Author Archives: davidpeterking

Making Bet.Bet

Bet.Bet is a game about betting on how many bets the other players will make. The better you are at guessing correctly whilst avoiding having people guess how many bets you’ve made the better you’re going to do.


All you need to play are the rules, a sheets to fill out for each player, and a pen or pencil to write with.


There was a couple of things going in on my mind when I conceived the initial idea for the game.

First: I had just given a lecture on game theory to the third year BA Games Design students were I work. A subject I like to dip in and out of for inspiration and pure curiosity.

There’s a lot of games which involve predicting how the other players are going to act, and trying to determine optimum strategies. Bet.Bet is really a continuation of that, I wonder if there is enough in the game to make it worthy of study within game theory.

Second: I have been exploring simple print and play games, especially ones that don’t require a lot of craft to get going (i.e. no need to print and cut out lots of cards), a few of which can be seen in the previous post about Winter and Christmas games.

This allowed me to think about the form of the game, and worry less about components and manufacturing.


The development of the game was relatively quick, it took a little time to mock up a sheet and think of suitable iconography but very little needed changing from the first version.

One of the main changes was the number of rounds, it started at a nice round 10 but during playtests this just seemed a touch too long, so was reduced to eight.

The other difficulty was the explanation of the rules, which required some circular logic and weird use of language as you’re betting on other players bets. I hope that the rules I created with examples of play clarify the concept well enough that it can be played without me present.

Next Steps

All that’s left to do is keep playtesting the game as much as possible, and try to get an idea of if it is a strong enough concept to consider pushing to market.

If you’d like to play all you need are:

Bet.Bet Rules PDF

Bet.Bet 4 Sheets on A4 PDF

Bet.Bet 2 Sheets on A4 PDF



Winter and Christmas Print & Play Games

Around two months ago I watched a ShutUpAndSitDown video talking about Welcome To, a roll and write game by Benoit Turpin. A couple of days later a friend brought Noch Mal by Inka Brand and Markus Brand to one of the monthly board game meet ups I attend. Then I wanted to jump on the bandwagon and have a go for myself.

My first attempt was Tube Lines, inspired by the London Underground network. It is a game that still needs a lot of work and isn’t really the subject of this post, but should be mentioned as it started me on the journey of designing games that could be played on a printed bit of A4, without having to cut anything out.

With Christmas and Winter coming, I was inspired to make three print and play games, one is a simple roll and write game, one is a solo advent calendar game and the final one is a quick drawing and racing game.

Santa’s Sleigh


The original concept for Santa’s Sleigh came together pretty quickly, roll two dice to make a box and put it into the sleigh. The first issue was to determine was the size of the sleigh, both the width and the height would affect how long the game took and how likely it would be to create situations where the boxes wouldn’t fit neatly creating gaps.

After some discussion with Alan at work, 11 across and 15 up seemed to work as a first guess which we tried out with some of our MA Games Design students.


The game was quick and relatively simple apart from the ending condition. The game only ends when all players simultaneously can’t place the current box into the sleigh. This rule was suppose to simulate the idea of a harsh working environment where if any one person is successful all employees are expected to be successful. This section of the rules took quite a few versions to get right.

Here is the change:

If any elf fits the current present into their sleigh without any part of that specific present overfilling the sleigh, all elves must take another turn.


If all elves simultaneously fail to fit their presents into the sleigh, so that all the presents go into the overflow this turn: Find which elf did best.

I did try making the rules more complex, by having specific types of wrapping paper that players would have to draw and then avoid touching similarly wrapped presents, but it really was not fun. There’s something to be said about a nice simple game, where you make boxes, put them in a sleigh and draw some nice wrapping paper on them. It really doesn’t need to be more complex than that.

One potential issue, is tied scores. As the game is simple, with simple rules, there is a risk of not having any divergent play between players. Most roll and writes will in some way encourage the players to take different actions. This can either be forced, they will have to use different dice at different times or unforced via complexity. This could be done with special moves activated when the player wants or by having a suitably large number of options, in both these cases there are so many reasonable options to select that the likelihood of all players picking the same one is slim.

