Monday, 31 August 2015

Is it here yet...?

So we got the basic idea: fun and interesting come together when the elements that form the functions of the game, are so well-designed that they synthesise a seamless experience from their interactions. It wasn't explicitly said in the previous posts, but it was implied to some extent. In other words, in the end it took 3 articles to get to a full and proper explanation of the Science of what makes something interesting and fun. And the point was only gotten at the end of it, at least defined so succinctly and concise. You would agree this to be a more direct and astute condensation of what essentially makes up the intellectual draw of what makes a game interesting and fun. So there we have it. Makes one think what I was writing about over the last two articles, eh?

Somehow though, it feels apt to begin for real now. Maybe because we have taken so long. I do realise something though, my imagination back then when we played Risk, didn't allow for the sophistication of board games at the level of what I consider my very first genuine high-quality ownership of one: StarCraft the Board Game. I never knew a board game could be that fun, and so sophisticatedly designed. On this note, we really should start with it. Let it begin, the countdown to one of my best board game creations, possibly ever, and the first to be launched under the name of my company.

Ok, let's take a conservative guess, that 0.01% of the population is interested in playing board games. It has to be more though, because board games are so fun, so we are just being conservative here. That means there is roughly 6,000,000,000 divided by 10,000, equalling 600,000 potential buyers for board games. If your print-run is only in the thousands, you are not making as much money as you can. I mean seriously, you design a bomb of a board game, and you are only making 1600 of it? The world is like a million times that amount in quantity, you can't possibly consider a game that is published and advertised across the world, to be successful with a print-run at that level.

I have to say I have such confidence in the strength of my design for this board game, especially on the aspects of how it is both fun and interesting, a science of my own investigation and practise, which has backed the design process to achieve these two characteristics, that c'mon, the world's population of board game buyers can't just be 1600! Where are all the other several thousands at least of people with the good taste to play board games? I am saying 1600 because I am reading off a website that provides information and guides on the design process, and especially on educating the technical knowledge required for the success of a Kickstarter campaign. And one of their examples for a successful Kickstarter campaign for a board game is a game that only sold "nearly 1600 copies", in those exact words. Either someone doesn't understand the meaning of what success really means, or he has such low ambitions that they are not called ambitions at all, more like wishful or wistful thinking.

Then again, he might mean on the first day of the launch, but from reading it, it doesn't seem so at all. Doesn't this mean that with my expectations, and the quality of the design of the game, on the grounds of it being both interesting and fun, I am looking at a prospect of billions!? Guys, start spreading the word for me, if you want to be stormed in a cascade of many different game creations over the next few years, and especially after I establish my game company. At this point, I am open to the recruiting of any who believe themselves talented, with a portfolio to backup that claim, in the areas of drawing, graphic design, music composition, story idea conception, writing ability, game design, programming, and associated works, which include all aspects of the design process of bringing both digital and analogue games to realisation. I do very well know I can't do it all alone, and frankly, with an ambition that even considers the taking over of large companies like Blizzard, Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games...well, let's just say I am the opposite of Mr. Kickstarter there. No aim too high, no dream too impossible...

And are we here yet? Is it anywhere close to the revelations that matter, that this design blog was started for? Which is if you haven't realised yet, the promotion of my first to be published board game, that will set and define the standards of the company to come. And have we come a long way in artful words, yet in over 8 posts, I have managed to delay the description of the board game, in the detail that gets our readers knowing what we are dealing with, especially on those design notions and standards, "how and why is it so fun and interesting", and is it really so?

Somehow, I find it quite untidy to start the details here, given this has been a lengthy post on its own merit, which it has several besides the obvious of delaying the real and crucial details of a game I have hyped so much. All I can say is that it is inevitable; and we will begin it all on the next post, so see ya, it is here for real this time! Promise!

P.S. Remember, it will only be possible with your support of my company and me! I am talking about those prospects of success in the millions, when I sell to those potential ten-thousands of patrons of the Human population that play board games. Looking at that 0.01%, I mean c'mon, board games are off-the-hook when it comes to how fun they are. You mean the total population of board game players don't even reach to 0.01%? Even 0.001% is a fair sum of around 60,000. I can't have it considered a sales success by selling only 1600 copies, and by gosh am I going to prove to you the great intricacy of the Science of Fun and Interesting that went into the ingenuity of the design of this bomb of a board game, if that's what it takes to sell in the numbers that really appear as true success, in my eyes. Thinking about it, which really is more ludicrous, my ambition or the supposed reality? Let's keep on dreaming, and let the comments rain in!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

There's fun...yet.

But wait yet once again, for I am brought to an important point, that I will illustrate through an analogy. I have heard the greatest wisdom, of the summary of the point of Life, in the words of a Chinese sage: "the greatest happiness in life is to associate with the good spirit (of like-kind) and the greatest misery is to know too much and yet unable to be detached." And it is of the former that forms the basis of my analogy. Just imagine, as I can, since it was very much my youth, that you are hanging out with the best of friends, people who came over on a frequent basis because they enjoyed your company, and the feeling was mutual. At that point in the past, there wasn't much that could be done together, even if we had fun hanging out. Now, what happens when this experience is augmented by the introduction of those high-quality, well-designed board games that I will later become acquainted with, in life, after the years past of my teenagehood? And it follows from there, from the revelation of how much more fun such an experience will be, to be with friends of kindred spirit, and having the chance to play one of the many board games I rate highly on, not by the measures of just good design, but on that genius that comes together as a gestalt of a fun experience, I can safely call "interesting". Noting that the experience would have been enhanced, what makes it so fun exactly?

