Hello Again! Apologies for my lack of posting recently, but I’ve been busy the past two months with a really fun project I’m happy to share with you: A Board Game called Quotetastic!
The original idea came to me in late 2015. I’ve always enjoyed party games like Articulate, Apples to Apples, 5 second rule etc. Their appeal lies in their simplicity – you can pick the core gameplay up in a matter of minutes. In particular, “Fill in the Blank” games like Apples to Apples, Superfight! and Cards Against Humanity were especially fun the first time I saw them.
However with Cards Against Humanity , I felt the game didn’t have a long lasting appeal. By the second time you played the game you would notice the same card pairings being played repeatedly, and by the third or fourth time you played the game it would always devolve into who had the most offensive card. A white card could be played and barely even fit the sentence structure, yet would still win a round for its own offensive merit alone. In essence I felt the game lacked depth and replay value. My Goal was to make a game in the genre that offered more creativity and had a wider appeal.
The Game Structure
The core concept of Quotetastic is simple. Essentially it’s a game of filling in the Quote with the cards you have in your hand.
There are four different categories of Quote Cards – Historical, Literary, Film & TV and Mostly Motivational, each with a blank space denoting missing text in the quote and each with their own respective spaces on the Game Board. These are read out by the Dictator at the start of every round.
All players have at least ten Action Cards in their hands at all times. These are the cards that are used to answer the Quote Card with. There is a total of 550 Action Cards in the Game – 200 corresponding to the missing words in the Quote Cards, and 330 new cards that can be anything from Diseases to Historical Events to Celebrities to Household Objects to Euphemisms. Once a player plays an action card, they pick up another from the pile to replenish their deck
After the Quote is read out, Players pass their Action Cards face down to the Dictator to fill in the Quote. The Dictator shuffles the Action Cards and then reads out the newly completed Quote that each player has created with their action Cards. The Dictator then picks his favourite Action Card for the round, and person who played the Card moves up one space on the Game Board, onto the next Quote Category. The winning player also becomes the Dictator for the next round, and so reads out the Next Quote.
Where Gameplay can change is on the Star Spaces. In these rounds depending on the rule variation played, players may not even need their Action Cards. Variations include:
- Guess the Quote Author – In which players attempt to guess who said the original Quote. The Quote is read out in full without the missing word. The Dictator can then provide clues as to who said the Quote (Currently the Default Variation) .
- Guess the Missing Word – In which players must guess which word is missing from the Quote. The Dictator can give hints to players as to what the word is.
- You Do The Math – In which an action card is picked from the pile at random and becomes the answer. Players use their action cards to create an equation. X card + Y card = The Action Card Drawn from the Pile
- The Associates – In which the Dictator picks a person from a Random Quote Card and players must play two cards that they believe define the person or which they’re most associated with.
- Countdown – In which the Dictator describes the Action Cards in his hand in a rapid fire manner without revealing their name . The winner of the round is the person who guessed the largest number of action cards.
The ‘Alpha’ Version
After coming up with the idea for the game my ‘Alpha’ version was done in little more than a week in Photoshop. As you can see in the images below, the design isn’t particularly impressive. I had no real prior experience in print design, and so it was created in an RGB colour format. After contacting the local print shop, it turned out that the files I had exported didn’t follow their print formats, and so the Quote Cards came out with fuzzy looking text and the card borders were chopped off by the Printer. In order to test it I took the player pieces from another board game, and the board was printed out on unfoldable cardboard. Suffice to say it wasn’t particularly impressive looking, but I did have the beginnings of a real game.
Over the Summer holidays I played it with some friends as well as my extended relatives in Auckland who all enjoyed the game and thought the concept was fun, but its shortcomings were obvious. Often times you simply wouldn’t have a card in your hand that would fit the quote. It would need a determiner preceeding it, or it was a plural where the missing word had to be singular. The original quotes were a mix of various tenses and certain Literary and Historical Quotes weren’t appealling to many people. In the first print run there were 400 cards, with the majority being the answers to the quotes rather than original cards.
The only mode being played on Star Spaces was “Guess The Quote Author” and it proved unpopular with some players. Nevertheless the playtesting of the first product was really helpful. I knew what had to be changed to make the game work.
Game Redesign & Prototype.
