Spunky Word Nuggets (Canceled)
The Party Game of Random Word Associations - It's Good Words Gone Bad (and bad words too)
Spunky Word Nuggets (Canceled)
The Party Game of Random Word Associations - It's Good Words Gone Bad (and bad words too)
Our Reasoning (yours may differ...and that's great!)
None of them had really strong associations for #3. A manatee needs to be saved but it wouldn't be found in a public restroom. A dopey manatee might describe a bad date but it seemed to work best as a spirit guide. Both itchy and grouch could be found in a public restroom but we thought it worked best with #worstdateever.
For more information including our blog and links to merchandise, check us out at www.spunkywordnuggets.com
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This video starts with reviews from four play-testers and then continues with some great gameplay highlights. The play-testers are members of a the largest target market segment, which is young adults aged 18-34. They received no compensation other than cheeseburgers. Enjoy, it's a pretty high energy video.
If you just want to learn more about playing the game, you don't need to read this story. Feel free to skip over it and go to the "How it Works" section below. But, this is Kickstarter and some potential backers come here to learn about and participate in the creative process. We love that! If you'd like to poke around inside the game designer's head, and if you like a good story, then you might enjoy this.
What do the games Mad Libs, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Joking Hazard, What Do You Meme, creating your Porn Name and Spunky Word Nuggets all have in common?
They all take some more or less random-ass shit and put it in context.
The Motivation: I love humorous and irreverent party games like CAH, Joking Hazard and What Do You Meme. My favorite part of these games is how they deliver the humor. My least favorite part is that I don't feel like there is any real skill or strategy to them and I miss that element of gameplay. So, I set out to design a game that delivered the humor in a similar way, but also included elements to enhance use of skill and strategy. This pretty much ruled out designing another party game that used a judge.
The Premise: I did some analysis of those other games and discovered that they all share something in common. They all take some more or less random-ass shit (that by itself isn't all that interesting) and then put it in context (which is the spin that creates the humor). The random shit element reminded me of a technique I learned for problem solving, Random Word Brainstorming. In Random Word Brainstorming, you pick random words and use them as triggers during a brainstorming session. The words by themselves are pretty much meaningless, but as you put them in the context of the problem you're trying to solve, they lead you in new directions and provide possible solutions that you would not have otherwise considered. The reason it works is pretty obvious when you think about it. Although a word may only have a few formal meanings, it carries with it all kinds of associations that naturally arise in your mind when you consider them in the context of the problem you're trying to solve.
Another great example of word associations in action is the conversational games where you come up with a character name using some formula. It could be your porn name, stripper name, Christmas elf name or superhero name (just to name a few). The formulas are all pretty similar (like your mother's maiden name and your favorite pet's name for your porn name). Random word associations are at work here too, you're just using a formula to get the random words and the context is the type of character name you're creating.
The Challenge: I could clearly see the principle at work in all of these examples but one really important question remained: How do I gamify this to include some skill and strategy and also include fun words like fluffy, boobs taint and schlong?
The truth is that there was no epiphany from here on out, just a lot of trial and error.
The Firestorms and the First Prototype: It was October 2017. I had just completed my Associates Degree at Santa Rosa Junior College and was continuing my studies at Sonoma State University (on the GI Bill) when the Tubbs Fire broke out. It jumped Highway 101 and spread rapidly towards our neighborhood. In a matter of a few hours, the air was dense with smoke, a huge red glow was getting closer and we could hear explosions as the fire engulfed homes, cars, and the gas station that shared space with our favorite McDonald's restaurant. It wasn't until it started to rain ash, and pages of books with glowing embers still attached, that we finally evacuated. A close friend of my girlfriend's son was the last to join us. He abandoned his car on a side street and rode his skateboard to our house to beat the traffic. In total, five of us and our dog Oscar, all piled in my old high-top van (a wheelchair van from 1991 turned "surf van") and we joined the exodus. In hindsight, we could have all taken separate vehicles, but it felt right at the time to all stay together. Among the items I took was the first prototype (which at this point was made from dollar store playing cards, plastic card sleeves and scraps of paper with words and subjects written on them). The first round of play-testing took place during the mandatory evacuation period when we had nothing better to do but wait and hope.
