Watch a master at work. Check out Dan Cetorelli's process as he hand-binds a custom edition of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple!
» Dan Cetorelli: Custom RPG Book Binding
Here's a new game in the lab. This game was inspired by the "wurds" meme, in which pictures of food are paired with intentionally garbled phonetic spellings.
This meme always puts my wife Megan into fitful hysterics. (Okay, it has that effect on me, too.) I wanted to make a party game all about misspelling foods. I gathered elements of Balderdash, Dixit, Taboo, Last Word and Origins of Words.
Don't know if it'll go anywhere, but I thought it worthwhile to share our notes. This is definitely a light family game, but I could easily see it working well after a few drinks among friends.
Stuff You Need
A deck of food cards. Each card shows a food and its real name. There are 52 food cards in a deck.
A randomized timer. (If one is not available, roll three six-sided dice, add the results together, and set a stopwatch to count down that many seconds.)
A pencil and paper for each player.
How to Play
All players do these steps together at the same time.
1. Draw a card from the deck and keep it secret from the other players.
2. On a piece of paper, write the name of the food on that card as cryptically and phonetically as you can. For example, "lettuce" could be "laydus."
3. Place the card and the paper face down in front of you.
4. Flip over your paper, so the rest of the group can now read your misspelled food.
5. Start the timer.
6. Look at the other player's misspelled foods and decipher what they actually are. Write down your guesses on the paper as fast as you can.
7. When the timer runs out, put your pencils down.
8. First, you score one point for each player who guessed your food correctly. There is an exception. If the whole group guessed your food correctly, you do not score any points.
9. Next, you score one point for every food you guessed correctly.
This ends the round.
After three rounds, the player with the most points wins the game.
The two separate phases of scoring are a nice buffer for different skills. Even if you're bad at misspelling food, you can make up for it if you're a good guesser. If you're a bad guesser, you can make up for it if you're a good misspelled.
The commercial potential for this kind of game is very heavily dependent on the components. I can see a nice package containing the food cards, a supermarket-themed score tracker, a set of grocery cart pawns, perhaps a notepad, and golf pencils all going for $25.
Much like Apples to Apples, it would be easy to produce a deck of cards with stock images of fruits, vegetables, and other categories of "fud." Expansions would be a snap.
The cover's done, the inside layout is done, and over one hundred proof readers have scoured the text for typos and errors. Above, you can see some page samples from the book. The team is giving the print files one last pass before we go to press tomorrow morning!
Many, many thanks to those who generously spent time scouring the PDF this week to find typos and grammatical errors. The overall sentiment has been "This book looks great! It was lots of fun to read! Now, here are twenty typos I found." Hey, at least you had enough fun reading the book to bother finding those typos!
I have a hardcopy printout of the document, with handwritten notes for consolidating all the edits in one place and each typo-hunter's name written on the front page. Not a super high-tech process, but it works. There was surprisingly little overlap between people's edits, so I'm very confident that the final book will be mostly error-free.
Tonight is the last night to submit any typos and claim a star next to your donor credit. My apologies if I don't reply to you, but a LOT are coming in really fast. I'll do my best to make sure all typo-hunters are accounted for and credited.
At :19, find Michael Harrison wearing the "My Favorite Game Console is a Table and Chairs" t-shirt at the GeekDad table at MakerFaire 2011. Neat!
Butterfly shirts inspired by Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple are now available in a wide range of colors and sizes for men and women. Choose the light butterfly for a temple destiny. Choose the dark butterfly for a worldly destiny.
» Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple - Butterfly Logo Shirts
(UPDATE: Shirts now available on Cafepress!)
Thinking about a t-shirt for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. I feel weird about straight up putting a logo on a shirt. The cover art, maybe. (I may talk to Liz about that in the future.)
But I really like shirts with crisp, enigmatic logos. DC's recent line of Lantern Corps shirts are what I'm imagining here. I'm also feeling inspired by the Apolis logo t-shirts. Even Magic: the Gathering is in on the act.
