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Paper Treehouse - July 1st, 2009

Hello party people,

A few weeks ago I decided to try my hand at designing a board game, inspired by Brenda Braithwaite and Ian Schreiber’s book Challenges for Game Designers. The lovely Sande Chen then invited me to write about the process here at her blog, Game Design Aspect of the Month. It’s a game about building treehouses in a post-apocalyptic city, which hopefully will make the following images a bit more sensical.

The game’s tileset, tokens, and characters. I had originally wanted to incorporate character-specific bonuses, but they ended up making the game too unbalanced.

Edit: By popular request (and because I can’t say no to Jason Rohrer : ), here are

Specs: 2-4 players, turn-based gameplay, playing time 20-30 minutes

Objective: earn the most victory points by building treehouses

Setup: Shuffle the 56 game tiles and place them facedown in a 7 x 8 grid. Players may choose which edge tile to start the game from when their turn comes.

1) At the start of the game, players select one of four female avatars. Play proceeds in a clockwise manner, highest roll goes first.

2) Each player has three “movement points” at the start of his or her turn. Each action in the game costs a certain number of movement points. To turn over a tile and move there costs one movement point (Note: players must move to the tile they turn over). To search a building costs two movement points. Building a treehouse costs three movement points.

3) Players may only move to adjacent tiles (no diagonal movement). They can also travel over tiles that have already been overturned; moving one tile costs one movement point.

4) Treehouses cost five wood to build. Players collect wood by searching buildings, and a die roll determines how much wood is found. Buildings may only be searched once, and they can be searched from the ground level or from the rooftop.

5) Treehouses built on ground-level trees are worth one “victory point,” while those built on trees on top of buildings are worth two victory points.

6) To climb up to a rooftop, players must first move to a “ruins” tile, which acts as a staircase. To climb down from the top of the building, players must return to the ruins tile. If two buildings are adjacent to one another, players may travel from rooftop to rooftop. However, players cannot search adjacent tiles from a rooftop, and must return to the ground first. Note: not all rooftops will be accessible, as ruins tiles are distributed randomly.

7) Certain tiles have special meaning, as illustrated above.

8) The game is over when the last tile is overturned, and the player with the most victory points wins.

Get ready for pictures of the game in action!


The illustrious newton64 considers his next move.


Me and Freckle chart a course to victory.


Funfact: that “Beer Doctor 1979″ pin in the background is actually from 1979. Props, newton.


Twee and Spider in an epic battle royale to the death.


Overturned tokens denote searched buildings. Eventually we switched those out for coins, which held down the tiles. Also, there’s an OCD bonus: the treehouse tokens actually align with the tree art.


Pradeep watches anxiously as I go mad with power.

If you’re feeling bored, or feeling like celebrating Canada Day by cutting out a bunch of little paper shapes, a pdf of the game is available here. If you happen to play it, don’t hesitate to let me know what you thought, party people.

Diddy Ever - June 11th, 2009

New comic! It was inspired by a true story, in some sense of the word “inspired.”

Incidentally, I always try to walk into a bar with a blonde and a brunette.

Hard-hitting Journalism - January 9th, 2009

Hey look! Anthony Carboni used his magic salmon-coloured shirt powers and talked me into doing a column for Bytejacker.

Someone, seriously, steal that thing off him. It’s too powerful.

I missed my chance.

Bytejacker Bought Me Dinner - November 19th, 2008

Hey, look! Me, Francisco, and Dave are on internet TV! If you prefer not to leave the comforting blue and green glow of my website, here’s the embedded version:

In this episode, we each picked a favourite free indie game and discussed it in the basement of an Italian restaurant. I thought take-out Chinese on the roof of Anthony’s apartment would have been more “indie”, but I’m not one to argue with free gnocchi.

Make sure you check out Thursday’s show, where the three of us get to talking about our own game projects. I’ve asked Anthony and his crew to edit the film to make us look witty, but I’m not sure that technology exists yet. Worst comes to worst, he can just put together a slideshow of all of us trying on his pink salmon-coloured hoodie.

And now, I’m off to get psyched up for Gamma 3D. Those of you in Montreal, come out to the SAT tonight and get ready for indie game overload—in 3D!

We look so real.

Boredom + Nerddom = Fandom - June 13th, 2008

I only wore these once…to a comic shop. Photobucket















Since 98.2% of you are new visitors, this might be a good time to mention that I’m also an indie games developer, and I’ve got a new freeware adventure game coming out in the next week or so. It’s called “Nanobots” and it’s about puzzle-solving robots. Y’all come back now, y’hear? Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Diorama-Rama - November 6th, 2007

Sit back and be amazed by the following:


QUESTS CHESS! Made by BioJ, one of my readers/personal heroes.

Edit: You may also know him from the Adventure Gamers forums as “The Mutajon.”

Here are the good guys:


And the forces of evil:


All painstakingly rendered in Fimo clay. Speaking as someone who wasted their childhood both playing adventure games and making tiny things out of clay, I totally wish I’d thought of this. Instead I just put my talent to use making dioramas.


I did these a couple years ago for a science fair held in a local bar. Like how grade 5 should have been.

The first diorama I did was about the dangers of “global cooling.” Think murderous penguins.


I made the hill out of a Tim Horton’s cup. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Oh ho…so politically incorrect.


In case you can’t tell that’s a hapless victim sprawled on some “ice.”

I ended up winning almost $100 in gift certificates, certainly not because I sold the penguins for audience votes. Nope.

This was the one I made the next year. I apologize for the webcam-quality photos. It’s a diorama…of a science fair!

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Last but not least, here are the original Nanobots that led to the game idea. They were a birthday gift for my friend Kevbot, just like the game was supposed to be his Christmas present last year. Heh…oops.

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Notice the quarter.

Comics: Open Season - September 8th, 2007

Well, for the next twenty-five weeks I should be pumping out comics on a regular basis. I did four this week, two of which are up now and two to come tomorrow. My big accomplishment was the full-page “Snappy Comebacks to Sketchy Pickup Lines.” They say to write what you know.

Of course, now that I’ve used up all my comic ideas from the summer, I have no idea what to draw next. Maybe something about retro games? Actually…no. I like to be able to pass for normal, even if I spend my evenings constructing additional pylons.

Also: it’s my birthday. What’d you get me? Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Kevbot says I’ve pretty much just gotten taller.

I think I might be a leprecaun - August 7th, 2007

Is there a good way to ask your mom if you might be part leprecaun? I think the evidence speaks for itself:

  • Red hair
  • Uncanny choice of wardrobe
  • Inhuman ability to find four-leaf clovers
  • Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
    Lookit ‘em all

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
    “What’s that little clover? You want me to buy a lottery ticket?”

    I found six of those little things yesterday when I was supposed to be studying for the GRE. Does this mean I can stop studying now? Hmm…maybe if this grad school thing doesn’t work out I can go into game design for real. Watch out, Dave Gilbert! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket