Category Archives: Making

Articles in this category are about tools and ideas about making things, and my belief that you can make things.

September Game Project — Lane Chase

Every month of 2022, I am trying, as part of both my PhD project and my all-purpose general game development, develop if not a whole game for game development, a project start, such that I can make playtest prototypes. This is a sort of report of the process throughout the month.



What I started with this month was this:

This little Y unit that creates, in a player space, and in the process created lanes.

I didn’t get much time to work on this prototype this month. Honestly, I didn’t really get any time — this project hit a wall early on because this month had other demands. I’m embarrassed by it but I’m also just admitting it. This month has to marking crushes and a pressure point on the non-fun bits of the PhD (you know, all the paperwork that is meant to build off this design).

But still, this idea yielded some thoughts.

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CoX: The 49th

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.


Nearly ten feet of solid, ice-cold, star-hot Canadian battle goddess, the woman known as The 49th remembers a world almost like, but not quite like, the one she’s in. Where she’s from, Canada was the dominant empire of the North Americas, not the USA. Where she’s from, humans tapped the power of stars to create champions. And where she’s from, things were a lot more polite and liberal on some topics.

In the event she knows as the Great Collapse, her world is gone – not only that, but it seems it never existed. A portal incident that has echoes throughout time. Still, she survived it, endured it – and now she’s here, on her own, building in her own time and space in this familiar-but-not-quite world.

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Switch Stances Update

Yeah I know I gave you the main post on this a week ago. I’m still thinking about it. Mainly I got thinking about how once you have the combinatorics done, this game creates a huge number of unique game pieces with only a small number of pieces.

Okay, so the game is basically a trick taker; you’re all playing skateboarders hanging out at the skate park, and you have multiple areas you can chain tricks from. This means you can use weak cards to try and build combinations nobody else can match or exceed, and you can try and goad people into trying tricks that they can’t do yet. Particularly, everyone has a unique deck of cards, with each card showing two suits. When I was working on prospective designs I belted out a draft and hated it and then, today, spent some time working on a draft I don’t hate.

Here are some examples of what the cards ‘should’ look like – each of these being from a different player’s deck:

There’s some strategic depth here created by knowing that your options are not the same as your opponent’s. See, here, if you’re the second player, you can use your F4 as an A to bait another player’s best D card. They have to follow suit, so if you’re willing to give up a 4 in F, you can get rid of an opponent’s 6 in D, and know that they won’t likely be able to oppose your own 6 later.

These cards are however, really simple once I realised I was overthinking things. Each card is made up of three simple parts:

Note that the rotational divider is entirely aesthetic, if I was feeling really fancy I could leave it out, but I like it. I’m not good at skateboard aesthetics.

Anyway, all of this is just standin filler components; the suits should probably not be letters, and if I was a more authentic skateboarding fan rather than a fan of it as a hypothetical, I could imagine each of those suits representing a common move that can be used to chain into more, complicated moves. The card art is also a filler piece, gained from a DuckDuckGo image search.

See, thing with this, the thing that lingers in my mind and why I kinda wonder about finding an artist who can breathe another layer of depth into this, is because with this handful of components I’ve managed to solve eighty cards in this game’s design. And once I have that suddenly proxying it up and practicing with it looks more simple, more feasible.

Cool Tapes

I was born in an age when television was pumped into your house via some variety of tube. This is why the box of a TV was so large – it had to contain the bottle that filled up with television over the course of the day, and the screen you watched it on was the ‘bottom’ of it. You watched it when it was on — and that meant there were times of day, when, well, it didn’t matter what you wanted to watch, the TV was only offering news, news, and also, news. Channel 10 was at least kind enough to put the news on at 5 PM (First at 5) so the ‘news’ slot could be replaced by the Simpsons reruns.

But at some point in my youth, back when I was a youths, we acquired a Beta recorder, then, quickly, a VHS recorder, that let us record dad’s Murphy Brown episodes while he was away at Bible Study and we wanted to watch… I… you know, I don’t know. But we watched something.

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Asset Brainstorm #9 — Moba Lanes

As a matter of practice, it’s important to me that I keep demonstrating different ways to engage with games. Making games is a practice, and when you can look at game assets and consider ways to apply them, you’ll begin to see how much of game design is stuff you can do. Therefore, on this blog I’m making it a project to regularly grab some game assets I couldn’t make myself, that are made for game designers to work with, and see what ideas they inspire.


