Thought Residue
No Creepers
Fluxx Version 4.0 contains several Creepers. While some players love this revision, others say they prefer the simpler game, without the added complexity that accompanies Creepers.
Now, I stand by the logic of my decision regarding the retrofit of Creepers into Fluxx 4.0, which is this: War & Death & Taxes simply aren’t Keeper material in a universe where Creepers have been invented. And when I’ve used Creepers in other versions, I’ve done so because the subject matter demanded it.
But I understand what those who prefer Fluxx in its original, four-card-type format are saying, and that’s why we decided to leave Creepers out of the special edition of Fluxx now available at Target (which also omits a few other pesky cards, such as Inflation and First Play Random). 
Furthermore, we’ve also made a minor change to Fluxx 4.0 itself. As of the most recent printing, we’ve replaced the Meta Rule called Rules Escalation (which wasn’t really very interesting, and often made no difference at all) with a new Meta Rule called No Creepers, shown here.
The No Creepers Meta Rule makes it both easy and acceptable to say “Let’s play without Creepers,” and also provides a good way to introduce Creepers to new players gradually.

No Creepers

Fluxx Version 4.0 contains several Creepers. While some players love this revision, others say they prefer the simpler game, without the added complexity that accompanies Creepers.

Now, I stand by the logic of my decision regarding the retrofit of Creepers into Fluxx 4.0, which is this: War & Death & Taxes simply aren’t Keeper material in a universe where Creepers have been invented. And when I’ve used Creepers in other versions, I’ve done so because the subject matter demanded it.

But I understand what those who prefer Fluxx in its original, four-card-type format are saying, and that’s why we decided to leave Creepers out of the special edition of Fluxx now available at Target (which also omits a few other pesky cards, such as Inflation and First Play Random).

Furthermore, we’ve also made a minor change to Fluxx 4.0 itself. As of the most recent printing, we’ve replaced the Meta Rule called Rules Escalation (which wasn’t really very interesting, and often made no difference at all) with a new Meta Rule called No Creepers, shown here.

The No Creepers Meta Rule makes it both easy and acceptable to say “Let’s play without Creepers,” and also provides a good way to introduce Creepers to new players gradually.

RIP Moon Man #1

As I was out walking our dog Molly this afternoon, my iPhone buzzed. Reading the message made me sad: Neil Armstrong had died.

As I continued walking, I thought about where I was when I heard the news that Neil had landed on the Moon: I was out for a walk, with my mommy. I was only 5 at the time and I have no actual memory of this — I only know because I asked Mom about it years later, as a NASA-obsessed adult. But apparently we heard the famous words “The Eagle Has Landed” from a transistor radio that mom was carrying as we wandered up a street called Hitching Post Hill.

So I learned the news of both Neil’s landing and his passing while out for a walk, in both cases via the handheld communication wonder of the day.

Anyway, Rest in Peace Commander Armstrong.


The Experiments Are Over

Right now, in Columbus Ohio, the Origins Game Fair is underway. And we are not there.

It’s a weird feeling. We’ve been to every Origins since 1997, and for the past 12 years we’ve been running a big event there called The Big Experiment. It’s become an increasingly big deal every year, and we’ve had a heck of a lot of fun doing it. But when they announced the dates for this year’s Origins, we realized we couldn’t go, it being significantly earlier than ever before and still during the school year. Since we depend on the help of many who are parents, we just couldn’t see running the Big Experiment without their big help. So we decided to skip Origins this year.

Now, as Origins 2012 goes on without us, we have to answer the next question: What about 2013?

Well, I’m sad announce that we’ve officially decided not to resume running Big Experiments. The results are in, and even though it’s been a lot of fun, we don’t want to continue the Experiment. Decisions are good.

It’s a decision that may seem hard to believe, even shocking, since the Big Experiments have been such a big deal for us. And it was a very tough decision, since we’ve really enjoyed these events. Origins was always a high point of the year for me.

But from the standpoint of doing what’s best for Looney Labs, we just can’t justify the costs. Each year, it has become a little more complex, and even though we tried to simplify and cut things back from time to time, the planning required has continued to increase.

Part of the problem has been our own success. With each passing year, we’ve added more games to the library, and at this point, there are so many that it’s no longer possible to even play them all in one long weekend, let alone run tournaments for everything. What started as an event focused on a single game (Fluxx in the first tourneys we ran at Origins, and Icehouse before that in events we ran for 8 years at a local con called Disclave) has ballooned into a series of events so complex it takes months of advance planning to coordinate. The planning involved has become akin to staging a big wedding, or an even more complex event, and doing that every year is just exhausting.

