Posts Tagged ‘blog: things you should check out’.

Check out: Design inspiration from Aaron Draplin

I really like this. Aaron Draplin, founder of Draplin Design Company in Portland and designer behind the Field Notes brand of notebooks, designs a logo from scratch in about ten minutes.

The resulting video is an explanation of the process a thoughtful designer goes through, and a demonstration of the power that experience and deep understanding brings to any sort of craftsmanship.

I find this sort of thing super inspiring! And Draplin has an easygoing, chummy enthusiasm that’s fun to listen to, too.

Here he is again, describing the workflow for creating a laurel element in Illustrator — but far more than just a design tutorial, it’s a metaphor for a deeper and more broadly applicable lesson about craft in general.

This third video is a brief bit of portfolio advice (that, ironically, uses ugly title cards I’m sure Draplin himself would make fun of).

Recommended for inspiration!

AdWeek has collected a few more videos of Draplin’s lengthier public talks and presentations, as well.

Bonus Holiday Comic from the Funny Pages Zine

OR WHATEVER

Those of you who subscribed to Cards Against Humanity’s special Ten Days Or Whatever Of Kwanzaa promotion this year will be receiving a special Funny Pages Zine — a newspaper comics section with a bunch of holiday-themed comic strips in it!

This year I was honored to be asked to participate as well. Here’s a preview of the comic I made:

cah-comic

You can read the whole thing here!

All of this year’s (and last year’s) comics are on the Funny Pages Zine tumblr.

OBLIGATORY CALENDAR UPDATE: As of this writing, 57 copies remain.

Check out: An Indian Wondermark?

how...existential

Indian artist Aarthi Parthasarathy has a new comic called “Royal Existentials”. It’s made of images from vintage Indian Mughal miniature paintings, an art form that dates back to at least the sixteenth century.

I heard about it from this article, where she mentions where she got the idea:

A web-comic fan herself, Parthasarathy was inspired by Wondermark, a comic strip series created by California artist David Malki that has Victorian-era drawings with funny dialogues added in. So, she set out to create something similarly humorous but utterly Indian.

For the series, Parthasarathy picks existing images of Indian miniature paintings and writes contemporary dialogues to them focusing on the joke and the punchline. The social commentary is incidental. “It started out as a way to just have fun with images,” she said. “After the first three, I suddenly realised that this is becoming very social, very feminist.”

I think that’s super turbo cool. Keep at it, Aarthi!! My one note is that I wish the comics were bigger on the site so they’re easier to read!

BONUS RELATED LINK: I’ve mentioned this before — and it’s as old as Wondermark, if not older — but I still love it: the Bayeaux Tapestry Generator, with which you can make something akin to comics, or memes, or just 100% accurate representations of history.

bayeaux

OLD ART 4 LYFE

IndieCade this weekend in L.A.! PLUS: Game Reviews from TableFlip

i knew about it before it was cade

This weekend I’ll be demoing Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination at IndieCade in Los Angeles!

play dat game

IndieCade is a festival and showcase for independent video and tabletop games. I’m very happy to have been invited to show off MOD, and I’ll be doing my demos specifically on Saturday from 2-4pm and Sunday from 12-2pm, in the tabletop area which I assume will be clearly marked. (The game will be available in their onsite store the whole weekend long.)

Lots of other cool games will be doing demos as well! A few of them, actually, I played for the first time last weekend at the TableFlip conference in San Francisco.

At TableFlip, not only were there interesting people to talk to and a big pile of games to grab and try, the event’s speakers also each spotlighted a particular type of game in their respective talks, and then we got to play that game to learn more!

I myself gave a talk about story and theme, and how that relates to game design and player experience, and I challenged everyone to come up with ways to lay a theme onto the card game War, and by doing so change the rules to align more closely with the theme. It was a bit of an experiment but people seemed to have fun!

But here are the other games I played over the course of the weekend!

(All photos below this point that are not just the game box were taken by shellEProductions.)

oh so distant

A Distant Plain by Volko Ruhnke & Brian Train. Volko and Brian are experts in wargaming with a specific focus on counterinsurgency, or COIN. They’ve explored this COIN mechanic in several games, and this one in particular focuses on the (most recent) war in Afghanistan. Players control either the Afghan government, the US-led coalition forces, the Taliban, or the unaffiliated warlords, each struggling for control and influence.

Wargaming of this elaborately rendered sort is a means by which to explore the ideas and struggles behind these conflicts, not just pit armies against each other for fun. Volko & Brian’s talk focused on the challenges of building rule-based systems that attempt to accurately model the power dynamics and decision-making challenges in their respective real-world situations (their other games have focused on conflicts in Colombia, Cuba, and Vietnam, using the same core COIN mechanic).

I don’t have a lot of experience with this kind of wargame, but after about an hour with A Distant Plain I started to understand both how to play, and how difficult it is to win. I’m grateful for this event, and Volko & Brian’s presentation, because I probably never would have come across this game in my daily life! The COIN games are worth checking out if you’re interested in this type of extremely elaborate wargame. But then, if you are, you probably already know all about these titles!

so...thirsty

Forbidden Desert by Matt Leacock. This is a followup to the cooperative escape game Forbidden Island, also by Matt Leacock (who also created Pandemic). I hadn’t played any of those until now! And now, I have played this one.