This time I don’t have art assets to look at. Reiner Knizier has said that when you work on games, you start with an aesthetic, a mechanic, or a device – and in this case I’ve been thinking about a device for some time. I’m not sure where I saw it, but I’ve been thinking about MOBA games for a long time. A long time ago, a friend of mine and I were toying with the idea of a management game about running an eSports team, and that meant spending time thinking about… well, MOBAs.

Anyway, here’s a diagram.

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August Game Project — Switch Stances

Every month of 2022, I am trying, as part of both my PhD project and my all-purpose general game development, develop if not a whole game for game development, a project start, such that I can make playtest prototypes. This is a sort of report of the process throughout the month.


This month I got to the outline stage of designing a trick-taking game which is now firmly at the ‘make a prototype and see how it plays in person.’ And it’s about skateboarders, and I have a challenge now about aesthetic choices.

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T-Shirt: MTG Tricks

I’ve been working on this on and off for a while now. Basically, I conceived of iconography to represent a bunch of Magic: The Gathering two-card combos as simple, icons that represent a pleasant to look at image that also had that secondary meaning.

And here’s what I got so far:

First up, Painter Grindstone. Available here.

Second up, Channel Fireball, available here.

And finally, Vault-key, available here.

How To Be: Bridget (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

You don’t have long on this earth. THE FASTEST SINNER WILL EDIT THE TEXT. MISSION ONE. WHATABURGER! A MIDNIGHT MEAL WITH THE DEVIL

THE CARBUNCLE ATE ITSELF! FIRST HOWDY!

LET’S GET THE MONEY. GODS PLAY DICE WITH THE UNIVERSE, WHY DON’T YOU GIVE HER A CALL. FIRST SHOWDOWN ATTACK, Crank it To 11! WORLD IS A FUCK

Round the first: Grind!

It’s Labor Day.

Let’s talk about Guilty Gear.

Content Warning: I’m going to have to put some disclaimers up for some political information around Bridget and trans identities before I get into the meat of things, so if you’re not interested in that and you’re already aware of this situation just jump three paragraphs.

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CoX: Robyn Hoodie

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.


“Fun things to do on a date? Crimes.”

The Etoile’s society is fundamentally a sequence of parasites; very small groups of people produce useful work, and other people steal it. In the process, that theft sheds value onto other people, the traders and thieves and fences and snitches that lead to Superscience Flange Coil getting from point A to point B.

There aren’t a lot of public work projects, especially when all the money is moving valuable super science stuff to the University in Cap Au. That’s what got Robyn started – robbing from the rich and scattering their ill-gotten gains in the street. It’s simpler: No need for a fence when a thousand people are holding the stolen goods.

Where did she get those wonderful toys? Well, she stole them.

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Wanna Know How To Hide Something?

Put it in a book.

It’s an old joke on university campuses that if you want to hide something, put it in a book. It’s a little bit despairing, as these memes go; the idea that we’re all filling books with words but we also know mathematically, most of them go unread. There’s an institutional value to distributing them and making sure they’re available everywhere for everyone, but we also know that one of the parts of contributing to the vast project of literally all human knowledge means that any given phrase you write is a drop in an ocean of your own work that is itself a drop in the ocean of your cohort and then that’s a drop in the ocean of even what, your generation.

The scale is dizzying.

There’s a related joke, where if you do a thesis, you should stick a $20 in it, and that way you’ll get to know if anyone looked inside it when you check in on it. I actually tried this – a $5 in my Honours Thesis, which I found at the library.

Anyway, turns out it’s not there at the library any more and I don’t know where they keep it. It’s just an Honours thesis, it’s not super important, I assume they’re kept in some part of the library with particular rules. Just funny to me to think about how even a stunt to make me check in on it regularly didn’t work. To be fair, a global pandemic interfered with my regular check-ins. I could put anything on this blog and if the context around it was wide enough, it could go unnoticed.

Makes me wonder what I DID put in this blog when I was less conscientious that’s just laying around like me confessing to some terrible deed or association. Or what someone could take out of context, like some phrase from a videogame review about how I like shooting at kids or something.

Could put any old bollocks here, really.

I’m pretty sure fish are too dumb to have feelings.

Asset Brainstorm #8 — Tricked Out

As a matter of practice, it’s important to me that I keep demonstrating different ways to engage with games. Making games is a practice, and when you can look at game assets and consider ways to apply them, you’ll begin to see how much of game design is stuff you can do. Therefore, on this blog I’m making it a project to regularly grab some game assets I couldn’t make myself, that are made for game designers to work with, and see what ideas they inspire.


