The (sort of) Calm before the Storm

These last few weeks have been sort of calm. I’ve been compiling my classes for the upcoming semester every night for a couple hours and doing some preliminary planning for my residency. But tomorrow, the semester starts for real and today I just got some news that is going to keep me a lot busier.

This semester, I’m listed to teach 6 classes for 2 different schools. 4 of those classes I’ve never taught before (2 of which, I developed). So that has led to quite a lot of prep work leading up to this semester. However, it looked like 1 or possibly 2 of those classes would not be running. That’s fine, that’s why I’m listed on so many. But today, I found out that those last 2 classes did indeed get enough students to run, so I’ll be teaching an incredibly full load of 6 classes, for 2 schools, at 4 different locations and 1 online. (For those of you keeping track, a typical “full load” for a full time professor is 2-3 classes).

So now, I’m feeling overwhelmed but blessed, because I know there are too many out there in higher ed that weren’t as fortunate with their classes running. Time to take a deep breath before I dive in. Something tells me it’s going to be a wild ride.

A short update on my game: Park Trails

I just received a small order of my Park Trails card game that I am now sending off to some reviewers and vendors. We’ve also contacted some local stores in Collingswood and Haddonfield, and they’re very interested in carrying it on their shelves. Hopefully we can get some wheels turning before Christmas. We’ll see.

The Road to Acadia

So if you look at the map, the part that most people associate with Acadia National Park is the large center island called Mount Desert Island. Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, and all the classic calendar shots are on that island. However, that is not primarily where I’ll be. The Schoodic Peninsula is that little spot of green over to the east, just below Winter Harbor. We’ll be staying at the very southern tip of that peninsula (schoodic point), walking distance from the waves crashing on granite shores. I’m sure we’ll make several day trips over to the main island, but it isn’t really my goal to recreate all the iconic Acadia shots, so I’m not really that concerned. There will be plenty to explore on schoodic (and several Maine locals have recently told me that’s there favorite spot in the park!)

The other spot I would like to explore, though I’m not sure if it’ll happen, is down to the far southwest, Isle au Haut. It is by far the most remote and least visited portion of the park, which makes it inherently interesting to me. But getting there is a bit of a pain (couple hours in a car and then a ferry), and honestly if I’m going to make the trip I’d like to stay over night to get more shooting in. However, there are only 5 camping spots on the island (no b & b for me), and they require reservation. I’m hoping there aren’t any major weather issues on my trip, but there could be a hurricane, so I’m not really too keen to reserve something just yet. I think I’ll just bring the basic camping gear and ask about availability when I get there.

The Game Book

So, I’ve primarily talked about living and working as an artist on this blog (when I’m not forgetting to add to it that is. My bad). But now, here is a little something else. One of my hobbies is board games, especially euro-strategy games on the lighter side. Carcassonne and Small World are two mainstays, though anything with area control is good.

 In the last few years, I’ve added something else to my repertoire: game design. For me it has that perfect balance of creative brainstorming, problem solving and design. I enjoy working out the core mechanism and figuring out how that fits in with the theme, and then extrapolating out what other components should exist.

So, “where are these games?” you might be thinking… that’s the sad news. So far none of them have really seen the light of day. I’ve made prototypes of several and even play tested one design quite a bit. But one key roadblock is that I don’t really know anything about game publishing, and most of the early games I designed were somewhat involved (in fact the hardest thing I’ve found in my designs of how to have it be thematically and strategically rich, while still being simple). So it’s just way to much to bite off for a first attempt at publishing.

And then there’s the whole issue of time. It takes lots of time to make a game tick, not just in the conceptual phase, but also in the prototype, play test, edit phase that often feels like an endless circle. While being a game designer full time sounds like a pretty awesome job, that’s not where I’m at right now. 

However, if I ever am able to devote more time to it in the future, I have a game book. It’s where I write down and sketch out all my ideas related to game design. If I think of a particularly interesting thematic element, it goes in. If I work out a new core mechanic, I sketch it out and describe how it works. Essentially, I’m giving myself a map to use later on to recreate the inspirations I’m having now. I’ve never been much of a journaler (as you can tell by my irregularity here) but this is about as close as I get. 

As a result of this game journal, I’ve been able to focus my brainstorms on increasingly simpler games. My goal is to completely produce one of these games to cut my teeth on, and then as I am able to devote more time and gain expertise, I can develop more involved themes.

What’s exciting to me now, is that I’ve been prototyping and play testing one of these simplified games (it only uses just a single deck of cards) and it’s almost ready to get beta released. So, hopefully I’ll be posting soon with a much more finished game as I start on my gaming journey.