"Hey, want to play this game we made up?"
“Well, Trip actually made it up. By the way I’m JR, and meet Trip.” I walked in to a table covered in playing cards, chess pieces, stacks of paper, and several piles of dice, in addition to many other board games (as well as the enigmatic legend of a man referred to solely as 'The Benba' playing flash games in the corner). The game was short, easy to learn, and we immediately broke its mechanics. Over some rounds of X-Wing following Shoudo (simply called ‘Trip’s game’ at the time), we discussed many things -- most importantly, “what if we changed this rule or that rule so that the game was less you know, for lack of a better word, frustrating to play?” And down the rabbit hole we went.
Not all the original design choices and minor mechanics from the first version are still present in the final design. I feel that the hardest changes to make early on were not the ones that required replacing facets of the game but rather editing some of the rules that had been there from the beginning. For example, changing the shape of the board -- as opposed to getting rid of the exponentially strengthening combat system so we could replace it with just about anything else. Since we had all put effort into the game during the middle stages, we all had personal attachments to the aspects of the game that we were responsible for.
But as the game improved, randomness shifted towards strategy, and the smaller improvements became clearer. We learned to not get attached to our individual ideas, but work as a team to strengthen each other's ideas. At some point, you have to rip the band-aid off, and six brainstorming nerds left alone to nothing but their own thoughts create a lot of band-aids -- probably enough to wax my entire left leg.
Over one year, hundreds of playtests, and many working titles later (Sigillo, the short-lived Italian fantasy setting, FTW), we now have Shoudo as we know it today. Most of the members of Houseplant games have known each other for years before I met them, and all these guys have very different personalities. During my time with Houseplant games, we had our share of differences and disagreements, but since I was lucky enough to get to work with a team that already had their differences worked out for years, the positives of our diverse personalities got to shine through. (And I’m pretty chill, or perhaps just non-confrontational, so I can get along with just about anyone willing to participate in rational discourse). This created a unique environment where a wide range of creative choices were made from a variety of methods that could not be present in group that did not start out so different at its core. Shoudo caused me to meet some great friends, and I was fortunate to get to experience the creation of this game alongside them.
Mata yoroshiku onegaishimasu,