Showing posts from October, 2010

Happy Halloween from 3rdº!

You know, despite "Art Director" being the first thing on this blog's description, I spend very little time talking about my day job. Mostly that's because ongoing projects are usually supa-secret, but half the fun of working at Third Degree is the culture. For example, Halloween. We try to go all out each year's themed costumes. Previous themes were Post-Apocalypse and Mad Men . This year, we went old school. Classic pre-1970s movie monsters. That's my boss. She's so dramatic. Brett's the suffocating man. :P Can I get a hand over here? See more in the Flickr set . » Third Degree » Third Degree Creative Blog

Design Diary: "New" starts, but does not finish. [Part 3]

Spoiler: I didn't end up using Mark's idea in Do , as awesome as it was. Here are some reasons why, completely unrelated to the quality of the idea itself. Explain your rules better before changing them. It takes some experience before you can recognize the difference between a poorly designed rule and a poorly explained rule. Assuming you do know the difference, be aware of the temptation to add new rules to fix a perceived bug. It could be fixed just as easily by offering strategy or style advice as a non-instructional sidebar. That is what I ended up doing in Do . Instead of adding the new rules for stone usage and naming, I just asked my players for their advice and tips on picking good names. Stick to your goal. This is probably one I'm most guilty of breaking and why Do has taken such a long time to finish. I started with a loose desire to emulate some aspects of Avatar: The Last Airbender . Gradually that morphed into a number of different goals for the game,

[Belle of the Ball] Seeking Artists

I plan on building a prototype of Belle of the Ball . I seek artists with a skill at clean, cel animation-style cartoon character designs. (Think Guillotine and Wok Star .) If you're interested, email me a a link to your portfolio at Here are the specs for the job: * Head-and-shoulder portraits of quasi-victorian nobles * File Specs: Black and white line art * Dimensions: 1" square * Because of the small size, each portrait should have a simple, strong features. * I'll handle the coloring and post-production, so no shading is necessary. Once again, that email is Hope to hear from you soon. :) UPDATE: The artists have been found! Congratulations to Mori McLamb and Liz Hooper.

Design Diary: "New" starts, but does not finish. [Part 2]

( Previously ) Mark Sherry suggested a really interesting idea that would solve a small problem in Do . I had some apprehensions, for a few reasons. Firstly, and probably most important, we're really late in the development process here. Ryan's already edited the first round of drafts and we are pushing towards and end-of-year deadline to get the text finalized. That isn't even counting how long the game has been informally developing over the years. (Long enough that I had deep concerns about Do being perceived as vaporware.) Secondly, this solution would call for me to double a portion of the writing workload. My goal is to write one page for each step of play. That is a fairly straightforward model. Write a simple instruction for that step. Give an example of that step. Offer advice and inspiration for that step in the sidebars. The only place where that model breaks is that one step in particular has a number of branching paths. The first branch is whether your

Design Diary: "New" starts, but does not finish. [Part 1]

Had a funny little moment yesterday. Might be useful to elaborate a bit as a part of a larger discussion of game design specifically and getting things done in general. I am writing the next draft of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple based on edits from Ryan Macklin. As a part of this process, I built up a lot of new Actual Play reports by playing several concurrent games on Skype. Since then, I've also kept in contact with those players asking for any advice that might make it into sidebars or addenda of the published game. It was in that discussion that Mark Sherry, he of the genius mathematical brain that has helped me through many hair-brained game ideas, came up with a new idea for Do 's procedure. Some background. In the present rules, an overview of which you can see here, the color of stones you keep does not have an affect in the short term. Only the number of stones you keep matters. The color has an impact at the end of the game and at the end of a series of g

Quantum of Solis 2010

I'll be working in Durham, NC the first week of November. There are a lot of folks in the Durham area who I'd like to hang out with. This is a fortunate coincidence! On Friday, November 5, let's all get a big table at Tyler's Taproom at around 7pm. We'll have some food, drinks, laughs and maybe some gaming if we're not too beat. Comment if you can make it. Hope to see you there!

Women's T-Shirts for "Happy Birthday, Robot!"

By request from Jenn Wong, here are some t-shirts for ladies who love ninja pandas, robots, puppies, aliens and/or small birds. (Jenn loves them all.) » Women's V-Neck T-Shirt » Organic Women's Fitted T-Shirt » Original illustration by Rin Aiello

Rob Donoghue on Split Decision and Rich Dice

Rob Donoghue lays out his throbbing brainmeats for Split Decision . Check it out for his thoughts on why narration should follow dice rolls with a system like this, the ways it can map to Paul Tevis' discussion of "but," and the important lessons of Gerald Cameron's Principles of Dice Games. ...if the dice chosen reflect behavior and that behavior is not reflected in the narration then you can end up with situations where the fiction has you saving kittens but the dice say you're showing a callous disregard for all life. If making the choice in the dice means making a choice in the fiction, then the fiction needs time to reflect it. All this and more at the links below. » Rob Donoghue: Rich Dice Extravaganza » Paul Tevis: Insert your own "but" joke here » Gerald Cameron: Four Principles of Dice Game Design

Split Decision

Split Decision is a method of creating temptation and dilemmas in your role-playing games and story games. » Original lab notes » Many thanks to folks on my Twitter feed for your great ideas! » Translated into Spanish Split Decision models two mutually opposing forces tempting a protagonist. Those forces might be cosmic (light and dark), moral (good and evil), romantic (Betty and Veronica), or personal ("Loyalty to My King" and "Love of My Family"). Additionally, Split Decision works best if you agree to an end state for whatever character you're playing. At some point, he becomes irreversibly "light," devotes himself to "evil," chooses to marry "Veronica," or prioritizes "Love of My Family." After that point, the character is retired, meaning that each short-term decision has real, lasting impact in that character's story. Stuff You Need Two red dice Two blue dice A pencil and paper How to Play Ste

Marain Script around the tubes

Marain Script was featured on the homepage of and on this MetaFilter post! Awesome. There is lots of great feedback from the Iain Banks forum on this thread , too. Thanks for sharing it, folks!