I have simply decided to let the game be what it is, a light, simple Christmas game, who cares if the players get the same points sometimes.


You can find the sheet to print and play here.

Advent Calendar Decoration Game

Advent Calendar Decoration Game 2

Sometimes finding people to play with can be hard, sometimes finding the time to play a game can be hard. Here’s the solution to that: Advent Calendar Decoration Game, is a solo game where you make one move each day running up to Christmas. Then come Christmas day you can tally up your final score and compare it to other people across the World.

The game involves selecting decorations to add to your tree each day. Depending where you place the decorations and the sets they make along the ribbons will determine the score you get.

The core selection mechanic from this game is lifted from Patchwork by Uwe Rosenberg, in both you can select any of the next three items that are available. It’s a nice mechanic which simultaneously makes choices more manageable (pick one of three), but adds a lot of meaning (the choice you make determines the choices you can make in the future, and so on through the games). As the set of baubles is far smaller than the set of patches in Patchwork, the effect of this mechanic is reduced slightly, but easier to respond to.

I think the big breakthrough for the game was realising that the decorations could be on multiple ribbons allowing for a lot more complexity in the scoring results. Initially I had six ribbons each connecting to four different baubles. Adding the ribbons which intersect mean that there are certain positions on the tree that are more powerful, so the player has to be extra cautious around them.

Writing the rules clearly and concisely such that they could fit on the bottom of the page was a hassle. It was interesting learning that bauble and tinsel are not well known terms, especially for those where English is a second language. However, the context of the words seems to do enough to make it clear. It was the third section of the rules regarding bonus points which was the sticking point for a number of test reads. The last bauble the player has goes in the star on Christmas day, any ribbons that have the same type of bauble in them, score double points.

Initially, this bauble had to be part of the scoring set, i.e. if you got a pair, the pair would need to contain a bauble identical to the star bauble. Being more lax with the rule, made it a lot easier to describe. Now it doesn’t matter if it is part of the scoring set or not, just that it is on that ribbon. You will always have four baubles capable of double some scores, but there is interesting choices on where to use them, do you spread them our or cluster them together.

Is there a perfect score, almost certainly, but I’m not personally going to sit and work it out. I’d be interested to know how far ahead people plan their moves, or if they just play move-by-move each day.

You can find the sheet to print and play here.

Winter Olympics


Winter Olympics is a quick, light game about drawing neatly along lines in the fastest time. Each mistake you make will cost you some points risking you podium position.

I don’t know if I’d come to this idea if one of my now graduated students, Andrew, had not told me about a project of his, where they drew a racetrack with blackboard paint on a wall and challenged people to race the track with pieces of chalk. I’ve always liked the simplicity of this game, it’s very pure and understandable, but would lead to chaos when multiple people are playing on the same track.

For my variation on this idea I started off with the idea of a ski slalom game, and was initially intending to do multiple routes through a mountain, which the players would race to compete. I think there may be something still to this idea, as you could use different flags to denote the different routes giving the player a challenging multiple overlaid dot-to-dot style game.

But, instead of doing that, I considered adding the different sports from the Winter Olympics to add some variance.

  • Cross Country Skiing involves avoiding trees and keeping to the route.
  • Bobsleigh is similar but on a tighter smaller route.
  • Halfpipe involves swooping up and down the halfpipe and drawing complex shapes at the top, representing tricks.
  • Figure skating involves keeping very close to the line and being precise and smooth.
  • Curling involves filling the dots, not the most accurate portrayal perhaps, but it does contrast nicely with the other events.


You can find the sheets to print and play here.

Hear Hear Tennis



Hear Hear Tennis started as a sound only game, and although it is still attended to be played that way visuals have been added in order to improve the spectacle of watching other people play.
The game premise is relatively simple, a player hits the ball [some time passes], the ball bounces [the same time passes], there is a short window of opportunity when the ball can be hit again by the other player.
Each player can strike the ball at three different strengths, which vary the amount of time between ball passes and bounces.
Additionally the game will speed up after every hit, this is to make sure that firstly there the game is slow enough for people to play but each point will not last forever.
Other than that the game scores in the same way as tennis.
Here’s a quick example of play.

