Prototype of a Prototype.

Wasn't that what Protoman was?

Anyway. Finished putting my little card game together Thursday night, everything was printed, sleeved, and generally looks too much like bootleg Magic the Gathering for my tastes, but... what I have is a box full of cards that is play-testable, and that's the most important thing. I think I've managed to stir up some excitement in my friends Caitlin, Terry, and Trinh, as they seem ready to help me out with the testing part of it, which is very kind of them.

More than anything, their enthusiasm when I told them, along with a string of "LIKEs" on Facebook have brightened my spirits considerably. As I get closer to actually playing it out with people, I'm not sure if I'm nervous, or just a little sick of working on it and goldfishing it out in my head theoretically, but a lot of Friday night was just... dread. I want to work out the kinks, I want the game to be fun, be interesting. And everything's moved so smoothly. Makes me nervous.

Tonight I polished off the rules and gave the game a nice little intro. It occurred me I hadn't checked in here about how things were going, so I thought I might do that.

Even though I've got people to play test with, naturally, anyone else interested in also trying it out are welcome to contact me, come hang out, play a few games. If you're one of my people located around the world, and wouldn't mind playing it with some friends, I'm open to that too - of course, it would be a little intensive - there are 205 cards in all, which is a lot of printing and cutting, all of which needs to be done on card stock, or sleeved up in El Cheapo Deck Protectors. Still, if you're willing to put in the effort to check out my little brainchild...

Might get to play as soon as this week. Will report back.

Not Just the Name of The Kinks song.

I spent roughly four hours scrawling out information on note cards last Friday night, when I realized, you know, there's a much easier way to mock up these cards that won't make it feel like my hand is breaking. 

One of the big inspirations for making this card game was "Magic: The Gathering," a hobby I rediscovered a few years back. One of my favorite things about the Magic cards is the flavor text, and it's a concept I stole almost completely for mine. I've always been charmed by alternative storytelling, and the fact that Wizards of the Coasts manages to make a long-running trading card game that is both functional, and hints at, even outright tells an overarching story while sticking to various, sometimes contradictory themes over time has always been amazing to me. I can't claim that my forays into flavor text this time does anything nearly as amazing as what WotC often does, but as a first go, I've been pretty pleased, and if I entertain no one else by the time this project succeeds or fails, the bad jokes, plays on words, stupid puns, and endless hours spent in, of all things, a pocket thesaurus, has been a lot of fun for me.

So, as much as I don't want to get sued by my heroes, I downloaded the freeware "Magic Set Editor" and took a couple of nights to leisurely use their templates to do functional mock-ups of my own cards, and then ordered about... 300 Super El Cheapo card sleeves, so I don't have to worry about the first cards I make being hard to shuffle or see-thru. What I've ended up with is something that has all the necessary information to play with, a good little color-coding system, and a design-style I WILL IN NO WAY BE KEEPING, as I am only using these to test out the actual play of the game with friends, to help fine tune the rules, see what works, what doesn't, and what needs added, and what needs to go.

The nice thing about the MSE template is that it lets me get all my information for play in there, there's already a place for Flavor text, and it'll make any changes in the early stages relatively easy. The downside is, it'll look even more like a MTG rip-off while on the table, which I'm not wild about, except more bland because there are zero illustrations.

Of course, if I continue to go forward with this, I will need to find an artist to not only design the card illustrations themselves, but also the card borders, so this isn't exactly anything that wasn't already planned for. I just think my original idea, with the note cards, was to give the people who I eventually play tested this with sort a blank slate kind of feeling, so I could get at their feelings of what they were picturing, projecting on the cards themselves, and now having the immediate relation to the MTG frames is a little... disheartening. Useful? Yes. Mostly in my head? Entirely.

I took another run at the rules last night, eliminated one big play mechanic, but nothing gone is ever gone forever at this point. Honestly, having as many rules as I have right now really feels to me like a betrayal of my "Keep it Simple, Stupid" mindset, so there could be further changes like this even in the next couple of days.

