• Joshua Blaylock

Welcome Back

It's been a while since I've posted, I know. While the current pandemic may not have affected me directly, having neither suffered from the virus as of yet nor known anyone personally who was, the significant shakeup in my schedule has made it difficult to focus on things such as writing. I have been given, while working from home, ample time to do two things which I thrive on better during times of uncertainty - game design and digital implementations.

Digital Implementations

Shortly after the isolation began, I knew that I needed to create a solution that would allow me to continue to test my games with people outside of my house. Our local designer group switched from in-person meetings to digital board gaming through Tabletop Simulator. I already had some crude implementations up for a couple of games, but recent changes meant mostly starting over.

There's one issue that has plagued me for a long time when attempting to create a digital implementation for Honey. The game includes pieces which require one side to be shared with your opponent while the other side is kept private. Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator don't allow for this duality. When a piece is private, it's completely hidden, and when a piece is public it's completely visible. But, with inspiration from some new physical implementation ideas by my publisher, I found a way to use Tabletop Simulator's scripting functions to create a positive experience there that accomplished everything I needed. I also decided to conquer another issue that I've always had with digital implementations by programming the tile drawing so that it is simple, intuitive and enforces the rules of the game.

I also created digital implementations of Floating Islands and a few other games that I've been working on, using scripting to handle some of the aspects of random setup so that each game could play out differently.

Game Design

Our main focus over this time, though, has been designing Floating Islands. The digital implementation has allowed for quick testing with other people, and my recently purchased Cricut Maker has made it easy for me to quickly create prototypes for testing at home. The game has gone through some interesting changes, and we're finally at a point where we're more focused on balancing the game than we are on other, more significant changes.

I've also created a couple of new designs. PhotoFlower is a game about taking pictures of flowers with an old-school camera and being unable to go back and view your film roll while attempting to accomplish certain goals, and The First Island is a roll-and-write implementation of Honey that serves as a prequel to Floating Islands as players are drawing a map of the first island with camps for each of the 6 tribes that have to live there.

I have been able to do a small bit of writing over the last couple of months (and a whole lot of reading). I've started to grow accustomed to this new normal for me, though, and I expect that I will resume regular updates again starting, well, today!

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