Category: Making

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

Work Process – Boat Game!

Today I started work on a prototype for a little boat game idea I’ve had kicking around since basically Friday. I thought I’d share some pictures of how it progressed from nothing to something.

Here’s where we started. There’s the basic idea of a boat made up out of cards, and you can slot cargo onto the cards in the middle. Here’s the very first version of the graphic I made. obviously it looks a little sparse so I wanted to make it a little clearer. It’s a little ugly and boxy – back of the boat and front of the boat don’t match up.

One of the things that makes this less clear is the way the two blues look similar. Highlighting blue sky as differs from blue water. So here’s a second draft – adding shadows and waves to the water, clouds to the background, and trying to make the cabin of the ship look a little more shaped.

This will be our boat, the basic structure of it. We also want to make some container cards, for the cards that will be stacked on top. Jumping ahead a little, but they look like this:

Okay, so that’s the basics. A card will have two containers on it, and you can slot one of them into each of your ship slots.

Next up, we have a handful of iterations on the cabin – adding an antenna and a flag, making sure it’s got some personality to it. And hey, maybe add a line to the boat, to give the whole thing a bit more dimension.

Okay, so how’s it look with that, and some containers:

Whoah holy snoot! If that cabin is two storeys (at least), then those containers are something like four storeys tall each! We gotta make them seem smaller, but we can’t shrink them in any way physically. That means we have to adjust the things you’re using as your frame of reference, which means changing those windows and doors.

That’s a way nicerlook and it also makes the boat seem smaller, more kiddy, less of a ridiculous tower.

Okay, so now we have a tidied up boat:

The next step is that we need a currency for this game. Now, I’m a giant currency nerd, so this is easy enough for me to belt out – something that looks currency-ish:

This is basically made up of two parts. The base is a green colour, and over that there’s a white layer of Soft Light. If you put all the white shapes in a folder, then make that folder soft light, you can keep those white objects from being affected by the lines.

Then we jam onto it some basic ‘money details and a symbol. Because this is a card, we don’t want the card to be asymmetrical in any way. When someone shuffles up the cards, we want to make sure it’s easy for them to get them all oriented in the ‘right’ way, and to avoid giving away information when people shuffle. It’s a good principle to ensure that card backs give away as little information as possible and are as easy as possible to interact with.

And now we have a money card, a card back for the container.

Here’s the revised containers, which I didn’t save as many in-pgoress shots of, but it’s the same thing. Start with a basic shape, adjust it, adjust it, adjust it.

Now here’s all the cards I made today, more or less, arranged together. This is a day’s work, and yes, the aesthetic is simple, but this simple look still took a LOT of iteration.

You can do this. You can make stuff that looks like this. Heck, you can make stuff better than this!

I want you to know that these things get made bit by bit, and looked at and reconsidered. Don’t be afraid of having incomplete, or not-as-good stuff. This all changes step by step.

Project: All Of the Clams

The Pitch: It’s a small deck auction game with currency cards and a failure state. It’s a bunch of pirates or merfolk haggling over who gets what cool junk they found while trying to offload a cursed coin they’re all stuck with.


All of the Clams is made up of two sets of cards:

  • Treasure cards, that you bid for
  • Currency cards, that you bid with

The Treasure cards are all stuff that matters to the players, so the framing device requires them to be people who want something, or have some reason to want things. I don’t want these things to have a grim tone so it probably can’t be something like post-apocalyptic medicine, or evidence for important criminal cases, so I vastly prefer for this to be motivated by greed or self-importance.

The Treasure cards come in three basic forms:

  • Value cards. These just give you points for the end game.
  • Negative Value cards. These take points from you for the end game, and you have to bid in reverse to avoid them.
  • Box Cards. These cards come with other cards from the Treasure deck, and have some inherent value. Players can choose to leave the box closed or not, but opening the box makes the contents public.

The currency cards come in the following forms:

  • 3 Coin cards
  • 2 Coin cards
  • 1 Coin cards
  • Cursed Coin Cards

Setup: Players get identical sets of currency and it always includes 1 cursed coin. They have fewer 3-coin cards than 1-value cards. Probably a sort of 3-2-1 distribution, but make it so that it’s possible to overwhelm 3-value cards with 1-value cards (so 3:1 ratio). Then, remove a treasure card (or more) from the top of the deck, hidden.

Play Loop: Each round, the top card of the treasure deck is revealed. If it’s a box card, put the proper number of cards in that box. Then, players bid in a round on the treasure, not a value but a number of coins. Players can withdraw their bids and drop out of the bidding at any time, reclaiming all their coins. When all players are done putting cards into the centre, all the cards are flipped over, and the bids are compared.

The player who bid the highest value gets the item and the other players get their cards back. Note: Any player who revealed a cursed coin in this phase has to leave it revealed for any future bids. These coins are then taken from the player and lost.

If there’s a Negative value card, the same thing happens in reverse: Players coins in hope of not getting the coin. If one player withdraws or passes, they can keep their money, but have to take the Negative value card.

If one player has run out of coins, the other player can then claim a number of face-down treasures from the top of the deck equal to their remaining coins. These face-down treasures are worth only 1 scoring unit.

The winner of the game is:

  • The player with the most victory points who has no cursed coin, or
  • If all players have their cursed coins, the player with the most victory points


I mostly need art for this. There are three major concepts for the game at the moment – mermaids vying for human junk, pirates distributing treasure from a raid, or cyberpunks swapping chunks of code and virus-infected bitcoins.

Do you think you have the skills for this? Are you interested in the idea? Feel free to contact me, either via the Twitter DMs or by emailing me!

“Not Endorsing Colonialism”

Recently I bashed Colonialism on twitter as a board game theme. This isn’t referencing a specific event but the odds are really good I said it lately because colonialism sucks and we’re really too okay with it. Anyway, one time I did this someone well-intentionedly pointed out that because the game includes colonialism doesn’t mean it’s endorsing it. After all, games include killing and that’s not to say killing is good.

I looked at the comment, rolled my eyes and moved on with my life, but because I know this stuff is important enough to address I came back to it and made it an article well after the fact because I am both petty and want to avoid directly confronting this person.

Point the first: Killing and colonialism aren’t really all that similar because I can absolutely comfortably say there are times when it’s okay to kill someone and I can’t imagine a time it’s right to do a colonialism on someone. Heck, it’s kinder to kill them.