(On a secondary note, we did play a board game from back then, and it was an engaging affair as I have predicted, as much fun as Risk can provide. Also, the one I call my Mentor among that group was an avid StarCraft player like me, and in fact that whole group I associated with through my elder brother, played LAN games often together. It was by norm, StarCraft Brood War, but I did play some other games with my Mentor, like Dawn of War, which is especially apt, since we both share an interest and love for Warhammer, although him for Fantasy, and mine for 40k. I was introduced first and foremost to Fantasy, but that's another story.)

I think at this point, I can say safely as well, that my point has been brought across at some level. As I have mentioned beforehand, I am in the business of knowing, and then proceeding from there, the making of fun and interesting things. There must be a strong reason in the synthesis and coming together of elements that constitute the design and mechanics of a game, that they will produce an effect or appeal of the eventual product that is able to involve the players, and I believe the capture of that to be the brilliance of the rules, and the boldness of introducing radical elements into the game structure. This was successfully done with Forbidden Stars, allowing each of the four Warhammer 40,000 Factions to do some very nifty and "cool" executions, and make some of the most exciting decisions, allowing some very awesome engagements, by revolutionary bending the rules for some Factions, as they come against a rule and circumventing it, like being able to travel through a Warpstorm, when by the usual application of the rules, this is something impossible and not usually allowed. This feature or implementation suggests to be an interesting notion of itself.

This mentioning is just one of many such ways of stimulus to both the satisfaction of the intellectually-grasping mind, who revel in the mechanical synthesis of a brilliant game design, as well as for those who seek to play "cool" moves, taking them on a thrill of the accomplishment of some truly interesting feats. For me, interesting mechanics are a natural evolvement of thematically-written rules, but that might require another post all on its own. But I suppose it has always been a mental affair, and will always be with board games. You can expect a higher toll on the faculties, compared to the mindless engagement of a first-person shooter.

It should be noted on the reason why I quote the word "cool" (again, I did it), and it is the same one as for interesting. What allows a certain entity to gain the association and attribution of a quality, either interesting or cool, in whatever way it comes? This applies to all other situations, and it marks the development of the faculty of observation, but that's a little beyond our interest of discussion, being of course the creation of these two qualities within the merging of mechanics, in a game. How and why it works is within the domain of my business, being the designing of the best games possible. I say possible, because I believe in optimisation, a related factor to my own perfectionist streak. I believe that there is an optimal and optimised way in the dealing and enactment of actions, reflected in one's choices and methods of approach. I believe in an "ideal state", that can be achieved, with anything in excess of it removing it from perfection. I am not entirely sure how this philosophy of mine, developed along with my personality of near-anal perfectionism, and with the gradual realisations as they came with the experience of life, making me remark to my Guru of then, that "it is about balance", achieving a state ideal and not in excess of both its strengths and weaknesses. Like the revolution of the Dao.

It seems even with the devotion of two whole posts, I have yet to fully resolve and decide on the meaning and occurrence of what and how good design and rule-making lead to interesting gameplay. I suppose that's why the discussion was opened to the floor in the previous post, but if I was to be concrete on "what" constitutes it, from the educated guess of one who describes himself a talented creative, I should first mention that whatever that crucial element is, it has been hinted at in some parts, either by interesting propositions of thought-provoking and possible revolutionary decisions and actions that one can undertake, which the game both thematically and mechanically allows for, that leads to my first point being the thematic integration of the background of the game being coherently incorporated and brought through in a way that stays true to the fluff in a logical and comprehensive way, leading to the feeling that you are really engaged and playing that faction as how they might and should be represented in an actual warfare. Such kicks are the reason Ameritrash holds popular to a huge mainstay following.

The second point would be the possibility of the execution of great tactical and strategic finesse, in the controlling and mobilisation of the forces in the game, as well as the resource management that usually comes with it. This has led me to a realisation that a large part of not just what constitutes the fun factor of a game, but the content of the game's experience itself, is in the choices that one makes, or is allowed to, within the span of the game. These two aspects in entirety might actually be more crucial than the thematic flavour of the background integrated into the character of your favourite race or faction, for it is the crux on which the game functions on and is given life. In fact, this very feature works across all other mediums, whether playing StarCraft on, DotA 2 on Steam, and so on. Without the intellectual factor of clever mental exercise in employing and immersing yourself with the myriad of possible tactical options, and the intrinsic strategic value present already in the framework and structure of the game, the game will never draw the necessary crowd for it to rate. The beauty of optimal design balance only shines through how well-designed the game's strategic package is, all the way from the determining of the parameters of the lowliest unit or worker within the game. And the beauty is shown when they all come together in the perfect execution, creating a most formidable display of those satisfying actions that led to you seeing your ingenious battle plan work in the way you desired; that is a beauty unrivalled as it is optimal, never needing more or to take away from it any less. Certainly the reason we call it cool, and the reason why it is interesting: because it was damn well designed so.

