11 Apr

Zen Pencils – An Amazing Inspirational Site

Zen Pencils Dinosaur

Zen Pencils DinosaurIt’s not often that I come across a site that immediately clicks with me. Zen Pencils is such a one.

Zen Pencils (or Gavin Aung Than, an Australian freelance cartoonist who is the one man show behind it) takes inspirational quotes from some of the greats of the world and creates cartoons based on them.

But wait, there’s more. The cartoons aren’t your regular, internet fare, cute kitten with cliché text type cartoons. No, Than creates entire stories surrounding the quotes, stories showing (as opposed to telling) the essence of the quote.

It may not be the exact way it was intended by the speaker (for example, I don’t think that Amelia Earhart thought it terms of cuddly monsters) but it certainly is in the spirit of the quote. And it stays with you. And it’s got Calvin and Hobes (well, Bill Waterson, which is almost the same thing).

So go read Zen Pencils.

Now.

09 Apr

TheOneTAR youtube channel – Interviews with industry pros

I don’t usually watch videos as they take too much of my time compared to reading the same amount of information. But I recently came across Tiffany Ralph’s board game industry interviews and I’ve been chewing my way through them.

Most of them are very good, and they cover a wide range of questions, from pure beginner issues to in depth stuff that even experienced designers could use.

Linky: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheOneTAR

20 Mar

ReWork – An Energy Kick in Your Creative Pants – Review

ReWork Cover ImageSome books give you knowledge. Some books give you energy. Rework is firmly in the energy category.

Rework is written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson and is culled from their (and their coworkers’ ) blog at 37signals.com. Fried and Heinemeier are the men behind Basecamp, the collaborative platform, and several other lean productivity products and while I haven’t personally used Basecamp but I’ve heard good things about it.

Rework is a condensed version of their blog, so if you’ve been following that I’m guessing that you’ll recognize quite a lot. But if you haven’t read the blog, well, Rework puts the common, dinosaur, assumptions about running a company on their collective heads. Read More

07 Mar

Through the Ages – The Best non-4X, 4X Game in the World – A Game Designer’s review

Through the Ages, tabletop game coverThrough the Ages is one of my favorite board games of all time. Yes, that is saying a lot – but no matter what new games come out I always come to the point where I’m in the mood for yet another game of Through the Ages.

On the surface Through the Ages is a 4X civilization building game. It’s like Sid Meyer’s Civilization on a board (no, I don’t mean the Sid Meyer’s Civilzation Board Game, I mean the real Civilization, the computer game that’s responsible for more lost sleep than coffee and sex put together). Except that it’s nothing like Civilization, not really.

See, here’s where it gets interesting from a game designer’s standpoint. Through the Ages is a game that manages to take a very bare-bone Eurogame mechanic and infuse it with an amazing amount of theme. I’ve played the game for about eight years now and while I can see what’s going on under the hood the theme still tends to grab me and get me to forget that I’m dealing with numbers and efficiencies (and that makes me lose to my hyper-optimizing, Euro-crazy friends). Read More

19 Aug

Review: Cardboard Edison – Hobby gaming aggregator

Cardboard Edison logoCardboard Edison is a tabletop game design aggregator site run by Chris and Suzanne Zinsli (whose game Tessen Amazon is out from van Ryder games). And when I say run I mean “like an oiled horse on speed”. How they manage to scour all the top sources for game designer information, compress them into Twitter sized blurbs and publish the news Every Single Day is beyond me.

Simply speaking it’s impressive.

Of course, they do chose what to publish. And there are things that you won’t find interesting (possibly most things, depending on what you’re after). But since the layout is simple and aimed at clarity it takes very little time to scan Cardboard Edison. Thus you can rapidly sift through the dross to find the grains of gold. Read More

15 Jul

My new Best First Book on Game Design – Paid to Play by Keith A. Meyers, Review

Keith A. Meyers, Paid to Play, cover

Keith A. Meyers, Paid to Play, coverWhen I decided that I wanted to become a serious game designer (and isn’t that an oxymoron) I didn’t know where to start. The step between dabbling in game design and doing it systematically, accountably and efficiently seemed nigh on insurmountable.

I really wish that someone had given me Keith A. Meyers “Paid to Play” right about then.

Reading “Paid to Play” is the equivalent of spending a year or more perusing BGDF and the BoardGameGeek game designers forums. Everything you need to know about the basics of professionaly designing games is here, from finding your target market to the skills you need as a designer (persistence, persistence, persistence) to licensing and the dos and don’ts of submitting a query. Incredibly it’s all crammed into 87 quite airy pages. Read More

03 Jun

Review – The Game Inventor’s Guidebook by Brian Tinsman

The Game Inventor's Guidebook by Brian TinsmanI got Brian Tinsman’s The Game Inventor’s Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-Playing Games, & Everything in Between! Amazon thinking that it would be similar in scope and concept to Jessie Schell’s A book of Lenses Amazon but from a business standpoint: something that would go through the different steps and hurdles of getting your game published and point out the things to look out for.

Not quite. Read More