Friday, March 30, 2018

Playtesting Survey is now live!

With having 20 people getting the PnP game this week, and them potentially playing it over the Easter weekend, it was pretty critical to get a feedback format available for playtesters to use while the game was fresh in their minds.
I figure the more ways they can share their experience the more volume of feedback, and value of feedback, I can get to analyze and review the prototype.
Facebook, Google Forms, Website Contact link, and my general email provide any players with four easy ways to connect and share how things went for them.

Bring on the feedback!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Art and Map

Still working on finalizing a first unique Art image for the game... lots of feelers out there and some great feedback from potential artists.
Working on what costs are fair, given that I don't officially own a company yet and the game is in pre-Kickstarter mode right now.
Also developing map regions, and decided to convert to Krita instead of Inkscape for map creation as it is proving to be a MUCH easier way for drawing.
Facebook group is growing, playtesters have their files, so by the time Easter weekend comes to an end I hope to have some great information to further develop the game!

Monday, March 26, 2018

The power of Facebook Groups!

Well, last night I joined up with a few online facebook groups to throw the fishing line out for potential playtesters.
Thank you to the different closed groups who accepted me into their ranks!  I ended up joining the following:

The Dice Tower
The Board Game Group
Print and Play Gaming
Board Game Design Lab Community (my fave board game podcast)
Board Game Revolution Community
Adventure and Dungeon Crawl

I ended up placing a post in several of them showing a pic of my current game design and asking for playtesters (with a brief description of the game).  Then went to bed.

By 10am this morning there were 15 people messaging asking for a chance to try it!  That's after trying to find gamers to test it for the past two weeks on Board Game Geek site!

So I've sent the Card Page files off to them, with the Rules and some thoughts on what kind of feedback would be most helpful.  I hope they each get a chance to print and play it, enjoy it a bit, and let me know what is good, what is bad, and what is ugly!

And, since Groups seem to be so effective, I am also creating a Facebook Group for my game, just for pre-publishing feedback purposes and to help during the Kickstarter phase later on...

Hard to keep up with things when the ball starts to roll though!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ad Page

Since I am trying to get playtesters on board to try out this fun little game of mine, I thought a more eye catching image was in order.
Decided to do a mock setup of a two player game on my table, with my Dragon letter opener that I bought from a flea market about 15 years as a mascot for the display ;)
The image helps showcase the character sheets, the different card types, and a duel about to happen with two characters well equipped.
Imported the image to Google Docs and added some text imaging for the title and the basic game information.
Maybe this will entice people to want to try a Print and Play game a little more than my general comments that I have been throwing out there, who knows.
Before I made this there was one kind person who has offered to playtest the game with his friends, I believe he lives in Minnesota... Thank you Jon!  Looking forward to seeing how your PnP game turns out, and the feedback that you give back.
See below for the ad...

Art Failure #1

Well, after spending a fair chunk of my day trying to understand Krita, and attempting to sketch then color/texturize my bear, the result is a pretty sad looking card.  I am certain I could do much better work than this, however the time it will take to do this is extreme.
Finding and hiring a talented artist or two that can do better work than me, in a fraction of the time, is the only way making a game is going to work.
I will still make some attempts at equipment, but when it comes to people or animals, like this bear, I feel I am not at all qualified for such a task.
Just doing this bear image took me a total of about 3 hours of time... and it's not a card I would be proud of or willing to produce.
But it does give me even more respect for the wonderful artists that are out there.   There was a budding artist I am in contact that might be willing to create some digital creatures for me, and next month there is a contact I have made that is interested in doing some character art, so all is not lost!

See below for the bear... after the three and some hours I decided not to spend anymore time detailing, and did not bother with the background as I didn't feel the image would be used anyhow.
I do, however, love the Krita application and look forward to trying it for other images that don't require as much fur and shading as a bear does!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Art may fall into my responsibility as well... At least some of it...

