Tuesday, 16 July 2013

No update today, moving house

This week I'm moving house, going to my partner's graduation, and sending Character Cards to the printers; and something else important just came up.

Unfortunately, I don't have time for an update today. Apologies.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Joseph Crouch's Story - Viewpoints

Crime in Kingstown had been dropping for a while, and Joseph Crouch was proud to say he was responsible. As the captain of the watch it was his duty to keep the peace, and his success had been exemplary.

There was, however, one big problem remaining: The Shadow, suspect 442, was killing people. Sure, most of those people were criminals, but some of them were his friends.

Joe was eager to deal with The Shadow, but they were too unpredictable. That's why he hadn't told anyone that the Jeweller's was being robbed this evening. The Shadow would show up. Somehow, they always seemed to know what was going on before anyone else did.

He was going to take The Shadow down. He would be the one to finally do it. He'd earned that, he deserved it.


The darkness was creeping in when Joe finally spotted his prey. A cloaked figure moving through the alley behind the Jeweller's. He pulled his crossbow from its holster and wound up for a shot. He'd write it up as self defence, if anyone questioned it.

Joe took careful aim at The Shadow's back, and sent a shot towards the centre of the cloak. The Shadow stepped to the side at the instant he took his shot; and the bolt only grazed their shoulder.

The Shadow turned to face him, twin daggers shining in the moonlight. "Shouldn't you be stopping the criminals?"
Joe dropped his crossbow and drew his sword with an audible schlink. "I am."
"A man's going to die today because of you!" The Shadow darted towards him.
He extended his blade, ready to let The Shadow impale themself. "Yes, you."

A blade slashed across the back of his hand as the vigilante twisted around him. The Shadow was a fast bastard. Still, Joe was no slouch himself, and a second later he had The Shadow's cloak gripped firmly in his left hand.

The Shadow didn't try to break his grip, instead they pulled in even closer. Too close in for Joe to use his sword. He swung at the vigilante's face, and heard a satisfying crack; brass knuckles were his favourite invention.

The vigilante was dazed, and Joe wasn't about to let up. He pushed them to the ground, and placed the tip of his sword against their throat. He wanted to hear The Shadow beg him for mercy.

But The Shadow said nothing. Bastard didn't even know when they were beat. Oh well, they'd work it out in the afterlife...

"Get out of my store!"

... Joe instinctively looked towards the source of the noise; it was inside the Jeweller's. His head was only turned for a second, but that was long enough for the sneaky bastard beneath him to cut his Achilles Tendon.

"This is on your head now, not mine." And with that last remark, the vigilante vanished into the darkness of the city.


Joe was furious. All that effort and all he'd ended up with was a dead Jeweller... he hadn't been thinking big enough. The Shadow wouldn't leave until the deed was done, so he'd just have to make sure the next time was something bigger.

He looked at the prison roster. Theft? Not big enough. Arson? Too noisy, the rest of the guard would turn up too soon.

A serial killer? That would do just fine. The Shadow wouldn't be able to resist stopping her, and Joe would be there.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Unknown Unknowns

I spent a lot of time preparing for the Character Cards Kickstarter, working out as many details as I could. Then, when the day comes to deliver the PDFs, I manage to get it wrong. I upload it to a site which limits the number of downloads, and therefore people are frustrated by their lack of access.

Why did I make that mistake?

Because I'd been so sure I knew what I was doing that it didn't occur to me to plan for it. Uploading something to the net for people is easy, right?
Well, yes, it is. But it's not trivial, even though it's easy it still requires a significant amount of thought.

I didn't realise that I didn't know what I was doing, and so I didn't plan ahead. I think a lot of Kickstarter creators have this problem on a much larger scale: They don't realise they don't know how to run a Kickstarter, so they assume it's easy.

It pays to be wary of what you may not know you don't know.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Character Cards game design

There are a couple of major reasons for our delay in releasing the Character Cards Kickstarter. One of them is the attached game.

While we don't consider it a particularly important part of the design, it is still a part, and one we feel is worth getting right. (Certainly, given as I intend to be a game designer, it would be best to make a good first impression).

So, we've been throwing some maths at the wall, to see what we can work. If we include the Jokers, we have 80 cards, allowing 8 copies of each value from 2-11 per suit. Which is a nice even arrangement. Unfortunately, the values aren't yet arranged like that; we've ended up with something of an overabundance of 6s and 7s, and a dearth of 2s.