End count is a whopping 205 cards. I'd be printing them now, rather than writing about them here, except I'm all out of printer ink. Waiting for gods of Amazon and Epson to smile on me, and deliver unto their servant the tools needed in which to make his art.

From there, it'll be about 30 pages worth of printing [probably double that after I screw up a few times], and then I'll whip out the paper cutter Sarah gifted me with a few years back. And then... play tests! Which I'm hoping Terry and Caitlin and whoever else I can get on board to help out with this will be willing to suffer through.

Stay tuned.

Cards - done [sorta].

Well, more or less. There are some small things I need to do, and I'm contemplating adding six more cards [because apparently I'm as masochist], but tonight I finished the bulk of the cards that make up the gameplay aspect of my card game. The next part is mocking up the cards, so the game can actually be tested - I have some rules that I like for it, pretty well set down, but I also have a few extra things, minor changes I might try after playtesting a bit.

Of course, the next part is going to be a bit tedious, since I actually think I might write out the cards by hand instead of attempting to print them on my own. There are probably much easier ways to do it, but this will at least give me a chance to make sure there are no redundancies, and won't leave me with yet more hours in front of a computer screen as I try to figure out all the necessary measurements and margins.

Anyway, just a short post to commemorate the occasion.

A family friend died this past weekend, and honestly, this feels a bit bittersweet, considering. But I might have reason to remember getting this far with 21 Others, so I wanted to make some kind of post about it.

The Rules

The game is coming along pretty soundly. I have about 15 cards left to finish writing, which is one of those things that gets harder as you go along, because of the kind of... I guess hyper focus it takes to make things fit in the last few spots I have free. Taking a quick break tonight, and I'm actually going to try and hammer the last of them out.

The other big thing I did was write the game's Rules. They fit on a single page, and are less than 600 words, which I think is good. I'm trying to keep things simple, and understandable, and I'd like to sweat a little more out of that, somewhere south of 500 words on how to play the game. Shouldn't be too difficult.

I did hit my one big snag when I sat down to write the conditions in which you actually win this little card game I've put together. From the beginning, I kind of wanted a situation where, on some occasions, no one would win the game - kind of a little message about what grabs for power could get you. And I have that, and the appropriate situations where there's a definitive winner...but also one set of conditions that is somewhere in-between, which I'm worried will be unsatisfying in the long run, especially if one of the players at the table opts to be a spoiler.

I don't know. I'm just sweating it. I should wait until I get to play test a bit, which means finishing the main cards so it can be played. It is, after all, just a first draft.

An aside, thanks to everyone who chimed in about naming kingdoms. Will be diving into that soon too.

"The View From a Tree in The Zombie Apocalypse" in Non Finito Magazine

My short story about the fall of civilization, the coming rise of the undead, and the existence of the world's most famous cryptid was featured yesterday on Non Finito Magazine. Non Finito is the pet project of a great friend and previous collaborator of mine, Sam Roman. Here's a short excerpt:
A lot of my friends said they were ready for this. Some of them claimed they were even ready for this, specifically. Which would seem ludicrous, and was then, but you know, not so much now. So some of them had escape plans. One guy learned to fire a gun. Another bought a crossbow. I think some of the more pragmatic ones stored water. That spaceman food, the powdered stuff, batteries, canned peaches. Seriously, one of my friends, the one everyone thought was the most responsible of us, had an attic full of guns, and canned peaches.

So yeah. A lot of my friends said they were ready for this. Which is funny to me now, because I haven’t run into too many of them. That were, you know, talkative, smug, and surviving, instead of murderous, decaying, and trying to eat me. Which is a shame, because some company would be nice. Someone to talk to. Even the self-satisfied, “I told you so”-types. Especially up in these damn trees.

Click on through to read the rest
, and make sure to share with your friends. And while you're at it, you should submit to Non Finito too - Sam's always looking for new creators, especially ones looking for a space for those bits of art we sometimes have trouble finding a place for - those things left rough, unfinished, or raw. You can see the magazine's submission guidelines here, as well as their contact information.

Thanks, Sam.