And having quite exhausted and written as much a deal on this issue as I can muster, I will leave the rest of those valid points remaining, to be fed to me through your engagement with the comments, of which will surely nourish the burgeoning, maturing, and nascent creative mind that is both me and my company. Or should it be the reverse?

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Factor of Fun

But before we get on with the exploration of the game's Factions, let's divert our thoughts to an exposition that provides a foremost understanding of the philosophy governing what makes a game fun. The need for this presents itself in having you follow and understand the progression of the design process, in how one of the guiding basis was to make a game that is fun, even as it naturally evolved so, and through this process explain the mechanic that makes not just this game interesting, but expanded upon, philosophise on what makes anything attain the quality of being interesting, in the first place. In fact the question itself is interesting: why and what makes something interesting? This was a past investigation of mine. I am quite the autodidactic expert in this area, and I must support my claim on the sole determinant in this business, to be good, refined taste. It is my belief in the universal appeal and draw of works of good taste, I believe in the idea of objectivity, even in the realm of aesthetics. There are reasons for this, and for a man that has dedicated the early part of his life exploring what makes something interesting, believing in the idea of universal appeal through tasteful style, that is determined on an objective basis in regards to the issue of good design, this comes to be understood on the level as a science, even as an art, with an accompanying philosophy to unveil the ontological nature of.

The whole works basically, and we will go through each one piecemeal.

I will begin by describing the culmination of my theory, given what I can recall mainly, concerning my own studies of interest, towards the study of "interest". And apart from that bad pun or tongue-twister, I will outline my basic philosophy in regards to good design, and this truth like all others, operates on the same fundamental principle that governs all actions and phenomena in Reality. Knowing this allows you to have an increased understanding of the utility of your resources for creative output and story-telling.

What makes something interesting?

A basic breakdown from there might have some put forth the obvious, that not everyone will agree on liking the same thing. For various reasons, even in the most well-designed and reckoned of ideas, with a very apparent high fun factor, there will be detractors, and I tell you what we do with those: WE IGNORE THEM. You must understand, it is usually the case when this is so, is due to certain unique and personal reasons on the part of these individuals, for instance a certain unreasonable preference for computer games over board games, maybe because the player wants his fun fast and yet satisfying to play, and dislikes the requirement of time most board games demand, given a tight work schedule, that doesn't allow for such extensive use of his preoccupations. I believe this to be usually the case, and once again declare the fundamental grounds of objective taste and preference, that it is indeed universal, for which if not, there will be no understanding the specific trends leaning towards products of what is unqualifiably good design. There is a reason for the tendency of the masses, in the arenas of fashion and fun, but it should be noted by a philosopher such as myself, and I do more than just theorise on game design issues, that such a claim or belief in the idea that the mass is always right, is only true in those aforementioned issues. In many others besides, carried into notion by the invention of democracy, what that is popular has been proven by its own device to be questionable, usually, within the test of time. Of which I have digressed.

That is the foundational basis for good design, to rely on your own sense of good taste, and to not operate on the principle of tailoring to the wishes or preferences of the fanbase, but do listen on those areas where their weight applies. This requires a level of astuteness in observation, that might be held as the wisdom gained from experience. The reason for this is very important, because when you approach the design process this way, you are working towards your own self-qualified standards and have full quality control, and you should have a clearer idea on the art of it, since you have taken it upon yourself as your desired profession, so do not cater to the expectations of others, even if there is a clever and sly reliance on feedback, in using the best of the raw data to further enhance and inspire further progress of any of your works. In those cases, the eyes of more, in the admittedly rarer cases where a player has some of that same astuteness you ascribe to your own judgement, apply in the case from the increased probability gained of large numbers in statistics.

The best designers always rely on themselves, because that's why they qualify as designers in the first place, eh? There is no harm though in integrating the usual good idea that appears on forums once in awhile.

Now, the idea of what is fun and interesting goes together rather intimately, but its genesis in people is usually sporadic at best. There are those like from the West, with their education system based around creativity and free-exploration, developing an exponential relationship with those from a place like my country, where there is barely any ability shown in that regard, together with the lack of articulation I mentioned in a past article. In this way, and have been proven to me many times, Westerners are far more creative than the people here, and as I have implied, it is to do with the trend encouraged by their education system. This brings to mind, an anomaly, being me. How then, in this wasteland of null-innovation, that a pedigree of my degree of creativity, exists? I assure you, like most other questions pertaining to life, I do have the answers for that.

