I’ve been playing and designing games and accessories on and off since the 1980s. Initially, I made my own variations on existing games; sometimes making deluxe accessories for my own satisfaction, other times making expansions or alternative themes for existing games.
I started getting more serious about around 2005. I began attending Origins and Gen Con, and found the courage to approach publishers with my designs. I had little success at the start, but everyone in the industry was very encouraging, so I kept at it. I’ve had a few commercial successes. These are the highlights so far.
Gravwell is my first published game and the one with which I’m most closely identified.
Released in 2013, the game was awarded Game of the Year by Dice Hate Me, won the Fan Favorite 2014 Origins Award for Best Family, Party or Children’s Game, and was named a 2014 Mensa Select game.
To date, Gravwell is my only published game. A new version that allows 5-6 players is in development.
I later turned my attention to making game accessories.
During a conversation with Greg Spence, owner of The Broken Token, I asked whether he had plans to make an insert for 7 Wonders Duel. I’m a fan of both games, and already had TBT’s excellent insert for the original 7 Wonders. Greg said that they’d like to, but it would be not be soon because their designers were busy on higher priority projects.
I asked, “If I sent you the design, would you cut one for me?” To my delight, he said that he would. I modeled my design on other similar inserts by TBT. I had never designed laser-cut products before, but I was familiar with concepts and already used the same software.
They ended up liking my design well enough that they released it as a product. They’ve since enhanced the design to fit the expansions for the game.
The project served as a nice foot in the door at TBT.
During a later conversation with Greg, we got to talking about dice towers. The problem, as we saw it, was that most dice towers were boring. You put the dice in the top, they clack around and come out the bottom.
What if you could see what was going on inside?
What if what was going on inside was more interesting than a few inclined planes?
What if it was modular, so you could build it as tall as you like?
What if your dice could tumble down a vertical Rube Goldberg machine?
The design constraints were a challenge.
The dice couldn’t get stuck. (Curse you, D4s!)
The towers had to be easy to assemble.
They had to be durable enough to handle metal dice.
They had to made of the same materials as the rest of The Broken Token’s offerings.
The result was a full line of Dice Tumblers, including multiple bases and a side loading accessory.
I also collaborated with The Broken Token a couple of travel accessories. These too were a bit of a departure for The Broken Token. While the bulk of their products are alternative inserts for existing games, these compact cases completely replace the original box.
These are compact designs for Gravwell and The Fox in the Forest. For Gravwell, it allowed a much smaller package than the original large board and box. In the case of Fox in the Forest, the box was already small, but the game seemed better suited to using a scoring track than the tokens that ship with the game.