New Monthly Post: Playtest Report

We’ve decided to add a bit more structure to the blog, and this is the first piece of it: Every month, on the 2nd monday, the Artemis Games blog will have a Playtest Report – talking about some playtesting we’ve done, and what modifications it has pushed into the games.

December/January Playtest Report

Over the past month we have been largely focused on playtesting Tinfoil Hat, our upcoming Conspiracy Theory game.

Overall the response has been positive, but there’s been some vital criticism.

The biggest of Tinfoil Hat’s problems is the beginning: at the start of the game, as it stood last week, you had to rant for 30 seconds on the connection between two pieces of a conspiracy. This didn’t really work – most of the 30 seconds was spent umming and ahhing as there simply wasn’t enough to go on.

Our first fix attempt was to make the 30 seconds timer only function as a maximum, not a minimum. But that resulted in a brand new problem: With no push to keep talking the ranter was a lot less likely to elaborate on their conspiracy in interesting ways, and to potentially back themselves into a corner.

We’ve worked on the problem again, and now have a working solution: In addition to the two cards played at the start by the judge, to start the rant, the first 30 seconds includes a completely random card from the top of the deck. The 30 second timer still functions as both minimum and maximum, but the game hits its stride far faster while allowing time for the players to make vital mistakes.

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Draconic Laziness

It’s new years eve, and the fifth monday of the month, so I’m going to practise the draconic virtue of resting and enjoying my treasures in my home.

No update today, but we will return next week; when we’ll be establishing a new pattern for the new year.

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Gifts for a Dragon

What can you give the beast that’s got everything?

More Shiny Stuff

No matter how large a dragon’s hoard, they always want more – dragons are greed personified. So even if they have everything, consider what they don’t have two of; and get them that.

Dragon Eggs

By gifting a dragon an egg you are providing them with one of three things: First it could be their own egg, in which case they will be grateful for its return, although unless you also provide the thief they may be somewhat suspicious.

Secondly it could be the egg of another dragon they tolerate, in which case you have given them powerful leverage for diplomacy.

Thirdly it could be the egg of another dragon they either don’t know or don’t like, in which case you have provided them with a rare and delicious meal.

Tartare Sauce

It is a well-known fact that one should not interfere in the affairs of dragons – humanoids are crunchy and go well with ketchup. By buying a dragon Tartare Sauce you can spur them to enjoy seafood for some time, distracting them from kidnapping princesses and devouring knights.

Laxative Tablets

Dragons consume a very mineral-rich diet, high in iron, steel, silver and gold. Unfortunately it is also very low in fibre, meaning that dragons can easily become constipated, rather grumpy and overproducing methane – which leads to town-destroying rampages. Give your neighbourhood dragon some mild laxatives to help them stay regular and happy in their lair.

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The Rebirth of Jigsaw Fantasy as Setting Shards

It’s Easter – or at least it was two days ago.

So it feels appropriate that we talk about a rebirth – at the end of last year Jigsaw Fantasy, our Patreon project, died. It was sad, but we talked about why it needed to be done. We’ve now gone through some of the changes that needed making, and we’re preparing to relaunch with the new name “Setting Shards”.

We’re looking at making physical versions this time, and expanding our options to include things beyond Fantasy, but we think that the new name and new design will make much of the necessary difference.

We’re still fine tuning the design, but as you can see we want it to show a wider array of possibilities!

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Artemis Games New Years Resolutions

Today is new years day – so we’re all a bit drained from yesterday – but we still want to say something significant. So here are the business-related new years resolutions for us this year:

  1. Go all-in on the February Concept Cards Kickstarter: More marketing, more contacts, better prep. It’s our central product, we need to make sure everyone sees its value.
  2. Work with local game stores to demo and advertise our products – help new players find our tools.
  3. Rebrand Jigsaw Fantasy – either when Dr!p launches, or when we’ve finished design work on Science Fiction Concept Cards.
  4. Talk to at least one publisher each month about getting one of our card games into production.
  5. Get more connected to the UK and international tabletop design communities – and look for opportunities to collaborate with other members of that community.
  6. Continue developing our art resources, and connecting with artists, to create the best looking products possible.
  7. Always remember that we have to look after our own health – and each others – in order to be productive.

