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Standing on the shoulders of giants Newton quoteSome time ago I bought a game on Kickstarter. It looked gorgeous. The gameplay seemed somewhat simple, and it was a first time designer self publishing but it looked gorgeous. The shipping was horrible but it did look gorgeous so I decided to buy two copies and hope to recover some of the shipping by selling one.

That is, until I opened the box. Yes, the game was gorgeous, the art top notch. But the game, well, after two plays I realized that either the game hadn’t been playtested enough or it had been playtested in a group that suffered from groupthink about how to play it. For anyone with a smidgen of gamer blood in their veins there was a clear dominant strategy: just keep drawing cards.

But it did look gorgeous. I couldn’t let that go. This was a set of components that kept screaming “mod me, mod me, I’ll promise I’ll be good, just mod me and make me a game!”

So I did. (more…)

Bok Sanctuary PathThere are only two decisions that matter in all forms of game design. Coincidentally these are the same two decisions that matter in life.

They’re not about where you’ll work, what you’ll study, who’ll you’ll marry (or if you’ll marry) or where you’ll invest your money. All those things are nice and fine, and probably needs to be decided at some point, but they’re not important.

Oh, sure, they may seem important, they may even be important to you, but for the vast majority of people in this world, they’re completely trivial. Let me explain. (more…)

MicroWars - all graphics by me, or licensed.
MicroWars – all graphics by me, or licensed.

There’s an interesting discussion over in the Board Game Geek Board Game Designers Art & Graphics forum about whether it’s ethical to use someone else’s art in your prototypes.

It’s not legal, that’s fairly clear. Generally speaking you’re not allowed to use any part of someone else’s copyrighted works without explicit permission. But since copyright and IP law differs from country to country you’re operating in a gray area. For example in the US, where copyright law focuses almost solely on ownership and economic gain, you might get away with using someone else’s art as fair use. In Europe, in contract, you wouldn’t, no matter that you didn’t make any financial gain nor impacted on the artist’s financial gain. In Europe your copyright is protected no matter what and your right to be named the creator of the art is firm (although we don’t have quite as rabid copyright legislation nor as high punishments as in the States, but that’s changing).

But let’s talk about it in moral terms: is it right to take someone else’s creations in order to prettify our own?