Point the second: Games can include colonialism without endorsing colonialism, and they have, such as Dog Eat Dog or Spirit Island or my own Middleware. It’s entirely possible to represent a colonised space in a way that doesn’t treat the people being colonised as non-agents, and without treating the colonisers as actors approaching empty spaces.

Point the third: Killing in games is used in games as a metaphor for killing. It’s used to represent that particular action (usually, it’s rarely anything else), and we don’t live in a society where ‘killing’ has had its meaning obliterated by a deliberate campaign to pretend killing is actually almost always a net positive (though you know, some people might say).

Point the FOURTH: Colonialism as a theme is super fucking boring.

I’m so sick and tired of games that say go to a new land and do exactly the same old thing. Even these games with interesting, good mechanics like Archipelago or San Juan are all doing it by taking the player and transporting them into the fictive space of the awfullest humans that existed, the player being put in the shoes where they can only console themselves with ‘well I’m probably not sexually assaulting the slaves, so maybe I’m a good one?’

The role of colonialism in board games is pretty simply one of two extremely basic-ass ideas. First, to make the game ‘historyish’ so you get a pre-established aesthetic and a sort of permissive pass on being boring and legitimisation in the eyes of people who don’t want their hobby of playing with cardboard to be seen as childish. Second, to create a space for a reasonably level playing field for economic games of discovery, so when players all arrive in the new place with nothing to their names but an enormous pile of money, people willing to do murder and the uncontested governmental right to commit acts of fgenocide, it’s pre-explained as to where all the resources are coming for.

And this is boring!

There are a lot of other ways to organise ‘people starting at roughly the same time with roughly the same options,’ lots of different fictions. Maybe everyone is related and a relative died and now you all have the same money to start with! Maybe you’re trying to appease investors who have defrayed their options amongst you all! Maybe you all died at the same time and your options are all the same right there.

Colonialism: Bad, evil, deliberately erased, and super fucking boring.

Cities & Towns Revision!

In May, I launched the game The Road to Springdell, which was known in development for a while as Cities And Towns. C&T was one of the slowest projects I worked on considering how quickly I iterated the mechanics. The type of art it needed wasn’t something I could do, nor anyone I knew – and the free art in the vein wasn’t quite right either.

I’ll probably return to the central mechanic of The Road to Springdell, by the way – it’s a robust little game engine and it can be used for more complicated games with more cards and more variance.

The main thing I want to talk about here is the biggest change in the cards – the way I shifted the mechanics wholesale.

In the final printing of The Road to Springdell, each type of building you can build in your town makes each other kind of building in your town better, a bit. Farms make mills more valuable, mills make wells more valuable, wells make farms more valuable – but you’re also balancing the value of each town component against the buildings in the city of Springdell.

Originally, only four buildings had rules on them, and the other four didn’t. Here they are:

The Woodcutter’s Lodge remained as is – but the other cards went through some big changes.

The Tower was just bad – I thought that mechanic might make towers more ‘disposable’ so you’d be more likely to turn them into forests, while also making towers likely to show up in the city. The farm created awkward play moments where players would wind up getting a forest into Springdell, which isn’t supposed to happen. And the Market wound up being super way too good.

The new design is smoother, and less complex to play, but it makes the play more complicated. Every card that’s played is of a different value to you and each other player, even though it has some value. A card may be worth three points in your town, but five points in someone else’s. You have to decide if you’re going to offer that up or try and block it.

These are dials you can choose to turn. Sometimes, giving players more difficult choices yields better gameplay than giving them faster choices. Players spend the most time thinking over the trick portion of the game as it is – might as well make the time spent thinking more interesting!

Winners and Losers

In game design, you can think of your game as about getting to a winner, or discarding all the losers.

Simplest example, Snakes and Ladders. Snakes and Ladders, one player is trying to be separated from the group by being the winner. Their entire plan is advancing themselves.  That winner has nothing to do with the losers – they’re just trying to take more steps ahead on their own.

You can look at a game like Jungle Speed, which is a sorting engine to find the loser – the winner finishes the game (and can step out) and then the next player to win, and so on, the game intact until the players decide to stop playing or until a loser is chosen by the process of the game.

Red Dragon Inn is a game about knocking out as many players as possible, by as many means possible – you can impoverish them, you can inebriate them, you can beat them up, you can even do some stuff outside the rules. In this way, players are trying to make everyone else lose, and resist losing as long as possible.

In Cockroach Poker, a rare example, all the players together pick one of them to lose. It starts out as a test of wits, then slowly becomes a game of trying to find a hole in each others’ defenses, trying to find the player who’s most convenient to get rid of… and making sure, as sure as you can that it’s not yours.

When you’re dealing with a cooperative game it’s the same basic thing: You want to advance the plan of the winners, which is everyone. And deathmatch games, where everyone is trying to survive the longest, are games where you want to lose the least.

Think about this when you design your game. Think about if your game is trying to push people to advance their own plan, primarily, or if they want to inhibit the plans of others.

The Mermay Concept List

This May, I partook in Mermay. I didn’t draw mermaids – I’m not very good at drawing, so who am I kidding – but I was inspired by the variety and lovely artwork to think in terms of the kinds of things I can do, and what I would want to do in the context of just the art produced. I make card games, I make tabletop games – they’re things that exist in a space where still images, often with the game as context, convey game information.

Every day, I wrote a game concept for a tabletop game involving art of mermaids.

Now, I intend to go through some of these game ideas and work on them individually – why, depending on when this goes out, one of them may have already been made – but I wanted to put up some thoughts about examining the thoughts of all the mermaid games at once.

One trend that goes throughout the mermaid games is water – I mean, obviously. Some games care about sinking, about depth, about framing ‘down’ as being dangerous, which is perhaps a view I inherited from Narnia books, of all things. This water theme plays into some of the other ideas; there are games about merfolk views on human trash, how they can cook without fire, the types of currencies they recognise, and also in the time you can hold your breath in some of the games about communication.

Another recurrent theme was royalty and monarchy. There’s perhaps something primitive about the idea of royalty in the context of the merfolk – I don’t like royalty as its own thing, I think it’s pish, but I still was making sympathetic games about mermaid princesses and important noble weddings, and noble houses. That’s possibly just something I like as a setting element, even though I think they’re jerks in reality. Of particular interest was how in Atlantean Guard, the challenge was to cooperatively raise a prince who wasn’t a jerk, as if the assumption was reasonable that they would be otherwise.