 

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Amy and Ste Writing Techniques

Neither of us are even close to that neat…

 

Amy – by Amy

For me it usually starts with me watching, reading or dreaming about something and thinking “That’s interesting, but how does it work” or “Could it be done another way” or “I want to know more, but there’s no answers around”…

  • Then I usually write a small bit of it – an introduction or some bullet points on the bits of the piece that make immediate sense.
  • And I ask myself some questions – like why and how it exists, and what it smells and sounds like.
  • For instance with The Floating city, I had always liked the idea of a moving ocean city in fantasy with the city on the back of dragon turtles, and also the floating cities in the real world in vietnam and south america, but I didn’t want to simply copy either, I wanted to combine aspects of both – and then I saw a show call “The Future is Wild” and it had giant jellyfish and I realised that they could work as the base of a floating city. But once it came to writing it I had to work out how that would work in fantasy world, i.e. why would the jellyfish allow people to build upon them, and never dive beneath the waves.
  • So I make a template asking these questions within the piece, both for Jigsaw Fantasy and for the Monstrous Monday Blogs.
    • Questions often delve into things that are commonly ignored in fiction – for instance “Where do Kraken nest?”.
  • I also try to give background to a few things that most people might see as just a monster or just someone they met on the road – a bit of back story and place they come from – whether that be the origin of a species, or a young royal elf would be traveling with children he’s not related to.
  • When I know what I want to write to about but am stuck on how or what to say, there a few different things I do to help with this like
    • I go on a run, and think about it as I do so.
    • Read or watch some more information about it.
    • I talk it over with Ste
    • I dream walk, which is a bit like lucid dreaming, but rather than taking full control I just pick a point from which to allow my thoughts to spread – I do this either while in a half-asleep state, or while meditating.
  • My pieces are always finished off with a pass by Ste, doing a deep-dive of copy-editing that often involves filling out some areas where I’ve forgotten to put down things that I know about the piece – simply due to the fact that, with my dyslexia, I don’t always put things in writing.

 

Ste – by Ste

My pieces begin with a “High Concept” some major element of worldbuilding (or, in the case of People with Two Sides character building) that I feel a drive to explore – whether that be “the greatest possible city”, “a glacial disaster”, “nature on steroids” or “why do Devils really want souls”

  • I then break it down into subsections, writing a brief synopsis of each subsection at the start (this is generally cut from the final piece). Each of these subsections is something I expect to be roughly the same length – if they prove not to be I’ll subdivide further.
  • My subsections often share a structure, at least at first – for instance geographic ones will each have the same number of major elements from their region explored in depth, while each character will explore a set number of sensations and of behaviours.
  • I ask Amy what she thinks of my subsections and she’ll ask those questions that she alway asks herself 1)She does this with every piece she reads, but with those by Ali and Loz it’s often late enough in the process that there’s no longer space to devote to longer answers to those questions, and they end up in the Jigsaw Links as more open questions.
  • After the edits Amy prompts, the strictness of my writing structure is almost always broken, but that’s not a problem as the structure was there as *scaffolding* to help me write clearly.

 

Together at the End – By both of us

We always finish off our pieces together, chucking problems and ideas back and forth as they come up.

  • Sometimes art will change how we see something – “Why is a male elf wearing what looks a wedding dress?”
  • Occasionally Jigsawing makes significant changes – something that was specified one way actually makes sense multiple different ways.
  • Every now and then we have to cut something for space, due to over-writing – it is in these cases that we’re most likely to look at whether the patrons want a semi-sequel piece.

 

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References   [ + ]

1. She does this with every piece she reads, but with those by Ali and Loz it’s often late enough in the process that there’s no longer space to devote to longer answers to those questions, and they end up in the Jigsaw Links as more open questions.

Third Thursday Freebies: A Giveaway and a Beach

Third Thursday Freebies are generally a free digital short in the Jigsaw Fantasy style, but this month we have something special.

First, the normal:

Samudratat Beach is home to a mysterious hermit and some dangerous flora and fauna. Small though it may be, it manages to be touched by both the ocean and the sandy desert – tying in to the Oceans and Deserts Kickstarter

The Giveaway

We’ve partnered with The Giveaway Geek to run a special freebie this month – we’re giving away two full sets of Location Cards.

Check out the giveaway, and make sure to share it (it even gives you extra chances to win if you do!)

-Ste

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Epic Environments: Lands of Ice

There are many different types environments in this world – from hot wet swamps, to harsh desert to dry sheets of ice. Each environment brings with it new challenges for the people to live through.

The shape, and movement of our round world means that it can be cold in one place and warm in another and the same for night and day. Due to the tilt of the world’s rotation both the far north and south go through months without light, and even when they do have light the sun never comes much above the horizon, leaving the world with lands of ice.

Photo by Ian Mackenzie from Ottawa, Canada

Photo by Ian Mackenzie from Ottawa, Canada

Lands of Ice

Much of the world can become frozen under sheets of ice throughout the cold times, but some parts never fully thaw; Greenland, the Arctic, Antarctic and Alaska are just a few of these places. These kind of places can experience anything from a month to 6 months without sunlight, temperatures getting as low -90oc, with -50oc being commonplace in some.

When the land is covered in snow and ice there is very little food for people and animals, since not much grows for half the year there are no trees to help slow down the wind, the wind speed can get as high as 50 knots in ice storms.

Inhabitants Continue reading →

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A New Day Dawns…

Welcome to the new blog for Artemis Games. Here you will find regular Developer Blogs about our upcoming projects, announcements of which events we will be attending so you can come and say hi, and a number of other regular features we think you’ll enjoy.

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