Melodic Thursday: Melodrama

This one is rather simplistic. I really should learn how to fine tune the instruments… the cut off sounds so unnatural.

I think I’ll likely start writing HTML5 code snippets on Tuesday. They’ll not be as as fancy as the stuff from the other days, but it’s one of the many things that I should start practicing on.

Webcomic Wednesday: Future Sight P11

This has been a bad week for keeping the blog up so far… Writing a self contained story within a few hours using a predefined set of time travel rules had proved to be much more frustrating than I imagined.

Today, we suffer a case of “people looking right” and “actual backgrounds” (i.e. I’m terrible at drawing those). Also, holy walls of text, batman:

I’m not sure if I even want to make up for the missing Tuesday content. It’s so damn hot over here…

Art Weekend: Flash Duel Board Replacement

It’s done:

The custom board is meant to be a replacement for the original board from Flash Duel, which looks like this:
Given that their second edition character cards look gorgeous, I was kind of surprised that the kind of blah player track remain unchanged. I do admit that visually the new board is a bit more noisy, but I really think the nicer background makes it an overall better package. You do have to be aware that square 9 and 10 are dark squares though.
Here is the artwork without the score track on top:
(Nuts, I forgot to put the shadow underneath the stone lantern! I knew I forgot to do something…)

Dream Journal: Rules for Time Travelling

If anyone ever bother to read far enough back, this blog used to be a dream journal before I’ve decided to use the space to practice my craft. I’ve deleted most of the uninteresting or too personal posts, but once every blue moon there’s still dreams that are interesting enough in and of itself that I want to write things down.

This is definitely one of them.

The dream itself might have been all over the place, but the rules for time travelling is pretty explicit:

  1. You can only travel back in time, never forward.
  2. A time traveler can, at any moment in time, produce a time ticket. A machine owned by the time traveler can remotely print them.
  3. The time ticket looks like a movie/concert ticket, recording the time and location the ticket was created.
  4. Once retrieved from the machine that prints the ticket, it can be used any time by reciting lines printed on the ticket and tearing it. Holding on to the stub, the time traveler instantly returns to the moment in time the ticket was produced. Everything is the same except that the time traveler maintains all memories before making the trip.
That’s pretty much it. It’s not particularly scientific or unique, but the idea of the moments saved being tickets have a particularly interesting ring to it. I can probably write a short story this coming Tuesday based on the idea.

Melodic Thursday: Deploy (The Troops)

I wanted to write a piece as a background music for a Tactical RPG, so I started with a militaristic drum beat and ended with this.

I was going to congratulate myself on a not-totally-crappy bass line when I realized that I’ve just copied from the key segment of Mind Heist (better known as the Inception Trailer Music). Oh well, at least this bit is just a practice piece, so I can get away with it… but I swear, once these unforgettable melodies get stuck in your head, you just unconsciously start writing them back down.

DIY Tuesday: $2.99 Dice Tray

Dice Trays. They’re certainly a luxury for board gamers, and a simple search on amazon says a run of the mill dice tray is going to cost you like $20 or more. Well, screw that, that’s too rich for me. I mean, there’s certainly cheaper solutions out there, and that brings us to:

This lovely $3 Dice Tray, with bonus dry erase surface!

All you need is an IKEA RIBBA frame (pick your color!) for $1.99 and a cheap dry erase board combo thing from Staples for $1. You don’t really have to get the dry erase board, but I like the bottom of the tray to have a slightly softer surface and I’m used to the sound of dice hitting cardboard from tossing dice into board game boxes. The softness of that cardboard feels just right.

The instructions are dead simple: disassemble the picture frame. Use the paper with the bar code to measure out the size of the frame on the cardboard.

Use scissors to cut around the cardboard. Remove the magnet from the back of the board and reveal the stick side of the tape. Flip that paper with the barcode over and tape it onto the cardboard to cover the ugliness. Reassemble the frame with plexiglass at the bottom and the dry erase board on top. Originally the dry erase board would be the drawing surface on the other end, but somehow the plexiglass actually leaves fewer marks when it’s being erased. Tape the dry erase marker’s velcro sticker to the frame’s side, and you’re done!

To use the dry erase side, flip the tray over. Not only do you get a (mostly) practical dice tray, you get a dry erase board for writing down score and stuff for free!
Sensible people would probably try to pimp this up by lining a felt surface on top and inserting softer foam (mouse pad foam) at the bottom, but it does kind of defeat the cheap and dirty spirit of this dice tray. You can also try one of the larger RIBBA frames, but the cost kind of scales up in an unpleasant way also. And if it turns out that the dice tray is pretty useless… I’ll get back to you on that.
Time for some Elder Sign.

