Posts Tagged ‘blog: stuff I made’.

How and why I made a party game in a pandemic.

My new game, TBH, has now reached its minimum funding goal on Kickstarter!

We’re working on stretch goals now, to make the game even bigger and better. The campaign runs through the end of April, and I hope you’ll check it out!

If you visit the page, you’ll see my face halfway down, hosting a “How to Play TBH” video that I shot in my living room.

But otherwise, the campaign is run by a company called Cut. (I mean, truthfully it’s run by me behind the scenes, but I’m doing it for Cut.)

How and why I made a party game in a pandemic.

I started working on this game back in the summer of 2020. Cut is a YouTube channel, and they have a series called Lineup that’s all about guessing things about strangers.

I’ve been working with Cut for a while now, advising on their development of a merchandise arm, and TBH the game actually came out of a pitch for a Lineup episode.

It was sparked by the idea of having not just one guesser, but rather, having all the participants guess on each other.

How and why I made a party game in a pandemic.

From there, we started playtesting a serious version of the game, all about moral dilemmas. One player would pose a dilemma, and there would be conversation as everyone tried to figure out how the others would answer.

But… There’s a mechanic where the player gets to draw two prompt cards (“Dilemmas”), and then chooses which one to ask the group.

What we noticed rapidly was that players reliably chose the weirder option.

So, we decided to make the game weird.

How and why I made a party game in a pandemic.

The game works like this:

• One player draws the card and poses the dilemma to the group. They are the Dilemma Boss.

• The other players all ask clarifying questions about the dilemma. This is the fun part — where the Dilemma Boss gets to make up whatever answers they want.

• Once everyone’s satisfied that they know enough to answer the question, they secretly answer YES or NO for themselves.

• Everyone then guesses how the other players answered. You score points for guessing right!

(Here’s me saying all this in video form too.)

The scoring and guessing is fun, but the real joy is the questions, answers, and the group storytelling that results from it.

Every group takes the dilemmas in different directions. In-jokes are developed. Surprises occur.

In a time when we have been seeking new forms of connection — tired of the same old “how’s it going for you” conversations — it turns out we actually have lots to talk about, if we just start making stuff up.

And yet, somehow, by doing so, we find that the game uncovers real truth and honest conversations. It’s something of a magic trick.

And it’s really, really fun. We’ve been playing this game basically nonstop for months now, as we’ve been testing the prompts. It’s fun every single time.

I’ve been fortunate to assemble a crack team of creative superheroes to help with this game:

• Co-creator Nate Weisman, formerly of Funko games
• Graphic designer Alexandria Ferri Land
• Project manager & writer Sara McHenry
• Videographer & writer Zachary Sigelko
• Writers Maddie Downes, Lisa Wallen, Grace Freud, Daniel O’Connell, Billie Bullock, & Trin Garritano

You may or may not know those names, but rest assured they are a rogue’s gallery of greats. I couldn’t (wouldn’t!) do this by myself, and I sure haven’t this time.

If you like the weirdness of Wondermark, then I recommend checking out TBH.

Kickstarter copies of the game will be shipping out later this summer (just in time for party season to return, we hope), but also, we have an online version you can play via video chat right now! There’s a link to that on the Kickstarter page (look for “Play it Now”).

I’ll have even more on TBH soon. But here’s an account from Trin, one of the writers, which I loved to read:

I remember going to my first TBH writers meeting and thinking, “David Malki hand-picked the most interesting, talented weirdos from the internet to make a party game and somehow I am also here.”

And then after a while I realized on top of that, they’re also thoughtful and kind.

Thoughtfulness is uncommon in party games. I do not feel comfortable subjecting my friends to most of them.

We are making the game that we’d like to exist already. Quite frankly, it should exist already and I am offended that we have to do it ourselves.

Everybody on the team is fascinating.

Sara’s a kettlebell enthusiast who makes sweet comics about her cat, and has probably written your favorite Clickhole piece.

Grace is a powerful cryptid from an unknown realm.

I don’t know what Maddie’s deal is, but she should be in charge of all television.

Billie has an actual degree in computer science from a reputable institution, but decided to make jokes for a living instead.

So we have this crack team of Internet Goofs at your disposal. And our only goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to be hilarious.

We write a little seed of a story that, under your care, will one day grow into the most messed-up topiary. And I think that’s beautiful.

Essentially, your friends cast you in the starring role of a pocket universe, and then attempt to guess what exactly you would do next. That’s the beauty, and also the psychic horror, of the Reveal phase.

Truth or Drink [Cut’s last game] is a game about the embarrassing stuff you’ve done in your past.

But TBH is about who you are.

[ KICKSTARTER NOW FUNDING THROUGH APRIL 30 ]

I made a new game. It’s called TBH.

I’ve spent the past six months making a new party game.

[ IT’S ON KICKSTARTER RIGHT NOW ]

I said a bit more about it on Twitter too, starting here.

(And on Patreon.)

I made a new game. It's called TBH.

I made a new game. It's called TBH.

Downloadable Wondermark 2021 calendar!

Downloadable Wondermark 2021 calendar!

I don’t have an all-new 2021 calendar, this year. Time was short, and also, shipping is such a mess this year that I didn’t make a big merchandise push.

If you’ve ordered something from me recently, rest assured that it’s on its way…but packages in the hands of the post office have been taking very unpredictable paths to their destinations lately. We can only cross our fingers and do our best.

That said — I do have a new calendar, of a sort!

I have just posted A Forlorn Collection of Whimsical Tales as a downloadable-and-printable PDF.

