Game Development: It’s All About World Building and Character Development

Panic Fire, a Craig Nybo game from 3 Headed Giant Games, a product line of Quirky Engine Entertainment.

Panic Fire, a Craig Nybo game from 3 Headed Giant Games, a product line of Quirky Engine Entertainment.

Over the past few years a few friends and I have been creating tabletop games (https://www.facebook.com/QuirkyEngine/). I love games. I have an enormous closet full of them. I have a philosophy when it comes to developing games. This philosophy is almost identical to the one I use when writing novels, screenplays, and short stories. It’s all about world building and character development.

My first game (initially released under the title SHOOT YOUR FRIENDS, soon to be retitled as, PANIC FIRE) began as a lark. Several years ago, I sought out to create the most stressful game possible. To do so, I decided to include a gun. I purchased the loudest cap gun I could find and devised a way to play a frantic game with an augmented deck of playing cards. The game was a huge success among friends and family.

Several years later when I, Larry Nybo, Mike Terrell, and Ben Fuller decided to form an honest to goodness game company (formerly known as Gangrene Games, now known as Quirky Engine Entertainment), we put Shoot Your Friends on the agenda.

We decided that an augmented playing card deck wouldn’t cut it. The game needed character. After a few creative meetings, we came up with a gaming world and a set of hilarious characters for Shoot Your Friends/Panic Fire. I recently saw someone using a league cheat – and they dashed through the game like four times faster than our team. Mike Terrell began drawing up ideas on what the characters would look like.

After some follow-on meetings and a few revisions, we came up with a perfect folio of characters for this game. Now, rather than throwing down an ace of spades, a five of clubs, or a six of hearts, as you play Shoot Your Friends/Panic Fire, you get to play cards like The Nun, The Alien, The Cowboy, and The Viking. Looking characters in the eye on their own terms brings an element of connection to the game.

Also, by moving away from the initial playing card version of the game, we were able to add new rules, balance card matches, and weight the game properly for maximum impact and enjoyment.

The final result: a game that has been universally loved with every demo. We have sold tons of Shoot Your Friends. Considerate players often pass along compliments on how much fun they have playing. I believe much of the reason for the game’s early success is found in its humanistic character and in the world players get to visit when rolling up to the table to play.

Bless you for reading, yours truly,

—craig nybo

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About The Author

Craig Nybo

Craig Nybo writes novels, screenplays, and short stories. He also composes and records music. Craig lives in Kaysville, Utah with his lovely wife and children.

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