I'm shooting for something symbolic, recognizable to those in-the-know, but not explicit. So, the butterfly symbol used throughout the game seems like a good fit. It could be printed in black or white, depending on your preferred color of stone. See the above mockups for examples.
Would you be interested in a shirt with this design?
Click to embiggen! Our final tally was $24,383 from 552 backers! That's over 600% funding! The video above is a special thanks from the whole development team: Lillian Cohen-Moore, Ryan Macklin, Fred Hicks, Liz Radtke, and yours truly. We'll have more thorough data and analysis as soon as we finish last-minute edits and send the core book to print. Thank you, thank you!
There's an ongoing discussion of the Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge on MetaFilter that has already drifted into posthumanism, Calvinball, copyrights, and the game market in general. Step in and speak your mind!
» MetaFilter: Dude. MOVE ALREADY.
» Video Above: A game in Cambodia's Ankor district ruins, posted in comments.
Following up on the Hit Thirty Early Kickstarter tips, here's a much more thorough set of advice on Kickstarting your game design project. Gary M. Sarli (GMSarli) posted 15 Steps to a Successful Kickstarter project, starting from pre-launch buzz build-up, to post-fundraising fulfillment, and plenty of advice for everything between. He articulates a lot of advice that I haven't had a chance to put into words. And now I don't have to! Thanks, Gary! :D
» GMSarli's 15 Steps for a Successful Kickstarter Project
» Photo: CC-BY-NC-SA Stefan Tell
Only three days left in this record-breaking Kickstarter campaign. Thanks to your enthusiastic response, we've been able to offer some very lofty prizes. The loftiest was book artist Dan Cetorelli hand-binding a copy of the game. He's already getting started! Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
And I'm happy to announce one last set of prizes! I've made three handmade passport-style character sheets. These are made from vellum, kraft paper and Neenah brand parchment. The opening spread is the character sheet and remaining pages are blank to keep as a journal. These will be randomly awarded to any backers $10 and over. A PDF of this passport will be included in the PDF bundle, too.
Ah, but the big news is that we're ready for you to hunt down any remaining typos or grammatical errors in the book before we go to print. Backers $10 and over, look for a private message with a PDF link shortly. You have until midnight Saturday, May 28th to find a typo. Any backer who finds a typo will get star next to their description. Star get!
Pledge now to join the hunt!
Student illustrator Luke Frost just posted some great illustrations of creatures from Iain M. Banks' novel Matter. These illustrations use the free font Marain Script I designed last September. Very cool! Check out more on his blog:
» Coloured Vapor Collective: Holse's Notebook
Kickstarter released a trove of interesting metrics covering their two-year history. The big revelation? 90% of projects that reach 30% funding will succeed. That's a very low tipping point and just confirms my instinct that the "opening weekend" is a huge pacesetter for the rest of a fundraising campaign. So, here are some key takeaways:
1) You want to reach 30% as early as possible: That means your marketing has to be top notch before you ever launch a Kickstarter campaign. We benefited from a looong, public development cycle with Do. Four years of forum threads, blog posts, AP reports, and countless tweets is a lot of build-up. You probably don't need to wait that long, but make sure people know about your project.
2) Assume you're putting up half: Get good, solid quotes and estimates from your vendors, but assume that Kickstarter will only raise around half of the funding you need. You're doing this so that you don't abdicate your responsibility to see the project to fruition. Knowing that you're putting up at least half the dough keeps you honest and shows the public your commitment to the long haul. It also makes the goal not seem so daunting to the individual backer. And lastly, you'll reach 30% of $4,000 way faster than 30% of $8,000.
3) Reaching 100% is just Phase 1: First of all, congratulations! Now begins a new narrative in your marketing plan. Now it's about offering incentives based on economies of scale at 150%, 200%, and so on. Include a mix of exclusive incentives for high-dollar backers and low-cost incentives for backers who've been with you since the beginning.
