Art Friday: Pirate Grenadier

Probably will work a little harder to bring out the “happy psychotic” expression if I get a chance to go back on this… otherwise, this is pretty fun. If her card stays in the game, it’s suppose to be a pretty big game changer.

Music Thursday: It’s… Something


The title says it all. Unlike the things that I do on the other weekdays, I’ve never had any real experience producing music in any capacity; I dabble with trackers once every blue moon and that’s about it. It’s going to take a long time before I can produce anything worth listening to on this “two hours per day” schedule. Nevertheless, I’ll leave the things that I’ve done here as a reminder that next week I should probably try a little harder.

Webcomic Wednesday: Future Sight P2

Shifting webcomics to Wednesdays because… alliteration! Plus it’ll be easier on my schedule, I think.

Still getting into the groove of things, and still trying to figure out a workflow that works. There’s still no time to seriously edit the page layout, and looks like I’ll need to trim the dialog as well. Oh well, the point is still to get this out with some regularity…

Rant Tuesday: I Probably Know Too Much

It’s a silly notion, isn’t it? And not in the spy movie “I’m going to be killed now because of my knowledge of some sensitive information”. I just mean information in general. I’ve been pondering about the fact that there’s so few topics I can come up with when I talk to people nowadays. And it’s not for a lack of reading things – I read so much, in fact, that it’s sometimes distracting to my real work, but that’s a story for another day.

The thing is, with near instant access I have to the internet, there’s not a lot of reason for me to retain information anymore. I’ll be the first person to admit that having almost any question answered at my fingertips saved my job and enriched my life in more ways than one (mostly in the form of delicious recipes) but again, keeping that same information in my brain does nothing for me.

Ironically, I still find it incredibly difficult to hold down a conversation, just because the things I look up and read about are so disconnected. For example, a youtube video led me to another video which led me to look up the background song “Living in the Sunlight” which led me to Tiny Tim and what looks like the first episode of Spongebob Squarepants. How do I even begin to bring up stuff like this in a conversation?

Design Diary Monday: Let the Pirating Begin

After the design process for Summoner went badly, I wanted another shot at designing a Magic like game. I dropped the “design a card” mechanic and returned to cards with fixed powers and abilities. Then I introduced two new X-factors: the rock paper scissors combat that is broadside/evade/pursue, and pirates dice with special dice faces. By the time of this writing, I’ve thrown away and reused the majority of the card sleeves for later iterations of the game, so here’s just a tiny sample of how the game used to look like:

The players were pirates trying to control as much treasure (yellow cards) as possible by the end of the game. Each player controlled a hand of pirate crew (white cards) and several pirate ships (blue cards). In the beginning of each round, a set number of treasure was added to each location (green cards) on the board. Players took turns attacking locations by forming a ship and crew where the total rum use of the crew must not exceed the rum supply of the ship (the circled numbers). A ship loaded with treasure was considered sailing at sea and was open to other player’s attacks.

Combat mainly revolved around the broadside/evade/pursue strategy cards. Each player chose a strategy and revealed them at the same time, and the general resolution was broadside beat pursue, pursue beat evade, evade beat broadside. Several strategy combinations would require tossing dice equal to the strength numbers (numbers next to cannons and cutlass icons) to resolve, such as a broadside exchange. Almost all cards had special abilities attached: the crew, the ships, and even some treasures could modify some part of the game. Putting the ship and crew together made the game interesting, but ultimately it also made the game too difficult to track.

To be fair, this version of the game was great for two players, with reasonable downtime and a manageable amount of information to track. The game got too complex once it scaled up to three or more players, though, and I personally lost track of my crew abilities while testing a four player game. When that happened, I was convinced that some dramatic pruning of game mechanics was necessary to scale the game up to my goal of six total players.

In fact, the next version had so much change that it felt like the game took a wrecking ball in its face. Next week: what happened? Paper ships and cubes?

