First!

Hi! 🙂 I’m Nico. I’m a game designer at Balangay Entertainment™, a tabletop game design company based in the Philippines. I have around 3-4 years experience in working with games since I started sometime between 2011-2012.

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we has logo!

I’m starting this blog:

  • to let you guys know what we’re up to here at Balangay
  • to share my own experiences as a game designer
    • I hope some of the stuff on this blog can help other designers
  • to share my music
  • to write about my own life and experiences
    • I’ll try to keep this at a minimum. If ever I’ll write about my own things, it will most probably be connected to Balangay, Game Design, or my music.

So, who am I?

First of, Hi! (again) I’m Nicanor Marco Padilla Valdez. I’m a game designer, songwriter, amateur writer, ex-audio engineer, and president of Balangay Entertainment™.

The road to founding Balangay Entertainment™ has been a winding one with many twists and turns. I’ll probably write a post in the future about how Balangay started but for now I just want to share my own personal journey- just so you know who is writing this blog.

Like most kids of our generation, I’ve always loved games, but there was one thing I loved more- Music.

When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to be a songwriter/rockstar. At Pisay, I spent more time playing guitar and writing songs than studying. I can humbly say I was pretty good too 😀 I’ll eventually share some of my songs on this blog when I have the time to properly record them.

I was so committed to a future in music that I took up Electrical and Electronics Engineering (ECE) in UP as a precursor to being an Audio Engineer. I took my studies more seriously this time and graduated magna cum laude- albeit delayed (which I still find funny).

My introduction to game development was through music. One of the laboratories at UP was making iOS games and needed people to take care of the music and SFX. Originally, audio was my sole responsibility. But since I also love coding, I ended up becoming one of the developers as well.

The sad part of this story started to forebode itself early during my college days. I always thought I had a low social tolerance. Parties and events always drained me and gave me headaches. At first, I just chalked it up to introvertism- until I started hearing things. I started to hear radio static in my right ear when people clapped their hands or shouted. I started to feel the bass drum pounding inside my head. Along with the sounds came headaches, migraines, nausea, and fatigue.

At first it was a rare inconvenience but as time passed, the sensations became more frequent. I went to different doctors and none of their explanations could suffice. It was when I was already working as a game app developer when I finally met a doctor who was able to explain what I had.

I had a rare condition called Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence. It’s so rare it was only discovered in 1998. (Click the link if you want to read up more on it.)

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Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence- not the most fun condition

Basically, one of the bones in my right ear is thinner than normal. Because of this, sound waves affect my brain directly. This gives me all sorts of sensations. There is no cure except surgery, which is a gamble and is not recommended if not needed.

It took me a while to really understand the repercussions of this condition but I knew that I could not devote myself to music anymore (unless I was okay with constantly having headaches and being fatigued.)

Eventually, I quit my Audio Engineering/Game Coding job at UP to found Balangay Entertainment™ with 4 friends from High School. I guess I can say I’m one of the lucky ones because I have a lot of passions. The music may be gone but now my energy is directed to the “quieter” art of game design.

It still affects me though as a game designer. Don’t expect to see me hanging around boardgame cafes often because they’re too noisy for me to handle. Wide open spaces are the best place for me to be. 🙂

Balangay Entertainment™

Balangay Entertainment™ was founded by Karlo Senga, Marx Rulloda, Aaron Galzote, Aya Cariño, and myself in around 2013-2014. We are a tabletop game design company that makes socially relevant games.

Our three main goals are to make games:

  1. For information, education, and communication campaigns
  2. To promote Filipino culture, folklore, and indigneous heritage
  3. To expand Filipino popular works

Some of the games we have created include:

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That’s not comic sans. That’s Aa’s handwriting.

Resilience: Survive and Thrive™ is a simulation game about the environment, climate change, and economic development. The players take the roles of barangay captains who are competing to have the most developed barangay. However, overdevelopment may damage the environment which makes everyone vulnerable to extreme weather events like typhoons and flash floods. We developed RST in partnership with the Biodiversity and Resilience Project (BaRC2) of UP.

Resilience is one of the more educational games we’ve designed as it delves into the politics of climate change. It’s also the first game we officially designed.

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Oooh shiny

Energy Superstar: Bid, Save, Win!™ is a bidding game about saving electricity through efficient appliances and energy-saving habits. We developed ESS with help from DDB Philippines and the Department of Energy.

Energy Superstar is fun and frantic. Though originally planned for grade school students, we were pleasantly surprised to find players of all ages enjoying it. It’s our most fun game to date.

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Still thinking of the official title

Trese: the boardgame (not the final title) is based on the bestselling comics by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. The game follows the adventures of Alexandra Trese as she protects Manila from creatures from Philippine Folklore and Mythology.

This game is still in development though most of the core gameplay is already there.

We have many other projects in the pipeline. Though I’d love to share them to you, some of them are still hush-hush.

That’s it for now 🙂 I read somewhere 1,000-ish words is the best length for a blog (lest I bore you with so much words). Please stay tuned for news, updates, articles about game design, etc. I hope to update this blog at least once every week 😀

Oh, and like us at Balangay Entertainment™, Resilience: Survive and Thrive™, and Energy Superstar™ 😀 Thanks! 🙂

Follow Nico Valdez:

Game Designer

Nico is a game designer, programmer, songwriter, ex-audio engineer, amateur fiction writer, and president of Balangay EntertainmentÂŽ. One of the less competitive members of Balangay, Nico only wins against 2k, Marx, and Aya when he's played the game before and they haven't. Nico always wins against Aa. He'll play almost anything as long as it's not loud. He likes euro games for their strategy and thematic games for their roleplaying. He doesn't like party games that much because they get too noisy for his ear disability.

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