There's been a flurry of blog posts from people with their own thoughts on how to succeed at Kickstarter. Each comes from a different perspective and context, so let's take a quick look at each.
» 3 Ways to Get My Money on Kickstarter: Rob Donoghue shares what he looks for in a kickstarter campaign and highlights a few actual counter-examples.
» Kickstarting Do and So Can You: I feel a little self-serving linking to this one, but Christoph Sapinsky breaks down some simple actionable tips that are very valuable.
» How to Succeed or Fail on Kickstarter: An actual survey of funded and unfunded kickstarters in the board and card game categories. Fantastic responses in this post, people. I highly recommend it.
Fred Hicks discusses the odd brand juxtaposition of Evil Hat's logo on kid-friendly products like Happy Birthday, Robot!:
"It ends up being a little weird to grab hold of a copy of HBR, flip it over, and see an aggressive, shark-teeth-baring evil hat glaring at you from the back cover."
Working together again on Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, and looking forward to future products, Fred saw a need to evolve Evil Hat's logo and branding a bit. Offered a few quick ideas, mainly to streamline the hat's silhouette, use the brim as a mouth, and use a less horror-themed typeface so the hat takes the spotlight.
Fred just posted the new logo suite and it looks great. It retains Evil Hat Production's essential brand, but sets up the company for a long and prosperous future. Look for the new logo on Do. :)
Though I may call one of my games "finished," I'm never really done tweaking it in my mind. And certainly when I play someone else's games, my mind is turning over all the nuances of the design, trying to hack it for a new theme or bolting together different mechanics. The process never really ends.
If you feel the same way, grab this t-shirt from the store. Giulia already has hers, as you can see up at the top of this post. She says, "True to the spirit of the shirt, here I am trying to eat soup with chopsticks." True to the spirit indeed. Keep at it, Giulia!
» I'm Never Not Playtesting - Dark T-Shirt
Grant Chen of the Ministry of Entertainment (MiniEnt) emailed me a while back to do an interview. We were going to do it over Skype, but the ongoing layout marathon for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple left my schedule very tight.
We discuss my game design process, what was cut from Do, making binary choices interesting, emergent complexity, and the loooong road from conception to production. Hope you dig it!
We conducted this interview over email for a few days, so my apologies if I'm even more long-winded than usual. :)
» MiniEnt: Interview with Daniel Solis
We're hearing a lot about gamification over the past few years. Whether for or against, I can't help but feel like there's a nuanced middle-ground. It's just another method of communication, administration or education that can be implemented carelessly or thoughtfully. When done carelessly, it feels like Tom Sawyer convincing Huck to paint a fence. An insincere ruse, y'know?
That's pretty much my only statement on the matter for now, but I was curious what the opposite of gamification would be. Workification? How would you define it? I posed this question to my tweeps. Here are there responses:
@DanielSolis game mechanics that are so heavy and/or require you to do something too similar to actual work? #madethisupless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet ReplyRenato Ramonda
@DanielSolis Applying work processes - like paperwork and accounting and inventory management - to games, to make them less engaging.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyCraig Wayling
@DanielSolis Turning play into an obligation. Professional gambling, pro sports, most MMORPGs' griding after the initial fun bits, etc.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac Favorite Retweet ReplyMarc Majcher
» Image: Attribution Non-commercial Share-Alike license by sAeroZar
Click to embiggen! The character sheet for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, formatted to look like a passport from the Flying Temple. Includes play aides and page references. The legalese in the bottom corner reads:
"This passport confers upon the pilgrim all rights, privileges, diplomatic immunity, free passage, apology acceptance, health insurance, liability coverage, and waivers against toll charges, property damage, ecological impact, romantic tension, political unrest, and cosmic calamity commensurate with a representative of the Flying Temple in the Center of the Sky."
