Free 8-pack of Square Repeating Textures – Beach Rocks

River Rock Beach TextureI love being out in nature, and sometimes while I’m there, I’ll take pictures. Often, the pictures are just close-ups of specific natural features, like rocks, grass, bark, water, etc. I’ve worked out a trick for turning some of these pictures into repeating textures that could be used for website backgrounds or game textures.

The first set is a collection of pebbles, rocks and rock surfaces found near large bodies of water. I took the pictures over the past few years, while on vacations to the Big Island of Hawaii and on the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota.

Each of the 8 files is 2048 pixels square and can be tiled next to itself to create a seamless larger image. They are large files, though, so you will likely want to reduce their dimensions and file sizes to make them more useful as website backgrounds or background textures for games. In fact, feel free to adjust/manipulate them as needed to make them work for you. Please read the READ ME file included in the ZIP to get the full usage/attribution terms.

You can download the full ZIP file here (~27MB): Square Repeating Textures - Beach Rocks (59)

Here’s a sample of the 8 textures:

Samples of the 8 "Beach Rocks" Textures

My Game Design Duct Tape: Multi-Use Cards

Examples of multi-use cardsWhile I try to do something different in each game I design, and I try to let the theme of the game drive what mechanisms are used, I do have some common tendencies … and most obvious of them is my love of multi-use cards.

As a player, I love to have options, flexibility, room for creativity to use whatever my current resources are. The ability to combine things or otherwise have a choice in what a specific card is used for gives the strategy-crunching part of my brain a lot of enjoyment.

As a designer, I love the way multi-use cards can expand a design without much, if any, increase in number of components. There’s usually a bit more math and/or spreadsheet work that’s needed to make everything come together right … but that’s a trade-off I’ll take most times. Continue reading

The Weird, Bio-Rhythmic Nature of My Creative Process

"Biorhythm cycles over a 66-day period" by Life of Riley at  Wikimedia CommonsSomething I referred to in my previous post was what I termed “the weird, bio-rhythmic nature of my creative process.” For the most part, I work in natural bursts and I have a hard time forcing creative work. I know it’s possible to teach yourself to do that — and I’ve been able to do it at times — but I’ve yet to get good or efficient at it. This means I have periods of ups and downs along the way.

I generally just let things flow in whatever way they go and try to get as much output as possible in whatever area is working. I ride that initial energy and excitement when it hits until — like a boarder on a wave approaching the shore — it simply wanes and grinds to a stop. I think this is why I always have a half-dozen-or-so projects that I consider to be my “current” projects. They are all in different phases of the design, requiring different sorts of creativity, and I let my brain push on whichever of them it grabs on to.

I sometimes think of game projects as being similar to sculpting or pottery-making … Continue reading

Muse vs. Focus

Whisper, whisperIf you’re familiar with the classic Greek concept of the Muses, you’ll know what I mean when I refer to my muse giving me an idea for a game … or when I say that I’m waiting on my muse to help me figure out the answer to something I’m working on.

I don’t actually believe that I have an invisible woman following me around, whispering in my ear with new, creative ideas. But, I’ve always found … Continue reading

How I Used StoryForge Cards to Make Abbottsville Characters Deeper

Story Forge CardsI don’t recall how I first was introduced to Story Forge Cards, but I know that it didn’t take me very long until I ordered a set for myself. These cards are a deck of tarot-sized cards of different colors and suit icons that represent larger concepts that you’ll find in most stories, such as “destiny” and “wealth” and “identity.” More importantly (at least for how I want to use them), they each have 2 concepts on them — usually polar opposites of each other — each oriented to a different end of the card.

Story Forge Card ExampleFor example, one card has “Memory” on one end and “Amnesia” on the other, with brief definitions of each of the terms and hints at how you might use them in a story. The deck is accompanied by a booklet that gives all sorts of card layouts for different types of work — creating main characters, background characters, various types of genres and plots, etc. (Click on the link to the site above and choose “See Cards in Action” to see what I mean.)

Since I got them, I’ve dabbled with them just a little bit, such as forming deeper, more detailed background information around characters for stories I want to write someday. I even used them to do a character-build for a short lecture session at a confirmation retreat with 7th & 8th graders last year. But what does this have to do with Abbottsville? Continue reading

What I Use for Background Textures

Screenshot of Genetica ViewerWhen I get a design past the initial “Is this even going to work?” stages, and my first set of sharpie-and-index-card prototypes have become illegible from all of my edits, I like to make a nicer-looking prototype. So, I open up Photoshop and let the right side of my brain play around for a bit.

For me, having a nicer-looking prototype on a design that is progressing does a few things:

  1. It helps me get a better grip on exactly what information needs to be presented and how it can be laid out in a way to best inform the player.
  2. It may help players plug-in to the theme in a stronger way.  (Example: if I’m exploring an island for pirates’ treasure, it helps me enjoy the experience more if I see actual sand and grass and jungle instead of a hand-drawn outline on white paper with letter codes or icons to represent the different terrain.)
  3. It does something good for my creative process to see a nicer, cleaner, new prototype at each major step along the way.

The first nicer prototypes get the inkjet-printout treatment at home. But once I have it to where I plan on doing formal playtesting locally or at a Protospiel or other gaming con, then I usually order a nicely produced set from TGC. In any of these cases, while I still am developing the design, I have no qualms breaking the sharpie back out and marking things up as needed.

My first step is usually picking out background textures for any cards and/or boards needed in the game. These backgrounds give you a place to project an overriding feel for the theme, and a way to let the information a player needs standout. I find myself using 3 main sources for my background textures, listed here (saving my favorite for last) … Continue reading