Sunday, 11 February 2018

Act of Treason Design Journal - Part 3

Why aren’t there more Examinations in the game?
I’ve deliberately put many opportunities to gain Examination Blocking and few opportunities for players to examine other players in Act of Treason for very good reason. If too much information is given out as to the loyalty of the players then the mystery and tension of the game is stripped away. Players can narrow down the suspects and simply make a plan to win, eliminating those they need to - there is no more unknown - The fun gets sucked right out of the game almost instantly and the game becomes an accounting exercise to wrap up an who wins.

If you know too much, then Act of Treason is no longer a game of intrigue and deception, and the whole point of the game is lost. I’ve witnessed this effect many times during my early playtests, and because of this, I’d rather have too few examinations than too many. You need to keep the suspense of who is who right up until the very end of the game for the maximum fun.

As it currently stands. Act of Treason has a good balance. You won't get too many examinations to reveal too much, and it's highly likely you'll get one or two - enough to encourage suspicion, interaction, and added conflict.

Why are there lots of ways to get Examination Blocks?
Sort of the inverse question to the one above. Examination Blocks gives both the Heir and Traitors the ability to pick up these cards without being too suspicious - after all if there are so many it's tough to avoid them... right? This makes getting an Examination Block less suspicious.

Added to this, you don't want the game flooded with Examinations, as noted above. Players will have to adapt their examinations to the blocks that are currently in play - It just makes getting clear information that much more tricky, which is a plus. In my opinion, there definitely isn’t too many examination blocks. I’ve never seen full saturation of Examination Blocking - there’s always been at least one person at the table who can still be examined by the end of the game.

Depending on your loyalty, the trick is trying to get an examination block as inconspicuously as possible! At the very least you may want to try to stop others from getting them, or use the opportunity to throw suspicion on them if they do!

Why do players gain Examination Blocking if they Examine?
'Chaining' examinations is a very powerful strategy that has been used in previous editions of Act of Treason. What is 'chaining'? It’s when player A examines player B and then Player B examines Player C. By 'chaining' examinations in this manner you gain an extremely strong sense of who is who, to the point of sometimes actually knowing for certain. A can’t be lying unless C is on their team, and so forth, The larger the chain, the stronger the information. This is very bad for he game as mentioned in 'Why aren’t there more Examinations in the game?' The fun gets sucked right out if you know too much!

As an added negative, this gives examinations so much power that players were incentivised to get Examinations at any cost. Worse still, the strategy was only dominant for the loyals, and yet the Traitors would be forced to go along with it or risk exposing themselves as a Traitor! This created a terrible dominant strategy that removed all meaningful choices from the game and replaced them with "buying Examinations so that you can chain them".

Examination chaining was removed from the game early on. Now, Examinations are both scarce and they can never really be proven to be correct because 'chaining' has been removed. This keeps the mystery of the game going. In the current iteration of the game, players who examine others or who get examined gain examination blocking - this is what prevents examination chaining. I trailed this in a few games a while back and have never regretted my decision to add it to the game. This is a very good mechanic to have because it keeps distrust and intrigue going, and if anything it adds to it!

Why does the Steward get to reward a Court card if the Quest passes?
The Court is where players can go to purchase cards that give them additional powers and effects. A Court card must be purchased buy spending Knowledge. Since Knowledge is used to pass Quests, players will be lowering the chance of the passing the Quest that round, and potentially subsequent rounds.

This has mostly been covered in parts 1 and 2, but simply put, the Court is restricted to put a limit to the amount of damage that players can do when acquiring cards from court - knowledge spent on court card can't be used to pass Quests for instance. Likewise, allowing the Steward to reward any left over cards in Court is a nice free bonus that rewards players as a group for not just buying cards outright.

Without these mechanics in play, new players have a strong tendency to purchase cards without knowing why it’s the wrong time to buy, or what it means. Then some new players may blame the game rather than realise the fault was with them. With these mechanics in place as well as the tips in the rulebook, players are more likely to build up the understanding that buying without solid reason is the reason for their downfall, not the game or anything else.

Why are the Quests ordered?
This is highly related to the point above, and why it is recommended that advanced players play with the Quests unordered and randomised.

For beginning players, playing with ordered Quests is somewhat like playing with training wheels. In blind playtesting some players would leap into tactics that were quite destructive without realizing. This could lead to them blaming the game for their actions, not realizing that they were "playing the game wrong". Now as a designer I don't believe players can play a game wrong, so I needed to provide a clearer incentive and push for players to play in such a way  I covered this before with the social contract as discussed before.

I've found that using ordered Quests help to keep the kingdom nice and controlled in the early game, with some of the more dangerous cards coming out near the end game to help facilitate conflict. This guides players into the the social contract and tactics that keep the game on course. When the Quests are unordered, players will have to organise themselves to ensure that they stay on track and that Quest and the Court cards aren't misused by the other players.

Why do you have a Deception Phase?
I've played a lot of games both with and without a Deception Phase, and with many different groups. The consensus is that including the deception phase is more fun and allows for more tactics with your Traitor friend. That said you don't have to include it as stated in the rule book. Optional rules exist that allow you to play without it. In fact for the five player game it's mandatory that you play without it.  Both ways of playing are equally viable, and in my opinion.

Why do you not reveal Loyalties after a player dies?
This keeps the suspense of the game going until the very end of the game. As discussed above, revealing too much can take away the suspense, and locking down a players loyalty after they die so that they cannot be examined adds yet another factor into if killing them is a good idea.

Tune in next time for the following:
Why is the Quest phase before the Action Phase?
Why do you discard down to 4 Knowledge cards each round?
Why is the cost of Court cards variable?
Why is there a Town Watch?
Are the Court cards balanced?
It seems way too tough for the Traitors/Loyals to win Tribute/the game?
Why do you not reveal Loyalties after a player dies?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Development Diary #9 - Less than 24 Hours to go

Hey Y’all,

Under 24 hours to go until Act of Treason launches on Kickstarter. It all just feels so surreal.