It is primarily to do with what I have revealed previously, I believe, on how I came to understand what they mean by to "meet your Maker". And when I realised that, I realised two things, that first there is a deeper meaning of how "I am my own Maker", which applies to me uniquely, in how a large part of what constitutes my personality and understanding of life, as well as my myriad gifts, are born from the constant development of them through introspection, and the heavy thinking on weighty matters, just like any qualified philosopher, starting almost naturally so from as young as I can recall, almost as breathing is to living. For the second meaning, it has come to me as a spiritual revelation on the seeming true interpretation of what those words really mean, and their relation to the journey of life, the crux of which details the progress of one's personal character, as being "made" either externally or internally in my case, as a response towards larger circumstances surrounding your present situation. That could very well be what it means to be a Truth-Seeker, to "meet your Maker", to become self and God-realised, to know Truth, to become Enlightened, to know God, to be moulded and fashioned by the Father Creator, and to be one with the Dao. Do note, the proper wording should be Dao, not Tao, and the religion is Daoism, not Taoism. I would know, I am half Chinese.

This might just be different approaches to viewing the same thing, the same act, the same phenomena, which is essentially the growth and maturation of a child into an adult, gaining a greater and higher understanding of yourself in the process.

So we come to a point of discussing the factor of fun, of what makes something interesting and fun to play. And I should state a strong point in the contribution to this discussion being that when a game's mechanics, and what I will refer to here as the creative gestalt constructed by the game's interacting synergies, it attains by its many aspects, functions and components, such a high realisation of what it can optimally be, that a certain "genius" is achieved, in how the elements come together to devise such a mind-blowing and intellectually-stimulating experience, that a universal appreciation of the game's fun factor occurs. That is the reason for the mass appeal of good design, that some feel contentious, compared to others. To me at least, which is what I am basing this theory off, it is the intellectual and mental stimulus provided by the elements of a game working together, that first interests me, and then strikes across as truly great design.

Balance and synergy is what creates this cataclysmic reaction close to an orgasm. And since I have implied this to be a "discussion", I am explicitly opening the floor to all those who are interested in the science of what's "interest", to counter back with your fiery claims. I presume largely that there will be none. And we get to another point of interest, in regarding why I call this science to be both conjoined with art and philosophy. For the former, it is simply that the devisings that go on behind the curtain of game design is like a creation of art in its highest expression, almost a skill even, a knack in bringing together the harmony of disparate elements, through the grounding laid by the framework of the rules, with true artistry evident in knowing and detecting issues of balance, and the foresight of determining and guessing the progression of the work, steering and guiding with an intuitive grasp, even before it is completely conceptualised. This requires a level skill that can be considered art, and to come up with a game that is fun and interesting is no easy feat for anybody, not even for those who make it seem easy. For me, it has to be remarked on the pace and form of good ideas in my mind. I have been constantly thinking since I was young, that I have even described and labelled myself by the term of being a "natural thinker", if there ever will be such an application of a term. Thinking about it, is there really ever attributed a skillset to game design, as we do with drawing art or composing music? This by itself defines the art of game design as something far above the natural ease as it comes with other type of creative works, given they are more associated to gifts and talents that one are born with, while game design is a wide-field that has no obvious genetic roots.

And of course, the issue of what fun and interesting really is, has the usual weighings and ambivalence of a multitude of numerous standpoints, that characterise issues of philosophy.

Even then, it is my belief, of the black-and-white of reality, and the extreme and absolute views I hold, within a scale of graduation between both colours, or one the lack of, that even if I do acknowledge the "shades of grey", reaching a definition of one of the absolutes instantly puts it on a separate distinction from the grades before, that cannot be approached without attaining a distinguished quality and attribute, something that we call the "gestalt". And so what I attempt to instruct is that I have strong, stubborn views that there is a definitively, optimally, objective idea towards qualities of good taste, of what is fun and interesting, and even of beauty, that one elusive question that has avoided successful conclusions all the way back to the ancient Greeks. It is this one philosophy that will prove the deciding determinant in my future endeavours, and it is hoped I will offer an influence to the world in regards to those matters of interest, concerned by those who always bothered about those slight shades of nuances, that colour and define the creative realm.

So this is the governing background in regards to my philosophy and theories of the creative art. And I have shown and proven that the nature of game design itself, is both science, art and philosophy. I have to admit there is only so many I can formulate now, given certain impairments that are of course no concern to those seeking to comment, but on that note, the discussion is let loose and opened now. Would love to hear the thoughts to add onto my own repertoire, and I can't help but feel some interaction with my future clientbase would be good promotion of business and rapport.

And so it ends here the basic background of where my creative tendencies come from, and the start, the beginning of my first major project into the international market, Chaos Stone the Board Game. Can we begin now already?

Also, here's something of interest for you, since we are on the topic:

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Chaos Stone, the Nexus Ops Inspired Board Game

So we get the basics down. This is what I notice as possible areas to work on. I don't believe this is entirely how I approached the design of the board game, and if I attempt to reiterate it, it will probably be a tiring feat. The premise is this though, that I saw some promise in the mechanical structure of the game, if it was to reimplemented with certain added features, and a few years later, I had a brainwave to see through the potential of that promise, and realise it.

