SNAP Preview – Game Design in a Box, with Running Out of Time
[Andrew] What if I told you there was a game you could play, but it would also help you with the design process and how to become a better board game designer, all at the same time. What would you think about that?
[Asher] That would be amazing.
[Andrew] Well, it turns out there is one, and you can actually check it out right now on Kickstarter.
[Asher] This is a SNAP preview for Running out of Time, a board game and also board game design class in a box.
[Andrew] Running out of Time was designed by Jay Cormier and Blaise Sewell.
[Andrew] So Asher, let’s do what we do with SNAP reviews. Let’s talk about the art in Running out of Time.
[Asher] It’s weird but cool, and identifiable. It’s also not done, so we can’t talk a lot about it, but personally, I don’t really like it.
[Andrew] I like it in a weird way. I think some of the art is simplified, but it’s done that way on purpose to be really clear and easy to understand. I should restate what Asher did, that it’s not finished, the book we have even has placeholders for future art in some places.
The whole game, is really just this book. It’s spiral bound, so it opens and it lays flat, which is great. But what’s inside this book is different. Let’s talk about that, in the mechanics of how you play Running out of Time.
[Asher] Running Out of Time is a story about Charlie and Natalie Mitchell, a brother and sister. Something crazy happens to them in the first chapter, and now they’ve got to figure out how to make it right. And you’ll figure out how do that by playing different board games.
[Andrew] The game has a collection of game components that can be used in all the different games. Asher and I got to sit down with each game, figure out what components it called for, and then play the game as it was designed. But then what?
[Asher] The book points out some of the problems with the games. Usually these problems are pretty obvious, but sometimes they’re not. No matter what, after it explains the problems, it’s easy to understand how they could affect some people, even if they didn’t bother us at that particular time.
[Andrew] So that’s it? It just talks about why the games in the book are bad?
[Asher] Come on, dad. That would be pretty dumb. Each game has pages of suggestions of how that game could be modified to be more fun. But it gives you the ability to decide what rules you want to change.
[Andrew] Then, we got to play the same game again, but with those new changes. We could even use the other game components in the box to complement the new, unique version of the game. We got to try some stuff and see what worked and what didn’t, and then make some more changes. And again, the book guided us.
[Asher] The first game was only a spread of two pages, but it had like, a million pages explaining what was good, what was bad, and what could be changed. It also had some prompts for us, to work on making the game even better.
[Andrew] Later games brought more complexity up front, but also more analysis. It got a little harder for us to figure out how we would want to change them. But for us, it led to more discussions about how building board games worked and how players could make more interesting decisions.
[Asher] Plus, the story was actually pretty fun and funny to go through, so that helped.
[Andrew] By the end of Running Out of Time, you are completely rebuilding the last game to make it work.
[Asher] The game rewards you for trying new things by giving you stickers – up to 25 of them – to mark your progress.
[Andrew] All right, Asher, now it’s time to talk about what we expected from Running out of Time.
[Asher] I honestly had no idea what to expect. I just knew that it was a book, for a game, and I like that kind of stuff. So I wanted to try it!
[Andrew] I use Jay Cormier’s Fail Faster journals for some game development on my own, and I know he teaches game design courses for college, so I knew there would be some really good insights on game development here. I had heard about this, so I knew kind of the idea: there would be broken games and that we would have to fix them. And that’s pretty much exactly what we got.
But I do know this game wasn’t entirely what I was expecting, and I bet that’s also true for you, since you didn’t have any expectations at all. So what surprised you about this game, Asher?
[Asher] I think what surprised me the most was how they managed to connect super simple games to the plot, and still make them interesting! They weren’t much fun at first, but after a few changes, they were pretty awesome! (Kinda)
[Andrew] To be entirely honest, the game design teaching is way deeper than I expected. I thought we’d see maybe ten games with one or two comments each. But instead, Jay and Blaise went in the completely opposite direction, putting only five games in the book but really digging deeply into that game design.
I felt like the story sections got a little bit long. Since there were only five points to work out the plot, you had to kind of cram a lot of stuff in there. But that didn’t make the game any less fun. I just wanted to get to the game part of it a little faster.
[Andrew] So Asher, if you could leave the people who are watching this with one or two thoughts about Running Out of Time, what would those be?
[Asher] I think it’s really fun if you like designing games (obviously) or if you’re okay with failing.
[Andrew] For me, I think there’s just nothing else like this on the market. You could teach a game design class out of this book. Maybe not at the college level, but if you’re a middle grade, or junior high, or even high school teacher running a game club after school, this is an incredible asset that you absolutely have to think about.
It’s on Kickstarter right now, and it’s only $30! We’ll include a link (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/failfaster/fail-faster-design-your-destiny), and I really recommend you click in and at least take a look at it, and see what me, and Asher, and some other people think.
That’s Running out of Time – IN A SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a pre-production copy of Design Your Destiny: Running out of Time for this preview.