The Update

Let me take you through some of what I’ve been up:
  • Updating the Act of Treason website ( and prepping it for the Kickstarter launch. It’s mostly new art assets and concept images, but the biggest update was adding the rules for Act of Treason, which are all sitting online now at
  • Created a press release, and sent it around to various bloggers and board game related news sites.
  • Act of Treason is now up on Board Game Geek. If you've played it, feel free to create an account and post up your review.
  • The Kickstarter page has seen a ton of work and is looking very swish now. I’ve included a mixture of text and what I’ve been calling “long tiles”, which are basically just images. I call them long tiles because they are tiled down the page and are typically quite long. A fair bit of work went into Photoshop to make sure they all look good and they covered all the needed information.
  • I created my own company called Saffron Entertainment. It doesn’t have an identity of itself yet, or website, or anything really - right now it’s basically a holding company for Act of Treason, but it will be getting its own unique personality & all the frills sometime after the KS launch.
  • Prepared some blog posts to come out before and during the campaign. A recent one went up for those who are interested in learning more about me and my future projects. You can read it here. Also, expect posts to come up soon for both The Dominant Strategy as well as parts 3 and 4 of the Design Journal.
  • I created an Act of Treason video with some basic animation for the KS page. It's embedded below. It took me roughly three days out of a planned two. First was getting the VO right, cutting out the background noise proved both necessary and more difficult than I had anticipated. That was most of Day 1. Days 2 and 3 where on the visuals, first half and second half respectively. I had most planned out ahead of time, but winged a couple of parts when I arrived at them. I think it’s important to stay adaptable for situations like that - you can sometimes stumble upon an easier and/or better solution if you stay flexible and open to it.

Personal Stuff

So about two weeks ago, windows decided to push updates on me really hard, and so I decided to go ahead with them. The next thing after I boot back into windows - my screens are glitching out and artifacting, flashing gray for a frame or two. Thanks Windows update! I trouble shoot to try resolve it via updates etc, but it keeps happening. The graphics card is the likely culprit - Gigabyte GTX980Ti for the tech nerds out there who are interested. So I decided to take my graphics card out and clean it. That's when I notice that it's boiling hot. I'm beginning to suspect overheating.

Sure enough I clean the card to remove the dust and then when I plug it back in I find out the fans either aren't spinning, or are making weird noises when they do spin. Sure enough, shortly after plugging in the card the fan falls off and I'm getting the artifacts again. I jam a large fan next to the case for a while until I can get my hands on a replacement - it actually worked too! No more artifacts while I had that setup. The culprit fan must have not been spinning for a while, or something came loose with it? Who knows. All I know is that I'm down one boss graphics card. RIP.

My makeshift cooling setup

Now I'm running my brothers old card, about the same power as an Xbox360 gfx card. While I wait for gigabyte to examine the card under warranty. The timing is just great as you might imagine. Right as the Kickstarter campaign is about to begin. Oh well, could be worse. I mean I could have had my hard drive fail with all my Act of Treason stuff. Instead I just had my hard drive fail with all my old movies and TV shows. Yes, you read that right - one of my hard drives failed like a few days ago! Afterwards I Immediately rushed and backed up my entire Act of Treason folder. At least I can still work and all my files are alright. That's the main thing. It is genuinely painful to work on some of my files now however. Even slightly large Google Docs documents are laggy at times!

Okay Google

So when I first started prepping Act of Treason for Kickstarter, I knew I wanted to have a website dedicated to Act of Treason. One of the things that really got stuck in my craw was that my website wasn’t appearing on google unless you typed in something very specific like “Act of Treason board game” - even then I don't think it was top of the page. Back then, typing in just “Act of Treason” had my website on page 5 or something, which might as well been tantamount to it not existing.

I’m proud to announce that when I typed “Act of Treason” into google today I got the following:

3rd result, not bad! And when I type in “Act of Treason board game” the results are even better still! It just feels good to make progress on something like that, especially when it has mostly resolved itself.

Learning From Mistakes

I was going through the Kickstarter, typing up the "Risks and challenges" section. For the unfamiliar, this is an area that sits at the bottom of your Kickstarter page. It is for the project creator to explain: "The risks and challenges that come with completing your project, and how the project creator is qualified to overcome them."

A rather important section for some projects and for backers too. It helps set the stage for what could go wrong and should be used by the creator to honestly reflect on where they could become stuck, which allows the backers to make a informed decision about the level of risk they are willing to take on.

In typing up that section, it made me realize something: It’s all about trust.

Trust is a huge part of any business interaction. If you don’t trust whom you’re dealing with, it’s unlikely that you’ll give them any money in exchange for a good or service. Why? Because you can’t be sure of the level of quality you’ll get, or that you’ll get the product or service you asked for. Heck, you could potentially not get the product or service at all. Any number of things can go wrong in a business situation, and not having trust and confidence in whom you’re conducting business with means that you might not get the outcome you want. Trust means you're confident that you'll come out okay, even when things go wrong.

Now, with all that in mind, I need to come clean about something that has been buging me.

This was not a great promotion I ran. I’m going to peg this one up to me not being so great at marketing - but even then I should have known better! Some of the things I mention in my post when I first revealed this are just straight up wishful thinking. It just wasn’t very grounded of me. I’m going to unpack it a little here for you so you can learn from my mistake. 

Let's start with the reward of this promotion - doubling the marketing and art budgets. My rationale at the time makes some sense:

“I wanted a reward that didn't detract from the product and divert attention or effort elsewhere. I also wanted a reward that all backers could enjoy. A reward that would be fair to all backers. This reward is in line with my main concern - making the best game possible.”

While I stand by this rationale, the biggest issue with the reward is that it’s vague, and not very tangible or salable. What does "double the budget" actually mean? Having values such as an increase of $4,000 for both would have been much clearer and more transparent. But even then, that’s not a very salable reward. No one is going to get excited when you tell them that they should sign up to a mailing list because they then get to increase the numbers on somebody's else budget.

A better reward would be in line with all the rationale I laid out above, while at the same time being  more tangible, salable and clear. I would give you an example, but if I could do that I would have run a better promotion in the first place. Something like adding a new card or two into the game kind of works, but that comes with it's own cost. I for one am very dubious of any Kickstarter game when they do this - offer to increase the components or mechanics of the game as a stretch goal or bonus. I wonder, "why am I not getting the most complete/best product when the idea is already out there and tested?", and "Doesn't adding/removing that component upset the balance of the game?" Both fair questions.

Another smaller mistake, but a mistake none the less, is that I should have taken a different tact with the x3 mailing list “rule” worked into this promotion. I should have only applied a 1 for 1 across all social media accounts, OR only included the mailing list in the promotion. Having mailing list sign ups count for x3 followers is a confusing and convoluted message.

In marketing, I think you should treat everything that you do like you’re playing Chinese whispers - if it can be miscommunicated, it probably will. You should always aim for the clearest and most impactful message you can as this has the greatest distance - a convoluted message won’t travel very far. This is one reason that memes have the spread that they do. They are a short snappy highly shareable idea or message that provides some level of value - The messages you give out to the public should be almost like memes. Clear, short, snappy and valuable. If you can do that, then the message will share itself. In hindsight I should have gone with email signups only for a clearer message.

