subQuark

Game Rule Editing

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Six weeks ago I rambled on about the value of an editor for books and games and wanted to share my first editor experience for game rules.

I have a wonderful editor who I know through my day job creating eLearning. She’s been editing the ChuChu Chicken & Pedro the Goat kid’s books since the beginning of the year and it made sense to call upon her for game rules, even though that’s very different from kid’s books. In her work at my day job, she edits software training material; step-wise procedures are something she’s comfortable with.

After several rounds of wordsmithing with family, friends, and my local game design meetup group, I was feeling good on the instructions for Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens. The instructions have to fit on the fronts and backs of 3 mini poker cards, so space is at a premium.

mini-cards-300-dpiI emailed the Word files to the editor and a photo of the each game setup. Being able to understand how to play without my explanation and without the actual games is something that instructions should be able to do.

A few days later, she returned her edits.

The results are clearer instructions, more concise text through better phrasing and word use, and a better “flow”. The cost for this was about $20 (her hourly rate is $35). $10 per game seems like a bargain to me and I feel more confident about players understanding the rules of play.

Game rules shouldn’t get in the way of playing and should form an initial positive impression of a game.

If you don’t have an editor (and why would you?), give a shout out on Twitter or to a LinkedIn game design group. There are many good editors online and it’s worth the trouble to find one. If that seems daunting, and it can be, The Game Crafter also has an excellent instruction service called Sanity Tests.

Play well! =)

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Written by subquark

July 22nd, 2014 at 9:16 am

Last of the paper playtesting

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Playtesting with cutout paper as playing cards for Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens is coming to an end! The mini poker cards are in the process of being printed and it will be nice to have uniform playing cards that can actually be shuffled! =)

I was originally going to do 300 gram per square metre (gsm) cards with an aqueous coating and leave the 310 gsm linen finish plastic coated ones as a Kickstarter stretch goal. But when I look at a quantity of 200 to 300 of each game for the Kickstarter, the price difference between the two types of cards drops to $100.

Rather than create a false stretch goal for the better cards, the linen ones will be the final ones. The linen finish creates a cushion of air making shuffling easier. Mind you that mini poker cards are inherently harder to shuffle than full-sized cards, so anything that helps make that part of the game nicer and less hassle is important. The plastic coating also makes the cards more durable.

False stretch goals? You know what I mean, taking pictures of your game with wooden cubes and saying you’ll upgrade to meeples at a certain level. Not all game creators do this, and probably not most, but some do and it’s been recommended to me by peers. I can’t do this because I’ll be asking for people’s hard-earned money and that’s never something to play games with (doh! seriously, no pun intended! well, maybe a little). =p

Anywho, I digress!  =D

This first set of real cards is for additional playtesting with some hardcore gamers. Once that’s done, the second batch, with any modifications, will get printed for game reviewers.

I don’t know if alpha and beta are ever used in tabletop game prototyping but it’s terminology I’ve been immersed in for years with other endeavors (mainly Sim-on-a-Stick which is alpha software).

The hand-cut paper cards were the alpha version, this set of real cards are the beta release candidate, and the reviewer and Kickstarter version will be the release to manufacturing and official general availability version (gee, sounds so official eh?). =D

mta-at-bp

The last of the paper cards, they did a great job with over 100 games being played with several decks and a couple of dozen awesome people. Real cards are probably gonna feel very strange! This pic? Well since these games are touted as 10 minute filler games that can be played anywhere, it’s incumbant upon me to test them as such! I wonder if the burgers can be a tax deduction . . . =)

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Written by subquark

July 18th, 2014 at 9:26 am

Posted in Mint Tin Aliens

Tagged with

Pet Peeve – Kickstarters who don’t support Kickstarter Projects

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Ugh, hypocrisy! (>_<)

Not that I’m a shining beacon for not being hypocritical, but this really gets my goat! (where did that expression come from? and give me back my goat!)  =p

People who create Kickstarter projects who don’t, themselves, support Kickstarter projects!

Kickstarter is a social platform to help people get projects going and there are so many clever things on there that it’s inspiring.

Social?

A resounding yes to project creators who have no issue asking for help in funding their dreams but don’t do the same for others. I don’t get that – it’s like Twitter accounts that follow a handful of people but are followed by zillions.

