GenCon 2016


Thanks for a Fantastic Gen Con

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GEN CON. WAS. AMAZING. Thanks very much to the fantastic attendees as well as the wonderful work of the planners and organizers of the event! We wanted to share a brief write-up of our favorite experiences and some of our main takeaways from the event.


Connecting with the tabletop gaming community

Obviously, our favorite part of Gen Con was the opportunity we had to connect with the amazing people in the broader gaming community. It was so great to see people outside of our local community in Kansas City be as excited about Diabolical! as we are. We got the opportunity to talk to thousands of people over the course of the four day event, and it was astounding the degree of kindness and enthusiasm we saw among the attendees we spoke with. It was so much fun y’all. Thanks for that.


Gaining insight on what it means to be an indie game company

Gen Con represented for us a pretty significant shift towards making this game a reality. When we started work on this project, we were just a couple of passionate hobbyists wanting to contribute to an area which adds a lot of joy to our lives. While we’re still fundamentally those same passionate hobbyists, this event caused us to open our eyes to some of the realities of what it means to work in this industry. Having an opportunity to learn from folks in the industry – including other designers, shop owners, publishers, manufacturers, and bloggers – was inspiring and will surely prove invaluable as we continue our journey.


Meeting other fantastic exhibitors

Along these same lines, we made great connections with other exhibitors at the event. I left the event with a wallet stuffed to the brim with business cards of interesting folks. While we didn’t have as much time as we would’ve liked to walk the convention center floor, it was so cool to see all the neat things that everyone is working on, including gaming goliaths like Asmodee and Paizo, as well as small-timers like us. Some of the smaller companies that stood out were the fine folks over at Heroic Games, Devious Devices, and God Hates Games (NSFW-ish). You should check them out! 🙂


Gaining valuable feedback from playtesters

At Gen Con, we had the opportunity to participate in the First Exposure Playtesting Hall. It was an incredible experience getting to watch people check out the game first hand and to see how they reacted to it. We’ve been testing the game for quite some time now, but the opportunity to test with the Gen Con attendees proved particularly insightful. Generally, people reacted very positively to the game. One group even said that Diabolical! was one of the best games they’ve ever tested, and they’ve been testing games at Gen Con for several years! Playtesting overall definitely confirms that we’re on the right track (although there’s definitely some issues to be resolved yet).


What’s next?

You’ve probably noticed that this post is coming a week or so later than many of the other Gen Con write-ups out there. That’s because we’ve decided to take a brief break from the game to focus on our lives and to recharge a bit. For the two of us, working on Diabolical! is a wonderful and exciting experience, but it’s also in addition to our daily lives and full-time jobs (boo, adulthood!).
That said, we walked away from the event with so much inspiration that it’s been hard not to dig up our designs and keep working on them! We have a million ideas on where to go from here and it’ll take us some time to synthesize those and narrow them down into concrete next steps. Soon, we’ll be looking to send copies of the game out to testers to play with their friends and let us hear about their experiences, so be on the lookout for that!


Thanks again to everybody who stopped by our booth to chat with us, who signed up for our email list, and to those who tested our game. We really enjoyed our time at Gen Con and look forward to seeing you at another convention near you!


Exhibit hall on the day before Gen Con

Exhibit hall on the day before Gen Con

Giant Pikachu being set up over Pokemon booth

Giant Pikachu being set up over Pokemon booth

Our booth after being set up

Our booth after being set up

Our set up at the League of Xtraordinary Programmers

Our set up at the League of Xtraordinary Programmers

The massive group of people waiting to get in on Saturday

The massive group of people waiting to get in on Saturday

GenCon 3 header

The Road to Gen Con, part 3

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Well, Gen Con is only two weeks away, and it’s really coming down to crunch time. Right now we’re working on tying up all the loose ends needed to make sure we have everything in place in time for the convention. Remember to come say hi at booth 3040 under the name Idea Wall Games!


Our first high-quality prototypes have arrived from The Game Crafter! We couldn’t be happier. The print quality is great and being able to see how all the components come together is a really satisfying feeling. Here is a picture of the box. If you want to see all the individual bits-and-bobs, be sure to watch our gameplay video coming out early next month!

