This page was last updated on 1 January 2008.

Game Projects

Most gamers are, at some level, frustrated game designers. I'm aware to realize that turning my hobby into a job would destroy it as a hobby for me, but that doesn't prevent me from working on a lot of game design projects.

Gaming Group Projects

My Virginia gaming group was somewhat avante garde -- we're always looking for new angles on how to improve our gaming experience. Here is a very small sampling of some of the things we have come up with:
  • Combining AH Flat Top with Armoursoft's Shipbase III
    Flat Top is a great game in and of itself, but in general we also like naval miniatures, so combining Flat Top with the Shipbase III computerized naval miniatures rules seemed like a natural thing to try. This didn't turn out quite as well as we would have liked, for several reasons, most having to do with the fact that Flat Top is a game of airstrikes more than anything else, and Shipbase III's air module is the least developed part of the program. This should in no way be interpreted as a slam against Shipbase III, which we all like a great deal and which we play as often as we can.

  • Combining VG Pacific War with Armoursoft's Shipbase III
    Well, I guess we actually didn't try to combine the two -- we really just tried to compare the expected damage from the two different systems. I think our conclusion was that Pac War is such a tightly integrated system that trying to separate out any particular component like that would give anamalous results.

  • Combining AH Flat Top with AH Dauntless
    This is a project that we are working on now. Both games were originally published by Battleline, with the design/developement team of Steve Peek/Craig Taylor. As a result, there appear to be certain common assumptions (counters per squadron, damage values, etc.) that would allow integration and conversion between the two systems.

  • Double-blind AH Submarine
    If there was ever a game that HAD to be played double-blind to make it even minimally worthwhile, it's AHSubmarine. This is hardly unexpected, given that submarine/anti-submarine warfare is defined by direct-fire tactical combat between participants who can't see each other, unlike, say, tank battles (all direct fire, at least at the point where the actual expenditure of ordnance takes place), air combat (ditto), or even artillery combat (which, while indirect, is either firing to suppress activity by geographic area, or is directed by forward observers who can see the target). We played this recently, with a board each for the U-boat, convoy, and referee. There are a few kinks to work out yet, but a good time was had by all.

  • Double-blind AH Squad Leader
    This actually worked quite well, except for one thing: the scenario involved Russians assaulting buildings currently occupied by the Germans. As a result, the Germans got all sorts of free intel about Russian forces (because they had to move in the open to assault the buildings), but the Russians got no intel about the Germans -- except for, of course, "your guys were killed by machine gun fire from that building." To balance this particular scenario, we really needed to increase the number of Russians, or decrease the number of Germans. We'll remember this next time.

My Projects

I'm also working on several things which are essentially solo projects. I don't expect any of these to ever make me any money -- that's not the point. I work on them because they are fun, and if someone else likes an idea they see here, run with it! I'd rather buy it than do the work myself.

Design work complete, currently in development/playtesting

  • Advanced Company War
    An unofficial variant/rewrite of Mayfair's The Company War, designed with an aim towards making it more consistant with C.J. Cherryh's source material. Includes core rules and strategic combat rules, with optional tactical rules (based on Triplanetary or the Vector Movement System) in the works.

  • Exordium Tactical
    A tactical space combat game set in the universe of the Exordium series, developed with the aid and assistance of the authors. The base combat rules are done and have been playtested; scenario and supplementary work is ongoing.

  • Vector Movement System
    A replacement system designed to be used with any tactical space combat game where vector movement would make sense. Arius Kaufmann is the co-author.

  • Vector Movement System variant for Agents of Gaming's Babylon 5 Wars
    Problems with the movement system uncovered while playtesting this game are what inspired Arius and I to develop the Vector Movement System (VMS) variant for B5W [PDF (143k)], last updated 8/25/97.

Design work advanced, rules essentially intact but not codified

  • Advanced Company War Tactical Game
    Tactical combat module based on GDW's Triplanetary.

  • Advanced variant for Stellar Conquest
    Somewhat misnamed, as this would be a total rewrite which would happen to use the Stellar Conquest board. Most of the notes for this are available here.

