Wednesday, December 26, 2012

One Week On

-Erik McGrath

It's been a week since we launched our Kickstarter project for Battle Tank: Escape From Giant Robot Island and we have gotten mostly positive feedback, but we are still far short of our goal and we can see a few things we should have done better.

Luckily it isn't too late yet.

In the beginning, we were really worried about the budget. It would be pretty terrible to fund and find out we couldn't deliver after all. But even still there are some things that need to get done and are worth the added expense so as of now we are working overtime to get those things added.

And the main targets among those things are:

All Plastic, All the Time
Forget cardboard tokens; we're working on making custom, plastic miniatures. In the next few days we will discover if my sculpting and molding skills are still sharp. The sculpting will be relatively easy, a tank is mainly a block though the robot I've got right now looks sort of like a nefarious gingerbread man.

More Rewards
Not just more levels, but more goals built right in. We have already planned several expansions for Battle Tank so we're going to add more information about them starting with Battle Tank: Assault on Laser Shark Lagoon.

Assault on Laser Shark Lagoon
Whereas Escape From Giant Robot Island is all about running away, this expansion is all about taking the fight to the mad scientist's doorstep. This expansion introduces Dr. Aquaria BublĂ©, an expert in melding flesh and machine. Due to her lack of an imposing fortress she is easy to underestimate, but who needs a mountain when you can live beneath the waves, hidden by the majestic (and largely artillery proof) sea?

Future Expansions
Each new set will introduce a new mad scientist and the necessary tiles to construct their lair as well as introduce any new rules necessary to handle them. Laser Shark Lagoon, for example, introduces water as a major terrain feature as well as melee attacks from the fearsome metal jaws of the cybernetically augmented great whites favored by Dr. BublĂ©.

Beyond these early sets there will come flying vehicles and monsters, submersibles, new terrain types and many other things that we hope will be as fun for you as they are for us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dun Dun Duuuun! Kickstarter!

-CJ Andersen

Inspired's first Kickstarter is now live.  Click here to visit our Kickstarter campaign!


The rewards people will be most interested in are the ones that come with actual stuff I'm sure so I will talk about those. We are of course happy to accept any amount; no job is too small, no fee is too big. ;)

Inspired T-Shirt:
For those that might not want a copy of the game, but would like to support Inspired Press, we're offering our Inspired logo on a black T-shirt.  For $20 (+$3 for XXL or larger) we will mail drop you one.

First Off The Boat:
There's only 100 of these and they are an extra thank you to those early adopters who have been following the process and jump on it immediately. For $25 you get the full, finished game plus (fingers crossed) whatever our stretch goals add.

Rescue Mission:
Like FOTB you get the game for less but rather than being early, you have to be local because the savings is due to you coming by our office and picking it up in person. $25

Get in that Tank:
It's okay if you aren't here first and aren't local, because it will still only cost you $30 to get access to this fun, campy game about giant robots being run over by tanks.

Ammo & Camo:
Yup, you guessed it;  A copy of the game and a T-shirt.  $50

So please visit our Kickstarter campaign page and take a look around.  Feel free to comment or send us a message to let us know if there is any modified versions or combinations of our rewards that you'd like to see.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kickstarter Imminent

Battle Tank Game Contents

-Erik McGrath

We've been pretty quiet here at Inspired recently and with good reason: we've been busy.  After all this time we are finally ready to launch our bid to make Battle Tank: Escape From Giant Robot Island into a real thing to can hold in your hands.

I've talked before about all the things that go into making a game that I really had no idea about when I first started on this project, and it often seems like new things emerge all the time to stymie the process. For instance, do you know what freight forwarding is? Because I had never heard of it before I found out it was vital.

But with that, and numerous other challenges currently solved, we move on to the final phase: Kickstarter. The plan is to go live this week, if possible. All that is left to do is spend the next few days obsessing over our videos, to the extent of our abilities, and waiting for all of the account confirmations/verifications to go through so we can actually post on Kickstarter.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Battle Tank: Footage and Footnotes

(Do not adjust your Volume, there is no sound in this video)

-Erik McGrath

Its been awhile since I've said anything about Battle Tank. So let me correct that oversight.

As of now we are hard at work watching public domain, black and white newsreel footage. When we find something that looks good I download it and start editing the clips together and then we watch my drafts. I've made a few of them now and hopefully I am almost done because once I get one we like it becomes CJ's problem since he is responsible for the sound.