Of course, one of the first points of notice that I saw lacking in the structure of the game, is there being no real distinction at all between the four contending factions. This might not strike through as obvious from just the observation of a casual play, because the game works that way, in fact it is meant to and has to. A part of the mechanic of exploration will not work, unless the four factions have the same units, for instance. So, we are led to two divergent ideas from there, the differentiation of the Factions, and the reworking of the benefits you get from exploration, into two main types: Mines and Deposits. Mines work in the same way as they do in Nexus Ops, however there being more areas and a larger board in my game, the Mines reach up to a value of 3 Resource, while Nexus Ops only had them up to 2. Deposits are "instant-Mines", without the need to process or work it, granting an immediate Resource bonus, and providing no more beyond that, of Chaos Stones, as the resource in this game is called. It is different from Rubium by being pink, while Rubium is red.

As you see, the game almost developed itself. One necessary progression to the next, but of course such a method cannot be relied on entirely. But the basic premise is there, being the Turn structure of Nexus Ops adapted to Chaos Stone, in an almost entirely similar fashion. Six Steps of Deployment, Movement, Exploration, Battle, Resource and Consolidation or Tech Research, as the last Step is also called. The names themselves lead to a basic idea of what each Step does. Deployment refers to the purchasing and deploying of troops, and also unique to my game: buildings. The idea for buildings came as an elegant brainwave to further layer the game with an added complexity. Buildings add a dimension not just on a thematic, flavourful level, in giving further divergence from the base material, but on a functional level as well in advancing the mechanics, and I suppose it allows a natural progression even within the background and story of the game, if there is to be any, in a realistic representation of the different Factions, and how they approach, either in their method of war or operation, the securing of the victory over which the core of the plot centres around, being the control of this moon holding the precious resource called Chaos Stone.

I should also make first mention of how I will dedicate an entire post to elaborating the details that comprise the asymmetry of each of the four Factions, starting with the Human Faction, called The Civilisation of Humanity. I will go through the design themes and the underlying thought processes that went into the formation of each. You will realise now that the fundamental structure from which it is inspired from, is largely intact. Even the Consolidation Step, or Tech Research Step as it is also known, serves very much the same purpose. But in this game, where the Factions are different, not just by distinct operation, but together with their individual units, the entire mechanic of relying on the accomplishment of the objectives as stated by Secret Mission Cards drawn during this Step, must be redone. Since the Factions are now asymmetrical, there is no same objective that is universal to all, given a part of how that worked has been taken away.

But its concept has not been entirely done away by me, and in fact has been reworked and integrated as part of the mechanics of one of the Factions. It is moments like this that we can call both inspired and genial, in how foresight and vision saw the redoing of a standing, universal mechanic into a form that is unique to just one of the Factions, but suffers not the balance of what can be maintained within the general meta-framework of the board game's mechanical structure from its constituent rules. Before I go on though, I will have to introduce you to two other concepts as conceived and implemented further upon the base derivative, being the existence of Terrain types, and Unit and Building Statistics. This is the part where the true advancement of the game's mechanics, from which it takes inspiration and roots from, takes appearance, leading to not just a more evolved formula from it, but a more sophisticated work as well, retaining the best of it while adding more.

Terrain basically determines certain rules that apply, pertaining to the three Terrain types, and the benefits they confer. The Forest Terrain offers Cover, but once built over, loses this defensive property, while the River slows the march of troops, but if built over, serves as a defensive moat that deters only enemy units. Then there's the Plains, which is the most ordinary of Terrain types, but do provide a bonus to the Movement of certain units.

And it is from here we come to the next dimension added onto the increasing complexity that is Chaos Stone: Statistics. The Statistics is an interesting innovation developed from the barebones of how the simple linearity of combat works in Nexus Ops. By moving certain functions and attributes around, and tweaking and adding values, we can create a dynamic system, that differs from the simple sequence of the order of attacks being first for the most formidable and expensive of units, the Rubium Dragon, and proceeding from there, having the weaker units attacking in order of their strength, descending. The necessary insight gained at this point, from the obvious development of how combat works, did not come immediately. Rather, what I noticed first and foremost is the inclusion of Range, since distance is easily measured by the number of hexes away. That is among my first brainwaves gained from observation. And then we move on from there, and although it did not come this way initially, it soon developed into a full range of statistical values, used to determine and replace the previous overly simplified system, which was to have the most powerful and expensive unit-type have the greatest priority, in both attacking order and attacking power.

In this way, a whole system for balancing the power of troops according to their costs, can be formulated. Eventually, there were six distinct statistic-types conceived, the first being RC or Resource Cost, then Range, Movement, Initiative, Attack and Defence. The first two is understood, but the third determines the new order sequence when making attacks in close combat. That means it is possible to have a unit good in close combat, which is called Assault in my game, have a low attack but with an Initiative that allows him to engage and potentially destroy the enemy before it can retaliate. This system of assigning statistical attributes give entire layers of complexity and depth to the game, allowing for dynamic yet balanced units of varying power, that are balanced by weaknesses in other statistics, to counter the strength in others, creating a very developed setup to base the game on. This creates a whole new balance to the mechanics of combat, that grants and allows for the diversity of a full and broad range of feasible unit compositions. There is even something called Armour Levels, which might be talked about in this design blog, if there is an interest in me revealing, you just have to ask. And Cover Levels too, which is a specific type of Armour Level.