Developing the Idea

When I first envisioned the game, I imagined it being built into a small box, with a speaker either end and three buttons for each player to determine the strength of the hit. During development, it was suggested I could try using wiimotes, which I had some laying around.
After some play in Unity and editing some existing script ( I got the wiimotes reading into the game. Even with a very basic implementation of the wiimote controls the game started to feel like more fun.
The addition of the wiimotes, also increased the need for some visual aspects. There would need to be a clear way to see that they were connected or if not connect could be connected. This lead to having to design and create menus, which is by far one of least favourite things to do when developing a game. Getting the game working and playable was about 25% of the work, the rest was making menus and making the game understandable to anyone who isn’t me or wouldn’t have me around to explain it.

Keeping the Sound

I was keen to keep to the idea of a sound based game, so most actions in game are supported by noises or speech. This includes the menus, scores, and guidance on when you’ve hit the ball, or swung to early or late.
I tend to use as a quick way to add speech to my games, as I don’t have the set up or voice for doing voice work.
I also used some additional sounds from .
Finally I added an in-built exhibition mode, that would all the game more easily to be shown at an exhibition. This has a number of features that allow showing the game in a public space to be easier.
  • There is no way to quit to desktop from the main menu
  • The users cannot change any of the settings.
  • The game will reset if left idle for a certain amount of time.

Final Thoughts

This game was a relatively quick turn around, it took around a month working on it when I had spare time outside of work and other life commitments. The game appears enjoyable, but due to currently only working with mac and wiimotes is going to be a pretty niche experience unless I can find places to personally show it. One of the more frustrating things that happened towards the end of development was realising that one of the 1-2 Switch games for the Nintendo Switch was incredibly similar (they used table tennis) but the mechanics seem more-or-less identical. It’s such a simple idea that it’s not too surprising that it has been done before. However, judging by the videos I ended up watching of it, the rhythms of the games feel slightly different. Overall, I learnt a lot of new things from the project and it will be interesting to see what other wiimote games can be made.

Download Hear Hear Tennis (currently mac only)

Persistent Non-Visible Physical Truths – a new play mechanic?

Following on from research I have been doing about the nature of choice in board and card games where winning is not necessarily the aim, i.e. emotional or character based choices, I started thinking about the idea of truths within a world.

Is it possible to have a truth in a game that is both persistent and physically present but is never actually known, would this have any affect on how the game is played?

Let me try to explain

First what would I consider a physical truth. This is something that the components of the game make true. This could be as simple as your are the red, green, or blue player in the game, as you have control of those components. This concept in general is not particularly interesting or insightful, but it can be used in interesting ways.

A TTRPG (tabletop role play game) I played a couple of years ago, Witch: The Road to Lindisfarne, has a mechanic which uses a physical truth. One of the players is the accused witch being taken by the other player characters to Lindisfarne to be tried. At the very beginning of the game the player who is accused of being a witch chooses whether they are guilty or not and places the corresponding card facedown in the middle of the table. That way the act has already been committed before any interactions take place, the truth is mechanically locked in place. In this game the card is revealed at the end.

Where I plan to take the idea one step further is in the physical truth being non-visible. Although we may know that a truth is persistent through the components of the game, none of the players may reveal this truth.

If it is never known, then why does it matter?

This is why the truth must be physical, although no-one sees it, it is inherent in the objects. We could in theory reveal the truth by opening a bag or turning a card face up. By knowing what the potential truths are, but not seeing them, the player is left in a state of limbo.

The simplest example I can think of would work for just about any two player war type game, like chess. If there was one token marked ‘Good’ and another ‘Evil’ and these were given to the players face down before their game began, they would play the game in a strange state of limbo. Are they fighting for good or for evil, is it all a matter of perspective, there is a true answer it is written in the components, but they will never see it.

Just by being there present in the components, in the physicality of the game, is this enough to change the way players play or think about their play.

Is this really meaningful?

