Cloudspire

Design

For about a year, I was working on the board game Cloudspire at work. It’s complete, and the staff just got their copies recently! Not only is this the first big game that I’ve worked on with the company, it’s also the first game where I’ve been involved right at the beginning. It has been a good learning project and a lot of fun! And to date, it’s my best work yet!

It was a completely different experience to be involved in the game from the very beginning. When I worked on Too Many Bones, there was already a design aesthetic set up, and I had to make sure that everything I did matched up with what was already in place. With Cloudspire, I had a part in shaping how the game would end up looking, which was very rewarding, but also very challenging.

The most difficult part is getting everything to fit on a chip and be legible. Every chip has at least nine different pieces of information on it. And because the main artist, Anthony LeTourneau does such a great job on the art, we try our best to keep it as large as it can possibly be. But since playing the game is the most important part, every symbol and piece of game information needs to also be clear and legible.

This was also the first project that I managed multiple artists. In addition to Anthony, we also had Jared Blando working on all of the neoprene hex art. His art is beautiful and bright and vibrant. The biggest challenge was making sure that both of the artists’ work looked coherent and seamlessly fit together. Since their styles are different, it was not the easiest task. But I think it also helped that the only place where their art was merged was on the neoprene fortresses.

My favorite pieces are the covers for the solo and cooperative scenario books. They were some of the last designs that I did for the game, and I love how the scratches worked with the background art. It added a grunge that gives you an idea of what is back there, but really calls more attention to the art and makes it stand out. The only thing that makes me sad is that the covers were printed so dark. (You can’t tell this in the photos because I lightened them to look as I had intended.)

I liked the cover art so much, that I used the same effects when I designed the booth panels. (I’ll write a separate design post for that at another time.)

This was by far the most difficult game for me to photograph. There are so many pieces to the game, I couldn’t get a photo of everything without the edges of my photo setup showing up (which is why I have a lot of detail shots below). Plus, we went with a matte finish on the chips this time, which is absolutely beautiful, but has to be photographed at specific angles in order to not cause a huge glare!

Now the only thing left is for me to learn how to play the game! We were so busy putting together all of the content that went into this game, that I never had a chance to playtest. And since I’ll be explaining the game at Essen this year, it would be helpful to know the intricacies of it!

A New Skirt

Miscellaneous

Last year, I bought some new fabric to make myself a classy pencil skirt. I don’t know that I’ve ever owned a pencil skirt, so I was excited to add one to my collection. Since I planned on wearing it in colder weather, I also decided to line it, which proved to be pretty difficult!

I got the fabric from S.R. Harris, and I love it! It’s recycled, so it’s a little different from anything I’ve worked with before, but it’s nice because it’s hefty and looks classy.

I didn’t have a regular pattern for this skirt. I used the book Flirt Skirts to draft one by measuring out the pattern in the back of the book and recreating it on a large sheet of paper. The original size that I drafted wasn’t fitting right, so I put it on inside out and did some alterations. In my altering, I tapered the skirt in a little more near the hem, since the shape looked more pleasing. I didn’t realize until wearing the skirt to work one day, that my tapering was too much, and I now have to unzip the skirt to use the bathroom, since I can’t bring it up over my hips! Oops!

As I mentioned above, the lining was difficult for me. I’ve never lined anything before, and the book didn’t have instructions for it. So I searched the internet, watched some YouTube videos, and got started creating the lining. I’m not exactly sure what I did wrong, but the lining is much smaller than the skirt. So it’s a little tight in some areas that would not be tight if it were just the skirt. I also had a hard time making the waistband of the skirt because the lining was so slippery. I put the skirt on and folded the waistband, since that seemed to be the easiest way for me to figure out how to get it to work. But that caused its own problems, and now the zipper is not lined up correctly. But on the good side, the skirt feels pretty hefty, and the lining is nice.

If I were to make this skirt again, I would also have added a kickpleat. Not having one makes it difficult to get in and out of the car. And I’m a tall person and take large steps, and without a kickpleat, I feel like I’m being restricted to walking slowly, which I don’t love.

So, overall, I’m pleased with the skirt. As long as I wear a longer shirt to cover up the zipper, it looks nice and is a great new piece for my wardrobe!

It’s Been Awhile…

Miscellaneous

It has been so long since I’ve posted anything…too long. I’ve never been a really consistent poster, but I’ve always tried to at least post once a month. Part of the reason I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been trying to decide if I should stick with WordPress or go back to Squarespace, where they take care of everything in the background for me. For some reason, this has been a really difficult decision. On the one hand, letting someone else take care of all the back-end stuff, all the coding, and all the keeping up with the newest trends sounds so appealing. Then I can just focus on making art, designing things, and writing. But then on the other hand, there is no reason I can’t learn how to set all this stuff up, and the thought of paying for a website when it doesn’t make me any money, seems silly. And if you know me, the thought of learning how to do something is soooo appealing! But this time, I took too long to decide, so the decision ended up being made for me, and it’s WordPress now for a little while longer.

