Anniversary Prep – Wife edition

Greetings All,

As some of you may know, my husband and I have a big anniversary coming up this year. Five years married! We are not in the best of financial positions right now so our plans have been cut short. We decided to both work on a game that we can modify and add our own twists and stories to. Of course in the end it was easier to pick story based games. My husband chose Mice & Mystics and I chose Above and Below.

I am several weeks behind my husbands post, but I have been wracking my brain on how to possibly compare to his lovely explanation of his Mice & Mystics prep. Solution: I can’t. I’m not nearly as good at hiding my plans for my “expansion”. In fact, my notes have been sitting open on my night stand for weeks and my husband has been a good sport and not looked… I think.

So let’s do this as vague as possible. I am going to include a video and rules for Above and Below so that those of you that haven’t played yet can get a basic understanding of the game.

In the beginning of my prep I was having a really hard time trying to fit my stories into the actual game. Obviously I couldn’t explore the scenarios that I have written because I’ll know what is best to roll and what my outcomes will be. I want my husband to go through all of the scenarios I have written and in one play through at that, however, I do not want him to suffer during game play because I have all options and he is forced to explore every turn. So I decided that instead of fitting them into the actual game that it my scenarios would be an homage to Above and Below, but played separate if the actual game.

After prepping in that style for a month straight, I changed my darn mind again. I have now decided that at the start of the game we will start with one extra bed and one extra character. We will both explore each turn – He will explore my scenarios and I will explore the standard Above and Below scenarios. I am adding an extra bed and character for each of us so that we can still complete other tasks that we would normally skip exploration for.

Here’s a brief spoiler free preview of how I’m doing my scenarios. We have been together for six years, therefore I am doing six scenarios… something real that occurred each year we were together. There will be three outcomes for each – two positive outcomes based on the number(s) rolled and one negative outcome should he fail to roll enough to succeed. There will be characters he can acquire from successful roles and the characters themselves will have new abilities that can be utilized during gameplay.

That said, there are some things I haven’t worked out yet. For example during some explorations you’ll get 3 coins and a rope for successfully rolling. Well, I’m over here trying to figure out how the hell 3 coins and a rope fit into rolling during a vacation scenario. (There is not vacation scenario, but I wasn’t going to use a real one on here.) I’ve figured out how I’m doing reputation, but those freaking items are the bane of creative existence right now. I’m also creating actual character cards to print out and laminate.

So yeah there is my not nearly entertaining enough look at where I’m at in my anniversary prep. Stay tuned to hear more from my husband and I as our anniversary approaches. Thank you for reading and until next time… Live by the board.


Industry Interviews – Level 99 Games, D. Brad Talton Jr. interview!

Greetings All,

I’m happy to bring you an interview from the head of Level 99 Games today. Mr. Talton is a really down to earth guy and it was a pleasure talking to him about the digital conversion of the Level 99 game library. I am hoping to see a Disc Duelers conversion. Level 99 has a new game out called I Can’t Even With These Monsters, it looks like a really different game then what I am used to from Level 99 so I am super excited about it! Could you tell that Mr. Talton is an anime and manga fan by the art? Read on to see!


