Here’s my story/plan for bringing Morning Madness from concept to the people of earth.
The idea for Morning Madness came to me one day during the mad rush to get lunches made, get the kid ready for school and get myself ready to head to the office. On the train ride to work I scribbled some drawings and some rules onto a piece of paper. I picked up a pack of index cards for the train ride home and by the time disembarked I had a few dozen cards and the first version of the game ready to play. I played the first game with my son Domenico. He loved it. He and I spent the next few weeks coming up with ideas for cards. Soon after I played a few more games with family and friends. Everyone that played the game was having fun. Perhaps I was onto something.
Refine, Rinse, Repeat
Each new iteration of Morning Madness took between a week and a month to produce. After the new deck of cards was ready I would round up some play testers and play the game. During these play sessions I would pay attention to how people interacted with the game and how people interacted with each other. With each iteration ideas for improving the game were recorded. Cards were added, modified or removed. Rules were changed. Here are three examples of how the game was improved…
At one point I observed that when a player would “lose a turn” they would become bored as their opponent played two turns in a row. I replaced “lose a turn” with “steal a card” and the game became more engaging.
Players wanted to play a second Calamity Card when the first one was blocked by an Item Card. I changed the rules to allow players to do just that. This change made for a richer, more engaging play experience.
Play testers wanted their Characters to be able to wear Clothing Cards from either gender. I changed the rules to allow it. People laughed more during these gender stereotype-free play sessions. The games were faster and more interactive.
Make It Look Awesome
At the time of publishing this post I am focusing on making Morning Madness look amazing. I anticipate that it will take a the next six months (or more!) to finish all one hundred and eleven cards.
Packaging, Beta Release
Once I have the game looking great it will be time to iron out my marketing strategy. This will involve designing the packaging, getting some test runs printed and sent off to reviewers.
Marketing, funding, getting the game into people’s hands…all very important steps. I have a rough sketch for all of that and will be sharing it when the time is right (and when the sketch is a bit less rough).
After more than a bit of head-scratching, doodling, printing, thinking and lots of other stuff Morning Madness is at a point where it plays beautifully. This would not be possible without the play testers…friends and family who have played countless rounds of the game in it’s various states of incompleteness. Thanks be to the following folk…
Gary & Jenny Carpineta
Jonathan Cook (who also has a game in the works)
Everett & Louis Dean
Al, Grace and Moira Everett
Andrew Looney (The co-honcho over at Looney Labs and creator of Fluxx)
Jessica & Patrick Sharp
Antonette & Clément Vasseur
Domenico Vigliotti & Annabella Cook (Morning Madness expert-level play testers)
Anna-Marie, Chip, Rona and Nessa York (aka the The Steampunk Family)
I recently stumbled across this piece from last year and was reminded of why I stopped moving forward with Morning Madness last year. My workflow at the time had me hand-drawing each piece of art, scanning it in and then tracing the lines using the pen tool. I’m rather particular about the thickness of lines in my work, and was quite new to Adobe Illustrator at the time. This meant that each piece of art took me a really long time to produce.
Thankfully I’m a bit better with Illustrator these days and have recently added a Wacom Cintiq 13HD to my toolkit. Creating digital art with the Cintiq is a joy.
Iteration three of Morning Madness (a family-friendly card game that I’m working on in my free time) is hot off the presses. I enjoyed a game with Bella, my resident seven-year-old expert play tester. Afterward I made a few tweaks to the game. Game mechanics that involve a player losing a turn are gone. Calamity cards that have your opponent discarding one or more cards can now be played at any time. These two changes ensure that the game flows nicely and that all players are actively involved in the game at all times. I cannot wait to share more about this game publicly, but need to wait until I work out the legal mumbo jumbo.
Meanwhile I have begun working on iteration four, which I hope to be the final version before I order professionally printed prototypes to send to game reviewers and then seek funding for production. The design goals for iteration four are to (1) have each card looking amazing and (2) the addition of flavor text. Here is an example of a near-completed card with flavor text…
Here is a card from Morning Madness, a game that I’ve been developing off and on for a few years. I’m currently on the third iteration, and am focusing on balance, 3-4 player games and a few tweaks to the various game mechanics.