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Prevent your dreams from turning into nightmares in this fast and tactical card game for one or two players.
Prevent your dreams from turning into nightmares in this fast and tactical card game for one or two players.
Prevent your dreams from turning into nightmares in this fast and tactical card game for one or two players.
604 backers pledged $11,327 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Pleasant Dreams: A Card Game of Nightmares

$11,327

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Missed out on the Pleasant Dreams Campaign? No worries! You can preorder your copy of Pleasant Dreams through www.pleasantdreamsgame.com THANK YOU!!!

Pleasant Dreams is a one or two-player card game placing the players in a dreamworld where they fend off nightmares. Decide whether you want to hold on to pleasant fragments of your dream... but beware, anything may come back to haunt you!

During the game, you'll be trying to outwit your opponent by manipulating The Dreaming, and deciding whether or not to push your luck by delving deeper into the deck. In a two-player game you can influence your opponent's dream, while in the solitaire game you just know that things will get worse. This all culminates in a fast five to ten minute experience that leaves players coming back for more.

As a psychologist I'm intrigued by how we relate to our experiences. With Pleasant Dreams I wanted to evoke a feeling of rising tension, somewhat akin to what we feel when a dream slowly turns into a nightmare. The haunting artwork from Wayne Dorrington is what really ties the theme and mechanics of the game together.

Click HERE to download the Pleasant Dreams rules pdf from my website. It will only take a few minutes to read through the rules and you should be ready to play! You can also learn the game by watching the tutorial videos in the next section.

The videos below explain how to play the game. Together with the rules download you should have an easy time getting into the game.

Two player gameplay tutorial:

Solitaire gameplay tutorial:
Watch the two player gameplay tutorial for the basic rules.

 Here are some quotes from what others say about Pleasant Dreams:

"A surprisingly subtle and interesting game. The games are short and tense. There is a tiny bit of memory, but it doesn't feel like a memory game; more of a mini-deduction element plus second guessing and calculated risks. The 'stacking the deck' mechanic is clever and well integrated with the other mechanics." Rob Seater, Director of Game Development - Cambridge Games Factory

"Simple, creepy, and evocative, Pleasant Dreams is a mystical aperitif or amuse bouche for before, between, or after heavier lifting games. A sweetly sinister winner - would be a great gift for any gamer." Ben Gregg, Teacher

"A quick, clever battle of wits and timing. The artwork nearly surpassing Dixit in quality! Mechanics remain elegant and thematic throughout." Jason Lyle, Game Designer

I'm really proud of how the game turned out, but wow Wayne Dorrington has really taken it to the next level with his art! In the box (see 3d mock-up), you'll find 29 tarot sized (2.75” x 4.75”) cards with 19 unique pieces of his art. The estimated MSRP will be around $15.

Update: Now that all the stretch goals for the Lucid Dreams expansion have been locked the game comes with 7 more cards and 6 new and unique pieces of art!

For Pleasant Dreams I want a campaign that's really focused on the game. This is why I'm offering only reward levels that are about getting the game itself.

  • $5 DIGITAL COPY - You will get a digital Print & Play copy of Pleasant Dreams. Includes all stretch goals.

  • $15 US - PHYSICAL COPY - You will get a physical copy of the game. Shipping within the US is included in the cost. Includes all digital rewards and stretch goals.

  • $20 INTERNATIONAL - PHYSICAL COPY - You will get a physical copy of the game. Shipping to ANYWHERE outside the US is included. Includes all digital rewards and stretch goals.

  • $23 US - TWO PHYSICAL COPIES - You will get two physical copies of the game. If you want more than two copies add $10 per extra copy. Shipping within the US is included in the cost. Includes all digital rewards and stretch goals.

  • $28 INTERNATIONAL - TWO PHYSICAL COPIES - You will get two physical copies of the game. If you want more than two copies add $10 per extra copy. Shipping to ANYWHERE outside the US is included. Includes all digital rewards and stretch goals.

  • $60 - COMMUNITY PLEDGE - In addition to everything in the PHYSICAL COPY tier, you will receive an early prototype of the game within one month of the campaign's end (barring any delays for art updates). You will get the game months ahead of everyone else and be added to a special community page for Aerjen Games. This includes early access to print & play files for future projects and surveys to get your thoughts on the print & play version of Pleasant Dreams. Shipping within the US is included in the cost. Add $5 for shipping to ANYWHERE ELSE in the world.

Note: if you want to use sleeves on the Print & Play copy do make sure that you buy the proper tarot size card sleeves. For example: Card Sleeves - Tarot (Pack) 

  • $10: If you want more than two copies of Pleasant Dreams, you can add on extra copies of the game for $10 each. We'll cover the shipping costs for the additional copies. Make sure you keep in mind that Kickstarter limits the maximum number of copies we can sell you to ten.