The story has a happier ending for us, as we were among the lucky ones whose block and home was spared. And, for me and a few others, Spunky Word Nuggets became a part of that unique experience.
Notable Design Changes and Iterations: For the first year, I went in all sorts of different directions and focused mostly on storytelling variations. One concept I called "The Mayor of Bonerville", used question and answer cards to tell a story about different characters running for Mayor in the fictitious town of Bonerville. Questions and responses were used to build the candidates platform with the game culminating in a Mad Lib's style stump speech. Although the game had a lot of promise, I set the idea aside because it used a judge and didn't require any more skill than CAH. Also, it was 2016 and a campaign theme was risky. I also tried to gamify Good Name/Bad Name jokes and I wrote over 150 that I think were really good. However, the concept fell short of solid gamification. For those who aren't familiar with Good Name/Bad Name Jokes, an example is: "Joe's Crab Shack" is a good name for a seafood restaurant...but a bad name for hotel. I think these jokes have potential as Subject Cards, but the concept requires more testing. The first real word association design I tested looked more like a charades style game and contained only word cards. The idea was that the words would combine and make a thing that you would try to act out. It didn't survive play-testing but it pointed me in the direction I needed to go.
Many design changes came about from play-testing. The tarot sized Subject Cards (that can be read from all directions) came about from play-testing. The orange Number Cards came about from play-testing, because we discovered that words work so frequently in different subjects, even the person playing would forget which subject they chose. Hashtags as subjects were discovered when I read a tweet with some random words still fresh in my mind. The hashtag discovery lead to rewording of several subject cards to be more open-ended, which encourages more actual word associations and less trying to "make a thing" from your words.
I designed a simple and colorful typographic logo that includes mixed fonts and cattywampus text. I think it does a pretty good job of capturing the spirit of the game. The taglines were crafted to identify the game as a party game and to suggest that it's NSFW (not safe for work). They also highlight both "word associations" and "words".
Follow along as I walk through a sample hand and provide some tips and strategies for playing the game. It's kind of a long(ish) mostly boring slide show with narration but, there are some great pointers and insights on preparing responses and using strategy.
The sample hands starts at 4:57 and, in addition to being a great tutorial, it's good for a laugh.
Deal each player 10 Random Word Cards:
With rare exception, Word Cards contain a single word or a prefix or suffix. Some words are perfectly good and some words are perfectly bad.
Place 4 Subject Cards in the center of the table (or where everyone can see) with a tarot sized Number Card in the center:
Subject Cards are larger (tarot sized) and are written so they can be read from all directions.
Subject Cards require a response and may be phrased any number of ways. They may imply some sort of question, require a short response, a fill-in-the-blank, or a hashtag (#). The most important thing about subject cards is to allow for both closed-ended and open-ended interpretation, regardless of how they are worded.
Look for possible responses:
This is done by looking for "Things" AND by looking for "Word Associations"
SUBJECT CARDS CAN BE INTERPRETED IN TWO WAYS:
- Closed-ended: A more or less literal interpretation, where your Word Cards usually combine to form "a thing" and often take the form of an adjective and noun. These responses are often hilarious and can be an efficient way to respond with only a couple Word Cards.
- Open-ended: A looser interpretation that down-plays the Subject Card wording and focuses on the broader subject. The Word Cards used in the response are less of "a thing" and more of "word associations". The hashtag(#) Subject Cards are a perfect example of this because in actual use, hashtags are often just single words that suggest some relationship to another hashtag or to some subject and are not necessarily any specific "thing".
COMBINATIONS and ORDER: You should experiment with different word combinations (including multiple "things" or by combining "things" and "word associations") and the order you arrange them. People will see all words as associations AND they will naturally recognize "things" (whether you intended them or not) as they read words from left to right. Play around with the order and imagine which way leads the guesser in the right direction.