But by far the biggest error I made was the amount of followers needed for the promotion to be successful. 4,000!? Are you serious? In my defense, I figured that if they were to all be email sign ups which is what I was pushing for the real number is ~1,333. Added to this I already had quite a few signups which made the number of signups I needed less still. But having such a large number as the goal would have made me look like I was living in a dream world - and let's be honest, in some sense I was.

I did see an increase in the email signups at the start of the promotion. I want to thank my supporters for that, but I’m sure it’s much less than it would be had I included a sensible goal, focused purely on e-mail signups, and had a much clearer, salable, and tangible reward for hitting the goal. My bad.

As it turns out, after doing some more calculations and juggling the budget, you’ll be getting some of this reward for free anyway. I really want to see the final product have great art, even at the lowest possible funding goal. So the minimum Art budget for Act of Treason has been tweaked to just under double of what it was to ensure this. The marketing playbook has also had some rework to allow for easy scaling. I might not be doing more marketing spending, but I most certainly will if the advertising has good hit and conversion rates.

Please don’t make the same mistakes I did - focus on simplicity & clarity. Run your ideas past someone first who will be willing to challenge you.


That about covers it. I look forward to the post Kickstarter blog write up where I can break down what went right (or what went wrong).

See you on the other side.


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Myself and Future Projects

Hi all,

This is a space for me to shed some light on who I am, and some of the things I'm working on. I know that some of you will be interested in this information, and I think when using a service like Kickstarter, it's quite important.

When you choose to back a project on Kickstarter, you're not just giving money for the product (although, that is a big part of what you're doing). Your pledge has the potential to help encourage and finance future creative endeavors too! As such, It's always a good thing to know a bit about who you're backing, and I'm more than happy to share.

A Little About Me:

I've wanted to be a game designer since I was young. I love game theory and design and I believe my love of these topics stem from my logical and analytical personality. Understanding games in their totality appeals to me. I believe games can be a abstract representation of life - for example - playing team sports exposes us to fierce competition and how to handle it. It also teaches us cooperative team play, and how to work towards a common goal. These are both universal life skills.

I consider myself a creative and discerning individual. I am interested in philosophy, Truth, innovation and efficiency. My favorite movies are The Thing and The Hateful Eight. My favorite TV shows are Curb Your Enthusiasm and It's Always Sunny. My favorite pastimes are playing games, designing games, lifting weights, debates, and movies. In that order.

I am somewhat introverted, and prefer listening over talking (unless it's a topic like games or game design, in which case I can talk for hours and hours). Marketing and putting myself out there has never been my forte. It has been one of the roadblocks that has held me back on Act of Treason for so long. I hope Act of Treason is successful, but if it were to fail anywhere along the road to funding, I can almost guarantee it will be due to a lack of strong marketing.

I have squandered a number of my younger adult years as I was trying to find my place in the world, and my goal in life. For those who are in a similar predicament I can only suggest that you work towards aiming for something. The "what" is less important than the pursuit. Your goals and aspirations will change over time anyway, and working towards something will help you to understand if you want to continue down that path, alter your course slightly, or if the path no longer interests you. The words of Jordan B Peterson have helped me greatly and I strongly suggest listening to him on this topic.

Act of Treason:

It took me over 6 years to get Act of Treason to this point. My goal from the beginning was to create the best social deduction game that I could and hit all my design objectives. After a long 6 year journey, I am confident in my self assessment that I have attained this goal. Because of this, Act of Treason will have a great deal of support from myself after the Kickstarter. I will continue to promote and market Act of Treason as long as I'm seeing positive reviews and demand for it. Depending on the success of AoT, there will likely be an expansion.

I often get asked if the game would work well online or on the computer. Since Act of Treason is a predominantly social game, I feel it could work online, but that the best application of it would potentially be in VR, where players can get a bit more sense of their interactions with the other players. All of this is up in the air at the moment of course, but the main theme I want to express here is that I am definitely keen to keep going with Act of Treason after the Kickstarter is done.

I have little interest or inspiration for any other board games at this time. Act of Treason will likely be my first and last board game. But don't be alarmed, I have other great projects you may be interested in.

Blood and Guts (Working Title):

This will be the next major project I work on. It will be a vaguely Dungeons & Dragons inspired Pen and Paper Role Playing game. Set in a grim fantasy world with Lovecraftian elements. The theme/genre I'm aiming for is horror-heroic. Your character will be powerful, but at the same time the world is a brutal and threatening place, even for a hero.

I've always struggled to enjoy PnPRPG's. There's a lot of things I love about them, but at the same time there's quite a few things that can get in the way of the fun for me. For example, being restricted to certain character types and limited character choices, or having to deal with vast oceans of imbalance between one character and another. Even the imbalances within the same character options can be too much at times, and can ruin the experience for me.

Some of my design goals for this project are as follows:
  • Brutal and swift combat - A focus on rapid conflict resolution. No more combats that drag on.
  • Narrative focused - Mechanics encourage a rich and conflict filled narrative that don't detract from the story.
  • Balance and polish - A focus on balance and streamlining the game to only the most necessary of complexity. A highly polished presentation, and a game with all the quality of life improvements it can get.
  • Embrace the unknown - Magic and the occult is shrouded in mystery in BnG. Mechanics and incentives will be in place to help ensure that some aspects of the world stay this way. True horror and excitement comes from the unknown. Blood and Guts plans to fully capitalize on this fact.
  • Rewarding resourcefulness - BnG will emphasize barter, scavenging, and adaptation. No more getting to choose the best equipment from a list, or picking the optimum abilities. Blood and Guts is about making tough choices with what you have. Making the most of any given situation!
  • One step forwards, two steps back - You don't have an interesting narrative without conflict. BnG will have deliberate mechanics to really push you and your companions to your limits.
  • Risk and reward - This will be a central mechanic. Do you take the safer option for a skill check? Or do push your luck and increase your chance of success, while at the same time increase your chance of a critical failure? 
  • All rules will be officially available online in an easy to access, mobile friendly HTML format. A offline rulebook will be offered on completion of the ruleset.
As I develop this game no doubt there might be some drift in these goals, but I think this captures the essence of what I'm going for.

I'm still drafting the rules, but play tests will be starting soon.

The Dominant Strategy:

These are my articles that sit on this blog that cover all things game theory and game design related. I’ve loved the topic of game theory and design for a long time, and I’ve loved games for longer still. I’m glad that I can finally have a voice in this space, discussing what makes games good, and what makes games bad. I won’t be able to stick with a schedule for it, and my posts will likely be infrequent, but I will be writing articles when I can.

