Game and story-shaped designs
On Christmas Eve I drove down to the airport post office because I had received a package notification. What could this be? A Christmas present, perhaps? When the clerk pushed a large box from the board game printer over to me, my heart just about exploded. I grabbed it, forced myself not to tear it open in the car, and drove quickly home. I thought that I had just received the best Christmas present ever. My game was finally here! I thundered into my driveway, leapt from the car and went inside. I opened the large, heavy package to discover…
…a big thing of jelly beans. What crushing disappointment. Even though there were 49 different flavors, it was not enough to counter the blow. It was like a cruel trick. They had suggested the game would be ready around the same time, but instead sent a bunch of multi-colored sugar. It was then I realized just how much I cared about the game and how I had been longing for it for quite some time.
While waiting for the game, I sort of put it on the back burner to simmer. But now House of Whack stirs and dances to the forefront. I still have a staggering amount of work to do on the online content. Like if people could actually see what needed to be done, they would think I was insane. Sometimes I think, “What have I done? What was I thinking?” But then I just laugh a wild laugh that lasts for what I guess would be an uncomfortable amount of time if someone else were there to hear it.
I had to step away from the game for a bit because I was trying to cater to potential players and that was harming it. Every time I try to make it more palatable and logical and thematically cohesive, it starts to kill Whack’s soul. For instance, I was working on the rules for Whack Ball, one of the game variants. I had come up with a very workable set of rules involving a soccer-like game with teams within the House of Whack. They were nice rules, very detailed and straightforward. But they were wrong. In Whack Ball, this should be a common occurrence: Wendy plays the flute to lure the ball back to her, but Cirrus spills a glass of wine and steals the ball’s reflection and then does a layup into the chandelier which got turned into the new goal because Bob discarded a Wild Arcana. That’s where things are heading now.
In my recent musings I realized something: While I made a game that could possibly amuse certain gamers, I really designed the game to summon certain people to me. This is all just a ritual to bring them forward out of the ether. I need to know if someone else sees what I see. I need to know if someone else can see the game within the game. I’ve left the clues to the other game, but I’m certainly not going to show it to anyone. They will either see it or they won’t. They will either go through the door or they will play a board game.
It’s quite possible that I’ve made something just for me and I’ll be able to build a little fort out of 1000 game boxes.