I don’t know what I’m doing, and That’s Okay

I have a bunch of projects upcoming here.  This one started a little differently.

One year ago Colleen Anderson asked me to submit an epic poem into her anthology called Alice Unbound.  Initially, I had no idea what I was going to say about Wonderland.  I mean, everyone has done a Wonderland story right? What could I possibly say about Wonderland that hasn’t been said?

It turns out, quite a lot. Around this time I met a very pretty woman with a gorgon tattoo on her arm she designed herself. I was captivated by her, and we became friends. With her as an inspiration I had an angle on Alice in Wonderland that I thought was unique and fresh.

It turns out, I had a ton of fun writing it. And it was good. Colleen said it was good.  Unfortunately, it didn’t make the final cut for the anthology. It happens.

Alice Unbound

That said, this is a pretty cool anthology and you can check it out here. Colleen is everything an editor can ask for. She is encouraging and wanted me to do something with this piece.

What to do with it though? I liked it, and didn’t really want to cut this down.  I wasn’t sure that this poem could be lengthened up.  It was a prologue to a larger story in my head.  With the Watcher series concluded, I needed to do another poetry epic. I believe that this has legs.  (And it turns out, I’m right.)

But I didn’t want to just rehash the Watcher. I wanted to create a different experience, not just with the story, but with the presentation.

Snakes and Ladder Board Template

I thought that Snakes and Ladders was an appropriate metaphor for the story I was telling. Alice and games, particularly this one, fits not only her narrative, but also the nature of the story itself.

Yeah, that’s right. I’d do a board game fantasy world map.  That would be cool, right? Right, I told myself.  So I found this and imagined all the worlds in my Wonderland saga and smiled.  Yes, this fits.  I know this is going to work.

Then I asked myself the question that doomed me to the nth degree.

How do you play this game?

The moment I asked that, the basic rules of the game came into my brain.  Honestly, it felt like they were beamed into my brain. Strangely enough, after thinking about it, I thought that maybe there was legs to this game.

That my friends is how you accidentally invent a board game.  I don’t feel bad admitting it.  The best things I’ve ever done has been done by just doing things.  One door leading to another and another.

So yeah, I’m constructing a board game with a snakes and ladders motif.

Or was I?


When I started designing the board, I obviously considered homaging the Snakes and Ladders concept, but thought about trying something different. I liked the circular motion of this idea. But after looking at it carefully, I nixed this idea.  It was too eyeball like for starters.  Also, it just didn’t have the feel I wanted.  The only way to make a board like this work would be if I was using star constellations.  But with the nature of the story that seemed very blah.

Okay.  Let’s try something else then.



First off, this looks way to much like the letter E.  And while a labyrinth does play a role in the story, it shouldn’t be the whole board. I had other, more inventive ways to travel in this game.

Still, I threw this in here because it’s always good to experiment and try different things.  Even though I’m not going to go this way, it did give me some thoughts about secret pathways and other neat things that could go on the board in the future.  In the end though, this concept would just not do.


But this was definitely the right track.

I went with the one hundred square board.  It fits the whole snake and ladders homage, which I think is going to be a necessity to the game, but it also with the way I positioned it, it gave me context not only to the shape of the board, but also the shape of the story.  I know now the number of books, and how many worlds are going to be featured in my saga.

All because of this little weird number grid.  Cool huh?

I still got a lot of work to go.  The bristol board and board game design is going to be tricky. I’m buying a few pieces to get the whole concept nailed down in rough.  It’s going to look very hodge podge as I get into testing the basic concepts of the game and the story down in the next couple of weeks.

And really, I have no idea if this is the right way to do it. That’s part of the fun to be honest. I’ve never let not knowing what the heck I was doing get int the way of trying something different. You may be able to follow along with the basic ideas I’m working on here. Maybe not. I’ve tried to be clear, but not too clear.

That said, this is going to be a very ambitious way to do this project. I don’t know a lot of variables. The basic idea may change as I move forward with the concept. Then again, it may just be perfect. Who knows?

I don’t know.

A lot of people get afraid of I don’t know for some reason. Truth is, there’s a lot of things I don’t know. I don’t know how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.  I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and I barely know what’s going to happen today. All I know for sure is that I can try.

Really, that’s all any of us can do. I may be an imposter and this might fail

So what though? In my experience, failure leads to more unexpected doors being open. I encourage you all to go off the beaten path and try something a little different. Maybe designing a board game isn’t for you. But I bet there are other things in your life that are worth exploring and doing.

You never know until you try right?

To Be Continued…

Published by jpantalleresco

I write and I wander. I am currently in Canada, tomorrow who is to say? I just released Veritas, my first comic, done with Craig Cermak and Jim Reddington. I currently write columns for http://www.comicbloc.com and http://allpulp.blogspot.com. I have published essays, worked on magazines and movies and am working on my first novel, graphic novels and am planning on committing suicide on my first feature film. I chase my dreams wherever I may go. When I'm not writing I work on a day job and read, play video games and magic and chase girls. Sometimes I even catch them.

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