Each post will be considered a living document and will be subject to review and updating. There are a number of core articles I plan to tackle. Rather than quantity of posts, I will be aiming for quality, with sufficient critique, and self-reflection.  There are also a number of games I want to use as examples to highlight both some of the best and worst parts of games so that we may hopefully learn from them.

You can read my existing articles on the Dominant Strategy here.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Development Diary #8

Hey Y'all,

Merry Christmas and I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!

Only 43 days until Act of Treason is up on Kickstarter! I'm currently rushing, making sure all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. This week I'll be talking about the most recent Act of Treason review by Unfiltered Gamer, the website update, social media, and other sundry miscellaneous thingys.

Unfiltered Gamer - Act of Treason Review

I'll start with the most awesome news - Unfiltered Gamer has reviewed Act of Treason, and from the sounds of it they really liked it! For those of you who don't know Unfiltered Gamer is an independent 3rd party board game reviewer. They often review games that are going up on Kickstarter to help people get to know if the game is for them. Overall I loved the review and I'm very happy with it. You can watch it below.

In addition, Unfiltered Gamer will be doing a live play of Act of Treason on Wednesday the 17th of January PST. This is the best opportunity to check it out and see what AoT is all about before the launch date ! You can watch the livestream at the Unfiltered Gamers Facebook Page. Be sure to sign up so that you get notified when it's on!

Website Update

With the new video from Unfiltered Gamer I wanted to slap on an update to the Act of Treason website. I've added the following:
  • Featured the Unfiltered Gamer review on the front page as well as on the feedback page.
  • Revealed more rules for Act of Treason in the Rules section.
  • A few other small tweaks and Quality of Life improvements here and there.

Social Media Promotion

I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who is signing up to the Kickstarter mailing list. I've already seen a notable increase to the number of subscribers there. It has more than doubled since the 8th of November, which I'm pretty ecstatic about, which brings us to a solid ~700 followers. We're well on our way folks!

As some of you may know where currently running a promotion whereby if we get enough followers before the Kickstarter launch date on the 10th of Feb we'll be boosting the art/marketing budget. I think 4,000 followers may have been a bit high in hindsight, but it's still very much possible! If we can make a sizable dent in it then I'll definitely consider giving a small bonus as a reward even if we don't hit the 4k goal.

I'll be working hard to make sure that we try to collectively hit the 4k goal! I want to be able to make the best product possible and 4k would make for a very stable foundation indeed.

If you know any podcasters or 3rd party reviewers who might be interested in covering Act of Treason to help get the word out please do let me know in the comments or you can contact me directly.


I'm not sure if I've shared it yet, but here is the final prototype all boxed up. The art is subject to change, and the components might be altered a bit, but at this stage the mechanics are all pretty much locked down.

That's Emilien Rotivals artwork featured on the back an front of the box. Great artist, you can find more of his work over at

Frontside of Box

Backside of Box

For those of you who may have missed it, the first article of The Dominant Strategy is up. It's called 'What Makes Games Fun?' In it I explore the various reasons why we enjoy games and give some color to how a game designer might use this information to inform your design choices. If you're interested in game design, feel free to give it a read here.

I think that about covers it for this week.


Music of the week

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Dominant Strategy: What makes games fun

Disclaimer: I have no formal training in game design and this article is my opinion. I always welcome any well reasoned, thoughtful critiques.

What makes games fun?
   By Tyson Bennett

Understanding what makes games fun is a very important part of making great games.

If you don’t understand what makes your game fun, then you won’t know how to adjust your game in order to improve it. You won’t know what to prioritise when tweaking mechanics and what to alter in order to maximize your design goals. You must have an understanding of what you have and what you are working towards.

If you don’t understand why your game is fun then you’ll be firing blind when it comes to trying to fix it.

What "is" Fun?

Before we get into the meat of the article I need to talk about what "Fun" means. Why? Because games are not always fun all the time. Some of the best games can be downright stressful or infuriating at times – take League of Legends, or Playerunknowns Battlegrounds (aka PUBG) or a really difficult game like Spelunky or Faster Than Light. Engaging yes. Enjoyable? ... It's not always apparent to the outside observer. A person playing one of these games will seem totally engrossed. Sometimes stressed. Can you really call that fun? Maybe if you're using a certain definition - but we don't want any ambiguity here - we want a term that accurately describes what it is that we should want in our games, and what we want to work towards.

Perhaps a better term for describing what we want to work towards is Engagement? You'll notice that games almost always totally engross the player. The players are focused on what they are doing - it has their attention.

However, there are some games that you can play and be quite detached, enjoying a movie or a TV show at the same time. For example, grinding for loot in Diablo III or Warframe. Sometimes you'll be engaged when playing these games. Sometimes playing these games is far more passive. What's interesting here is that, while you're grinding for loot, the game is less engaging and less enjoyable.

So, now we can have games that aren't engaging and aren't enjoyable at some points... and yet still might be enticing enough that someone will want to play it? Why!? Well, because there is progress to be made in the game, and that progress is in itself Rewarding. Not only this, but the grind allows them to access content later in the game that would be Enjoyable and Engaging. The player is trudging through the more boring parts so that they can unlock the better parts. These unlocks are a big part of the attraction for some games, and just giving all the unlocks to the player for free ruins the fun of some of these games and significantly lowers the replayability.

So we can see that Engagement, Enjoyment and Reward are all really good metrics in determining how much enjoyment you're having with a game and how likely it is that you'll keep playing it, or return to it later.

If we make "fun" our design goal then we need to make clear what we mean by that, or we may mistakenly prioritize the wrong goals. What we are trying to aim for is to maximize Reward, Engagement, and Enjoyment of the player. And while this is a fairly robust definition, it likely doesn't cover all of the smaller various ways in which we find games fun!

Okay. Now that we have that out of the way and we understand what we need to maximize in our games... let's take an even deeper look into what makes games "Fun".

Why are games "Fun"?

Well, there are a few nebulous categories that can help us to understand where fun comes from.

  • Creativity
  • Progress
  • Discovery
  • Story
  • Competition
  • Mastery
  • Problem Solving
  • Social

These are just a list of things that people find enjoyable, or rewarding, or engaging - nothing groundbreaking really. The groundbreaking part comes from understanding which of these are tapped into by your game - and then using that information to tweak your game as you design it to better take advantage of what people enjoy.

Whether you know it or not, this is what you're doing when you're tweaking the mechanics of your game. You're trying to better tap into the pleasure nodes in people's brains, to make the game more enjoyable, rewarding and engaging for them.

