Games, Design & Game Design

Archive for the ‘Self-Reflection’ Category

The Future Oncoming

In Overhead, Promo, Self-Reflection on July 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm

This blog has been pretty darn quiet as of late. It’s because new and exciting tools have come into my life that cover 90% of the occasional-post style of content that I’ve generally used a blog for.

My twitter is, of course, my go-to for quick thoughts, one-liners, whining, and advertising.

Over the last year, Google+ has grown to encompass pretty much everything else that I used to blog. From observations on trends in gaming, to making updates about my own works-in-progress, even to being the main place that I publicize new products and projects. The gaming community has really embraced the service in a way that I find to be a perfect blend of forum, social network and cool-shit-sharing, for me.

I am technically still on Facebook, as well, but that’s almost entirely about remembering people’s birthdays and getting event invitations.

Oh! And, if you just want to know about new products, sales, and other me-as-business things, I started an email newsletter that you are welcome to sign up for.

So, what to do with the blog? Readership is generally pretty low, and I’m almost positive that everyone who reads the blog is also following me on the other services. There’s a decent amount of content here that I’m happy to remain existing as an archive, but if you want to actually know what I’m thinking about, working on and doing, I would recommend the above places as the best ways to keep tabs on me.

And who knows, maybe I’ll figure out something cool to do later!



In Self-Reflection on February 10, 2012 at 10:50 am

I’m taking an internet vacation.

I feel like I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time reading what other people have to say about things. Which is the point of social media, right, but I’ve turned some mental corner and it’s working against me. I’m simultaneously over- and under-stimulated, clicking through to divers articles, blog posts and photo galleries, only reading the first paragraph, getting alternately jealous, annoyed, saddened and angered by what other people have to say about…whatever.

So! Internet vacation. Not from the whole internet (that would be madness incarnate), but from the most pernicious stew of my current malaise – forums, twitter, tumblr, facebook, &tc. I’m still reading Google+, because the volume is low, I personally know most of the people in my circles, and I like to make my weekly wrestling posts. I’m of course always available via email.

If I come up with anything cool while I’m on vacation this will be where I show off.

Fingers crossed!

Current State of Play

In Gaming, Self-Reflection on January 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Now that the holidays (and related travel &tc) are safely behind us, I feel like I’m finally settling in to some regular gameplay. It’s been over two years since I played regularly, and it’s definitely stretching out some old muscles and getting settled back into the mental and scheduling-related patterns necessary (for me, anyway).

I’m playing in two biweekly games with largely-overlapping-but-not-entirely-the-same groups of people, thanks entirely to local indie-games-lover Joe. One wednesday is a gritty urban Burning Wheel game, and then the next is an arboreal Apocalypse World game. I’ve run BW before for a short game, but this is my first experience playing either of these modern classics.

It’s a little early to really analyze either game, but right now I’m struggling in the same way with each of them, so I think the problem is mine. I’m having a lot of trouble coming up with character motivations that involve other characters – like, my characters are pretty cool based on the moment in time that I made them, but whenever the spotlight comes back to me I don’t really have a strong idea of what they’re up too, or why they would be involved with other action that’s going on (in a way that doesn’t feel arbitrary to me).

I imagine I just need to shake out the rust and invest more in the characters, but it’s a weird feeling. I do like playing again, though, and certainly hope it will continue!

In Vino Veritas (Custom Wine Rack)

In Design Practice, Design Process, Product Design, Self-Reflection, Sketches on December 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I have a little problem with ordering wine on the internet. I wish I could say that I’m a customer of discerning taste, but it’s more like I get coupons from totally unrelated purchases and figure that if I’m going to eventually drink 12 bottles of 10$ wine, I might as well get it delivered all at once and not have to shlep down to the liquor store every weekend.

At some point, I lost track of my purchases, and a couple different orders all came at once.

18 bottles of wine

18 bottles of wine, original storage solution

This, of course, demanded that I make a wine rack to hold these fine beverages in style. I think I have one more round of revisions to make to be totally happy, but this is the current solution:

In Vino Veritas mark 2

Current version of the rack. 18 bottle capacity + internal shelf.

Materials & Process: CNC machined .5″ baltic birch, blue wood stain (face) and Xact-2-Form .5″ cement form material (sides and back). Drawn in Rhino and Illustrator, cut with a custom Shopbot rig at my work. Machining time about 2 hours, plus another hour or so of sanding and finish. Pressure-fit slot construction, no fasteners or glue. Overall dimensions ~ 31″ wide x15.5″ tall x 8.25″ deep.

Full process, detail shots and more info after the jump. All images are click-to-embiggen-able.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pause, Stop, Pause

In Commentary, Design Practice, Self-Reflection on November 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

So it sure has been a little busy around here since August.

In real life, my fabrication gig has proved to be much busier than it was originally envisioned – which is good, because it’s keeping me employed, but it sure was an adjustment getting back into real making after two years off. Also, in a big case of “when it rains, it pours” I had accepted a couple of freelance projects just before starting that job, which meant from mid-July through the beginning of October I was just working all the time. An exhausting adjustment. Real work is different from school work, I remember that now!

Fortunately, October saw things slow down a little on the work front, but it was bookended by travel (a lovely short vacation at the beginning, and a rad friend’s wedding at the end), and I really wanted nothing to do with anything that wasn’t right in front of my face.

And then it was November, oh snap!

Work seems to be settling into a more predictable pattern, for now, and I’m actually doing some low-key personal designing (a wine rack for my kitchen, and maybe some other things), which is refreshing. I’m also noodling about (re: completely overhauling) a big game project that I’ve been working on off and on since before I went to school.

