Thursday, December 31, 2009

MormonFind.com

12:10 AM by Mike · 0 comments
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Mormon Find has a section on their site that contains several games, both for kids and for older kids (adults like me I guess).

For smaller children there is a match game, which seems pretty simple. I guess it's more about reading and sharing that time with your child. The other children's game is called Noah's Ark. You maneuver the ark back and forth in the water trying to catch the animals (2 of each of course) as they fall from the sky. All the while the water is rising. Not bad, but it was hard to catch the animals as sometimes animals already on the ark would be bounced out as others were caught.

There are also 2 3D maze games. One, Quest of the Plates of Brass, is about finding certain items that Nephi encountered in Jerusalem. They each have a particular letter next to them in the maze. You have to enter the correct letter next to each item at the bottom of the page. In the other maze game, 2000 Stripling Warriors, you have to find Christ in the maze.

Puzzles are also an option on Mormon Find. There are a plethora of jigsaw puzzles that can be done (mostly temple pictures). The concentration game can also be played (what I think of when match game is said).

Lastly, there are some quizzes/trivia based games.

All in all a pretty good place to go find some interesting/different type LDS games that aren't had anywhere else.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cache Valley Board Game Gathering

Jason (tuttleboy on the geek) has put together another gathering for us here in Cache Valley: the Cache Valley Board Game Gathering (CVBGG; quite the acronym!). It will be held on January 23rd at the Why Sound building on 30 Federal Avenue. It will run pretty much all day, 9 am to 9 pm (I'll post a flier once I get one from Jason). Jason's goal is to be able to hold this gathering once each month! Quite awesome, if I do say so myself!!

This time he asked me if our little group, Game Designers of Logan, would like to show up with some of our designs for people to play. Of course, I am super excited about that. I love showing people my games and getting their feedback and input. A couple other members of the group have voiced that they think it is a great idea. So, we should be there in the middle of the day with some of our designs to show off and let people try!

See you all next month.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book of Mormon Trading Cards!

So, there is an online vendor or site for buying and selling LDS related products called Latter-Day Village (here). They have all kinds of things for sale, apparel to music to games. And therein lies the focus of this post: the games, specifically the Book of Mormon Trading cards (here's a link to set 1).

The Book of Mormon Trading cards are available in two different sets. Each set includes 13 trading cards.

Set 1 includes cards depicting:
Ammon
Captain Moroni
Gadianton
King Benjamin
King Lamoni
King Noah
Kishkumen
Laban
Lehi
Samuel the Lamanite
Teancum
The Gold Plates
Zeezrom

Set 2 includes cards depicting:
Abish
Alma & Amulek
Bountiful Temple
Daughters of Ishmael
Hagoth
Helaman
Laman & Lemuel
Liahona
Moroni
Nephi
Sariah
Sword of Laban
Zarahemla

The artwork was done by Sam Wilson (link to his blog). The card design was done by Debora Woods (the webmaster for Latter-Day Village). Both sets are available for purchase (set 1 = $6.95 and set 2 = $5.95) and download.

Additionally, each set contains the cards set up for playing cards (each one in 4 different suits for a total of 52 cards) and some coloring/activity pages.

These look really cool. It's great to see all kinds of options available to us in the realm of LDS games!!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sticky Buzz Software



Apps for the iPhone and for Android!! Sticky Buzz Software has released the Book of Mormon Trivia iPhone app (here). The game contains over 200 trivia questions about the Book of Mormon people, places, and things. You pick the number of questions you want, the difficulty level, and attempt to beat your total score and/or your record time.


The goal for Sticky Buzz Software is to create fun and exciting iPhone apps. Some will be LDS specific but some will not. This is their first app that has been approved and now available in the app store. They also have a second app that was just approved: 1s and 0s (check it out here).