I will call each of these categories ‘Nodes’. These nodes are by no means strict in their definition, nor is this list of nodes definitive; this is why I used the term 'nebulous categories' before. The above is merely a guide to help us understand where "Fun" might be derived from so that we may better cater our game to the enjoyment of the players.

What are each of these Nodes?

First let’s examine what each one of these Nodes is - what they mean and some examples.

Something interesting to note is that if you don't hit any nodes, then there is almost no incentive to play the game as it would have nothing that we enjoy - for that is the purpose of the roadmap, to map out what we enjoy in games! By logical deduction there can only be two errors, either the roadmap doesn't include what people find enjoyable in your game, or your game isn't enjoyable!

  • Creativity is just what you expect, so there isn’t much to say here. Creativity is being able to create something, not just having to follow a beaten path, or use existing tools for a set preordained purpose. You get to create something your way, your style. Some notable examples of games that tap into creativity: Minecraft, The Sims, Factorio, Sim City. This Node kinda ties to problem solving - after all, if there's more than one way to get to the solution, then there is an element of creativity. Balance in games helps to facilitate creativity - if choices aren't balanced for the players, then players are less likely to make creative choices, and are more likely to make overpowered choices that will improve their chances of winning. Thus it also follows that the less competitive a game is, the better it caters towards creativity.
  • Progress is about achieving something, completing something, fulfilling a goal, leveling up a character, unlocking achievements, etc, etc. The Progress Node often goes hand in hand with the Discovery node as making progress often unlocks some new content within the game. Great examples of games that are high in progress are RPGs such as Diablo III, World Of Warcraft or Warframe. Progress in such games would be grinding for better gear or leveling up a new character to max level. Games heavy in grind or that have a ton of things to unlock are heavy in the Progress Node. Pong is a great example of a game with no Progress. There is nothing to unlock or achieve! In pong, you start with everything. Lots of games include a progress component because it's easy to do - but that doesn't always make the game better! For example, Adding unlockable perks to a game like PUBG might make the game have more for the progress node, but it would also lower the Competitive node as the game becomes less fair and balanced. Since the competitive node is the backbone of PUBG, it is highly likely that adding a account level up system or unlockable perks would be a negative to the play experience and draw important resources away from other valuable parts of the game that would yield better results.
  • Discovery is uncovering something new and experiencing new content. Almost all games tap into this to some degree - after all, every single game is new to the player until they have played it. Once explored the Discovery Node loses its luster as you can only discover things once. Discovery ties in nicely with the Progress and Story Nodes as they all are likely to be joined together somewhat. Games with a lot of unique content to explore are heavy in the Discovery Node but games like spelunky tap into it too, by offering content to discover behind difficult but rewarding challenges. As mentioned examples are far reaching, but include: Half-life, F.E.A.R, Factorio, Spelunky, Metroid, The Walking Dead, Neverwinter Nights, etc. It may be better to talk about what games don't tap as much into the Discovery node. Notable games that tap minimally into Discovery include: Pong, Playerunknowns Battlegrounds, Killing Floor 2, etc. Games that can be described as “what you see is what you get” are prime contenders for low Discovery. 
  • Story or Narrative is the least “game” node out of all of them - after all, you can't play a narrative - but I have included it for completeness as it does contribute to what makes a game "fun". This Node is self explanatory. Story is typically a narrative that progresses throughout the game. Story is often tied to Progress and Discovery. A couple of Notable examples of games heavy in the Story Node are The Walking Dead and the Half-Life series. The story can be enjoyable in its own right, thus boosting the games appeal, or even completely dominating it. Story can also sit in the background and be safely ignored, such is the case of games like Spelunky, or PUBG.
  • Competition mostly refers to the want to win and to dominate. A lot of games heavily utilize this node, and some almost ignore it entirely. Multiplayer PvP Games like Counter-strike, StarCraft II and PUBG being prime examples of games that capitalize heavily on this node, while some games like The Sims and The Walking dead safely ignore it. Single player games against AI or a tough objective also count as utilizing the Competition node. Cuphead, Spelunky, and FTL (Faster Than Light) all tap into our desire to challenge ourselves and to dominate a challenge.
  • Social refers to the enjoyment that stems from interaction with other humans. You can build a game that heavily relies on social interaction such as Keep Calm and Nobody Explodes. Or you can simply have a game that allows you to socialize while you play. PUBG, for example, allows you to interact with either friends or randoms online whilst playing, giving you plenty of opportunity and subject matter to banter over as you loot and kill your way to that elusive chicken dinner (in PUBG, a win is called a chicken dinner). Enjoyment can be derived from this social experience and yet it can be completely detached from the mechanics of the game. In other words, the game can simply facilitate social interaction instead of tying it into the mechanics of the game and how it plays. The social interaction is its own fun thing, but as a game designer you will have the option to use it in the mechanics of your game, and thus it pays to consider it.
  • Problem Solving describes our want to solve puzzles and fix problems. It ties in to the competitive node as well as the progress node. Why? Because solving a problem is hard, rewarding and often results in us making progress. It doesn't just have to be puzzles however. Problem solving covers general strategy as well - any difficult decisions that require at least some consideration. eg: Choosing if you should loot a nearby corpse in PUBG and risk getting shot. PUBG is actually a great example of a first person shooter that has better tapped into the Problem Solving Node over its predecessors. Games like Factorio, Space Chem, and Battle Brothers are all great examples of games that scratch that problem solving itch quite nicely.
  • Mastery is a node that almost didn't make the cut. It's a node that is highly similar to Competition and Progress in many ways. You could call this node competitive progress or progress of self. It describes wanting to get better and master the game, and the rewarding feeling that comes from this personal improvement. People are going to be more incentivized to master a game that is good, fair and balanced. Mastery will almost never be a Node that brings a new player in unless the player is highly motivated by being the best at games and is looking for that exact experience. Mastery is more likely to be a Node that convinces an intermediate, or an advanced player to stick around after the discovery node has started to wear off.

You'll also notice I've tried to group each of these nodes under the three groupings of Challenge, Exploration, and Expression. Theses are quite lose groupings but, at a fairly broad level it does assist with breaking down what makes a game fun. Does the game offer the user a challenge? Does it allow for exploration? Does it allow for expression? If you answered yes to one or more of those, there is a good chance the game will be fun as long as it is at least somewhat balanced, and playable.

Why do we enjoy these Nodes?

Lets have a quick chat about these Nodes above, because I have an interesting theory about them.

I believe we enjoy these nodes as they served a primal purpose back long ago as we were developing as a species. I believe all of the nodes stem from our base survival instincts.

