Prototypes arrive!

In which we share pictures of the exciting new prototypes and tell you to watch out for short stories, events, and Screentop….

Hello everyone! Can you believe it’s STILL January? This truly is the longest month. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator for these updates.

Stop faffing about and show us the prototypes!

Yes, well, good point. Without any further faff from me, here is the box arriving, and the first glimpse!

And a few more once we’d got them out and had a good look.

Here’s one all set up and waiting.

A couple more close ups of cards.

And the game in action!

Anyway, we’re pleased as punch about it. (I’m now hoping that means the drink, rather than the puppets.) It is a prototype rather than a finished version, and so there are half a dozen things with the artwork we’ll probably change. We may make the dark side of the floor tiles darker, and we may make the title on the box bigger — and those are just two examples of possible changes! We also don’t have much of the character artwork complete, and only a handful of the literary terrors. And there’s going to be a booklet about the characters and terrors, and that’s not even started yet…

So, what now for Team Library Labyrinth?

Yesterday the prototypes were all sent out again! (Yes, the amount of time they stayed in my front room was very short. I went to the post office three times yesterday.) Some have gone to reviewers, some out to be travelling prototypes for playtesters.

Mill will be creating a ”How to Play” video over the next few days. We’ll then video a play through. Both those videos will go up on the Kickstarter page.

There is quite a lot of tidying up to be done on the Kickstarter page — all the words are there, but not the images, not the headings, not the diagrams. That feels like quite a big job!

I am also putting Library Labyrinth on Screentop. This is a free way to play games in your browser. So far I have all the components up, but not the rules, or any layout suggestions on the table. Fingers crossed, these last bits may even be done tomorrow. Once it’s done I’ll edit this post with a link, as well as sharing on social media.

Next week is also ”Tell a Story” week, so we will be posting short stories about some of the possible encounters. The first one features some small pigs, so stay tuned (as they probably no longer say) for that!

Upcoming events

Mill is going to be at the Guildhall Games Festival in Portsmouth on 29 January. Both Mill and I will be at AireCon in mid March — by which time the Kickstarter will be live!

Next steps

Please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We launch at the start of March 2022.

The final playtests (come and join in!)

In which we ask you if you would like one of our travelling prototypes, and get (only slightly) anxious about prototype delivery timescales.

Hello everyone! It’s a dark, wet January and all the Christmas decorations have come down. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator. A special hello to all our new readers who have recently joined!

Could you host a travelling prototype?

We’d like to send out some of our prototypes to our readers, for you to playtest yourself at home. (This is also an excellent way to see whether the rules are clear…) The idea is this: you receive a copy of the game in the post, play it with your friends and family, and one or two weeks later pack it up in the original box, print out the PDF postage label we email you, and take it to the post office.

You won’t need to pay for postage; we’ll sort all of that. However, you will need to have access to a printer, and to be able to commit to dropping off the parcel at a post office. (Or one of the snazzy “parcel post boxes”.)

While we are imagining this primarily as a UK thing, it should be possible to send one copy to the USA, one to the EU and one to Australia. The issue would be timescales, because if it takes a month to get to the USA then there would be less time for the game to go travelling. It might also get caught in customs, which could potentially be a complete nightmare. BUT we’ll be willing to try if there are people who want to test it out!

If you would like to do this, then here is a form to sign up for a travelling prototype. There are some important data protection questions in there.

Where are the prototypes right now?

The short answer is that they are not yet with me. The longer answer is that I should have them very soon… Apparently there was still some of the printing to be done yesterday, but hopefully once that is complete then they can be put together and sent to me. Cross your fingers please, everyone!

Upcoming events

Mill is going to be at the Guildhall Games Festival in Portsmouth on 29 January. Both Mill and I will be at AireCon in mid March — by which time the Kickstarter will be live!

Next steps

Please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! Launch date is 8 March 2022.

Prototypes are go!