We are a game publishing company, not an event-hosting company, and our business is better served by keeping the focus on the games themselves, rather than any specific event. And when it comes to events, we need to think in terms of creating a franchise, not a restaurant. We’ve been putting lots of energy into running a single annual event while neglecting all the other conventions where Looney Labs games would also be popular. (Coming soon: exciting info on our support for other events!)

So, after conducting 12 Big Experiments, it’s time to examine the results of those Experiments, see what we’ve learned, and make our conclusions. (For those of you who’ve read Good to Great: It’s a painful, “Selling the Mills” moment, but we’ve decided to put the Big Experiment on our Stop Doing List.)

Part of the fun we started will live on, like the big nightly werewolf hunts, which are happening at Origins without us. I’m sure there are plenty of people playing Looney Labs games at Origins without us. And we want to encourage that, just as we will seek to encourage more Looney Labs gaming events at every convention everywhere. But the Big Experiments are officially over. Thank you to everyone who was a part of these events over the years!

The Star Wars Prequels I Wish I Could See

I love Cracked.com. I can get lost for hours, surfing from one hilarious, insightful, and informative article to the next. There are so many great essays up there, but the one that’s really stuck in my mind right now is called the 4 Biggest Missed Opportunities in Fiction, by Daniel O’Brien.

Many have written about the flaws of the Star Wars prequels, but no one has ever described so well what they should have done instead. Daniel’s ideas are brilliant. I really wish I could see the movies he describes.

Young American Primitive Quotes Page


One of my favorite recordings ever is the eponymous Young American Primitive album. It’s prime electronica with occasional samples of quotes from old Outer Limits episodes, Hitchcock movies, and, in one case, Apocalypse Now. For years, we’ve wondered about the source of this quote or that, and figuring one out was always an exciting moment. Anyway, I was thinking of making a webpage, listing all the quotes we’ve figured out so far, when Rash pointed me to this page at s107.net. Yes, someone else has already built exactly what I wanted! And moreover, wow! What a concept for a site as a whole: Sources of Voice Samples in Music. What a great resource!

Chrononaut Spotted in Steampunk BibleHere’s something fun I randomly found while flipping through my copy of The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer. On page 155, in a section called “Eight Ways to Raise Your Steampunk Fashion Game,” I discovered this photo of a chrono-displaced chap sporting one of our out-of-print Time Repair Agency T-shirts! The point of the photo is actually the golden gizmo this dude is brandishing. “Whether carrying them or wearing them on belts, Steampunks need their tools,” Jeff reports in a bullet point called “Tools/Weapons.” What I especially love is that this guy’s costume seems to consist entirely of the all-important Tool/Weapon and a Chrononauts t-shirt. And sunglasses.

Chrononaut Spotted in Steampunk Bible

Here’s something fun I randomly found while flipping through my copy of The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer. On page 155, in a section called “Eight Ways to Raise Your Steampunk Fashion Game,” I discovered this photo of a chrono-displaced chap sporting one of our out-of-print Time Repair Agency T-shirts! The point of the photo is actually the golden gizmo this dude is brandishing. “Whether carrying them or wearing them on belts, Steampunks need their tools,” Jeff reports in a bullet point called “Tools/Weapons.” What I especially love is that this guy’s costume seems to consist entirely of the all-important Tool/Weapon and a Chrononauts t-shirt. And sunglasses.

The Eponymous Victory CallI always get a thrill out of finding a reference to one of my games in another form of popular media, so I was tickled to see Chrononauts being played in a recent webcomic called Deep and Meaningless.In this case, what I liked best was the middle panel, shown here, in which the woman yells out the name of the game they are playing as she wins. Her kid complains about how often she apparently does this, but I think that’s great — Surprise ‘em with a Victory Cry!You can do this with any game, of course, but there’s at least one game (besides Bingo) that actually tells you to do this in the rules: It’s a lesser known game for Looney Pyramids called Zagami, by Kory Heath. (When you win, you are also supposed to stand up, throw your hands in the air, and spin around as you shout out the name of game you are playing… but perhaps that’s overkill. Fortunately, it’s optional.)