I had a bunch of games about theft. Merfolk were often showing up as playful or trickster characters, stealing or hiding treasure. Many of the games were puzzles about locating treasure, treasure that – reasonably speaking – there’s no reason to believe the explorers seeking it are more entitled to than the merfolk.

I didn’t do many games about combat. Of the concepts, Temple, Flooded London, The Dredge, and Conch Of Glory had some kind of combat to them. Of those, Temple, Flooded London and The Dredge were all framed as being against an unjust opponent – imperial London, or polluting capitalists, or invading adventurers, for example.

Finally, most of my ‘merfolk media’ that framed these games were either Aquaman or The Little Mermaid.

Lovecraft’s Failure

Not the racism.

Lovecraft, if you’re not aware, died poor. He died of cancer in his 40s, mostly destitute, and his work was forgotten until a significant period after he died. Even then he was sort of an academic interest that fed into the interests of other writers rather than the force of cultural nature he is now that he’s part of the public domain. One of the things he attributed this to, in his later days, was that he didn’t have the confidence or courage to promote his own work, and when he did, he didn’t do enough. His obscurity, he felt, was not tied to the quality of his work, but his ability to advertise it.

More things change, eh, Howard.

 Lovecraft was born in 1890. Three years before he was born there was the first performance of Ruddigore. Ruddigore is an operetta I like a lot, and one of the two best songs in it is this one:

The lyrics, in case you aren’t versed, as I, feature this chorus:

If you wish in the world to advance,
Your merits you’re bound to enhance,
You must stir it and stump it,
And blow your own trumpet,
Or, trust me, you haven’t a chance!

These words echo to me a lot, in my more horrified moments. One of the problems is that I already feel like I promote myself too much. I feel like I never shut up about my stuff, that I presume I can reference my games to people, and when I’m put on the spot and shown that I can’t, it reminds me that for all I feel I talk about this, I either don’t talk about them enough, or, more damningly…

I do, and nobody cares.

Is it that I’m bad at self promoting, or is it that my promotion isn’t going to endure because what I do isn’t good enough? I worry about this a lot. I wonder about it when I learn that there’s something I have in common with Lovecraft… staring down the barrel of an irrelevant life because I wasn’t able to make myself memorable in the minds of the people around me.

Shame about the racism, though.

Continue reading

Lovecraft, Exploration, and Motivation

The classical Lovecraftian story is set around the time of Lovecraft’s life. Very few of them occur in the deep history, even as they are about the deep history, told through the voice of a person in Lovecraft’s now.

Lovecraft wasn’t a man who saw politics too clearly. I mean, he was a racist, and an anglophile, and he thought World War I was really important because America owed it to England, America’s homeland, but when he looked to the future and around him he was not horrified by the closing entanglements of European politics and the industrialisation of war, nor was he particularly horrified at the coming nuclear age. I mean, from the perspective of a dude born in the 1890s, nuclear power seems pretty out-of-context.

If you look through Lovecraft’s work there’s a strong view towards discovery. There’s the deep sea, there’s the stars, there’s ancient archaeology and there’s the organised cataloguing of unread tomes in old libraries. The protagonists are explorers – they are people who, without needing further motivation, want to learn and discover.

Interestingly, most Lovecraftian stories are kind of one-and-done affairs; someone discovers the edge of the darkness, and then is either consumed and destroyed by it, or they run and escape it, forever scarred by the experience. They are people who start out exploring for the sake of information. Their motivation is intrinsic.

Thing is, that’s not – usually – how Lovecraft stuff works in games. One of the challenges in these play spaces is motivation. Most Lovecraft games want to have multiple encounters, multiple excursions dealing with the unnatural. It’s hard to build a game – especially one about change over time – around singular experiences and that leaves you with a problem of representing a character who has some reason to want to repeatedly expose themselves to this problem.

I think this is a cool idea to work with in character creation. I know Delta Green requires you to build a set of connections that will get worse and fail over the course of the game.  I think that’s a good start because it shows you a think worth losing – but I wonder if there’s also room to build into character building a space for a fatal, consuming drive. A reason to go back.



John Galt’s speech is the famously overindulgent chapter of the book Atlas Shrugged. It’s known, generally speaking, as a long speech, but I don’t know if you appreciate how long it really is unless you’ve read the book all the way through, or at least, read to that section. It’s not an easy read – I haven’t managed it, just select chunks.

Let’s put this in perspective for you, though.

There are a number of printings of Atlas Shrugged, in a variety of sizes, so it’s not really feasible to put the whole thing into a single page count. We don’t have to do that, though, because some kind and well-intentioned soul put the whole thing up on the internet, allowing me to just dump that text into a document and crunch that data.

The total word count of the John Galt Speech, more or less, between revisions, is about 32,000 words.

First things first, let’s put it into perspective as part of the book. Atlas Shrugged is literally one of the longest published English-language novels that exists, and the John Galt speech represents only a fraction of the overall work. It’s about 5.69% of the book (nice). But how many words is that? 32,000 words is a number, it’s not a particularly meaningful number. You can consider the text in terms of the time spent speaking, for a start – and it is meant to be spoken. It’s John Galt, The Ubermensch, churning through his philosophy, on the radio, as a way to transform the minds of the populace of leeches siphoning his perfect grace from the world.

You can read the entire speech in about three and a half hours – and yes, on youtube, people have – but that’s powering through the whole thing, without the pause or rhetorical flourish or pacing of a proper speech delivery. I’m comfortable saying that to do that, you’d wind up at around four hours, which is generous and implies that John Galt is a good speaker. Since the speech is a continous perfect stream of dialogue, without stuttering, double-talk, or any of the naturalistic hallmarks of people actually talking, it’s clearly prepared, too.

Four hours of talking is not a small amount of talking. Filibusters are regarded as feats of political will and endurance, and they’re almost always meant to not be anything in the way of actually meaningful information. Politicians read card rules or recipes or history books. People pee about six times a day, which is about every two and a half hours, so there’s a not insignificant chance that Johnny G had to take a leak during. I’m sure he planned ahead, and delivered the speech from the bathroom.