When hunting for food there is an element of challenge and problem solving involved - tracking, hunting, and killing. Besting your animal opponent, without getting yourself hurt, or taking too long, or wasting too many resources.

There is an element in creativity when devising traps. New ways to hunt. New ways to farm. New ways to cook. New ways to convey information. Art allows us to convey information and express ourselves.

Naturally there is competition, which stems not only from hunting, but from the male dominance instinct. We want to dominate our peers and come out top of the pack. This also explains why competitive games have far more male players. We enjoy winning, and being the best of our group. We like training ourselves to be better, so that we can improve.

Socializing is important, not just to improve your chances of finding a mate, but also allows for better co-operation. You need to be able to foster trust and a cohesive bond among your peers, which greatly improves the chances of survival.

Progression helps to reward us when we succeed and create. Building a well, or a hut is rewarding, and a form of progression that is useful. We feel great reward from accomplishment.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if we get a kick out of all these things because they helped us to survive. Those who enjoyed these types of activities were more likely to partake in those activities and thus were more likely to survive.

We enjoy games because in some way or form, games imitate life, albeit in a much more abstract way. We can learn from games.

What is life but the world's most complex game?

But what about things like art & balance?

A quick note regarding graphics/art, balance, and polish.

No doubt that graphics and art pay an important point to what makes a game great. A nice looking game will always be more appealing than a game that looks like trash warmed up.

No doubt that balance improves a game, making for a better set of choices and fairness. A well balanced game will always be more engaging than a game which is broken in terms of balance.

No doubt that QoL (Quality of Life) improvements and polish serve to make a better game. A game that has been thoroughly polished with all the performance enhancements, options and bells & whistles will always be better than one without.

All of these improve how great a game is. No doubt - but none of these change what the game fundamentally is.

What we are specifically addressing in this article, is "Why" games are fun. This helps to give us direction, in terms of mechanically and fundamentally altering the game.

Every game can improve their graphics or art, their balance, and their polish. We want to transcend that, at least at the moment, because it doesn't pertain to the topic of this article. We are specifically addressing the why different games are fun, and not how to improve on a game.

I will cover art, balance, and polish in a later articles of The Dominant Strategy.

Node Creep

Is it important to maximize as many of these nodes as possible?

The short answer is: No. Simply put, we want to maximize the "fun" of the game while staying True to your design goals. The Nodes tell us where the fun is coming from, not how to make the game more fun. Maximum fun might mean focusing on only one, two or three nodes and maxing them out as much as possible - it pays to remember that some of the nodes conflict and you likely have scarcity of resources. Trying to focus a few core nodes is likely better than trying to hit all of them.

The long answer: It really depends what you're trying to do. Hitting as many nodes as possible can be used to try and squeak in some extra fun into a game and to appeal to a larger player base. It depends what your goal is - making the best game possible, or appealing to as many people as possible.

Some of the very early games had very narrow focus when it came to the nodes. Take Pong. It was strictly a game of competition, with virtually no other Nodes of enjoyment.

Mario Brothers was also quite narrow. It offered very little in terms of story, creativity, etc. It did offer some discovery, and some competition.

In the early days, lots of games only focused on one or two nodes. This was done because there was a lack of resources to commit to the game. larger scale games actually have enough content to hit more nodes. I don't think games with a progressing story was a common thing until sometime around NES or super NES.

Now we have games like Warframe. They offer Story though most of it is optional and easy to skip, Creativity in terms of character customization and loadout, Plenty of progress in terms of things to unlock. Quite a lot to discover in terms of content, mission types, etc. There is PvP, as well as PvE, and so there is both Competition and a degree of Mastery. There isn't a lot of problem solving, but there can be some in terms of using loadouts to beat missions. There is also a lot of social interaction if you choose to play online with your mates or join up to a clan. Fortnite is also a similar example of a modern game that hits a lot of nodes.

The trend of modern games has been to blend together a lot of the aspects of various different genres of games to create a hybrid of sorts - they basically hit as many nodes as possible by doing this. Now this can make for a fun game. The issue is that they can end up being a jack of all trades, master of none. These games are trying to make themselves more fun by appealing to a greater variety of things people enjoy. Oh, you like unlocking things? Enjoy these loot crates. Oh you like leveling up? Here's 20 perks you can unlock, etc, etc.

I'm not saying you can't make a fun game like that - clearly you can. What I am saying is that it might not be the "best" approach. Time is better spent taking the funnest parts of your game, and clearing every last possible thing that gets in the way of you enjoying that node.  This is a very different approach to trying to hit every single node.

Think about when you want to play a game, you're usually looking to tap into one or two of the Nodes. I wanna play something with a sweet story. I wanna have an intense PvP match. I want to do some creative gaming and build a cool base. Rarely do players have the urge to satisfy all their Nodes at once - so why do developers make games that try to do that?

Ultimately some of these modern games are trying to tap into as many nodes as possible to make their game more fun, instead of focusing on perfecting the most important nodes needed to actually maximize the enjoyment of the game.

In closing

Thank you for reading. I was planning on going through some examples, but this article has already stretched out to a massive 3,200+ words, and has taken me WAY to long to type up, think through, and check. I'll be covering some applications of this theory in later articles of The Dominant Strategy.

Next time I’ll look at PUBG as a case study and we’ll be examining why it is so popular, what Nodes it taps into, and some general game theory.

See you then!


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Act of Treason Design Journal - Part 2

To see Part 1: Design Journal Part 1

Note: I think the most useful application of this document is as an example, to assist in making your own Design Journal for your own game. There are many benefits to making a 'Design Journal' as described in Part One. 

While this document does give some impression of what it would be like to play Act of Treason, this is not the purpose of this document. I'll have 3rd party reviewers for that purpose - their reviews are coming soon. The most accurate impression of Act of Treason comes from playing the game yourself.

Why 5 to 10 players?
5 is the minimum number of players required to play Act of Treason, while 10 is the maximum. 5 to 8 is a good player range in my opinion, with 6 or 7 being the best.

With 9 or 10 players, the game becomes a little harder to manage, and takes a little longer to play. The game still works of course, but playing a nine or ten player game with all new players is a tad difficult, as new players add additional chaos and length to the game. The player limit stops at 10 for this reason. I think the game would become too unruly, especially for new players, if the player count was 11 or more. And lowering it to 8 or 9 players would cheat experienced groups that wish to play with more people, and can do so comfortably.

Lowering the minimum number of players would be good, but is difficult without warping how Act of Treason currently works. Even if it could be done, Act of Treason is a social game and doesn't suit well to so few players. With only 4 players, there is not much room for social interaction and figuring out who is who. For these two reasons, Act of Treason is just not well suited for less than 5 players.

