Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany

FROM THE ARCHIVES: BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FIRST TIME? PART 1 (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, game development, gameplay

FROM THE ARCHIVES: BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FIRST TIME? PART 1 (by Tom Russell)

Years and years ago, I was talking with a fellow - we'll call him Henry - who had seen a film that Mary and I had directed and was, shall we say, underwhelmed. Which was fine, as far as that goes; not every film is for everybody, and that goes double for the weird sorts of comedies we were making. But Henry and I had a rather cordial and pleasant conversation about the film and some of the choices Mary and I had made with it, which he found too subtle for his tastes. I said something to the effect...


ALBATROSS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 1 Tags game design, The Soo Line, train games

ALBATROSS (by Tom Russell)

One thing all my shareholding train games have in common is that once you buy a share, it's yours for keeps. You can't sell off your holdings in one company for some quick cash to float a new one, as you can in the 18xx. Neither can you "buy low sell high", divesting yourself of a company when it's at its apex, deftly avoiding the inevitable fall. This is something that used to irritate one of our playtesters to no end. Every time a playtest was concluded, every time we asked for feedback, she always said that she wished there...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: RESEARCH AND SCALE

Mary Russell

Tags game design

FROM THE ARCHIVES: RESEARCH AND SCALE

As any designer or publisher will tell you, game design is a lot of "playtest, playtest, playtest". But when designing wargames especially, it's also a lot of "research, research, research". If designing a wargame is about modeling the historical factors that influenced the course of a battle, campaign, or conflict, then determining those factors is a crucial part of the process. Not to mention, of course, finding the right map and coming up with a reasonably accurate order of battle.  When I first started designing wargames, I had a paralyzing fear of getting something wrong. Someone who really knew their...


COUNTERFACTUAL: WITH IT OR ON IT (by Tom Russell)

COUNTERFACTUAL: WITH IT OR ON IT (by Tom Russell)

I usually handle the counter layout for our games - I can count the exceptions on one hand - but, NATO symbols aside, it's usually someone else doing the hard stuff, drawing the soldier or the horsey or the cannons. Each of those illustrations naturally increases the art budget and pushes our break-even point further down the line. One of the appeals of doing a series like Shields & Swords II is that we could pay for unit illustrations one time and then reuse them in subsequent volumes. In fact, even though the first release, The Grunwald Swords, only used...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: UNCERTAIN TROOP QUALITY IN GREAT HEATHEN ARMY (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, Shields & Swords

FROM THE ARCHIVES: UNCERTAIN TROOP QUALITY IN GREAT HEATHEN ARMY (by Tom Russell)

Our standard 5/8" countersheet has room for 176 little squares, and when I'm cobbling together my counter manifest for a game, I generally contrive to get as near to that number as I can without going over (unless the game is going to use a half-sheet, in which case the magic number is 88). Such was the case when I was putting together Battles on the Ice, the third game in our Shields & Swords II series. I began with a rough idea of the types of units each side would have, in what proportion, and the total number of...