Category Archives: Making

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

Too Much Fun: Reconcepting Dwarves

I wrote earlier this year about how I don’t like the ‘dwarf’ as conventionally presented by 4e D&D. I don’t like the implication it has in the world, I don’t like the space for human culture it eats, I don’t like the baggage from Tolkein and World of Warcraft and I really don’t like the way dwarves are so bloody good if what you want is the mechanical portfolio to build a tough hard to move character in 4th edition D&D.

The Dio Baragh, Baragh for short, are the Cobrin’Seil replacement for the Dwarf. Mechanically, they are exactly the same, but they’re not the same fortress-building, ancient-artifact-having, Jewish-stereotyping squat Scottish humanoids. Instead, the Dio Baragh (from a Scots term meaning ‘The Outcasts’) stand apart from the dwarf, on their magnificent goaty legs.

Let me tell you about a culture that was born in magic, and made itself real.

Let me tell you about people who were kicked out of the Feywild for partying too hard.

Let me tell you about people of hammer and oak and axe and thorn.

Let me tell you about the Baragh.

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What Are You Trying To Feel?

Making games involves a lot of consideration about how players feel, as they engage with your game. When a player is playing a game like Doom, there’s a desire for some tension, but also for a feeling of excitement; you want to push players to feel like they can achieve things, and for their fear to be at odds with their sense of invulnerability. If a player thinks they’re able to defeat things, they’ll approach the frustration of the game with a proactive attitude, but if they’re afraid of dying, they’ll also be making threat assessment very quickly. Turn based Doom is a whole thing (DoomRL), but that timing and resource management becomes very different, and that game maintains its tension in the unreliability of turn-based math combat.

Anyway, while we’re talking about smooches in smooch month, and the smoochiest of games, Doom, let’s talk about how in smoochy games you want to maintain that tension to give people feelings.

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How To Be: Akane Tendo (in 4e D&D)

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

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

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

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

You know it’s not an intentional thing, but it seems that in the month of February, How To Be returns to the world of Ranma 1/2. Ah, what a wonderful world, the world where we have characters who fight with brooms or teleport or turn into gods and throw lightning bolts. Who are we going to visit here, in this mysterious world of creative martial arts?

Oh wait it’s in the subject you clicked on to go read this.

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Sticker: Tama Go-Ju!

This joke is far too niche, but if you (‘ju’) are an egg (‘tamago’) who had a realisation reading Ranma 1/2, then I have made a sticker for you. Just you.

Here’s the design:

And here’s how it looks on a hat:

I don’t think of Smooch Month as ‘Ranma month’ but this is the inspiration that struck and this is the result. Enjoy this eggy joke that I won’t wear myself. I made something for you! And the cheapest way for you to get it is to buy stickers, over on Redbubble!

MTG: Partner Problems

Look, partner as a mechanic is kind of a problem. Setting aside jokes from Melissa Detora about ‘hating the partner mechanic,’ Partner, as presented at first in Commander 2016, is a mechanic that put its foot forward in a bad way. This isn’t unheard of; Devotion’s first appearance was as the mechanic Chroma back in Shadowmoor, and when Wizards returned to that, they managed to absolutely smash it out of the park. Heck, Partner, after its first appearance, has come back twice, and each time it’s been really good.

I like Partner a lot – it’s a way to represent a story between two characters, it’s a way to examine common ground between mechanics, and it’s a way, crucially in smooch month, to represent kinds of relationships that a game about combat and conflict and faeries doesn’t often have room to show.

Let’s talk about Partner, then.

WOTC Employees: This article is entirely about about unsolicited game designs, with example cards.

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Cox: Nightsun

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.


Hey, what’s the weird tradition YOUR family has?

For Mika, his family follow an obscure religion, the Zantedeschian faith. It’s a pretty sweet gig, with lots of flower festivals, feasts, and gift-giving ceremonies, body positivty, and apparently, the goddess has all these cool heroic stories. He even had a position at the family temple, of a Knight – which again, meant things like attending the festivals.