While a minimum of 5 players might be difficult for some groups to pull together, the player count can be seen as a great opportunity to meet new people. Socializing is often easier if you have a catalyst to help facilitate conversation. Act of Treason would make a great catalyst, as it provides an opportunity to socialize via the game as well as just casual conversation - swapping back and forth between the two as the game progresses. It would make me happy knowing that people were running games of Act of Treason at their local game stores around the world and using Act of Treason to meet new people.

Not only that, but playing Act of Treason with a batch of experienced players who you don't know that well is my favorite way to play. This is because the dynamic at the table changes with the players, much like how the social dynamic changes when you have different people in a room. This can provide you with a whole new play experience. Playing with new players adds another level of unexpected outcomes that you may have to navigate - a new landscape that you need to explore if you want to win.

How does the game usually play?
Each game will start off slow with the players organizing the group and focusing on passing Quests for the most part. This early stage of the game is mostly about gathering evidence on who is who based on their actions. It's giving the players an opportunity to set themselves up for mid and late game. As the Kingdom Strength drops, so will the players suspicions rise. Players will be eyeing each other up and taking note of every action and word. As we near the late game, Players will use their evidence gathered and their suspicions to weaken potential threats while securing the positions of themselves and their so-called "allies". Assassinations tend to hold out until the last round or two where many players will likely die in a bloodbath - a last ditch attempt to root out the Traitors. The Loyals attacking the suspected Traitors, while the Traitors try to influence the carnage so that they are not in the firing line, and perhaps taking a pot shot or two of their own if it doesn't increase suspicion against them! All the while Traitors will be keeping an eye out for the Heir. They may need to make a last ditch attack on the Heir if it comes down to it!

Note that the Traitors can win if Kingdom Strength hits '0'. This rarely happens as Loyals will try to win by killing those they suspect before this will happen. The Loyals can win by completing 5 Quests successfully. This rarely happens as the Traitors will place negative cards into Tribute to try ensure this does not happen. This is why most games always end assassinations.

Experienced players tend to play differently when compared to new players. It's exceptionally difficult to describe all the tiny things that goes into the difference between these two sets of players. However, One of the biggest differences is that experienced players develop a 'social contract', of what's good for the group. With familiarity of the game the players develop an understanding of how all players should act for the good of the realm, and deviating from this raises suspicion. New players cannot capitalise on this, as they don't know what good for the realm entails. New Players will often try act in self interest as there is no penalty from their peers in doing so. One of the toughest things with designing Act of Treason was to correct for this so that the mechanics encouraged the development of a social contract early, and didn't penalize the players too heavily for not having a social contract among the group. This was done by limiting the total available court cards on player count, Adjusting the cost of the Court cards to acquire based on Kingdom Strength, Rewarding players for leaving cards in court, and lastly, having ordered quests (optional) that reinforce the social contract in the early game. Each one of these small tweaks helps to encourage players to be more invested in what players are doing - or these tweaks act as 'caps' so that players can't screw up things for their team too much.

New players tend to focus on themselves and acquiring personal power - this masks the traitors who would be smart to also make use of this tactic. New Loyal players do not yet know what is best for the realm, and thus do not make any demands of the group. It was interesting to try and fix this mechanically - to smooth out the learning curve for new players and to assist in them realizing where they may be going wrong. Loyals have a better chance of winning in an experienced group because of the social contract. This is one reason why the rulebook has tips on how to play - Unfortunately, one cannot just add in a social contract as part of the rules - at least not without some costly negatives. This would effectively null out many of the interesting strategies as it would override player choice. For example, If you couldn't buy Court cards early on in the game, then no social contract would be needed. Nothing would be learned or could be used as evidence to draw suspicion when a player capitalizes on this opportunity, as there is no opportunity there - no need to make a choice.

The game has been balanced with this in mind, so that even with an experienced group playing optimally, the Traitors should have enough room to work with so that they have a good chance to win. And this chance of winning improves with good tactics and skill. In a group with all new players, the Traitors should have a much easier time.

Why is there a Steward?
The Steward ensures that turn order is fair and balanced, with little to no luck involved.

  • Player turn order is decided upon by the Steward. 
  • The choice of a new Steward is determined by the old steward, but can be heavily influenced by the group. 
  • Making an 'untrustworthy' choice for the next Steward will potentially hurt your trustworthiness and standing among the group.
Because of the above, even though the Steward picks the next Steward, it is better considered as a group decision. Thus, "the group" (who may or may not be influenced by traitors) picks the individual who will decide turn order.

Turn order has a significant effect in Act of Treason. Essentially deciding who can attack first. Attacking first is a big advantage in Act of Treason. Because of this, turn order cannot be randomized as this would mean the victor is decided by random chance rather than player skill and choice. As you can see, the concept of a Steward or something similar becomes almost a requisite in a game like Act of Treason, where Player turn order is so critical to winning.

I personally dislike games where arbitrary turn order, or seating position can have an effect on your chances of winning. I've managed to mitigate this by having a Steward who picks turn order. There is no randomization, there are no ties. All is fair - and determined in a very social way.

Is the Steward Role too powerful?
In my opinion the Steward is only as powerful as the knowledge that each team controls, and it can easily be misused. Either team can successfully use or misuse the Steward role. Each individual can subvert or lie to the Steward about what they will do. If giving the Steward role to the other team loses the game it for your team, then you deserve to lose. If giving the Turn to a player who turns around and stabs you in the back loses it for your team, you deserve to lose.

Yes the Steward role is powerful, but it is easy to misuse power and lose just as easy as it is to use it and win. For this reason, I do not think it is overpowered. Anyone can whisper in your ear and have you harm your own team.

The real power is in being able to correctly figure out who to trust and not trust. Or persuading others to trust you. Once you have that, you don't need a Steward Role. In fact if you were the most trusted player at the table, the Steward Role is mostly useless to you. Players will protect you and kill those who try to attack you.

My conclusion is that, yes, the Steward Role is powerful - but not by itself - it is certainly not overpowered to the point of imbalance.

Are the Quest effects necessary? Can Quest effects cheat players out of a win?
Quest cards have an effect that come into play as soon as they are picked as the Active Quest. The Quest effects give for a changing landscape that the players must adapt to. There are some positives and negatives to this, but I took Act of Treason in this direction as it creates for a more interesting strategic game in my opinion. The cost is that there is a slight increase in complexity.

Quests can provide some powerful effects at times, however, they are known well in advance. As such there isn't luck involved. A Quest that allows the first assassination of the round to be unblockable is known in advance, and can be accounted for. If you suspect a player suspects you are the Heir, you can take actions to prevent them actioning this Quest Effect.