After last Summer I had let the project slide. As for creative projects my main focus was designing a multiplatform smartphone app and other web work. However after comments from one of my relatives who had played the ‘Alpha’ Version last year, it spurred me into relooking at the game.
Aside from keeping a large number of the original quotes and their corresponding action cards from the original, I changed almost every aspect of the design.While my eventual goal was to get the game on Kickstarter, I wanted to create a Prototype for play tesing that was close to the what I could put on Kickstarter. After googling for a few different places I opted to use The Game Crafter. As a print on demand service, they were able to produce a prototype in a short space of time. You simply pick the game board, cards, box and all other components you want and then design with those specifications in mind. The site made it easy to see what dimensions I was going to have to design for, and there was a lot of helpful information provided for formatting the files correctly for print production.
Now that I knew what components I was designing, the actual design process could begin. My first focus was recreating the logo. I still liked the idea of the four colours on the Game Board being represented as a border around the text, but the colours in the original looked quite dull. As I was designing for print I used a CMYK colour space, and so tried to choose more vibrant looking colours to represent each category.
The final logo I settled on had a different colour order on the border to come across as more striking, and featured lighter colour hues than I had originally intended. I also created a Q logo using thesame gradient as an alternative logo for the game.
I had thought the rear look of the Quote Cards was the strongest design feature of the original game, however these ended up changing as well. I was happy with the eventual mix of fonts, and through use of the smaller Q logo was able to feature the logo on the Quote Cards in a more subtle way than through use of the larger border logo.
The Action Cards remained similar to the look of the Alpha version, but featured the new look logo at the rear of the cards and much cleaner text.
I contemplated a few design features for the Game Board. The ‘Alpha’ board was simply a means to an end. I had taken some inspiration from Trivial Pursuit and Articulate in having a circular board and rotating categories. I still felt the circular layout was the best design fit, but my first version looked terrible.
The most obvious change was changing the space in the middle. I had put some sort of bullseye looking thing in the first version, but I would make sure to feature the logo in this one. I was also going to feature placeholders for the Quote Cards on the game board, as they had been placed in the four corners of the Game Board in every game we played.
The three main alternative design features I was considering, were to
- change the background of all spaces to black and feature the colour of the Quote Categories on the text rather than their background spaces.
- Instead of dividers have white space as natural dividers between the design
- Rather than using explicitly labelling each game category, have their letters to represent that categories as is similar to as is featured on the rear of the Quote Cards.
Ultimately other than the necessary change in colours, font and overall polish not a lot changed. I added the Q logo in the centre and put some placeholders in for the cards. Rather than using the sharp dividers in the original, I simply let the natural contrast between the colours act as natural dividers. I also added some texture to the Quote Categories on the board.
Gameplay Changes For Prototype
The biggest issue with the ‘Alpha’ version was the Action Cards. Far too often people would simply not have the right card in their hand to fit in the Quote. This required changing both the Action Cards and the Quote Cards
Firstly I examined the Quote Cards. I had chosen the original 200 in little more than a week, and a large number needed revising. The first step was ensuring that my quotes were accurate. So many motivational Quotes on the internet were misattributed to someone else. Frequently it would be Confucius, Oscar Wilde or Albert Einstein that were credited with the .
For “edgy” quotes often times they were credited to Voltaire to add legitimacy. A common one is ““To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize”” which of course sounds like every non-conformists wet dream until you realize it was said by a white supremacist, who was not so subtly dabbling in anti semitism. This subject could be a blog post in itself, but I consulted WikiQuote,, Quote Investigator as well as my own copy of the Oxford Dictionary Of Quotations and other sources to try to ensure accuracy when it came to choosing the quotes. For one or two quotes that were simply too good to leave out, I put that they were paraphrased. “Luke, I am your Father” from Star Wars Episode V is the obvious one. The original line is “No, I am your father”, but the name contextualizes it.
When I discovered that so many good quotes credited to well known Authors or Historical Figures were said by some obscure English author or in the private writings of a nobleman completely unknown to most people, then it posed a problem. I could still keep the Quote but nobody would be able to guess the Author on the ‘Guess The Quote Author’ category. However more often than not it transpired that not only was the author not necessarily well known, but that it was unknown as to who said the quote in the first place. Most of these “Quotes” essentially had become proverbs, and so with no accurate author I had to abandon most of them. I wanted the majority of Quotes in the game to be easily recognizable, but accurate at the same time.
