My Alice Game

“ONCE upon a time, there was a little girl called Alice: and she had a very curious dream. Would you like to hear what it was that she dreamed about?”

~ from The Nursery Alice by Lewis Carroll

How is this Alice game different?

“Our goal is to present to the world an Alice game that stays true to the original work of Lewis Carroll. ” ~ Rob Stone, designer Alice:Adventures in Wonderland

It was important to us not to add anything to the story; to remain faithful to the original work so that fans as well as educators would find in this game, a pathway to experiencing the characters, places and events in Wonderland in a way we call going beyond the book. It doesn’t replace the book or add to it, rather it transports the story into the three-dimensional space of a tabletop board game.

Through the game, players experience the characters, places, events, objects and quotations from the book. As the player you are immersed in the world of Wonderland and it is our hope that you come away from each and every game session with a deeper connection to the story.

The Pack of Cards

“You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”  Alice

In the game there are 8 Player Characters that form the Player Character Deck. Each turn 2 random characters are discarded and then the players secretly choose the Player Character they will play in the current turn.

Each Player Character has 2 unique abilities. The first ability may be used on any turn, however the second ability may only be used in Chapters that the Player Character appears in the book.

Prototype Player Character Cards

“Please come back and finish your story!” – Alice

Secondly, we have the Story Decks which are composed of: Characters, Quotations, and Objects from the book. There are Story Decks for all 12 chapters of the book. Each card may be played for its cost in the Chapter it appears in. Character and Object cards have a Story Point value that adds to a Player’s score. Quotation cards are used to complete a Chapter, which is accomplished by playing 3 cards in the appropriate Chapter, but have no Story Point value. Completed Chapters double the points scored while incomplete Chapters score only the card’s combined Story Point value.

Prototype cards from a Story Deck

The Tarts

“What are tarts made of?” – King of Hearts

You may have noticed that I mentioned the cost of playing a card. In Alice: Adventures in Wonderland the currency we use is Tarts. One of the actions a player may take on their turn is taking Tarts. The Tarts are  used to play Story cards. Player’s must carefully balance the number of Tarts they have in their possession, because at the end of the game any Tarts they have will count against their final score. They lose 1 Story Point for every Tart they did not return to the tray.

The Storyboard

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” – Alice

The game board we use in the game is called the StoryboardAlice travels along a pathway from one chapter to the next, spending only a few turns in most chapters. When Alice moves into a new chapter, cards that players may have in their hands from a previous chapter may no longer be played.

Along the perimeter of the Storyboard is a Story Point Tracker. At the end of each Chapter, players score the cards they played (doubled if they played 3 cards) and all cards from the Chapter (in their hands, played in front of them, or remaining in the chapter’s Story Deck) are removed from the game. There is also a Tart Tracker that represents the current number of Tarts each player has in their possession.

The actual Storyboard you will find in your game box will be a full-color map of Wonderland. For playtesting I created a flow-chart style game board so that we could: 1) determine the timing from one chapter to the next, 2) show the locations Alice visits during the game, and 3) show the events that happen which change the rules of what actions a player may do on their turn.

One of the early prototypes of the Storyboard.

The latest prototype of the Storyboard.

Alice

“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” – Alice

In the game, Alice is not a Player Character. She is not even a character in the Story Deck. In the game she is represented by a token that moves along a pathway through each chapter. She is a basically a timer. When the Alice token reaches the final space, labeled Game’s End on our latest playtest Storyboard, the game is over.

The History of the Project and its Designer

“why, if a fish came to ME, and told me he was going a journey, I should say ‘With what porpoise?’ ” – Mock Turtle

After working with two different game publishing companies, I went on an extended hiatus from game publishing.

“I could tell you my adventures– beginning from this morning, but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” – Alice

For the past ten years I’ve been playing lots of games; the kind of games I want to publish. I spent a short time working in the distribution/fulfillment side of the game industry where I gained an understanding of how the products get from the warehouse to the game store. Then, almost three years ago, my wife and I opened a retail game store. This gave me the opportunity to better understand what gamers bought and what they liked to play. I wanted to encourage local game designers to use the playing space in our store to play test their games, so we created what we call Game Lab. During these Game Lab sessions I had the opportunity to test some of my own game ideas and during this time period I focused on a few of my favorite projects, including Alice. Game Lab has become a great a resource for not only myself but other local designers too, some of which have gone on to publish games they first tested in our store. From my time in fulfillment/distribution and retail,  I gained valuable knowledge that can only be learned through experience. Ask any game designer who has worked in a game store and they will tell you that it’s a great way to learn about your target audience, their likes, dislikes, and what kind of games are trending.

I didn’t stop with the business education. I immersed myself in the story behind the game. In this case, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I read the book over and over again. Printed a copy, spiral-bound it, and created my own annotated copy with notes and observations about the characters and places that I would later use in the game’s design. I reached out to the Lewis Carroll Society and told them about my project. I asked lots of questions and have made new friends in the process.

I went beyond the book and watched every film adaptation of the book to gain a better understanding of how filmmakers took the story and transformed it into a motion picture. Creating a game based on a book is not unlike adapting it for film. There is a myriad of technical aspects of a film that have nothing to do with the story, but without them the story would not be told so brilliantly. The technical side of game design is the game’s mechanics, or how it plays. Just like a filmmaker shoots a scene in a movie, a game designer captures elements of the book in the gameplay. The difference in a game is YOU, the player, are the actors in the game.

Since I was designing an Alice game and I knew there were many that came before this one, I researched every previous game that had been published based on the book. I became somewhat of an accidental Alice game scholar in the process. I blogged about my research, and it was through my blog that I was contacted by someone who was selling The Game of Alice in Wonderland (1882 Selchow & Righter), the first game ever published on my subject. I purchased it and an 1895 edition of Wonderland by Parker Brothers. I like to bring these two games with me to conventions to share with other Alice collectors and fans. So if you see me at a con, by all means ask me if I have them with me and I will be happy to show them to you.

I am telling you all of this so that you know the amount of effort that has gone into the game that I sincerely hope you will support and become very fond of.

About the Artist and Where We Are in the Process

“and what is the use of a book, without pictures or conversation?” – Alice

All of the art for the game is being created by the incomparable Andy Hopp. If you haven’t heard of Andy, do yourself a favor and check him out by clicking here. He has a massive portfolio of work that includes games and even a children’s book. His style is unique and he was exactly the artist I was seeking when we first discussed this project 10 years ago. We kept in touch over the years and have become great friends. I think you will enjoy his interpretation of Alice and the other characters of Wonderland. In fact, our hope is to produce a follow-up game, Alice: Through the Looking Glass as well as a special edition of the book, illustrated by Andy.

Our game prototype is complete. We will continue play testing until the game is ready to be sent to the printer so that we are certain that we have done everything possible to present to you the best Alice game we could have made.

The art is being created, in fact many of the characters are complete and ready to be transformed into cards.  All we need now is the support of amazing people like yourself. Without you, we simply could not do this. We need you. As an American, it was important to me to support American jobs. Because of this, Alice: Adventures in Wonderland will be manufactured in the U.S. It is more expensive than manufacturing in places like China or India but I hope you will understand my decision and support this great project.

We were unsuccessful in funding the game through our Kickstarter campaign, however we continue to work toward publishing the game and are considering several options including re-launching the Kickstarter campaign.

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