It was originally released as a 2010 calendar. But guess what — 2010 and 2021 have the same dates!

So it was clear to me that once again, its time to shine has come. No updating was required for it to be pressed into service.

(Although this calendar, being one of my older ones, features weeks that are arrayed to start on Monday. I left that in, for true vintage flavor.)

I have also updated my four other downloadable calendars to feature 2021 dates. They’re all ready for you now. Those all have weeks that start on Sunday, if you prefer that.

(Also, psst: Folks who’re subscribed to Patreon just got all five downloads for free.)

The 2010 calendar was originally a hand-printed product, featuring 12 individual cards in an easel, as pictured above.

I looked back at my posts from the time and I’m still charmed by this multi-part blog series about the making of the 2010 edition! It talks about the writing, design, and production that went into that style of handmade, 12-page calendar, which I created in small batches for five years (2008–2012).

I ended up scanning around 60 different images and playing around with them in various configurations, combining and re-combining them in different ways, trying to see what scenarios and stories they suggested.

The way I work is different from many artists, and certainly many cartoonists. While I do often compose the comic’s images to match a previously-written script, I also have great fun at times simply building scenes like a puzzle, not knowing what’s going on until the very end of the process — and sometimes, in the case of the comics, occasionally not knowing what’s going on until I’ve actually written most of the dialogue! I like seeing where it goes and the directions that it takes by itself, and it’s almost more like sculpting with clay, adding pieces and taking them away, than drawing or painting… [Continued]

In 2013, I switched to making biweekly “progressive” calendars, which involved more writing and design work, but less physical production. This is the first time I’ve reissued one of the early editions as a printable.


Nonetheless, if you prefer your calendars pre-printed, may I refer you to these fine models from my good friends in Alaska?

Pat from the Alaska Robotics gallery in Juneau makes a good pitch, I think:

I endorse these bears! And whales! There are whales, too. If you don’t believe me, take Lucy’s word for it.

[ BEAR AND WHALE CALENDARS FROM ALASKA ]

Make your own 2020 calendar from past calendars! PLUS: Progressive calendar free download

Although there is no 2020 Wondermark calendar per se, observant Marksman Gary T. let me know that dedicated calendar fans can make a 2020 calendar at home with the aid of:

• January–February: The 2014 Wondermark calendar
• March–December: Either the 2009 or 2015 Wondermark calendar

It’s Leap Day this year that throws things off.

SO, although I do not have 29 calendar pages for you, I DID manage to scrounge up ONE page – the sole remaining fragment of the otherwise-lost 2020 calendar:

Make your own 2020 calendar from past calendars! PLUS: Progressive calendar free download

It’s a patch for the end of February. Hopefully it makes sense out of context.

Here’s the link to download the patch page.

Of course, some of the holidays will be wrong if you do this, so calendronaut beware.


Each year I also make a progressive (gapless) calendar for folks to download!

Make your own 2020 calendar from past calendars! PLUS: Progressive calendar free download

And I have done so this year as well!

I found this blog post interesting – written by someone who likes the gapless calendar, but who didn’t like the weekends being grouped together at the end.

The weekends at the end can be useful for someone like me, whose schedule is sometimes built around all-weekend events.

But I do agree that if you’re used to reading Sunday-first calendars, it can be a bit disorienting.

So this year I’ve made two versions:

The blog post in question also contains a few other criticisms: the author didn’t like the shading, and thought the numbers took up too much room.

All of that is perfectly valid critique, but I’d already finished this one. Maybe next year!

Download: A Free Progressive Calendar for 2019!

Download: A Free Progressive Calendar for 2019!

I made a simple, printable wall calendar for my office! You can have it too — here’s a PDF file you can print yourself.

As you well know, I make high-end desk calendars (there are twelve copies left), but I also like having a calendar I can write on.

Those of you who’ve picked up copies of the Wondermark Calendar in any of the last seven years know about my interest in progressive calendars.

By that, I mean a calendar that doesn’t have any breaks between months. I think I invented the term? By that, I mean “nobody else has ever used this term.”

Back in 2012 I wrote all about it. The special Wondermark branded calendars, of course, address the matter with their modular card design.

But this year, I also wanted a big work calendar I could mount on the wall and write on. I like being able to see the coming weeks and months at a glance.

So I made the calendar you see here!

It’s an entire 2019 calendar (through most of February 2020, actually) that fits on six sheets of regular typing paper:

Download: A Free Progressive Calendar for 2019!

I’ve trimmed the pages so I could make columns of 3 pages each; you could arrange it a different way, if you prefer.


Download: A Free Progressive Calendar for 2019!

I tried to make it very simple and very clear, with no wasted space or ornament – so holidays and other observances are not marked.

I figure the relevant holidays will vary depending on where you live (and maybe what you do for work), so if you want to take a pass through at the outset and mark all the relevant ones to you, that will help you internalize them.

Since I also do a lot of weekend travel, I decided to group the weekend days together on the right, and start each week with Monday on the left.

Download: A Free Progressive Calendar for 2019!

I thought this might be useful to you as well, so here you go! Please feel free to print out your own! 

If it proves valuable for you, feel free to kick over a buck or two via PayPal, but no obligation as far as that goes — I hope you find it useful, and would rather you have it for free than insist on any payment!

Longtime readers know I did this once before, in 2015, and I’ve missed having one every year since.

And there will actually be one FURTHER calendar-related offering coming soon… So if the premium Wondermark desk calendar is too rich for your blood, and this is too simple and too plain, I will have a nice compromise for you, coming very shortly.


A SECRET about the last dozen comics