Webcomic Friday: Future Sight P1

Less than a week in, and I’ve missed a day already! Looks like there’s still some kinks I need to work out. The original plan was to do a game review on Thursdays, and with over 200 games in my Steam library that would have lasted a while… but I just can’t bring myself to writing it. There’s already enough of those “one man’s opinion” reviews out in the wild that adding to the noise really does nothing for me. So I’ll be posting my attempts at composing music on Thursdays instead. It’ll be a pain since I am nowhere as adapt in whipping out music compared to what I do for the other days of the week, but it’ll be a good learning experience if I can keep it up.

As for today:
“Future Sight” is one of the many potential webcomic projects that I wanted to do “one of those days”. I guess that day is now. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to ink or color these, but I want to get a flow going and some page is better than no page at all. Besides, if I skip two days in a row on the first week, that’d be really bad…

Art Wednesday: Pirate Swashbuckler

Well, the idea was to complete a drawing, color and all, by the end of the day… I guess my drawing hands are just super rusty nowadays. If I have time in the evenings, I’ll see if I can get it colored.

This is the pirate swashbuckler, one of the characters that may or may not be used for the pirates card game that I’ve mentioned on Mondays.

Rant Tuesday: Being the Minority of a Democracy Sucks

Rant Tuesdays are for… ranting. Maybe one day I’ll actually do my research, but it’s just more therapeutic to spout vaguely supported ideas based on questionable statistics, verifiability be damned. Today’s inspiration:

Being the minority in a democratic state sucks.

We’ve had our primaries recently, and as I have discovered since I’ve started voting, a few initiatives of questionable importance are being put on the ballot every time California holds an election of any sort. And as expected, the ballot results are not what I wanted.

I keep feeling like I’m wasting my time leafing through the election guide pamphlet and actually reading the text of the laws. Who gives a damn whether I’ve actually come to an informed decision or not, I only have one vote and if the result turns out one way instead of the other none of it really matters. It’s not like if a vote goes 51% to 49% (as most propositions end up being), then the actual policy is suppose to meet halfway between one solution and another. Nope. It means half the people are happy and the other half gets screwed. Guess which end of the stick I’m more likely to be on.

It’s not like I can really make a change either. I’m a firm believer that intelligent debate is useless. People will pay you lip service for you to get off their backs, but their anonymous vote won’t change. If you want an actual behavior change, you either deceive or threaten. Otherwise why bother? I like my opinion better than yours, I don’t care if it’s prejudiced or factually incorrect, I’m comfortable with what I believe and no amount of truth or reasoning changes that. It’s the path of least resistance. Funny thing, a majority of people like taking that path.

So I’m basically stuck. I can either choose to be blissfully ignorant or principally discontent. In the end, happiness be damned, you can pry my principles out of my cold, dead hand. That, and the single vote that I still have… and if the majority has anything to say about it, something I might actually lose in my lifetime, and wouldn’t it be a bitch when that happens.

Design Report Mondays: In The Beginning

As an experiment, I’m going to try updating each weekday for as long as I can. Each day of the week is going to be based on a different topic, and design reports record the progress of my current card/board game concept. However, since I didn’t start doing this from the very beginning, I’ll be playing catch up for a few weeks…

Summoner is my first attempt to create card games again after an extremely long hiatus. Its goal is to be a Magic clone; specifically, a Magic clone that retains the deck building aspect of the game without the necessity for an ever expanding list of cards. The game broke down things like power, toughness, and keywords into separate cards, and formed rules around the combination of cards into making creatures and spells.

It was also the first and last time I made a huge effort to produce good looking prototypes. Here was the last iteration of the prototype deck before I gave up on the idea:

The basic premise was to convert mana into element cards. When an offensive and a defensive element was combined, it formed a golem with the attributes determined by the strength of the elements. Most spells worked like Fireball where you substitute elements to generate a specific effect of variable strength. It felt interesting in theory, but the implementation fell apart quickly.

For one thing, the cards were drawn instead of drafted, and despite attempts to make elements with lower strength “faster”, bigger numbers were always better. Eventually, I wrote in so many special rules that the game started to become as cramped and as unintuitive as Magic became. For those reasons, I shelved the project, but the idea of forming a group of custom creatures to attack and defend objectives stayed, and it was the seed that was replanted into the idea that I’m still working to this very day.

Next week: pirates!