Penny Press Designers on Carnagecast 52

Penny Press logo.

With the locally-designed board game Penny Press in the last stretch of raising funds to enhance the print edition, designers Matt Golec and Robert Dijkman Dulkes are making the rounds to get the word out to board game enthusiasts and potential backers. I was able to meet up with them last weekend at the Green Mountain Gamers’ Game ‘n Grill in Vergennes, where we took some time out from playing games to talk about playing games.

Check out Carnagecast 52, where Robert and Matt lay out how Penny Press plays, its journey from kernel of an idea to polished product and their experiences competing in the Tabletop Deathmatch design contest.

Penny Press Goes to Press with Tabletop Deathmatch Victory

Penny Press logo.We’ve been following the story of Penny Press, a board game designed by Upper Valleyians Matt Golec and Robert Dijkman Dulkes, since the designer’s diary series began posting on The designers submitted their work to the Tabletop Deathmatch competition, sponsored by Cards Against Humanity, in which judges whittle away contestants until one title remains. You can watch the web series chronicling the finalists on Youtube.

The final episode posted today, revealing that Penny Press, along with Discount Salmon, won Tabletop Deathmatch! Matt and Robert’s prize, beyond kudos, is the first print run is paid for! Timed to launch as the final episode went live, Penny Press‘s crowdfunding campaign has a modest goal, thanks to the prize money. After that, it’s all gravy and add-ons to make the product even better.

The funding campaign runs through July 10th. You can get a copy of the game at a discount, and contribute to making a better overall product that two local designers have put their hearts and minds into.

Penny Press Enters Tabletop Deathmatch

Penny Press logo.If you ever frequent the Upper Valley gaming scene — Carnage, MEGA Meltdown, Triple Play, Black Moon Games — you might glimps or try Penny Press, in which players vie to scoop news stories and create the best-selling newspapers of the 19th century. Robert Dijkman Dulkes and Matt Golec started with an idea for a board game over beers and steadily developed from there.

Last summer, Robert and Matt were invited to participate in Tabletop Deathmatch, a competition slash web series where game designers present their prototypes to a panel of game publishing professionals. This week, Penny Press‘ episode hit Youtube:

To learn more about the game’s development, check out the Penny Press Designer’s Diary, updating regularly over on

Game Designers’ Hard Work on Display at Champlain College and ArtsRiot

The 2014 Senior Game Show at Champlain College. Photo by Steve Mease, used with permission.

The 2014 Senior Game Show at Champlain College. Photo by Steve Mease, used with permission.

Last night, the seniors at Champlain College’s Game Studio showed off their final projects and their demo reels. Teams of students collaborated to create playable games, demonstrating the skills in planning, design, execution as well as programming and computer art during their course of study. The development teams displayed their games’ trailers, as well as their personal demo reels. The keynote address by Jason Della Rocca, co-founder of Execution Labs, hit on the opportunities to learn from failures as much, if not more, from successes.

The live stream of the proceedings is available on the Game Studio’s Ustream channel. The students’ games are on exhibit at ArtsRiot on Pine Street in Burlington for the next two weeks. Pop by and play them yourself.

The Better Board Game Needs Character

Following the first steps laid down last week, Tim and Ray continue designing the better board game. It’ll be the kind of game in which each player controls a unique character in their as-yet undisclosed premise:

there’s going to be 4 types of characters, each one specializing in a particular niche in game combat.  We want there to be some unique aspects to each of the four “classes” we’ve made, and there’ll also be some sort of item use restrictions to each of them (more on that in a later post).  We also decided there’ll be an equal amount of male and female characters.  Being longtime con-goers, we’ve both seen how under-represented women are in these games (especially considering how many girl gamers we both personally know), and we want to give them equal footing.

The designers’ next homework assignment is to begin development on maps for the game, with the directive to “create a natural-feeling narrative through a story that is impacted by decisions the players make, and hopefully make for a lot of potential replay value.”

[Via Green Mountain Geek.]

Green Mountain Geeks Design a Better Board Game

Tim, the Green Mountain Geek, and his roommate Ray are combining their overweening geek prowess to design a board game:

 . . . we have a big idea for a big, new board game.  Based around pre-made characters with special abilities (like Arkham Horror), working together to try and beat the game (like Pandemic), random loot in each stage of the game (like Munchkin), and trying to survive a zombie apocalypse (like, well, Zombies).  We needed a hook though.  Something that made it cheap, easy to set up, and cheap to put together to keep the price point down, and made it different from the pack.

To which Ray said, “What about :CENSORED:?”  And an idea was born.

So here we are…  We’ve come up with basic game mechanics, and have started working on character ideas.  We want to set this up with 6 pre-made male and 6 pre-made female characters.  I won’t get into details until we’ve gotten some ideas more fleshed out, but to say we’re both excited is a fucking understatement.

