Monday, August 25, 2008

Emo Magna

I got some feedback from one of the playtesters for the paper miniatures. He was largely positive, although he thought some users might not like the idea that I only include the tri-fold style instead of A-frame. As I may’ve mentioned before, I just don’t like A-frame miniatures very much. I think tri-fold makes miniatures look more 3D, plus the A-frames remind me too much of playing Stratego as a kid (not that there’s anything wrong with it!).

I was busy over the weekend making renders and I am happy to say I’m done with the Abilities chapter. Since there were so many different abilities (and a lot of straight text), there were a lot of opportunities to add images. Overall, I’m happy with the results, which were a combination of new renders and a mix of images from my graphic novel and short story.

I’ve included another of these images below. The two main things to take away from this one is the light reflecting off the Magna’s chest and his black fingernails. I added a light source in Poser to simulate the light given off by the lightning. Besides adding realism, the light also highlights the Magna’s powerful pecs (which remind me of my own). As for the fingernails, contrary to what my coworker said, they are NOT painted black. In fact, since Magna blood is also black, I thought that perhaps their fingernails would appear that way naturally. On the other hand, perhaps they’re just into Emo.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cardboard Love

I completed Cardboard Citizens last week and emailed them to the playtesters. I decided to give them that (and the game rules when those are done) as thanks for helping test the game. As I said before, I’m going to be doing cardboard walls and floors also. Yesterday I came across this funny cartoon on the Penny Arcade site. If you haven’t read them before and you play computer games (or just have a dark and sometimes violent sense of humor) check them out. It’s hilarious.

I’ve been working on renders for the game for the last week, but in most case it’s been a painless experience. Last night, however, it was a pain in the ass. I was originally doing a render of a woman casting an ice psionic so I could add it to the Abilities chapter for, you guessed it, ice psionics. I started messing around with it, including adding an eery blue light and a frosty FX prop (which I also colored blue). Well, I got about 30 minutes into it and realized it totally sucked. The blue looked more like the woman had chewed some forbidden gum at the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. So, I decided to make a radical change: I changed both her hair and her dress to red and removed the blue FX prop, replacing it with an orange one and -- voila! -- I had a woman casting a fire psionic! I put it all together in photoshop with a black background. I’m happy with the result, and I think it’s in keeping with the previous psionic render. However, it took me over an hour to do the whole thing. Since I have a lot of these renders to do, I hope the rest won’t be as time consuming.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I took time off from the Olympics (and even naps!) on Saturday to work on renders for the game. I completed two new ones (see one of them below) and redid a third from Magnus Black. I’m happy with the results, but I have a lot more to do. Of course, I also have the website to complete . . .

Speaking of which, I made an embarrassing discovery Saturday: my website provider had changed a parameter that had turned off the headers and footers on all my web pages. So the site looked very bad and had apparently looked that way for days. I wish I could blame the site provider, but they had actually set out notifications previously. I remember reading it, but the announcement hadn’t sunk in (or perhaps I’m just a knucklehead). Anyway, I was able to fix the problem quickly and the site’s back to normal.

One of my biggest faults is a propensity for obsessing about things (and for using words like propensity). Saturday I got an email from a guy commenting on my game and its similarities to Traveller. So, Sunday I woke up obsessing that people would think I was a big fat copycat. In fact, the mechanics of my game are quite different, even though I was certainly influenced by Marc Miller’s game. Once the game comes out, however, I think people will see how different it really is. At least I hope they will. Still, these are the worries that wake me up at night. ;-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Seed Sprouts Roots

Although I’ve been mostly focusing on the website redesign and the rules recently, I took some time to brainstorm some more about the next supplement Destination: Rochan. Specifically, I thought about the two new playable races (the Klixians and the Tor). One of the things that bothered me about the Klixians was how they made a living. I mean, if the Tor are underground and can mine for materials, what would the Klixians do on the barren surface?

