Blog 6-30-17 – About Face

Well here I am, back a little more than a month after the last update to give another one, as is custom for this type of thing, and I’ve made a decision that has been a personally difficult one to make. When starting, and during, my hiatus I was very adamant about not only it being a temporary thing, but something that would eventually “disappear” as I would work to make up all the content I had missed postin when I was on it. It’s more than a year later now, and while I have been working to catch back up, I haven’t been seeing the returns I’ve hoped for. My original intent was to just power through this section, creating both my backlog material and moving forward into new stuff. But, as many people who try to finish large project know, something like this creates a mental block. The sheer amount of things you are telling your brain it “has” to do dissuades your brain from doing those things, and as it puts them off, they only get bigger.

While I have been making some headway in this “power through” area it hasn’t been as much as I had hoped, and my “re-warm-up” phase has been much slower than expected, All the while things I was “supposed” to do kept piling up, and it got to the point where my mental resistance to moving things forward was preventing me from getting back up to speed. Looking at things now, it could potentially take me years to catch back up on a reasonable schedule (especially for a person with a house, job, and schoolwork). If I wanted to catch up by the end of 2017, I would have to do more than triple-time on my work, and that just isn’t coming from a person who wasn’t able to keep “regular time” for the last year. And extending that deadline only increased the mental block. Devoting that much time to catching up makes the brain think it’s failing, and that just isn’t good for work.

So the decision I’ve made is to “give up” on the idea of catching up. And that has been a possibility from the start, but it was shunned by my more optimistic side. Now the idea’s still there, and maybe sometime in the far-off future when I’m being super productive I’ll be able to go back and catch up on everything or something close to it, but right now I’m going to focus on what I can do next. Nothing is going to stop getting made at this point. In fact, I intend to increase my output, but I won’t be re-instating the schedule and might even make up a new schedule sometime in the future. My current new goal is to get myself back to putting up at least one thing a day, but none of this will be trying to make up for lost time, and there will likely be many new projects introduced.

And even though this has been a difficult decision for me personally (doing this essentially makes my last year a creative failure), I know that both my few dedicated followers and those many on the internet just passing by really just want more things they can read/view to enjoy, and that me making nothing for months at a time isn’t what they came to see, nor is it satisfying “artistically” for me. This will hopefully end up with a better arrangement for all of us, and allow for my various sites to improve.

I always want to thank everyone who has viewed (liked, and commented on) my content, and I appreciate the patience of those of you who have stuck with me. I’ve got a lot of cool ideas and new projects in the works that soon we can hopefully enjoy together.


Board Game Creation Blogging Part 5 – Rethinking and Downsizing (w/ Making an RPG)

Where I last left off this series I was failing at Kickstarter, which was actually quite some time ago now. I’ve made two household moves and published a dozen books (of my comics) since then, among other things, so it’s kind of crazy coming back now. I definitely re-evaluated my position and have been looking into why I was unable get my game off the ground. I have made several games (and game-related items) since then, but they need some more polish before I blog about them.

I had mentioned at the end of my last post that I would be working on a smaller game; one that could more easily be kick-started for next time. And I have been (I’ve got a couple of good ones), but I thought as I was working on them, “why not go smaller? Or with less cost?” It was a hard thing to think about, especially since I’m a bit of a stickler for components (I want them to last a long time). I didn’t want to create a game that used a PoD service like the Game Crafter or one that was print-it-yourself as both of those would be “less than perfect” (don’t get me wrong, GC is a great product. I use them, and what they’re doing is really cool, but it’s a bit more expensive than I would like for the quality). It then occurred to me at some point (I will have a separate post about it) that a type of game that I would be interesting in making and that could be downloaded and printed by people easily was a role-playing game.

