I think that an amazing way to challenge myself as a board game designer is by entering game design contests. They provide constraints, give inspiration, and allow for a fun distraction during the hectic times of being a publisher. When I saw that the Game Crafter announced their Hook Box Challenge, I was eager to jump into the contest and work on another side project.
The basic constraints of the Hook Box Challenge were that the game must include 18 cards or less and be in a Hook Box (a small folding cardstock box that holds 18 cards). I like designing small games like these because they are super easy to print, iterate, and develop due to their small size. The last time I tried my hand at this was for the Button Shy design contest in 2016 and I ended up having my game Mint Julep signed and published by them just a few months later.
For the Hook Box contest I started working on a game that I wanted to inspire my daughters. They both love ballet and this theme seems underrepresented in board games. So I set to it and developed a core set of rules and cards. I quickly found I had little time to devote to it and started collaborating early on with my friend Jeff (who just so happened to have worked with us on some of the graphic design work on Groves). He also has two daughters in dance and even enlisted them in making sure we were using appropriate terminology in the game. He and I bounced a lot of ideas off of each other and made what I think is a really neat little card game (that even has a solo mode designed by Jeff).
The entire project was a lot of fun and was a nice breath of fresh air stepping away from a Letiman Games project for a few weeks. Please consider checking out Center Stage, trying the Print and Play (free download available) and maybe consider voting for it in the Hook Box Challenge!
Now that the game is submitted into the contest, we are moving back into developing our next project in full force! We have started receiving a lot of art and we hope to announce the game very soon!
Until next time, I wish you many happy game nights!