And when Mika was kidnapped by the council to serve as a host for a gestating Nictus, though, the Nictus that tried to consume him found that that faith wasn’t in nothing.

You know what will give your faith strength? When your god’s power flows through you and shreds the soul of the thing that tried to destroy you.

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Asset Brainstorm #3 — AuCrowne Expressions

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.


It’s a new month and that means it’s time to look at this again with a sneaky secret oh hey what if this winds up being part of the actual project this month followup, eh?

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January Game Project — Adventure Town

Halfway through this month, I sat down with my supervisor and we discussed the idea of what this year is going to look like for the PhD. One of the things that we discussed was that large projects were slow and hard to move, and the material I had access to was harder to access thanks to the global shipping crisis. Services like Gamecrafter and DriveThruCards were unreliable, sometimes simply refusing to ship to Australia at all. Anyway, point is that I’m trying to make a print-and-play game each month this year.

But I decided this with ten days left in the month.

Hrm.

I was not going to get this done. Not properly done, not done in a way I’d be happy with. But I do have a game where the core idea of it is something I’ve been turning over and over in my head for years now in the idea of making a print-and-play game for the year.

Therefore, here, I am just going to provide an honest accounting of what I did, this month, to work on Adventure Town and how close it is to being complete.

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.


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Inquagnito Mode!

You know how I wrote about how there was a chance that cool design I had of a Quagsire sneaking around in a mask wouldn’t ever be able to be published because discoverability was functionally broken?

Well turns out I lied.

Here’s this month’s design. I recommend getting it on a sticker (cheap) or a hat (pricey), but as always, you can get it on a shirt.

How To Be: Some Jojo (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.

And now, it’s time to engage with something that is a challenge on two axes: First, the challenge presented by unpicking what it even means to make it, and second, the challenge of dealing with the standard memetic conversation that unrolls when you bring it up.

We’ve been a Touhou. We’ve been an Ukyou. And it’s time, now finally, it’s time, to be a Jojo.

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Mental Diet

It’s like, 1.30 in the morning, a November night, and I didn’t write anything today, until now. I worked on some projects – a little bit in a few places – but the main thing that happened today was that around 4 pm, I told my friends ‘I think I’ll lie down, but I have my phone,’ as if I would chat to them while in bed, then woke up four hours later to find everyone asleep.

This is because in the morning, I woke up bolt awake, holding on to Fox and the dog because I’d had a nightmare about the Rapture. These are not uncommon things for me, like I’m not surprised by them, but they do pretty badly exhaust me. It meant that I just didn’t get much sleep – I was asleep, but it wasn’t restful sleep – and when I was tired, I didn’t want to go back to sleep, because I didn’t want to return to the nightmares. The fear that I would fall back into that place, as if the dream is a place I was going to go, not a dumb trick my brain plays on me for thirty years.

But that meant I was exhausted today. I shambled around a little, I watched some Youtube videos, I planned for dinner – I did some laundry! Hey, go me, that’s a chore I easily would forget. But then I went to bid at four twenty nap time, and whumph did not wake up until 8.30.

Then I watched a movie with Fox, and we recorded a podcast about it, and we went to bed. She watched AmberCyprian and Argick play a game about balls on a string – Argick’s channel is really top tier balls content – and I kid you not I spent about a half hour watching minute and two minute clips of things like capybaras jumping into water.

It’s been a bit of a rough day.

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CoX — Hexcalibre

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.


The witch, it’s said, is someone who knows things. She’s some usually-a-woman, usually old, usually removed, who has Ways of making magic happen. It’s curses and potions and strange, ancient rituals or the turning of the stars, knowledge that the witch has, and you don’t. The witch, it’s said, is the woman who Knows Things.

She’s Bridgitte on her forms, Jett to her friends, to the city that knows her as a heroine, she’s Hexcalibre, and she knows what swords know.