When it's done we will have a 40s-style newsreel about the invasion, and subsequent disaster of a retreat from, of Giant Robot Island with voice-overs by our very own CJ Andersen.

Sourcing clips has proven somewhat difficult. There is plenty of great footage that is still privately held and therefore of no use to us. There's plenty more that is for non-commercial use only which also doesn't help us. There's been almost nothing that is free to use with attribution that I have liked which did surprise me a little. I didn't think the quality of the footage would vary as much as it does. Then there is public domain footage that is covered in watermarks which makes it a no go as well.

So after sifting through all that, I get about one usable piece for every twenty that I look into, and out of those I have so far discarded or cut more than 90% of it. In the end, I expect it to have been worth it as it really sets the mood we are trying to convey.

In the end I hope you all will enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Backburner

-Erik McGrath
Back burner games, working out the kinks

In my opinion, no one does anything exclusively. There are always other demands on your time and no matter how precise you divide that time up other things always intrude. For me those other things are game ideas.

As you may know from following the Inspired Press blog, we have one major iron in the fire (Battle Tank) and several other games (Drachenheim, Chem 101) in development. What you may not know is the many other things that are percolating in my mind while all this is going on. So to shed some light on my process, we've decided to dedicate this week's post to the Back Burner; in particular my current favorites of those back burner ideas. Hopefully this will prompt CJ to talk about his own favorites later in the week.

Erik's Top Five in no particular order:

  • Top Cat
  • Gobbo Wars
  • Flash of the Blade
  • Aces High
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Top Cat: A Machiavellian Meow

Top Cat is a fun little idea meant, ideally, for 4-6 players; which is where I try to aim most of my hobby game ideas. In TC you play as a neighborhood cat trying to become lord of the block in a nondescript, suburban town. Each cat lives in one of the houses on a quiet street, except Old Tom who lives in the little strip of woods along the creek. The cats have personalities and their own strengths and weaknesses which guide how they go about taking control of the neighborhood so they can claim the lofty title of Top Cat. The idea is heavily inspired by various animal-hero cartoons from my youth, namely Heathcliff and, of course, Top Cat.

Gobbo Wars: A Game of Junk and Juryrigging

Gobbo Wars was a stroke of genius/madness that occurred when the crew and I were talking about building robots out of junk in the manner of Junkyard Wars. This game is for up to 5 players and each player controls a randomly determined team of goblins and has to assign them to all the various tasks one needs to win in the rough and tumble world of goblin engineering. Some need to scavenge, some need to build and some need to sabotage the opposition because in the end it's the team that carries off the most stuff that wins and what better way to do that than to build a terrifying machine and smash your rivals' work with a wrecking ball?

You'll Die As You Live...

Flash of the Blade has been lingering in the background for a long time. Along with Battle Tank it was in the original crop of game ideas and it has undergone dozens of revisions along the way. This is a one-on-one card game of Renaissance duelists fighting for honor, glory, love and sometimes simple spite. Each player builds their duelist using several cards to define their personality, fighting style, weapons and the reason they are fighting. Unlike many other card games it is not strictly turn based which is the hardest part of development but one I have been happy to grind away at.

Take to the Clouds to Dogfight in Aces High

Aces High, like Flash of the Blade, is a one-on-one card game and one of the original ideas as well. Instead of swords and pistols though, the weapons in this duel are machine guns and gasoline as each player takes the yoke of one of the iconic fighter planes of World War II. Gameplay is very simple in that there are only four main cards used, but the manner in which they combine and the circumstances of their playing (offensive vs defensive, climb vs dive, etc) make for hundreds of possible results that all ultimately lead to one player crashing and burning. In the current form, the players fly either the rugged Grumman Wildcat or the nimble and deadly Mitsubishi Zero.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a Story That Can Never Die

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a board game for 2-6 players set in China during the tumult at the end of the Eastern Han dynasty. It has long been an obsession of mine to put my stamp on this iconic story with its deep cast of characters and intricate plots. It is very "bare bones" due to the massive amount of work it requires to not only make a compelling and interesting wargame but to make sure it captures the pageantry and grandeur of the Three Kingdoms. It needs to include civil building and management, the raising and support of armies, the clash of spears and the famous duels of the novel. The ultimate goal is to allow players to recreate any of the notable scenarios from the stories like the Guan Du war and the famous battles at Red Cliff and the duel at Hu Lao Pass between the Flying General, Lu Bu, and the Three Sworn Brothers: Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Drachenheim: Upgrading Gameplay to Version 2.0

Drachenheim Majesty Dragon Magnus

-Erik McGrath

This week we took a break from Battle Tank to let our ideas solidify. In its place we spent our time play-testing Drachenheim.