In which we wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and nervously await our prototypes arriving…

Hello everyone! And Merry Christmas! I recently watched The Muppet Christmas Carol (as we all know, one of the more faithful re-tellings out there, and I’m entirely serious) and so Christmas has officially started. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator.

Forget Dickens and tell us what’s on the front of the box!

It’s pretty good. Here it is!

The figures on the box are:

Little Red Riding Hood (top left, being squashed by a coil of basilisk). A common folktale figure across Europe, Little Red Riding Hood is a young girl who escapes being eaten by a wolf, thanks to both her own wits and (usually) a friendly woodcutter. In some versions her grandmother is swallowed, in others she’s just locked in a cupboard. Our card for Red gives her the skills of fairness, navigation, stamina, and good shot.

Cheng Yat Sao, aka Ching Shih (far left on the bottom row, holding a sword). A remarkable woman – the leader of the biggest pirate fleet of all time, commanding up to 400 ships and up to 60,000 pirates. She lived from 1775 until 1844 and our card for Cheng Yat Sao gives her the skills of leadership, judgement, persuasion, and sailing.

Mary Seacole (middle left, dressed in blue and holding a purple potion). Mary was a British-Jamacian healer and businesswomen who nursed wounded soliders during the Crimean war. In 2004 the British public voted her the greatest Black Briton. She lived from 1805 until 1881 and in our game she has the skills of science, leadership, and medicine.

Athena (centre). She is the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, war, and handicrafts. Although with her Roman counterpart Minerva, Athena is a well-known mythological figure, most easily recognised by her spear and helmet. In our game we have given her the skills of strength, logic, weaving, and leadership.

Jo March from Little Women (centre right, wearing a red scarf and holding a mirror). Published in 1869, Little Women tells the story of four sisters. Jo is determined and headstrong, a gifted writer. We have given her the skills of storytelling, kindness, and conviction.

Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (centre right, leaning against Jo March). Alice is one of the most recognisable characters in children’s literature. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (published 1865) she follows a white rabbit into a land of nonsense and metaphor. Our game gives her the skills of positivity, flexibility, and curiosity.

The Chevalier d’Eon (far right on the bottom row, holding the basilisk’s tail with a rope). A French diplomat, solider, and spy. She lived from 1728 until 1810 and approximately the first half of her life was spent as a man, the second as a woman. We have given her the skills of leadership, diplomacy, strength, and resilience.

Hypatia (top right, leaning out of a coil of basilisk). A brilliant scholar and mathematician from Alexandria, in Egypt. Hypatia was also a teacher and a philosopher, and her advice was sought by politicians. In 415 she was murdered by a mob who suspected her of using her political influence in an ongoing political feud. Our card gives her the skills of logic, curiosity, and diplomacy.

I think you’ll all agree that Sam has done us proud. It’s a shadowy background without being brown, and has some amazing characters on the front!

What else is happening?

At the start of December Mill and I (remember, I’m Jess) went to Dragonmeet. Loads of fun as always, and some great games. We were pretty busy from when we arrived until almost the end of the day. Theoretically we had the table until 2pm, but no one else came to claim it, and so the lovely organising people said we could carry on. Here’s a photo of me when we’d just set up.

In the new year we have a whole slew of events coming up, finishing with AireCon in March.

We’re also giving away a few gift-wrapped copies of Disarm the Base, Jess’ previous game. Go and follow Dissent Games on Facebook for more details. AND (you knew there’d be another “and”, right?) there will be more Roll & Colour greetings cards. These ones are for Valentine’s Day and are hearts. Kickstarter coming mid January!

Next steps and BIG ask

The prototypes should be arriving soon after Christmas. Truth be old, I am feeling a little nervous. But when they arrive, we’ll need people to play them – and that is where you come in.

Do you have a local board gaming group? Or do you sometimes play with a group of friends? We would like to send a couple of our prototypes on tour!