Given this even arrangement we're then massaging the probabilities to ensure the game is fun. We were originally planning to print the game rules on the Jokers, but that doesn't work too well.

Firstly, it means they don't get to have values in the game (which is inconvient) and secondly it means we have to keep the rules very short.

Now, brevity is a virtue, but game rules that will fit on a poker card are possibly rather too brief to create a fun game. So, we're looking at the cost of getting a rules sheet added to the deck instead.

So, we're altering the array of numbers, extending the rules slightly and doing a bit more playtesting. We may even bring it to Stabcon this weekend for a final once over before release.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Cassidy Garehan's Story - Nightmares

A robbery gone wrong; an old man killed by his closest friend; two teenage vagabonds sacrificed in a dark ritual; teeth that would change the world; a wedding dress stained red; a vicious cat; a broken sword; a child killed before they could live; dominoes falling until the whole empire would be changed into something dark and strange; a child crying as her mother fell to pieces...

Cassidy awoke with a scream. He hadn't slept properly in weeks, and it didn't seem like that was going to change, the nightmares were getting worse. If only that was all they were.

He felt sick. The weight of the world was on his shoulders, and they weren't strong enough to take it. He curled up under his blanket, hiding from the world. In the darkness he could see the image of that mother; flesh slipping from her bones. Why was this his responsibility? What had he ever done to deserve this curse?

Nothing. That's what he'd done. Nothing!

But self-pity wouldn't help anyone. Dressing quickly Cassidy neatened up and rushed out the door. He'd go past the Jeweller's on the way to his stall.


*Knock* *Knock*

"Come in."
Cassidy pushed open the door and stepped inside. "Mr. Krasner?"
"Yes. What do you want?" Cassidy was sure he could already hear suspicion in Krasner's voice; but maybe he was just being paranoid. Probably not.
"I'm here to give you a warning."
Krasner was glaring at him. "If you're one of Breskan's minions tell him I'm not playing his game."
"I'm not." Cassidy sighed. "I just happen to know that you'd be better off locking the door for today."
"Well, I'd have been better off if you hadn't been able to get in." Krasner grunted. "Why in Zeus' name would I care what you think?"
There was a long pause. "I can see the future..."
"Another bloody madman." Muttered Krasner. "Get the fuck out of my store!"

Well, Cassidy thought, that had gone about as well as expected. Nobody ever believed him, about anything. That was his curse.


Cassidy has almost reached his stall by the port when he realised he'd managed to forget his lock box. There wasn't much point trying to be a money changer without money. This was the worst part of insomnia: When you didn't really sleep you were never really awake.

By the time he got back home, Cassidy was ready to collapse. His legs ached, his head ached, his chest ached and his brain ached. He fell into bed, and crashed back to sleep...

...once again he awoke with a scream. Looking outside he saw that noon had long passed. That was another day of work missed then. 

And the next domino would be falling soon.

He looked over at the cloak hanging in his closet. Sure, he didn't deserve this burden, but that didn't change anything. The world wasn't fair.

Ten minutes later Cassidy was gone, and The Shadow was prowling the rooftops.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Fonts of all Wisdom

Writing is one of the greatest technologies in human history. It has allowed, for millennia, people to transmit their thoughts to each other over gaps of distance or of time.

Nowadays we have other means of storing and transferring information, but the fact you're reading this proves that writing isn't dead.

Today I'm thinking about one specific aspect of writing: Fonts.

The most fundamental aspect of writing is the symbols used, the alphabet, whether it be heiroglyphs or norse runes the arrangement of marks conveys meaning. In some writing systems the symbols correspond to concepts, while in others (such as the latin alphabet which I'm using here) they correspond to sounds.

While the English language possesses only one alphabet we've developed a large set of, slightly different, forms for that alphabets symbols. Whole families of different fonts, each of which conjures up a different image.

For an example of why fonts matter, compare these two character cards:

The only difference between the two is in the font used. The difference in font results in a huge difference in the resonance of the card with it's concepts.

When building something you don't just need to pay attention to the structure you're building, but to the quality of the material you're using.

If you're thinking of doing a bit of  design work for yourself, perhaps a poster or even your own card game, make sure to search for a font suited to the theme. Don't limit yourself to the defaults that come with your computer; check out sites such as Font Squirrel for a selection of some of the finest thematic fonts you can find.