A different approach this month. See, it’s Tricks month, and I realised last year that hey, it’s weird that I don’t really do much with trick taking considering the month. Plus, 2021 was the year I was reminded of a youthful fantasy about the idea of being a hot cool skateboarder boy, for some reason, even if I never had any means or plan on acting on it, and when I saw a skateboarding game being previewed on AwShux, I was seized with the realisation that it should be a trick-taking game.

And it wasn’t.

And that’s dumb.

Art by Betty Cheong

I’ve had the note on my list to try and make a skateboarding-themed trick-taker game at some point, and here in tricks month that’s what I’m going to try and do.

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July Game Project — Corner Hustle

Every month of 2022, I am trying, as part of both my PhD project and my all-purpose general game development, develop if not a whole game for game development, a project start, such that I can make playtest prototypes. This is a sort of report of the process throughout the month.


This month has been busy. Not in a fun way. Nonetheless, any work on an idea is work on the idea, so let’s talk about that.

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Mask: Rayearth Masks!

It’s another set of masks, which were originally made just as a test of the question ‘can I make these elements line up?’ This time I’m aiming at trying to evoke the lovely armour designs from classic 90s magical girl isekai anime, Magic Knights Rayearth, with designs in red,

Blue, and

green. I promise you this is meant to be green.

You can get these designs (red, blue, green) over on Redbubble.

How To Be: Scorpia

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

One of my favourite things about media is the way that just because I don’t like a work or a show or a plot or whatever it doesn’t have to mean I don’t like or won’t have a reason to be interested in something in that. Moments, scenes, characters, dialogue, all sorts of small things can be extracted from their source and appreciated for what they are and what they could be even if they wouldn’t be that way in the work they’re from. I don’t have to like Rent to think that Out Tonight is a banger, that kind of thing.

So to with She-Ra and the Princess of Power. I didn’t like the show that much and I stopped watching it and that’s entirely okay, but while I watched it I did meet a character I liked, and it seems that lots of other people like. Let’s examine then how we’d go about making the good-natured princess himbo, Scorpia.

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Choosing The Only Option

There’s this quote that I first heard on Mythbusters, which was framed as an ‘ancient Buddhist saying.’

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

It’s not. It’s not necessarily a new phrase, per se, but the quote as I was able to source it is from the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind from the author Shunryu Suzuki. I don’t know if Suzuki was a good dude or a bad dude, but he was very much writing about zen, a particular perspective, and not Buddhism in general. What’s more interesting to me is that in the section he presents this quote, he goes on to talk about how it is the aim of zen meditation to not lose the beginner’s mind. That is, this quote that is sometimes treated as a message in favour of the skill of the master. In the Mythbusters segment, it was invoked to suggest that the beginner, who would try everything to escape a sinking car, might try a lot of things that wouldn’t work, while a master who understood how to get out, would conserve their energy and make the best choices at the right time.

That means that this Mythbusters Segment invoked an ancient quote that wasn’t to speak well of the thing the quote was dismissing. That is, when you become a master, you see the world in less complicated ways. When you are a master, you imagine you know everything that could be, and do not look at what is.

That’s not what I came here to talk to you about, of course.

Came to you to talk about games.

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Asset Brainstorm #7 — Graffiti Constructor (2?)

As a matter of practice, it’s important to me that I keep demonstrating different ways to engage with games. Making games is a practice, and when you can look at game assets and consider ways to apply them, you’ll begin to see how much of game design is stuff you can do. Therefore, on this blog I’m making it a project to regularly grab some game assets I couldn’t make myself, that are made for game designers to work with, and see what ideas they inspire.


This month, as a brainstorm project, Fox wanted to know what I’d do with this toolkit available on Itch.io, by uh, Free Game Assets?

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I wanna Steal A Thing From Biblios

I like watching board game reviews. Part of why I like watching them is because they often rely on telling you how a mechanic works in a broad sense but never the refined ways that design interacts with all the pieces. Just recently I watched a review from Shut Up And Sit Down for Steve Finn’s Biblios (the one that’s not in print) and got treated to this beautiful brain-expander of a board design:

The idea presented in the review is there are cards that affect public information, and this central card with the dice on them is used to represent that public information. You can do things that may make say, the green dice ‘worth more’ so it dials up. Or you may do something to depress the market for yellow dice things and reduce the value of that dice. I don’t know, I’ve never played Biblios.