So I have not mentioned in this blog yet that I do have some experience and skill in field of Art.  Back in my teenage days I would spend countless hours drawing and coloring pictures, usually based on comics or fantasy.
It is a hobby I have not developed very much, nor invested time/energy over the years.  I have discovered through the game developing process that gathering Art for cards is a little bit of a challenge, particularly at a low cost.  I appreciate that artists require funding for their skill and time, it is how they make a living after all!
It would probably be a lot easier if I had a lot of money to pay, or if I was a well known game designer, but neither of those is the case right now.
Sooo.... to get this game off the ground I am going to invest some of my personal time and energy over the coming months into drawing/coloring my own images for some of the cards.  Primarily things like creatures and items (I struggle with faces/poses when it comes to people, but I may forge into that area once I am more comfortable with digital art forms).
Years ago my wife was kind enough to give me a Wacom tablet to use for digital art.  I have only used it a few times over the past three years... now its time to put it to the test.
I have tried a few programs for digital art that I have not liked, as either the tools or interface don't seem to work for me (ie Inkscape, GIMP).  I am sure they are great for some, just not for me.  After doing some more net searches and video examples I have decided to give Krita a try, it looks like it has all the features I am looking for, with a focus on drawing tools and brushes.  I will post my first art piece on here once I am satisfied with it (this could take a day, or even a week depending on how the program works).
I also discovered a simple application called PureRef, which keeps an image of your reference pic on the screen (without having to toggle windows, etc).  Going to try that as well.
Now... what to try and make first?
I think I am going to try and make one of my favorite animal creatures from the game... Savage Bear.  The idea is to have a partial image of the bear (like a closeup) with it swiping a massive paw (which is the card's combat ability).  Will have to see how it goes.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Now Entering Facebook

Its time to try and get connected.  There is a huge pool of amazing gamers interconnected through facebook groups, now that the game is fully playtestable its time to reach out and see if anyone has the time or interest for this game.
Living in a small town makes it difficult to reach a large group of established gamers, so I will be relying on the Print and Play option, as well as the Tabletopia version I have put together.  I've reached out to the Tabletopia support contact to see if I can publish the game to the public to increase visibility, and accessibility.
The next project involves creating a few sets of the game via Gamecrafter, or another game creator, depending on costs.  Once I have a few physical copies it opens the door to reach out to LGS's that have regular board gaming sessions, to see if they have an interest in it.

The fun never ends!  Excited to see the progression and hoping to get some more feedback on the games theme, mechanics, and fairness.

The three that I have requested to join to start with are:
Calgary and Area Tabletop Gamers
Red Deer Board Game Enthusiasts
Tabletop Game Playtesters Guild

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Map of Novus

One core element to creating a fantasy game world is having an idea of how the world is shaped, where the major landmarks are, and truly making it your own magical place.  This morning I took the time to lay out all of the different cards I have created so far, and figuring out a way to map that into a world.  I took out an old scrapbook my wife had given me for a gift years ago and went to work.
See the photos for the first drawing of the world of Novus...
The next step is to layer the photo into GIMP or Inkscape and add in color details...

First Print Playtesting

Just sharing some pics of the printouts I had sent to staples, the card case I am using for the playtesting physical game, and an example of a three player game in action (at Pandora's Boox).  The staples cards printed very well, keeping in mind they have no backing and have to be played in card sleeves.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The new name...

So after a few days thinking on it, and trying to figure out a fitting name for the game after the sad finding about Heroes of Kearth that was advertised on Gamecrafter, I have discovered a name I believe is fitting for this exciting game.

Heroes: Legends of Novus

I still like the idea of the Heroes prefix as it allows a lot of potential down the road to expand upon this game world.  For example, if the game were successful and an expansion were created it could become Heroes: Lost Continent of Novus, or Heroes: Knights of Novus, etc etc.  Who knows what the future could bring.

Like anything else, this name could change between now and the final game release, but I like it right now and want to give it a try.  Novus is the latin term for New, representing the new world that the Maelstrom created on the planet.  The characters become Legends to the people of Novus when they have bravely travelled the new lands and defeated dangerous creatures along the way.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Playtesting suggestion

During playtesting one of the great things brought up was that it was timeconsuming, and sometimes difficult, to determine exactly what your characters total attack value was.  Cards had attack values printed in different areas of the cards, and not visibly apparent without reading the card.

To improve upon this I have added attack symbols on all equipment that impacts attack values, as well as changing the base character class to have a more recognizable attack symbol.  Now attack can easily be added up by checking all attack symbols on all cards.

Thanks Lesley and Shawna for the great suggestion!

See below for examples of how the cards now look much more uniform for Attack values!

Friday, March 16, 2018

MTG fun, and some Playtesting too

Today was the paper release for MTG Masters 25, a set for Magic the Gathering that features cards from all 25 years of magics history.  I've been playing the game for over 20 years, so it was a great chance to enjoy some of the most interesting cards in a casual draft format.  There were only 6 players, but the opportunity to draft and play is always enjoyable for me.
Got lucky and opened a Chalice of the Void, an $80 value card that I was wanting for my Modern deck, so that was pretty cool also.

