Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Lobo The Independent Voice of UNM since 1895
Latest Issue
Read our print edition on Issuu

Game pieces arranged at Active Imagination for the store’s weekly board game playtesting session. Gamers get to play and give feedback to local board game developers every Tuesday.

Tabletop game makers and players test games at Active Imagination

Even in a world of Angry Birds, Words with Friends and Temple Run, some people still make games from cardboard and plastic.

Once a week, tabletop-game designers join gamers at Active Imagination, a Northeast Heights hobby shop, to “playtest” their latest board game creations.

“Sure, you can buy a game that’s already made … but to come in on the ground floor? That’s awesome,” Ben Klein, Active Imagination store manager, said. “You get to give feedback, bounce ideas around … It’s really invigorated the community.”

The weekly meet-up began when local game designer Brad Talton sought local playtesters to sample his first game. Since then, the meet-up has grown to accommodate multiple game developers and their fans.

Talton began his career as a contractual app developer after graduating from the University of North Carolina in 2009. After being laid off during the recession, he started his own company, Level 99 Games. The company’s first product, an iPhone app for Dungeons & Dragons players, was successful enough to allow Talton to focus on developing games. He began testing his game designs at Active Imagination with the help of other gamers and game developers.

UNM student Matthew Locklin has playtested games at Active Imagination for two years, and he said he is inspired by Talton’s success.

“He’s kind of … living the dream,” Locklin said. “I’ve always wanted to make a game and have it take off, and Brad found a way to do that.”

Experimental versions of some of Talton’s games — Battle Connection: Devastation of Indines, or just BattleCON 2, for short; Pixel Tactics 2; and Disc Duelers — were available to play at Active Imagination on Tuesday. The three games all take place in the same universe, but that’s where the similarities end.

BattleCON 2 is a two-player dueling card game in the style of an arcade fighting game, while Disc Duelers is a multiplayer free-for-all in which players take turns flicking their milk-cap-sized character tokens at their enemies. Pixel Tactics 2 plays similarly to BattleCON 2, in which two opposing players battle with their own deck of cards.

In addition to board game designers, Tuesday night playtesting has drawn in video game developers. One of the developers is Andrew Yang, self-proclaimed “tyrannical leader” and CEO of Rapscallion Inc.

“We’re a bunch of pirates and misfits,” Yang said with a chuckle.
Yang’s company is made up of many of his friends from high school and college, and is developing a sci-fi strategy game for Android devices. Yang said the development process for digital games takes more time than that of a board game because it entails programming and coding.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox

“With board games, you can design it on paper and have a prototype much more easily,” Yang said. “It’s what kills a lot of small video game developers starting out.”

The game development community at Active Imagination, however, shows no sign of shutting down. In fact, it is always welcoming new developers and playtesters.

“It’s an open forum,” Talton said. “Anyone can bring a game and have it played … or if you like to try new games, come out and you’ll have fun, too. It works both ways.”

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Lobo