just last night i was reading through chief herman’s holiday fun pack – a collection of rules to small games, too small or finicky or weird to publish on their own, published in 2000 by james ernest. (full disclosure: i’ve heard first hand accounts that james ernest can be a prick.) what i like about this collection (and its 2003 sequel, which is still in being sold) is that you can trace the designer’s creative process across several games. here’s a bluffing and deduction game in which each player has only three cards, and one of those cards has special properties. turn the page, and here’s a bluffing and deduction game in which each player has only two cards, with two special cards in the mix. you can see james ernest turn an idea around in his head, watch him explore different aspects and potentials of it.
super bogus world is a collection of games, made over the course of a year, in which you can watch how the authors respond to different inspirations. here, a five-minute version of the game DESCENT, about the absurdity of trying to manage what would be perfectly efficient with a mouse using an obscene number of keyboard commands instead. here, their version of the scene in the super nintendo lion king game where the protagonist runs toward the camera, chased by a herd of antelope or something. here’s where they decided to try a painting game. this is where they played mondo medicals. the creative energy here crackles and flashes. you can trace the chain reactions familiar games set off in their brains, and often the places they end up at are very different. it’s inspiring.