But what if you consider that text as text? As a word count? Well, it’s comparable to another, smaller book. Quite a few, in fact.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is about 33,000 words. That entire story is only slightly longer than the speech. The Great Gatsby – a snappy novel that nonetheless rockets along its pace – is 50,000 or so, so one and a half the length of the speech. In fact, you can find quite a few works of classic fiction young adult fiction that are shorter than the entire John Galt Speech:

  • The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, by CS Lewis
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
  • Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson
  • Animorphs 01 The Invasion, by KA Applegate
  • Night of the Living Dummy, by RL Stine
  • Eric, by Terry Pratchett

This comparison to other classic fiction works is pretty robust – you can treat these 32,000 words as a unit of measurement, which we’ll now define as the JGS. If we cast our net wider to see other books that are considered classic, the JGS stops being larger than the whole text but still is quite a large proportion of the work:

  • Genesis, The Bible — 1 JGS
  • Slaughterhouse Five — 1.5 JGS
  • Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone — 2 JGS
  • Brave New World — 2 JGS
  • As I Lay Dying — 2 JGS
  • The Sun Also Rises — 2 JGS
  • Lord of the Flies — 2 JGS
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer — 2 JGS
  • The Gospels — 2 JGS
  • The Hunger Games — 3 JGS
  • The Handmaiden’s Tale — 3 JGS
  • Aspects of the Divinity, Book 1: Glory In The Thunder— 3.5 JGS
  • The Fellowship Of The Ring — 5 JGS

And perhaps as a footnote

  • Atlas Shrugged — 18 JGS

What’s important to consider is that these stories that are comparable to the JGS on its own, or one or two times it, are stories that convey a philosophy and a worldview, that speak of ideology and principle and are even full of clear, well-regarded quotable lines. I mean, the Gospels! They’re entire stories.

In its own text, though, the JGS doesn’t do anything of the sort. The John Galt Speech represents a lengthy, explanatory detour from one character, in one sitting, to stand and simply tell the audience (and the reader) what he thinks and how he thinks it. It’s not actually anything happening in the plot, nothing that needs to be shown. It’s a narrative cul-de-sac, a jerking halt where a character monologues at you.

That time could have dragons and fistfights and a philosophy shown through action rather than harangued at a reader.

Symmetrical Enfolding

The simplest kind of game you can design is a symmetrical, procedural, player-versus-player game. I tell students this; if all the players engage with the game the same way, you have to design one system that can be properly positioned to oppose itself. Any race game is like this. Almost all traditional poker-based games are like this.

I have been designing, in my opinion, too many symmetrical, procedural, player-versus-player games.

At the time of this writing, this year we have released LFG, Winston’s Archive, Downspout, The Roads to Springdell and Burning Daylight. Of those games, only Burning Daylight is non-symmetrical, where you pick your gang at the start of the game.

One element in all this is that I have of late an audience of two kids, kids who can’t really handle social deduction games, but who can grasp spatial games, and who can handle ‘the rules work this way,’ not ‘your rules work this way.’ When designing for kids, I absolutely recommend symmetry and consistency in your rules. Player versus player is weirdly, an area where they can get along better, because cooperative play involves them arguing and creates space for quarterbacking where one or the other refuses to go along with their plan.

I don’t really have anything more to say about this at the moment except, as of the time of this writing, I really want to make more cooperative games, more asymmetrical games, and more non-procedural games.

We’ll see how that goes.

Miss A Turn


‘Miss a turn’ mechanics are one of the most rudimentary game mechanics we encounter in the games-made-because-we-think-kids-are-dumb landscape. Missing a turn is presented sometimes as a punishment for breaking the rules or failing to properly maintain the game – sometimes a huge deal, too!

Yet I routinely see amateur designers, in their first drafts (and somehow even all the way through to the end of the game), get miss a turn in their designs. Missing a turn, as a consequence of your doing a turn, isn’t interesting, it’s just frustrating.

I can see a place for Miss a Turn: Real-time turn-based games, like Nightmare or Atmosfear. In those cases, missing a turn slows you down but you’re trying to finish your turns as quickly as possible, so you can just fly past a turn where you don’t get to do anything. It sucks but it sucks a little because turns are not spent thinking or testing or trying. They’re spent seeing what happens and doing it as quickly as possible. But those games are secretly cooperative, rather than competitive – the games are too tight and players are really best suited to just working together, avoiding hurting one another, in the hopes that anyone can finish the game at all.

Otherwise? Missing a turn is a really miserable thing. Making someone else miss a turn isn’t quite as bad – you can make some strategic leverage out of effectively taking an extra turn – but the time a player has to spend to wait becomes part of the problem. In Magic: The Gathering, there’s Time Walk and its family of effects, which are far nicer because it just means your opponent has one really big turn rather than you having to pointedly sit back and do nothing.

Either way, this mechanic is a plague and it’s far healthier to remember don’t do them than they work in these situations, when you’re just starting out.


This post was deemed important to my PhD and has been moved to my academic blog. If you don’t know where that is, that’s okay! Or you can contact me to ask me where to find it.

Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

Print and Play: Adventure Town, Pt 4

Woof, this took a while. I had a post about Adventure Town’s tools and that got caught up because I realised I was hitting a wall for Adventure Town’s scope. So let’s talk about some math.

In Adventure Town, you are all trying to invest in the buildings around your town, building them up to make this town more appealing and generate more money when adventurers pass through. Each turn, there’s a phase of dice rolling, representing economic activity and your own plans as a member of the area’s ruling groups. Then, adventurers pass through the town.

I’m not sure if adventurers pass through the town every turn, or if that’s triggered by dice events, too – and while your town is small, only one adventurer passes per round, growing as your town grows. The adventurers have wants or needs, and that means businesses that relate to those needs get more income, and that income benefits most the people who own those businesses.

Now the question from here is how much of anything does this need?

There are three basic values that will give all the rest of the math in this game shape. How many buildings are there? How many adventurer cards need to be, at minimum? How many types of trigger should there be?

We’re going to assume symmetrical distribution of each, by the way. Unequal distribution is good for games with fewer random elements, as they make the rarer incidents feel more wild; in this case, the dice are going to present a randomness for all players, and we don’t want people to be able to bank on long shots that then fail because the dice didn’t come up from them. I want choices to matter, and in this case that means trying to keep people from getting too far ahead with either lucky long-shots or unlucky crap-outs.

