Results for category "gamedesign"

16 Articles

All Aboard! A MAZE Train Jam 2019 to Playtopia, leaving Dec 1! Book/Apply Soon!

Very excited to announce the second A MAZE Train Jam to Playtopia!

Last year we had the first edition of this event, in which we took 30 devs and creatives who come from all over the world as well as from South Africa locally, from Joburg to Cape Town on the Shosholoza Meyl train, and made games during the 30 hours trip. It was a fantastic trip, full of life, energy, connections and just amazing people and inspiration all round.

I’m linking a couple of videos that captured much of the trip at the bottom of the post!

The 2019 Train Jam will depart from Park Station, Johannesburg on Dec 1 at noon, and will arrive in Cape Town the following day in the afternoon, usually with delays so anything from 4:30pm till late. Which just means more time to make your game 🙂


To get involved, you have two options:

  1. Sponsored tickets - this is available mostly to students and new creatives who need the financial support. Applications for sponsored seats are limited, and selection will be done as a committee between A MAZE and the Goethe-Institut. You can apply for a sponsored ticket here.
  2. Buy a ticket - a number of tickets are on sale, which guarantees you a spot in the train jam. This is for industry professionals who are keen to support and give back to the gamedev industry in SA. These tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis. You can buy a ticket here.


The Train Jam ticket includes:

  • a license to jam at #amazetrainjam
  • snacks, coffee and water
  • a unique t-shirt (art by me!)
  • taking part in the train jam hypertalks and exhibition
  • access to a selfpay half price (300ZAR instead of 600ZAR) festival ticket supported by Playtopia for Playtopia. Link and password to the 50% discount festival pass will be send after registration.


See you there?

For now, enjoy some video coverage of last year’s A MAZE Train Jam:




Released: Busara - The Enter Africa “megagame”

Last year, I joined Enter Africa, a project spanning 15 countries, led by the Goethe-Institut, and engaged in a “megagame workshop” in Ethiopia to create a board game with cooperation between 15 countries.

It was an eye-opening workshop in October 2018 that began the journey of creating a pan-African board game, which culminated in the presentation and release of the game Busara at two international events this year: A MAZE Berlin (April 2019), and Gamescom (August 2019).

My role in this project was a game design consult and primary graphic designer. Together with an amazing core team (Christoph Deeg, Bethlehem Anteneh, Dagmawi Bedilu, Stefanie Kastner, Dr Julia Sattler), we journeyed with participants from 15 countries throughout Africa to design Busara.

A cultural artifact

The game was created as a print-and-play, that means it is a free game that anyone can play. It is meant to be a cultural artifact, something accessible to as many as possible.

You can download the game for free here

The year-long endeavour to creating Busara has been an incredible experience. Having participants from 15 countries, juggling literally so many ideas, priorities and aspirations was a challenge. We are stupendously proud of what we were able to stew down into the eventual essence.

Busara is a game that takes inspiration from Africa, and a rare interpretation of Africa by Africans.

Busara is a conversation on identity, borders and borderlessness, competition and cooperation.

Busara is a cultural expression wrapped up in a game, whose birth journey is more important than the physical bits themselves.

I hope you enjoy the game! Again, you can download it for free here.

A GOOD Keyforge Multiplayer variant

I’m pretty into Keyforge right now. A short intro: Keyforge is a cool game by the creator of Magic The Gathering, Richard Garfield, published by Richard Garfield. It’s a dueling card game somewhat like Magic, with the twist of decks being procedurally generated and completely unique in themselves.

It was made as a two player game, but I discovered a variant on Reddit that made a really compelling multiplayer game. I wanted a way to share it easily, so here it is!

Key rules:

  • Default hand size is 5 cards. You’ll see why later.
  • Players select an opponent before starting their turn (including before selecting house or forging keys)
  • Whenever you are selected as an opponent, draw a card.

