Friday, September 20, 2013

Free iOS Maximum Throwdown Scorekeeper

If you are playing Maximum Throwdown this weekend (or any time that is) AND you have an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), make sure you download the free Maximum Throwdown Scorekeeper app! It's a quick and easy way to keep score and keep the table clear.

My phone has been my preferred method of keeping score since I made the original javascript scorekeeper a few months ago. That one is still available for those without an iOS device, but it's the old prototype characters, requires an internet connection, and is as wonky as it gets. 

Check out the Maximum Throwdown Scorekeeper at the iTunes app store, and if you're up for it give it a rating too! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This weekend in Minneapolis, MN

My good friend and Storyteller Cards artist, Campbell Whyte, is making the long trek from Australia for an all-night comic jam workshop at Light Grey Art Labs. This is in connection with their Nights & Weekends exhibition of his 8-Bit Dreams series.

The 8-Bit Dreams series is the entire reason I wanted Campbell involved in Storyteller Cards. He's bringing hundreds of the little NES inspired illustrations and you can leave with one (but not Megaman 2, DuckTales, Blades of Steel, Dr. Mario, Arch Rivals, Adventure Island or Bionic Commando.. because I already own them!). You can also stay up all night and draw pictures with him. I'm both sad and jealous that I can't make it out to this event, but hopefully you can.

Full details here and below:

All-Night with Campbell Whyte : Comic Jam!
SATURDAY Sept 21 -to- SUNDAY Sept 22
9pm - 5am
at Light Grey Art Lab

Join guest artist Campbell Whyte for an incredible ALL-NIGHT comic making session!
Campbell has flown all the way to Minneapolis from the great land of Australia to participate as our featured artist in the Nights & Weekends Exhibition!

Campbell is a prolific illustrator/ comic artist that has created amazing projects such as his 8-bit Dreams series, his Home Time comic and many more!
Check out his work here:

Get ready to make comics, learn all about Campbell's projects and process and be inspired! Part workshop and part challenge, All-Night wth Campbell Whyte : Comic Jam will challenge participants to make a complete 8 page mini comic, discuss, and finally print copies of their very own stories! We'll be making a late-night run to xerox our work, have time to fold & format, and participants will walk away with a big assortment of mini comics made by everyone involved!


9 - 10pm Meet Campbell & his practice! Campbell will be showing his work, talking about his process and sharing stories with us about his 8-bit dreams series, Home Time (his comic) and his other endeavors.
10 - 11pm Participate in some technique demos, creative challenges and awesome conversation about comic-making as we head into the prompt for the night!
11pm - 3am Make work alongside Campbell, the Light Grey Team and all of your new art friends! We'll be drawing, story-telling and getting down to business.
3am Late-night photo-copying run!
3:30 - 5am - assembling, reading, sharing and talking comics!

There will be unlimited tea and coffee throughout the night and plenty of great conversation!
Hope you can join us!

We have limited spots available for participants so grab them while you can! The workshop is non-refundable, so please let us know if you have any questions before you purchase!

In the spirit of bonding and spending time with great people, we are offering a discount for people bringing a friend! Just choose the option below. Entry for one is $20, and Entry for two is $36 (Just $18 each)

**Please bring your black and white art-making supplies. Ink or black and white watercolors are suggested if you would like to participate in Campbell's demo. Feel free to bring any other supplies (No oils, spray-paint or materials that require a lot of ventilation) Drawing paper will be provided (Feel free to bring your own if you like to work on something special!) and copies of the comics are included in the ticket of the workshop!

To learn more about Campbell Whyte. take a peek at his website :

Monday, September 16, 2013

Looking Back At Where I Was 5 Years Ago...

Today I wanted to take a look back to 5 years ago and where I was with game design in late 2008. I'd like to say that things have changed quite a bit, but I'm not so sure. My goals and methods have definitely changed, but the quirkiness of my games has not drifted. Now I have the 16-bit President, and back then there was Business Casual Bear. I'd like to think they would probably cross paths at some point. In a meeting... or at the coffee machine, I'm sure.

One of the first games I ever even considered making was Magic Gone Mad… a quirky/silly trading card game that was based on a set of videos that me, my brother (George), and my brother-in-law (Marty) made. But before I talk about the card game, I need to set the tone with the videos.

We made a series of 3 videos, each of which were less than 30 seconds each. I owned a decent video camera (Sony DCR-VX2100 represent!) and we had nothing better to do, so we sat down with no script and started recording.

After a few months we had three videos that we thought were hilarious. In fact, we still do. I have no clue if anyone else will find them entertaining at all. It really didn't matter because we had a blast making them. But at the time, I was both naive enough to think that everyone else would find it as funny as we did, and crazy enough to think that making a Collectible Card Game based off of a micro-series of YouTube videos was a good idea. We had dozens of views! If each person who watched the video bought a pack of cards we would be… 


But still, that naivety led to creativity, which is never a bad thing. Together, the three of us came up with a (semi)-functioning card game based off of this weirdo universe that we created. 

We focused more on collectibility than the actual gameplay, but it paved the way for a few things for me. 

1) It gave me my first experience with short run printing.  
We ordered 10 promo sets of 9 cards from Guild of Blades, who I think was one of the first Print-On-Demand card printers. You could order a minimum of 10 sets, and you could also offer it for sale on their website. This game didn't end up for sale there, but the very first edition of Pixel Lincoln did. Messing around with Magic Gone Mad led my curiosity right into the trials and errors of the original Pixel Lincoln, which led to everything I'm doing today.