When you’re doing this kind of design, there really is no right or wrong place to start. I want the towns to be printable on an A4 sheet, which gives me a boundary to work within. I drew a few designs for the town as a 3×3 group of buildings, then a 4×4, then a 5×5, and a 6×6. 6×6 got a little small for my tastes as an A4 page, so a 5×5 it is. The central square is the town hall, which nobody owns, meaning we have 24 potential buildings.

With 24 buildings, what do we have that can divide into that equally? Well, one option is 24 adventurers that trigger each building uniquely. That’s a bit dull though – it means that once an adventurer triggers a building, you have to wait until that adventurer loops back around. You can’t have any ‘really good days’ when a building gets triggered once or twice in a turn. Also, do we want adventurers to only have one trigger symbol?

Working on the idea that all adventurers need one or two symbols, that we have 24 buildings, I went to this Combinatorics calculator, and jammed numbers in it for a while. If there are 6 symbols, which can be repeated and where the order doesn’t matter, and you pick 2, there are 21 combinations. 21 is a good number for a deck of cards – it’s not too small to shuffle nor is it too big to handle quickly, and it’s small enough I can add some cards to it if I want to.

That is how it’s done, by the way – how I do it, at least. I jam numbers into things to see how long it takes to work.

This has an additional possible application. If there are 6 symbols, and there are 6 faces on a die, it might be that people can spend a dice to trigger a symbol that corresponds to it. I don’t know if I’ll use that, but it’s an option!

Next time, we’ll talk about tools.

The Process of a Meme

Sometimes, the idea just bursts into place, fully formed. I just arrive with the inspiration and execution all at once.

Sometimes, I need to ask someone how I’d do it. It’s a matter of a back and forth, where I know what I’m trying to get to, but they don’t know that yet.

When we talk, there’s always an understanding, though, that they don’t really know what I’m doing, what I’m planning. They just know I’m going somewhere.

Very occasionally, I’ll ask someone who’s done it before. They’ve had a better version of this idea, they’re an expert in it. Most of the time, they’ll see what I’m doing.

These are the times when I start to doubt myself, where they’ll tell me what what I’m doing is kind of obvious, or worse, where I’ll realise that this is pretty pointless.

Then there’s that point where I’m just kind of sadly standing over what I’ve done, what I’ve finally made, and I brace for the reactions, wondering if it’s good enough…

Delete this
this is the worst
Oh my god
talen, seriously
I don’t get it
oh hang on


This post was deemed important to my PhD and has been moved to my academic blog. If you don’t know where that is, that’s okay! Or you can contact me to ask me where to find it.

Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

What’s Nyarr?

Hey, what have I been up to these past few days? Well, I was writing up the Nyarr.

What’s a Nyarr?

The Nyarr are going to be this June’s tabletop release. They’re not going to be a card game – they’re a new ancestry for your tabletop RPGs, released as my Lost Libram line of content. Lost Libram is my division of my work that’s from my older D&D work, stuff I never released because hey, 4ed came out and my friends are playing that now.

As a designer, I still love this old content, and realising there’s a market for it, I decided I wanted to get it out there. Especially since a lot of writing of this type isn’t mechanical, it’s conceptual, it’s giving flavour and tone for the stuff I’m sharing. RPG writing is in a lot of ways bits that you playtest.

Here’s an excerpt:

Nyarr are humanoids comparable in size to humans, ranging between 150 cm (5 feet) and 195 cm (6-½ feet) tall. Despite their size though they are markedly heavier than humans, ranging from 72 kg (160 lbs) to 118 kg (260 lbs). Nyarr have skin hues that range from a dark brown to a pale green, and some Nyarr are coloured blue or purple. Nyarr have soft plates of chitin on their skin on their shoulders and knees, and their feet are split into two large forks, rather than five small toes. In silhouette, Nyarr are most like humans, though with larger feet and hands.

Nyarr are most easily distinguished from humans by a number of secondary traits; Nyarr have scaled hands with pronounced, thick fingernails that look like claws, scaly plates on their shoulders, horns – typically two, though rarely four, – long, thin tails, sometimes splitting with feet that stretch up into a ‘high’ stance for running. A Nyarr running tends to lean forward a great deal. These traits have been called ‘demonic’ and ‘monstrous’ commonly, though their actual threat is quite minor; the scales protect their hands for fine manipulation in extreme environments, and the horns and tail allow them to steer while running more readily in areas like cliffsides or desert plains.

Nyarr gender differentiation is complex to explain, as Nyarr have at least three major genders. Their words for each gender are translated as generally ‘male’, ‘female’ and ‘onyar’. Physical differences between the genders are hard to determine; roughly half of Nyarr have a shape regarded by some students as ‘feminine’, but commonly-recognised indicators like hips and breasts are not common to the genders. While female Nyarr tend to have shapes other cultures regard as ‘feminine’, and male Nyarr tend to have shapes regarded as ‘masculine,’ these are not hard rules at all. Onyar Nyarr vary the most, with some onyar having prominently powerful arms and legs, with a more petite body trunk. Some Nyarr tribes even send out explorers to learn from other Nyarr other genders, trying to find the best ideas for their people to choose.

The Nyarr then, are a deliberately enby inclusive race of cool monster people for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, who are powerfully social, deliberately cooperative, and inclined towards trying to make friends, even as they are careful about trusting the rest of the world for being hazardous to their culture at large. Visually they’re kind of like big-footed and big-handed Tieflings, and they have culturally, an idea of ‘choosing’ genders from their three major genders, with the understanding that some Nyarr choose other genders if they’ve heard of them.

One detail here, and which I’m putting out there to put on the record even if I fumble how I say it: I am recruiting non-cis artists and writers to contribute small bits to the text of this. My thinking on this is pretty simple: The Nyarr represent a way for a game player, someone who isn’t necessarily heavily connected to the world of nonbinary genders, to be introduced to them, and, as a creature in a game, it gives people a chance to play with, and come to understand that idea. If I’m going to put that kind of thing out there for people to include in their game, I’d want to make sure that people with experiences like the Nyarr interacting with other cultures, are able to put their mark on the work.

Complicating almost all relationships Nyarr have with other cultures is the expansionist trends of almost every non-Nyarr culture. Nyarr have a phrase that translates roughly as Be Wary Of Those People. In the past, Dwarves have hollowed out mountains that Nyarr considered home, collapsing the landscape underneath them. Humans have cleared forests they considered home and turned them to furniture and machinery. Elves have magically tamed jungles and ousted Nyarr from the trees they considered home, in the name of making them more like their own forests. Nyarr tend to view all these cultures as invasive.

