This is the third in a series about a board game I developed for my girlfriend. Part 1. Part 2.
I described what I wanted the game to include in a previous post. One of those things was references to things Sophie and I liked to talk about, and at the time I was developing the game, there was a certain political figure looming large. What better inspiration for my game’s antagonist?
I decided that my villain was a usurper who had gained control of Queen’s Landing and made lives hell for those in the regions around it. Players take control of a character (read about them here) and head for the centre of the board, where the once-proud city stands. The characters have an uneasy alliance though, and can’t resist screwing each other over as they make their way to the capital to dethrone the mad man at its middle. The characters were each given their own back stories and motivations for taking down the tyrant.
A few other political figures and events also made an appearance, but the setting is whimsical enough that it doesn’t feel burdened by it (as we often are in life!). The mood is further lightened by a few pop-culture references and the weird kind of glee you get out of messing up your friends’ plans to win.
Once I’d concocted that story, the rules and gameplay fell into place very quickly and tied the whole thing together. I’ll go into that in more detail in the next blog post, so please follow my page to ensure you don’t miss it.
You know what helps people test read a book? Giving them a book.
Now, that might sound weird, but one comment I kept getting from my test readers was that In The Black Blood would be a lot easier to read if it was in book form, rather than reams of loose A4 sheets. When you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Some of my test readers won’t have proof-read a book before, they aren’t professional editors, and a stack of paper looks a lot more like work than it does a fun romp through post-apocalyptic England. Plus, it’s going to end up in book form so why not give them something as close to the end product as you can get. Odds are the cover will end up looking different, but I thought I’d give it a go.
I set about trying to find out how to make a short print-run of books. I only wanted five for my next batch of readers, which left me with two potential providers: Blurb.com and Book Printing UK. I started with Blurb, but their pricing wasn’t quite as good and their book making app seemed to be more trouble than it was worth, so I went with Book Printing UK. It turned out to be an excellent choice!
Customer service was great and I’m super happy with the end result. Even my hastily thrown together cover design has come out looking excellent. Not only that, but its worked well with my test readers too. Previous readers had taken quite a while to go through the book, but three of my readers got it back to me within three weeks after I gave them a physical copy and liked it.
Not only that, but it’s bloody awesome to hold your novel in your hands in book-form; something that many of us aspiring novelists might never get to do.
Blog Post +2
Gig + 15
CIM Assignment Finished (!!!) +30 (seriously, it’s taken ages)
Up near Nottingham, situated close to a spooky church and this entirely reassuring danger sign, is the Wargames Foundry. This is where I went to find characters for the board game I made for my girlfriend (read part one here). They’ve got oodles (that’s British for “thousands”) of miniatures there; so many that I spent a good few hours looking for the perfect ones.
I was worried for my safety
I’d settled on having one character for each of the four regions on the game board, excluding Queen’s Landing. A late-night brainstorming session the day before resulted in:
Drek – Related to a certain ogre you might have heard of (Quinzel Cemetery)
Dread Pirate Robins – Loves a frilly dress (Plunder Bay)
Condescending the Dwarf – Don’t you dare talk down to him (Immortal Mountains)
Little Red – Wolf-pelt wearing badass (Wild Woods)
Ordinarily, they recommend painting their figurines (as you can tell from the respectfully dressed vampires above), but I quite liked the bare metal look. I grabbed a few wooden discs from Hobbycraft, and secured the figurines to them with my trusty superglue. I’m very happy with them, and reckon they fit with the game board quite nicely indeed!
Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while might have noticed that I’ve mentioned a “secret project” on a few occasions. Well, it’s time for the big reveal!
I MADE A BOARD GAME!
It was my girlfriend’s birthday back in November. We’re both fans of board games and visit cafés like Thirsty Meeples in Oxford every so often to try out new things (Read Sophie’s post about it here), so it seemed like a good idea to MAKE a board game especially for her. I had no idea where to start, but I wagered that beginning with the board itself couldn’t be a bad idea.
I came up with the idea of creating five distinct “regions”. At this stage, I had a rough idea of what shape I wanted the game to take: I knew that it had to involve rolling a die to move, that it would involve drawing cards that would affect other players, that it would have references to things that Sophie and I liked or talked about, and that it would have a fantasy theme. With that in mind, I went out to Sainsbury’s and bought some crayons and coloured pencils, then took up drawing for an hour at a time on my lunch breaks.
The five regions developed quickly, and I soon had:
Plunder Bay (Pirate Themed)
Quinzel Cemetery (Swamp/Cemetery Themed)
Immortal Mountain (Mountain/Mine Themed)
Wild Woods (Enchanted Woods Themed)
Queen’s Landing (Medieval City Themed – No prizes for guessing the reference here!)