Update The "Lucid Dreams” expansion is now complete and these new cards add a whole new layer of intricacy to the game experience. See below for more details...

Change in the game setup: you start the game by shuffling the action cards and draw two at random.

FUNDED!!! >> Stretch Goal #1: "The Deep Sleep"

"The Deep Sleep" can be used to add a dream fragment to the dream flow of a player after they've filled it up. More details on the process of creating art for Pleasant Dreams can be found in update #4.

FUNDED!!! >> $4500 - Stretch Goal #2: "The Shimmer"

"The Shimmer" transforms a nightmarish bear back into its peaceful counterpart. More details on why this is a really powerful card can be read in update #7.

FUNDED!!! >> $5250 - Stretch Goal #3 - "Dream Compass"

The "Dream Compass" allows a player to modify the order in which they resolve the dream fragments on their turn. Read more about how these cards get created in update #8.

FUNDED!!! >> $6000 - Stretch Goal #4 - "The Mirror"

Now that we've reached $5250, I will add "The Mirror," a card that lets a player flip over the dream deck. Flipped cards become unflipped and vice versa. The art for this card is a tribute to Jan Svankmajer & Lewis Carroll's Alice.

FUNDED!!! >> $6750: Stretch Goal #5 - "The Suppression"

"The Suppression" allows a player to temporarily stash away a dream fragment. It will still need to get resolved before that player can win the game. I feel this allows for some intriguing gameplay decisions: will you use it to prevent a nightmare from happening at an inopportune moment? Do you save up a happy bear for yourself or do you even use it to control the number of cards left in the dream deck?

FUNDED!!! >> $7500: Stretch Goal #6 - "Recurring Dreams"

After resolving all the cards in their dream flow, a player may use "Recurring Dreams" to stack the deck with any nightmarish dream fragments they drew. This card is interesting on its own, but also acts as a very nice counterbalance to "The Mirror."

FUNDED!!! >> $10000: Stretch Goal #7 - "Double Vision"

With the Double Vision stretch goal the cards from the Lucid Dreams expansion got doubled. This adds another 6 cards to the game! Since, with the expansion, players draw two special cards at random at the beginning of the game, this means waaaaaay more possible combinations in the two player game and different challenges in the solitaire variant. How many special cards do you need to finish the solitaire game on Frightmare Mode :D

$12,500: Stretch Goal #8 - "Art Book"

You asked for more art related goals? We heard you! If we reach $12,500 in pledges we will create a special art book for Pleasant Dreams. This digital art book will contain the poem from the video, comments from Wayne and me, unreleased sketches and final art. All in glorious high resolution format!

Every backer that pledges $5 or more will receive this digital art book.

  • Kickstarter Backers Come First: My backers have a special place in my heart. For Pleasant Dreams, that means you'll get your game before traditional distribution begins.
  • Money-Back Guarantee: If you decide you don't like Pleasant Dreams within the first month of receiving it, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked.
  • This Game Needs You: Your support helps cover the cost of the graphic design and art for Pleasant Dreams and will help manufacture and ship the game to fans all over the world.

Thanks to awesome backers offering their skills, the rules for Pleasant Dreams will be translated into several different languages. These translations will ONLY be for the digital version of the game and are all free of charge! 

Most translators have agreed to do the translations for the expansion and Print & Play as well. Since they're doing this out of kindness and enthusiasm for the game I don't want to pin them down on it, so it will depend on their availability.

The rules translations will be uploaded to BoardGameGeek where (after registering for free) you get access to the PDFs. Every backer that pledged $5 or more will get access to all the language versions of the Print & Play version of Pleasant Dreams.

Click on the images below to download the rules in your language of choice. 

Translated by: Stéphane Athimon & Natacha Athimon-Constant
Translated by: Stéphane Athimon & Natacha Athimon-Constant
Translated by: Juan Gabriel Mateo
Translated by: Juan Gabriel Mateo
Translated by: Marcelo Rubo Cazerta
Translated by: Marcelo Rubo Cazerta
Translated by: Pascal Marquardt
Translated by: Pascal Marquardt
Translated by: Tomaso Munari
Translated by: Tomaso Munari

Also coming...

The Dutch translation!

Want to help?

If you want to help me translate the rules to a different language, I'll make your translation available for free on Boardgamegeek. You can get in touch with me through www.aerjengames.com/contact

I sometimes add riddles to the updates that unlock free stuff. If you enjoy riddles, I recommend browsing through the updates.

