AMS Spring 2023

Winners Announced in the GAMESMASH 3D Printed Tabletop Game Challenge

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Last week, I wrote about participating in GAMESMASH – The Game Design and Fabrication Challenge, announced in July. Following the 48-hour game jam, the participating teams put the finishing touches on their innovative game designs in time for play testing and judging. It was a blast and I have to say I was very impressed by the games that were made during the competition. Mike Moceri, CEO of MakerOS, a sponsor of the contest, lent a hand as a judge. Also judging the event were Laurie Berenhaus, a digital fabrication educator and designer whose work we’ve featured, and Eric Zimmerman, game designer and professor at the NYU Game Center.

Seeing the games in the half-finished state was one thing, but the completed designs were impressive to behold. In all, there were 5 terrific tabletop games at the play testing event. All the games used some combination of 3D printing and laser cutting, and my team also added some CNC into the mix.

Turbo Terrain Fighter Team also used Fat Cat Fab Lab’s vinyl cutter to create cards for their game, Greener Pastures. Team members David Choi, Woody Poulard, Yun Yi, Jimmy Sakai and Sophia Georgiou made a game about sheep that want to leave their farm for greener pastures. At the start of the game each player has 3 sheep. They can place fences to block other players and use rocks to jump over fences. The objective of the game is to get to the center of the board where there are 3 catapults awaiting the errant sheep. The catapults were designed by Choi and 3D printed, they have 3D printed springs of varying strength… the first sheep must be flung off of the board with the lowest powered catapult and each player must use the other 2 catapults to fling their remaining sheep. Like some of his other designs, the spring system is pinned together with a length of raw filament.

Oliver Hong, Andrew Thomas and Douglas Patz of Team Doomsday Bunnies created A Grimm Task, a game depicting how the Brother’s Grimm collected their famous stories. In the game you play as a scholar traveling by horse to remote villages to gather tales, which are represented by colored cards. The first player to publish a collection of stories, 4 of the same colored cards, before their rival scholars, wins. Thomas is the Community Manager at Shapeways, and he announced at the event that all the participants would receive a $25 Shapeways credit.

Wrath of Heaven was a complicated board game created by Seth Bleeker, Daniel King, Amye Rubinschneider and Patrick Tsao of team Laserdog. The game is based on tales of ancient Chinese mythology, stories of animals attaining enough self-mastery to become humans and of humans growing in spiritual power to become gods. In the game you play as a minor god guiding your favored mortals on their quest for ascension. Players are represented by stylized animal characters, that were 3D printed and it also featured some beautifully illustrated animal cards.

My teammates, Nate Brauner and Greg Purnell, showed our game, Bedtime Frenzy! which featured a revolving clock-based board. Players race to collect the most chores before bedtime. The board was laser cut and the base was CNC plywood, designed by Purnell. Brainer put the finishing touches on the board and I think it turned out great. I designed the 3D printed player pieces and printed the chore tokens. When clock dice were rolled different board levels were turned (clock hands were attached to the levels) and players could be pushed along by the clock hands.

Zack Freedman’s Landfall Saga pits 2 players against each other, trying to guide their steel ball to the Crystal Throne or their rival into the Eternal Swamp. Each player randomly draws tiles, that they can use to build the course. It’s an intense game of strategy and combines elements of pachinko and maze building. The 3D printed tiles were very inventive and I really enjoyed playing this one.

Some really innovative and unique games came out of GAMESMASH. Alex Susse of MakerOS, and one of the game organizers, had this to say about the challenge:

“You won’t have to go far to find the biggest strengths of making fabrication easy and accessible, and it’s things like GAMESMASH that remind me of that. We gave these teams a few loose prompts and some materials and tools to work with, and they produced games in a weekend that I wouldn’t be surprised to see in a store. We’re all so proud of the work done here, and I can’t wait to see what the participants will make next.”

And now of the winners:

Wrath of Heaven won Best in Play and with it 6 months of membership to Fat Cat Fab Lab to be divided however the team sees fit, plus a 1.5 hr. consultation with Ethan Hartman, who has worked to produce (among others) the Kickstarter for The Depths of Durangrar. Best Mechanics went to Landfall Saga and with it a $300 gift card to Twenty Sided Store. Greener Pastures won Best Design which came with an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer as the prize.

Below are some additional images of the winners with their 3D printed prizes and videos of Bedtime Frenzy! and Landfall Saga.

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