Category Archives: Making

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

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It’s another set of masks, which were originally made just as a test of the question ‘can I make these elements line up?’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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Prototype 22.06 — 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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Prototype 22.05 — 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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How To Be: Kyo Kusanagi (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.

Buckle up Dweebenheimer it’s time to KING THE FIGHTERS!

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The Structural Failing of Dunkology

It’s easy to make people look stupid.

On the internet it’s incredibly easy to make someone look stupid. You can just take single phrases, put them out of context, and then you make the person who had the temerity to put words out there on the internet look like some kind of big stupid asshole. Any given quote can be put into contexts where it looks bad, a practice that’s very popular amongst Young Earth Creationists that we sometimes refer to as quote mining, or cherry picking. If you control the frame and context of words, you can make the work of any person with a meaningfully large corpus of language say almost anything you want them to say, and in the process, make them look foolish or useless or evil.

Ostensibly, there’s a solution to this; sourcing. If you provide a link to everything you’ve mentioned, people can look at things in their proper context. It helps to build a structure of all these arguments and positions around us, and it means anyone who wants to can look at your argument and the original source, and if they have sourced properly, a whole thread of sources going back to the root.

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Chirality in Game Design

Chriality is a term you probably learned in chemistry class and I learned in Walter White’s chemistry class. No shame in being aware of the roots of our knowledge. Point is, chirality is a term we use to refer to a type of symmetry – where a thing can be constructed with all the pieces relating to one another in the ‘same’ way but the whole object is meaningfully different because they can’t be superimposed.

The simple way to think of it is that chirality is the handedness of the object. Your left hand and right hand (if you got one of each) are structurally ‘the same’ with thumbs and fingers all relatin to one another in roughly the same way and distances, but the construction means that no matter how you try, you cannot rotate the pair so that they are both representing the same position.

Chirality is very important in chemistry, where two chemicals can be identically composed and yet have wildly different effects. Now you know a word you might not have known before. If a thing has this property, this ‘handedness,’ then it’s chiral, and if it can’t be constructed to have a handedness, then it’s known as being achiral.

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CoX: Tatsuhime

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.


Name’s Mack. Mack Morito. Syndicate, yeah. Imperial city, too! Yeah, that’s me, that’s the gal. One of those martial artists, the kind who can break tanks and beat guns. How? Channeling chi, the force of will made flesh. Or as Mack likes to say it: She’s got Big Dragon Energy.

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Shirt: The Idyllshire Copycoeurl

You know now I’m open about playing Final Fantasy XIV there’s a whole bunch of specific niche jokes I can make that don’t make me feel like I’m divulging the location of a covert operative.

These two designs, the Profile and Bell designs, are available on Redbubble. I recommend a baseball 3/4 style, for that proper ‘sports teams supports’ design.

Velocity in King of Tokyo

Look, normally I’d treat this as a thing in a whole Game Pile Article, but it doesn’t seem worth it to me, not at this point, especially when the game is so similar to one I’ve already written about. The game is King of Tokyo, but the new information this time is the mechanics presented in the Dark Edition of the game.

I have played more editions of King of Tokyo than I have of most board games. Setting aside long-hauler games like Magic: The Gathering where the rules are changed every time a new card gets designed, I have played at least four versions of King of Tokyo and own one. I like this game, and as a game, the version I own has some problems.

They’re not huge problems, mind you, they just are problems. Some cards you can buy introduce powers that are a little weird, and can create odd rules interactions that don’t work. The rules stated in the version I own are a little ambiguous about timing, things like when you enter Tokyo in the turn. Those are things that can be treated as refinements of what’s already there, ways to make the system work better, but which is just the kind of things the system has right there.

There are two big problems with King of Tokyo, and those problems are tied to one larger problem: A lack of velocity.

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Asset Brainstorm #5 — Some Phantasy Robots

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.


Wow this one was a story. How I got here isn’t important, what’s important is the assets, and what ideas they inspire. For this month, I grabbed Ansimuz’s Phantasy Tiny RPG Mobs Pack.

Disclosure! I haven’t bought this pack yet. These are made using the preview images from itch.io. The reason I haven’t bought this pack yet is because Ansimuz has a lot of assets available and I am considering buying up big blocks of packs. Since I don’t want to spend another dang week planning ahead about what I’ll purchase, I’ve grabbed this preview image to work with and hopefully it’s okay.

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MTG: April 2022’s Custom Cards

I like making Magic cards. It’s easily my favourite way to engage with the game. In the name of discipline, in the name of getting cards done I will sometimes make cards I’m not wildly happy with, but largely, I like my cards. Since my normal theme of April is to try and focus on me and on being indulgent, it can be challenging to really nail down what makes a me month worth of cards. After all, many of them are my precious babies.

What can the cards be about then, in this context?

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

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Prototype 22.04 — House Advantage

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.


In 2016, I made a game playable with a deck of playing cards, a single session tabletop roleplaying game that was designed to get everyone in the experience of being a DM. I made it and did the graphics myself – these four pictures of the four types of character, Hitters, Fitters, Grifters and Lifters.

I’ve wanted to make a game based on this for a while now, something small, something that plays with pieces I didn’t get to play with for a while. I wanted to make a game you could slip into a little bag, which came with some tokens and some cards, and let you play out the fantasy of The Suits in a different way. Rather than telling a story, though, the idea this time around was something tactical, something about robbing a casino.

And something about poker.

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Mask: Some Masks!

I don’t need shirts right now. I do however, want to have some masks, so I can wash them very regularly. Let’s check some out!

I love my THIS SHIRT SAYS TRANS RIGHTS shirt, and I wanted a version I could wear on a mask when I need my shirt real estate to say something else, like, say, DID YOU CHECK THE SUBJECT OUTLINE. I made this variant on the shirt for mask purposes.