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Choking Discovery Channels

Heyyyy, uh

How do you find my stuff?

I know a lot of people find my stuff from google. But the google searches that bring them here bring them to a single post about Death Note, and then they leave forever, sometimes after pooping in a comments section that I steadfastly refuse to allow to expand. Go find someplace meaningful to holler. But broadly speaking, if you read this, it’s because you read something else I said, probably yesterday.

There are dozens of you. At least more than two dozens of you.

Today, I got up and had an idea, a vision, a creative drive for my work, and I decided today, I would do the t-shirt design for January. Yeah I know. Anyway, I did a design which I thought up before I went to bed, it made me laugh, and I went and set it up. Like, sure, it’s up there with ‘Groverwatch’ for ‘two things mashed together,’ but whatever. Here’s the design.

Now, I did something very silly once I had this design made. See, I put it up on Redbubble, and when I posted it, despite it being an artwork of basically a thumb with a smile and a top hat, and being composed of elements I drew entirely by myself, using a digital art program I have the right to use, I decided to add the tag ‘quagsire’ to the artwork when I put it on Redbubble.

Five minutes later, I got a note from Redbubble saying, hey, we’re suspending this item until we can review it. And hey, maybe that’ll happen. Maybe this design will, in fact, get reviewed, and everything will be fine, in the morning, or in a week, or in a month. I have no idea. I can’t have any idea. This is something they do because they need to make sure that certain copyright stakeholders aren’t going to get mad at them for selling things (though there absolutely are more infringing works that are absolutely still available on their site, and they’re hard for me to report).

I’m not complaining here, not really. I mean not in any way that I think will fix anything so I’m just having a grouse at having a day of work producing nothing I can use, which is a bummer and puts me further behind. But anyway, the thing is, if I hadn’t tagged my work as an artwork of a quagsire, then odds are good it’d just go up and Redbubble would investigate it when it made a big pile of money, and that would never happen. Inexplicably, something like that happened with my set of Steven Universe two-tone designs, which were made to work with the way Redbubble handles default background colours, where three of the four were taken down just because I mentioned the Crystal Gems on them, but the fourth one was left alone and made the most money.

I do not understand it at all.

But here’s the result: Do you ever think, if you searched for my work, on Redbubble, you’d be able to find the fandoms I’m related to?

Do you think if you searched for a fandom I have made artwork for, that you’d be readily able to find me even if my work is something you know you’d like?

There’s a great lie we tell ourselves about making things on the internet, that you do your thing and you put yourselves in the path of attention and you find the people who care about your work and that’ll be your audience. But that operates on the idea that ‘discovery’ is a thing that happens naturally.

Every bump in the road, every point of resistance, every algorithmic check is something that, typically, is going to work against you to get that audience. By default, the fantasy of discovery is at odds with the needs of existing on the internet.

Find your people, but be careful about how you go looking.

Secret Sequence

It’s weird to be working on things in secret.

I try to do work in public when it comes to game design, and I try to account for the process of things like making videos at least after the fact. I think the biggest hurdle for me doing some of these things, myself, was seeing that the process was like, attainable and wasn’t the result of some complicated tool or commitment but really did just come down to ‘make a thing’ using the best tools I had for the job. And plus, as a (vomit sound) content creator, making something then explaining the making of it is basically double-dipping for a single project.

This is not how it works for everything I do.

Last year I tried some things about long-form writing, articles that had secret messages in them, or just things that required I keep a lot of long-form notes. You know, things like a PhD diary. But mixed in amongst there, there were some other details, some other things that got started… and didn’t get published.

I have been keeping secrets.

This is weird to me not because you’re entitled to everything and I feel bad for keepign secrets from you. After all, I did that for all of my playthroughs of Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 and both of those games were massively improved by not having a community of online commentators providing their input and instead just… trying things to see how they worked. What I’m saying is that the Dark Souls community is the real Dark Souls.

