(Previously on the Bug Council of Backyardia Designer Diary:
As I finished up the rules overview to send to Pat, the last thing I had to do was figure out what the theme and name was going to be. The concepts of shifting power structures and secret allegiances brought to mind a world of political machinations and hushed deals in council chambers. This, of course, evoked a Game of Thrones style world to me. As a huge Game of Thrones fan (well, before those last two seasons at least), I was instantly enamored with crafting my own George R. R. Martin style world of bitter House rivalries and Machiavellian backstabbing. I immediately began to write down some ideas for various medieval Houses/families, trying to come up with things like their names, sigils and brief biographies.
But you know that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine starts hanging out with a Bizarro version of the group? And then George makes a last-minute plea to join the Bizarro gang as Elaine chooses them over the real characters? Elaine’s response is “We already have a George.” That’s how I felt about this theme. We already have a George and we already have a Game of Thrones. Why bother trying to out George R. R. Martin the author himself when I could just try something different and perhaps something more unique?
The obvious next step in this theme’s evolution? Bugs. Yes, bugs. Why did I choose bugs? Great question! I have no clue. My brain suddenly spat out this idea of anthropomorphic bugs in a Game of Thrones style world and I was instantly smitten. I began to draft the rules in a way that supported this new theme, replacing all references to various Houses with bug types. The bugs I chose – ants, flies, cockroaches, bees, and mosquitos – were mostly placeholders and the ones I came up with off the top of my head, but they just kind of stuck throughout the entire process. So, they’re still here, as the official suits in the game! Congrats to all the bugs who made it this far! Except for the mosquitos, I will never congratulate a mosquito on anything.
Next came the game title. When going with the more typical Game of Thrones theme, I was thinking of calling the game something like ‘Houses of <whatever name I came up with for the fictional game world>’. Now that the idea of medieval Houses was gone, replaced with bug species I was referring to as ‘Factions’ within the rule book, it obviously didn’t fit right. So, I went to the next idea, which was to draw off the fact that I had named the mancala area the ‘Council’ and tried playing around with the title of ‘Council of <whatever name I came up with for the fictional game world>’. But this felt too generic and didn’t quite capture the all-important fact that this is a game where bugs are the stars.
So, how did I subtly hint that this game is about bugs?? By adding the word ‘Bug’ in front of ‘Council.’ Hey, I never claimed to be clever or smart.
So, there we had it: Bug Council. I almost left it there as the title but, again, it didn’t have the panache that I wanted. I went back to the idea of ‘Bug Council of <whatever name I came up with for the fictional game world>’ but that required having a name for the fictional realm these bugs would inhabit. I pondered for a bit…Bugtopia? Nah, felt like that’s been used before. Bugopolis? Ehh, still didn’t feel creative enough. Then I began thinking about how bugs are found in a backyard and before I knew it my fingers typed out the name ‘Backyardia’.
And so it was born: Bug Council of Backyardia.
That’ll conclude Part Two! In Part Three, I’ll go into how we managed to playtest the game and how that first iteration felt. See you then!