Some of you familiar with Games Workshop's Warhammer tabletop wargame, might notice certain similarities, and your view is well-founded, for there are influences from it not mentioned yet. So if you do have an awareness of this, it is more to do with the feel you are getting, perhaps to do with the description of the statistics, which are in some ways inspired by Warhammer, but not entirely so. The Attack statistic takes its roots from Warhammer almost directly, for each unit having an attacking power represented by a number from 1 to 5, which refers to the value you must roll equal to and below, in order to successfully deal a point of damage, which is where the Defence Levels come in, the analogue for the Wound rating for Warhammer. Armour Levels work in this game by reducing the roll required to successfully Attack, unlike it being a separate roll in Warhammer. Cover Levels work the same as Armour Levels, except certain attacks only affect one or the other, depending on different conditions.

And there we have it, the barebone mechanics of Chaos Stone, as adapted and configured into a greater complexity, from Nexus Ops, its origin and foundation. There are many other rule intricacies to be clarified, only upon the purchasing of the game, and just to have you interested, I have brought you along a detailed view behind some of the innovations and thoughts that went into the design process by the designer himself, explaining how they came to be. I will go into the specifics of each of the four Factions in subsequent posts. Ciao.

So we get to it...does it deserve that title?

I explained that I got to know Nexus Ops through learning about the StarCraft board game, precisely because the two are often compared, and frankly, after that point of acquiring that great game StarCraft, I had no real incentive to get Nexus Ops, since the name sounded a little childish to me. Or in more accurate terms, unappealing, as I have a certain taste and preference which guide my choices, since I believe and rate works based on their proximity to perfection. But the comparisons between the two seemed to suggest the game was roughly on level with StarCraft in terms of type and feel, so I went for it and bought it from the only remaining hobby store in my country, that I know of, after the closure of the one I frequented in the past, which was in Serene Centre.

I got the game, which was about $80 I believe, and had to navigate pass the obstruction of having the shop owner pronounce the name different. According to, I have the proper pronunciation, so it is rather a shame that I had to mispronounce it to get myself understood. Not because the guy was bad at English, he was rather good at it in is just that I am too good at it. And with enough extolling, we come to the point where I have to make a request. You at once see how anal I can be, while that quality constitutes why I am so perfectionistic.

The plastic bags those models for the game came in? I tore them in a way that wasn't as ideal as I want them to, and I am hoping I could have the entire board game exchanged with someone else, who has it in a pristine condition. But enough talk about miracles that will never happen. We need to talk about this best board game everrrr...

So I played Nexus Ops, and the first few times I had more interest in playing it instead of StarCraft precisely and mainly because it was the new game. However, like my one-time board game buddy then, he preferred StarCraft for its greater complexity, of which I shared a similar view and sentiment. At that point I neither agreed nor disagreed with him, because I had issues with the combat mechanic for StarCraft, although as I have mentioned, I grew to see its merits, and even like it as rather succinct and concise. I agree, and the reason I lost him as a playing-buddy, is because he got his ass served in every single damn game we played, even in that situation where he tabled me on Nexus Ops, only to realise we still count the winner by Victory Points. And guess who had more of that?

The reason I kept winning, if you haven't realise, is because of my focussed advance on always aiming to fulfill my Secret Mission objectives, which is really the whole point of the game. "Great strategy comes from a great mind." -personal quote. The two are closely related anyway, for intelligence is the prime director of intelligent decisions and actions.

So we get onto it. I realised, given that my predisposition is as a designer foremost, that the mechanics of Nexus Ops allowed for some interesting additions, if possible, and that it had a flaw that was present because it had to work this way, which is that all the Factions within the game were the same, in every possible margin, except for their starting resources of Rubium. I saw potential and room for a designing hand there, and it has been characterised at some level then, that a lot of my creative heights are best achieved by working within already established systems. Not that I can't come up with something original of course. But, just to understand, this is usually easier, given that there is a structure already in place, so there is a focus of direction, that just needs a tweaking or reworking of numerical values and rules.

So, this brings us to my own board game, of which I already have several of, at least in a conceptual stage, but for this board game, derived from Nexus Ops, it is my most fully-developed board game idea, and I call it Chaos Stone. And for those of you who noticed, there is some influence from Warhammer, which is actually the background that I come from, in regards to my exposure to such games. I suppose I should be concluding my post here, given that I am at the juncture of going into a full and indepth exploration of the game in question, my brainchild "Chaos Stone".

And I say it again...You had to come here. I had to say it. To the best board game ever.

And so it begins, the whole point away from my rant, the all-important engagement on the prime purpose of this design blog itself, beyond being the advertising front of my future company. We speak of right now, my current project, a board game that I can't help but feel for what it promises: a lot of fun with a huge cheque behind it. Seriously, this has been one of my most exciting and interesting of ideas at present. And will that ever be surpassed, I wonder?

So what exactly is this "best board game ever"? Look, I even cringe when I read that, because there isn't a very fair system to judge qualitatively on that, but what I am suggesting is that the way this board game came together, that just even the slightest of investigations into its mechanics and framework, would have you remarking it is an inspired work at the very least. And a contender for best board game, which I have to confess that a large part of establishing this blog is about that reason.