I had recently started trying to get more into role-playing, and since most of the major books are huge, intimidating messes (and I mean that in the best possible way, they are endearing messes) I went looking for short, simple RPGs online. And I found quite a few (22 is the number I currently have printed off in my binder, and that’s not counting all of the ones I found online). Most of them ranged from 1-10 pages, but one seems the most common length. There is a certain sense of satisfaction that I can understand would come from both writing and playing a “single-page” RPG. But none of these were exactly what I wanted. I wanted mechanics that were slightly more “intuitive” but still something you could “sink your teeth into”. I believed there was and is some room for something closer to my “perfect” version of a role-playing game, so I set about writing it.


It took me far longer to do that than I had anticipated, but that was because it ended up much longer than I had thought. Not the rules, necessarily: they’re only 5 pages (though a bit cramped at around 7,000 words), but the “everything else” that comes with making an RPG. I’ve ended up writing 27 pages full of stuff for it, and in my excitement to get my ideas down I was writing some of the later pages before finishing the “necessary” pages, which would be: rules for playing the game, rules for running the game, and some pre-built enemies to go in the game (a “3-book” structure if you will, a-la D&D but with only 5 pages for each section). My plan was to put these “core rulebooks” up online and maybe a few “supplements” (1-page extras) after that, then combine them all into a book that would be the “beta” for the game. Hopefully. people would then play it and I would be able to gather feedback and write some extra stuff for the “first edition”. I still hope to do that, but I did it a bit backwards and finished the book first (it took me far too long to write this post), so now that it’s already out in the wild (though at the moment only purchase-able through me personally) I will be putting the PDFs up for download on the site.

Core Rules Beta (PDF)

Game Master Guide Beta (PDF)

Monsters/Bestiary Beta (PDF)

Beta Character Sheet (PDF)

I’ve been using a print-on-demand service to print my comic books for a few years now; so going with them for the beta version was a simple choice. Even with them being PoD I don’t anticipate the print version of the beta getting a wide release. I think it is good and playable, but I’d like to add a little more polish before putting it up on Amazon like my comic books. Also the PoD service only does paperback books, and I do hope that after I’ve put the contents up online and gathered some feedback and done some more playtesting to get everything collected for the first edition in a hardback (or likely both formats, as I want the game to be as accessible {inexpensive} as possible), not just to look like other RPGs but because I like the feel and longevity of a good hardback. In any case I’ve put the beta files up, and I hope you use them, play the game and let me know what you think.

Board Game Creation Blogging Part 1 – Inception to Prototyping

I’m making a board game, and I run this blog, so I thought I could combine the two to write this blog post about making a board game.

I don’t know why I thought making a board game would be a good idea, but it seemed the most do-able project in my project lineup, aside from what I was already doing. In hindsight, this might not have been the case, but I think that making a board game might be one of the more rewarding things I’ll be doing for a bit, because it has immediate and highly tangible results. I like being near the end of a project and looking over the things I made and saying “Yes, I made these”. (Which, with the smallest number of games being 1000, might put me in a little over my head, but that’s a good thing.)

I’d say I started about a year and half ago. I’d graduated from high school two years early, and no longer had a chess partner (one of the few benefits of my forced interaction with people my age) and I wasn’t planning to go to college for a while. So I was just looking online a lot and drawing a bunch of comics, which I still consider my primary occupation. I had gotten on the fringes of the board game world when I had been looking up chess variants and other abstract strategy games (which I still love but getting only one other person to play them is kinda awkward). I decided to dive full into board games and got some of the most recommended beginner games (Pandemic) and some not so recommended games (Diplomacy). Quickly I discovered that while I was thinking about board games a lot, I didn’t have much time to play them. (My poker group was still a poker group and not the mini-gaming-group it is today. So I made up a bunch of designs for board games. The first was one I made for my mother’s birthday, which will show up later. But the main one was a historical game inspired by the Roman Empire. I had been learning quite a lot about the Romans (another hobby), and really wanted a game that captured the feeling of a late republican setting, which I found to my dismay during research was not available, at least how I wanted it.

