Saturday, September 15, 2018

FLGS: The Card Game

"I really like your book, but what I missed was customer stories."
-- customer

I laughed and said it was a terrible idea. It would be my last act as a store owner, before they strung me up. In my book (currently 13, 5-star reviews on Amazon - go check it out), I was careful not to include the interesting cross section of humanity I call my customers. I love these people. They are my tribe, as much as they like to divide and question authenticity.

I don't actually know if they're any more insane than the rest of the general public. However, despite their unusual antics, they're far more predictable and rational than regular people. I've said it many times, if I had to sell things to mundanes, I would quit. I've got better things to do, for more money and less stress. Which brings us to the card game.

FLGS: The Card Game is all about quirky customers. It's basically a Guillotine knock off, since I lack creativity and skill in the arena of game design. If you're questioning whether it's legit to copy game mechanics, let me refer you to a little black box known as Cards Against Humanity. Each card in FLGS is a customer and each player is a store owner.

Your goal is to acquire high value customers, the alphas and the angels, while fobbing off the difficult customers, the vultures and parasites to your store owner opponent. These are categories I wrote about eight years ago in a blog post called Law of the Jungle, and they work very well for a game (stereotypes are like that). As the customer comes up to the counter, you can be your smooth self and retain them or use action cards and such to fire them and and send them on their way to your competitor. My real-world competitor actually collects these people, providing an important service to the gamer ecosystem.

The point of this game is the cards are amusing. That's it really. The game mechanics are pretty standard fare. If you find the idea offensive, first you have no sense of humor, and second, this game is not for you. I've got 14 years of anecdotes and customer stories I can't share publicly. But I'll happily put it in a game. This may only appeal to other store owners and my readers, so who knows if anyone cares, especially in an age when people take themselves far too seriously (gotta maintain subculture authenticity).

I've got to be careful to file the serial numbers off. I know from experience people will think I'm talking about them, so when possible I'm creating a composite. Your crazy behavior is probably not unique to you. My fading memory is actually a help here. For example, my energy drink swilling and candy binging Doctor Goodbar card is a composite of my next door neighbor dentist who buys Red Bulls (diet) and the dental staff who binge on candy bars.

My plan is to make maybe 25% more cards than needed in the prototype and let an editor weed out stuff only I find amusing. If it's all funny, who knows, maybe we can be idiots and launch the expansion at the same time as the base game. Did I mention I can pillory the rest of the game trade with the action cards?

Although the vast majority of my customers are white males, a trend that is changing rapidly, I'm trying to be as gender neutral and inclusive of people of color as possible, without falling into stereotypes, of course. Writing the book, the proof readers pointed out quite a bit of Ferengi-level sexist crap I had acquired over the years in the trade to describe various business practices, and the book was better for removing it.

I've posted some card concepts on my Facebook author page. I've got one mildly interested publisher (not my book publisher) and I've thought about using Kickstarter. The pitfalls of a first time game designer are many, even if it's a bunch of cards, so I would rather not do this on my own. If you're an interested game publisher, let me know. For now, I'll be working up (really writing up, since mechanics are established) a prototype.

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