Designer's Notes: Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot Deluxe

by Chad Underkoffler

Design History

I guess the biggest question is: "Why?"

The best answer I have is: "James Ernest made me do it."

Now, I've never spoken to the President of Cheapass Games, either in person or electronically, but his wonderful game Devil Bunny Needs A Ham (among others in the Cheapass oeuvre) really showed me that with fun gameplay, a wacky rationale for a game can still work. Indeed, I think that some games just work better when there's a dash, lump, or hogshead of arbitrary surrealism thrown into the mix.

Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot Deluxe started life sans the "Deluxe" as a card game that I had intended to sell as a PDF. The file would be arranged so that customers could print out four different decks (one for each of the title groups) on their home printers using readily available perforated business card sheets. I ran-off a set and corralled friends and family to give it a whirl. Four things became rather clear during this process:

  1. The perforated business card sheets were pretty expensive.
  2. Assuring that the cards printed out correctly was a nontrivial exercise.
  3. It was too easy to mix up cards from different sets.
  4. The gameplay was lacking.

While there are some nifty bits from that initial attempt that I want to cannibalize for a later project, on the whole it was obvious that the game was a failure in this format. I put it up on the shelf and tried to live with the pain.

Then, while idly searching . . .

This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.

Article publication date: June 4, 2004

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