Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been designing games.
I’ve always wanted to make games except I was focused on the digital variety. So I would come up with concepts, elaborate plotlines, and even mechanics for video games and then assemble or join small teams with the intent of making these games. So the dream was always there, it just lacked the ability to fully execute it. Group after group would break apart for various reasons so the games never really even got to the prototype stage. As I started getting into hobbyist games, I found a venue where my ambitions could come true. Whether I could finish a board or card game was solely on my own shoulders. So for a little over 4 years, I’ve been trying to make the best games I can, but finally in a venue where I can see them to completion.
Please tell us about Galaxy Dice!
Peter Jackson, the judge, said it best in his assessment that, “If you’ve played Yahtzee, you’ve basically played a less exciting version of Galaxy Dice.” The game utilizes 13 custom dice, 7 of which you get to roll for your turn. And after a set number of rolls, you’re trying to match a sequence on one of several cards in play. Using these cards, you’ll face down bosses and, should you succeed, you’ll unlock a more powerful die for use on future turns. While acquiring the easier cards helps you face down bosses quicker, chancing the more valuable cards could mean the difference between completing the game and winning it.
Where did the idea for this game come from?
This game has far too many influences to list and while some obvious ones stand out (Xaxxon, Guardian Legend, Xevious), the biggest influence was Gradius. In fact, the ship itself looks kind of like the Vic Viper and many of the bosses incorporate the iconic “Blast the gates to strike the core” visual appearance from that franchise. As for how to make the game itself work, I wanted to use the “Push your luck” die mechanics seen in games like Yahtzee: World Championship Edition (the one with the buzzer, sooo good), Suttaku, and even The Game Crafter’s own Train Maker by Chris Leder. But I also love the “upgrade” mechanic from Gradius (and especially relevant to the spinoff Salamander/Life Force) and decided to see if having bosses do something more than an end game condition would capture than feeling.
Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it somewhere?
While I did document some of the work I went through, it has not been published on my website yet. Sadly, the website is still needing action shots and grammar checks on the many other games designs I’ve posted/bragged about there but I’m woefully behind on maintaining it. Over the next couple months, I’m sure Galaxy Dice, as well as a few others will be added there along with plenty of Action Shots. The website is www.twitchfactory.com and do mind the mess…
Did you already have the idea for Galaxy Dice in your head before the Classic Arcade Challenge was announced?
Not really. I was already working on a series of games trying to replicate the feeling of the old arcades either by gameplay or feel but many were a dead end and the contest allowed me a chance to add another game to that lineup. While one is currently available, another is still months away due solely to the art demand.
What made you decide to enter your game into the contest?
I sat out the contest before simply because I lacked any real experience with miniatures games aside from a casual flirtation with Super Dungeon Explore and X-Wing: The Miniatures Game. Since I had made finalist in the three contests before that, I was looking for an excuse to enter another Game Crafter contest.
Would you have been motivated to work on the game as much as you did without the contest?
The game would not exist without the contest, period. You may notice Twitch Factory lists 25 different games, 6 more games are missing from being listed there. Most of my design work is done based purely on the whims of my mood. While this is great from a standpoint of just how many games I’ve designed (not necessarily finished), this also leads to many incomplete projects. The contests like those on The Game Crafter, help push me with deadlines and even force me to come up with new ideas.
Has winning inspired you to enter more contests or design more games?
After having spent over 4 years working on card/board games, it’s kind of hard to just turn that off. Winning the contest has definitely been a confidence booster and I’ll be carrying that with me into the Microgame Design Competition as well as a local game design contest known as CudoPlays.
Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter has had on your success as a game designer?
When I started, I did super expensive prints at Staples that looked, at best, horrible. Because of that, it was difficult to get people to help playtest and while it took much longer for me to improve my game designs, The Game Crafter at least helped me make pretty enough prototypes to help entice playtesters. Since then, I’ve made a note of at least trying to design games around the various printables and components available on the site. As The Game Crafters services have improved, the look and feel of many of my designs have improved as well. While the ultimate goal is to make my games look as good as anything someone would buy off a shelf, I’ve had more than a few people tell me my Game Crafter Games have achieved that a while ago.
What’s next for you?
I often have too many things I’m working on at any given moment. Currently I’m trying to learn to paint for my Microgame Contest Entry known as Percival Thistlewood’s Incredible Dungeoneering Dolls. I’m also trying to finish up the art for Pixel Bit Beatdown. I just started trying to play balance a train game with a fairly unique die mechanic as well as using a variant of this die mechanic in my team’s CudoPlays entry. I also need to improve the rulebook to Galaxy Dice but that also means increasing the price.
Any last words of encouragement or advice to all of the designers reading this?
My best advice is just to keep swinging. I made finalist 3 other times before I finally won. I’m an annoyingly consistent pessimist as the people in chat can tell you but I just kept swinging. Each failure was a lesson, each loss was fuel, and I kept at it. I’ll be keeping at it, bringing my focus back around to fixing past games but still working on it. Sometimes it’s hard when it seems like you’re not making any progress but you are. In the end, you have to design for yourself and it all comes down to whether or not you enjoy it.