You know how I say "a cover is a promise"? Same applies to character sheets. :)
Hey everybody! Sorry, no video this week. We're rolling on all cylinders here in the final couple days of layout. It's going to be a non-stop workfest in the home stretch.
Backers $40 and Up
Thanks for sending us your choices for citizen, troublemaker, and creature. Many of you chose to be troublemakers! No surprises there. ;) If you don't see your name in this spreadsheet, you haven't replied to my Kickstarter direct message yet. If we don't hear from you by midnight, we'll make the choice for you. If the name we have for you is inaccurate, misspelled or missing, please message me or leave a comment on this post.
Those Prize Bundles
They sure disappeared fast. Many thanks to the generous backers who grabbed those while they were hot. All three were gone within 24 hours, including the ultra-exclusive $1000 bundle. Crazy! Interesting data point: All those bundles went to existing backers who increased their pledges.
Speaking of Data
We're just over $19,000 as of this update. Astounding. My wife insists we'll be over $20k by the end and she may be right, but that's not the number that is most impressive to me. It's the number at the top of the column: 393 enthusiastic, generous backers are making this game possible. For every one new backer, who can count how many dozens – hundreds! – of new players will arrive in the coming months? Let's see if we can get over 400 backers in the remaining days. ^_^
Big news on the home front: I'm taking a promotion and transferring to my agency's Raleigh-Durham office next September.
This continues a general pattern of spending every ten years in a different state. :P I moved to Oklahoma back in 2000, straight out of high school. Lots of great memories here, but I'm looking forward to the new position and new challenges ahead in North Carolina.
If you have leads for rental homes in nice neighborhoods within fifteen miles of downtown Durham, we'd be much obliged.
After no new entries in March, it was great to see a flurry of great new entries coming in early April, a couple of which have playable demos online!
Zuniq by Marcos Donnantuoni
Don't be fooled if this game looks like the dots-and-lines game you played as a kid. Marcos has added some new tricks to breathe life into this long-lived past-time. Small rules changes and a unique endgame mechanic make this a clever variation on a classic gameplay motif.
Board Tag by Greg Stolze
And here comes veteran game designer Greg Stolze with a clever interpretation of Tag, translated to game pieces on a chess board. Each player controls three runners, moving all across the spaces of the grid while the IT player moves along the lines and vertices.
Rin by Zhen Wang
Speaking of classics, Zhen Wang brings us an interesting abstract strategy game inspired by the ancient game Go. Zhen says it "involves simpler rules and a similar emphasis on efficiency of moves." Check it out and tell us what you think in the comments!
Wow, so much to talk about. First, the weather: The drizzle and lightning delayed the start of the marathon 30 minutes, but no big deal. Then right as my group was most exposed to the elements at mile 22, we got peppered with hail and wind!
By "we," I mean the people whose backs I started to recognize. Gave them nicknames after a while. Thanks for keeping me company Tie-Dye, Green Ranger, Tex, Blue Butt, Cougar and Pinky.
Made it to the finish line, though! 4:46:53 I was shivering for an hour and a half, couldn't really move my hands and couldn't move my legs. Thank goodness Megan was there at the finish line with a fresh, dry set of threads. I couldn't have made it out of there without Megan's help. Thank you so much, sweetie!
But man, after all that, I had the strongest craving for RED MEAT. Seriously, this is from someone who is normally kinda grossed out by ground beef. Megan thinks its some paleo instinct that kicked in at Mile 20. My body thought I was chasing down a wildebeest and demanded some sustenance.
Naturally, our first stop for lunch was the local pub, where I ordered the cottage pie. A hearty casserole of beef, gravy, mixed vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and cheese. Washed down with a nice Guinness. Aaaah.
So, yeah, the next step is getting a tattoo to mark the achievement. It'll be a big, helvetica bold 26.2 and OKC 2011 5 1 below it. When I do another marathon, I'll add another city and date underneath it as a continuing reminder of these epic days.
And yes, I'm totally doing this again. (Just let me take a nap first.)