And we have to get on to the meat for this grinder.

First of, the inspirations, the process that led to its conception, what it is based from, and any influences that has affected its development, or which it holds some derivation from. And all the above questions are resolved with the words: "It is based structurally adapted from the board game, Nexus Ops."

It is at this point, I can't help but feel the need for another rant. Note, I am only using the word loosely, for I don't have it exactly in my vocabulary, given my belief that I never "rant", but let's skip the pedantics. The rant in question is the basic introduction of what went on in me and without, in regards to this game, which my friend says is his favourite, out of the few board games he has played with me, of which are all from my collection.

Now, to get to this story, of how I learnt of Nexus Ops in the first place, That itself requires a rather long exposition, which I have done with on the boardgamegeek site. I should place the link here:

And you will notice it begins with nothing to do with Nexus Ops. However, for the sake of the continuity of this post, it is imagined you have taken the liberty of reading that very extensive rant, (and I am admitting to that really), so you have a basic idea that I learnt of Nexus Ops from association with StarCraft the Board Game. Story cut short, I was at the hobby shop I mostly frequented back then before its closure, and saw the StarCraft Alternity game, and many years later, had it googled and realised at that point that there was a StarCraft board game that was not to do with Alternity, and of course as Providence had it, and many intelligent progressions from there, I ended up making the decision, (the part where intelligence came in), of buying that damn beautiful board game called StarCraft the Board Game, and in the later year or so, buying the Brood War Expansion at a ridiculously cheap price of an 80% discount during a warehouse sale of that same shop I bought the StarCraft the Board Game from, because the hobby shop I previously mostly frequented beyond the others, had that closure which I have spoken about, and the Brood War Expansion just costed me $20, but was offset by my other purchases which mounted to roughly about 400 in total. Who's complaining though?

I played the game wrongly for the first ten times or so, because I was wondering how you ever accumulated Conquest Points, if there's only so many Conquest Point Areas you can control. So I thought up the houserule which was actually the right way to play, of having the Conquest Points provided by those areas to be incremental with each Round. Even then, it was still a blast to play, with my only issue being how it is not entirely balanced in a way that left certain units not attractive and cost-effective choices, lacking any real worth or value in getting, at the expense of other more functional and useful choices. And I was initially discouraged by the way combat works in the game, and developed a system that revolved around my (misconception), of how you could spend those Conquest Points that accumulate, to make strategic moves in battle, under the idea that you are micro-controlling your units, in a 4x8 (or 4x4?) grid.

I came up with some ideas along that line of thought, which could be used and implemented for another board game, when I came to see some strong merits for the use the system already in place and established in StarCraft the Board Game. Depending on how you work or view it, it is a succinct system that works well enough, and by its design, should at least be presented in the way it has been designed to work. I saw its merits, and instead of following along my intial design variation, I came to work within the design mechanics already present, with the chief aims of making the game more fun with interesting Techs, and also to balance those choices that were never practical, simply because they are not worth getting for what they do. They weren't workable, and in the spirit of invention, I made the necessary changes I thought would balance out those issues. Unfortunately, I have yet to have the chance to see them playtested. That's another story, when I buy over both Blizzard and FFG, and have them produce a second expansion for StarCraft, that I call The Antioch Chronicles. I will need to link up with Zeus Legion and Auspex Turmalis too, so any of you guys reading this, help me on that, will ya?

At this point, I am not sure if I should begin a new post, to explain that "best board game evar design", and have your patience tested by its repeated suggestions. Then again, maybe my writing is entertaining enough, as it is? Do tell, by which I mean comment on my posts.

That best board game evar starts on the next post, and you damn sure I said it.

Before it begins...a little history, some lore, and a lot of background.

As with history, lore and background, all of which have roughly similar nuances, it speaks of one of the trends of my life, of an incredible acuteness towards the notice of such nuances, that by their content and innate substance, has led me in certain partiality, towards the deepening and development of my own creative prowess. Add onto that the working of efforts in developing my linguistic finesse with the language of my love, English, in which I have come to possess a myriad arsenal of expressions in every (nuanced) form, arming myself with the means to write in many stylistically differenced ways, having no singular way of writing the same thing. A feat that has both been hindrance and strength during my formational years, when it left me uncertain on my approach towards the writing of certain exam essays. It is a case of a lack of being accustomed to the efforts of exercising these abilities, in a way that reckoned their strengths, which really just required the assistance of time, and of course the many engineerings I have given focus to throughout my life, has given a drain to my limited lasting strength. Sort of like Kakashi who is a genius ninja that can only afford a minimal four Raikiris. I am like a burst cannon, powerful for a short instance, possessing however very little real stamina.

I have had many foresights throughout my youth, knowing that the efforts in working on the many gifts that I possessed, loved and adore, like the language of English, will serve in the ancillary capacity of faciliating my other strengths. To be honest, my first real creative forays began years ago, all the way throughout my childhood were scattered instances of the evidence of that creative gem within. I suppose the predilection for it was shown to be especially strong, around an age that many seem to associate free imagination as a common quality, but that branching several years from there, lose that creative touch. Who knows? It was already there, and may it be that the true genius came from how by several of my leading characteristics, of ambition, good taste and creative intelligence, and of course intelligence itself, I saw through my preferences and love for creativity, even more than just raw intelligence, I guided and fuelled, by the tenacious and the most resourceful of efforts, the engineering of the gifts that have become indivisible for me. And I will get back to the point of how pivotal English has been in facilitating the process.