Action Card Changes
Once I had decided on my 200 quotes, I had to work out the nouns/verbs/adjectives that were required in order for players to always have a working card in their hand. I examined the original 220 Action Cards via a spreadsheet and was able to determine a roughly accurate ratio of existing action cards that encompassed Proper Nouns, A/An determiners, The/My/Your Determiners, Verbs, Adjectives and Plurals and how well they fitted into the original Quotes.
In addition to creating a ratio for each category of Action Card, All Determiners and Suffixes were to go in brackets allowing each to be played optionally and increasing the Action Cards versatility. As mentioned previously this was a major issue in the ‘Alpha’ version.
I had planned on only using 400 cards, however as my list of potential new words grew larger it became harder to narrow them down and maintain the ratio. I eventually narrowed it down to 330 new Action cards, putting the total of Actioncards in the game at 550.
OTHER NEW DEVELOPMENTS
After playtesting the original ‘Alpha’ version, I had made a lot of notes as to how the game could be improved. Many of these were factored into the design for the prototype – notably the brackets in the action cards.
The Biggest new Gameplay Variations in the Prototype Are
Star Spaces – I had only considered two different star space variants for the original . However due to negative feedback from certain players while testing the Alpha Version, in the current prototype I’ve been testing out five new variations.
Team Gameplay – The length of the game when playing with more than four people was often an issue when playing the ‘Alpha’ version. In the Prototype groups of 5+ players are encouraged to play in teams – Sharing a playing piece on the game board and either sharing decks, or playing cards like individuals.
Card Stringing. This allows players to combine 2+ Action cards in their hand to create a new answer to the Quote. It works particularly well if players have two different types of action cards. e.g McDonalds + Pest Control = McDonalds Pest Control.
Boardless Play – This is a variation which allows players to play without the Game Board. Instead of the winner being the person who reaches the end of the game board, the winnner is determined by the person who collects the greatest number of Quote Cards. The gameplay mechanics with the Dictator and Players remains exactly the same, but the category rotates every round in the order Literary – Historical – Film & TV – Mostly Motivational.
Prototype Arrival And Thoughts On The Game Crafter
I knew that the Prototype was not ever going to be the final version , because despite the convenience of The Game Crafter’s service, their pre-selectable components didn’t entirely fit my needs for the game.
I used The Game Crafter’s Large Retail Box template, however it was wider and shallower than the box I would use for the final game. I also misunderstood the template markings, and so the side flap text was cut off.
Additionally while I’m impressed with the look of the cards received, I don’t believe I should have used the same Card Template for the Quote Cards and the Action Cards. Both used the Game Crafter’s Business Deck , with the Action Cards printed Vertically and the Quote Cards printed horizontally. The rounded corners suited the Action Cards but don’t look quite so good on the Quote Cards. In the final version I will increase the size of the Quote Cards and remove the Rounded Corners.
The biggest annoyanceI had was having to upload the files in RGB format, which required changing from a CMYK colour profile to an RGB one. No other board game manufacturer would ever print in RGB, but it was the price of the convenience of being able to preview your cards in their web wizrd. This didn’t alter the appearance of most things, but due to the gradients and patterns being used on the Game Board, I had a last minute headache having to change the Greens and Yellows. All other issues I had with the Prototype were my own design choices and not the fault of the Game Crafter.
Despite these minor issues I think The Game Crafter is a great resource for anyone looking at desigining a board game prototype. The cost is too prohibitive to use it to sell the games (even though they do offer that service). While I don’t think my game is particularly impressive, it’s a lot better looking than some of the Games people are selling on the site, who clearly have MS Paint to create their games. Though that speaks volumes as to the simplicity of the website. Even if you’re not proficient with graphic design, they make their service as easy to use as possible with all the templates provided free to download. Their customer service is very good as well, and they were able to answer all the queries I had in regards to production. And despite an email to the contrary, they packaged all the game components in the corresponding tuck boxes when my prototype was shipped, which was nice of them.
Below are some pictures of the GameCrafter Prototype. The compnents largely looked as I had expected they would, other than the unfortunate issue with the box side flaps. Unfortunately the box has become slightly worn after a week, but the cards and other components have stayed in good condition.
