Calvin Keeney Planning out his board game prototype called Memaws Monsters. The image shows Calvin in a Grey shirt writing on a notebook with a pen and thinking intensely

MMTD Ch. 01: What Inspired Me to Make Another Version of Memaw’s Monsters?

Drew and I were visiting Michael John not too long ago for what we call a “3 brothders” weekend (we call ourselves the “brothders” because it’s how one of us mispronounced the word “brother” as a child). My two brothers and I are very close and all grew up playing games together. This particular trip we were playing Clank!, a really fun deck building game. While we were playing Clank!, we got to talking about other deck building games.

Michael John and his friend are debating making a digital deck building card game. This naturally led to me and Drew reminiscing of the first card game I ever created a prototype of. “Memaw’s Monsters was really fun! I liked it.” Drew said as we thought about the fun times we had playing my first 2 player tower defense deck building game years ago.

The History of My Memaw’s Monsters Prototypes

It had been about 8 or 9 years since I started working on that original version of Memaw’s Monsters. I worked on it for about 1 year and then scrapped the idea but kept the theme. The game is based on the stories my grandma (Memaw) would tell us as children. The idea is that Memaw told us these stories of us and Monsters right before bed time. And then as we fell to sleep, we relived those stories in our dreams.

The original version was very fun but lacked something. I couldn’t ever figure out what exactly it was missing, but I tried many ways to fix it. On the last attempt to fix the game, I broke it. The last updates I made to the game made it unplayable and unfun for both Drew and I (the main people that playtested the game). So naturally I moved on to a new idea.

Other Board Game Ideas I Tried Designing After the First Version of Memaw’s Monsters

I later tried out many different board game ideas with the Memaw’s Monsters theme:

I created games from other universes in between the Memaw’s Monsters prototypes to help clear my head when I felt stuck. Both the original 2 player card game and one of the versions of the cooperative game were really close to being fun enough to pursue publishing. And there were also 2 kids games I developed over the last 4 years that I would consider extremely close to being exciting enough to pursue publishing.

However close I felt to designing a publishable game, it wasn’t ever quite enough. I never was satisfied enough on any of my 9 prototypes to pursue further as the ideas faded into the universe. The #1 reason I stopped pursuing my game ideas was because I would try to fix “1 last thing” and end up breaking the game and giving up. I found that I loved making prototypes and had become much better and efficient at doing so over the years so I started Streamlined Gaming. With the intention to teach other game designers what I have learned and to help save them time and frustration with their own creative projects.

One thing I didn’t foresee was that creating SLG would cause me to go all in on creating content vs spending time on my own game designs.

What Inspired Me to Make Another Version of Memaw’s Monsters?

I was telling Melissa one day about my website, Streamlined Gaming. My coworker thought that was cool and asked me what it was I about. I told her it’s a website where I teach creative people how to make and sell their own board game. She thought that was cool and asked me to show her a game I’ve made myself.

Her question caught me off guard as I realized I hadn’t made a prototype in over 2 years since going all in on content creation for SLG. I told her about my original Memaw’s Monsters game explaining how I made a card game based on my grandma’s stories. She thought that was awesome and wanted to play! “Uhhh, actually I don’t know if I even have it with me. It probably got lost in one of the moves over the last 2 years.”

So then she asked about any other game I had to show her. “Hm, well I guess I don’t have any game to show you. All of my time has gone into creating my website and the content that I put on there.”

A Quick Change of Mindset Helped Me Refocus on Making a Game Again

I quickly realized that my love for board game design had been put on the back burner ever since publishing Streamlined Gaming back in November of 2016. My passion for both helping others and designing games were the reasons I had created SLG. I then realized that I had worked so hard on creating content to teach other designers efficient ways to make their game that I lost sight of the other half of my passion (Actually making the games!)

After thinking about how I felt hearing Melissa’s questions along with Drew’s 1 short sentence of inspiration, I decided that it was time to make another game. This game I jokingly called Memaw’s Monsters version eight thousand and seventy-one!

A Little Bit About My Latest Version of Memaw’s Monsters

The most recent version I have been working on is an asymmetrical 2 player tower defense card game. It might be considered a 2 player board game because I plan to have chits and damage counters with the game though it is primarily cards. I am a big fan of competitive card games so Memaw’s Monsters has a lot of influence from games like World of Warcraft the Trading Card Game, Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone, EPIC and more.

There is an offensive player and a defensive player.

What is the Offensive Players Objective?

The player that is on offense is in charge of sending Monsters towards the enemies main base. There are 3 lanes that the Monsters can be placed in as they destroy towers to get to the main building. 3 towers in each lane defend the monsters from reaching the “fort” of the defensive player.

How Does the Round End?

If the Monster player destroys the main fort, that ends the round. But if the main boss from the Monster deck is defeated, then that can also end the round.

The theme of the end of a round is that the players “wake up” from their dream or nightmare. This ends the round and players then switch sides and play again. The Monster player counts up their points from the towers they were able to destroy in the round. Then the Monster player goes on Defense in attempt to keep the opposing player from gaining that many points themselves.

I Feel Extremely Excited About this New Version of Memaw’s Monsters

It’s been a long time since pursuing a game heavily like this. I had forgotten how fun it is, especially early on in the prototyping process. I’m really glad that Melissa and Drew were able to help me remember my passion for board game design. Attempting to make another version of this tower defense card game based on my grandma’s stories is really fun and has me excited.

I know a lot of this joy will fade as I get into the design of the game. Afterall, the ups and downs while making a game are very real. Very fun but very real. Overall I think it will be a fun adventure and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Also, I have been updating the Streamlined Gaming Facebook page most often about my latest game design. So feel free to follow along there or on my personal Instagram account as well. My goal is to create blog posts too but they take a bit longer to do and may lag behind the process.

Thanks for reading and for everyone that has helped me with this wonderful creative process so far!

Related Reading:

Pitching Your Game to Playtesters
Printing Your Prototype at Home
Different Game Pieces to Use for Prototyping
Getting Mike’s Game Ready for Pax South

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