Additional tweaks:

  • Captured amber always goes to “current opponent” when the creature is removed. This enables looting and amber bouncing around is really fun and interactive, and creates interesting decisions.
  • Effects that affect the opponent are divided into two kinds, active effects are ones that you play. For example, playing Foggify means your current opponent can’t attack in their next turn, and activating Lash of Broken Dreams means your current opponent’s keys cost +3 on their next turn.
  • Passive effects that sit on your table affect whichever player picks you as their opponent. For example, Titan Mechanic will grant whoever picks you as opponent -1 key cost if they pick you as opponent.
  • Global effects like Gateway to Dis will only affect you and your current opponent.
  • Key cost is tweaked by number of players to make the game length reasonable. 3-4 players keys cost 5, 5+ cost 4. I guess I wouldn’t recommend more than 6 players. This does change the strengths of some cards that count amber, so if you really want, you can tweak those numbers by the same amount. But that’s getting too much into the weeds.

Good Game Design!

I really like the design of this variant, some key reasons:

Choosing an opponent each turn limits the scope of weirdness that can happen. Wipes not clearing everyone’s board, for example, prevents the game from entirely sinking into restart-every-turn which can really suck when you’re waiting for multiple players to take their turns.

Additionally, having a chosen opponent creates a funnel of decision making rather than making every decision across the entire board and optimising so much that it feels like cheating. If two players both have captured amber, for example, having to choose which player to pick as the turn’s target at rather than just grabbing them all in one go, makes for a much more interesting decision to be made.

And having the chosen opponent bulking their hand means that even out of turn, players remain engaged and interested in what’s going on. Also it gives someone picked on a possibility to come back in a big way.

This is possibly my preferred way of playing Keyforge now, it breathes so much new life into the game, and changes it from a softcore dueling game to an interesting group game similar to “traditional” boardgames. Has an almost Blood Rage feel to it.

Hope you enjoy it! And if you have any inputs to the variant rules, please shout! 🙂

Released: #DiskiSkills the One-On-One Football Card Game

A game with my game design was just released! It actually feels completely weird to not have anything to do with how a thing I contributed to looks, since I’m so used to playing the art and/or graphics design role. Simphiwe Xulu, in collaboration with the Johannesburg Goethe Institute, was making a card game that was themed around the local South African one-on-one “Freestyling” soccer culture (also called “Diski”), and also have an app component of showing videos  of how Diski moves looked through AR. They were having trouble with the game design (their first iterations were basically a version of Top Trumps, remember that from your playground days?), and so they consulted with me to improve on the game design, while keeping the same elements. We went through a process of interrogating what Diski was all about, and ended up with the current game design for #DiskilSkills, where two players take turns attacking with various Diski moves, and where skills were equal, the player with more swag (“style” in the local vernacular) would win the point. “thematic af” was the goal of the design, and I daresay we did pretty well with it. The game was launched on Oct 27 at the Goethe Institute at an event with actual Freestylers and kids showing off their real #DiskiSkills. I got to watch people play the game without me having to give any input - watching people read your rules and play the game without your help is a really awesome feeling! Further, watching people laughing as they kick each other’s ass, learning to get better at it, was fantastic. Thanks to the Goethe Institute Johannesburg, Simphiwe (Mr Media X) and everyone involved in bringing this to life!

Dubai: Selected as Cardboard Edison Award Finalist!

Last year in November, I made a game for a 24 hour game design contest on BGG, it was called Burjs, the word “burj” meaning “tower” in Arabic, like the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai.

The game was spawned off of a previous game I had made called Cartel, whose central concept revolved around these 2D cards forming 3D isometric buildings.

While Cartel was cool, and was featured at AMAZE, our Indie game festival in Johannesburg, it wasn’t focussed on its core premise. As such, I felt, it suffered from an identity crisis. I sought to address that with this new design, by focussing strictly on the aspect of building. Simplicity is best!

Many iterations later, it’s now called Dubai for simplicity, and I liked it so much I entered it into the first Cardboard Edison Award. I had to make an awkward game introduction video 🙂

And Dubai was selected as one of 10 finalists out of 100+ entries! 😀

Much to my delight and surprise! 🙂

Right now I’m doing some final tweaks and balances to the game rules and structure to ensure that it’s as good as it can get before sending the final prototype (oxymoron!) off to Cardboard Edison for final judging. As that’s done I’ll put the latest files on.

For now, you can read more about the game, its evolution, and find the latest Print & Play files here on BGG 🙂


A great big shoutout to everyone who’s helped playtest this little guy, and given feedback. Trust me you’ll all get credit when the game has some kind of credit page 🙂

So so happy and flattered and all sorts of good vibes! 😀