I know that celebs don’t have the time to answer every tweet, but just like you and me, we are all constrained by 24 hours in the day (actually it’s 23 hours and 56 minutes but that’s the science teacher in me . . . ). But they can at least follow their fans back and many do – thank you.

Kickstarter project creators should, imho, practice what they preach and be social participants in Kickstarter, not just ask for hard-earned money.

Ugh, okay that’s my rant, now back to writing about a chicken & a goat (see, I need my goat) and back to creating a Kickstarter page for Mint Tin Games! =D

 

kickstarter-logo-light

 

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Written by subquark

July 17th, 2014 at 9:30 am

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Off to the Printer

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Phew, working for a living and trying to do your own thing can be challenging (read: real life gets in the way!).  =p

I’m in a push to get playing card files out to Printer Studio tonight and the “official” prototype ones for Mint Tin Pirates are done. woot! =D

I create mock-ups in Fireworks and use a letter-sized template to print 16 cards per sheet (mini poker card size) to save paper and keep card cutting easy.

Once the paper prototype has been blind playtested – Pirates and Aliens have each seen a tad over 100 games with about 25 different people – I export the vectors to FXG (File > Export > FXG and Images) and then tweak in Illustrator.

The last bit was the card back. For this I found public domain images, one from a painting by a US Navy Seaman in the late 1700′s and another from a 1798 book. As with any US government image, video, or audio from the military or NASA, American citizens can use those without restrictions.

The backs are fine for these prototypes but not for the actual Kickstarter version of Mint Tin Pirates. All art will be further tweaked before the “production” version is printed.

These images are double the actual size (mini poker cards); the top is the print-safe area and the bottom is the full bleed.

Avast! Now onto Mint Tin Aliens! (oops, too much pirate on the brain!) =D

I hope you have a great day and get to spend some time on your personal projects! =)

pirates-mini-cards-trim-s pirates-mini-cards-s

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Written by subquark

July 16th, 2014 at 8:16 am

Dice and Shot Glasses – what’s not to love?

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I’m like a little kid!

Yesterday after work, I saw the UPS truck pull up and ran out to meet the driver and grab my package – 250 custom dice for Monsters vs. Humans!

That silly game will Kickstart in the next three weeks and I wanted to be certain that I could get all of its components in a timely manner.  =)

dice280

custom dice by Joseph of Chessex Dice in Indiana

dice280-glass48

custom BarConic 1 ounce shot glasses from Florida

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Written by subquark

July 2nd, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Juggling it all and having fun

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Life gets in the way!

Whether it’s family life, personal challenges, work, friends, commitments, or personal endeavors – there’s always a balance that should be struck.

“Balance” is a nice euphemism for an idyllic, albeit mostly elusive, set of circumstances in our lives that both compete for our time and energy and recharge us.

I have 5 kid’s books in various stages of completion. Some are with the editor, one is with the illustrator, the InDesign templates are done, and all are in line to be published in November and that date seems reasonable.

I’m also working on two Kickstarter projects for 3 games – one of which I’d like to launch in 3 weeks and another in September.

The first one has been fun to create and a great learning experience so far. It’s a simple and silly game mentioned in a past post and uses shot glasses and custom dice.

Keep an eye out for Monsters vs. Humans – A Shooter Game.  =D

The second one’s getting down to the wire and causing some angst in the “life balance” department!

Final play testing occurs tomorrow night at a local Meetup and then it’s full steam ahead for game reviewer prototypes. This second project is a pair of mint tin games.

All of the game components are in good shape – I have the mint tins which are the game boxes, loads of mini meeples, and the dice.

But . . . what’s missing is the final artwork for the labels and the mini cards! =(

I’m doing the art myself and have some of it done but sometimes I get stressed out (that and an intense week long training course I’m attending for work next week! bah!). =p

Well, I just have to smile and keep in mind that stuff like this, making games and writing books, isn’t a bad burden at all! =)

Praha1493

a mashup of actual medieval woodcut art that I’ll use as the inspiration for what I’ll create as vector art

 

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Written by subquark

June 18th, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Posted in games

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Printer Studio mini cards

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Printer Studio has a good reputation in the game community and certainly has good pricing. For Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Villagers, mini cards will be used. These are half the size of a poker card and fit well in the mint tins.

However, I’ve never seen the cards first hand and needed to before finalizing the Kickstarter page. I needed business cards and typically use mini Moo cards but figured I’d get a 54 card deck of mini cards instead. A bonus is that these cards are much less than the mini Moos and come out to about a nickel a piece.