So in the summer of 2013 I quickly made a prototype of my Roman game (Original code name) which at the time was really just cobbled together from other games that I’d played (Battlestar Galactica, Pandemic, Risk), seen (Eight Minute Empire, Cosmic Encounter), or had an idea of making (The board specifically was cannibalized from a Roman conquest game I still have plans for, although the boards are now quite different and will only get more so with development). I played it a few times with my family and friends, to which to response was a general “meh”. But I took “meh” on a first time prototype (a seriously bad one filled with inconstancies, spelling errors, and having almost no artwork for a very thematic game) by a guy who had absolutely no idea what he was doing as a sign that I had something good to work with here.

Seriously I played on this board several times.

Seriously I played on this board several times.

So I spent the next few months working on the game on and off. I had to stop several times because of important dates in my not-at-all lucrative comics business, and I tried building websites with no advertising plan in a small town. I heavily refined the game’s mechanics (mechanisms for snobs), wrote down actual rules, moved into a workable office space, made a good-looking board, and was just about to make better looking cards in January. I declared that I would playtest the game and have a Kickstarter launched by the end of February. My body’s immediate response to that plan was a month’s worth of migraines. At the middle of March I barely had the artwork done, so I decided to just order a prototype and see what information I could dig up. I did get to re-introduce the game to my friends, whose response went from “meh” to “man this is really cool!”. Unfortunately after that I got hit with a very bad cold and didn’t do my research (i.e. Why there isn’t a preview of my game by some well-watched game reviewers, etc.). But I did get a wonderful prototype at the end of it. Which I made a video about.

I think the new board might have helped

I went with the Game Crafter ( to make my prototype for several reasons. The first and foremost is that it is very well known, and generally the most well-known producers make the most money and can afford to have the little touches it takes to make a high-quality product. Also, I considered the possibility of the planned Kickstarter failing, and me simply publishing the game through the already-uploaded files on the Game Crafter website, a proposition that seems less and less attractive, but might end up being the case if things go particularly badly. For these two reasons that are highly intertwined, I used the Game Crafter and only took a tiny glance at other platforms I could use for prototyping. I think, though, with the quality of components I got that I made the right decision.

I got several copies of the game, one of which is still wrapped and one is currently with me, being played by friends who now really like the game (of course it has negotiation elements, which can leave a sour taste in people’s mouths if played too much or in too long a game). I also got some other people to play-test it, to which to response was (and from my friends as well) “this is good, but the rules need some work”, which is what that phase of the process is for, so I can’t say it was a failure.

With this little bit of information in hand I dove in to the “Looking for a Manufacturer” phase which will be covered in the next post. I know I didn’t cover everything there is to cover here and I hope to cover some of the details more in-depth in later posts. If there is any particular part of the process you’d like to know about please leave a comment and I’ll move that closer to the top of my “to get done” list.

Creating the Roman Empire in an Iphone Game

Well, sometimes I’m bored. And when I’m bored I sometimes play games on my phone, one of which is “Age of Conquest”. I Quite Like it. It’s like Risk, but with a little more realism for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong: Risk is fun, but it’s not the same without people. This is a perfect phone game as you can’t actually do it on a real board, or it would be insanely difficult.

Sometimes though, I get bored playing the thing that is supposed to make me not bored, because I’m…

So I decided to make an as-accurate-as-possible map of the maximum extent of all Roman empires in the game. I took pictures and stitched them together into this.

roman empire map in an iphone game

Now it’s important to note that this is the maximum extent of all Roman empires, including the Holy Roman Empire. It also encompasses all times, meaning any territory gained at any point is on the map.

I’m not sure if this map is supposed to tell you anything, or teach, or provoke any thoughts. I just thought it was a fun little experiment to see how accurately I could reconstruct history in a limited video game. The answer is surprisingly accurate, though I guess the game has the world sectioned off quite well for these purposes.

I really don’t have anything else to say about this. I just wanted to share this little thing with you. I hope you get at least some enjoyment out of my little map.