Player Mat

High resolution version of the player mat. If you click on the illustration below it it will take you to the download (about 30 MB); size: 20 x 28 inches.

Wallpaper

Click on the image for a link to the full wallpaper; resolution: 1920 x 1200.

Production and Fulfillment

To ensure a high quality service when it comes to production and fulfillment I decided to collaborate with Mark Diaz Truman. Mark has run several successful Kickstarters for his own company Magpie Games and now provides services for other designers.

Here are two examples:

Component Quality

For anyone that's interested in the finer details. Here's a summary of the component quality:

  • Cards: 2.75” x 4.75”, 310 gsm C2S gray core, 4/4 print with aqueous varnish, die-cut for rounded corners & shrink wrapped as one deck
  • Glass Beads: 18 mm diameter x 8 mm thickness, translucent acrylic
  • Tuck Box: 5.75” x 3.75” x 0.875” plus 1” hang tab, 350 gsm C1S, 4/0 print with aqueous varnish, die-cut & glued

Beta Disclaimer: All art and assets used in this Kickstarter are in beta and may change slightly before final release.

Second to backing the project, the best thing you can do to help Pleasant Dreams get made is to spread the word on your social media sites. Here are some fun social media avatars you can use to help with that:

                               

I work as a game designer and research consultant and like to use my background in psychology when working on theme, art and usability in my games. That's reflected in how I designed Pleasant Dreams. For this game the starting point was wanting to evoke an experience rather than a theme or mechanic.

When I'm not using experiments to figure out how humans work, I play games and try to figure out how humans work. 

I've developed and taught several courses on game design, am one of the directors of the Boston Festival of Indie Games and organize the Game Makers Guild.

 
My personal goal with this game is for people to enjoy themselves. That simple goal, getting someone to smile is the driving factor behind the things I do; work and hobbies alike. When I work as a clinical psychologist, I try and make people happy. As a research consultant I hope to find out how to create more happiness in the world around us and as a game designer, first and foremost, I just want to see people have a good time with each other.
Becoming a Game Designer
Once upon a time, there was a psychologist that wanted to be a game designer... There are so many moments that I can point to as the beginning for my passion, that I can't tell which was the decisive one.  For Pleasant Dreams I can. I would even say that there were three defining moments.

The Game Makers Guild
When I went to the first meetup of the Game Makers Guild, I brought a different game called Hatch. Unbeknownst to me there was a publisher present at my playtest session. After finishing, he told me that he'd be interested in getting my game ready for publication. Next to being really happy with the compliment, I was like "Wait, what? I've made something that people like? I can actually try and get my games published?" That made me decide to always design with the goal of publishing in mind. I'm not sure whether everyone reading this realizes what an important shift that is. It really changed how I look at game design. I still make the games that I want to play, but designing within the context of publishing seems to really help focus my decisions.

Studying Game Design
The second defining moment was when I decided to take the CMS.608/CMS.864 Game Design course at MIT. In this course on game design Philip Tan (creative director of the MIT Gamelab) teaches principles of game design in a workshop format. Students form groups to work on several game design projects over the course of the weeks. 
Since I was working full time as a psychology researcher at Harvard, Philip suggested that I wouldn't join a group but make a solo project. I already knew that I really wanted to do something with dreams, but I didn’t have any fully formed ideas. After going through a series of brainstorming exercises I ended up with a goal for an initial prototype: create how you can move through a dream. 
In the first 5 minutes, I “accidentally” designed a ridiculously and overly complex game. I put accidentally between quotes, because I feel that most game designers tend to make their games overly complex. At least that’s what I believe after having been involved in the curation process for the Boston Festival of Indie Games, where several hundreds of games were reviewed. 
Fortunately I recognized that something was going wrong and I asked advice from Philip Tan. He responded to my concerns by asking me what I was actually trying to do. Create a mechanic for dream movement that evokes a  feeling of increasing suspense. Right, that's something that maybe doesn't need ten pages of rules. With that I was back on track again and started using the push your luck (with insider knowledge) mechanic. 

Overall the whole course has been very instructive, but there were a couple of moments that definitely stood out for me. When Rob Daviau (designer of many games, with Risk Legacy being my favorite) attended as a guest lecturer and played my game, he advised me to reduce the difficulty level. Originally, you’d only win once out of every five games. Now, if you play smart, you can win most of the time. 

Another great moment was when Zac Hill (former lead designer for Magic: the Gathering) gave a guest lecture. We actually became friends and his advice and encouragement has helped me keep moving the game forward. Spoiler Alert: we’re actually working on a game together right now. WOOT! 