The main thing for me, now, is trying to rediscover the fun in what I like to do. Something about going through the grad school process really seemed to drain the joy out of me – I would be willing to chalk it up to my personal wierdness, but I’ve had this conversation with most of my classmates and everyone seems to have experienced the same thing. I don’t know why this is so, but it kinda really sucks. Something about the pressure of the critical environment combined with the lack of confidence in our own abilities? I dunno.

I’m hoping that just making some small, simple, unambitious things will help me find my way back to the fun. We shall see.

Kickstarter Analytics 2

In Game Design, Publishing, Self-Reflection on July 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm

As promised, the numbers!

I ended up receiving $1,254 from the 69 backers of the project.


  • Art – $350
  • Proofreading – $15
  • Materials (inc. shipping) for the component sets – $154.77
  • Fees (Kickstarter + Amazon) – $117.01
  • Printing – 106.80
  • Shipping (I covered all shipping for all of the backer rewards and magazines) – 316.98

Total Expenses: 1060.56
Total Income: 1254
Total Profit: $193.44

Now, that’s not a very large number. In terms of expenses, I knew that shipping would be significant, but the number of international backers was higher than I thought it would be, and man but does shipping add up. Also, I had to purchase about twice as much plastic material than I actually used because of how that company breaks down it’s quantities (basically I needed more than the lowest quantity I could get, but only a little bit more).

But! The project ended up in the black, ended up basically paying me a little north of 5 cents a word, and will be a net positive for the rest of time.

Next time, I think I’m going to have to ask international backers to kick in a little extra to cover shipping. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with how it all went out (especially when 1/3 of the expenses are going into other creators pockets).

I hope some of these numbers are helpful to others interested in trying out similar projects!

Kickstarter Analytics 1

In Game Design, Promo, Publishing, Self-Reflection on July 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I thought it would be interesting and helpful to do some numbers-crunching on my first-ever Kickstarter. With graphs!

(I’m composing another post about the raw investment/return numbers, for the edification of others thinking about doing this kind of project, FYI – this one is long enough for now!)

I was primarily interested in my survey responses – what was the primary reason for people to back the project, and where did they hear about it in the first place? (click to embiggen)

And I got a couple of good questions on Twitter as well. More graphs after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Designing Without Knowledge

In Commentary, Game Design, Self-Reflection on July 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

I tweeted something yesterday that seemed to hit a chord.

How did I end up designing all these creepy horror games? I don’t even really like horror stuff. #contradictionsopencreativity

Some responses:

@mforbeck Been in that situation often myself.
@lumpleygames Hey wait, is that how come I can’t seem to design a straight-up horror game?
@balehmanWow, me too. I’m not a fan, but I design like all horror all the time
@Epidiah Back in school, I’d always write my essays from a POV I disagreed with because it was so much easier.
@joshroby My best work and best ideas come from when I’m working with material I don’t have massive (overpowering?) respect for.
@kevinallenjr yeah I prefer playing trad adventure/fighty games, how did I end up neck deep in this hippie crap
@simoncarryer I think sometimes you design a game to fix the problems with the genre.

Some thoughts after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Style Interview

In Commentary, Promo, Roleplaying Games, Self-Reflection on July 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

Scott Dunphy interviewed me for his New Style podcast, which is now available for your listening pleasure.

We mostly talked about Be Ashamed Young Prince and how it compared/contrasted to my other games. I fear that I managed to talk too long about things that aren’t very interesting to anyone but me, and not long enough about useful things, but that’ll be for you to find out!

That conversation also made me realize that I think I’ve officially tipped over into the “old guard” at some point. I mean, I was referencing Game Chef 2005 for heaven’s sake! Which is funny, because I feel like I still have a lot to learn from designers who more active in the early 2000’s, and their games still have a lot to teach us. Almost to the extent that I don’t really have a good handle on the games that have come out in the last couple of years (tho, to be fair, grad school).

Anyhow, I forgot how much I like talking about this stuff to a captive audience, so many thanks to Scott for interviewing me, and I hope it’s an entertaining listen.

Where Is Done

In Design Practice, Exhibitions, Links, Self-Reflection, Thesis Work on June 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

The opening for our thesis show was last Monday afternoon/evening, and it was quite a day! In brief:

My final critique went as well as could be expected. The jury was up out of their seats, poking at things and asking lots of questions, which is always nice. Energy in a critique is a joy. There were some very cogent critical points brought up at all levels of the design, from the mechanics level to presentation to marketing/distribution, but overall the response was positive and I walked out feeling pretty good about it.

My department head invited me to be one of two student panelists on a round-table discussion centering around the central question/statement of the show (Where Is Where, indeed) and the relationship between art and design. The format was pretty odd to me, and I felt like the time alloted (an hour) was a little long, but it was a very interesting experience. My classmates told me afterwards that I was making the most sense, which means that I either succeeded at trying to state my opinions clearly and simply, or failed at speaking on the same level as the professionals and academics on the panel; either way, I’m glad that I had the chance to participate.

Oh, and then I got an award! My department gives out merit awards for “exemplary work,” thanks to one of our long-time and generous patrons Betsy Karp, and I was one of the three recipients in my cohort. So I am now an award-winning designer. Fear me, world!

Then the reception was loud, crowded and fun. Lots of congratulations and champagne, and the school’s news magazine interviewed me, which was weird but kind of fun in it’s own way.

Overall, a successful day, I think.

Much like the Milan project I’ll be keeping a list of press outlets that cover the SAIC AIADO+Fashion thesis show Where is Where.

(last updated 6/30/11)