In this case, though, two of the things are things that require long-term, long-form engagement to see what they do. Anyone can guzzle through a game in a few days and then report that the experience made them sick, I’m trying to approach complicated ideas in good faith and take notes and also not vent about it on twitter, which is, I guess, my form of guzzling things and then complaining about it making me sick.

Hey, twitter? It’s terrible, bad site, don’t like it, but if they banned everyone except me and maybe my friends and a few hundred people providing interesting general content, and then just let me use it as a searchable scratch pad? I’d be okay with that. Because that is something I have found is very important to what I do in long-form experiences. Write some notes, quip about it on twitter, or even just think aloud about an idea in the same space. Then I can go back later, search for it, and revisit the same mental state.

That’s really useful.

And the impulse to take notes like that is completely lost on me when I’m sitting down with a pad of paper in my hand. I type way faster than I write! Cross-referencing handwritten notes involves taking a post-it and doing back-searches later! It’s so strange that twitter is part of the process.

What’s more, twitter being part of the process is also something that makes the whole ‘secret’ element feel tangibly different. Like, I tweet about a lot of shit and I know most people don’t read most of my tweets. It’s just the weird nature of the fake and hollow internet of now. I’m not trying to shame you or anything, but if I mentioned ‘that tweet last month about the Gummi bears’ you’d have no idea what it was unless it was somehow a banger, and I don’t really do a bangers any more.

Must be somethign in the water, the youths don’t like my tweets as much any more.

Point is, I could tweet publically about all sorts of dumb shit and nobody would notice because the math of things is that just getting tweets noticed on purpose is hard. Getting them noticed on accident isn’t easier, it’s just more likely than happening on purpose, because I dunno, the cringe, let’s say. It’s searchable, too, and if I was really into it I could use Rot13, so Irenes could follow it and nobody else would care.

Which is almost fun sounding.

Anyway, point is, there’s a strangeness involved in creating and not being able to share the way I normally would, and an added dimension to all that is that it means here I am, up late at night, with a blank page in front of me, that is frustrating to fill because the entire day I have been thinking about stuff I shouldn’t talk about yet, because it’s a secret.

Asset Brainstorm #2 — Kenny Sci-Fi RTS

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.


Still no, uh, still no catchier name than that huh?

Oh well.

This time, we’re looking at the endless well of wonderful stuff that is Kenney Assets, focusing on the ‘Sci-Fi RTS’ bundle.

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Kickstarter 2021 Autopsy

In December 2021, Kickstarter mentioned a plan in Bloomburg business to pivot to NFTs, putting their previous existing system onto a blockchain technology. With that in mind, I made a serious decision to simply divest myself of Kickstarter until I heard definitively that they absolutely weren’t fucking doing that, because the last thing I want is a trust-based crowdfunding system to tie itself to a thing that makes scams a lot easier.

Which is a bummer for me, because Kickstarter is a system I really like, and I really like using it, in my particularly privileged position. See, I have spending money I can dump on modest purchases throughout a month and it’ll just, you know, be something my budget can handle, between Patreon money and just, you know, one of the weird effects of working for a university.

And… well, what did that look like, in 2021?

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First They Must Catch Us: Reconcepting Halflings

The fire crackled, sat in the centre of the group. Four sets of boots, three large, one small, glimmered orange as the campfire’s light licked over them in pinions of orange and gold, contrasting with the deep dark of the woods, and the deep, suffusing blue of the glass-dusted sky.

“So the story goes, the story goes,” the creaky-voiced half-elf said. “Shipwrecked, they say. A crew of fifty survivors, and food enough for twenty five. They drew lots, and half the number accepted their end – casting themselves from the rocks to save the survivors the cost of them.”

“We have a story like it.” The orc said. “The strongest half went into the jungle, without any supplies, to show they were strong, and to give the weaker half the best chance to survive.”

The human pushed a stick into the fire, and shook her head. “Grim stories.”

