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Tycho / on Fri, Sep 16 2016 at 10:56 am

Gabz was talking to his dadz the other day, and it goes like this a lot.  At root, his father was party to the manufacture of a creature whose most ordinary mode of operation is completely alien to a person like himself, one who excelled in the doing of useful things.

It reminds me of when I had the incredible opportunity to talk with Amy Hennig at PAX - and by “talk with” I mean “bask in the radiance of.”  We are, at root, people who hear voices.  When I write, and when she writes, because we’ve talked about this exact thing, we are hearing and encouraging unreal people to speak to and ultimately through us.  It’s complex, and using language to describe it is ironically sort of tough to do.

You have to forget to not write, in the same way that Douglas Adams described “flying” as “learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”  It’s a common thing for writers to be drunkards; I’m no stranger to it, but it doesn’t help me write.  Amy has to get so tired from trying to write that eventually she can’t fight it anymore, a very Tai Chi principle I think.  For me, I can’t have anything in my pockets, on my wrists, or hands.  If I can systematically remove distractions - for some reason, Gabriel doesn’t count against this number - I start writing almost subconsciously.  The voices are quiet at first, shy almost, and the world is constantly in the way.

It is a very thin line that separates the life I have from a very different kind of life, where I hear the voices and instead of writing down what they say, I respond.  That line is this: I have an audience to tell these things to.  I try not to think very much about what the other way looks like.

(CW)TB out.

Gabe / on Fri, Sep 16 2016 at 10:22 am

Thornwatch art update

It was important to us that we get a print and play out so that folks could check out the game. I was nervous about this because while I felt like the mechanics were solid, the art still had a long way to go. I’m glad that people have been downloading the print and play and enjoying the game but it’s also important to me that you all get an idea of what I intend for the final game to actually look like. Thornwatch is designed to feel like you’re playing through a graphic novel and so obviously the artwork is going to be a huge part of the experience. With that in mind I wanted to show you some behind the scenes stuff as I work on the storyboards.

The sketches that you see right now in the print and play are the first step in the process. Generally I’d say that’s the hardest part and takes the most time. Coming up with the layout, the designs for the monsters, the dialog, all of that stuff takes time and I end up sketching lots of ideas out before landing on a design I like.

Once that’s done it’s time to ink. Laying down all the line work is time consuming. Inking a full storyboard like this takes me in the neighborhood of 4 hours depending on the complexity.

Once the inks are done it’s time to color. This entire process takes another 5 to 8 hours for me. I start by laying down some large areas of color. I’m just trying to get an idea of the overall tone of the piece.

Once that’s done I start drilling down on the individual components of the piece.

I tend to hop around from panel to panel at this point.

I ended up finishing the large center image on this one first. I knew that if I could get that one looking the way I wanted it would sort of anchor the rest of the piece.

I still have some work to do on this particular board. The text layout and the design of the rules box still needs some love. It’s getting closer to “finished” though and I wanted to share my progress with you all.

(click for big)

As I’ve said before, I really want Thornwatch to feel like you’re playing through a graphic novel. The storyboards are a big part of that but they are just one component. Each map tile is going be a little painting. I want them to look like background paintings from an imaginary Thornwatch animated movie. These are even more time consuming than the storyboards for me as they sit a little outside my normal skill set. I’m pushing myself on these tiles though and I am really happy with the results so far.

(click for big)

When Thornwatch is laid out on a table I want it to look like nothing you’ve ever played before. I cannot thank you all enough for your support of this Kickstarter. I’m working as hard as I can to make sure that the game you get at the end of this is as beautiful as I can possibly make it.

-Gabe out

Tycho / on Wed, Sep 14 2016 at 2:37 pm

For Honor Sponsored Stream

I think they might have seen Tycho Tries over at Ubisoft, because they came through and asked us if we wanted to do something similar on a sponsored stream featuring For Honor - we’d done it once before, and I thought it was pretty fun, because I love talking.  Essentially, did we want to talk to the developers, get questions answered, check out the factions, that kind of thing?  Yes.  I would have done this anyway, but I’m happy to do this type of stuff as long as everybody knows it’s “sponsored” in capital letters.

But yes!  Gorabriel and myself are going to learn about For Honor, and we would love for you to come along.  It’ll be this Friday, 2-4pm PST, on the ol’ channel we’re dusting off.  If you missed the Alpha, I understand there’s still a beta opportunity at the official site.