Box Front
Box Back

First Exposure Playtest Hall

Have you been dying to play Diabolical! in person? Well, now you can! We’re excited to announce that we’ll be participating in the First Exposure Playtest Hall organized by Double Exposure, Inc. Come participate in the event to get a chance to see Diabolical! in action. We’ll be testing our game on Friday from noon—2pm, and on Saturday from 10am—noon, 2pm‚—4pm, and 6pm—8pm.

League of Xtraordinary Programmers

No new developments here per se, just wanted to remind you that we’re excited to be an on-site sponsor of the event and we’ll be demoing Diabolical! there as well. If you miss us at the First Exposure Playtesting Hall, be sure to check us out at the League of Xtraordinary Programmers, Friday, August 5 from 7—9pm. Early bird tickets are only 12 buckeroos if you register by July 31st. With that, you’ll get to enjoy some hors d’oeuvres (I can never spell that word) as well as craft beers and cocktails, AND you’ll get to check out various games, including the illustrious iOS game King Rabbit, made by RareSloth!

Printed Items

With just two weeks before the convention, anything custom we want has to go out the door for printing this week. We’ve ordered all kinds of fun stuff, including banners, art prints of each of the villains, as well as some beautiful large canvas prints to have available as giveaways. Remember, booth 3040. Below is a sneak peak at a couple of our handouts.

Captain Villainy handout
Cthu-Loo-Loo handout
Gorlok handout


Recording for the gameplay video is underway! We brought in some volunteers to help us play the game on camera and now we’re moving into editing and motion graphics. Below are a couple behind-the-scenes photos of some of our recording time.

Video Recording 2

Wrapping Up

Well, we’ve covered a lot over the last couple weeks as we continue trucking along to get ready for the convention. This has been one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life so far and we’re not even there yet!

The Road to Gen Con, part 2

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It’s just a little over a month before the curtains raise on Gen Con 2016, and even with that much time to prepare we can definitely feel our deadlines looming. Here’s what we’ve been up to over the last two weeks!

League of Xtraordinary Programmers

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be an onsite featured sponsor for the upcoming League of Xtraordinary Programmers (LXP) event hosted by Techpoint! This annual event is organized alongside Gen Con for attendees to extend their Gen Con experience and get a chance to see what’s going on in Indianapolis’ tech scene, play yet-to-be-released games (like ours), and rub elbows with other tech enthusiasts.

We’ll have a table set up with Diabolical! running so you can get an opportunity to try out the game if you missed us at the convention. If you’re a tech-type person planning to attend Gen Con, stop by the LXP and say hi! Tickets are $12 and come with two drink tickets as well as light hors d’oeuvres. No promises, but I heard rumors they would have those little quiche things there. Show up early before I eat them all.


At Gen Con this year, we will have several high-quality prototypes for attendees to look at, interact with, and hopefully try themselves! We’ve been hard at work tying up some loose ends in our gameplay and with our artwork to get the prototypes ready to roll. We just sent our first one to print last Friday and will be ordering more a little bit later this month. James has been hard at work nailing down our card layouts and they look great!

A Minion card. This one is the Orakill.

A Minion card. This one is the Orakill.

The backs of our Minion cards.

The backs of our Minion cards.

A Scheme card.

A Scheme card.

I think James has done a really great job visually capturing the essence of the feel of the game. The bright colors really pop and make it feel like the chaotic, lighthearted rampage we’re going for!

We’re really excited to see how these prototypes turn out.


We’re continuing to test, refine, and polish our gameplay for the prototype to ensure players are having the best time possible. We’ve really ramped up our iterations on the game and think that things are really moving in the right direction. We’re getting very positive feedback from our play testers which is really great to see! It’s amazing to see how far it’s come from the broken, unplayable mess I forced friends to endure in my first play test almost two years ago.


We’re moving forward with the video and filming will start July 7th. So far, we’ve created storyboards and reviewed them with our videographer, the illustrious Maria Brenny. From there, we will be starting to script out some portions of the video (namely introductions and such). Don’t worry, none of the gameplay will be scripted. 🙂


In preparation for our trip to Gen Con, we’ve been working to transition our site from a super-cheap shared server to a big hoss server that will make it perform much better under pressure. The transition just completed last week. This will mean faster loading time, less down time, and just general all around reliability. All of these things are good things.

