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StanJr's Blog - So I'm making a Board Game...(A History)


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25 years ago, as will come a shock to all, I was a very geeky, very lonely teen. I had a few friends of a similar ilk. Unlikely, I know. One of those friends, we'll call him Bill, was really good at painting miniatures, like Warhammer and so forth. He had a wide variety of minis that he hand painted, but the vast majority were fantasy themed. Bill played AD&D and had lots of affiliated paraphernalia. When he would finish with a big batch of minis he and I would play games with them or set them up in cool (for nerds) scenarios and scenes. One day Bill got the HeroQuest board game. It came with lots of miniatures. Bill was thrilled and painted them all up. We maybe played the actual HeroQuest game maybe twice, but we both thought the accompanying minis were super great.
When he was done painting them all, Bill entrusted me with the HeroQuest game and all the finished minis to play with at home. No one really knows where the instructions for the HeroQuest game were, but that didn't matter. Over the course of more lonely weekends (and weeknights) than I care to recall, I slowly built my own dungeon crawling game using the minis and other materials from the HeroQuest set. I added in things like square gum erasers for stone blocks, cassette tape cases to make staircases and platforms, and other minis and accessories that Bill had loaned me. I wrote up character profiles for the minis with different abilities and skill sets. I created consumable items from the tokens in the HeroQuest game. And over time I built a pretty huge dungeon crawling "board" game for myself to play, solitaire, instead of doing something idiotic like trying to date.

All of this took place during the proliferation of the home computer, so you better believe I typed up and printed out (on a daisy wheel printer) all the character specs and rules for my game so that I could remember how to play it every time I rolled it back out. I also shared this game with Bill, so when he would take the game, he could use my rules to play it himself, adding in new minis and such each time. We traded the game back and forth, playing it for hours on end. It was really cool. Nerdy and sad, but cool.

Then I graduated high school and left for college. At the time of my leaving, Bill had the game. I was off to seek greater fortunes, so I honestly forgot all about it. Bill and I went our separate ways.

Fast forward to the Facebook era. Everybody is reconnecting with old school chums on this curious new website called Facebook. If you belonged to a school you could use this new site to connect to other people who also went to that school (yes, kids, that how it all started. Grandma wasn't always liking your pot brownies status and asking what the eggplant emoji means). It was through this that I reconnected with Bill. And as we were catching up, Bill mentioned that somewhere in all of his stuff in storage he still had the rules for "that game you made" back in high school. I vaguely remembered it and thought it was kind of cool that he still had that stuff. To be fair I still had his copy of Final Fantasy and Adventures of Dino-Riki that he gave me when I left for college, so it wasn't super weird or anything. He said that the next time he was at his storage locker, he would look for them.

Years pass and life goes on. Then one day last year, Bill shouts out to me that he has finally laid hands on the rules for the game. "Next time I'm up your way, I'll drop them off at your house." Months pass, life goes on. Then one day, Bill has reason to be in town and sure enough he drops the rules, and some gum erasers off at my house. "These were all I could find, but I'll keep digging." I put the stuff away in storage of my own because it was old stuff and I had other things going on.

A couple of months ago, I had some free time so I dug out those old rules just to take a trip down memory lane. I was shocked at how complete those rules were. Everything was there from the character profiles, to rules for rolling the dice and combat, to spell and item lists. The stuff I committed to paper all those years ago was surprisingly detailed. The more I poured over them, the more impressed I was with the work I had done when I was a kid. Bill had said I should take the rules and see if I could bring the game back to life. He would even supply some new minis.(He had been dabbling back with his old hobby) I had somewhat dismissed this, thinking the rules (and my ever failing memory) would be too vague and ramshackle to actually be of any use. But looking over them I realized that I was pretty wrong. If I could just put together a few of the necessary materials I could almost recreate and play the game right there.

And that is exactly what I meant to do.

However. A complete HeroQuest board game will run you $250+ these days. I threw out cassette tape cases 15 years ago. And Bill hadn't been back to his storage locker to look for any of his old minis or materials. So that just wasn't going to work.

BUT. The more I sat and read those rules, the more I felt that I really could use them as a framework for an incredible dungeon crawling board game. Tabletop gaming is enjoying a renaissance right now. My wife and I really love playing new board games and, don't laugh, board game tech has made leaps and bounds since Pay Day and Trouble (you still can't beat that pop-a-matic bubble, though)

So why the hell not? I realize I've false started on things in the past. That Yars' Revenge comic died on the vine and my Electric Frankfurter blog (which you really should be reading) has been an on again/off again thing for me. But right now, dagnabbit, I'm strongly motivated to give this an honest go. I've got friends that are willing to help me develop it. Bill is all-in, and even has a friend with a replicator, so once we get going we can design and print our own miniatures. If it makes it through the development stage, we may even start a crowd-funding whatzit to get a prototype made and see if we can take it to market. If not, then the worst that happens is I got to relive a little bit of my childhood and bask in some strong nostalgia for a few months.

I've decided to write about it here so I can keep track of things and keep a development journal as I go along. Right now it has the thrilling working title "BOARD GAME." So when I refer to it by name, you'll know. Next time around I'll share some broad overviews about the concept and what I'm shooting for. If any of this sounds cool to you, I'd love to hear it. Encouragement and interest are always strong motivators. Also, while I'm going to intentionally avoid details about game specifics and mechanics, if there are any ideas or suggestions, I'm always open to them.

If you've read this far, thank you for taking a look and enjoy the ride as we see where this goes...


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