But the highlight of the night was after the event, having the chance to playtest my game with Lesley (store co-owner) and Shawn (friend of Lesley and regular gamer there).  The two of them had some great suggestions, and through playing the game with them I was able to get a better understanding of what some of the struggles of the game could be and take notes on how to make it more fluid.

Lesley had also tested the game last Friday and kindly made some great comments and ideas.  It was great to hear that the game was fun and interesting, even if the mechanics require some work.  A big thank you to Lesley, and Pandora's Boox & Tea, for taking an interest in my game design and letting me play the game there!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Page Files completed!

My official prototype card pages are complete!  Took a while to get it all made up into a fair looking card set, and while there will definitely be further development, at least this allows me to start reaching out for potential Print & Play playtesters on Board Game Geek or other avenues.
Throughout the card making process many alterations were made to card stats and rulings, in an effort to improve on obstacles found in the first few weeks of the games development.

Now there will need to be a revamp to the rulebook as well, such as the introduction of Icons on items to identify what classes can equip certain items (this is to reduce rules text on cards and affiliate certain items with certain classes at a glance).  This was a suggestion I had heard on a podcast which I think is some solid advice for any card game.

See below for a few more card files, it is what I am referring to as Cardset A (or Alpha since it is the first official ready to print set).

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Game Name Change

Would you believe there is a card based fantasy game called Heroes of Karth... What are the chances.  I just happened to visit the Gamecrafter website today and saw their logo staring me down.  I will have to brainstorm on a new game world name, although I still want to keep the Heroes game prefix.

Oh well.  After today I was able to complete sheets for Characters, Creatures, and Encounter cards.  Seem to be on a roll now, should have them done by the end of the week and ready to print.  Its nice to get the little feelings of accomplishment as the weeks and weeks of long hours at the laptop start to come together into something concrete.
Right now I don't have an official card backing, will have to get that figured out fairly soon as well as it is the most seen image in a card based game.  It needs to look appealing, but have meaning to the game in some way.

Here's a few card sheet examples...  Note that some of the art is not copyright free, so it would not be used for commercial use for final prints, just for playtesting purposes.

Ready for First Alpha Print

After some long nights (and long mornings) I think its time to print the actual cards I made (instead of playing with the MSE cards I made in February).  The plan for the next phase of physical game testing is to print a batch at staples, do physical playtesting for a week or so, and do digital playtesting if anyone is willing via the Tabletopia file I had made.
After that, a few last minute changes can be done to stats and abilities, then I plan to send playtesting files to GameSmiths, a group of gamers down South who will test out the game for a small fee and provide video and feedback on the gameplay and performance.
I know that the game needs work, and it might be a bit early to try that, but I would rather get mechanic/power level info from some hardcore gamers early on in the process instead of after its too late.
Their playtest date is for April 10th, and I have to get the game to them by April 2nd, so the time crunch is on to make that happen.  Looking forward to it though, it can only make the game better...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tabletopia continues

Many, many, many hours later I have been able to complete the basic template of my game into digital card format on Inkscape/PNGs.
As I have progressed I tied it all into Tabletopia to show the images and test card drawing and other functions.  Being new to the application, this is very painful to develop both physically on the screen and mentally trying to stay engaged in making it come to life.
Often I have ideas in my head on how it should work out, but as I try to integrate the cards/sizes it doesn't pan out the same.  I refuse to give up though, based on my initial "Playroom" views I think this online playtest method can do wonders for the development of the game that I would not be able to experience in real life, in a small town with limited playtesting time with real people.

Attached is a screenshot of an example character with items equipped about to battle a Giant Spider.  Disregard my "Hand" as the draw a card function seems glitchy so I need to find some tech support to correct that.

Looking forward to my first playtesting session, hopefully on Wednesday sometime!