2) It knocked out the thought of CCG's very early on.  
We were looking at printing this in a VERY short run (100 boosters), just for local conventions. But as everyone knows, that isn't how a CCG works. There are better formats for release, and without a lot of money to risk, a huge following, and a TV show companion, the CCG model isn't practical. 

We didn't know any better at the time, but even with our CCG naiveté it was going to be a huge undertaking, and eventually fell flat.

3) It helped me get into card layout.
I love good card layout, and I still stand by this as "wow, not that bad". Things are clean and clear and I think that is most important. Placement is second most and a little odd, but it still worked. It worked better than the game did! 

But it really pushed me to assume the role of graphic designer, whether it's at prototype level (Maximum Throwdown and many others) or release level (Pixel Lincoln). It's a skill that's very necessary as a game designer and I'm glad I jumped right into it. Note: You don't have to be a great graphic designer as a designer, but it's very important to be comfortable enough to make prototypes on your own. Even the ugly ones count.

It's funny that this experience helped with publishing and graphic design, but nothing with actual game design. I will make sure to dig into the old notes one of these days and see how weird/bad it really was. But it is interesting that everything was geared toward publishing or self-publishing back then. I have yet to fully shake that mindset, no matter how insane it may be. 

So, looking back, I was crazy back then (short run CCG!) and I still have a little of the crazy in me (still pushing the publisher side!). The big difference now is that I know I'm crazy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Congress of Gamers & Breaking My Own Rule

Around this time last year, I took ZombieZone down to the Congress of Gamers in Rockville, MD. It was a collection/gathering of people playing games in a huge senior center about 3 hours from my house. There was some organized play, but I went for the Unpub Protozone. Basically, it's a room for designers to test out their projects with other designers and gamers. Definitely worth a 3 hour drive.

Now I went on a Sunday, which is against all of my convention rules. And although I wouldn't really call it a convention (as there was 1-2 vendors and it was generally a really quiet setting), the rule still applies.

My Cardinal Convention Rule: Avoid Sundays at all costs. Why? Basically, the spark is gone. By Sunday everyone is heading out, packing up, tired, broke, and done with it all. I even booked a 6AM Sunday flight out of Gen Con this year just to leave on the wave of Saturday night (which ended beautifully with a huge 20 person dinner at Buca Di Beppo. Sunday wasn't going to beat that). So yes, Sunday is a big no-no for me. 

I went to Congress of Gamers on a Sunday last year because my Saturday was booked solid, and it looks like it's going to be the same for me this year. Sunday wasn't bad though. Although it was quiet in there, it was a focused group of designers (as well as gamers) and I made a lot of progress with my intentions for ZombieZone, broke some of my blind testing fears and made a few new friends. Someone who played even went home and bought a copy that night, so I can't be too down about it. 

This year, following tradition I'll be going on Sunday again (September 29th). Saturday is jam-packed here and won't work out. I would almost skip the event altogether (See the above rule), but Darrell Louder called me out on the most recent State of Games podcast saying something like "I'm sure Tagmire will be at Congress of Gamers". I took this as a challenge. Not just to be there like Darrell said, but instead to be there with a brand new game to test out. 

I have a few things in the works that need serious nurturing and locking myself in to the event is a sure way to force myself to press forward. I will also be locking myself in a room to finish these games... 

And it's not like I've been doing nothing either. I've been knee-deep in Storyteller Cards as they just hit production, neck-deep in Pixel Lincoln as I'm finalizing the next expansions, and underwater with Pigpen pre-production prep with Island Officials. It's time to take a breather and work on my favorite part... designing games!

So here is what to possibly expect at Congress of Gamers from me:

-A game about getting a judge sick to win a court case.
-A dexterity based space battle micro game.
-A huge inverted dungeon crawler.
-A 60 second game of frantic survival.

One of these will make it there no matter how ugly it may be. I'll probably have some new Pixel Lincoln stuff on hand as well.

Hope to see you there! Don't have too much fun on Saturday without me, and try to save some of that Saturday buzz for when I get there bright and early Sunday morning. Yikes. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pixel Lincoln at the 2013 Philly Geek Awards

It's been a few weeks and the Philadelphia Geek Awards came and went, but I never got to talk about it. I was away at Gen Con and didn't get to attend the event, and I heard I really missed out. While Gen Con was the best (and craziest) 4 days in gaming. This was a full-on, black tie, red carpet event at one of my favorite Philadelphia museums, the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Not only was it a really cool event in my home city (I'm right across the bridge in the South Jersey Philly suburbs), Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game was nominated as Indie Game of the Year.

The choice of being there to support the convention release of my game at Gen Con vs. being there to support my game at the Philly Geek Awards was a tough one. Luckily, I was able to get the best of both worlds by heading to Gen Con and having George Tagmire (my brother / Pixel Lincoln video game designer), and Ryan Harbinson (Island Officials co-owner) attend on behalf of the game. They got all fancied up and hung out with dinosaur bones and local geeks.

So, Pixel Lincoln didn't win the award, but I can't express how much of an honor it was to even be involved with such an event. And the same honor being alongside of the insanely successful Velociraptor Cannibalism by my friends at Board Raptor Games and Greg Lobanov's (now) award-winning digital puzzle game Perfection. Perfection makes my brain burn in the same way that Super Hexagon makes my eyes bleed. It's very creative and deserves every bit of its praise.

Congrats to the winner Greg Lobanov and nominee Board Raptor Games, and big thanks to Geekadelphia for everything they do. I'm not sure if I can out-geek Pixel Lincoln, but I'll keep pushing forward!