For a while it was basically the same game, just with more moving parts added as we went along, but now the gameplay has definitely moved into version 2.0. The new turn sequence is my favorite part. Before it was fairly standard and each player got their own complete turn before the others did anything. Now there are three phases to each turn with every player acting in each phase before moving on to the next. The phases are: Resource, Flight, and Action.

The first thing that became apparent with this new turn structure was that going first was a disadvantage much of the time and that dueling became extremely common whereas before it was rare. So to spread the disadvantage around the turn sequence now moves around the table clockwise with each new Resource Phase. In our game it was Jillian, then myself, then CJ at the start, so once we changed to the new structure Jill took the first turn as normal but after the action phase the start passed to me so that I had to move first and Jillian last, then CJ got first move and I last, then back to Jillian first and CJ last, etc.

The round-robin style was a lot of fun but, like I said, dueling was an emergent problem. We tried several methods to resolve that and settled on a simple one. Dragons always get their movement, so if someone moves onto the location you are in you may simply fly away during the Flight Phase if you want to avoid a duel. So far this seems to still allow Spike to benefit from his higher Might since it encourages other players to flee and let him have whatever was at the location. But as CJ found on a few occasions, Spike isn't so much more powerful in a duel that he always wins, so for valuable things Jillian and I were willing to stand and fight.

Minions and Natural Disasters

There were two other big things added as well, stat boosts and full rules for minions.

First stat boosts; I mentioned in a previous post that Dragons have four stats: might, majesty, flight, flame. We have made four dragons and each exemplifies one of the four stats. Spike is brutally strong, Magnus is awe-inspiring, Zephyrus is sleek and swift, and Fiero is an engine of destruction. Dragons are rated at 3 in  three of the stats and 4 in their primary one. In the event deck there are several natural disasters that can be encountered. In addition to being devastating events that can destroy settlements or kill minions, a dragon who conquers the disaster also gains power from it in the form of a stat boost.

Minions add an additional layer to the turn sequence as they give the controlling dragon additional options. Minions move and act much like dragons and thus they get their own token on the table to show where they currently are. Unlike dragons, though, their options are fairly limited. Most minions can only do one thing and have limited carry capacity. For instance Goblins can pillage but they can only carry a single gold token and only villages are vulnerable to them. The Black Knight, on the other hand, will carry no resources, but he is a deadly combatant able to stand up to a dragon and quite skilled at burning down settlements. The Giant is the most powerful of the minions and it can take almost every action a dragon can, it is limited mainly by its slower speed and the fact that it needs to be paid; so while it can carry a great deal, it will only part with a fraction of what it steals.

And that is the current state of Drachenheim, the card game where you play a young dragon seeking glory, power and treasure.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Things Are More Fun With Tokens

Tank Hex Tokens Strategy Board Game

-Erik McGrath

The Battle Tank prototypes we've been using and showing still use cardboard cut-outs for the game pieces. This has no effect at all on the game play, but it isn't all that visually exciting to have a little drawings on a piece of card stock.

So we're going to be making some actual plastic tokens to include with the game. Pictured above is CJ's first draft of one of our tanks (note: the final versions will be solid colors). If you look closely, you can see that the numbers on the hex sides are different between the two versions due to one of the tanks facing a flat side and the other facing a point on the base. Wargames that use a hex grid typically have facing rules that require the pieces to face down the hex spine rather than the flat. This makes the distribution of front, side, and rear armor the same. You can see in the pic that facing the flat edge means that most of the armor is side armor and while that might be more accurate from a realism perspective, it's not ideal for gameplay because it is trivial for a robot to avoid ever having to shoot at the thickest armor on the front if it only protects one side.

The downside to using tokens is the sheer number of  them that we will need to include, unless one of our clever ideas works. The game needs at least 12 robots to work with a full game and they can be both flying and walking, so some need their wings deployed and others folded. Megamech is only one token and for the tanks we can pretty easily just make separate ones for infantry, so it's really just the minions that are the sticking point.