I’m not sure if this would really make a difference or not. I feel that it would and with the right subject matter and matching mechanics could have a strong potential impact on the play experience. However, conjecture is not enough, the idea needs to be tested.


Making a game with non-visible physical truths.

In order to start experimenting with the mechanic I designed a two-player 1-page TTRPG focusing on the theme of consciousness called RenedesCorp.

Set in the near future the game has the players embody one of the following a human, a conscious robot or a standard robot (without consciousness). The players do not know which specific role they are, they are not aware if they are conscious or not, they’re not aware if they are human or not. This truth is determined by cards which the players do not see throughout play.

You can view the pdf for RenedesCorp by clicking here


You can view the pdf for RenedesCorp by clicking here

Other examples?

If you are aware of any other examples of this type of mechanic, or if you have ideas of where it could be used please let me know.


That Jigsaw Game!


A new idea

A few weeks ago I was struck with a simple idea for a board game that very quickly developed into what I hope is a viable product.

I had been reading about map-colouring games after taking one of my periodical looks into game theory a subject that I find fascinating. I think this created some connections in my mind about tile-laying and space claiming games which I had not thought of before.

So the idea is relatively simple, each player has a collection of jigsaw pieces that they take turn placing until there is not a suitable place for them to lay them anymore. The last player to play a piece would be the winner. The tactile and physical nature of a jigsaw piece would mean that it would be clear which pieces can neighbour each other and which can’t. Also, they would be familiar in most players’ hands, and the connections would hold the pieces together.

When creating games like this I usually like to explore all possibilities that make sense within the system. A normal jigsaw piece has four sides that are each either positive or negative, i.e. sticking out or going into the main body. Avoiding repetition due to rotational symmetry this gives six types of pieces, two sets can be seen in this picture.


As the initial idea was for a two-player abstract game, I would require a game board that could fit 12 pieces in total. A 3×4 size seemed as good as any.

I created a quick prototype of the game using cardboard and a marker pen. The dots represent positive connections and the blanks negative connections. This is an example of a two player game with the paper prototype.


I played the game a few times by myself, I was interested to see how difficult it was to not play all the pieces in to the board. I then tested it with a colleague over lunch. My students were away (I often playtest with them) so I had to find some other ways to playtest the idea, if I didn’t want to wait weeks for them to return.

First paper playtests

I looked online and came across Playtest UK, a group that has open meet-ups across the UK for game designers to test their board and card games with other designers. It turned out there was a session the next day so I booked up straight away. (I later realised they had multiple playtests every week, so there’s nearly always one happening or about to happen).

Taking the original paper prototype I played a couple of games with the group. There seemed like there was potential but playing with cards with dots and blanks made it awkward.

Making it more real

I then started working in Adobe Illustrator to make jigsaw piece shapes ready to be laser cut. The most interesting thing for me to consider here is the shape of the piece. There is a risk when making a jigsaw piece that the surface area of the shapes vary considerably between pieces with all positive connections and those with negative connections. This is a basic example of a jigsaw piece, to me it doesn’t seem balanced.


To overcome this you can shift the form of the sides, where the jigsaw is negative you can push the form of the piece outwards. This helps create a better balance of surface area across shapes, as seen in this shape I created for my jigsaw pieces.


Through doing this process I realised that I could use the notion of jigsaw pieces to form the frame for the game, this way it is possible to change the size of the frame for the number of players.

Open playtesting

I took this to the next Playtest session, and it went a lot better, the form was intuitive to play with and the rules simple to grasp. I was then invited to attend an open playtest session at Draughts a board gaming cafe in Hackney, London.

This session went really well. One group played multiple sessions with different player counts for over an hour, another played a few three player games. I played a few games with some of the other people showcasing their game, this time with four players and a different position player won each time (something I was concerned about and something that came back later).

Examples of two player and four player games.

A problem arises

I happened to be attending a colloquium in Athens, XXI Board Game Studies Colloquium 2018. This was my fifth time presenting at one of these events, and I often take new prototypes with me to play.

A few sessions in and something started to happen. The last player always seemed to win. It did not matter the number of players. The only way this seemed not to happen was if the final player made a glaringly bad play.