Humans and dwarves are very much cultures that judge and compete, and view survival as a personal thing. Nyarr culture rejects these ideas, and sees survival as being a shared responsibility. Also the humourlessness and lack of fun in Dwarf culture is abhorrent to Nyarr outlooks – to survive without an ability to feel joy is to be as good as dead. Dwarves can sometimes appreciate Nyarr because of their survival abilities, while others see Nyarr and their culture of change and cooperation as weak and strange.

The cultures less prone to building empires and starting wars tend to cooperate with Nyarr better – particularly orcs, who rarely want territory that Nyarr alone can hold. Nyarr feel a kinship with the half-humans like the Half-Elf and Half-Orc, seeing them as something a bit like themselves; outsiders in a group.

It’s a little ostentatious, I guess, but I want to be careful about the ethics of it. I don’t want to stomp into gaming with Here Is A Trans Metaphor For You, As Expressed By Me, A Cis.

If you’re at all interested in this, if you’d like to give the Nyarr a read before their release, let me know. I don’t pretend to be an expert, and I can’t really afford a proper high-grade sensitivity reader, but if you’re curious, let me know.


This post was deemed important to my PhD and has been moved to my academic blog. If you don’t know where that is, that’s okay! Or you can contact me to ask me where to find it.

Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

Blog Tips – Queues and Bins

I blog a lot. I blog constantly. I try to make sure, when I can, I write something every day. Whether it’s big or it’s small. The big trick for me is finding a thing to write about, which can sometimes make for a long or short post. It’s you know, the challenge of finding the thing about ‘what gets me started.’

Here are two blog habits that have helped me though:

Queue in Advance

Don’t post your blogs when you write them. Post them a week later. Schedule them. Why the delay? Because it means you’re not going to be fuelled by the now, by an immediate and urgent need to express. You’ll have time to go back an double check what you said. You’ll have the opportunity to revise or expand as events change. The hottest of takes is the worst of takes, because hot take theatre is just the way to rile up hot emotions. Let your takes cool.

Make a Draft Bin

Every time I get an idea for a blog post when I’m near my computer, I try to jot down a phrase or an idea and throw it into a draft post in my blog. That means when I’m scrabbling for ideas, I can come back to these things and see what ideas have been on my mind, and give me a chance to well, sculpt a well-cooled take around an idea, maybe do some research for a thing that needs it.

The Whole Sort Of General Mish Mosh Of Confrontation

If you haven’t worked it out, since I read every day, and I don’t want this blog to just be a nonstop festival of Hey, Here’s Today’s Academic Boring Stuff, I’m doing some of these out of order.

More reading from Tracy Fullerton’s Game Design Workshop. In this case, this is super useful because it gives me an academic source for just a very simple list, a starting place, for my thesis argument of the idea of confrontation.

Continue reading

Shirt Highlight: Pokemon Movesets!

Hey, here are a the shirts I made this month!

First of all, here’s the Play Rough shirt, which I first conceived as part of a series. If you want a particular move name, let me know and I’ll see about whipping one up for you!

(You won’t)

That design gave way to this one, with a big chunk retro TM disc – and I concocted this moveset as an example of a perfectly good, cool moveset for a person to have.


This post was deemed important to my PhD and has been moved to my academic blog. If you don’t know where that is, that’s okay! Or you can contact me to ask me where to find it.

Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

The Misbegotten Design of Trivia

If you don’t know, I teach a class on game making. I do it at a University and it’s great fun and I like it, and I offhandedly joke that every class features two types of games that students are always going to suggest making. The first is a drinking game, and the second is a trivia game with the word ‘bullshit’ in the title. There’s a third type of game, which is a roll-and-move about being a university student, which always makes me a little bit sad, but anyway.

Now, I don’t think I need to point out why Drinking Games are a hard sell to me and I tend to judge them very harshly, but trivia games are their own special thing to me because while it’s a genre of game that clearly exists, it’s not ever one I’m excited to see someone try and design, for three reasons:

1. Trivia is mostly about your personal framing

When you make a trivia game, you are the person making it, and that frame influences what counts as trivia. For me, talking about Shamgar, Son of Anath isn’t really trivia, and neither is Bendan, Delilah’s Alter Ego, but neither of those things are good trivia questions because who else is going to get that. The trivia questions for a copy of Trivial Pursuit that are even 10 years old are sometimes gaggingly weird, because the people who made them frame them. What about trivia that cares about ‘history’? Who tells that story? Your culture moves and your framing moves and writing trivia questions is mostly done by the kind of person who wants to feel they’re the smartest person in the room, which in turn means those questions tend to be more annoying than interesting.

2. Trivia is high-variance in a boring way

You either know an answer or you don’t. When a game presents you with a trivia question, you’re either aware of the answer, or you aren’t, and there isn’t really a space to be ‘close’ and being ‘close’ is more frustrating than anything else. How do you balance that? How many answers in a row do you expect a player to get right? Half? Two thirds? How do you design a catch-up mechanic? Do you make easy questions for that? How do those easy questions represent anything other than not failing? And what’s more, what do you do when you play against an expert, or play against someone with wildly different levels of information? Is it hopeless for a child to play this game? Who does this game let you have fun with?

3. Trivia is really only good at being Trivia

Now, I’ve seen a few games that try and use Trivia as part of a non-abstract game design, like where you cross a bridge and one of the enemies challenges you by asking you trivia questions, but that particular variety of game jerks the whole thing to a halt. Answering a trivia question can’t be a metaphor for fighting a battle or climbing a wall or engaging a plane because the trivia is so actually itself. You’re always answering a trivia question because what else can your trivia question be? It’s like those old Christian videogames, where being able to provide chapter-and-verse memorisation of a Bible verse was a ‘skill’ you were using to ‘do battle’ but the action was so far removed from metaphor your mechanics don’t reinforce them at all.

This isn’t to say there are no good trivia games – I don’t like them but I can at least recognise some basic, interesting game mechanics that work around trivia as their abstract core? But while I can see ideas for using roll-and-move, trivia as a core game experience just seems fundamentally bad to me.