And that sticking point is really one of weight and not cost for the actual game. If the total weight of the game + shipping box/packaging exceeds 16oz, the cost to ship each unit goes up pretty substantially and that will impact our ability to actually deliver without having to raise our price points or our Kickstarter goal.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How Playtesting Makes or Breaks the Rules

-Erik McGrath

Last week CJ talked about the the switch from squares to hexes and the financial aspects of trying to bring a game to market. This week I'd like to talk about the personal and psychological aspects.

The first thing I think of now when I reflect on how Battle Tank has progressed is playtesting. There has been a lot of it over the course of two vastly different prototypes, and it has revealed things that math alone never did. For one, we have changed almost every one of the original rules due to how it felt at the table. Gameplay trumps theory for me, so if it seems like it would be fun but turns out to slow things down without noticeably increasing enjoyment, then it has to go.

As an example, in the original versions we had cliffs and ravines and needed to devote nearly as much space to how line-of-sight, movement and range worked in those instances as we did to the rest of the movement and shooting rules combined. Elevation is a complicated thing in play when you really think about it. So in the interest of speedier play and fewer arguments we now only have two elevation levels: ground level and higher level. And the rules are simple: if your line of fire crosses a cliff hexside then the attack must either originate or terminate in that hex.

That is you have to be looking over the cliff or your target has to be doing so. Unless the shooter or the target are flying, in which case you always ignore all intervening terrain.

Cliffs used to be impassable as well as difficult to shoot near, but now they are only impassable going up and you are free to drive (if you are a tank) or walk (if you are a robot) over them at the cost of suffering an automatic malfunction roll. Naturally, flying robots aren't concerned with cliffs and Megamech is capable of climbing up and down cliffs with terrifying swiftness so it also ignores them when moving on its turn, but the big 'bot is still susceptible to being rammed by a tank and pushed over the edge just like any other walking robot.

Perhaps the only thing that hasn't changed is how you shoot at your opponents. Since the beginning, you simply roll a single die and compare it to the range, terrain and armor of the target. Equal or exceed that derived number results in a "hit" and the target rolls on its malfunction table. Tanks have high armor and a forgiving table since they are a player's only unit. Robots on the other hand have low armor and typically explode when hit but the come in large, ever-increasing numbers.

At this point we aren't testing the rules themselves anymore*, but instead changing the board and the tokens to make the rules easier in play. For instance the central hex of each tile is marked because it is referenced in several rules and we've found it can slow down play if you have to stop and be sure which hex it is every time it is needed.

*Naturally there is an exception to this, and it's Mad Scientist Event cards. The MSEs are large, potentially game changing things that occur randomly. How randomly has been a significant issue.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mark 2 Hex Prototypes and Kickstarter Number Crunching

Battle Tank Hex Board Game Prototype

Dr. Victor von Mechanstein Has Plans for Hexes

-CJ Andersen

Since updating the art and converting squares to hexes we now have our new Battle Tank prototype!  The rules are almost completely identical with hexes, so mostly the only update there involved a find/replace.  Our gaming group got to playtest with the new hex tiles and we found gameplay to be significantly enhanced. Hexes gave us much better movement options and more diverse configurations for the island to take.

One significant rule change, however, involved the tank players' win condition.  In the square prototype, our tanks would "win" if they could exit the board via a road on the square tile farthest from the volcano.  With the new hex configuration, we found we had to revise that.  So now the "beach" which the tank players are trying to get to is defined now by the board edge opposite the volcano edge, indicated above by the blue line I drew.  If 50% or more of the tank players exit the board via road hexes along that blue line before 10 turns is up, the tank players win.  Otherwise, if the Mad Scientist player can delay them 10 turns, or he blows them all up with his mechanical minions, he wins.

This photograph still uses our square tank and robot tokens, but that will be updated to be plastic hex tokens for the finished product. You can see a pair of tanks (in yellow) surrounded by deadly robot soldiers.

