STAGE ONE: An Autumn Invitational

2011 Oct 26

In an attempt to reinvigorate my drive to work on game stuff, I’m doing a thing.


0. Anyone can participate (the “invitation” part comes later).

1. Pick one of your favorite video games.

2. Create an “analog” game that distills the essence of it, but…

3. Only include the guidelines for playing STAGE ONE or LEVEL ONE (whatever that is).

4. At the end of your rules, briefly describe how the players might create their own STAGE TWO+.

5. Fit everything onto the front and back of a single sheet of paper.

6. Do this by Sunday, November 6, linking it here.


A. I will read and give feedback on all submitted games. I will attempt to play some or all of them.

B. I will also tell the authors what additional work is needed before they will be invited to join a very short anthology (3-8 games?) called STAGE ONE, probably printed as a Scoutbook, which will be Kickstarted/Gogo’d when the booklet is completed (assuming enough people accept the invitations) and distributed at/near cost. Contributors get free copies and rights to their games forever.

C. Games who accept my invitations get played and edited hard, with compassion but little mercy. If we have too many games, we can either try to organize a second booklet or come up with some other plan.

D. This is indie games, so you can always give me the finger and do whatever else you want to with your work, at any time.

E. We all benefit from awesome, tight little games that are great for playing with new audiences.

39 Responses to “STAGE ONE: An Autumn Invitational”

  1. Simon C Says:

    Iiiiinteresting. Tempted to do something like Civ, along the lines of the rules for Rock of Tahamaat. Complex problems, simple solutions.

    Or else it’d be fun to do Basic D&D as a tower defence game.

  2. What do you mean by analog game?

  3. Any game you can reasonably make in the time period is fine. “Analog” has been used in a kind of tongue-in-cheek way to refer to tabletop games of all kinds (board games, card games, roleplaying games), live action games, and hybrid things that don’t fit neatly into categories. But if you want to write some code, by all means, be my guest.

  4. skrir Says:

    This is really tempting. If nothing else, it’s got me thinking about what the essence of my favourite games is.

  5. Stephen Says:

    My tribute to No More Heroes:

  6. […] to Maniac Mansion is a game I made for Johnathan Walton’s Stage One. It’s a fictional internal memo among some unnamed Lucasarts employees, and also a playable […]

  7. Okay, here’s my Shadow of the Colossus entry.

    Dropbox link:

    I don’t have time to playtest it this week, but I put out a call for anyone who can, and I’d update it accordingly.

    However, I do have a question with regards to your plans to publish these entries: How do you get around the issue of these games inspired by copyrighted material of corporations without losing their “inspired-ness”? Wouldn’t you need permission from all of the license holders, or is there a sense of creating all new artwork and such?

  8. Scott: I’m obviously not going to publish anything that’ll get me or anyone else in legal trouble. If some games hew too closely to other people’s IP, that’s something we’ll have to deal with in the editing + revision process, assuming they make it that far.

  9. Nick Wedig Says:

    Here’s the final version of Return to Maniac Mansion:

    Click to access return-to-maniac-mansion1.pdf

  10. […] wrote a draft for a game called “Mushroom Kingdom Stories” for Jonathan Walton’s Stage One design invitational. Per the rules of the invitational, it’s short, a mere two pages, one of […]

  11. […] the first time I played Scribblenauts several years ago. Now, as part of Jonathan Walton’s Stage One game design event, I actually had a reason to write it […]

  12. Nick Wedig Says:

    And here’s another game, based off of Scribblenauts:

    Click to access scrabblenauts.pdf

  13. Jackson Tegu Says:

    Well frick, you totally got me. I am listening to the prettiest music right now & glad that i’ve spent the hearing about and playing a couple other games that shall be posted soon, and here’s my homage to a great series.

    I’ve done some fancy layout-ing. Both files are the same, one’s in landscape & one’s in portrait to make on-screen reading easier.

    Remember 6 Differences?
    He also did 5 and 4.

    So here are those. All of em, the whole series on two sides of paper.

    Click to access differences-port.pdf

    Click to access differences-landsc.pdf

  14. Steve Says:

    And I’ll be rewriting Fortunes and Thieves when I’ve got some time. I want to tighten the starting situation and have the fortune hunters already in the vault, with the treasure, and having to get out of the compound with it.

    I also want to simplify the skill ladder, and create a little bit of a budget out of successes and failures to spend on:

    – healing (for players), and
    – creating challenges (for GMs).

    I also need to clarify that levels consist of between 1 – 5 challenges, and challenges are rated between 1 – 7 (skill rolls needed to complete them).

  15. Here’s the updated link for the revised Resident Evil+. I’m much happier with this version.

  16. Click to access %5BStage%201%5D%20Dragon%20and%20Warrior.pdf

    Here’s my game. It is both a hack of Silver and White and a sword and sorcery D&D style grindfest based on Dragon Warrior. I’m strangely proud that I was able to do the layout entirely in word.

  17. Mike Olson Says:

    Okay, here’s HALF OF EVERYTHING IS LUCK, my Goldeneye 007 game.

    Click to access HalfOfEverythingIsLuck.pdf

  18. I probably don’t need to say it, but, as the invitational is coming to a close, nerves get to me: my game is 3 pages. 1 of those pages is simply a throwaway title page, serving basically so I could fit my name on there. It’s obviously up to you, Jonathan, if you want to disqualify it on that basis, but I can easily take out that first page & keep the game exactly the same.

  19. My Alpha Centauri inspired game is Lost Colony.

  20. Robert Bruce Says:

    My Pokemon game:

    Thanks to Jackson Tegu, Ross Cowman, and Daniel Nguyen for helping me playtest!

  21. Simon C Says:

    I’ll get there! I’m nearly done!

  22. Simon C Says:


    Click to access Heavy%20is%20the%20Head.pdf

    Heavy is the Head, my tribute to the game I wanted Civilisation to be.

  23. Here it is:
    Paprboy Unleashed
    I’d really like to publish it in a diagonal format to evoke the isometric view of the original game.

  24. Simon–Love it. Want to play.

  25. Steve Says:

    Just updated Fortunes and Thieves with the changes I wanted to make.

    Simon, I hope we can play Heavy is the Head next week!

  26. Whew, 11:49PM local time, hope it isn’t too late!

    Guild Wars inspired game “The Fissure”

    I have rights to all the artwork.

    Really cool thing you have going here!

  27. I updated the games page with links:

    I’m going to review them in submission order, starting with my own, so I can illustrate the invitation process and the ruthlessness I’m willing to subject myself to! Lead by example!

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