Helping You Write When You Can’t Write

Hey friends. If you’re anything like most of you, you have times when you struggle with getting anything done more complicated than getting out of bed and starting a Netflix queue. It is okay. Life is hard and emotional energy makes it harder. This can make planning long-term projects, like writing lite novels or comics or game development really hard. I wanted to share a technique here that I hope will be useful for people who struggle with writing big things and making big plans.

Disclaimer, of course; I’m not an expert in ADD or ADHD, the two major areas where we examine Executive Function. I’m not a medical professional or even a published writer. My expertise is mostly in practiced ways to get things done.

First things first, get some Index cards. They do not need to be numbered or lined. Having them be handleable is good. Too big is unnecessary. You want them small enough that you can easily handle them, not so big you need to write a lot of detail.

Take one card, and write on it something you want in the story. You can write a character’s name. You can draw a picture. You can do a map of a location. You can do some math to work out how long something might be or how much time it might take. The point is, nothing on a card has to be anything in particular. Some examples you might want to write down.

  • What’s a cool line your heroine says?
  • How does your heroine look?
  • Your heroine fighting a villain
  • Your villain doing something wicked

And that’s it. You write an idea down, and you put the card away and you’re done. You don’t need to do more than that.

The idea is that when you can’t think of much to do, when you’re struggling, you can take these cards, and identify what order you feel they should be in. You can make a story out of little scenes, out of single ideas, lined up. Then when you line all the cards up, and build up from one card to a dozen cards, to twenty cards, all with very little effort, you can look at your cards and see the outline, the structure, of a story. Looking at the cards will give you ideas of other things you want. You might decide you don’t want some cards, or get rid of others, or want to turn some cards into other, new ideas. That’s okay too!

And you never had to start out a plan. You just had to think of something you want, in the story, that’s cool.

Weekend Games: Tips

This past January we had a long weekend with some wonderful friends we love. The weekend was tons of fun, where we played a game of fighting our way out of a tomb we’d been stuck in for thousands and thousands of year. A dungeon crawl of sorts.

I’d run a similar game of this type earlier, where I used the dungeon crawl structure to create an action movie pastiche, and in the process I just want to offer five short tips:

  • You can probably get through N combat encounters, where N is the number of players minus one.
  • The players are learning their characters and that means first encounter will be completely rough, the second will even out and the third will be when they’re confident enough to use their abilities cleanly and consistantly.
  • The higher level a game you conduct the more complex the game is. The more complex the game is, the more everyone’s turn has to be spent double checking every other player’s behaviour. Lower level games will run smoother and faster.
  • There are some game elements that are going to stop a story dead in its tracks while it’s solved. These arrests are often around puzzles or mysteries. Think like an action film – you don’t want to structure your story so the puzzles are silly or easy, so instead focus on the puzzles as a way to get characters to express who they are in a dramatic way.
  • Double back! If you make maps for 2-3 encounters, have players fight their way in, then have pursuers block their exit so you can use those same maps for the players fighting their way out!


Bad Balance: Incarnum And Cognitive Load

One of D&D 3.5’s biggest problems was its magical system, which was by default bonkers and broken. Despite that, though, there was an almost constant attempt to expand the magic system, to fulfill every specific small variant visions of magic. The Expanded Psionics Handbook, the Tome of Magic, the Artificer and the Archivist, wings of spells in The Book of Vile Darkness and The Book of Exalted Deeds – there was a near-constant effort to expand the magic systems to do different things in different ways.

You can approach design from either a strong mechanical position, or a strong theme and Incarnum was a power idea that came hard out of a mechanical interaction. Magic of Incarnum brought its own system, called the Incarnum system.

The Incarnum system, as simple as I can explain it, is that you could create virtual items in your item slots, and then invest a small pool of points into these items to make them better. This could give you special abilities that got better, from turn to turn, and you could rearrange all these points every turn. When you needed lots of defence, you could sink those points into defenses. When you needed to kill something fast, you could put those points into offense. This system was pretty interesting and cool! You could really customise a character in a lot of ways, and there was this balancing act of choosing where your points were by default.

Incarnum however, was a really bad system, not because it was bad, but because as a player, you had to spend the bulk of your time juggling a small list of points for a small advantage. None of the Incarnum values were particularly large, and the niche utility of some of the shifting was as much a matter of pooling skill bonuses into your armour at the right moment at the right time, rather than really changing what you did. The system was designed to be careful enough as to not get out of hand like the existing spell system (which was broken), but still be an alternative worth playing (which was pretty hard, when the spell system was broken).

The real thing though that kills Incarnum is cognitive load.

Cognitive load is the concept in psychology that describes the amount of active memory you have to track to keep a task executed. It’s how you concentrate on something, it’s the work required in your brain to manage the information presented to you organised. Incarnum was a system that started with cognitive load problems, and it got worse as you levelled up.

You might sometimes hear a player describe a game as ‘smooth’ or hear a designer say something is ‘frictionless.’ Mostly, that feeling is attained by making sure your design does little to demand cognitive load without a reason. It’s one thing to concentrate on a complicated turn or a crucial strategy, but you don’t want the everyday operations of play to require you to make a lot of complex planning and contend with juggling information.

There’s a reason designers preach the idea of simplicity. It’s not for its own sake, it’s because you want to make it as easy as possible for the players to make decisions about what they want to do in your game, rather than have to do math on working out how what they want to do can work.


I don’t know if anyone else is using this term to talk about this, so here we go, my best effort to try and coin this term so I can talk about it easily.

The Procedurality of a game is the degree to which game pieces imply the existence of one another. That is, when you’re confronted with a game pieces, you can probably extrapolate what the other pieces mean. As a player this determines how you learn and study the strategy, while as a designer, procedurality shows you the extent of a design space.

Here are some examples:In this pretty ordinary poker hand, you can look at the cards and glean some information. First, there are cards that number up to ten, and cards that number down to four. There are numbers on most cards, and there are some different symbols – a heart, a diamond, a club and so on.

Based on just this information, if you’d never seen the deck before, you could probably extrapolate what forty of the cards are, maybe forty-four based on the Jack probably not being totally unique. The design of a deck of cards works with this – there are two jokers, but aside from that, the whole design is contained pretty tightly within the two variables of each card: Value and Suit.