Design Diary Monday: From Pirates to Bar Fights in Less Than Seven Days

Before I move on from Pirates to Bar Fights, let me finish explaining how the revised pirates duel work. The trinity (Strike, Parry, Focus) forms the core of the system. Because focus is not an attack but a bonus to another action, I added another card that’d benefit directly from focus and adds a little randomness to the game, hence Unload. Since Strike at this point would have advantage over two cards (Focus and Unload), I’ve added one final card that’s sort of a bigger counter to Strike – and that’s how Brutalize came about.

Staggering as a status was added to the game to resolve some of the hard counters between cards. Focus was added to shift the attributes of the cards so the counters would work differently from one turn to the next. This is all nice and well, except… well, it isn’t. The web of cause and effect gets fairly difficult to explain, and ultimately the complexity counteracts the attempt to reduce a sense of randomness to the card choice – between the focus buff and the stagger debuff, there’s way too many combinations of resolutions for any normal player to keep track of.

And then there’s the multiplayer version of this game, where you choose an attack and aim it at another player, then they still simultaneously resolve by order of priority… it’s just chaos from that point on. Honestly, I would still like to run a small test with these rules just to see how chaotic the attack guessing game goes, but I never got a chance over last week, and I felt like the premise should stay, but I should stop trying to make the game so deterministic.

Let’s introduce some chaos into the game.

I watched a rerun of Dead Man’s Chest again over the weekend (is TNT just showing this movie every other week?), and the bar fight scene gave me an idea. Let’s remove focus and brutalize and start fresh with a new trinity:

Now, let’s change Unload into some form of liquor. “Unloading” now means smashing the bottle on someone’s head. We’ll also untangle all the priorities and simultaneous resolution so besides parrying to counter, all the actions are played one card at a time. We’ve untangled the game completely and now we’re just playing a basic “take that” game (every turn a player toss a damage dealing card, some cards are there to block attacks, etc).

But the liquor part of the game can get interesting. Suppose there’s a running tab on the amount of liquor smashed and consumed, wouldn’t it make sense that the guys who lose the fight would have to pay the tab somehow? What if the liquor can be consumed to strengthen strikes? We arrive at the following rules:

  • There are three main types of cards, punch, block, and liquor.
  • Liquor can be consumed or smashed onto other people.
    • if you drink it, you play it in front of you and the cost adds to your personal tab, but your punches becomes stronger and you draw more cards based on the cost of the liquor, gaining a significant advantage.
    • if you smash it, you use the card as an attack on another player. The discarded bottle adds to a growing pool of damage tab that someone will have to pay.
  • Punch card deals direct damage. Every drink you have makes your punch stronger.
  • Blocks reduce or deflect damage, and are played as reactions to other players’ attacks.
  • If a player sustains X damage, he or she is knocked out and must pay for everything in the damage tab.
  • A player can also play a card to try and walk out of the bar fight. If he or she is attacked that turn, that player can’t block and the attempt to walk out also fails. If the player does walk out of a fight:
    • if multiple players walk out on the same turn, they share whatever has to be paid off that turn.
    • if there’s still players left, add up the personal tabs of the players leaving and each player pays an even share.
    • otherwise, you’ll have to pay an even share for the damages as well.
  • When there’s only unconscious players left in the bar, all unconscious players must pay an even share of everything that’s not paid for.
  • To give the player who is most invested in the fight an advantage, whoever is the most drunk (with the biggest personal tab) can go first.
If the numbers work out right, there should be an escalation of cost built into the game that’d make it interesting for players to decide when to stay and when to quit. There’s a much bigger factor of randomness, but I think the new design is “light” enough that more randomness might actually make the game better.
And now, back to assigning numbers. I hate this part.

Weekend Art WIP: Replacement art for Flash Duel

I talked about Flash Duel last Tuesday. There’s a lot to like about the game – it’s unique, it’s fast, it’s cerebral but not overwhelmingly so, there are times when you’ll have to take a chance and win or lose, the next game takes like no time to set up.

The game is in its second iteration – there’s a pedestrian version and a deluxe version of the first edition of the game, where one is a bit too bare bone and the other too expensive (laser etching everything probably costed a lot of money)… so with the second edition release, the card art got updated, a lot of the deluxe components are replaced with less durable but much better looking printed cardboard, except for one thing.

The track that the duelists walk on. It’s so pedestrian. Compared to all the character art, the track is a relic that really, really needs to get an upgrade. And I thought, I don’t do enough background/landscape pieces (I haven’t done a single piece this last two months…), this is two birds with one stone!

Then the heat wave hits SoCal. God it’s too hot in here. This is as far as I got with the times of day that’s not melting my face off:

You can see the original layout underneath the new one. What I’ve drawn up is obviously a sketch and color test, but I like what I have over what was there already. It’d be best if I can plan it so the landscape would naturally have dark and light spaces (required as part of the game mechanics), but if not artificially darkening spots still doesn’t look too bad.