Athens IMG_4827

This was frustrating, I thought I’d cracked a game really quickly, but this appears not to be the case.

Despite this issue, the physical act of playing the game was pleasant. The pieces felt nice to hold, the colours work well together, placing the pieces felt nice and watching the board slowly fill all were enjoyable. The distinct problem being it didn’t work as a game.

Testing, adapting, testing, adapting

Continuing in the positive fortune of creating this game, straight after XXI BGSC I was heading to Berlin for A-Maze. A-Maze is a fantastic event, well worth attending. I started playing That Jigsaw Game with a friend discussing the problems I was having. A-Maze being a festival filled with games developers and designers, it wasn’t long before people started asking about the game and making suggestions on how to overcome the problem.

Things that were tried:

  • You can’t lay next to your own colour.
  • You have to create the largest area of your own colour pieces.
  • Changing the frame to a square.
  • Changing the number of negative and positive bits in the frame.
  • Changing the order of play based on the current number of positive bumps of each colour currently on the board
  • Using the frame pieces to block, in a completely freeform game.

Experiment IMG_4850

Nothing seemed to work, the games were either too complex, still had an obvious dominant starting position, or just ended in draws all the time.

The problem

The issue with the original rule set is that the last player in the round will win nearly all the time. The solution seems like it could be in changing the order of play. However, this need has to be balanced with the original simplicity of the game, something that I want to keep.

The play order shouldn’t be random either, the players should have control of it. It’s a matter of striking the balance between being easily deterministic who will win and being a game were players have control.

The next step

I have one next adaptation I want to try.

Giving each piece a value between 1 and 3. This value will determine who plays next, the turn moves to player who is that value of spaces away from the current player.

Hopefully this may solve the problem, without being overly complex for players to implement, by adding one additional rule.

144 New Ways to Play Chess Without Wanting to Win

Chess is an old game with rules that have only changed very slightly throughout the centuries. Here I have created 12 different play styles to use while playing Chess. Using these play styles you will be able to experience chess in a new ways.

The focus of these play styles is not necessarily about winning in the usual sense, but creating different narratives and choices within the game. Each of the twelve options below are designed to embody characteristics of varied approaches to conflict.

As there are 12 new methods of playing and 2 players, there are 144 new potential ways to play. Whilst playing try to envision and understand the actions and choices that you are making and how they embody the style and methodologies of conflict. Remember the goal of these games is not necessarily to win but to experience Chess in a different light.

Play Styles: Each Player Pick One

Before starting the game of chess each player should select one of the following play styles (listed below) by either blindly drawing a chess piece from a bag, rolling a 12-sided dice or selecting one that takes your fancy. Once you have selected your play style play chess following the usual rules for movement and capture.

1. Pawn – White: The pawns serve one purpose, to sacrifice themselves for the noble houses represented in the army. They march gladly into war to protect your names, heritage and family lines. Avoid the death of the noble families who stand at the rear of the battle field commanding lesser folk as they should.

2. Pawn – Black: Your pawns are your most important pieces, they represent the people of your country, it is you duty to protect them at all costs.

3. Rook – White: Only cowards hide in the shadows, be bold and open place your army in the centre of the field boast of your upcoming moves, it shall make no difference as you are righteous.

4. Rook – Black: You are sly, you are cunning, stick to the edges of the board in the shadows until it is time to strike your enemy.

5. Knight – White: The enemy colour is so abhorrent in your eyes that you avoid to stand any of your own army on that colour, even if it would be tactically wise to so.

6. Knight – Black: The Knights are the most glorious combatants, do not upstage them by allowing other units to take a killing blow, do all you can to protect them. Their glory is your glory.

7. Bishop – White: For your previous actions in previous battles you seek penance, you deserve to be punished, place your army and yourself in harms way, but do not seek to harm others. You can be absolved of your sins.

8. Bishop – Black: War is cruel and there are no true winners, avoid doing harm or having harm done to you at all cost. Talking is the way forward, perhaps a truce can be struck if your enemy is also wise.