Sunday, March 11, 2018


In reviewing Game Board Geek, online resources, podcasts, and even a peer of my wife's who happens to be into board games, I came across a repetitive game reference that finally peaked my interest...
It's a pretty cool online board game site (accessed through Steam for me).  Not only can you play over 500 board games absolutely FREE, but if you can figure out the fairly straight forward game building mechanics you can build your board game digitally!
To do so you need images and text to communicate what is happening in the game, but luckily for me everything I have been doing thus far is on SVG/PNG file saving, and the site allows for full PNG integration.
This means every card I have designed so far I can visualize in the game creator, and practice playtesting it online instead of just physically.
This will go a long way in testing alone (as shuffling/dealing/etc is pretty lame when you are alone).  It is also much faster to go back to the original SVG file, make some edits, save as PNG, then repost into the game with the adjustments and see how they work.
When it comes to card games, and attack/GP/XP values, it is difficult to determine what is fair, what is lame, and what is way too powerful.  Playtesting solves that, for the most part.  I don't think I could find a better way to start playtesting the game than this.
I discovered its potential yesterday, then today I put in about 3 hours fiddling around with it, then uploading cards into it.
I think I can probably get an ALPHA version of the game ready to play online (private mode only) by the end of day Wednesday.  Then I can see how this plays out visually in a 4 player setting as well...

Hope it pans out as well as I am making it out to be.... guess we will know in a few days!

A New Adventure

On my drive to Calgary for a meeting this week my eyes were drawn to the mountain range visible in the distance, as they always are when the skies are clear and the weather permits.  I was thinking about how the game was progressing, and what might be missing to help add to its Quality without making it too complex.
My good friend John had mentioned to me a few weeks ago that integrating story into the game would help make it more unique, and draw players into the world I've been creating.  This opened my mind to think of changing Encounter cards from being just a card with crossed swords on it, indicating a battle, to being something else entirely.
The Adventure cards are called such due to the idea that the players/characters are travelling through the world of Kearth to hunt down the creatures that have been ravaging the land and the people.  The idea to turn Encounters into locations where encounters occur helped cross the bridge between the mechanic and the story, without adding extra cards into the game (as there were already enough planned).
So now, in addition to everything else that is planned to create the game, all of the encounter cards will be altered to show different landscapes across the world.  In some cases there will be effects on Creatures, on Classes, or more generic effects to help identify with the unique lands and how they are traversed or faced.  There will still be several base encounters, and on those the lands will just be a visual representation of where the encounter takes place without any special changes.

Hopefully future game players will enjoy this aspect of the game, as it allows me to share insights into the world that would not otherwise be possible without a supplementary storybook or new set of cards.

See some examples below...

Saturday, March 10, 2018


     Staying motivated, whether it is your job, your hobby, or other parts of your life, can be a challenge.  Undertaking the challenge of creating my own tabletop game is no exception.  It is very fun and exciting to try and put this together, from a thought and a concept, then to words on paper, then to images scoured from the internet, and then to designs and developed mechanics.
Each layer of advancement requires planning, time, energy, and the awareness that anything you spend time creating may just get set aside or discarded if it doesn't work or too many people/playtesters don't like it.
     I see a ton of potential in this game, but even knowing that, there is a possibility that at some point the task of putting it together may at some point feel overwhelming and not worth the effort to finish.  I don't want this to be a project I quit and leave in a drawer or saved on a jump drive (I've done so with a few book ideas and a comic concept...).  I fully intend to see this game through to a published completion, even if I only publish enough games for a Kickstarter group, it will be something.
     In order to do that I need to make sure I stay motivated in its completion, and within a reasonable timeframe.  If there is one thing I have learned in my many years of retail leadership, it is that consistent success is not a result of wishing and hoping for things to happen, it is through planning and through daily commitments to making things happen.
     A book I picked up recently, from a random perusal through Chapters, helps highlight some great points about motivation, work, hobbies, and life in general.  I am only halfway through it at this point, but I would already recommend it to anyone that has aspirations for more than an hourly/salary job in their life.  This doesn't mean that job isn't important, but that you want to achieve more than just one thing in your life and career.
     The above paragraphs are just some thoughts going through my head at the moment, but I do recommend you check out the book if you plan to pursue a game development of your own, or writing a novel, or starting a business, or anything beyond your basic job that you want to excel and succeed in.

The Motivation Myth - Jeff Haden

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Feedback Matters, How will I get it?

If there is one thing I hear and read about more than anything in Articles and Podcasts, it is that player feedback matters.  Playtesting matters.  Playtesting generates feedback, some very tough criticism, some great positive notes, but no matter what it is, it's important.
I want to know what people feel about the game, from right now in its very early creation period, to the time it hits its Kickstarter launch, all through production, and after its fully printed and completed.