“Stupid stories.” The fourth said. They sat forwards, their hands waving animatedly. “I don’t know about the folk of yours, but for us? We’d all find a way to do with half as much.”

“You can say that,” the half-elf started.

“Yeah. I can. And then I live it. We live it.” The Halfling gave a grim smile. “We are the ones who always survive.

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The best of 2021, Part 2 – Game Making

Alright, so yesterday I established we’re going to talk about some ‘best of’ writing in 2021, but then I went and banged on about some nerd stuff like elves and dragonborn (two things that actually didn’t come up but you’re not going to go check, not really, who cares). Today we’re going to push that nerd crap off the table and instead focus on the much more interesting question of hey, what about making games?

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Decemberween: Fox, 2021 – The Art Gremblin Rises

Hey, it’s Christmas, so you know I gotta talk about this.

Fox has been doing a lot this year. In addition to you know, coping while she works under a pandemic conditions, doing work that can be enormously straining and tedious, she’s also been just doing a lot to improve our lives around us. She’s been interested in improving our life infrastructure – fixing problems, fixing things that are causing small problems. This can be things like storage containers, or improving our rice cooker situation, or even just dedicating a mind that normally does con prep to managing food storage.

Bear in mind, I’m the one who does the bulk of the cooking for us.

Fox has also done a rebrand this year. After years of using a Munchlax plushie as her avatar, she’s now moving on to make an identity she can own more directly. She made a pngtuber avatar for herself (and then made me one too!), and now she uses it to do art streams.

And look: People with thousands of followers talk about the problems there. They talk about what it’s like to have an unreasonable loud presence in your life that you can’t communicate with. But there’s a very different problem at the other end, which is not to say a big chat isn’t a problem, but that it’s hard to hear those complaints when you’re showing up and streaming a little bit, every week, to very few people.

Fox has been streaming her art. She’s basically looked at the problem of not doing enough drawing, and decided to make a practice out of it, that involves practicing in public, and being okay with not getting attention.

And that’s cool. It’s cool to do hard things for no external reward. It’s cool to try something so hard even when it’s hard.

And I’m so proud of Fox.

Every day is a gift.

Decemberween: Nixie 2: The Nixie-Ing

Decemberween posts vary between two choices: Either hey, here’s a cool thing that you can partake in right now, and go check that out, and it might be a useful thing to fill the time you have in December where you may want something that isn’t going to stress you out, or, hey, here’s one of my friends, and how great they are, because they make me happy and my ability to be happy is already an extremely weird thing so I’m going to treat this as the proper Christmas season miracle.

So let’s talk about my disrespectful internet daughter, because she is great, and she is sweet, and this year she’s doing something that’s really impressive.

Now, you may remember that earlier this year — if you’re a real Nixie fan — Nixie and I did a long form chat on Ai: The Somnium Files, which we did before knowing that the sequel to Ai was going to be announced. We talked about how we learned about the game, about how we connected, and what it’s like to know or care about Content Warningy media. We also talked about specific characters, and how character archetypes can make life easier for writers, but also how things that broke archetypal structure could resonate with us.

Anyway, Nixie went back to school this year.

That’s really cool! And she’s been hardworking and focused on her homework and doing her best with the online teaching format she can! She’s been reading her books and she’s been getting her work done, and through it all she’s been wonderfully honest and sincere about it. Sorry, I can’t talk, I’m busy. Here’s some of my homework, what do you think? Thank you for your thoughts, but I am going to focus on this myself.

Nixie is really great. Now, you may be surprised to know that she isn’t already some kind of educationally pedigree’d person! She’s after all, a relative expert on a lot of things, and willing to share that knowledge, in sometimes remarkably approachable, clear ways for people who normally think of people like her (tiny internet gremlin girls) as being ‘outside’ of those conversations. You might know that as Miss Nixie Is Typing.

Lords knows I do.

