Monday, September 14, 2015

THE FIRST PITCH (Guest Post by Hermann Luttmann)

In honor of the launch of Tiny Battle Publishing, I’d like to throw out this “first pitch” on Opening Day! First, let me say congratulations to Mary Russell and Mark Walker for starting this new venture. It sounds like a great idea for a game company – offering accessible, fun and affordable game designs to the gaming public covering all sorts of topics.  I wish them the best of luck and it’s an honor to be included in the first crop of new games being sold by Tiny Battles.

My involvement with Mark and Mary all started with a friendly exchange of e-mails regarding the game industry in general and Flying Pig Games in particular. I’ve had this idea for an admittedly wacky game design for years and just haven’t found the right venue for it. Knowing Mark’s game design philosophy from his Lock n’ Load days and seeing where he was going with his Flying Pig designs, I decided one day to take a chance and describe this crazy idea to him. Mark seemed to be a kindred spirit when it came to game design protocols …. a preference for games whose theme could involve just about anything, just as long as they are damn fun to play. So I pitched the idea for this game design about – what else – total chaos. As some of you may know, most of my game designs involve elements of “historical chaos”, a simulation mechanic that we feel better reflects the reality of the historic battlefield than the more traditional “I Go – You Go - Both players have perfect knowledge” method of wargaming. As a humorous aside, I’ve remarked in the past that one day I would love instead to do a game with unrestrained chaos, just for the pure entertainment value. The premise for the design (yes, there still needs to be some kind of cogent storyline, even if absurd) would be about an alien race from another dimension (the “Kay’otz”, in this case) that goes about things in a totally misunderstood and illogical manner – or at least misunderstood and illogical to the human mind. When I finally did get the guts up to propose this game idea to Mark, he actually loved it. And thus was born Invaders from Dimension X, one of the half-dozen new games being offered out of the gate by Tiny Battles.

So the transition began immediately from a “cool idea” to a physical game that actually works. This is the toughest part for any game designer, in my opinion. Ideas are a dime a dozen – getting the ideas into a workable game design that actually ends up on the table is another matter entirely. My developer and playtester extraordinaire, Fred Manzo, came up with the brilliant idea early on to drape the design in a 1950’s campy science fiction cloak – just to make it even more fun and unique. Well once we did that, the ideas just kept flying and we basically designed the essence of the game in one weekend. Then our artist, Tim Allen, kept the momentum going with some outstanding artwork that perfectly reflected the “attitude” of the game. All this theme and flat-out fun allowed us to invent the Alien Monolith, the Multi-Frequency Phase Nullifier, the Phase Shift Depolarizer, the Alien Overlords and more. This is an example of how a pretty basic idea for a game can gain a life of its own and it then starts to design itself. The effect is much like how a novelist lets his/her characters write the story, as long as they have enough personality and drive built into them to do so. As such, Invaders from Dimension X became possessed (by alien forces, we presume) and just “blasted off”, almost on its own.

Fred, Tim and I certainly hope you enjoy playing our contribution to the Tiny Battles Publishing catalog as it now “takes the field” for the first time. We very much hope that it does well and that gamers have fun with it – we, in fact, have a lot more story to tell! And we’re aiming to do two-player and even three-player versions of the game to increase its accessibility to all sorts of different gaming groups.

So thanks for letting us throw out this “first pitch”! Just be thankful that I’m not also singing the “Star Spangled Banner”. ; ) Luttmann's Invaders from Dimension X on sale now. You can find it here.