August 4, 2012

Dungeon Hoarders and My Creative Process

aka The First Post (and a lot of catching up to do!)

Hello present and future visitors.  I am Scott Allen, owner, founder, and lead developer of Caledonian Games.  I am excited to finally begin posting information in the Developer Journal which I had conceived of some time ago.  In today’s post, I will attempt to explain how and why I started Caledonian Games.  I will also explain a little about what has been done to date on our most developed game title, Dungeon Hoarders™.

In order to understand the beginning of Caledonian Games we must climb into our ‘way-back’ machine and set the dial for 1980.  It was about that year that I got my D&D basic addition rules box for my birthday.  I would spend the next 5 years pouring over various RPG and tabletop game manuals.  As I explored these new game systems, I dreamed of and created whole new worlds.  Worlds seldom played, but none the less, their invention was a fun creative process that would lead to new beginnings in the present day.

I continued to love games but as I grew older my interests began to shift toward computers.  I soon found myself wrapped up in an exciting and lucrative career as a graphic designer. Fortunately, I had opportunities to connect this work to my love of gaming.  I built interfaces, 3d models, 2d map sprites, and animations for a few video game projects.

Fast forwarding now past the dot com crash years (Ouch!!),  I changed careers to education and earned my Master’s in Teaching degree.  During my time as a social studies teacher I commonly used games to demonstrate historical cause and effect scenarios.  Eventually I found this so useful that I developed a ‘learning through games’ education model.

Then finally, in the summer of 2010, a friend and I conceived of a fun home building game where players would race to assemble a comfortable, efficient, sturdy, and green dwelling.  Once conceived, I set to work on the rules, game content, and the card and board designs. Within a couple of weeks, I had built my first game.  That same week I met with friends to play the game.  Even untested, the game proved to be fun and challenging.  Not only that, I had a blast making the game too.  It seems I was on to something.

With the fun and easy success of the Dwellings game, I felt compelled to create yet another game.  This time I set out to create a fantasy type game.  I had a number of friends who played Hero Quest regularly.  I thought to myself, “That’s a fun game but it’s nothing that I can’t attempt to improve upon,” so the gears in my head began to turn.  

My first thought was that I wanted the game to be different every time one played.  To accomplish this I thought it would be neat to have a randomly generated map for each level of a dungeon.  I took out pieces of paper and began to draw straight, turning, and intersecting paths on them. Then I began to assign numbers to each path type.  Shortly thereafter, I had created the dungeon building system that stands with little alteration, even after many game testing sessions.

4”x4” map tiles that are determined and placed randomly during play after an easy d10 roll.

Next I wanted to have a challenge and reward system, so, I decided monsters should be present at the ends of all paths and that players would earn experience, wealth, and bonus equipment for defeating them.  I decided that the game would be even better if I was to add the risk of loss, either from the monsters you fight or due to another player’s mischief. This was starting to come together nicely.  

A Scorch Sprite horde card, a special item that enhances PvP theft, and a trap that can hinder the progress of opponents.

I took my ideas and started writing.  I wrote out the basic instructions for play and then began to start thinking of monsters and the equipment cards called boons.  Altogether in the end I had over 125 cards planned and I needed some art and design.  Since I was just prototyping, I did a number of Google image searches and used art that I found to begin creation of  the games mock up.

After roughly 120 hours of design work, I had a great looking playable mock up for the game, Dungeon Hoarders™.  I guess I could have put something together faster but I wanted to play a demo that was appealing to me in all the same ways I hoped to be appeal to customer’s one day.  Aiming high in this fashion has been time consuming but it has also allowed me to establish a high bar for my finished products, not just for myself, but for artists involved to create the licensed art that I need for publishing.

The game is over 6 months old now.  In that time I have begun development of roughly ten other games.  With all of this creative output it became clear to me that I had found my calling.  I founded a local group for game development discussion and game testing called The Creative Gamers Alliance, registered , and established a business.

That is all for now.  In the next post, I will tell a little about another exciting game in development, Time Trouble™!

The Caledonian Games Developer Journal

Hello and welcome to the Caledonian Games Developer Journal.  This will be a regularly updated journal of progress on many of the games made here at Caledonian Games.

As games are conceived, discussed, organized, and created; Caledonian Games owner/developer, Scott Allen, will post notes and images to help visitors see the Caledonian Games Creative process in action.

Journal Posts