Where has he been?

That might be a question some of you are asking that don’t see me on a regular basis.  Suffice it to say, I’ve been busy, but not working on book three of the Silverwood Chronicles like I should.

Instead, I went back to a project that I started almost two years ago.  A friend of mine with Indie Ninja Design had told me of a game he was working on and wanted to know if I wanted to play test it.  Being the game nut that I am I said sure , couldn’t wait.  So it was that I was able to play test a very early variant of a game that he still has regrettably not released yet.  It was intriguing and even fun.  We talked through some suggested changes and that was pretty much that.

I did ask him where he got the printed components – the cards – for the game.  They looked amazing.  He pointed me to an online source where he was able to put this prototype together and that got me thinking.  I had previously put together some video game ideas back in my early early days of programming.

(Begin Rabbit Trail) How many of you out there that consider yourselves geeks or are into computers/programming hasn’t at least tried to program a game?  Be honest?  (End Rabbit Trail)

I checked out the website and my brain instantly started working on a project related to the Chel & Riley book series.  At first, as it does with a lot of my projects, I just wanted to see what I could put together.  But as I got into the design, I really felt like I had put something together that was fun and enjoyable.  We pulled together some play testers and ran it through several iterations and we finally found a pretty good balance when I hit a roadblock.

I can’t draw.  Unlike my friend at Indie Ninja, who is a very skilled illustrator, I’m lucky to draw a straight line.  If you want an ripples in the water, I’m your guy.  The proof of concept game that I had put together I used clip art off of Google images.  The big problem with that is most of those images are not public domain and therefore require some licensing.  The realization that I would either have to source every one of the 100+ images I used in my product completely derailed my efforts.  And so the game sat in a Ziplock baggy on my shelf 90% complete for more than a year.

About six weeks ago, I hit a writer’s block on Chapter 6 and looked for other ways to be creative.  Sometimes writers have to do this, I’m convinced.  As it happened I pulled up the files for my game and started playing around with it.  I decided that I would make an honest attempt to locate a image library on the internet where I could procure the licensing needed for the images or close facsimiles and release the game.  This was a daunting task.  If you’ve never checked out the myriad of image libraries on the internet, don’t, unless you want your mind thrown through a blender.

The cost was staggering to license the desired images.  I was ready to give up when I stumbled across another site that offered images under the Creative Commons licensing.  I was amazed and inspired.  I was able to drudge up most of the images I wanted and some that were better than my originals.  So, I’ve been applying myself to re-skinning the game with all of these CC0 images for the last several weeks, and the game is complete.  I will be requesting a beta copy from the printers soon and assuming the product quality is satisfactory, I will make a public announcement and release the information so that all two of you that read my stuff can go out and encourage me by buying a copy at a steep discount from me — meaning you’ll say you want a copy and can’t afford it so I’ll just give you one.

Here is a peek at the box cover.

Box Top

The good news is, I’m done, mostly.  The better news is, this means I can get back to writing book three.

Until next time.