A dream of a game – Oklahoma Boomers
I remember dreaming about playing Oklahoma Boomers. Well, to be completely honest, I do not remember dreaming about it at all. But I do remember that I woke up and found this note that I had scribbled down in the dark. Hardly comprehensible, because my handwriting is not very good and gets even worse when I can’t see what I write. Somehow I was able to make out it what it said though.
But the real surprise was, that it seemed to be an interesting game idea. Most of the times the games that I play in my dreams are good, really good. The cold light of dawn however exposeses them for what they really are. Plain dumb boring games. Or completely incomprehensible games.
This time it was different however. This time the game I dreamed about could actually work. And so I started fleshing it out.
The game board (a checkers board) was filled with rocks. One on each field.
On their turn, players could place a tower on one of the rocks. The towers could not be moved once placed (of course they could not, they were towers). They could attack each other however, using the diagonals. If you attacked, you had to remove all rocks at the points where their diagonals intersected. More or less the opposite of what happens now, when you place cornerstones at the spots that can be reached by both Boomers.
Removing rocks diminished the power of the towers, as they had no influence over the gaps. They were creating their own islands as it were. At the end of the game, you would score points for each rock still attached to your tower.
This game worked and was interesting. But not satisfying enough in the end.
After five versions I turned it into the opposite game. An empty game board, where you could place stones, rather then remove them.
In subsequent versions the towers turned into magicians and back to towers (enchanted towers this time). I also changed some minor rules. The breakthrough came in version 9 of the prototype, when I made it possible to move a tower. Now the game was getting really interesting.
My youngest brother, who happened to visit us somewhere around that time agreed with me. It was a beautiful day and we were sitting under the maple tree in my garden, sipping from our drinks, playing “towers” (which was still the working title).
The first game lasted only 10 minutes. My brother was utterly defeated. But as we played game after game, he learned from his mistakes and pretty soon he was a good match. Playing time rose steadily each game – until a game would take 25 to 30 minutes. Each one of us contemplated his moves with greater and greater care and the games got more exciting until they became cut-throat. We had a marvelous afternoon!
Inspired by this succes, I added illustrations to the next version of the game rules. Then I verntured out into the world, enslaving innocent people to see what they would do if I only gave them the game and the game rules. Well, maybe it did not entirely go that way. Most people volunteered to test the game and the game rules.
The feedback was so positive, that I started thinking about how I could publish this game.I wanted to publish it in a different form than Wadi and Cities, because I felt this game did not fit into the same category. Whatever category that might be.
The second dream
Again I dreamed. This time it was about beautiful towers on a gleaming surface. When I woke, I knew what to do. And that is how TWRS was born. Because that is what I called my new baby. I wanted the playing pieces to be made from glass, blown by hand. The game board (and box) had to be hard steel. Very stylish. And also very expensive, it turned out. That was not really my aim, but I really liked the idea, so I went ahead with it anyway. Maybe not the most sensible thing I have ever done in my life.
In 2009 I presented TWRS at Spiel in Essen. The response to the game was very good. A lot of people enjoyed it. The price (around €500,-) was a bit too steep for most players though, so I did not sell a lot of games.
I realised that the market for ‘arty’ games is different from the market for board games. So I started using other channels to sell TWRS. A time consuming and costly adventure.
And then, a few years later, there was this new phenomenon: crowdfunding. I started following this development and thinking about what prototypes I could publish this way. But most of them were not finished enough or contained a difficult component. Difficult in the sense of how am I going to do this? Who can produce this for me?
And then I thought of TWRS again. And how many people had told me that if there was ever a cheaper version of it, they would want to have it.
I asked players on BGG for thoughts on a theme. Because I only wanted to do it with a fitting theme, no longer as a completely abstract game any more. They came up with some nice ideas, ranging from viruses and antibodies to ancient giants and menhirs. The one I liked best however, was about the pioneers in North America, marking their land. This theme really fitted the game mechanism.
I dug into the theme, read a lot of things on the Internet, asked some historical societies about it and in a few weeks time the idea of Oklahoma Boomers was born. I asked Hans Janssen for illustrations and started playing the game with the new background. I discovered that I still loved it. The search for a theme fuelled my imagination and I came up with two expansions, that would never have been there without the theme. The expansions added even more variation and I really started to enjoy the project.
In the meantime I had also started digging further into crowdfunding. I found out that participating in a crowdfunding project is very easy, but carrying out one is a whole other matter. I read about the mistakes that other game authors had made, especially regarding shipping and promotion. This is why I approached Spieleschmiede to assist me in my first crowdfunding project.
The third dream
Oklahoma Boomers was already illustrated, I knew where I could it get produced. Spieleschmiede set up a site and the game was on – so to speak.
Backers suggested ideas for extra expansions, something I had never thought would happen. Though not all of them work, there are some suggestions that do work. Hopefully I can turn them into an extra expansion of the game. That is my new dream.
My new dream is also about Oklahoma Boomers being 100% funded. Or maybe 200%, but I do not dare hope for that dream to be fulfilled too.
Would you like to share my dream? Help me by supporting my game or telling others about it.