Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Bakkhus was a long time coming. Despite having the basics of the game thought out way back in April, it took this long for me to put all the pieces together. This game is my entry in Daniel Solis' Thousand Year Game contest, and it looks to have some tough competition!

Bakkhus itself is an abstract tile-matching game for two players...with a twist: Every tile has two sides, and the opposite side can lead to even more matches! It's the sort of idea that springs from your head — like the goddess Athena! — when you play one too many "Puzzle" video games.

The game is available in two files:

The Pieces
The Rules

Feel free to try it out with your friends (and leave a comment or two!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Font of Wisdom

If you have an even passing interest in exploring typography, it soon becomes apparent what a vast world of typefaces are out there. Serif and san serif, text and display, humanist and neoclassical, standard and pro! Even when such things had to be struck in metal and assembled by hand, it was an expansive landscape. Now with computers to streamline their production and the Internet to share them in countless ways, it’s less a landscape than a veritable universe of ascenders, apertures, and x-heights. Navigating between them in any meaningful way is usually more an exercise in happenstance than design.

But if you're carrying an iPad in your travels, you have access to a stalwart ally. FontBook, from the folks behind, features an immense, if not quite exhaustive, collection of typefaces. While the icon for the app is a disappointing effort, it belies a really imaginative and eye-catching layout. Every page is subdivided into neighborly blocks. The gridded layout is always captivating to navigate, with larger blocks indicating larger number of sub-items in that heading. At your command, the extensive catalog of fonts can organize themselves by name, foundry, year, or style. Once you've found the one you're looking for, you can add it to your favorites or click the handy link to purchase it from, where else,

While just wending your way here and there, seeing what typographic finds foster your fancy, is certainly a good a use of the program as any, I've found it immensely useful for finding specific typefaces. Narrow it down to a specific style and flick your way through the thumbnails. A sample “Rg” is displayed for every typeface, and it's amazing how useful that letter combination is for getting the essence of a font. FontBook has been an invaluable resource while designing the latest worker-placement game, The Manhattan Project, from Minion Games. It's themed after World War II propaganda posters, and the typography is an immense part of the spirit.

The app requires an internet connection to get all “620,000 typeface specimens,” though it contains half a gig of samples of the most popular faces for offline use. As of this writing, FontBook is available on the iPad App Store for $5.99

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?

With the obligatory channeling of Dean Martin behind me, I want to talk to y’all about a potential Kickstarter campaign for OVA. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Kickstarter allows creators to raise money to fund their projects. Fans pledge varied amounts of money, with higher pledges netting them increasing rewards, benefits, and goodies. If the total amount of pledges reaches a number set by the creator, the project is funded. If it falls short, no one pays a dime. It’s a low-risk way to support projects you care about without worrying if it will actually happen or not.

What I’m curious about is what sort of incentives will actually interest you enough to pledge. I’ve included a list below of ideas I had as additional bonuses to the basic “preorder the book” option. Which fill you with excitement and a prurient desire to part yourself from your money? Which instill only a tepid response?

A ranked list isn't required, but whatever time you can spend detailing your interest would be greatly appreciated. I want to gauge which of these are wanted most, and how much you would be willing to pledge to attain a given reward.

Under each item I have included a description and additional points of inquiry for discussion.

Early Access to the PDF
Self explanatory. How much earlier than its release date would you expect to see it? What would the least amount of time be to feel you’re getting something?

Signed Copy of the Book
Would personalized inscriptions increase your interest in this?

Trading Cards
Cards featuring art from the game. May also include quick reference for character stats or an extremely simple mini-game.

Limited Edition Box
A box including the book, quick-start player books, character sheets, and a set of dice.

Art Prints
Frame-able prints of artwork from the game. What size would you want to see most? Or would you like to see it poster-sized?

Wall Scroll
Artwork from the game printed on a wall scroll just like the ones you see for commercial anime.

Character Figure
A painted mini sculpture of one of the OVA characters, similar to ones common for most anime. Which character would you most want to see given this treatment?

Personalized Character Pin-Up
An illustration of your OVA character as part of a custom-designed character sheet.

Lifetime Wise Turtle Subscription
Free access to all future Wise Turtle products. Includes PDF and print versions. FOREVAH.

So? What do you think?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Come as QR

You’ve probably seen them somewhere, bizarre blocks of pixels that appear something between Conway’s Life and a Rorschach ink blot. These QR Codes actually encapsulate small bits of data encoded into their zebraic patterns of white and black. A two-dimensional barcode. While originally created in Japan — isn't everything these days? — to manage part numbers in factories, QR codes are now used for all kinds of things. The one here contains a URL link to this blog. Not strictly the most useful of applications since you are presumably already here...

The Japanese have been scanning and using these things with their futuristic cell phones for years, but then Japanese cell phones have always been a little ahead of the curve. I still remember nights spent watching Serial Experiments Lain and thinking how out-of-this-world text-messaging seemed. Good ol’ Japan.

But now that the smart phone has become nearly as ubiquitous as the cellphone itself, the potential practicality of QR codes is hard to ignore. Print advertisements are taking advantage of its ability to link to websites and products, and the recently released Little Big Planet 2 can contain data for entire player-made levels in that pixel-parqueted patch.

But the QR code could hold great potential for tabletop gaming, too. Sure, there’s the obvious uses. Codes could link to the publisher website, to up-to-date errata documents, or even to printable character sheets. But take it a step further. Table-side apps to handle character sheets and dice rolls have become regular guests at gaming groups. But what if one of these apps could not only hold an entire character sheet, but could scan another player’s? A quick wave of the iPhone and a Game Master could have up-to-date data on the entire party. While browsing the latest Monster Manual, when that Game Master sees a beastie they like, zip, a quick scan and all the essential stats are imported. Players could perform complicate dice rolls and calculations by scanning a specific location on the character sheet.

As these things tend to be, it’d be an obscure novelty at first. But in the future, we could really see true integrative gaming, with the old and the new shaking barcoded hands. Those QR codes kind of look like cool monsters anyway, right?

If you’re looking for a QR reader on your iPhone or iPod Touch, I recommend I-nigma. It’s the software that’s been featured on countless Japanese cellphones for years, and it shows they've had the practice. Of five apps I installed, it had the quickest response when presented a QR code, as well as a great set of sharing features. Tweet it, Facebook it, even recreate any code you've scanned for others to scan right off your device. If you prefer a Swiss army knife approach, RedLaser is a decent scanner of all kinds of barcodes and automatically compares prices online. Both are free.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

OVA Chapter Preview

It’s been quite a spell since I've had much in the way of news for OVA. Progress has been slow, but I'm happy to say things are finally moving along at a steady clip. We’ll see a 2011 release yet!

But I don’t want you to have to take my word for it. Just click here for a complete chapter from OVA Revised Edition.

Hopefully it’ll whet your appetite for what’s to come on this Wise Turtle Tuesday!