It’s the only game listed here that I played twice! Our group lost the first round and immediately set out to play again — winning the second round only by the skin of our teeth. In the game, the players are a group of explorers who have become stranded in a desert near the ruins of an old city. The challenge of the game is to excavate the ruins and locate pieces of a flying machine, with which to escape the desert…before the ever-worsening storm buries you in sand, or you run out of water in the growing heat.

The board is made of a series of tiles, which are randomized at the start of the game so you never know how easy or hard it’s going to be to find the various things you’re looking for. Each player’s character has special skills, and working together is key! A very fun game for a group.

BANG

Slap .45 by Max Temkin, et al. Max gave a talk about folk games and the power of playing in large groups, and this, like his other game Cards Against Humanity, is designed for a big group.

Players each control an Old West gang, and must try and be the last person standing by shooting other players using a slap-the-deck mechanic. It’s fast paced and probably best not played slightly crouched over a not-quite-tall-enough table. In the picture above, Brad O’Farrell (center) adjudicates the final standoff between myself and Kevin Cheng. Kevin, as you can see by his hand position, won.

oooh, aaah

Hanabi by Antoine Bauza. Hanabi is a beautiful card-matching game in which the players cooperate to build a collaborative fireworks display. The catch is that the players’ hands of cards face away from themselves, and the object of the game is to use limited rules of communication to try and tell the other players which cards they have, and therefore, which to play. It’s a deceptively simple game that is really quite challenging!

arrr me hearties

Scoundrels by Randy O’Connor. This was a game that Randy (just out of the picture, at left) was playtesting at the conference. He made it out of pieces from another pirate game, and added his own game map and swashbuckling cards. It’s a steal-the-loot, shoot-your-enemies game that’s pretty fun, made better by the fact that Randy himself made a last-move wager that lost him the game catastrophically, in a very dramatic turn of events. His website has an email list for updates once the game moves out of testing.

Guerilla Checkers by Brian Train. Brian (of the COIN games mentioned above) put his counterinsurgency expertise to work in this asymmetrical variant of checkers, in which one player controls a few big powerful pieces and the other player controls a swath of many smaller pieces. A very interesting spin on regular ol’ checkers. MAKES YA THINK A LI’L

hail to the chief

Mr. President: The Game of Campaign Politics by Jack Carmichael. One of the attendance perks of TableFlip was a “swag-bag” giveaway of old 3M “bookshelf series” games, including this 1967 political campaign game. I gave it a play and was surprised to find it pretty fun! There is some strategy in trying to outmaneuver your opponent for votes, and counting up the ballots at the end is a neat kind of nerve-racking.

It’s clear that this game is pre-Nixon and pre-Southern Strategy, as the manual asks whether you can break the Democratic stranglehold on the South, or the Republican grasp on California. The presidential candidate avatars that you can choose from are pretty cheesy 1960′s WASP men, so playing this game with a certain Mad Men-level of detached postmodern irony is possible as well.

BONUS GAME: An Account of Peter Coddle’s Visit to New York

petercoddle1

Max Temkin showed off this amazing turn-of-the-century party game that I’d never seen before. It’s basically Mad Libs married to the improv game Blind Line — in other words, it’s Mad Libs except that you don’t make up the blanks in the story, but instead insert a random slip of prewritten text.

petercoddle2

It’s not really a game — you can’t win or lose — but I love it anyway. It was reissued multiple times over the first few decades of the 20th century (with revisions, one wonders?). It’s the sort of thing that you can try to ape nowadays, but you’ll never, in the modern day, think to include a slip reading “A three-legged stove” or “A hod of coal”.

Copies, of course, are on eBay.

Or, randomly generate your own Peter Coddle story, thanks to the fine people at this website I just found via Google!

petercoddle3

It’s probably too easy to say that the modern version of this game/activity/amusement would be putting Cards Against Humanity cards into a Mad Lib. Yet I find myself wondering if there is a better modern-day adaptation of this that could retain what to us, nowadays, reads as period charm. This was a very simplistic product, but was clearly extraordinarily popular. Probably because there was no way to mess it up?

Here’s my updated version of Peter Coddle’s Visit to New York: Take any article from the New York Times and replace every noun with the one immediately following it in the dictionary.

CUT TO A RAINY DAY AT GRANDMA’S HOUSE: I pull out the NYT and the Oxford Unabridged and the kids immediately vanish like cats who know they’re about to go to the vet

Video: Nikola Tesla at KPCC!

A SHOCKING DISPLAY

Here I am playing Tesla at Sunday’s event! My entrance is at 55:00 in the video.

Over the weekend I was pleased to participate in a Nikola Tesla event at KPCC, one of our local public radio stations in Los Angeles. Science reporter Sanden Totten (at left in the photo above) hosted a retrospective of Tesla’s life and career, and brought up scientists from the California Science Center and the Griffith Observatory to talk about the principles of electricity.

Near the end of the presentation, I got to play a time-traveling Nikola Tesla to do a brief Q&A with Sanden. If you ever get invited to dress up like a famous scientist and tell jokes, I highly recommend it.

Here is video of the event on KPCC’s site! Sanden plays Mayor LaGuardia’s posthumous remembrance of Tesla at about 54 minutes in, which precedes my entrance right at 55:00.

The event was a co-production with Sanden’s radio show/podcast Brains On, which is a science and education show for kids specifically. There were a lot of kids in the audience at this event and I hope they enjoyed it!

I have to thank Sanden for inviting me to participate, and also for providing me with the opportunity to take what should probably be my author photo for time immemorial.

DASHING

BONUS PICTURE: TESLA WITH A TESLA