Battle Tank Hex Board Game Prototype

Accounting for the Inspired Press Battle Tank Kickstarter

It turns out there is a lot to consider when trying to accurately figure out all your costs for a Kickstarter, so that you can set your goals without going way over or under your actual ability to come through.  Add to that the new verbiage about Kickstarter stressing their ideals of "this is for making projects happen, not placing orders for products", we need to be very specific to outline the expectations for backers of our Kickstarter.  While we certainly do plan on giving out copies of the game as a reward tier for supporting us, we need to be clear that the purpose of the Kickstarter is to help Inspired Press expand by funding a printing run of Battle Tank, and expanding our team's abilities to design, prototype, market and sell our games to the people that love them.

As the accounting brains of the operation, I found the breakdown and comparison of costs between our printing options fascinating.  The original plan was to print 500 units of Battle Tank: Escape from Giant Robot Island using a very local printer.  The upside to this was that he was close by, and could support very small runs.  The downside is that we would need to fabricate our own tokens using a 3D printer we would get with Kickstarter funds.  But as it turns out, if my estimates are accurate, we can take the same amount of money and print a good deal more units from a manufacturer who can also produce the plastic tokens (we would still be getting the 3D printer though, as that will help with prototyping future expansions and other games).  That puts us a little close to the line to do that, so we'd pretty much only break even if we only reached our goal and didn't go farther.  But in the end, breaking even is a win for us since it meets the original goal of getting us a 3D printer for prototyping, and produces a printing run of our first game.

We would welcome comments from anyone with Kickstarter experience.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Horrors of Making Videos

-Erik McGrath

This week's main activity has been preparing to launch a Kickstarter project to seek funding for Battle Tank, and let me tell you, it's not easy.

I've never been in front of a camera on purpose before, and I certainly never had to plan what to say to one. The entire process is terrifying and alien. The more we do it the more I marvel at the exquisite madness of those who choose to do it regularly. At this point it's a necessary evil that I am fully out of my depth in but I think it's important to put a face to the company and its much easier to talk about Battle Tank by, well, talking.

So yesterday CJ and I got about 70 minutes of footage of which maybe 3 minutes* will be usable. On the other hand, we did discover some decent locations to reuse in the future and gained an important lesson in what we actually need in order to be prepared before we press record. I also find that it is much, much easier to do my part when everyone involved is either on camera together, or those not currently active leave the room. For me that was an interesting thing to learn because I have no shyness at all for public speaking. I can get up and give a speech on no notice for people I've never met without breaking a sweat, but staring into the cyclops's eye at close range felt totally different.

We've also spend a great deal of time watching other people's Kickstarter videos and let me tell you that is a dangerous thing to do. Its amazing how many awesome things there are that I just have to have...

Ahem. Anyway, CJ and I will continue our odyssey in video making and get Battle Tank into the hands of people who are as excited about shooting down flying robot warriors with battle cannons as we are.

*Wildly optimistic figure

Monday, September 10, 2012

Game Design Philosophy

-Erik McGrath

Whether it's board games or card games, recreational or educational, all games need to be designed and developed. Every game ever made began as an idea, some born through flashes of insight and others through dedicated effort. And whether or not the creators of those games actually stopped to think about what they were doing and why, they all had a philosophy about game design.

This post is about mine.

All my game ideas have come to me more or less randomly. I don't think about what I want to try and make and then set about making it, I just work on what I have already going on and then something will spark an idea. In that first moment of inspiration I will quickly stop what I am doing and write down everything that comes to me and spend no more than a few minutes actually seeing to it before I return to what I was doing.

Later on, sometimes that day but usually the next one, I will read through the notes I took during my fevered vision and rewrite them in a way that makes some sense. From those, I flesh out the high concept of the game and what it will need to be physically played. Once that's done, I take the concept to the rest of the Inspired team and pitch them the idea. If everyone likes it and wants to do it then I start working on how we can implement it. If we can't reach a consensus then it gets shelved until someone, not always me, thinks of a better way to approach the idea.

Then comes the part where most games stall; development.

All the first stage stuff is theoretical. There is very little meat on the bones at that point. Typically all I have is a name, a concept and an idea of the components. So I know if it should use cards or tokens or if it needs a board, but no real idea on what all those things will actually do in play. The games I have talked about on the blog have all made it past this stage. Battle Tank, Celestial Warriors, Drachenheim, and Chem 101 are all well on their way to finalization. All of them have playable prototyes, art and graphics, etc.

So for counterpoint here's an idea that has not made it through this stage even though I really like it.

