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  • Writer's pictureEmily

A Year in Game Design: The Games

A year ago in May, I sat down to design my first game. I am apparently incapable of doing anything halfway, so it’s been a wild ride these past 12 months. I’ve decided to do a recap, putting it all in one place, to remind myself about all the progress I’ve made, the new experiences I’ve had, and the little wins along the way. I’ve learned so much this past year and most of it from the INCREDIBLE PEOPLE I’ve met along the way. I’ve made so many new friends, from all over the country, with all sorts of interests, all brought together by our love of games. You’ve absolutely been the best part of this whole adventure.

I’ve done so much that this is going to be a multi-part recap :-) But I’m starting at the obvious spot: the games I made this past year. Buckle in, it turns out there were 8 of them.


Good Kitties

A cooperative campaign game of mischievous housecats taking over the world. Think Pinky and the Brain meets Pandemic. The first game I designed and probably my most ambitious. I’ve made huge progress since the first construction paper prototype. This is likely my magnum opus and I expect to be working on it for a while. But I absolutely love it and believe it needs to be in the world (^._.^) If I ever self-publish, this one is definitely gonna happen.

Status: in progress, a few pitches to publishers

Pirates of the High Teas

A set collection game of baking and sabotage on the high seas. Pirates in a baking contest. I started this at the same time as Good Kitties b/c I wanted to have something less complex to work on and learn from while working on Good Kitties. It started without pirates, but I couldn’t resist the name when it was suggested during playtesting. This game has gone through SO MANY iterations and it's not there yet. And it may have wandered off course of the original vision, but I love where it's headed. This one is a real adventure.

Status: in progress, getting ready to pitch


A resource management game where your body is the resource. This game is a love letter to ultramarathoning, Eric’s sport and hobby. Ultramarathoning is an amazingly impressive endurance challenge and I was fascinated by the idea of bringing it to a game. In particular, could I make a game about racing that’s not actually a race game? I’m not sure of the answer yet because I put this on the shelf to work on things that were speaking more strongly to me, but I still love the idea.

Status: on the shelf, but not forgotten

Dragon Raider

A set collection game of making jewelry from stolen dragon loot. This game started out as a game about going to Home Depot when trying to fix things in your house. And it accidentally ended up as a bad set collection take on Clank! + Deep Sea Adventure. It got two playtests and went on the shelf. Likely not coming out again, although I may revisit the Home Depot theme. Or maybe not, b/c that just sounds kind of stressful.

Status: shelved, indefinitely

Belly Rubs

A card game of putting animals in a petting zoo. Inspired by a joke at an ultramarathon about giving the rattlesnakes belly rubs (You should do it! But seriously, don’t do it…). The goal was to get rid of all the cards in your hand by playing them to your petting zoo but you could only do it if you played animals with similar attributes. It… did not work. The single playtest ended with all 4 players tied.

Status: shelved, indefinitely

Knitting Circle

A cozy pattern-building tile-placement game of knitting a beautiful winter wardrobe. At only 3 months, this is the fastest game I’ve worked on from the initial idea to a “good” game. This one took off at Unpub and I credit that to a single late-night component design idea and lots of 3D printing.

Status: pitching to publishers

Cross Stitch

A tile-placement game based on the mechanics of cross stitch (the needlework craft). I love the visual for this and I think there’s something here. But my playtests so far haven’t worked out the way I wanted. It’s a little too brain bendy and I think the placement mechanic may be in direct odds with the scoring mechanic. This one needs a little bit more time to marinate, so I’m leaving the tiles out on my table but haven’t yet figured out what the next playtest is.

Status: paused, letting this one rattle around in my brain for a bit

Dessert Disasters

A set collection game of baking badly. In my journeys with Pirates I ended up (maybe) cutting a dice-rolling mechanism that I really love. After a recent heart-to-heart with some of my trusted designer friends, I decided I needed to pull this thread because the dice rolling/baking mechanic was central to the experience I wanted players to have. I whipped up a quick prototype and got it to the table. Ready for the next adventure…

Status: first playtest complete

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