The Eponymous Victory Call

I always get a thrill out of finding a reference to one of my games in another form of popular media, so I was tickled to see Chrononauts being played in a recent webcomic called Deep and Meaningless.

In this case, what I liked best was the middle panel, shown here, in which the woman yells out the name of the game they are playing as she wins. Her kid complains about how often she apparently does this, but I think that’s great — Surprise ‘em with a Victory Cry!

You can do this with any game, of course, but there’s at least one game (besides Bingo) that actually tells you to do this in the rules: It’s a lesser known game for Looney Pyramids called Zagami, by Kory Heath. (When you win, you are also supposed to stand up, throw your hands in the air, and spin around as you shout out the name of game you are playing… but perhaps that’s overkill. Fortunately, it’s optional.)

New Cool Word: Ambivert

I’ve just had a startling moment of self-enlightenment, combined with a vocabulary lesson. Why? Because, as I’ve just discovered, I’m an ambivert.

An ambivert is someone who’s both an introvert and an extrovert.

Some years ago, I made the startling self-enlightenment discovery that I was an introvert. This amazed me at the time because I’d always thought of myself as being rather extroverted. But after reading some stuff about introverts that really spoke to me, I totally embraced my introverted side.

I thought of myself as an introvert who’d developed a good set of skills for life in an extrovert’s world.

I convinced myself I was an introvert in extrovert’s clothing because I thought that, like sheep and wolves, a person had to be one or the other. (This despite remembering that my personality rating had actually come up as XNTP when I took those tests long ago.)

But my third eye has just been pried opened by Susan Cain, author of a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In the introduction, she provides a list of 20 questions that introverts mostly answer with a yes… but which, for me, were only true 11 times.

Then she says, “If you found yourself with a roughly equal number of true and false answers, then you may be an ambivert. Yes, there really is such a word.”

So now I see myself as even more of a non-conformist, having moved from the oppressed minority of the introvert to the solitary world of the exception to the rule.

I truly am unlike most people. I’m an ambivert.

Found: My Earliest Game Design Artifact!In my essay about Risk: Legacy, I went off on a tangent about the very first game design thing I ever did, which was a small board version of a sixties-era game called Battle Cry.After writing about it, I decided to re-create (and improve upon) the idea I had hatched as a kid, and even gave copies of this re-imagined prototype to my brothers as Christmas gifts.Then, in an amazing turn of events, I was digging around in the old game closet at my parent’s house on Christmas day, and I found the next best thing to my long-lost first-ever prototype. Tucked inside the old Mouse Trap board (who knows why) was a small piece of cardboard which I instantly recognized as an abandoned first draft of my original gameboard!It’s a fascinating artifact: It’s clear from studying it that I was having issues (the railroad network was too complex) and I clearly stopped working on it after drawing the first 2 grid lines and realizing I had the scale wrong. (It even seems as though I’d started re-using this piece of cardboard for some other unknown purpose, since I’d cut 2 circles from its edges.)Anyway, it’s amazing to compare this first draft version with the one I recently re-invented — they’re practically the same size!

Found: My Earliest Game Design Artifact!

In my essay about Risk: Legacy, I went off on a tangent about the very first game design thing I ever did, which was a small board version of a sixties-era game called Battle Cry.

After writing about it, I decided to re-create (and improve upon) the idea I had hatched as a kid, and even gave copies of this re-imagined prototype to my brothers as Christmas gifts.

Then, in an amazing turn of events, I was digging around in the old game closet at my parent’s house on Christmas day, and I found the next best thing to my long-lost first-ever prototype.

Tucked inside the old Mouse Trap board (who knows why) was a small piece of cardboard which I instantly recognized as an abandoned first draft of my original gameboard!

It’s a fascinating artifact: It’s clear from studying it that I was having issues (the railroad network was too complex) and I clearly stopped working on it after drawing the first 2 grid lines and realizing I had the scale wrong. (It even seems as though I’d started re-using this piece of cardboard for some other unknown purpose, since I’d cut 2 circles from its edges.)

Anyway, it’s amazing to compare this first draft version with the one I recently re-invented — they’re practically the same size!

The Best Part of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Everybody loves the classic story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. If you’re like me, you favor the original book (by James Bond creator Ian Fleming) which is radically different from the Dick Van Dyke musical. So what’s your favorite scene? Mine is the part where Caractacus Potts has locked himself away in his garage, tinkering away on his amazing new invention, and everyone else is waiting outside, wondering what he will soon unveil…