Game design diaries: Back to the drawing board

It feels good to be back.

It’s been awhile! But I have a good reason for my silence: I just finished and submitted my thesis this week. I worked hard with it from January to May, and there wasn’t that much space for anything else in my brain.

The thesis is about designing tabletop RPG’s. I interviewed seven indie designers from Finland, Sweden, Australia and USA, and then made some qualitative analysis out of their answers. I’ll write more about my thesis someday soon, and I’ll also have a presentation about it in Ropecon 2022.

Meanwhile, here’s some stuff that actually is on my drawing board at the moment:

Wolves at Dusk

Wolves at Dusk is a “scratch my own itch” kinda project. It’s a generic rule system that I developed for crime drama games that take 1–3 sessions to finish. Wolves at Dusk is a system where the focus is on the characters, not on combat or rules. It’s a simplified version of PbtA system, and it is meant to be as intrusive as possible.

Think of Mare of Easttown, 21 Bridges, True Detective, Sons of Anarchy, etc, and you get the picture. Serious crimes, petty motivations, broken people, and troubled communities.

I’m a big fan of “investigator scenarios” but not a big fan of dozens of pages of rules. So, I wanted to have a system that has some rules and unpredictability (because rolling dice is fun) — but which also allows me to NOT think of anything else than the “poetic” aspects of the next session.

In a way, Wolves at Dusk is nothing new but it works for me. I’ll upload it to at some point, when it’s done. Maybe someone else finds it useful, too. I’ll try to have this ready before Ropecon 2022 (that’s the end of July, then). Maybe I’ll do a little guerilla marketing there…

(Btw, The Bible is a great resource for names and titles)

Testing different paper types for The Roster

The Setting Sun (working title)

The Setting Sun will most probably be my first physical release. It’s a one-session game, and it aims to be a zero-prep game.

The genre of the game is slice of life / teen drama. The game is about a tight group of friends, living in a small Finnish town. It’s their last summer together, and they have decided to make the most of it! I have ran couple of test games and it has worked well. The stories it creates are emotional and wistful, just as planned.

The game is very “Finnish” in a way, and I have no idea whether it would work somewhere else. I’m planning to release it in Finnish only, but then again, plans can change.

The game needs lot more testing and polishing still, and I don’t have any actual release plan for this yet. Just lots of testing ahead.

The Roster

I wrote this small one-pager war game couple of months ago. I had a pretty clear vision of how it should be, and I also wanted to make it pocket-sized. But, for certain reasons, war is not a theme I want to spend too much time thinking about at the moment. Maybe I get back to this at some point (it hase some nice ideas!) but right now it doesn’t feel that interesting.

It’s nice to write about this stuff again. I’m so happy that the thesis is done and I can think fo something else after a long while. There’s so many interesting projects and lots of energy in me right now!