This is pretty exciting and I hope to see more LDS games from Sticky Buzz!!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Mormon Game Design 101: Episode 00

3:13 PM by Mike · 0 comments
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Welcome to the hundred and first post of the Mormon Game Design blog!! I've decided that I want to start something a little different. One of my goals in designing my games and having this blog is to promote the design and development of quality, fun LDS themed games. As a way of promoting that idea I've decided to start a series that will be called: Mormon Game Design 101. This will be my little way of showing all you readers out there how I go about designing games. I will actually work through designing games, from the small inkling of an idea through to the actual "finished" design with rules/instructions and a nice prototype. So, sit back and enjoy this introduction to Mormon Game Design 101 (and let me know what you think).



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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Passive vs Active Entertainment

Yehuda just posted about board games and whether they are passive or active entertainment (here). And that post, of course, really got me thinking (his posts seem to do that) about these sorts of issues in the both LDS games that are currently available and in the LDS themed games that I am designing.

Passive Entertainment
This shows up in a game when the game is ruled by randomness: you roll the dice or you spin the spinner or the drawn card determines what happens in the game. In Yehuda's words: "When you roll the dice and laugh, groan, or jump for joy at the outcome, you are enjoying passive entertainment" In other words, you don't have to do a lot of thinking or "strategizing" in the game. Your involvement is quite passive.

Active Entertainment
If you play a game that involves you making many decisions, laying out plans, or thinking up different strategies that will help you accomplish the goals of the game, then you are involved in a more active entertainment. Again, in the words of Yehuda: "When you're called upon to think or make a decision, you are enjoying active entertainment. There are different levels of active entertainment, from the simple (trivia: do I know it or not?) to the complex (how do I get my battalion to that base?). Regardless of complexity, you can rank better or worse players, and most of the time you can work to improve yourself."

In my mind these two "levels" of entertainment would lie on a continuum (each occupying an extreme).



This continuum could then be used to categorize games; games could be placed along this continuum. Some games would include some active and some passive entertainment. Other games would include more passive entertainment, but still include a little active entertainment. Snakes and Ladders could be used as an example. In this game players spin the spinner and move their pawn the corresponding number of spaces on the board. If they end their turn at the bottom of a ladder, then they climb the ladder to the space above. If they end their turn at the top of a snake, then they slide down the snake to the space at the end of the snake. So, there is no decision making involved with this game. The random result of the spin determines all that happens in the game. I would place Snakes and Ladders at the extreme end of passive entertainment on the continuum.



This all raises a question in my mind: LDS themed games (those currently available and those that I am designing and will design in the future), where do they fall on the continuum and where should they fall on the continuum? I ask this second part of the question because I think the audience of the games needs to be considered. If the audience is one that would prefer games closer to the passive end of the continuum then, by all means, design and publish games that fall closer to that end. This quandary also arises from the following news post: Star-Telegram. Were those who rated the games looking for a more passive or active entertainment experience?

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nephi's Courage

1:10 PM by Mike · 0 comments
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Published by: Covenant Communications
Cost: $10.95

This game is really a set of cards for playing your traditional Go Fish, Old Maid, and the Matching Game. It contains cards that depict prophets from the Book of Mormon (as well as a Gadianton Robber card; represents the "Old Maid"). There are 4 cards for each prophet with two different colored backgrounds, white and yellow (two of each). So, you could play the match game with all the cards and have to match yellow Nephi with yellow Nephi (if you were to match yellow Nephi with white Nephi, well then, that wouldn't be considered a match).

Overall, I like the artwork, it is very different from other things I've seen in games. A couple of qualms I have with this set of cards are:  

1) it was hard for my kids to hold these bigger sized (kids cards are very often "oversized") cards and know if they had matches in their hand (this is a problem in Old Maid as you remove matches from your hand). For example, my 6 year old just put all her cards down face up on the table and looked through them (not super strategic when playing Old Maid, ha, ha).

and

2) due to the "oversized" nature of the cards, they end up to be a little less durable. And with kids this is a big necessity. The cards need to be durable, able to last and not easily bend or tear. Playing the game with a 4 year old, 6 year old, and 7 year old, well, they are sometimes put in mouths, smashed together in hands, bent, folded, etc. The cards become "marked" quite easily.