Tycho / on Wed, Sep 14 2016 at 10:42 am

I don’t have any space in my life for Titanfall CCG, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get it and play it.  It just means that something else will have to go, something useless that I can probably get by without.

I had a super good time in a new Tycho Tries playing around with Job Simulator, while talking to some of the actual people who made Job Simulator.  It has a feature where you can place a camera in the virtual world, and that provides the viewport for you; from my perspective in there, that’s an actual camera floating in space.  It’s a cool feature, but among other things it means you aren’t watching from my perspective, which means people can look at it without ill effect.  I listen to these on my way into work a lot, just sort of as a podcast, which is a completely legitimate manner of consumption.  I loved talking to this crew and I feel like that comes across.

Next week we’ve got Atlas Reactor on the show, which became a personal favorite after we filmed it; I try to get at least one round a day.  I am a thousand times better at the game now, and my support Zuki build is no fucking joke.  Oh!  And Lone Shark’s Thornwatch Kickstarter Thing just unlocked the Briarlock!  I handed over some of my incredible rad (read: potentially insufferable) lore that they dropped in an update with some mechanical info.

Okay!  I think that’s everything.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / on Mon, Sep 12 2016 at 10:51 am

I thought I’d be able to make a psychic meal out of some maritial strife over at Gabe’s house, but the whole thing was distressingly ordinary and I derived zero nutrition.  I unfurled my proboscis for nothing.

The Eyrewood is a big deal for us right now, which makes sense, because a lot of people like it - us included.  Gabriel doesn’t like the fact that I enjoy telling only the first part of a story, or that everything I do is a cliffhanger on some level.  But this is precisely why I do that - have you seen the Lookouts short, from Redgate Films?

Any time I make something, a story thing, I always want there to be a place for you to make more.  They did that, and now it’s travelling around to film festivals.  You need to watch this thing.

Our friends and allies over at Lone Shark Games (Pathfinder ACG, Betrayal At House On The Hill: Widows Walk) are also well into a Kickstarter for Thornwatch, a design of Gabe’s that we have entrusted them with.  It’s getting made.  Now, it’s just a matter of how much more rad shit goes in the box.

I don’t know if it’s a real term, but when Thornwatch was being created it was, in many ways, an “anti-game.”  Gabriel was dealing with some very specific things that come up in long running campaigns, specifically around the fact that you’re trying to corral a bunch of Gods around the table and ultimately the menu of their world-cracking power gets a little time consuming.  In its earliest stages, Thornwatch was far more of a roleplaying game, because he was trying to fix very specific problems he had by exploring what could be called negative space around those mechanical systems.  In fact, trying to fix one of them lead to the creation of a mechanic that is now core to the game.

The problem was this: once initiative had been set, everybody seemed to be performing the same exact things turn after turn, and they didn’t need to keep an eye on how the game was progressing.  Every character had a basic information card that game you their fundamental statistics, and to mix that structure up - to make it more of a pitched, brutal melee that couldn’t be contained by a set numerical sequence - he just started shuffling them, and using that as the initiative track.

Characters took “wound cards” into their decks when they were hit, and these wounds ultimately made their way into the hand where they impacted play options and could ultimately kill characters back then.  Enemies still had traditional hit points, in keeping with its RPG origins, and attacks from players dealt damage values.  Kiko and I wondered if the initiative track might have a solution for damage bookkeeping also.  What if players didn’t deal damage in numbers at all, but instead dealt damage in terms of initiative - knocking foes back physically, and also chronologically, until they hit the trailing “edge,” at which point they were in danger of being destroyed.

It was a complete mess at first, because we were using the old damage values as a test; it transformed every class into superheroic juggernauts.  They are the Thornwatch; I mean, they’re supposed to be dangerous War Ghosts, but not quite at that level.  You can see how it works now, after a blessed tuning, in the Print & Play version if you want.  That file will be updated when the campaign hits 3000 backers to include the Briarlock - a sixth character deck.  There’s some lore for those fucking weirdos coming up this week, I’ll let you know when it hits.  We’ve had this game for four years now, trying to transform it into a Real Boy, and the idea that you’ll be able to own the best version of it is still a little much for us.

(CW)TB out.

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