I have to add a side comment here that, being a self-proclaimed linguistic expert on English, that my many conversations with women online, have shown me to be the better speaker of it, given most of them say a lot but don't exactly make sense. So much for being so-called genetically equipped for it. Also, I kind of feel I am disproving the idea that men think linearly and in boxes, given the many concepts I am juggling and cross-referencing with vague links across several paragraphs in some instances.

So, you get the basic message, and if you haven't, it is not your fault but I am releasing an autobiography in the near-to-distant future. Such a tough subject, my early life, given the many deliberations, the many creating, of the ideas of stories and game designs, that has led to a maturation, at this present age, of unprecedented skill at what I seek mainly to achieve in, of writing, designing and philosophising. This is my triumvirate. And I add one other crucial ability of mine, my vast knowledge of Spirituality, for which for several prime reasons, as you will soon know and understand, to be the great foundation on which my every other endeavour takes crux from.

True Spirituality, and true knowledge of it, always leads to a deepening of the soul and its experience, granting him the wisdom of knowledge that acquaints him with the true nature of Reality, of which primary purpose serves to have him understand not just himself better, but everything else around him, and this necessarily leads him to greater and more profound realisations and works. And for the reason this is achieved is because to know Spirituality, and the mechanic of existence, is to flower into an understanding of human nature, and upon that comprehension, true intellect follows, and the work within and without achieves a state of refinement from which the quality of thought reaches substance.

It is my many machinations, the deliberations and heavy use of gray matter, that has allowed the success of so many of my findings, as well as an increased intelligence and creativity. Both of which I believe I have yet to prove, but you can be sure with the coming posts, at an update of once a day if I so desire, (the suspense of), the material in regards to my creativity will be judged to have never left since infancy. Quite a retrogression, that. And I believe I first started my creative endeavours by playing with these blocks of wood when I was about 5(?), which led to one of my parents remarking that I am a budding architect, and it is true that at that point, and some many years after, I had some contemplation and ambition for that, but I always knew my best would be with story and game design.

That marks my creative history, spanning since an age when such notions were predominant, yet somehow leaves soon enough, especially in my country. Many of my countrymen struggle at basic articulation of this most beautiful of languages. (English.) So much is left to say, but I guess this is fitting for a basic outline of my creative progression and history. Take the gist as my true genius of me being my own "maker", which had special meaning during my many spiritual realisations back when I was 18, from contact with a Guru. I came to understand, for me at least, the convoluted case of how as I progressed in maturity, I came to a realisation of the many parts that constituted me, involved my own "making", and given the spiritual depth I was in then, it had special meaning in the idea that perhaps that's what they really mean, when they say to meet your Maker, but as far as I can tell, most people get on with life without much thought, deliberation or effort beyond the status quo. And I have to request that if you are not like that, we definitely need meet and work together, for, by the words of a wise sage: the greatest happiness in life is to associate with the good spirit (of like-kind) and the greatest misery is to know too much and yet unable to be detached. And boy, how well do I know that.

And so it begins...with an About Me clarification...

...let this be the statement of my resolve towards the establishment of the inevitable, by a firm and resolute gesture of underlining the esprit de corps of the terms of our founding, for which I reiterate my Introduction.

Hi, I am starting this blog, as my first venture towards the establishing of my future games company, that WILL DEFINITELY EXIST. I am starting this as a design blog, to have people warm up to me before I break into the scene, or market if you were to ask. I will be using this platform as a device to generate hype for ideas that I have, by leading you through the thought processes of my many designs, which at this point are largely of the genre of board and card games, mainly because I haven't gotten my programming degree yet. And I assure you, I have enough of those too. This serves two purposes, the first being already mentioned, to generate the hype and interest in my future and up-and-coming works, while the second is to give a guide through the working process of my designs, as a topic of interest, and almost as an education, of what goes on in the minds of creatives, again having people acclimatise by my entry and appearance on the international scene, and gaining at least some familiarity and even rapport with those who are purely motivated by the idea of living through our passion, and see no higher engagement other than designing for a living.

And to support my claim of my own ability in this arena, let me just say the one thing that determines the ability of a creative designer, in intellectual as well as creative terms, for which by my remark, you will gain genuine proof: and that is their GOOD TASTE. You will see more of it, and hopefully, you, of a similar persuasion and like-minded spirit, might be keen in working with me, in view of how you might come into interest from what you have come to understand of me and my works, through the elaborations of my design approaches, within this blog. For the future, for which Fate speaks and Destiny beckons, and for Insha' Allah, let it be, that let the best come together, for the sole reason of living for design, and to a lesser extent, designing for a living. In my fair eyes, there is no greater fulfillment than that.

You had to come here. I had to say it. To the best board game ever.

...Creative, Artistic and Wise, the very ingredients for design success and intelligent financial decisions.