So, I starting thinking about what the surface would offer and it occurred to me that sand (or silica to be exact) can be used for making glass. Then I thought about what could be done with that glass. I envisioned the Klixians creating beautiful art with blown glass and whole palaces of crystal. Coincidentally, a few nights ago I was watching a science program about light and how it interacts with glass, specifically in the use of lenses. So, for the Klixians, I thought about how they might use lenses for telescopes looking at the stars, and perhaps develop an astrology that would impact how they lived their lives. Eventually, while driving home in the car actually, I thought about the stories of Nancy Reagan using horoscopes to help her husband make decisions as president. Why not have sects of soothsayers in Klixian society do the same thing? In other words, an elite class of “priests” who advise their leaders on what actions to take based on the movement of the stars.

And with that, I had started to flesh out ideas for the next supplement. This is usually how my creative process works: I come up with an idea and then begin extrapolating out to build on the original idea. Having a lot of useless knowledge floating around in my noggin also helps, because I can draw on that to fill in the blanks. Anyway, there are still plenty of other holes to fill in before I have a complete picture of Klixian (and Tor) society, but at least I’ve made some headway (so to speak).

Monday, August 11, 2008

When Cats Attack!

It was a busy, busy weekend! Besides watching the Olympics nearly 24/7, I also had one of the playtesters (a former co-worker of mine) come over Saturday to run though combat scenarios. Everything went fine until the Cat decided to literally crash the party by jumping from the couch onto the table we were using. The Cat and everything else went sliding into a big pile. Nevertheless, we discovered a few things and I took plenty of notes. For example: “Put the cat in the other room.”

I also worked on the paper miniatures. I finished the last pages and wrote up the instructions. I still have some tweaks to do, but it’s mostly done. Besides those, I’ve been toying with the idea of releasing another supplement called Dark Corridors. These would be walls and floors that players could print out, just like the paper miniatures. I had originally envisioned single sheets that people could paste to foam board. However, when I tested this idea out, the foam board was clearly not going to work. The edges were just too jagged. So, I went back to the drawing board and redid the mockup. This time, I did something similar to the folding miniatures (i.e.: something that can stand up on its own). This worked a lot better.

With only a few weeks left before I hope to release the game, I plan to focus on cleaning up the rules and adding artwork. I also need to get the website ready for launch. It’s going to be a busy time for me, but hopefully all the hard work will pay off in the end.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Dog Envy

I redid the Vogar miniatures last night. I used the same werewolf model for Poser that I’ve been using since I did my graphic novel over three years ago. Later last night, however, I came across a new model being offered on the Daz3D site: Lycanthropos

Along with its accessories, it would make a very nice miniature for my Vogar (instead of the old one I’ve been using). However, here’s the rub: do I really want to spend $30-40 on a new model or do I stay with my old one and save some money? I mean, I’m only planning to sell the miniature supplement for 5 bucks and I really don’t know how many I’ll actually sell. Return on Investment (ROI) is a bitch!

By the way, another thing I was thinking about last night was the number of miniatures in the supplement. Right now I’ve got 42 miniatures, but that only fills two pages. That seemed pretty light to me. I thought about it some more and I’ve decided to add another 12 guys. With a little rearranging, that’ll give me 3 pages instead of 2 (54 total miniatures). I think (and hope) that will be enough.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Litt’le Green Guys & Cat Spit

The 100+ degree weather meant I stayed inside most of the weekend. Actually, I normally stay in all weekend, unless the Wife makes me step outside and integrate with Humanity (which I of course strongly oppose). However, the idea of 100+ temperatures did mean I had a very good excuse for staying home most the weekend, and I used that time to work on the paper miniatures.

I now have 42 different miniatures (that’s 126 separate renders for those keeping count). I think that’s enough to sell, even though I haven’t included any robots or creatures in the collection. But since the supplement is called Cardboard Citizens (not Cardboard Robots and Creatures), I think that’s okay. I still need to arrange them though. I’ve been thinking about doing it by social class and then by race for the non-humans. Speaking of the latter, I did the Magna over the weekend and I’m happy with how they came out, especially in color. They’re muscular, green-skinned guys with horns so you can’t get much better than that!

Friday, I printed out one sheet of miniatures that I already had done and, with help from the Wife, put them together. Now I have a little army of 15 miniatures on my desk waiting to be devoured by the Cat. I’m going to be using them (or at least the ones not covered in cat saliva) when I run some combat scenarios later this week.