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June Game Project — They Were Roommates

Every month of 2022, I am trying, as part of both my PhD project and my all-purpose general game development, develop if not a whole game for game development, a project start, such that I can make playtest prototypes. This is a sort of report of the process throughout the month.


They Were Roommates (temporary name, change this) is a game about getting all your bags in order and finding a solution – any solution – to getting a room where you can all spend the night for a con, even despite any inconveniences.

You ever go to a convention? A travel-from-your-home, get-a-hotel-room, spend-the-weekend, indulge-and-experience-and-relate kind of convention? In my experience, every con has sort of more or less the same kind of stuff, even if there’s an emphasis. You’ll find videogames at an anime con and anime at a gaming con, if you know where to look (usually near my table where I’m selling it). The general mish-mosh of interests mean that even at non-furry cons, there are some furries.

I started this month looking at some avatars for a game design that I kind of liked. After consideration though I jumped through some hoops and put that design onto a backburner (in part because I have some ideas for a different game using those pieces).

Image

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Shirt: Friend Of Blåhaj

Hey, it’s Pride month, and so I needed to make sure I really made some fun queer-friendly design, right?

Well:

I made a cute design of a shark with a banner on it!

There’s a collection of them – with different banners and backgrounds – but I’m trying to not overload myself with dozens of designs for every possible flag or application. It’s available as a sticker, badge, mask and cap design if you don’t want to spend T-Shirt money (or if t-shirts are weird and expensive for you, or just generally not set up well for your body).

If you want this design with another banner like ace or agender or something please let me know so I can set that up but I am defaulting to just these two because they’re the most convenient for me to make and setting up two versions of every possible flag represents a huge time offering.

CoX: Trancer

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.


One, the story of a cosplayer who looks like one of the most famous girls in gaming, with a relentless online presence. Two, an overachieving supergeek whose boundless energy got an Explorer Position in Portal Corps. Three, there’s the story of a dimensional fold gone wrong, an accident that tethered her to a time-warping extradimensional supertech, and the gun-toting wise-cracking speed demon heroine that comes out the other side.

Zoe (or Emily, or Zoe, depends on the day) is what happens when these three stories collide in one absolute explosion of a girl. She’s incredibly Online, openly queer, and proudly cocksure. You might know her from Cosplay compilations, from her hero work, or maybe from her twitter feed, a high-volume mix of theoretical superphysics, cosplay, more adult content than is strictly professional and all the selfies in the world!

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Asset Brainstorm #6 — Pixbattlers

As a matter of practice, it’s important to me that I keep demonstrating different ways to engage with games. Making games is a practice, and when you can look at game assets and consider ways to apply them, you’ll begin to see how much of game design is stuff you can do. Therefore, on this blog I’m making it a project to regularly grab some game assets I couldn’t make myself, that are made for game designers to work with, and see what ideas they inspire.


Let’s spin the wheel and find what shows up when I look at itch.io’s asset page. Ohoh, what’s this? Pixbattlers, they say?

For the purpose of this exercise, I’m using the pay-what-you-want asset Apolonia in all my examples.

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MTG: May 2022’s Custom Cards

May is past! 31 cards, of type and style, a card a day designed for the commander format around a theme. What was it? What could it possibly have been? Have you worked out the theme…? Do you even care? Do you want a convenient gallery to peek at? Let’s go!

Warning: Wizards employees, this post contains primarily custom magic cards.

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How To Be: Sheik (In 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

It’s June, it’s Fox’s birthday month, and it’s pride month, which means I have to find a character who’s some variety of queer, and also one of Fox’s favourite characters. The good news is that every single one of Fox’s favourite characters is queer, because they’re her favourite characters, and that’s how that works. I’m a media studies scholar.

Let’s talk about a contentious argument from 2001, which we’re all over now. Let’s talk about Sheik, from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

beautiful Sheik art here by Vashperado
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May Game Project — Monster Line

Every month of 2022, I am trying, as part of both my PhD project and my all-purpose general game development, develop if not a whole game for game development, a project start, such that I can make playtest prototypes. This is a sort of report of the process throughout the month.


It says a lot about the design this month that I’m looking at my mocked up preview cards from late in the month and quietly being annoyed that it’s going to take me a while to get a test print of this game delivered to my house to play around with it.

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