A single board game that rings as many different bells as Tim describes sounds very cool indeed. We’ll be watching with interest and fingers crossed for a print ‘n play open beta test.

[Via Green Mountain Geek.]

Masquerade Card Game and Novel on Kickstarter

Over on Kickstarter, Vermont-based game designer Michael Bujtas is raising funds for Masquerade, a combination card game and novel. He describes it as:

… a two pronged project that includes a deep story with a slew of interesting characters told through both a card game and a novel. There is a dark plot to assassinate the king of Avalot, and no one knows who is involved. In the game, you may protect the king or join in the murder, while in the book the conspiracy goes deeper than it appears on the surface.

The Masquerade card game is a party game for those who enjoy mayhem and fun. The Masquerade novel offers a larger perspective on the seemingly nonsensical entertainment. Both mediums offer surprisingly vast themes. Everything, from the art, design, and writing, has been done by one man, Michael Bujtas (age 21).

The project has nine days to go and less than $500 left to raise, so achieving the funding goal is very doable. Best of luck to Michael. We’re pulling for the project’s success.

Going Back to School? Champlain Courses

Over the next week, we’re going to feature a couple of colleges in the Vermont area that are teaching courses this upcoming Spring Semester that stuck out as we looked through the course lists. There’s a lot of variety to the courses here, ranging from new digital technologies, to looking at speculative fiction as a genre to foreign policy for other countries around the world. There’s a facinating range of things to learn.

Obviously, admission to these courses are going to depend on your student status, but if you’re looking for an excuse to go back to school, it’s worth talking with their respective admissions departments and seeing what you have to do to sign up.

We’re going to start off this week with Champlain College. Located in Burlington, Vermont, Champlain is known for their online and residential programs, particularly in the realm of digital gaming. Here’s a couple of courses that we’d sign up for:

Champlain College:

SWE 346-81, .Net Architecture II With C#
From their course catalog: Students study advanced topics in Microsofts .NET technology framework using C#, ASP.NET and other related technologies. This course concentrates on .NET as it relates to distributed application development, and includes topics such as testing, error handling web security, deployment, web controls, web services, attributes, reflection, and more.

EGD 235-02, 3D Modeling
From their course catalog: As a 3D art student youve covered the breadth of 3D territory but now it’s time to dive deeper and polish your modeling skills. In this class you will become a solid 3D modeler and texture artist. Sculpt believable models using primitives, polygons, Nurbs and subdivisions. Fully developed 3D computer models with realistic textures will be your final products.

WRT 325-01, Adv Creative Writing: Fiction
From their course catalog: This course is an intensive exploration of fiction writing. Presented as a seminar and writing workshop, the class reads and discusses short stories, novels, and essays on the art and craft of fiction writing. Writing three short stories (or the equivalent in chapters of a novel/novella) leads students to integrate theory and practice as they produce work informed by a detailed understanding of such common fictional elements as character, plot, setting, and conflict as well as more advanced concepts that foster finely wrought creative work. Students submit at least one original work for publication.

FOR 270-45, Anti-Forensics & Net Forensics
From their course catalog: Students will study several specialized areas of digital forensics, namely, information hiding, anti-forensics, and network forensics. The broad field of data hiding and anti-forensics will be explored with a specific concentration on cryptography (secret writing) and steganography (hidden writing). Basic principles of digital media will be studied in order to understand how digital images, audio, and video can be manipulated and how such manipulation can be detected. Finally, introductory concepts about computer network investigations will be presented.

SEC 250-51, Computer & Network Security
From their course catalog: This course provides an introduction to computer and data network security. Students will examine the rationale and necessity for securing computer systems and data networks, as well as methodologies for implementing security, security policies, best current practices, testing security, and incident response.

COR 330-16, ICS: Science & Society in China
From their course catalog: The world of the 21st century is exciting, complex, and important. COR 330 offers a chance to immerse yourself in an important global community, exploring its culture, society, institutions, people, and history. Taught by faculty with extensive interest and experience in the regional focal area of the course, these classes delve into the vital issues of the contemporary world, such as development, globalization, gender relations, religion, security, the environment, and more. Regions and areas covered each semester will vary, depending on faculty experience.

EGD 110-03, Introduction to Game Design
From their course catalog: Whats the difference between an FPS and an RPG? Are discovery and exploration important in every style of game, or can they detract from a cool game concept? We answer these questions by examining genres in games and analyzing some of the gameplay styles associated with them. Then, once we’ve discovered strengths and weaknesses inherent to particular game styles, we’ll develop skills necessary to formulate and evauluate our own original gameplay ideas.