Mind Shadows – state of design in January 2016

The working name for the board game I am designing is Mind Shadows. In the current design, which is the 10th iteration, players together find ways to overcome Shadows – real-world problems or concepts.

You start by giving each other super-powers that represent your strengths in the real world. When playing you monitor each other’s wellbeing, finding ways make to each other happy, and lending each other support when low. The shadow will fight that all the way, but by playing creatively you can reduce its negative emotion and significance – and win the game.


My friend Patricia Erlandsson took this snapshot of her board when we played in December.

You play with supportive cards, while the shadow uses destructive ones. You can author new support cards as needed that affects both the other players, and the shadow.

During play a story-pile is created, helping you to keep track of who did what. In the end of the game, the pile is summary of how you jointly approached your shadow. Then, you can pick the best new cards to become part of your deck, personalising it, making it possible for one friend’s support-card to help another friend, in a future game.

Indie != Solitude

To my delight I have realised that going indie didn’t equal going into solitude – not at all! Friends and family have been generous with the their time, helping me play test and to brainstorm how to improve the design. I’ve had regular Skype meetings with Ron Meiners, which has been invaluable for both improving the thinking, and for getting a sense of continuity in the work. He even took the prototype to Project Horseshoe last fall, a think-tank on game design. He played the prototype with luminaries like Steve Meterzky and Ted Castranova, and came back with very practical advice for changes that i could implement immediately. It is also great to have the regular support of the members of VICE (virtual institute of computational expression) to ‘report’ to – we have regular google hangout meetings and a constant slack-channel where we talk about our various projects.

Here are a few photos from play-sessions:

Playtest 1. Winning!

My aunt and mother, just having won against Shadows of Fear and of Loss (Sorrow)


Play box use - boat

Perhaps its a boat.


Play test # 13

Amy Hoover and Julian Togelius play Mind Shadows in August in Sweden

Amy and Julian when they won

Amy and Julian having won over a shadow of Pain

Some Slides

In December last year I was invited to give a talk at Vaasa Game Days in Finland.  I took the opportunity to talk about how we can, through design, encourage kindness and creativity. I talked some about Mind Shadows towards the end – I link to the slides here as I added some pictures of the prototype in it (starting at slide 76):
Designing for Creativity and Kindness in Games from Mirjam Eladhari

Right Now

Right now I have two top priorities for moving the design forward:

  • Get feedback from people who play the game straight from the instruction book –  without having someone who knows the game well playing it with them. I’m hoping to make the instructions as clear as humanly possible. If you want to play, get in touch with me via email: info[at]otter-play.com!
  • Get feedback is to have people who DO know the game play it multiple times to see how the mechanics holds up when re-played. As it is now, I have only made tests where the participants in the test learns the mechanics *during* the test.



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