You also might not realise it, but Nixie is one of those people who can be considered part of the editorial staff here on Press. I talk to her about ideas for articles, and sometimes she has some reaction to the idea, and that’s encouragement I need to go ‘oh yeah that’s cool, let’s do that.’ I watch some anime or play some games on her advice, just because her aesthetic preferences all go outside of my default.

Oh, and she’s one of the few people I know from my real life who have had the temerity to sass me in front of my students.

Consider: Nixie. Won’t you?

Decemberween: People Make Games

At some point in the past ten years I became a fan of board game semi-employment project turned full time job Shut Up & Sit Down, featuring Quinns Quinntington and Matt ‘Jammsponge’ Lees. But if you’ve looked in the secret bonus content of those board games, you may notice an occasionally weirdly young looking face that has gone unaging for the ten years he’s been showing up, and it is that fellow that is Chris Bratt. What’s he do, aside from roll dice in Matt’s living room? Why, he works (worked? I dunno, time, whatever) for Eurogramer, and now he is part of the team over at People Make Games.

People Make Games is a great, informative channel about games that treats them not as commercial products but as human things, made and designed and played by people. It’s, you know, that thing, I do, except they’re focusing on things I can’t do – like interviewing important figures and going to Peter Molyneux’s house without shouting at him about guillotines. And look at that, since the pandemic lockdown, they went and acquired themselves a Quinns of their own!

They’ve done an introductory video on Blaseball, the game of Baseball Without Mercy, Baseball Perfected, Baseball As She Is, And Always Will Be. I’m not an expert in Blaseball, but I have a bunch of friends who are very into it, and I love watching them reacting to the game every weird-ass season. It’s a wild game and a great cultural space and people get to partake of it in a way that only works with the metaphor of real baseball team and support to work with.

I also quite liked this long-form dig into a game made by Halfbrick Studios that sort of had to be scrapped, and the interesting question of whether this is a function of the game, or the culture of the space and the people within it. Like, this whole message of this narrative could be ‘there are some types of games that corrupt the experience of people around them’ like haunted objects, but maybe the ghosts that haunt those games are in us, and the people who aren’t willing to lose when they’re not having fun.

And then there’s what’s probably? the big one this year? As I write this?

Basically, there’s a videogame platform and company that’s bigger than Ubisoft, and its player base are mostly children, as are most of its developers and designers, and that sounds wild but it sounds even wilder when you throw into that the statement ‘and the children aren’t being paid for their work.

Oh and because a few days ago this post needed an update, here’s a followup:

People Make Games is a great channel with some long, slow, thoughtful thinky-ready-processy kind of games talk there, that doesn’t approach things the same way most people in the game space do. I really like their work, so go check them out.

Decemberween: Tring Shoe Repair & Key

I do not know anything meaningful about shoes. I am not a fan of shoes, I am not big into commentary on shoes, I am not informed about them as a fetish nor as a consumer product. Shoes, in my life, are things that go on the part of the body I look at the least of all the parts in front of me.

Nonetheless, I have spent quite a lot of time looking at the fairly calm and restful video type that is Tring Shoe Repair & Key Shop’s videos explaining and demonstrating a variety of different things that go into the process of caring for, repairing, and maintaining shoes.

Look, these videos are not amazing. They are not exciting. They are about watching someone basically doing their job, which involves dozens of things I don’t understand, and showing a variety of different ways that that job is done. It’s about showing you something you recognise in an everyday kind of way, and coming to learn about how and why they work the way they do.

It is an interesting channel, it’s very low impact, and there’s some interesting stuff about how a shoe works, and the tools used to take advantage of them.

T-Shirt? Some New Year Masks

In my current understanding, kids will need masks in the new year. Masks are also a good thing to have in your life as something you can wear for when you’re feeling generally low-key ill, like if you have a cold, wear a mask to keep from spreading it, that kinda thing.

