In my devblogs about Axia, I express how this concentric circle style board is specific to a common set of mechanisms. ATWHH follows that same tradition, two (or more) players working towards moving their pieces to the center goal. It’s actually very intuitive if you think about it. Either moving inward or outward towards a goal and or racing along the rings. I also have another concept for a concentric circular board design, but it’s more of a racing game than a destination game. And staying away from the center is critical for survival. Last player standing wins. If I can find a print ‘n play of this game, or find a copy at a reasonable price, I would love to give it a try.

For anyone wanting to explore these limits, take any pawn/disc style game and apply it to a round board. Chess, Backgammon, Chutes & Ladders even, and adapt to the board. It’s really interesting and you may get some great results doing so. There are so many of them already being applied and there are a whole lot more. Check out my post Round and round and round we go to see some of the concepts out there, plus a little something I’ve contributed to the cause.

Con Updates – Print & Play

Con Updates – Print & Play

Con Update 1

The Print & Play service provided by ADLi is postponed due to new and exciting files. The PDF downloads will be available tomorrow. After the show, I figured I might as well touch up snd release the free game boards, rules and other fun things. The current list of games being deployed in the ADL|PnP section will be the following:

  1. StormGame
  2. Word-a-bout
  3. Imperial Court

Con Update 2

Based on the overwhelmingly supportive feedback of my demos this year, I have a great idea. I have decided, for a limited time only and for a limited amount of visitors, a free 2 weeks to try out any of games I demoed at the Orillia Comic Con. Those games will be NUPUGA (30 piece set), Inside 7 (30 tile set), Word-a-bout (30 card deck). Because Imperial court and StormGate are print and plays, it make them easier for gamer to try before they buy. With the the limited set of components, one can sample the game without getting into heavy play. If by any chance a gamer wants to try the full game with all components, a request can be made.

Con Update 3

For those that I had collected emails for, I will be contacting you all shortly with a personal email outlining my humble gratitude and insight on the development of the games presented. Hold tight. It’s only the day after the con. Lots of updates and uploads to do.

 

Thank you all for coming and hope I can fulfill a gaming need you or a friend/family. If I have not contacted you by next weekend, feel free to shoot me an email. Remember, there are no stupid questions. Just the ones  I ignore.

Cheers.

The fusion of two minds – Game evolution

The fusion of two minds – Game evolution

The evolution of mind — Funny, when you’re designing a game (or anything really) and you get stuck, your mind happens to spawn new ideas from the road block. There have been several times where I’ve found myself at a fork in the road, having to pick one direction and sticking it out to the end. The benefit; explore an opportunity to it’s fullest, pouring in all brain power to bring it to fruition. The catch; seeing it fall short of some due to unforeseen complications. Results; more work, more time, more refined way of identifying success.

Roadblocks breed evolution

Case in point, I’ve been working on Axia on and off for some time now. I’d had a couple ideas that really worked for mechanics but the player engagement was poor, therefore the experience was weak. When I change the Axia game board from the Double Diamond to the circular (orbit style) format, I felt that was the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for, the one thing that was needed better this game’s experience. I liked where this new evolution was going and how the movement on the board helped players to strategically choose who moves when and where. Now, I’ve let the game sit for such a long time and never really got back to it because I felt that it should have more for some reason. Something else was missing and I wasn’t comfortable with where it was. By no means was it bad, but it wasn’t exciting either.

Fusion Evolution - Axia X KotH

That little something extra

Tonight I was flipping through some old notes for a trading card game I was designing called Spin Driver. Reading through my hand drawn drafts and notes, all the ideas I had and the plans for the game somehow fired up the creative engine in my head. I put Spin Driver back on the shelf to pick up another design idea and read through that. Then another, and yet another. After about 5 or 6 game drafts I came across my King of the Hill (KotH) game. This game was meant to be a classic style game where two players use 4 discs to circle around a board and make it to the center, the winner being the first to have all 4 of their discs on the hill.

I was upstairs packing some stuff and found my old Axia board laying on the bookshelf under a bunch of other docs and folders. I thought to myself “Hey self! This circular board idea would work for KotH” seeing as I was trying to design something with concentric movements. The board design lends itself to a myriad of specific gaming mechanics. Why reinvent the wheel. I took the board and added a few more spaces to it, keeping most of the original movement rules and mechanisms that were created for Axia.  I broke out some backgammon pieces and stacked them on the board. Thus began the evolution.

KotH gameplay

Using the basic roll-n-move mechanic, I had a functioning game designed in under 2 hours. I played 2 full games and after 5 test rounds of weeding out the functions, to my delight, it worked. The ideas I had for Axia, the foundation for movement and capture mechanic, confirmed to be ideal for KotH. Now, what do I do with the Axia game you ask? KotH may very well be the final evolution of Axia. The destination I could not picture, and somehow in another skin was able to materialize. There are few other little ideas I have now that I’m at this new level of design, but for the most part it’s a working game. I couldn’t be more excited.

The board’s mechanics are specific to the KotH and weren’t really conducive to the original Axia concept (seeing as the mechanics were built for the double-diamond board) as the game was created with that in mind. In a weird way I had to build another game to prove that the original Axia concept didn’t fit… or at least, I couldn’t get it to fit. I think I know now where I got stuck with the double diamond, so with this orbit style board, the Axia name may live on.

Summit: The Great Race v1.3

Summit: The Great Race v1.3

Game board has updated a bit since the initial draft. The design is coming together nicely and I’m really excited about building this out in a full wood board fashion. Stained and painted grid, wood rolling stick, the works.

Summit: The great race

Summit: The great race

Ancient games don’t always have to be ancient. Here is a game design for those that enjoy the classics, like Senet , Ludo and Ur.

Yes, I’m still here and still making things that make me happy. Speaking of which, I’m happy to announce ‘Summit’ (The Great Race). Two teams of 5 race to the summit of a mountain ridge where their camps are located. The course is laced with tunnels, laden with rocky paths and a sink hole along the upper most ridge. The goal is to be the first to get your whole team into camp. Crossing paths with your opponents, using tunnels for short cuts and pairing up to protect your teammates are all part of the fun.

Play tested today with 4 people and it’s Mother Approved! so far. Print ‘N Play coming soon, along with game manual and video tutorial.

*PnP versions of my other games to be added to soon.