Once all five had been drawn, I scanned them into my computer and stitched them together in Photoshop, leaving me with an almost-finished game board. All of the gameplay elements were missing, but I had a base to work from; a base that I was incredibly happy with! Next I had to develop a story, but more on that next time. Follow The Points Project for more!
Are any of you prolific board game players? What do you like to play?
I’m saying that for two reasons. The first is that I’ve not posted for a month despite having lots to write about, and the second is that I bought a laptop and have become thoroughly indebted to my own points system. It’s a creativity aid, so it’s not cost me as many points as it did pounds, but it’s still quite a deficit!
The good news is that, although I haven’t posted over the last month, I have been making a lot of progress with various projects. The difficulty is that one of those projects is TOP SECRET. I can reveal what it is in November, once my girlfriend’s birthday has been and gone, but my lips must remain sealed for the time being.
Anyway, excuses done, I’m back and will be posting regularly again from now on. You can expect posts covering everything from music, writing, marketing (I’ve just enrolled in a CIM course), and various other topics. Speak soon, and until then…
Have a productive day.
Recording with Tom +20
Super Secret Project +75
Adding ITBB Compendium Entries +75
Gig at Althorp House +15
Blog Post +2
In The Black Blood has been in the works for a number of years now. The book is written from the points of view of seven different characters and I began writing as most would, chronologically, but I soon realised that this wasn’t the best way to go about it. Each time I came back around to a character, I had to re-familiarise myself with exactly what had happened in their previous chapter(s), as well as the nuances of the voice I was writing in. I instead started to write by character, finishing the story for one before going back and finishing it with the next. Once all was written, I just had to slot it together. Then I put down the black pen and picked up the red one. Editing has been fun, for the most part; even more so now that I’m nearing the end!
My first edit was done immediately after finishing the book, looking for inconsistencies while it was all fresh in my mind.
My second was done after leaving the book alone for a few months, giving me some much needed distance.
The third was after feedback from a few people, giving me the benefit of outside perspectives.
And I’ve just completed my fourth round of editing, during which I made notes about everything I was unsure of or unhappy with, or anything I felt needed revisiting once I’d finished reading. I now need to go back through those notes, before having a read through each character’s chapters in turn to ensure their voices and styles remain consistent throughout.
A little while ago, I stumbled upon Blurb.com, a website that lets you create small runs of books. Once my edits are done, I plan on getting a few copies made (actual books that I can hold in my ACTUAL hands!) and giving them to a few friends for a final read through before I start the potentially mammoth task of finding a literary agent. It’s super exciting! Having a physical copy of my own will be so gratifying after having put so much work into this. Have any of you used a service like Blurb to make physical copies of your novels before seeking out an agent, or even used them in your self-publishing endeavours?
Have a productive day.
Recording at Get Loud Studios +5
Gig in Nottingham +15
Super Secret Project work +20
Blog post +2
Bought a laptop -425
For the last few years, my music has graced various stages. I’ve played in all sorts of places, from quiet pubs in dingy parts of sleepy towns, to bustling festivals in busy city centres, and it’s been great! Sure, I’ve had a few bad gigs here and there, but the fantastic ones more than make up for them. Recently, however, my confidence has taken a knock, and I’m not entirely sure why. Something’s got me second guessing chord changes, and overthinking the lines I’m about to sing to the point where I almost forget them. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been dedicating so much time to editing In The Black Blood that I’ve not been practicing enough. Maybe it’s that I’ve started a new job and learning the ropes it taking up the rest of my time. Or maybe it’s because I’ve had writers’ block for a while and the lack of new material is getting me down.
I don’t know for sure.
Despite not knowing the exact cause, I decided last week that enough was enough. I was going to break this spell of low confidence the only way I know how, by playing gigs. Without wasting any time, I took myself to an open mic night at the Thomas A Beckett pub, to play music alongside Rhys Gradwell, Kirsty Crawford, and Sam Stopps. That old adage of “fake it until you make it” really is a good one. I went on stage convinced that I was going to be confident, and as a result my set went incredibly well. The following night, I made the last minute decision to head to the new open mic at O’Neill’s in Northampton, where again, my set went well. On both nights I even managed to sell a few CDs.
Bolstered by my mid-week success, I headed to a small festival on Saturday, Read-ing Fest (hyphen intentional). It was a glorious day, the sun was shining, and I took to the stage in front of a smattering of festival-goers. It went well!
If doing three gigs in one week has gone this far towards restoring my confidence, think what the performances I’ve got lined up over the next month will do to help! What’s more, I’ve found that getting out and playing has got my creative juices flowing again. Lyrics have been popping into my head all week, and I can’t wait to see how the next month goes.
Have a productive day.
Read-ing Festival +15
Added ITBB compendium entries +5
Songwriting session with Tom +5
Work on the Super Secret Project +5
Blog post +2