Fun Game Design Meetup & Kids Rule

This week was fun – 5000 mini meeples on the dining room table, ordered 18 and a half pounds of mini cards for game reviewer copies (funny to think of them like that, but the shipping cost brought that to light – luckily, an online coupon covered the $100 FedEx fee!).

The highlight was our local Seacoast Game Designers Meetup, run by Kevin (thanks Kevin!), when two students (16 & 18) showed up to play games at Diversions – the host of the meetups.

Kevin invited them over and they played Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens. No guidance, just the tiny instructions. It was awesome to see their approach. They played one game of each helping each other with their cards face up and following the instructions, and then played for real.

Zoe and Ben were so awesome and I consider them my first two game reviewers. =)

I really enjoyed Mint Tin Aliens – can be played anytime,
anywhere, and with anyone!
– Zoe A.

Mint Tin Pirates is quirky & inventive. – Ben S.

I lovingly call them kids in the post title and they’re wonderful people whose thoughts are just as important as anyone’s. Maybe even more so! I tend to think of my inner child creating these games and getting their honest opinions rocks (even totes mcgoats and cho sugoi!). ๑>ᴗ<๑

 Have a great weekend everybody! =)

lol, no pics would be complete without at least one with food! Kate & I at Coco Loco’s seeing how impervious the cards are to cheese and salsa! =D
Seacoast Game Designers Meetup photo courtesy of Kevin Craine
Mint Tin Aliens – I should try the same approach to new games! =)
Mint Tin Pirates – Their suggestions resulted in me staying up til 2 AM adding a great clarification before ordering 70 decks! Thanks Zoe and Ben!

A nice day in Portsmouth for Pirates and Aliens

The family was up visiting so we ventured out and tried a tiny local brewery which has outrageously good sandwiches (and exotic ones too like rabbit and ginger sausage). They also brew a couple of gruits which are medieval ales without hops!

Earth Eagle Brewings

While waiting, we knocked out a few games of Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens.  =)





Later, while being all touristy, my daughter-in-law and myself found ourselves less interested in store browsing than our better halves and a perfect time to plan world domination and see who the better alien leader is. =)



Mint Tin Games gets real cards

Real cards arrived and it was a beautiful night to eat outside in Portsmouth last night and the mesh of outdoor cafe table was just small enough to keep meeples from falling to the ground! =)

Also packed up 2 of each game for a large playtest group Saturday. I won’t be there and the games are packaged just like they will be for reviewers and Kickstarter; it’ll be a good test of the instructions.

Stay tuned for more about Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens!

*goes back to figuring out a simple PayPal experience*  =p

2014-07-31 19.10

Hmm, I’m picking up a food-related trend here . . .

what do guys carry in their man bags?

American culture sometimes has difficulty with the simplest of things. Socks with sandals! Horrid! Men carrying purses? Oh no!

Well I don’t wear socks with sandals, but I’ve tried it and it’s quite comfy. Despite being a frog from Quebec, I’m very American in many ways.

Carrying a bag shouldn’t be a big deal in today’s world but . . . I have a Timbuk2 extra small messenger bag that, without a doubt, is a purse. I have friends that have commented on it with terms such as “murse”, so we aren’t as open minded about things as we sometimes profess to be. o_O

So much for my soapbox and I could go on about being born in a country where the most powerful person, for my entire life, has been a woman – Queen Elizabeth! =)

Now don’t say anything bad about Her Majesty and yeah, I’m weird because most frogs don’t love her like I do, but that’s another story . . .

So what do guys carry in their bags?

Beats me, but I know what’s in mine!

1200 gray meeples for Mint Tin Aliens – don’t tell Giorgio Tsoukalos, he probably already knows! =D




It’s in the bag – well, some of it

While waiting on real cards for Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens, I bagged the components for play test copies and reviewer copies of the games. The reviewer copies won’t use this first set of cards but should be ready to go within two weeks. This allows for color correction on the artwork since there shouldn’t be anything drastic from the final play testing (should being the operative word!). =)

Printing is a different beast from online graphics. Color saturation varies from printer to printer and also on paper being used. There are all kinds of obscure tips to keep in mind such as not letting any colors drop below 5% in gradients or else tiny ink dots become visible. Additionally, Printer Studio doesn’t accept press quality PDFs, which is pretty much the industry standard, but they do accept TIFFs which technically allow for higher quality and used to be the print standard.

Complete file size was about 325 MB for both decks and took about 10 minutes to upload to Printer Studio. I’ve read that some designers don’t like the upload and layout tool that Printer Studio uses, but I found it easy and logical to use. I don’t know how you could improve upon it – lots of places to double check your work and plenty of opportunity to tweak before submitting for printing.

Back to bagging!

This was a good test of the time involved and of how realistic it is for this Maker Movement approach (fancy way of saying homemade). The good news is that it won’t be overwhelming to make several hundred copies of the game if the Kickstarter goes well.  =)

Pirates is slower to bag than Aliens and that makes sense because of the components:

Mint Tin Pirates Mint Tin Aliens
2 6-sided 12 mm dice 2 10-sided dice
3 red mini meeples 3 gray mini meeples
3 black mini meeples
1 white mini meeple (pirate ghost!)
1 red cube
1 black cube
1 yellow cube


hi-tech assembly line =p


40 copies of each game – Pirates left and Aliens right


usually Chessex 12 mm dice are spot on, but these were the rejects from three dice cubes (108 dice) – some have inking issues and others seem to have material not fully removed from the pips

Game Rule Editing

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! =)

Last of the paper playtesting

posted in: Mint Tin Aliens | 0

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

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 . . . =)

Pet Peeve – Kickstarters who don’t support Kickstarter Projects

posted in: social media | 0

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.


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




Off to the Printer

posted in: Mint Tin Pirates, uncategorized | 0

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

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

posted in: dice, Monsters vs. Humans | 0

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.  =)

custom dice by Joseph of Chessex Dice in Indiana
custom BarConic 1 ounce shot glasses from Florida
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