  • Vector Movement System variant with modular ships inspired by SPI's Universe/Delta Vee
    This game would use a simple to-hit based combat system, with ECM and ECCM being handled through the use of forced re-rolls of the dice. Some of the pods that ships could be outfitted with include heavy weapons (2 dice/turn), light weapons (1 die/turn), heavy launcher (2 missiles/turn), light launcher (1 missile/turn), magazines (carries missiles) fuel tanks, battle communications (ECCM bonus) and ECM.

  • Vector Movement System variant for FASA's Renegade Legion: Interceptor, Renegade Legion: Leviathan, and Aerotech/Battlespace
    While FASA cleatly had a good sense of the implications of vector movement (see the essay on tactics in Renegade Legion: Prefect if you don't believe me), they couldn't quite make the leap to a true vector movement system. These games would be good candidates for conversion.

  • Vector Movement System variant for GDW's Brilliant Lances
    Pretty much the same case as above. Most people I have talked to think that BL is too complicated, and I think the movement system is part of that. It's a different time scale, though, so facing isn't as important.

Initial design stages (major issues still to be decided)

  • Advanced Triplanetary
    Triplanetary is a great game, but a few things, I think, could be handled a little better. The main change would be to add the concept of "wears" from AH's Speed Circuit.

  • Albedo variant for Triplanetary

  • Seapowers
    A radical revision of a game I was a developer of when I worked at the Center for Naval Analyses.

Ideas I would like to do, but haven't really started

  • "My Block Game"
    This would be a game using wooden blocks like the Columbia Games' block games, but with a different mechanism. In the CG products, the blocks are rotated to provide four-step reduction per unit. I would like to see a game that used these four different sides to represent the different deployment modes that a unit might be in. For example, a unit may be in Combat mode, in which case it is, say, a 6-6-6 (offense/defense/movement). In Road movement, however, the same unit may be a 3-3-10, whereas in Defense mode it would be a 3-9-0. The fourth mode would probably be a Reserve mode, allowing the unit to move during the reserve movement phase. There would also be a Routed mode, which would be represented by putting the unit down flat on the board. The inspiration for this was Chris Crawford's Patton Strikes Back.

  • An Arab-Israeli wars block game
    This would be based on the Rommel in the Desert system, and would let you fight out any of the Arab-Israeli wars from 1948 through 1982. This may be doable uysing Columbia's upcoming GeneroBlock system.

  • A Roman Empire block game

  • A naval block-type game
    Each step on a carrier block would represent one heavy carrier, two light carriers, or three escort carriers; a similar process would be used for capital ships and escorts. I'm not sure whether capital ships should be split into separate battleship and cruiser blocks; I think this would depend on the time period.

  • Exordium-inspired scenario for Prism's Throneworld game
    Throneworld basically doesn't have any scenarios, other than varying the number of players. While playing it I realized that some of the basics in the Exordium novels -- basically, the capital has been captured and the Fleet only slowly becomes aware of it, while at the same time a hidden enemy force is trying to activate the superweapon -- would make a nice TW scenario.

  • Tactical combat module for GDW's Imperium

  • Advanced version of Imperium
    This would add some of the concepts from Fifth Frontier War and Dark Nebula.

  • Strategic level Star Cruiser
    Basically, an Imperium-like game for the 2300 universe, using the Near Star List to plot out a map with each hex equaling somewhere between one to one-half lightyears.

  • Strategic space conquest version of Supremacy
    Supremacy, while essentially a beer-and-pretzels game, has one really cool feature -- the resource deck. Each resource card in the deck has a resource listed, and the number of units of that resource produced per cycle. When you want to "prospect" for a resource, you announce the resource, and turn over cards until you either find it or elect to stop. Yoy then pay a sum of money for each card turned over. [The card also has a geographic location determining where the resouyrce is found, but that's not relevant for what I have in mind.] Technological research on Nukes and L-Stars are conducted the same way, which has led to the description "mining for nukes". I think a strategic space conquest game using such a recource deck could be very interesting.

  • Gateway to the Stellar Throneworld
    Tongue-in-cheek working title for a game which would combine the best features of Gateway to the Stars, Stellar Conquest, Throneword, and the original Sovereign Stars.

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