Hunters and Hunted

Hunters and Hunted is a modular board game about a professional monster hunter who comes to a town plagued with all manner of dangerous creatures. People have been acting strange or vanishing in the night. Some suspect the old Count in his castle on the hill, others whisper of creatures from the nearby lakes and still more say it is the work of wolfmen who live among them. Sadly all of them are right, but none of them are willing to simply share all their secrets with some stranger who just happened to arrive at the right time with the right skills. The butcher thinks the stranger is a charlatan, preying on scared and superstitious people. The mayor just wants this all to go away.

And that's pretty much it. The iterations I've gone through are simply unplayable in their current state. It's got a modular board so that it's more variable and lends itself to replay. It has a cast of town notables and a hunter who are all represented as cards. Each of the monsters also has a presence in the town by either controlling or being one of those townsfolk. I've lost count of all the ways we've concocted victory conditions and of how to make the investigative portion of the game actually interesting.

For the games that do make it that far and pass muster, the next stage of development is playtesting. This is where we sit down and make sure the game both works as intended and is fun. In every case so far something has come up in this stage that sends everything back to development for an overhaul. Playtesting is the easiest stage to actually do but the hardest to get everyone together for. Part of that is time constraints but the other tough part is actually writing down the rules so that we are all using the same ones and not simply going off what is in someone's head. Its a sobering experience when you realize that you're going to have to spend a lot more time writing and praying the editor finally likes what you have.

Then, at last, comes finalization. This is the least "game design" part of the game since at this point the game is done but all the things that it needs to go and live in the outside world are still waiting to be started. The art needs to be done, the packaging needs to be figured out, we need a printing budget and a thousand other things that form the business side of the game. And unlike the game, none of these things can be redone once they are in place because then the budget will break wide open and we won't have the money to try again.

That was longer than I had originally intended but I hope it sheds some light on what we are trying to do here. To sum it up I think of my process like this:

  1. Insight
  2. Basic thoughts and overview
  3. Team reality check
  4. Concentrated development
  5. Playtesting
  6. Finalization
What's your approach to game design?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Drachenheim Design Progress

Seen here is a mock up of a location card.  This is not the final image by any means. The actual graphic will be changed this coming week, but this one gives the idea we are going for. The arrows indicate how this card can attach to other location cards. As of now the direction of the arrow doesn't matter, you simply place the cards so that the arrows are touching. 

Locations make up the entirety of your own, as well as your enemies' domains.  Currently you gain control of a location through subjugation (using your dragon's majesty rating), thus adding it to your territory. Distance is abstract and measured solely in cards, each one you wish to move through costs a single movement point, so how you arrange locations in your territory is important. You want your resources close by so that you can fly out and claim them, but you don't want to make it too easy for rivals to pillage your settlements, and you certainly don't want to allow heroes a fast route to your lair.

Nothing is set in stone, though. 

You can spend your action flying out over your territory looking for alternate routes between places. Depending on how high your flight rating is you can reposition one or more of your cards to change the landscape and bring juicy settlements closer to your lair while pushing dangerous or meager ones further out; another abstraction of the effort your dragon takes to destroy old routes and blaze a trail to create new ones.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Evolution of Battle Tank

-Erik McGrath

Battle Tank has been the main focus here at Inspired for the past few months. It is the first board game idea I had and it has proven difficult to bring from the stage where I woke up in the middle of the night and scribbled down all the rules to where it is now. The most difficult parts has been the art and the choice between squares or hexes.

I'm going to share the stages of that process today.

First we have the original digital drafts:
Battle Tank Original Map Art

Simple, gets the idea across but not much else. This was what the prototype looked like and it was merely functional. This was a square image and the roads got a little wonky in places.

From there we moved on to a slightly better look:
Battle Tank Evolved Map Art

As you can see our GIMP skills have improved since the original but the game is still using squares. The roads line up along the grid better than in the previous image, but they still have to make some odd angles to not look weird.

And here is where we are now:
Battle Tank Hex Map Art

This image is still being worked on and we are very happy with it. The trees look much better, the roads flow better and as a bonus the map now has significantly more permutations since you can rotate each hex to any side and the roads will always match up. Using hexes has also made it so we can have seven large tiles instead of four while still keeping it so that most of the time there is a way for the tank players to escape in seven turns. Since the game ends with a mad scientist win on turn ten its important that there be enough turns to have maneuvering options and to retain a slim possibility of escape even when your tank is destroyed and your crew has to hoof it the final few hexes.

