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Spiel des Jahres 2016

As you may have noticed, the Spiel des Jahres 2016 nominations have been revealed. It reminds me on my first day of work at Ludonaute, last year. I was just arriving in the living room where Cédric & Anne-C used to work. As I was taking place in front of my beautiful new computer, Cédric was showing a great deal of impatience signals, the most clear of them being regularly murdering his F5 key. Suddenly, there was a joy explosion! We were nominated! And I discovered that my new boss was able to jump quite high.

It was cool. It was even cooler when we actually won the price in July (even though I was unlucky enough to miss the ceremony because I was asked to wear a saloon girl suit – painful memories – but this is another story).

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Memories.

Anyway. This year is far more calm for us and we were happy to just sit around a table and play some of the nominated games. As a reminder, here they are!

For the classic price:Capture d’écran 2016-06-02 à 16.44.22

For the expert price:

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We don’t have the same opinion on these games among the team, and we haven’t played some of them yet. However, we must admit that we have played Karuba twice or thrice in a row, each game being more stressful than the last one. An innocent child passing by, and seeing us all sweating, even asked us if we were playing a speed game. After that, we relaxed a bit (I shouldn’t have, I lost).

On the Kenner side, we hope that originality will be the first choice!

This being said, we can’t wait until July to know the winners. Congratulations to the nominated teams!

Marinella

Pillaging by Ludonaute

Your servant, as promised, is getting you Ludonaute’s news from the inside.

There would be a new project in preparation… Code name: Pillaging.

For now I can only provide a kind of teaser:

A ship full of treasures has just been boarded, the crew is now gathering to share the loot. You are a crew member and you try to take the biggest share under the nose of your Captain. The Captain is embodied by a player and can buy the share other players are interested in. Of course, you can lie to your Captain. You can even suborn a mutiny if you fancy to become the new Captain.

Make the best use of your pirate’s weapons and get the biggest treasures, avoiding the cursed figures if you can.

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Pillaging played at the Game Taverne of Montpellier

This game will be part a new small games line in preparation.

I try to get news quickly about this one, I promise.

For the record, the contract of the game has been signed in very particular conditions during the Valence’s game convention. With the help of Matagot’s team, the contract has been hidden inside the last safe of their Escape Room Live.

Florian Sirieix, the game designer of Pillaging, couldn’t sign the contract unless he espaced the room. As you can see below… we are always testing stress resistance of your future game designers.

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Who is Florian Sirieix ? He is a young professor living near from Montpellier. It’s not his first work on game design.

He already co-designed “Deal Gentlemen Collectionneurs” released in 2014 with “La Donzelle” Editions. He is actually currently working with Bruno Cathala on “Curiosity” planned to be published soon by Bombyx Editions.

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Yesterday, I couldn’t help but overhear Cédric, the Ludonaute’s Captain:

With all his current projects, Florian should better carry on working on Pillaging otherwise I could kick his ass!

What a rude Catpain!

 

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Christophe R.

Ludonaute’s infiltrated agent

Your servant

 

A stranger working at Ludonaute – Part 2

Most of the time, game designers have principles. I remember talking this way to Cedric when working on the first expansion:

“Designing a new character, it is too easy, I just have to find a new ability. If we don’t want a “commercial” expansion, I must work on new mechanisms. We must tell a new story.”

Sometimes harsh reality is the only way to make a stubborn game designer changing his mind. According to a non-official statistic based on my own experience, 82% of the players say when hearing about a new expansion:

“Awesome, is there a new character?”

Given only pink ducks are not changing their mind, the new expansion will have not one but two new characters: Mei a martial art specialist, and the Marshal.

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“Isn’t the Marshal already in the base game?”

Marshall.avancer++

He is but now a player can embody the Marshal. You can now hit and shoot at the Marshal…

Making the game asymmetric means changing rules to create a unique Marshal’s experience. The Marshal’s deck is different than the others, he can send other Bandits into the Prison Car (the new caboose). A few cards allow him to play two cards in a row.