1) I understand that you started designing games at a young age and a great deal of them were collectible card games. Have any of your childhood games made appearances with Level 99 or influenced their designs?
 Most of my childhood designs were inspired by specific video games that I played, and were somewhat derivative. There are a few that were pretty good, and which I might want to bring back and tune up someday–but none that are on the market at present.
2) Your games have such a distinct art style, what was it that made you decide these styles were right for your games?
I’ve always been a fan of anime and manga art styles, and I used to do a lot of my own art (though not anymore these days). This has influenced how we contract with and partner up with artists. All of our artists get larger project contracts over months, instead of individual pieces, and they get a cover credit alongside the designer as one of the principle creators of the game. Furthermore, we ask our artists to help out when building character designs, worlds, and storylines, so that everything is a unified vision. I think this is what helps our games to feel distinctive.
3) BattleCON was he first to be published through Level 99 in 2011, how have you been able to keep the series alive and well for 6 years?
 I mostly have the fans to thank for the popularity of the series. We’re had a lot of attempts and fumbles at creating organized play, online play versions, communities, and information websites. We’re finally getting the hang of all that stuff nowadays, but a lot of it has been about the fans who keep the community together, run events, and create content like tutorials and original character designs.
4) What work did you do before your gaming career?
*Please see #5.
5) What was the deciding factor for creating Level 99?
I was involved with iOS app development (my formal training is in computer programming), but I was a junior programmer at my company and so was laid off in the big financial crisis of 2008. I started doing freelance work, and making some apps on my own, and that became a regular source of revenue. From there, I discovered Kickstarter and saw the success of early KS board games. I thought “hey, I can do this!” and so I decided to try my hand at publishing. The rest is history!
6) You’ve done several Kickstarter campaigns. Do you feel crowdfunding has been essential to your company?
Absolutely. Crowdfunding is more than just an essential tool for us at this point–its the way that fans expect to find and get involved in our new projects. I would say its an important part of the company’s identity at this point.
7) You have games online as well through Mac, PC, IOS, and Android. Have you enjoyed converting your games digitally?
We’re still in the process of converting our most popular games, but we anticipate that the reception will be good. Look out for them later this year! 😀
8)What are your favorite games? One Level 99 and one non level 99 please.
I really love Libertalia, a game about pirate crews raiding ships. It’s the board game I’ll always be interested in playing. As for my own stuff, I really enjoy the development process, so my favorite game is whatever’s in development right now! For the moment, that’s our castle-exploration adventure game, Seventh Cross, which is scheduled as a next year release.
9)Is your family also involved with tabletop gaming?
Not too much, actually. It’s something that I pursue with friends, while for family (just my wife and I) we enjoy travel, hiking, cooking, and reading/discussing fantasy novels.
10)Do you have any advice for someone who aspires have a career in the gaming industry?
Think about what you want to be doing, and go do it. Don’t wait to start on your own projects, but as you’re building that portfolio, also look for ways that you can work into the industry with your skillset. Make sure you’re making things that you want to play, and then look at the skills those creations have forced you to learn, and find a way to integrate those talents into team efforts and professional projects.
I hope everyone enjoyed this mini interview! I want to say thank you to Mr. Talton and Level 99 games for giving me the chance to do this interview and I look forward to more game releases! 🙂 Thank you guys for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.

Anniversary Prep – Husband edition!

Hi, loyal readers!

The wife and I have a lovely milestone looming on the horizon, our 5th year wedding anniversary!  So, in lieu of hyper frugality *cough-ostensible-poverty-cough* we decided to make our own mini expansions for some of the games we really love.  Since this is something of a new horizon for both of us (her), we also decided to pick games that emphasized narrative elements in their overall gameplay.  With this criteria, I INSTANTLY chose one of my (our) all-time favorites: Mice and Mystics.  This decision was all the easier to make when you bear in mind that my Wife LOOO-OOOVES one of the central characters of the games.  Now, Mice and Mystics is a game that is very heavy on magic and medieval theme, and using a fixed narrative as a the central mechanic of the whole game.  This made my job CAKE.  Now, you may be asking yourself: “Why in the blue hell is this guy spilling all of the beans about an anniversary gift that’ll be displayed for just anyone to read on the internet?” …shutup you digitally disembodied jerkface, we thought of this little caveat.  These posts will serve more as status updates coupled with non-spoilery details.  With all of this in mind, let’s jump right in to my first update.

I instantly wanted make a story deliberately for my Wife, something that would stay were her a little longer than a more superficial story.  So, I chose to fixate on her favorite character: Filch, the thief.  She absolutely LOVES him!  In fact, lemme give you a little perspective.  Mice and Mystics is published by Plaid Hat Games, and they have a decent online store that hosts several download only chapters of the game.  Incidentally, they also had several plushies available on their website for sale…but they only had two characters, neither of which were Filch.  She weepily laments (loudly, and often during gameplay) his absence to this day.  (Just want to take a moment to see if Plaid Hat Games could find it in their hearts to donate a Colin plush to this blog…I’d be ETERNALLY grateful…begging complete.)  Needless to say, I thought that manipulating her affinity for this character would be easy enough.
I’m presently at the phase of ferreting out the finer details of a scribble bomb that contains all of the broad strokes, and touch points.  I’m content with what I have so far, but I fear that making it “game compatible” will prove difficult.  The “when” and “where.”  “When can I shoehorn this in?”  “If I put this plot point at this particular area, will it make sense?”  What’s more, I wanted to present this story in 3 separate chapters (playthroughs.)  So, I’m wracked with this paralytic indecision on how to space everything out.  Above all, I wanna tell a halfway decent story, but I also want the gameplay to fun. *sigh* I have WAAAY more respect for Jerry Hawthorne after this (hopefully averted) debacle.
Tune in next time to see if I can pull my head out of my bum and actually get the plot done and get on to the meat and potatoes of this process, applied game mechanics…or tune in for my neurotic mental anguish to be on full display…your call, I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to spend your time online.
-The Husband
Thanks for checking this out everyone! Tune in next time for my anniversary plans! And until next time… Live by the board. – The Wife
-Living by the board