Whelp, that’s about it for now. We’re continuing to push forward but there’s still so much to do. Next, we’ll be working on t-shirts, swag, banners, signage, and all kinds of other stuff to get ready for the convention. We hope to see you there!

Check in next week for our next installment of The Road to Gen Con.


The Road to Gen Con, part 1

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We’re on our way to prepping for this year’s Gen Con, and it’s safe to say it’s a lot of work for just two people. Being a small operation definitely has its advantages, but prepping for a large event definitely isn’t one of them :).

Booth number!

We have received our booth number from the folks over at Gen Con. Come by and see us at booth 3040 (highlighted on the map below)! Be aware that we’re listed as Idea Wall Games, which is our game design business working to create Diabolical!

We're booth 3040!

Click the image to see Gen Con’s full, interactive booth map. Remember, we’re listed as Idea Wall Games.

Great googly-moogly that’s a huge (and full) convention center!

Game updates

After returning from a trip in May, I decided to take stock in where the game was at currently versus where I wanted it to be. The time away really helped clear my mind and I was able to reconsider some of the issues that the game was facing in a new light. What the game was missing was a solid narrative structure to help tie the whole experience together. We also found that players didn’t really “feel” like villains trying to take over the world (which, it turns out, is an issue when the theme is “villains trying to take over the world”). Ultimately, it felt more like a game of Civilization than the lighthearted rampage we wanted it to be.

After considering these issues, I decided to start trying to address them by writing a brief synopsis of the “story” I wanted players to experience while playing this game. This exercise really helped me to frame the game around the aesthetics of play (the intended experience of the players), rather than the mechanics of the game. Here is a great video on mechanics vs. aesthetics in game design if you’ve got 10 minutes to spare. With the gameplay narrative in-hand, I set about restructuring the elements of the game to allow that story to come through. This is one of several transformations the game has gone through as we’ve worked on it, but changing it significantly at this point was a bit of a gamble as Gen Con is fast-approaching and we don’t have a ton of time to throw at revamping the game if we’re going to have nice prototypes to show off at the convention.

Since the restructure, players have been much more engaged and excited about the game which is great to see. One tester even went so far as to call the game a “masterpiece!” It’s really exciting to have players so enthusiastic about this newer version of the game, and now that this core structure is in place, mechanical and balance adjustments are far easier to test. It’s a win, win!

We’re really stoked that we get to share this new and improved Diabolical! with you at Gen Con.

Art updates

James has been kicking butt on pushing through the mountain of artwork we need for the game in time for the convention. He’s worked through a bunch of different minions, including evil sock puppets, robo-sharks, and our old friend hypno-cat! Here’s a few examples of his in-progress work below:


In addition to the minion art, he’s also working on art for our evil scheme cards. After that, we’ll move on to card layouts, box art, tokens, and all the other stuff that’s easy to lose track of when working on game assets.

Other updates

We’ve been hearing for awhile that people really want to see the gameplay of Diabolical! We do play testing each Thursday at TableTop Game and Hobby in Overland Park, KS which we’d love for you to stop by and join us to experience first hand. However, we do understand that schedules and location don’t always allow for folks to be there in person, so we’ve begun planning for a gameplay video which we plan to have up and available while we’re at Gen Con. This will give interested folks an opportunity to see the game when they otherwise couldn’t, which we see as huge!

Finally, if you are on the fence about wether or not to attend Gen Con this year, they have a great deal going on until tomorrow, June 19 to get $30 off your 4-day pass. Get your ticket here.

See you next week for our next update!


See You at Gen Con!

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Hello friends of Diabolical! We are extremely excited to announce that we will be exhibiting at this year’s Gen Con in Indianapolis, Indiana!

Stop by our booth at “The Best Four Days in Gaming” from August 4th–7th to meet us, buy some fantastic art, enter to win cool prizes, and to see (and possibly play) Diabolical! in person. We will have special promotional materials available only at Gen Con, so be sure to come by the booth and say hi! We will update here when we are informed of our booth number.

As part of this process, we will also be starting a blog series called The Road to Gen Con where we’ll talk about the things we’re working on to get ready for the conference.

We are honored to have been selected to exhibit at this convention, and we look forward to meeting you!

See you then!