The Marshal is a good shooter and is ambidextrous. He has got 2 Colts and can shoot at two targets at the same time. Moreover each bullet has got a special ability.

Well, the Marshal looks really handsome. This is not balanced, is it?

He is clearly dangerous, but I wanted to give him approximately the same winning rate than any other Bandit in the game.

The main development difficulty was to find a personal objective for the Marshal. This way he can win over the Bandits. He obviously can’t win by grabbing loots on the train. We tried differents solutions.

During first test sessions, the Marshal tried to protect the loots on the train from the Bandits. It was boring…

Then, the Marshal get 3 special objects he tried to keep with him (a golden star, a love letter and a golden gun). He tried as well to recover his fiance’s pendant stolen by one of the Bandits.

It was tricky…

The Marshal was already really cool to play, but we needed something more.

Then I found the solution, I sketched quickly a few cards and it worked from the very first test. The Marshal has got four hidden and random objectives, he must achieve it to win the game. Among these objectives: shoot every bullet from one gun, catch a Bandit, Shoot at every Bandit…

In our last playtests, we gave 5 objectives to the Marshal. He must achieve 4 of them to win the game. The Marshal is even more dangerous and the Bandits try more than ever to block the Marshall’s plans.

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Every game is now different. The players try to find out what are the Marshal’s objectives looking at the Marshal’s behaviour.

I am happy now.

I hope you will be too ;)

Released: October 2016

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A stranger working at Ludonaute – Part 1

Insider’s Diary Part 1: Marshal & Prisoners expansion – Origins

Each game and each expansion has its own story. Marshal & Prisoners doesn’t make an exception.

June 2014 – 2:03 PM

Paris Games Festival – Ludonaute Booth

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By a sunny day, we are presenting the prototype of Colt Express to gamers. The game is going to be published in October. I am not expecting what Anne-Cecile is going to tell me:

“We have already really good feedbacks for Colt Express from players, shops and our distributor. It would be great if you start working on an expansion.”

My rational me begins:

“But the game is not even released yet!”

My dreamy me goes on:

“You think it could work?”

My childish and fanciful me concludes:

“Ok but only if there is a stagecoach in it!”

 

Then, I start to put all my ideas in a big file, each intercalary containing a different game rule about a wide range of stuff:

  • A rule about drunk cow-boys
  • A rule about Indian attacks
  • A rule about a Poker game phase
  • AND a rule allowing a player to play the Marshal

 

I initially wanted to give the players the tools to master the settings of their game. I wanted them to choose which elements they will add to their games. I’m a huge fan of Escape for this reason.

Then, we spent a lot of time playtesting all these new ideas. I regret that we only kept approximately a quarter of those.

Anyway, I’m happy: players will get this toolbox I was dreaming of to create their own Colt Express experience…

But, following events have shown there were still too much rules remaining…

 

February 2015 – 4:37 PM

Cannes Games Festival – Ludonaute Booth

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Cedric is coming back to the booth with a strong headache. He has just tried to explain to the interested players the new expansion contents:

  • A stagecoach
  • Horses
  • Hostages
  • Prisoners
  • A Prison Wagon
  • A Marshal player

One more time I am not expecting what Cedric is about to say:

“Do you mind if we split these ideas into two smaller expansions? There are definitely too many things for only one!”

My rational me begins:

“Is it a marketing strategy?”

My dreamy me goes on:

“It could allow to create combinations of rules that are matching perfectly together. It would help players to create their own experience.”

My childish and fanciful me concludes:

“Ok but only if there is my stagecoach in the first one!”

 

And this is how the “Horses & Stagecoach” adventure begins.

  • Well, didn’t you say that you were dealing with Marshal & Prisoners in this article?

Yes, true! I have forgotten, it will be for the next time!

  • Well, this feels exactly like the ending of a How I Met your Mother episode…

In the next article, you will finally know everything about the second expansion development: Marshal & Prisoners.