I only received the Prototype a week ago, but so far I’ve had four different games with four different groups of friends and strangers. It has been enjoyable to see how people are easily embracing the use of Brackets and Quote Stringing. I’ve been trying several of the different star space variants, as well as playing the Boardless Variety which makes the Game go much faster. I took it to a Board Games night at a local Pub and was able to try the game out with four total strangers who all quickly learned the rules. One of the most enjoyable things so far has been the game’s ability to act as an icebreaker. One player created a card string out of two cards to answer “Moist Winter”, which was so laughably awful it became an injoke for the rest of the game. Its those kind of moments that make me glad to have made it.
Below are some photos and great plays from the first week of Playtesting.
The main Gameplay Changes For The Final Version:
- Finalizing the default Star Space Variant – With five Variants being tested at the moment it’s hard todecide on which will be the default variant. I’m really enjoying “You Do The Math” though.
- The Rules For Discarding. Players are currently able to Discard their entire deck at any time (but with the penalty of skipping the turn) or they may discard two cards throughout the game with zero penalties. In the Star Space variation ‘Countdown’ The Dictator discards his entire hand. I’m looking at other ways of adding in means of discarding your cards.
- A Poetntial Time Limit I’ve noticed that some players are slow to choose their Action Cards, and this can cause frustration. Perhaps the game could be shipped with an hourglass timer, or it could just be an optional variant.
- Larger Team Based Play. I haven’t had the opportunity to test the game with 6+ players so far. Hopefully I can see how well it plays with larger teams soon.
- Managing any Card Stringing and Bracket Conflicts
- Fixing the number of cards in the hand. The Game originally was intended for 10 in a hand, but I’ve been testing it with 13 and had good feedback.
- Balancing Anonymity with Convincing The Dictator. It’s enjoyable to be able to convince the Dictator during Star Space Variants, but if done late on the board it essentially makes shuffling the cards useless and The Dictator can be less impartial to the leading player than he should be.
The main Design Changes For The Final Version:
- Changing the size of the components. As mentioned previously the GameCrafter Box was never ideal for a party game with hundreds of cards. The Box will be deeper and less wide. For the final version the design will feature custom card holders for the Action Cards and the Quote Cards, rather than the loose tuck boxes used by the GameCrafter. The Quote Cards will also be larger.
- Colour and Formatting Changes. Mostly minor issues relating to the colour conversion on the GameCrafter website. The Quote Cards font size will increase to match the larger Quote Cards. I will also ensure font size consistency across the Action Cards.
- Increasing the size of the Quote Cards
- Changing the Placeholders on the Game Board to better match the Quote Cards.
- Looking at Alternative Placement to make the Finish Mark clearer on the Game Board.
- Finalizing Game Rulebook Design – This was rushed for the prototype. Once the Rules are finalized I can create a nice rulebook 😀
Closing Notes and Future Plans
As I’m sure you can see I’ve invested quite a bit of time already in this game. I’ll be continuing the Playtesting phase for the next few weeks to try and finalize the game. For any readers in the Christchurch, New Zealand area I would love to test out the Game with you, and I welcome any feedback. However my main focus now is to get this on Kickstarter. I’m going to contact two different Board Game Manufacturers who specialize in Kickstarter campaigns and get their quotes, as well getting quotes from multiple shipping fulfillment companies in various regions . Most Manufactueres require a minimum production of 1000-2000 copies, and this will be reflected in rthe minimum funding level required on Kickstarter.
It’s a lot easier now to create a Boardgame than it has ever been, with crowd funding and modern Board Game Manufactuers that understand the market for “Kickstarting” games. Resources from people who have run prior successful Kickstarter Board Game campaigns like Jamey Stegmaier and many others are invaluable resources to me as I focus on getting the game on Kickstarter. Prior to putting the game on Kickstarter, I will likely order several prototypes and send them out to a couple of Game Reviwers. Then there’s the website, project video, promo materials etc….it’s a fair bit of work. However I do hope I can get this funded and make the game a success.
I will certainly post here when the game is live on Kickstarter, however can also stay up to date on the project by following @quotetasticgame (https://twitter.com/quotetasticgame) on twitter. It’s a bit empty at the moment but that’s soon to change.
All the Best,