These things aren't a big deal to kids. They will just play and not pay too much attention to them. Eventually they will learn which card has the big bent corner and use that to their advantage (at least I did when I was growing up) while playing. As I found this set of cards at DI for $1, I can't much complain.



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Friday, December 4, 2009

Hagoth Artwork Update

We are getting closer to having the finished product for Hagoth: Builder of Ships!! I can't wait to get the game in my hands! It's looking fantastic! So, I figured I'd show a little bit of the update to the cards.



Here we have Hagoth portrayed standing on one of his ships with wood and tools in hand. This will be the back of the cards. We also have the Sail card which is used to sail your ships on the board, moving them closer to the Land Northward.



This graphic displays several of the ship design cards that are used as you play the game. This is the largest ships that can be built. Using just the four corners will produce a different, smaller ship.

Thanks goes to Scott (here) for the beautiful artwork and to Seth (from Mayday Games) for letting me share this here on the blog.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chapter & Verse

I had never played a collectible card game before I was introduced to Chapter & Verse (here). If you are also unfamiliar with collectible card games (or CCGs as they are commonly referred to) then let me clue you in a bit. A CCG could be thought of like sports cards. When I was younger I collected baseball, football, and basketball cards. I would buy a pack of cards just hoping to get a particular player. You never knew what you were going to get. That's the collectible part of CCGs. There is a "base-set" of cards, usually. But beyond that you buy "booster packs" and hope to get the cards you've seen other players using. Although, with the way things are today, you can pretty much just jump onto ebay and find the one card you really want and buy it that way (I used to be able to do that sometimes by going to sports card shops and find that the one card I was looking for they had for sale by itself). Anyway, add to the collectible feature the idea that the cards are used to play a game and, there you have it, CCGs!!

So, Chapter & Verse is a game designed by Mark Hansen (website; blog). It is based in the four standard works: Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine & Covenants. The cards each display a verse from the scriptures. Many cards also include bonus, "special" powers that that card offers to the play who plays it. For example, a card may give you the opportunity to look through your so far un-played deck and grab a card to add to your hand. Furthermore, each card belongs to a particular "color." There are 5 colors, each representing different things related to the Gospel, like Spirituality or Temptation.


The object of the game is create what are called "books." A "book" contains a total of 12 points, which come from the cards (or "verses") that it is made up of. Players take turn playing verses into stack in front of them. As they create books from the verses they receive "blessing" (a set of 7 cards removed from your deck at the beginning of the game). Once a player has received all 7 of their blessings, they win the game!!

Overall, I think the game offers a great opportunity for players to get involved in a game that is built around the scriptures. Players also need to be sure they know the scriptures they are playing in the game, as they may be required at some point during the game to recite a verse they have just played. Really, the only thing that I currently dislike about the game, and this is not a huge dislike, is that there is a mechanism built in for players to steal stacks of verses from each other. It makes the game a lot more interesting, as there isn't a whole lot of interaction that way, but in a game about scripture study and the power that comes from the scriptures, stealing doesn't quite seem to fit.

I would definitely recommend any and all to download the starter deck (here) and take some time to play the game. It's fun and definitely educational!!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And we have a winner!!

8:05 PM by Mike · 0 comments
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The drawing for a free copy of the Armor of God has been held and the winner is... (internet drum roll)

Gregory Fielding!

Congratulations!
Now, all we need you to do is to email me (mikedrys@gmail.com) some contact information so that we can get the game sent your way.

Thanks to all who have become followers and fans of the blog here. Never despair, we'll have other such contests and drawings in the future.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Time is Running Out

12:22 AM by Mike · 0 comments
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Just a quick reminder that anyone interested in entering the drawing (explained here)  for a copy of the Armor of God has until November 30th at midnight to become a follower of the blog here and/or a fan of the Facebook page for the blog (do both and you get your name entered twice!).

And don't forget to spread the word (I know, even though it will lower your chances of winning).