What would happen is that we compile a list of people who would like to play the prototype. We pack it up in a box and send it to the first person on the list (that’s Person A). Person A opens it, plays it, and then tells us when they have finished. We look up the next person on the list (Person B), and then buy a postage label to their house. We email the postage label to Person A, who packs the game back in the box, prints the label we emailed them, and then sends it on to Person B.

If that sounds good to you, please let us know – either in the comments below, or via Twitter or Facebook.

If you haven’t already, then please do sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can!

All about the front cover

In which we share some very early drafts of the front of the box, and talk about the timetable from here on…

Hello everyone! Well, we have been busy discussing what an attractive box looks like. I’ve also been thinking time scales and how we need to get a move on. As always, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator.

What’s on the front of the box?

Right at the start of this process we were really clear about what the box front should look like. It would have characters and monsters emerging from the books. However, once we started putting pen to paper it turned out that “emerging” meant different things for different people. Were the characters jumping out, or falling out? Were the monsters lurking in the background, or being pushed back into the pages? So Sam came up with three basic sketches for us.

Two rather predictable things happened. The first was that we all had different opinions about which was most appropriate for the front of the box. One of the questions there was where the logo would go, because while it’s important that the box artwork looks good, it’s even more important that people can correctly identify the game… The second predictable thing was that we asked if Sam could possibly combine all the ideas into one. Which she did, ad here’s the result!

Now, that’s a rectangular picture and we’ll be looking at a square box — but nonetheless, it’s something to work with. And perhaps the smaller pictures can be somewhere on the side? The only remaining question now is how to make the whole thing shadowy and mysterious without being too brown…

Time scales

You will all be asking yourselves “so, when do you launch the Kickstarter?” And we have an answer! It’s March next year, so March 2022. It may be the start of the month, or it may be 8 March, as that is International Women’s Day.

This gives us enough time to make a prototype and send it out to reviewers. And get more of the art done!

So, put it in your diaries. March 2022 is when Library Labyrinth launches on Kickstarter.

Out and about

This weekend Mill (and her partner David) have taken the prototype to WynterCon. Here are a few pictures of them showing off the game there, and at a meet-up in their home town.

Other work

Something else very exciting is happening — Christmas cards! Jess (that’s me) has produced some solo puzzle greetings cards and is selling them to raise money for Library Labyrinth. Every penny raised by the cards goes into making Library Labyrinth a reality. So, if you send cards at Christmas then do head on down to the Roll & Colour: Christmas Cards Kickstarter to back a pack.

Next steps

Could you help us playtest? Please do! We have a Facebook group here. Also, please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can!

School’s back, and so are we!

In which we recap the exciting things which have happened over the summer, talk about our new tile direction, and apologise for the slipped timescale.

Hello everyone! My ears are full of wood dust, my computer is propped up on multiple boxes, and I don’t know where half my stuff is — welcome to moving and renovating! As always, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator.

So, what happened over the summer?

Turbulent times here for Team Library Labyrinth. Sam has moved house and got a new job. Ella has moved house and got a new job. I have moved house and picked up a freelance contract. Mill has not moved house, but has got a new job. So, yes, this summer has been eventful for us all!

All these personal upheavals mean we’re behind on where we hoped to be. I’ve been spending more time than anticipated on sanding floors and stripping wallpaper, and unfortunately those are hours not spent drawing very small pictures of books on to tiles.

However, we are in a good place with Library Labyrinth. Over the summer we went to both UK Games Expo and Brighton Comic Con with a prototype of Library Labyrinth, and it was very well received. (More about that in a minute…) We’ve also been playtesting a lot (a lot!) online, and the game is feeling really solid now.

So, now that summer is over and school is back (oh, thank goodness school is back) we are ploughing ahead with the game. Bring it on!

Out and about

We went to Games Expo in Birmingham, and to the Briton Comic Con. Both were brilliant, and we had a lot of success showing Library Labyrinth to people. Here are a few photos of people enjoying the game!