The last session of the class was a day of blind playtesting. I had an amazing time when I watched two students play the game time after time where one player actually beat the other eight times in a row. That, for me, was great on many levels. Next to seeing people learn the games from the rules, it showed that, even though the game has a push your luck element, tactics still matter. It also revealed that the game is engaging enough to want to keep playing even if you’re losing. 

A fantastic Illustrator
The third and final defining moment was meeting Wayne Dorrington. He offered his services through BoardGameGeek, where I'm a frequent lurker. After seeing the work in his portfolio I immediately contacted him. We actually talked about 3 games: Ooh! (Out of Humans), Leprechaun Slap and Pleasant Dreams. Working with him on Pleasant Dreams has been an amazing experience. When we first met I already had some ideas for the art I wanted to see, mostly based on the experience I wanted to bring across. He immediately liked it and in the brainstorming it became even better.

In creating the art we used objects that people have an emotional connection with. Instead of using a lot of gore, we tried to make them subtly unpleasant although I must admit some of them ended up being decidedly unpleasant. Next to giving the art a vintage tarot look, we were were inspired by prior art such as the illustrations you can find in the original books of Alice in Wonderland and Jan Svankmajer’s 1988 surreal movie adaptation of the same story. 


Playtesting
During all stages of development the game went through heavy playtesting. The fact that Pleasant Dreams also plays well as a solitaire game made things extra easy. Add a playtime of about 5 minutes to that and you can imagine how this is a game that was easy to test literally hundreds of times. In the beginning playtesting was mostly at MIT, at home (solo and with my wife), but pretty soon I started bringing it to the Game Makers Guild too. There I’ve done regular, blind and intensive playtesting sessions. Intensive playtesting sessions are ones when the same group of people play a game many times in a row, to see whether the game holds up to people getting a deeper understanding of the tactics and strategy involved. What I enjoyed seeing is that this light game actually allows for quite a variety of strategies that are dependent on your opponent.


Community
Being part of the game design community is, in my opinion crucial, when you want to design great games. Over the past few years I’ve gotten excellent advice from various people and want to highlight a couple of these:

  • The Game Makers Guild has provided resources, was my main source for playtesting, and the awesome members have given me a lot of encouragement for my project
  • The people on BGDF have given me their thoughts on art and on a series of poems that were originally on all the cards
  • BoardGameGeek was where I found Wayne Dorrington
  • MIT: taking a course on game design was a great way for me to nudge myself out of my own game design habits. By taking a more focused approach to game design, I feel that I have become a better overall designer 
  • Boston FIG: working intensively on the festival was an amazing experience for me. It got me many friends and connections in the game design industry (and actually my second contract proposal) and helped me look at games in a different way. Guess that evaluating the feedback for several hundreds of games leaves a mark 
  • Boston Indies: I’ve only been to one of their demo nights, when Pleasant Dreams already was in it’s final stage. I got an overwhelming amount of positive responses and some excellent food for thought
  • Various game design related Facebook pages (like this one or this one) have provided me with tons of information
                        

Risks and challenges

I'm proud to say that I'm collaborating with Mark Diaz Truman on the production and fulfillment of Pleasant Dreams. He has a great track record when it comes to successfully fulfilling tabletop projects.

Here are the steps we are taking to prepare and reduce the likelihood of mistakes and delays:

1. Art and graphics for the game are 100% complete. Wayne Dorrington has agreed to do art for any stretch goals. The production quote is in hand and ready to be initiated.

2. We are proud to be working with Inner Workings (http://www.inwk.com/), the same manufacturer that brought Carcassonne, El Grande, Castle Panic, The Resistance, Dominant Species and many more great quality games! We are familiar with their production requirements, timelines, payment schedules, communication methods and freight arrangements. They have created some great games and products and we hope that Pleasant Dreams will be their next!

This isn't to say that this project won't experience mistakes, they happen to everyone but it does show that we have Kickstarter veterans to accompany us on the road ahead.

Above all, we are dedicated to 100% backer communication. We will be transparent with our process, as to involve our backers as much as possible.

We will be present to answer any questions or read any comments and we will provide regular updates and supply photos of the progress when possible.

Thank you for your trust in us! Let's bring Pleasant Dreams to the gaming community!

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    COMMUNITY PLEDGE - In addition to everything in the PHYSICAL COPY tier, you will receive an early prototype of the game within one month of the campaign's end (barring any delays for art updates). You will get the game months ahead of everyone else and be added to a special community page for Aerjen Games. This includes early access to print & play files for future projects and surveys to get your thoughts on the print & play version of Pleasant Dreams. Shipping within the US is included in the cost. Add $5 for shipping to ANYWHERE ELSE in the world.

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Funding period

- (33 days)