I will hold the drawing on December 1st and announce the winner here on the blog.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

BookofMormonGames.com

There is actually a website called Book of Mormon Games. Surprisingly (not really) the url is http://bookofmormongames.com/. What there is on the site is a list of short multiple choice quizzes about different "topics" from the Book of Mormon. For example, there is a quiz about the different "Villians and Victories" in the Book of Mormon (here). Additionally there is a Book of Mormon Hangman game. A word is displayed, well, a few letters and spaces is displayed. You guess letters (you can only get it wrong 4 times before you lose the game). There isn't any actual hangman displayed, just a you got it right or you got it wrong kind of presented text.

One problem I found with the site is that on the quizzes you answer all the questions and hit the "Grade Me!" button and nothing happens. Even after the time limit counts down to the end, still nothing happens. Must be some problem in the coding or scripting of the quizzes.

All in all, the site could help you with your Book of Mormon knowledge a little bit, if the quizzes were scripted correctly. I'm just not sure I'd call it a website about games (although the hangman game would constitute a game).

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gaming with Kids

I recently came across the book Libraries Got Game: Aligned Learning through Modern Board Games and was very excited to find that the American Library Association had put it out. I mean, I love games and am very interested in learning and education, especially for children. So, putting the two together is absolutely awesome! Anyway, as I shared the book with others (or told them I had found it; I still need to get into reading it) I was offered an excellent opportunity. Here at Utah State there is an on campus elementary school and I will be teaching games to kids there! The idea is to have a sort of "after school club" that meets once a week for an hour. We'll start up the first Tuesday in December! As I understand it, any child who wants to stay after and learn some board/card games is welcome.

My plan is to use the book as a guide to choosing games and helping the kids learn them. I've also decided to chronicle the whole thing in a blog: Gaming with Kids (here).
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Cache Valley Meet-Up Report

10:11 AM by Mike · 0 comments
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Well, I was able to spend about 4 hours (out of the total of 8) at the meet up on Saturday evening. It was a lot of fun! There were maybe 20 people or so who came and went during the whole day. The following games were played (for more info on each game click their title to go to the boardgamegeek entry):

Arkham Horror
Armor of God
Blokus Duo
Dominion
Dominion: Intrigue
Kingburg
Last Night on Earth
Saint Peterburg
Thurn & Taxis
Ticket to Ride
Tigris & Euphrates

I was able to play several that I had never played before. It's always good to learn new games, even when I pretty much lose every single time. I lost every game I played this weekend, but I did come in second one time.

I hope that this gathering can happen at least once a year and that it can grow. It's a lot of fun getting together with others and playing games!! Thanks to Jason (tuttleboy) for setting the whole thing up.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Win a copy of the Armor of God!


Here's your chance to win a copy of my very first self-published game, the Armor of God!! All you have to do is become a follower of this blog or a fan of the Facebook page for this blog (both of which can be found over in the right hand column). That's it!! On December 1st a drawing will be held. I will then send that person a copy of the Armor of God, just in time for Christmas. So, if you become both a follower and a fan, then you are entered twice into the drawing!!! Pretty simple.

To introduce the game a little more, I created a short How-To video that explains how the game is played.



The video can also be downloaded here on the archive.org website.


You can also check out the boardgamegeek page for the Armor of God (here). There isn't a whole lot there just yet, but eventually there will be more. And, if you would like to check out the rules, you can get a copy here.


Lastly, the game is currently up for sale on the Game Crafter website (here), for anyone who would like to get their hands on a copy.
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Mike Agrelius from Happy Valley Publishing


Some 30 years ago, a young man named Mike Agrelius noticed that there weren't many LDS themed games available for people to play. In fact, Seek and Zion were the only ones! And they are both trivia based games and, as Mike points out, spent most of their time on shelves in closets. Even college students didn't break those out at gatherings. Mike set out to change that. He designed a game called Count Your Blessings, established a company named Happy Valley Publishers, and made his dream a reality! This year marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Count Your Blessings! Over it's lifetime about 50,000 copies have been sold. Sadly, the only way you'd get your hands on a copy today is to find it at Deseret Industries or possibly online somewhere.