A lot has also been going on in my life that I really need to spend more time focusing on. So that has meant my blog has had to suffer. On the good side, while I’ve been silent, I haven’t been sitting idle. I’ve made at least two pieces of artwork every month, did some sewing, and was busy at work getting our latest title, Cloudspire, ready to print. I also went to Origins again this year.

I am planning to post my backlog of things that I’ve been up to. And, for those of you who have been checking, updating my portfolio. I haven’t put anything that I’ve worked on in there since I started at Chip Theory. So you will be hearing from me more in the coming weeks as I post everything from my backlog.

The photo for this post is our cat, Johnny. Sadly, he is no longer with us, after his battle with kidney failure. But I had to share this photo because it’s one of my favorites, and he looks so happy! Even though things were a bit rough in the end and incredibly sad, a photo like this makes me feel like he enjoyed his time with us as much as we did with him…or he just really wants to go outside…I’m going with the first idea!

Another Year Down…

Miscellaneous

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great New Year’s, even if you spent it going to bed early. I was happy to ring in the New Year by belting out songs with some friends and Nick in a basement while playing Rock Band. Good times!

I’m not really a New Year’s resolution person, since I think if you want to make a change in your life, it’s better to just do it right away versus waiting for a magical date (if you don’t actually want to make the change, no specific time is ever going to be the right time), but I do think the new year is a good time to look back at your past year, see how you did, and set new goals.

So how did I do last year? Goal-wise, not so great. Out of the four goals that I had, I didn’t complete any of them. Mid-year, I had re-evaluated my goals and deleted three of them. Two were very time intensive, and after starting a new job and having travel as a new thing in my life, I was not dedicating the time needed.

Work-wise, things were good. A new, fun job! Travel! Conventions! Lots of design! Working with creative people! Things were very good on the work-front. I’m definitely looking forward to what 2019 will bring.

General-overall-life-wise, ok. There were some really great times and some really horrible times. Overall though, if I look at the entire year, the positive outweighs the negative, so that’s good! And the horrible times helped to remind me what an amazing man I married! He’s so supportive and funny and sweet! I’m lucky to have him in my life helping to make it great and pushing me to be the best I can be!

And now for 2019. What do I have in store? Art, sewing, and photography! I’ve already completed a painting, sewn a skirt, and taken some photographs. The year is off to a good start, and I hope to continue this forward momentum! This year will be better!

Essen Spiel

Miscellaneous

Last month I got to travel to Essen, Germany for Essen Spiel (board game convention)! It was a lot of fun, and I’m really glad I got the opportunity to go. It was my first trip to Europe, and the longest plane ride I have ever been on.

It was so interesting to see the differences between a United States convention and a European convention. In the US, there is a vendor section and an event section, where people can try out games or just bring their own games and free game. In Germany, there was only a vendor section. Some of the booths had tables set up for people to try their games, but the emphasis was definitely on buying games. On Thursday, the first day of the convention, we had a table set up to demo Undertow for those interested. But the booth was so full of people knowing exactly what they were there to buy, that we just ended up taking orders at the table, until the crowd died down.

I definitely noticed a difference in the people at the convention as well. It was really rare in Essen to see people dressed up in costumes, whereas in the US, it would be strange to not see people in costume. And I hate to bring up stereotypes, especially when I feel that they are changing for board gamers, but in the US, it is a common occurrence to see butt cracks. I think we were two or three days into the convention before I saw one at Essen. And I honestly don’t remember seeing that many.

The convention for me seemed more low-key, after that initial swarm on Thursday morning. Part of that could be due to the fact that we were in the middle of running a Kickstarter, so I was in the hotel lounge working a lot more than in the booth. The other part could also be that we had less stock in Europe and sold out quickly. When you have nothing to sell, there is more time spent just explaining games and chatting with people, which maybe makes it seem less stressful to me. I also feel that since we had a much smaller group in Essen than at the other conventions, there wasn’t as much time trying to coordinate everyone to get meals and figure out what we were all going to do, so we had more time to explore and spent less time waiting on everyone.

I had two booth moments that were my favorites. The first was when one of our volunteers, who doesn’t have a lot of experience playing our games was explaining Triplock, and she had a HUGE group of people swarming around her to learn. Josh, one of the game designers and owners, sat at the table with Undertow and nobody at the table with him. It was pretty funny! My second favorite moment was when two fans came up to Adam, another game designer and owner, and totally geeked out about meeting him. It was super cute, and I was glad I got to be there to see how excited they were to talk with him!

As far as non-convention time goes, I had a lot of fun wandering around the city! I ate way more pasta than I had expected for Germany, and the dessert bar that I went to was way more alcoholic than what I had expected! I also noticed that there were not as many coffee shops around as there are in the US. I think part of that is because every cafe seemed to have their own espresso machine.

Overall, I had a really fun time, and I am excited about the potential of going back next year! (BTW, the sign in the featured image is telling you to not feed the ducks…apparently they forget how to swim and float feet up if you do that…)