I made my own mask this year based on a dumb joke, and then realised wait no, this whips and I’m going to keep using it when I’m out in public in general, because it’s not bad to be careful. Here, then, for your new year purchasing purposes, are three masks I made for me or for family members.

I’ve been wearing these masks from redbubble for about six months. I find the adjustable straps nice and comfortable, but also nice and durable: I’ve had other masks snap over time dealing with my big weird head.

My first mask, modelled on Matt Trakker from all-purpose advertising yawnfest, M*A*S*K:

This should not be seen as an endorsement of M*A*S*K and more just me signalling to a general audience that I am old.

One of my niblings still needs to wear a mask to school, a fact that has him bummed out. So I asked him what kind of masks he’d like to have – and this is my attempt at a g-rated version of Scorpion’s mask from Mortal Kombat. Like I don’t think a teacher is going to get mad at anyone for this, there’s no blood spattering.

And finally we have a mask that represents the passive okayness that you can only get out of a Snorlax.

I don’t know if you order one of these masks now you’ll be able to get them in time for Christmas. But I do know that you should have them in time for the new year and the subsequent new school term, which you may need or want if you have a kid in your life who is bummed about needing a mask but might be a bit perked up by the mask seeming, like, kinda cool. Maybe. Maybe they think this is cool? Hell, I don’t know what the kids think is cool.

CoX — Abra

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.


Antimatter Breach Resonance Apeture; a phrase first coined in a 1500 page scientific paper about an organically-integrated chemical engine that could create portals limited to the surface of that organic object.

ABRA: The military research program seeking to develop technology that would allow self-deploying mass-driver weapons, objects that teleported themselves and massively increased in volume upon arrival.

Abra: The boy caught up in the experiments designed to make that research real, with that self-same technology integrated into his body.

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T-Shirt: Endless Summer 2021!

It is, here where I am, the last days of spring. Summer is coming, or, really, as an Australian, summer is now. Some people like to imagine seasons as these simple, standardised, three-month chunks, but here in Australia, Summer kinda reaches from sometime in October all the way through to April, if it’s a hot one. Every single day of summer, it seems, shows up with a phenomenal force, a demand that you contend with it.

It’s also the time that my university work isn’t available, creating a strange period where I have something like three months of holidays, a long, slow stretch of time to write, read, create, and yes, of course, contend with the heat.

It’s the first time in my life I really connect with this idea that Americans espouse, of the idea of ‘summer vacation.’ And so I made this shirt, a testament to the way summer feels.

I like to think that sometimes my shirt designs are about jabbing out a simple, short joke, sometimes about using a simple tool well. This one is one I took a lot of time on; multiple iterations through the months, multiple additions of elements. Every element of this design has been made or remade at least twice, because I wanted to make something that looked really good to what I wanted to.

Since it has black shapes in it that rest against the colour of the shirt, there are two designs; one for putting on white shirts:

And one that’s for putting on black or dark shirts.

You can get either design (White or Black) over on Redbubble.

How To Be: Kipo (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.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a Netflix TV series created by Radford Sechrist that started its life as a webcomic. The series is something I’ve praised in the past as being uncomplicatedly excellent. Set in a post-apocalyptic far future populated with anthropomorphic animals, it’s a story of a journey of adventure, beset on all sides by a dangerous villain with superpowers who, if he catches our heroes, may destroy their ability to ever defy him. It’s a great adventure structure, and one you should feel free to steal, and central to it all is the character of Kipo, a girl with pink skin whose position in the story is at the intersection of multiple sequences of events, set in motion before she was even born.

And like, I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to put a spoiler warning here. If you read these articles idly, and think you’d like to watch Kipo at some point, you should go do that before reading this article, because I’m going to talk about some stuff Kipo can do that isn’t obvious from the start of the story. I mean, oh okay, shock and horror, Kipo is special, obviously, you know that and I know that just looking at the fact the series is named after her, but nonetheless, I just want you to know, going on, that there be spoilers.

Good?

Good.

Okay, onwards.

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