The last picture is actually someone playing Disarm the Base to sell (my game from 2019, look it up on www.disarmthebase.com) but it is such a perfect fit with the costume that I had to sneak it in. Obviously.

The reaction was really positive. About 60% of the games were won — well, 60% after we added a couple more turns. When playtesting online we had generally had larger groups, such as 4 or 5. Playtesting in real life often meant two players. We discovered pretty quickly that we hadn’t scaled the turns well enough, so it was too difficult for smaller groups. Still, that was easily solved by adding a couple more turns, and hey presto, it works beautifully!

New artwork

There is something else we’d like to share with you, and that is some of the artwork on the tiles. Now, this is completely absolutely not finished yet, but we have been trying to make the floor tiles less brown. A lot of games are brown and we would rather this was slightly more colourful — but how to do that when so much of it is showing is wooden shelves? Well, we have tried putting a tint to the bookcases as well as making the books all shades of the same colour. And this is how it looks at the moment. What do you think?


Time scales

This is the point at which a good half of you are going to be reaching through your screen to shout ”oi, you promised you’d launch over the summer”. Summer is gone, and we haven’t launched. We are sorry.

We misjudged the timescales, and we misjudged how much time we all had. The various house and job moves have been pretty time consuming for all of us, and we have not been able to give this project the attention it deserves.

This project is definitely happening. We are really pleased with the game as it is, and we are really pleased with the developing artwork. We think the final product will be AMAZING. But we misjudged the time we could commit and how long it would take to do things.

You’ll notice that we haven’t committed to a new date for Kickstarter. Thats because we all need to work out how much we can do in the next couple of months. Life is getting in the way, especially the day jobs. I hope when I write our next blog post I can give a better indication of what back on track actually means, but until then I don’t want to make promises I may not be able to keep. Rest assured that after paid work (which for me is 25 days between now and November) and making sure that there aren’t holes in my roof come winter (there are three missing slates at the moment) this is the top priority. I’m trying to walk a fine line between uncertainty and an educated guess, and I hope that’s ok.

Next steps

Could you help us playtest? Please do! We have a Facebook group here. Also, please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can!

The tiles, they rotate!

In which we talk about the board (oh my goodness, the board!) and about preparing for Games Expo.

Hello everyone! It’s still hot hot hot here, and I’m melting. Although that could just be the glue stuck to my fingers… Well, as before, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator.

Tiles? What tiles?

Last month I told you all a little about how we were trying to make the game more gateway and less complex. Slowly we have been chipping away at the complexity, asking each time whether we really need certain actions or cards.

And out of that came the a crucial question about movement across the boards. You see, with a standard board (even a modular one) it was pretty easy to see where the literary terrors were. It felt a bit like a slog at times — oh, just another thing over here, then I’ll go back here… So we had a good look at games we really liked, and decided to try a version of Library Labyrinth with tiles.

Tiles were an instant hit. It was clear that it solved both the problem of movement, and the problem of getting the ending right. AND it allowed us to think about the theme of the game and why Dracula et al is climbing out of the books in the first place. Now we have a curse token making its way round the board between the tiles. Mill thinks it’s going between the bookshelves (like a kind of black smoke demon thing) but I think it’s actually moving between the text itself…..perhaps it’s in the footnotes of the books? Anyway, the curse is rotating tiles, introducing new horrors, and generally making it more difficult for the players to capture all the escaped terrors and return them to the pages of the book.

We’ve had quite a few playtests with this version, and it’s definitely the right direction to go in. One of the playtests was fantastic (the five player one, interestingly) and none of them have disappointed. Rotating tiles are a keeper!

Games Expo

If you’re going to Games Expo then please do come and see us there! We are stand 2-346, and we’ll have a homemade prototype of Library Labyrinth to show. I must say that cutting bits of paper with a knife is rather satisfying. I spent a very happy afternoon making those tiles!