Mike was kind enough to give me some of his time. I was able to find out a bunch about him and his experiences with game design and publishing. And, I recorded the whole thing for your listening pleasure.



You can also download the mp3 here, if you would prefer.

Here's a list of the questions I asked during a little interview:
  • Can you tell me your background in game design and publication?
  • How many LDS themed games have you designed? Could you tell me a little about each one?
  • How many of your LDS games have been published?
  • What experience do you have with LDS game publishers?
  • Where can I get a hold of your games?
  • Do you have any suggestions for those who want to publish LDS themed games? (What is the best course of action? Who is the best publisher to approach? Etc)
  • How many LDS themed games have you played?
  • What is your favorite LDS themed game (that isn’t your own)?

If anyone is interested in contacting Mike, they can do so at mikeagrelius@gmail.com. Thanks Mike for your time and your insights into LDS games!




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Happy Birthday Mormon Game Design!!


Today marks a full year that this blog has been around (if you would like to read about the beginning you can here)! It has gone through several changes (I hope these have made it better). I have learned a lot in the process and hope that others have been able to find something interesting for them here. So, I just wanted to throw my own little birthday party.

Happy Birthday!!

And, since birthday parties always have gifts, I'll be giving away a copy of the Armor of God (you can read about it here; there's also a page on boardgamegeek). But, of course, there will be a small contest involved in the gift giving, so keep an eye out for that.


Thanks to all who have commented and shared their ideas and insights. It has been very helpful in making this blog what it is today. I really appreciate it. And, in the future, if any reader has any suggestions, don't hesitate to let me know.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cache Valley Board Game Meet-Up

11:04 AM by Mike · 0 comments
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On Saturday, November 14th here in Logan a gaming day will be happening. It will take place in the public library building in the North East Meeting room. It will run from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm. (Here's a flier)



I'm looking forward to this. It should be a lot of fun! There will be plenty of games to choose from and hopefully plenty of people with which to play those games!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

LDS Splash

3:31 PM by Mike · 0 comments
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The website LDS Splash (here) has a huge list of games labeled as Family Home Evening games (here). Some are LDS themed and others are not. Some of them look really interesting and fun to try out. For example, there is one called Holy Ghost (from the website):

As a family, make an obstacle course with pillows, chairs, blankets, etc. Then pick one person to be blindfolded and another one to be the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost tries to direct the blind folded person through the course with only words (left, right, straight, stop, etc.) while everyone else yells trying to lead them astray. - Tim Bitner

One of the other cool things from the website is that they open it up for everyone and anyone to submit (linked here) their ideas and share them with anyone who comes to the website.


Another fun section of their website lets you try your hand at church trivia (here). There are a ton of categories to choose from. Once you choose your category you go through and answer 10 multiple choice questions. After you finish it tells you how many you got correct.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What would you like to see here?

11:41 AM by Mike · 2 comments
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Any who remotely follow this site will have noticed that I haven't had a poll up for a couple weeks now. I am trying to find a way of asking open-ended questions in a poll, but I've come up empty. What I am really wondering at the moment is what kind of content those who come across this site would like to see here. So, as the poll won't allow me to do what I want to do, I'll just have to put it here in a post.

The question is:

What kind of content do you prefer to see/read/hear on this site?

This could include things that are already here that could just be done more. It could be things that I've never put up that you would like to see. It could be some off-the-wall idea that you have. I'm open to any of it.

So, if you'd like to share your perspective just click that Post a Comment link and share your mind!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Interview with Bruce Hammond of Missionary Novelty Company


I recently spoke with Bruce Hammond of Missionary Novelty Company. He was kind enough to share his experiences of running a company and publishing LDS themed games.




You can download the interview here (if you would prefer).

We discussed several games that are currently available and others that are coming out next year. He was very open to discussing his games and his experiences. Thank you Bruce for your time and insights!

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