A stranger working at Ludonaute

This article was written by Christophe Raimbault

What is a boardgame designer for you?

Well, a boardgame designer is independent and living away from other common people. He is a strange guy with brilliant ideas. When he gets one, he grabs a pen, builds a prototype and contacts an editor. The rest of his time is spent to have fun to get new ideas…

I guess many people may think this way…

Let’s now have a look to the real life of a game designer.

First of all, a boardgame designer cannot be totally independant because boardgames are about people. Even if he has got an amazing idea, he never knows if it’s really a good one… He has to talk about it to others and try it with them… Designing a game is about creating a human experience and not only a bunch of rules.

Then, designing a game is a lot of work. And, most of the time, from the first brilliant idea to the publishing, a few years have gone by…

Finally, when a boardgame designer is not working on his prototypes, he is working on his normal job. It’s kind of a double life, not exactly like a superhero though… It’s not the job you want if you want to get a normal life.

I didn’t choose a normal life, but I’m lucky enough with Colt Express to consider today living with my designer job. So, why am I working now with my publisher Ludonaute for two months?

Well, you created for them a game awarded by the Spiel Des Jahres, then they obviously decided to hire your services to publish every single new idea you have.

No, absolutely not.

STOP answering my rhetorical questions! Damn!

I tried to enter Ludonaute’s office… but I was blocked by a strange employee.

First of all, Cedric and Anne Cecile have been really good friends from the very beginning of their publishing adventure. They realized I couldn’t work properly on new games and on Colt Express with my full time job.

They suggested to hire me half time to work on the Colt Express world (expansions, digital game, community, website…) and to help them with their new projects.

That suggestion was not to be forgotten… A few months later, I moved to work with them.

In my spare time, I can feel free to work in Ludonaute’s office on my personal projects.

It’s so much easier to work surrounded with other talented and passionate people ;) It’s a team work, they help me to test my prototypes and I help them on theirs.

Well, Ludonaute is working on your ideas now?

For now, we don’t have any other serious project in common than Colt Express. If we work again on a project in common, you can bet it’s because we are spending such a good time together working on boardgames. I am still convinced I can learn more by working with different publishers.

Work in progress…

Well, your life is quite interesting. But what will be this Insider’s Diary about?

I have just completed the first part of my plan: penetrate into Ludonaute’s organisation…

Second part of my plan: fill my insider’s diary with notes and quotes about Ludonaute’s projects and every day life.

Sooner or later, I’m quite sure I’ll find proof of something unnatural here. How such a tiny publisher can have had such a big success so quickly?

Is Cedric’s bald head hiding an Alien brain?

Is Anne-Cecile’s legendary kindness a way to mind control customers?

Are Marinella’s travels hiding a double life of secret agent?

You’ll know everything in The Insider’s Diary part 1…

Merry Christmas!

And here it is, the end of the year. 2015 was a special year for us, full of successes.

2016 is gonna be good as well since Christophe Raimbault is joining our team. The Colt Express journey is not over, and we are now thinking about an app for more fun!

Still, we don’t forget that plenty of others games are waiting to be discovered. In 2016 we are hoping for a new and awesome star game!

Until this time comes, enjoy the end of the year and don’t forget to play!

DAU Barcelona

We will be away for the weekend. To Barcelona. With our new colleague and our favourite spanish artist.

The 12th and 13th of December, the DAU takes place in Barcelona. We haven’t had the possibility to visit this games convention yet and we can’t wait to be there. To be honest, we are not planning much working, but no doubt that some appointments will manage to sneak into our visit planning. Christophe Raimbault and Jordi Valbuena, our proud coworkers for Colt Express, are joining us for this trip. This will be the occasion to talk about Colt Express and its background, a topic we have a lot to discuss about!

It is also a celebration time as our team is getting bigger. Christophe is about to join us in south of France to share his crazy ideas every day with us. And we are really happy about this!

See by yourself.