We’ll also have copies of Disarm the Base to sell (my game from 2019, look it up on www.disarmthebase.com) and some copies of Plastic Currents, which is a game played with jellybeans on a greetings card. Because who doesn’t love jellybeans?

Next steps

Could you help us playtest? Please do! We have a Facebook group here. Also, please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We expect to actually launch over the summer.

See you at UK Games Expo?

In which we talk about recent changes and future plans. And about bookmarks.

Hello everyone! I hope you all have an ice cream as you settle down for this latest newsletter. As before, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator.

Chipping away at complexity

June has been, like May, mainly spent in playtesting. The end game has proved the most difficult, but in figuring it out we have tried all number of different approaches and made many changes. The clock is now in the centre of the board, counting down more clearly and obviously. Instead of single turns, the action now happens in rounds. Actions can be passed to other players — but only players who come after you in the round, which makes it much more interesting! Overall, we have tried to make the game less complex and more gateway.

More artwork!

Here’s the really exciting part. I think the pictures are the best bit of any newsletter, especially when they look like this. Sam has been doing a few more sketches, and here are a few to share with you. First a triffid (of course!), and then a spider web and lasers.

Sam’s also been working on the characters. Here’s Jo March from Little Women.

And here are some sketches for some others. Still very much a work in progress, of course.

Another podcast!

Here’s another podcast — this time Jess and Mill on the Board Game Workshop podcast. These are SO much fun to do!

We’ll be at Games Expo!

We’re going to UK Games Expo! It’s in Birmingham from 30 July until 1 August. Mill will be there with prototypes of Library Labyrinth, so if you’ll be there please do drop by our stand. We’ll also have bookmarks too, which look like this…

Next steps

Well, we’re mainly playtesting still. Hopefully we’ll have prototypes ready for the end of July.

Could you help us playtest? Please do! We have a Facebook group here. Also, please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We expect to actually launch over the summer.

Getting the end game right

In which we talk (quite a lot) about how the final level has changed and is still changing.

Hello everyone! If you’re one of our new followers then welcome to our newsletter — and if you’ve been here a while then welcome back! As before, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator.

That tricky end game…

It would seem that May is a month of changes. We’ve been doing a lot of playtesting…. seriously, a lot. Library Labyrinth has been to the Virtual Playtesting discord group for a few weeks in a row now, and each time it’s got better. There is nothing like a group of people who know games inside sitting round a table and saying “well, what you actually need is x”. Obviously we won’t agree with all the feedback, not least of all because the feedback doesn’t always agree with itself. Nonetheless, it is really useful.

The part which has changed most is the end game. The first iteration added a competitive element to the game, but that wasn’t quite right. After all, the spirit of Library Labyrinth is about working together, and it seemed strange to throw that out the window when the going got tough. The second iteration had the various horrors popping up in groups, so you needed to fight them all in one go. That seemed to vary too much in difficulty. The current version is one where the movement rules remain the same, but instead of taking books from the shelves, you are picking them from the library trolley…which, of course, you stocked earlier!

We’re also playing around with the objects you might find in the library. Perhaps potions, or a mirror (good for getting Dracula back into his book, I understand), or a musical instrument? We want to keep them, but as yet we’re not 100% sure how and where they’re going to fit in…

Here’s what the board looks like now!

Podcasts!

We’ve also been appearing on many podcasts! Mill and I (Jess) are both on the Who Why What podcast at some point in June, so watch out for that one.

In the meantime, I spoke to Board Again Games, so check out the You Tube video here!

And I’ve also been chatting to the Board Game Community Show here. This was great fun, and I recommend you all go and listen. This one was the most fun to do!

We’ll be at Games Expo!

We’re going to UK Games Expo! It’s in Birmingham from 30 July until 1 August. Mill will be there with prototypes of Library Labyrinth and possibly some free bookmarks to hand out (more about those in the next newsletter) so do give us a shout.