Regardless of which interpretation you take, you should choose your words and their subjects so other players can properly guess them. Remember that you're not being judged on how funny your response is. The funniest is often the best response, but the goal is for other players to guess the subject. The challenge is, because of word associations, words will often work in more than one subject.
In standard rules:
- You must respond to at least 1 Subject Card (and up to 3) with at least 2 Word Cards (no limit)
- You can only use each card once
- You can’t respond to the same Subject Card more than once
Note: These rules may differ when using any of the many alternate rules of play
Note: You don't have to keep you cards hidden in your hand. You can just lay them out on the table and start moving them around looking for possible combinations. The other players will be too busy with their own hand to focus on yours.
Choose your responses:
In the example below we decided to respond to three Subject Cards with the chosen Word Cards shown above them. In this example all three responses could be things, but they can also just be viewed as associations.
Notice that a “Spastic Granny” could easily go with #Caughtmasturbating too. But, by playing “Schlong Puppet” to go with #Caughtmasturbating, the other players are more likely to see that “Spastic Granny” belongs with “A poor choice for a party stripper”.
When preparing your responses, take note of the number that corresponds to the intended Subject Cards position (as indicated by the tarot sized number card in the middle of the Subject Card layout).
Arrange your responses neatly with the correct Orange Number Card and wait for your turn:
You can choose the order is which the answers are revealed so you might want to place them in that order. Some players take a strategic approach to choosing the order. For example: having them guess first on the set that you are most confident that they will guess correctly and last on the one you are least confident. The rationale behind this is that by the third guess, it’s down to a 50/50 chance that they will guess correctly. There is also a 50% chance they will guess incorrectly. So, in theory, you could play words that have weak association, or no association at all, and you could still get points or force a penalty on your opponents. In some alternate rules, this strategy would not work as much in your favor.
When it’s your turn, reveal only your Word Cards:
Read them aloud, and let the other players discuss the possibilities. Don’t provide any hints, especially as you read them. Alternately, you could have another player read them. The other players should consider your words in all four subjects and as both open-ended and closed-ended before the guess. In other words, they should look to see if your Word Cards form a thing or if they are just associations.
Time to Guess:
When everyone is ready, ask players to guess on the first set of Word Cards. Players can indicate their guess by verbalizing it, holding up a number of fingers or by placing a finger on their chosen subject card. The last one is probably the most engaging and fun.
Reveal your intended Subject Card:
When everyone is ready, turn over the number card to reveal the correct answer. If keeping score, record the results. Repeat the process with the remaining sets of Word Cards.
When you're done, the next player will go.
Keeping Score is optional and it’s perfectly okay to just play for fun. However, the game is designed to require some skill and strategy and many players really enjoy the competitive elements.
Player Revealing: +1 for each correct guess
Player Guessing: +1 for each correct guess and -1 for each incorrect guess. The penalty is an incentive against cutthroat play.
Alternate rules of play provide scoring methods that enhance competition and strategy such as sliding scales where the first, second and third set of words are scored differently.
You can designate someone to record the scores or have each player keep track of their own.
Over 400 Word Cards provide near endless possibilities.
Over 200 Subject Cards, which is about twice as many as other question and response style party games.
Includes an ADDITIONAL 20 blank Word Cards and 20 blank Subject Cards so you can include your own favorite words and subjects.
A full set of Orange Number Cards (32) for up to 8 players and a total of 4 Black Subject Number Cards as spares, and to compliment alternate rules of play.
A full color rules sheet including many suggestions for alternate rules of play.
Answers to Questions (that we hope someday might be frequently asked):
Question: Will this work as a CAH expansion?
Answer: No and we tested this out. It would make the worst expansion pack ever because of the way the cards are generally worded. You might discover cards that work but they would be few and far between. Using CAH Black Cards and Spunky Word Nuggets Word Cards produces slightly better results but it's still pretty bad.
Question: Are there plans for expansions and theme packs?
