2017 is almost in the books, and I enjoy taking a look back on my year and reminding myself of everything that I have worked on. It is always a challenge to balance creative endeavors with all of the other demands of life, but it is amazing how much can happen in a year when you just keeping chipping away at projects consistently. Here is a rundown of the major projects I can remember!
Cannon of Wonders
Without a doubt, Cannon of Wonders is the project that I have spent the most time on this year. It is a mobile game that my wife and I have been working on for over two years now, but 2017 has been the year that the bulk of the work has been completed, and we should (finally) be able to share it with the world in 2018. It has been an awesome project for getting more comfortable working in Unity, and my wife Mary has become much more familiar with Inkscape as she uses it to create all the graphics. It will likely be my longest running project that I have ever completed, and one of the first games that I have really focused on meeting my creative vision regardless of development time. I have learned so much in the process, and I am itching to start prototyping some of the new game ideas that I have planned once this project is complete.
Another creative area of my life is puzzle invention and construction, and last year’s post highlighted the creation of my new puzzle LogiSquares. This past year, I was able to get LogiSquares published in Games Magazine, as well as additional publications of my puzzle Vectrix, which even made the front cover of the January 2018 issue!
I have also been spending more time brainstorming new puzzle ideas, and developed another design this year called Topic Tangle. I created the sample sheet shown below, and plan on pursuing its possible publication in 2018.Topic Tangle Sample
2017 marks my first full year of blogging, and I managed to create 23 posts during that time, including this one. Here is the list of other posts:
- Ludum Dare 37 Design Musings
- Board Game Review: Love Letter Premium
- Creative Lessons Learned from Bach and Beethoven
- 1st Annual Board Game Giveaway!
- Board Game Review: Twilight Struggle
- Creative Thoughts from a Week in the UK
- Creative Portfolio Added to Blog
- My Favorite Movies Watched Since Last Year – 2017
- The Benefits of Keeping Virtual Notebooks
- Board Game Review: Tichu
- Thoughts on My First Semester Teaching Game Programming to Kids
- Ludum Dare 38 Design Musings
- My Favorite “New to Me” Albums Since Last Year
- Establishing Positive Habits Too Small to Skip
- My Top 30 Board Games (2017) – #30-21
- My Top 30 Board Games (2017) – #20-11
- My Top 30 Board Games (2017) – #10-1
- Ludum Dare 39 Design Musings
- My Manifesto: Reflections on Two Years of “Gamifying” My Life
- My Favorite Books Read Since Last Year – 2017
- Board Game Review: Ethnos
- Board Game Review: Sagrada
Not only does blogging help me consistently share my thoughts and what I am working on, but it also forces me to think about various topics in more detail, improving my ability to process information and communicate it clearly. I plan to hit the ground running in 2018 with a similar pace of content.
Clean Your Room! 24 Hour Board Game Design
I am always thinking about potential board game designs, but I haven’t had a lot of practical experience in actually developing many of them. With other projects in flight (i.e. Cannon of Wonders), I’ve also had a hard time choosing to commit more time to board game design. However, some users on BoardGameGeek hold monthly contests where designers attempt to create a board game from scratch in just 24 hours. There aren’t really winners or losers, but rather the point is to challenge designers to work quickly and actually finish something. In January, with a contest theme of “Discipline,” I decided to give it a go. The result is Clean Your Room!, a game about “tidying up and rearranging for 2-4 players.” Given the heavy restriction of needing to finish the design, components, and rulebook all within 24 hours, I am pretty pleased with what I was able to create. I learned a lot, and the design definitely has potential to be refined or pulled into other projects in the future. Here are the components and rulebook that I submitted:Clean Your Room! Rulebook
Clean Your Room! Components
I Had This Dream… Board Game Prototype
Last year I had spent some time brainstorming a party game that involved drawing wacky illustrations based on word clues, and then players trying to identify which picture corresponded to which clues. I had shelved the idea for a while after running into a problem with the design, but I (out of nowhere) came up with a way to fix that specific problem and started working on the design again. I ended up constructing a working prototype, but haven’t spent a lot 0f time on it since. Still, it is cool to see a project get resurrected, and I am happy with how the prototype turned out even if it isn’t a project I end up pursuing further.
The Scream Puzzle Mosaic
My wife Mary and I enjoy doing random creative projects together, and last year we executed on our idea of gluing a bunch of random jigsaw pieces together to create a mosaic of a famous painting. We tackled Van Gogh’s Starry Night on our first attempt, and we were really happy with how it turned out. This year, we decided to not just try it again, but see if we could do the whole thing in one day (we worked on the previous one over 3 months). We picked up several more thrift store puzzles, sorted the colors, and ended up finishing it in 2 days. This was still quite the feat, and we were pleased with our rendition of The Scream.
Last year, I decided to start recording piano pieces that I had learned. This provided some extra motivation to learn songs more quickly and polish them more effectively, but also allowed me to share what I am working on with family and friends. 2017 yielded five new piano recordings:
Under Two Tables – Honestly
I play bass guitar in a band with some friends I met at college, and while we haven’t been playing and writing as regularly, we have still been chipping away at recording some of our originals and released “Honestly” this year:
Piano Loop Station Pi Project
By day, I work as a Software Engineer at ReadyTalk, and the engineering department has the annual tradition of hacking on Raspberry Pis for Pi Day. This year I played around with a small piano keyboard interface for the Raspberry Pi, and managed to create a simple loop station that could layer simple melodies on the fly. A goofy but entertaining project, here is in action:
Teaching Game Programming to Kids
This year, I partnered with my wife Mary to offer Game Programming classes through her art studio. I kind of just went for it without a lot of preparation, but I have learned a lot about how to approach introducing programming concepts to kids (ages ranged from ~10-16), and I have found teaching to be an activity that is really fulfilling. I plan on continuing to teach each semester (given kids sign up for the classes), and I am even beginning to explore writing my own project curriculum. Here is a video that highlights some of the final projects from the Spring semester:
And that’s it (as far as I know)! There have certainly been other little projects I’ve brainstormed over the past 12 months, but these were the ones that seemed most notable. Writing this post is a great way for me to wrap up the year and feel motivated about all of the projects I have planned for 2018. Every year always packs surprises, but I am excited to see what this next one holds and to keep chipping away in the areas I am passionate about! Happy New Year!