Next steps

Are you a librarian in the UK? Or do you run a bookshop? We are thinking about possibly doing promotional bookmarks, and so we’re looking at places (in the UK) to send them! If you have thoughts about this, please do email us at dissentgames@gmail.com

Could you help us playtest? Please do! We have a Facebook group here.

Also, please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We expect to actually launch over the summer.

Setting out the components

In which we show you what the game looks like, and share an online play-through.

Hello everyone! We have so much to share with you from the last month! As before, I’m Jess, part of the team and your narrator.

New artwork

We have been working really hard on the board and layout. Here’s what we think it might look like laid out on the table…

We also have an idea of what some of the cards might look like…

As you can see, we’re still very unsure about font size, boldness, and the size of the symbols….but we’re getting there.

Girls Drinking Wine

Earlier this week Ella and I had a date with Jacqueline and Visioness from Girls Drinking Wine And Playing Board Games. We played Library Labyrinth and streamed it live on Twitch. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed the game. Even Tabletop Simulator falling over towards the end couldn’t dent our fun! Unfortunately Twitch and WordPress are not very compatible, so you may need to actually click here to see the video.

Playtesters needed!

Could you help us playtest? Please do! We have a Facebook group here. We’ve recently been playtesting at an online Protospiel, and it was very, very useful.

Next steps

Are you a teacher? Or are you the parent of a teenager? We’re thinking about putting together a teacher’s pack for schools. If you have thoughts about this, please do email us at dissentgames@gmail.com

Also, please do remember to sign up on our pre-launch page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We expect to actually launch at the start of July.

International Women’s Day

In which we get ready for pre-launch and make some videos.

Hello everyone! Happy International Women’s Day 2021! We are barrelling along with the artwork for Library Labyrinth, and it is just so exciting! As before, I’m Jess, one fifth of the team and your narrator.

New artwork

We have lots of exciting things to show you! Firstly, here’s Enheduanna, who is the oldest historical character in Library Labyrinth, as she lived in about 2300 BCE.

We also have a couple of horrors available: the portal and the basilisk. Look at these stunning tiles!

Finally, we’ve been refining our name (“title treatment”, use the correct term Jess) and have put some colourful books behind it. We’ll still have the all gold version, but that will be used for those places where the title needs to be so small that the books and text would get lost. The colourful one is what is going to be on the box. However, because we’ll be using in different places, we may need to scale the gold tint on the text up and down. And why have we been looking at different levels of gold, you might ask? Well, it’s because (drumroll, please) we have a pre-launch page on Kickstarter!

A pre-launch page is where people can sign up to be notified when the campaign goes live. Ours is the snappy url https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dissentgames/library-labyrinth. Please share as far and wide as you can! We expect to actually launch at the start of July.

Here’s the artwork on the front of the Kickstarter pre-launch page.

Videos….coming very soon….

The other thing we’ve mainly been doing is shooting videos. Oh yes. This is hugely exciting! Video is a big way that people interact with, you know, stuff, and so it’s important that we have something out there. We’re recording three short videos about the game, and stitching them seemlessly together as Book I, Book II, and Book III. Let’s start at the end and go backward through them….

Book III will be a fairly standard video introducing some of the team. It’ll be about four or five minutes long, and will cover why we’re making the game and how the idea came about. Book II is a quick run through of the components, some of the artwork, and the basic mechanics. And Book I – well, that’s the fun bit! Book I is going to be a zoom call with some of the characters. Oh yes, we’re going to dress up. It turns out that Mill has a proper centurion helmet just lying about.

Playtesters needed!

Could you help us playtest? Please do! We have a Facebook group here, and we are trying to move to public playtesting about once a week.

Next steps

Once we have these videos made, we’ll be sharing them on social media. Please do watch out for them, and try to get as many people as possible to sign up for this newsletter or to follow us. And to click on the Kickstarter pre-launch page, of course!