I figure the best way to do that is to encourage people to playtest it, and give them a channel through which to provide that feedback.  I plan to do this in a few ways...
  • Verbal Feedback, taking it right from the players mouths (when I get a chance for face to face playtesting with them).  This includes family/friends, but more important is when it comes from experienced gamers that are strangers, and from blind playtesting.
  • Website Comments and Emails.  A thank you card will be given to anyone playtesting the game, which invites them to email me and visit the website I am developing for the game.
  • Game Surveys... as I get emails I hope to create surveys on Google to ask some basic questions about the gameplay, visuals, mechanics, etc to see what the general results are.  The data it creates is easy to analyze, to see how the majority of players feel about the questions.
It all starts on Friday with the games first Blind Playtest at my local game store, Pandora's Boox & Tea.  Its a great little book and game store / tea and coffee shop located in Olds, Alberta, Canada.  I have spent many a Friday night there, and played in a few of their PreRelease MTG events, always a good time.

Below is the Thank You card that will be in with the game...

How Much Time

Had some time to invest in building the game today and last night, now I'm trying to think of how much time I have invested in this game so far...
I began on Feb 16th after my board game night sparked an idea... and every night since then I have been at my laptop working on designs for at least 2 hours per night, then some extra time spent if a I have a morning off work or a day off without distractions.
So I guess I would estimate the time invested right now (not including playing the game with my son) at about 36 complete hours now.
That may not sound like a lot, but it does feel that way since it is over the span of 18 days.

It has been mentally fulfilling so far, watching different pieces come together and evolve.  I am nowhere near a finished product, but I think I am closing in on prototype professional printing for over half of the game now.

The next big challenge is creating the Adventure / Event deck (not certain which I want it to be called yet).  That will be another 60 to 80 cards to put together.  Those ones are more challenging for Art as well, will have to be careful and selective of the art used for now, and maybe even decide to have some events with no art...

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

8 card printing template

I never realized pasting PDFs from Inkscape/Gimp would be so frustrating.  After a few wasted blotches of printer ink I believe I now have a proper template size to create printing pages with.
The plan for now is to get every card created in the new format, saved/exported as a PDF, then put together enough pages to represent off of the card.  

Its getting more exciting each day to see closer to finished product to work and play with!

Monday, March 5, 2018

CreatureFile Completed

The Prototype creature card files are now complete, exciting to be able to print my own card creations instead of Magic Set Editor template cards.  It takes eons longer to do this, but it makes the playing cards my own creation and adds to authenticity and playtesters feedback in regards to how the cards look/interact (as opposed to the generic MTG cards).

See below for the first 9card sheet, and after cutting them.  Another small milestone ;)

Art Responses!!

After several messages, notes, and emails it looks like there may be some artists out there willing to provide some images/art for the prototype game!
This is truly exciting as it will help incorporate a unique look to certain cards while helping showcase those artists talents for future projects.
My hope is that when the game is launched in a formal manner I can support any contributing artists by purchasing some of their work for the finished game.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Art of the Game

Finding enough free images that match the theme and vibe of my game is currently the greatest obstacle.  I don't have the time or ability to draw the ideas I have, but the free image stock files are quite limited in scope.

To make creatures a bit easier I am going to try and stick with Black and White drawing type images only.
For events I will have to try to get as close as I can with an image, then make it very clear in whatever game promotion I do that the art requires funding to get better.

This being my first game attempt, I hope to learn from this experience as it progresses.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Event Cards

Similar to the last post, except for Event cards this time.

Creature Card design

Tonight I decided to spend some time designing Creature card templates.  I am not sure if what I made is what I truly want, but it does give me something to work with as I generate the Creature cards later on in development.
I wanted to get each card type to have a base design so that all images that are posted to my website are genuinely made by me and have actually free to use art.
Here are a few examples, using very basic free art found on the web....

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Finding the right card template

Trying to find a perfect design template is like trying to find the right way to sit on a bicycle with the seat missing... I don't think anything will feel comfortable.  But I am trying to find something generally visually appealing that works with the theme and concepts of the game.
Tonight I was able to remove my elementary art background and replace with some textured imaging to help highlight the cards a bit.  Not sure if that's the best idea, but it does stand out a bit more than what I had before.
Attached are some before/after pics to compare.  If I do decide to stick with the new design it means going back and reformatting everything I've already done, but I guess that's part of the fun isn't it!