9. Queen – White: An eye-for-an-eye, those that do harm to you must be punished directly and immediately for their crimes, above all else. Only this way can we restore justice to the world.

10. Queen – Black: Defence is the best form of attack, make sure you and your army are strongly protected from any assault. It is better to be alive and thought of as cowardly, than in a grave.

11. King – White: You are strong, there is no stopping you, death or glory is the only way to act when in combat. When ever there is opportunity you must strike at any cost striking fear into your enemies heart.

12. King – Black: There is honour in combat, prove yourself by only attacking enemies with identical types of unit, this way we know the battle is fair even if our enemy does not play by the rules.


Four Small Unfinished Unity Projects

Over the last year I’ve been working on some small projects, each of which has been put into stasis or more than likely abandoned. Here’s a little glimpse at four of those projects.

A Cube Moving Puzzle Game

What I was really interested in learning whilst working on this project was how I could manipulate the mesh of a cube to make it animate. Like a lot of the game systems I design, it started moving towards a puzzle game.

The aim of the game was to remove the coloured cells on the larger cube by stamping on them with the smaller cube, which you control. I did spend some time adding symbols to help distinguish the colours as well as making the colours stamp a trail.

The idea was ok, and I was relatively pleased with the animation and style I managed to generate, however, I did not feel that this one was worth my time to get it into a playable state. The effort required to make the puzzles, I believed, would not be worth the finished outcome.

Drawing Shapes

For this project I was interested in how a system could recognise shapes drawn by the player on a touch screen.

The method used was to create a series of points as the player draws, making sure that they’re evenly spaced no matter how fast the player moves their finger on the screen. The centre was found, and any distinct changes in directions noted. This info was put through a series of tests to determine the most likely shape.

To make a sort of game from it, the player can only draw in the white section, with the navy blue timer restricting the drawing space. Completing the required shapes bought the player more time to keep drawing.

The game functioned but really wasn’t much more interesting that an experiment, so the final polish and push was abandoned for other projects.

Jump Snap

This game started as an idea to create a multi-player shared tablet game inspired by snap. I wanted to create something that couldn’t obviously be recreated in a physical form, or at least took advantage of the animation possible in digital games.

I started with shapes bouncing and rotating. At the moment of bounce they form a 2d shape allowing the 3d shape that they are part of to be switched to another one. In terms of animation I focused on the squash and stretch of the objects, as well as creating an offset between the two shapes bounce times.

Players did seem to struggle slightly with having to match the volumes of the 3d shapes rather than matching the sides (2d shapes). Something I’d have to find a way to make clearer in the instructions/tutorial for the game.

I did also consider the idea of creating a custom controller where players would stand on their own pad and have to jump in the air when the shapes matched.

This idea might be picked up again, if I can afford the time to make the custom controllers.



A game about sliding triangles around to make hexagons that match colour, which then flip to create more hexagons. Grey and white triangles make red triangles; red triangles make orange triangles; orange make yellow; green, blue then purple.

Out of all the games, this is the one I have been working on the longest, on and off for about 2 years. It is also the closest to being finished. It only requires two things.

  1. A final end game animation.
  2. Some music and sounds.

I stopped working on it the first time, when I thought I’d have to add a scoring scheme for the game to work. I then realised about a year later, that if I didn’t want a score system it didn’t need one (players can see how well they have progressed by the colours of the triangles they have revealed). I started up again, and worked a lot on the animation, adding depth to the triangles, which were previously flat 2d objects which faded rather than rotate.

Then I stopped again a while ago because I can’t do sound myself.

Once I find someone to do sound for this, I’ll put the finishing touches to it and release it. I just need to be a bit more pro-active finding a sound person.


Although I’ve not finished any of these projects, I have learnt a lot from doing them. My skills in Unity have come on a long way over the last year and every new project provides me with new insights and methods that I can use for the next.

For me in my current situation, I get more from making many unfinished projects than I would from finishing one project. I guess I’m just waiting for the project that I think is really worth it, and the time to really dedicate to it.

Maybe the next one will be the one.

P.S. This post has not included all the half finished board games I have lying around my desk, but maybe that’s another post for another day.