I wouldn't say that a Quest effect can cheat you out of a win, only that it can provide the opportunity for a win/loss if you let it.

What stops the Steward Role from 'bouncing' between two players?
There is no rule against this as this should be self correcting.

Early game this is inconsequential and a fix would only serve to add more rules without significant benefit. Late game, this can be a balanced and valid strategy.

Most players dislike it when two players pass the Steward back and forth early game. The bouncers aren’t buying themselves any favors as this usually results in some animosity towards them. These bouncers are likely hobbling themselves for late game when they will have to rely on their teammates to win.

Furthermore, only the Traitors know who are on their team in the early game. What benefit is it to bounce the Steward back and forth when you cannot be sure of who you can trust?

Needless to say that 'Steward bouncing' is not a great strategy, and the Steward usually gets passed to other players in time.

Lastly, while this could be corrected for in the rules, this would restrict player choice. Perhaps a situation could arise where only two players are seen as most trustworthy early game, and this decision is echoed by the group. eg: during the first Quest, two players put in a hefty four knowledge cards each, and this wins the Quest for the group. In this example, should the two players be allowed to pass the Steward back and forth? I certainly think so.

Ultimately, Act of Treason is about group dynamics. I don't want to restrict how the group interacts unless it can't be helped.

Tune in next time for the following:
Why aren’t there more Examinations in the game?
Why are there lots of ways to get Examination Blocks?
Why do players gain Examination Blocking if they Examine?
Why does the Steward get to reward a Court card if the Quest passes?
Why are the Quests ordered?

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Development Diary #7 - 10th of Feb

Hey Y'all,

Today I am excited to announce that on Saturday 12pm on the 10th of Feb Act of Treason is planned to launch on Kickstarter ( Friday, 9th,11:00 am GMT).

To aid in a successful launch I will be running a promotion leading up to the release date. As previously mentioned I've been toying with bonus "Social Media" stretch goals to help spread awareness of Act of Treason before the Kickstarter goes live. After much deliberation I have landed on going ahead with this plan, and aiming for 4,000 followers which should be an obtainable goal. That should be enough to help me to secure funding for Act of Treason.

4,000 may seem like a lot to some of you. I have laid out my rationale below which I help explains where I'm coming from. I'm trying to choose a number that will yield a successful Kickstarter - nothing more.

To reward all of us for hitting 4,000 followers, I will personally turn my pockets inside out and lay down *double* of the budgeted money for both the Art of the final product as well as the Marketing during the Kickstarter campaign. This helps me and it helps you. I get to make a more beautiful product that I can be prouder than a gushing parent over - and you can have a nicer, better looking game that you can love playing with your friends. We all win!

Note that there are additional art budget increases in the kickstarter stretch goals as well. So even if we don't hit this goal, there is still plenty of opportunity to fund even better kick ass art for Act of Treason.

It wasn't easy to come up with that reward. I wanted a reward that didn't detract from the product and divert attention or effort elsewhere. I also wanted a reward that all backers could enjoy. A reward that would be fair to all backers. This reward is in line with my main concern - making the best game possible.

It's easy to just say doubled - what does that actually mean? Well, for the Art, the current baseline  budget is ~$5,000 USD. Which is roughly break even when hitting the Kickstarter funding goal. This will double to ~$10,000 USD if we hit 4,000 followers! Marketing during the kick starter is currently set to $2,000 USD. Naturally this will increase to ~$4,000 USD. Keep in mind, marketing doesn't just help me! More marketing means more pledges and more pledges means hitting stretch goals. It means even more budget. It means economies of scale. It means negotiation power, etc.  Ultimately, this all leads to an even better product for you!

So, How'd I settle on 4,000? Well previously on the blog I've floated the figure of 1,000 eyes on, within the first 24 hours. Or even better 1,000 pledges within the first 24 hours. I have been assured by others and my own research that this is a good step in the right direction, and will definitely help to reach a successful kickstarter campaign.

In order to reach 1,000 I figure that we'll need more than 1,000 followers. The conversion rate for each social media account I have isn't likely going to be 100%. I imagine that for twitter I'll have a very low conversion rate of say 10%, and for the email list I will expect something along the line of 70%. Because of this I definitely need more than 1,000 followers across all social media if I want 1,000 pledges within the first 24 hours.

Also to note, nothing stops people from signing up to more than one social media channel - which is fine. However, what this translates to is an even lower conversion rate for each social media channel. For example, the same follower could be spread across 4 different media channels, but would only result in one sale. Because of this I would imagine that 4,000 is at least the bare minimum needed to get that delicious 1,000 within the first 24 hours. If anything 4,000 could be too low - but I want to set an obtainable goal for you all that incentivises both you and me to make this project a success!

Note there will be some foot traffic from Kickstarter as well as marketing traffic from my advertisements. So naturally we will get a few bonus pledges that won't come directly from followers, but the more we get in the first 24 hours increases our chances of hitting that glorious front page and getting that prime spot on that Pareto distribution.

4,000 Followers just seems like a good start to me. Who knows, if we happen to hit 4,000 quick enough I can always offer another bonus reward!

Here is our progress so far:

It's looking pretty nice so far, but we only have three months to hit that 4,000 follower goal!

Now, as alluded to above, I believe the email signups are a much stronger indicator of interest than the other social media follows. Because of this I have offered a very nice x3 bonus for *all* email signups - the strongest indicator to buy of all the social media. After all, an email signup is someone who has taken the time to sign up either using a link on the blog or from the website - they aren't just looking for a follow back.

This is reflected on the graph above, so the actual number of email signups is around ~25 at the moment, this gets boosted to ~75. If you wish to help me out, you know what to do.

Thank you to all of those who have followed the journey so far and I hope to open my arms and invite many more of you in the coming weeks!

The Part One of the Design Journal was quite well received, which I am humbled by. I'm glad to see people enjoyed reading through it and hopefully they gained insight from it. In the pipeline is part 2 of the Design Journal and I will be also running a series called The Dominant Strategy, where I will be talking about all aspects of game design, game theory, and game analysis. This is inspired a little bit from the stonemaier blogs which discusses all things related to Kickstarter. A fantastic resource which I hope anyone looking into releasing a game on Kickstarter checks out - A ton of great info there! Well I want to do a similar thing, but for Game Design! The first article of The Dominant Strategy will be "What makes games fun", and I can't wait to share it with you!

Both part two of the Design Journal and Article one of The Dominant Strategy will be posted up in the next week or two.

Until next time squad fam.

Papa bless,

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