Answer: Yes. The game design lends itself to both theme and expansion packs as well as new types of Subject Cards. The hashtag cards were an accidental discovery and introduced later in the design phase. Hashtags work well because they paint in really broad strokes that work well with random word associations. The first expansion will likely include many more hashtags as well as some graphic based cards.
Question: Was there any inspiration for the game/how did you come up with the idea?
Answer: The design started with the idea to gamify random word brainstorming and the desire to have a humorous party game that required more skill and strategy than CAH and What do You Meme (both great games btw). I noticed that social icebreakers like creating your "porn name" used a form of random word association and I just ran thought experiments from there until I had an idea I could test. It was really more work than inspiration. It's also interesting to point out that there is really a sub-genre of party games that Spunky Word Nuggets belong in. I don't think the sub-genre has a name, so I'll just call it "the random-ass shit put in context sub-genre". I think it started with Mad Libs, which asks for specific words to complete sentences and tell stories. Apples to Apples uses things in the context of phrases or questions. Cards Against Humanity uses NSFW things and phrases. Joking Hazard uses cartoon frames in the context of the other cartoon frames to tell a story. What Do You Meme uses captions and pictures in the context of a meme. Conversational games like creating your "porn name" do it with some kind of formula like your mother's maiden name + your favorite pet's name. Spunky Word Nuggets uses random words and their associations in the context of different subjects. As I see it, all these games are related.
Question: Spunky Word Nuggets claims it doesn't use a judge, but couldn't I use a judge if I wanted to?
Answer: Sure, and it's one of the alternate rules of play. But, we think it's a better game when people guess. Besides, there are already some really awesome games that use a judge.
Question: Does the game require any skill?
Answer: That's a yes and no. Word associations are actually second nature to us so anyone can play the game. However, you do get better with practice. The more you play, the more the words will jump out at you and the more you will start to develop a sort of strategy to which cards you play.
Question: What's your favorite part of the game?
Answer: That it can be used as a 2-player, multi-player or team game. The 2-player aspect is really great because there just aren't many (if any) humorous NSFW games that work well with only 2 players.
Risks and challenges
I think the biggest challenge is getting enough exposure to meet the funding goal. I'm not a public figure and this is a brand new game. My strategy is to keep the campaign as simple as I can so I can focus my efforts on marketing during the campaign. There's only a few pledge levels and no stretch goals planned. I hope to really engage the community over social media during the campaign and encourage suggestions for Subject Cards to include in the final game (not a contest, a conversation).
Another challenge is overcoming the "CAH clone" perception. The perception is created because of the points-of-parity that exist between Spunky Word Nuggets Subject Cards and CAH Black Cards and the fact that clone games have popped up everywhere. I've included a rather detailed video on playing your hand that should make the differences clear. And, I have branded the game to emphasize "words' and "word associations".
I don't consider further game development to present any significant challenge. The game you see in the campaign media is a working prototype that has undergone one major design change and several iterations to get where it is today. I made the box by hand but the cards were professionally printed so, I am familiar with creating commercial print files. As far as the card writing goes, I have more than enough cards already written for the game. I would like to include some backer suggestion and, depending on the number of suggestions, this may add a couple of days to the print file creation. The game is in a constant state of play-testing so I can wordsmith Subject Card for the best result. This will continue until the final print file. Finally, I need to wordsmith the rules sheet with all the alternate rules of play.
There is always some risk with overseas manufacturing and I am considering both international and domestic partners. Just to be on the safe side, I have advertised a February delivery for rewards, which is in-line with the 120-150 days that most manufacturers quote. I promise to do everything I can to reduce delivery time as much as I am able.
I've really done my best to mitigate risk as much as I can. Some other KS projects have experienced problems because they set their funding goal too low. They based the funding goal on the minimum order quantity, but did not consider shipping costs. As a result, they had enough money to buy the minimum order from their manufacturer but not enough to pay for shipping to the backer. I made sure to calculate our funding goal by assuming a worse case scenario with unit cost, import and freight costs, and included the cost to ship to the backer. It also includes Kickstarter's cut. This way, when the project funds, it will actually have sufficient funds to fulfill obligations.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)