These are cards from a packet of Dark Signs. One of them is very much unlike the others, the area pieces that you’ll play to win. But two of the cards kind of imply the values of other cards, while the third shows that there’s at least some cards in the deck that don’t fit that pattern. The basic runes in Dark Signs represent the lowest sort of procedurality – they show some value that the players will have to deal with, but they aren’t the whole of the game. The procedural cards in Dark Signs show a sort of design space, but they aren’t super obvious. Also, and it’s a small thing, in Dark Signs, the basic runes all have prime number values, which makes them just a little bit trickier to make score ties.

Finally we have the most procedural game I’ve ever made:

There are 26 cards in You Can’t Win and 24 of them are immediately obvious the second you look at any given card. The other two are Wild cards. Each card shows a value, and a rule that relates to cards with that value.

Procedural games are a good place to get started. It helps you get your mind in the space of working out how many cards you need, and if you do it right it can help you explore spaces, defining boundaries by how many different permutations you need of an effect.


This post was deemed important to my PhD and has been moved to my academic blog. If you don’t know where that is, that’s okay! Or you can contact me to ask me where to find it.

Otherwise, don’t worry about it.

Anzac Biscuits!

Hey, everyone! It’s Anzac Day! That means it’s a time to celebrate our culture and our Anzacs, which we do with games of 2-up in pubs, singing three songs, and deep repression of our thoughts about how the impact of our complicity and promotion of white supremacy leads to the radicalisation of our own citizens and the disenfranchisement of our marginalised people pushes them towards criminality that we then use as pretense to further disenfranchise them in ways that result to our perception of ‘the other’ and the deeper entanglement in international imperialism that sends our soldiers to places that have nothing to do with us in order to die, and of course, making Anzac Biscuits!

I got this recipe off the Australian War Memorial website, and only made some small alterations. It’s really good, you’ll like ’em!


  • 1 cup each of rolled oats, sugar and coconut
  • 1 tablespoon syrup
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water)


  • Melt the butter, as a symbol of the way we viewed our culture as a melting pot where a variety of different cultures could come together and form a very yellow homogenous whole, much like the Simpsons where we try to keep a minimal number of brown people who we routinely mock and divorce from proper job opportunities that respect them and their cultural backgrounds.
  • Add syrup to dissolved soda and water. Combine with melted butter. This will form the wet ingredients into one larger body that should smooth out and homogenise in the same way that we treat all our population as acceptable if we already have them and they don’t do anything to stand our or remind us that they are not, in fact, lily-white.
  • Mix dry ingredients and stir in liquid, with forceful, strong motions like running a death camp on another country’s territory that both that country and the UN have decreed an illegal human rights violation. The ingredients will present some resistance, just like how the people in those camps do things like hunger strikes, appeals to the press, explicit references to sexual abuse by guards and overseers, and at least one man setting himself on fire, but just as we can dismiss those actions as ‘wanting attention’ you can ignore the resistance of the ingredients. Just smooth them out and ignore the way you feel.
  • Place small balls on to buttered tray and bake in moderate oven. It doesn’t matter how they’re composed, if they’re a decent mix, or their size, or really anything at all, because making a bad Anzac biscuit is pretty hard if you get the mix right, because they’re made out of components designed to be durable and last long over the transport from Australia to Gallipolli, a war we were entangled in because an Empire wanted to spend our blood to earn themselves a minor convenience, and we lined up to ensure that we wouldn’t let it happen again, again, again, again again again.
  • Lift out carefully with a knife as they are soft till cold. Don’t bite them too early or they’ll break!

I hope you enjoy this Anzac Biscuit recipe. They’re really good!

Cities And Towns

Let’s talk about a game idea, and what I want to be sure I’m saying with it.

This game idea is known tenatively as cities and towns. It actually started as a colour matching/multiplier game, a math game for my nephews but I liked the metaphor of it being about things rather than stuff, and so it slowly took its shape as a town builder.

The notional mechanic is that there’s a common pool of cards, the city, that determine the value of the cards in each player’s personal pool, their town. At the start of the game, you deal each player a starting card that’s not worth anything, but gives you a place to start from, and put three cards into the city, to give people a standard view of how things are valued. This means that putting cards into the city can represent an explosion of value for you, but it’s something other players can piggyback on – if you have two of type A, and there are two more A in the city, you get four points, but any player who builds an A gets two, too.

I like this mechanic for representing things like trade dependencies and culture growth. A university on its own isn’t worth as much as a university surrounded by other smaller towns with universities, and a market thrives when there are other, connected markets. Players are simultaneously building the scoring mechanism for the game as they are building their own little spaces in the game.

Then came the time to make the game pieces, and I hit an interesting conundrum. See, one thing I could do is go with a pastoral, adventure-game vibe, you know, the not-necessarily-fantasy, but-probably of kingdoms with farms and quarries and woodcutters, as you see in games like Settlers or whatever.

The next option, however, is to build assets using something like these Kenney assets, isometric city representation.

Now this choice opens up an interesting question. I think that a modern urban city and smaller town thing presents an interesting set of different mechanics – after all, you have faster communication, and maybe there are some buildings that can’t go anywhere but in the city, and some things that can’t go anywhere but the town, because of infrastructural needs. Is there a need for variety the same way in buildings when they look modern, when they could show similar buildings on different blocks with ‘zoning’ rules?

But then we hit an additional question: What about redlining? What about the history of deprivation? If these are buildings that look like cities, but outside of cities and minus the skyscrapers, am I just building suburbs? And if I am, do I really want to present a scenario to players where they want to build more schools in the city, because it makes their schools out in the suburbs more desireable?

Now, I’ve made my decision – the game’s underway. But these are decisions you gotta be prepared to consider and confront. When you make a game, you are responsible for the things you choose to put into it, and the assumptions you make about what the game should have in it.

Shirt Highlight: House Logos!

Ever have a day where you had some things you needed to get done, but you were so sick with anxiety and rage you couldn’t, so instead you threw yourself into something in the hopes of making one person maybe crack a smile?


Hey, good, good for you, I am so glad you’ve never had to be here.

Anyway, today I fancied up these shirt designs I’d sketched out:

If you want to get these shirts representing your favourite Houses for the School Cup based on whether you feel you’re Basic, Extra, Boring or Evil, you can check them out on my Redbubble. There’s even one shirt that holds all four designs to show people all at once!

If, by the way, you like these designs but don’t want to buy a shirt, don’t forget you can always get stickers of what I make, and stickers are often very cheap, especially if you buy in lots of 10 or more!