What better to spark a conversation about upcoming Kickstarter projects than to have a quirky business card.

When researching game components, I came across two posts about Printer Studio cards that helped me decide to use them. And I’m happy with what I received. To add to the online info about Printer Studio cards for game designers, I’ve snapped some pics and added captions to them. You can see a bigger version of each pic by clicking it. =)

These are the 310 gram per square metre cards with a linen finish. Even though these are printed in California, the paper comes from France and has a great feel, springiness, and snap. The linen finish creates a cushion of air for effortless shuffling.

01

Only the 54 card decks come with this little box, other sizes are just shrink-wrapped (these were shrink-wrapped as well).

02

The plastic window is small and meant for a bar code – the first card you upload into their online designer tool will be the top card visible

03

Colour was true to what I expected and I created the art at 600 dpi (300 dpi would have been fine, but I’m a bit persnickety) =D

04

You can see the printing and cutting drift and I won’t be using a border like these in the actual games. I wanted to see if the colour filled the sides and it does not.

05

The linen finish is clearly seen here and these cards have a plastic coating to help them last longer.

06

A nice fit in the mint tins, leaving plenty of space for the dice, meeples, and cubes.

07

There’s a black layer of mesh patterned paper sandwiched between the card face and card back to prevent being able to see through the cards. In normal light you absolutely can’t see through them.

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Written by subquark

June 13th, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Shooter Game – Humans v. Monsters

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It’s been a beautiful morning here on the New Hampshire Seacoast and I’ve spent a few hours writing on book four of the ChuChu Chicken & Pedro the Goat books.

As a break from that, I thought about a simple game that may help me ease into Kickstarter. My thought is rather than jumping in with a full blown “do or die” project, why not dip my toe in with something smaller that I can learn from.

Humans versus Monsters! A drinking game? Perhaps!  =)

You don’t have to drink alcohol to have fun with this (I don’t drink anymore but I do miss my Friday evening martinis . . . ).

If this moves ahead, it would be a short 13 day Kickstarter with a low funding amount – maybe $500 from what I’ve priced out so far – 2 custom dice which I already have a couple dozen of for another game, a custom printed shot glass, and a micro game-board (a waterproof PVC poker card).

Here’s the game-board:

HvM

 

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Written by subquark

June 8th, 2014 at 11:29 am

Posted in games

Tagged with

Wow! My life suddenly got better

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I’ve always been easily amused. Growing up in Canada on a bee farm without a TV and as an only kid is a big factor in that.

As such, my discovery of an inexpensive ($9.59 – 40% off sale) paper trimmer totally made my day, week, and probably month!

I went looking for a hexagonal paper punch that a friend at work told me about and right next to it was the bestest thing ever! *cue angel choir*  =)

I’ve cut out hundreds (maybe even thousands) of mini poker cards in the last month and a game set takes me like 25 minutes to complete (I may be slightly persnickety in that task). This amazing invention (tops the wheel and fire in my book) has changed my world.

All that to say – have a great weekend! =)

2014-06-06 07.49

hmm, mini hex tiles cut from custom printed playing cards?

clockwise from top left – past prototype cards (which I save to draw on the back of), evil scissors (bah), Printer Studio card sample pack, extra large hexagon squeeze punch, tiny hex tiles (maybe a Min Tin Zombalamba is in order), surecut card making paper trimmer, and round ‘n round twist and flip corner punch

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Written by subquark

June 6th, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Posted in games

Tagged with

Slow down and enjoy bees drinking water

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It’s so easy to get all crazy and for life to be hectic. That’s probably one of the reasons that ChuChu & Pedro are finally getting published. They’re a way for me to connect with being a kid on a bee farm in Canada (bees are really tiny to lasso). =D

It seems like forever ago in some ways but sometimes it’s like it was yesterday. Beautiful summer days of exploring with my dog without a care in the world.

While writing, I wanted to be certain if bees drink water. I remember them gathering at the edge of a small creek but wasn’t sure if they were drinking water or doing something else (gathering clay like a mud dauber?).

This video made me stop and breathe and be thankful for so many things in my life. =)

direct link – http://youtu.be/sH7aNZ7sFE4

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Written by subquark

June 4th, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Posted in books,ChuChu & Pedro