I have a M*A*S*K mask already, but I was never as into MASK as I was into Transformers. This mask is based on the face of Wheeljack, from Transformers.

And this is my masterpiece. This Haruhi-inspired asymmetrical mask is a reminder to me just how much I love that classic anime. I should write about it later this year.

FFXIV: Karash

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.


You might have met Karash Ejinn wandering around Limsa Lominsa, or perhaps out by Ul’dah, Idyllshire, or Radz-at-Han. It’s not like he doesn’t stand out – he’s the largest Au Ra you’ve ever seen, large even by their standards. If you’ve spoken to him, you’ll have heard the deep, rumbling voice, which speaks with a deliberate care in what is clearly his secondary language. While he’s obviously very dangerous — nobody his size would be seen as helpless — he seems to mostly do trade with people, bodyguarding work, and travel along riverways as a strange kind of nomad.

On the other hand, you might have met him on the battlefields, or in the trenches against the Garlean Empire over the past few years. You might have seen him, clad in black armour, repurposed from Garlean war machines, that made him seem even more massive and dark, as he walked through rivers of blood in an unflagging wall of violence pushing deep into the heart of the empire. You may have heard the rhyme the soldiers said about him.

It doesn’t think
It doesn’t feel
It doesn’t laugh or cry
All it does from dawn to dusk
Is make the soldiers die

There shouldn’t be anything that counts as a story spoiler below.

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How To Be: Minfilia Warde (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.

In deference to this being Final Fantasy 14 Week, a sub-theme in Talen Month, I figured it was time for us to give the fan, singular, what she wanted, and finally write an article about her favourite character, and how I’d go about playing her in a game that she doesn’t play and has no reason to care about.

It’s also an opportunity to talk about negative space and harmonisation.

Let’s talk about Minfilia Warde.

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Buried Gods: Reconcepting Dragonborn

I have spoken already about the challenge of integrating the Dragonborn and Dwarves into the setting of Cobrin’Seil. These two extremely strong, heavily supported character heritages, so I don’t want to take them away from players, but they’re also hard to integrate into the world the way I want it to be. For dwarves, the problem is that they didn’t bring anything to the world that humans didn’t, and I solved that problem by reconcepting them as what I’ve called a ‘pocket heritage’ – small communities whose biological oddness is explained by a feywild origin.

Dragonborn’s problem is a little more tricky. They provide some things I do want (mechanically robust heritage that can be used for a variety of classes in interesting and distinct ways) and some things I don’t care about (fuckable dragon people). They also bring with it some worldbuilding questions, which the default setting answers with a shrug of ‘a God Did It,’ and what’s more that god is Bahamut, against whom I will never not have a grudge. I know these days he’s changed his names and now he’s a monk, no, really, he was always a cool guy, but Bahamut is still always going to be a Lawful Good God who’s meant to be Super Powerful but Doesn’t Fix Things because That Would Be Hard.

He’s also very much defined by his Faerunian depiction, and that world’s gods are awful.

Dragonborn can’t just be transplanted wholesale into another species group, or remade as like, bear people, because their mechanics have all been very good about reinforcing the flavour of being ‘a dragon that’s like, a guy.’   That means they have wings, breath weapons, bites, specific references to elemental energies through their scales, and relationships to other species based on ‘being a dragon.’ Whatever I choose for the dragonborn still has to be possible for any given player to grab their existing dragonborn character art and, more or less, plonk it into the world without feeling like they can’t ‘be’ the way they want to be in the world.

Also, there’s an added problem: Kobolds. Kobolds are an extant heritage in Cobrin’Seil, and they’re popular, and they’re useful for showing something about dragons and the world as it is. I like Kobolds a lot, and when looking at the world as a whole I had to answer the question: Why Aren’t Dragonborn Just Big Kobolds?

That was a thought, for a while there. I did seriously consider Dragonborn as like, Kobolds who had been selected to be defenders or guardians and were changed somehow, but that process seemed something I didn’t want in the world as something common enough entire heritages got it. Plus, it did open a balance door, of like, well, why can’t dragonborn and kobolds share feats? That seems strange, and lords I didn’t want to give dragonborns more options.

Here then are the parameters for defining the Dragonborn of Cobrin’Seil:

  • Allow players to feel like existing Dragonborn work,
  • Open up to more options that are more appropriate to the world
  • Don’t make Bahamut a requirement
  • Have a new, clear hook as to why a player might want to play one
  • Not Just Big Kobolds

Let me tell you about an empire of the sun.

Let me tell you about the children of the scale.

Let me tell you about the Dragonborn of Cobrin’Seil.

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Asset Brainstorm #4 — Casino Cards

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.


I did spend a long time today – when I wrote this – picking out possible assets to buy for this project this month. I also thought about maybe just using art assets I knew I couldn’t buy because the point is the brainstorm, not the product. I looked at a lot of stuff today, and I tried very hard to come up with something that felt interesting

But I kept getting pulled towards a mechanical idea I’ve been thinking about.

This time, we’re going to look at an idea I’ve been toying with that wants to use, at least to start, ordinary playing cards.

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Prototype 22.03 — Sky Islands

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.


In January, I started late and didn’t get it done. In February, I had four game ideas. One of them became focal, and I spent some time this month actually making a physical prototype. My plan this month is to have something that at the end of the month can be treated as a thorough plan for not just a prototype, but a game that’s ready to go.

That proved very stressful, with the whole design write-up being week to week, and publishing just before the end of the month. Instead, I’m going to talk to you about what the idea is and focus on the core ideas, rather than on every step of the process.

Let me know if you prefer the week-to-week explanation or this style of simplified version.

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