Exploring the Space

Hanging out at the ideaLAB is like being a kid locked in the toy store- there are so many amazing machines, tools and software to play with, I’m a little overwhelmed and also never want to leave.  Having game design as a thesis to explore the space is a wonderful framework for me, giving context and direction to apply to the tools.  The first thing I jumped in on was the opportunity to use the 3D printer to make game tokens.  There are actually three printers in the lab a Makerbot a Lulzbot TAZ and Lulzbot mini and they’ve been printing non stop every time I’m in the room.  The printers may seem a bit intimidating but can be pretty easy to work with depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.  If you’re wanting to build your object from scratch the computers in the lab have copies of SketchUp and Tinkercad and there are folks in the lab who are happy to help you get comfortable with the software or find tutorial videos on Youtube.  There really is an art to 3D design which will take me a long time to get good at, in the meantime there are some great websites which have thousands of designs available for immediate download and print.  For the time being I’m planning on making game tokens from plans I’ve found on thingaverse Their website is really amazing- its a design hub with opensource and social media applications encouraging users to share ideas and conversations around the things they create.

While I’m eager to embrace the tech, I’m pretty old school and my comfort zone falls back to some old standards.  One of the games I’m designing right now with have blue and red Oni demon token pieces which I’m using the button maker to create.  This is a fabulous design tool for gaming since you can take either printed or handmade images and make pieces which are durable and cool looking- I’m tempted to make a chess set since these came out so well.  The computers in the ideaLAB all have photoshop and other illustration software.  I tend to do most of my work on online program pickmonkey since it is really easy to use and free.

In the next few days I’m going to spend some quality time on the Cricut Explore This machine works similarly to a printer but instead of laying out ink it cuts lines.  Crafters use it for silhouette cards and paper designs, uploading their own work or remixing things in the database.  I see some very unique game boards coming out of this.

Aside from the physical mechanics of building, I’m looking forward to more discussions around narrative and rule building in games.  There are some really interesting conversations happening in those areas with my friends on facebook here as well as with the folks I’ve been meeting in the lab.  More to come, for sure.