So there you have it, the journey from bad to better for Battle Tank: Escape From Giant Robot Island.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What's New: Drachenheim

Drachenheim Dragon Inspired Press Card Game
-Erik McGrath

This is the first post in What's New, a semi-regular series where we talk about our ideas and what we intend to pursue. Today's feature is Drachenheim.

Drachenheim is card game where the players take the role of young dragons staking claim to their first domain. They have left the protective umbrella of their parent's lairs and ventured out into the world where they must burn, subjugate and pillage the countryside while fending off rivals and obnoxious heroes with flame, tooth and claw.

Play proceeds in turns and on each turn the young dragons take to wing and fly out over the land. They can spend their action exploring the wild places and perhaps find treasures to fill their hoard or bands of savage creatures to destroy or dominate. They can fly to nearby villages and towns and subjugate them to provide a regular source of tribute or burn them down and simply carry off whatever they wish.

Settlements produce many kinds of resources but dragons care mainly for wealth, cattle and maidens. The size of the settlement, whether it is a village, a town or a city determines which resources they can produce and how much they can have at any time. Wealth is coin and rich goods rarely found in villages. Cattle can be cows, goats, sheep or even horses and are found in great abundance in rural areas. Maidens are young men and women, dragons are not picky about gender.

Beware taking maidens in tribute! While they are the most prestigious of treasures and the most delicious of meals the snatching of the citizenry is the leading cause of heroes taking up arms and seeking to slay the marauding dragon.

Development is in the early stages but we expect nothing will change dramatically over the course of the project. The young wyrms will always cause trouble for the folk, seek adventure and have to fight for their lives when the natives get restless.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chemistry's in the Cards

Inspired Press Chemistry Card Game Lewis Structure
-CJ Andersen

The main point of games is that they are fun and engaging; something that is often lacking in the classroom.  Thus we were inspired to create games that also had educational value, particularly in the area of STEM.  It's an subject area near and dear to our hearts, as we have such a lot of big nerds for developers.  Our man Erik has his BS in Physics, Laura teaches engineering to kids, Jillian works in finance, I manipulate numbers for a living, and we all agree that education needs more games.

Enter our latest inspiration that's in the testing phase; currently with the working title "Chem 101".  Using hexagonal element cards and rectangular bond cards, this game attempts to teach players how to create Lewis structures in a competitive point based game.  Our first installment will limit the elements to four of the most common; hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen.  Basic molecule creation objectives will teach about the "Rule of Eight" (valence shells), single/double/triple bonds, formal charges and electronegativity.

One of the more entertaining aspects of creating this game has been that it is teaching me Chemistry all over again.  Erik, as our resident scientist, has been supplying the chemistry expertise, and as the game has taken shape, it proves itself well by reinforcing and building on my dusty high school chemistry knowledge.  Of course the cards can also be used simply as visual aids to demonstrate Lewis structures, but in the end, we will create a game entertaining enough to make you want to learn.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Celestial Warriors version 3 is up

Celestial Warriors

Greetings fans, today Erik has finally finished updating Celestial Warriors to version 3. For those who have played it the rules are tightened up and some additional subsystems have been added to give it a more authentic, wuxia feel.

You can find the rules on our hobby games page here.

For those new to Celestial Warriors it is a short and simple RPG where you portray skilled martial artists using an interactive system meant to simulate the back and forth of a martial arts movie. You can duel other skilled fighters or battle hordes of lesser warriors with ease in this fast and furious game.

Monday, August 6, 2012

New webhost, new look, new games!

Inspired Press Battle Tank Giant Robot Island Boardgame

Time for what's new at Inspired. 

First we are going to be using blogspot to talk about our process and what's next for us. We are also going to use it as our webhost due to how much easier it is that what we currently have so all our files are migrating over the next few days.

In Battle Tank news we have established a budget after getting quotes from several printers and we will be giving Kickstarter a try to raise the initial funds. 

And our newest goal, given our team's interest in STEM, we have decided  to create educational games for all ages. Our first project is called 'Chem 101' and will teach players how to build Lewis Structures using hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. 

Stay tuned for more and if you want more info don't be shy, Erik will gladly talk about his creations.