[Lab] 4d6. 2 blue, 2 red. Keep 2d6. RR, RB, BB matters.

Here's an idea I tweeted that seemed to catch a lot of interest: Idea: 4d6, 2 red, 2 blue. Roll all four, keep two. Short-term: 2-12 result. Long-term effects for choosing RR, RB, or BB. And that quickly drew a flurry of responses, which I'll gather here for future reference if I use this system for something.

Free Painted Mural Textures

My wife says these look like the Martian skies in an old pulp paperback cover. Just one idea for how you can use these high-res textures in your projects. » Download: Free texture set on Flickr » Released under Creative Commons attribution 2.0 generic license .

[Do] Editing Begins (Open Thread)

Got Ryan Macklin's high-level edits for Chapter 1 of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . Thus begins the process of shaping the slippery text into something firm. Once I come back with a revised draft, plus the new Actual Play chapter, Ryan'll do the deep edits. We still see the end of 2010 as our goal for the final text. Got any questions about Do and how it's developing?

Pebble Rebel is out of the lab!

I'm happy to announce that Pebble Rebel is out of the lab. Pebble Rebel is a two-player strategy game where each player has very different goals, but still get in each other's way. Check it out here . » Official rules for Pebble Rebel

[Do] Monday Night Group - Episode 2

This is a story created by playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . » Previously, Episode 1 The Pilgrims Pilgrim Clumsy Glass gets in trouble by stepping on things and helps people by thinking clearly. (Jenn) World Destiny: 2 Temple Destiny: 2 Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie gets in trouble by talking too much, and helps people using his wide variety of baked goods. (Mark) World Destiny: 1 Temple Destiny: 3 Pilgrim Bouncing Boot gets in trouble by being knocked around a lot and helps people with his indestructible boots. (Daniel) World Destiny: 2 Temple Destiny: 2 The Letter " Excessive Elves " by Peter Aronson The Story Pilgrim Clumsy Glass listens to the elves signing incomplete songs and helps them figure out a beautiful melody. Pilgrim Clumsy Glass steps on the elves' toes during a solo, accidentally creating an even more catchy and annoying ear worm. Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie stuffs a scone in Pilgrim Clumsy Glass's mouth before she can reach

[Do] Saturday Night Group - Episode 2

This is a story created by playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . » Previously, Episode 2 The Pilgrims Pilgrim Delicious Shirt gets in trouble because he looks like food and helps people by drawing away danger. (Daniel) World Destiny: 2 Temple Destiny: 2 Pilgrim Marvelous Candy gets in trouble by overdoing things and helps people by baking treats. (Raven) World Destiny: 0 Temple Destiny: 2 Pilgrim Reckless Brick gets into trouble because he can't control where he's going and helps people by building stronger relationships. (Matt) World Destiny: 2 Temple Destiny: 1 The Letter " Is It Safe To Allow Cabbages On Roller Coasters? " by Peter Aronson The Story Pilgrim Marvelous Candy flies down after Reckless Brick and throws him to safety, revealing a casserole he has just baked as a peace offering to the Coleslaw Front. Unfortunately, the talking Sky Cabbages are outraged at Pilgrim Marvelous Candy and his casserole! "Why, there might be rela

Jeff Tidball features Happy Birthday, Robot!

Holy cow, Jeff Tidball just featured three storytelling games on the Buffalo GameBuffs Blog: Once Upon a Time , The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Happy Birthday, Robot! All three of these games are critical successes, first and foremost, because they preserve the best features of both stories and games—the emotional hooks of stories and the intellectual creativity of games—rather than fighting against or discarding either. Considering that Jeff calls Once Upon a Time the best storytelling game of all time, this is some auspicious company for a game less than a year in print. Neat! Thanks, Jeff! » Buffalo GameBuffs Blog : Three Fantastic and Delicious Story Games » Jeff Tidball and Will Hindmarch write GamePlayWright » Once Upon a Time , Baron Munchausen and Happy Birthday, Robot!

The Leftovers in "The Pit"

Here's a new map for The Leftovers ! The Pit is a relatively easy dungeon to get through in that it's small. However, that means the danger words and items are packed in tighter together, so it'll take a deft wit to work them into halfway coherent sentences. Test the limits of your olfactory senses against The Pit! » Download: The Leftovers in "The Pit"

[Do] Sunday Afternoon Group - Episode 2

This is a story created by playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . » Previously, Episode 1 The Pilgrims Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook gets into trouble by overestimating his abilities and helps people by knowing about the plants and animals. (Written by Anders) World Destiny: 2 Temple Destiny: 5 Pilgrim Clumsy Bell gets into trouble by being clumsy and helps people by warning them of danger. (Written by Daniel) World Destiny: 5 Temple Destiny: 1 Pilgrim Fancy Voice gets in trouble by being too elaborate and helps people by talking. (Written by Nolan) World Destiny: 1 Temple Destiny: 4 Pilgrim Strong Willow gets in trouble by rushing into tasks and helps people by building compromise and consensus. (Written by Shane) World Destiny: 0 Temple Destiny: 0 The Letter " Spun of Crystal and Gold " by Sophie Lagacé The Story Upon arrival at Greymist Estate, Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook asks to examine Grandfather Greymist, hoping to know some herbal remedy for h