Hi guys! You can now preorder a copy of the handmade 1st Edition HEXICA games!
Grab ‘em while they’re here!
Well, we’re halfway through February and we’ve been cranking out games here at our little “workshop”. We’ve got a good bunch of games ready to go, and they’ll be shipping to the US next week. From there they will go on sale directly on the website.
If you’re interested in grabbing a copy, be sure to do it as soon as they go on sale. These handmade editions are extremely limited and we expect them to sell out very quickly. If you miss out on grabbing them now, you’ll have to wait for the second edition, which will be done by a factory here if we successfully manage our future Kickstarter campaign to completion. Since that whole process takes months, I suggest acting quickly!
Here’s another little video to show the process of making the games…
Just wanted to post a quick update with the latest developments of Linty Fresh and HEXICA.
Linty Fresh is currently undergoing a bit of a facelift. Actually, technically it’s a completely new site, but it won’t feel that way, as I’m shooting for something very clean and simple. As a further bit of good news, all the older tees in the shop will be discounted, for a limited time, to $9.99. I’m trying to clean out of old stock completely and release a bunch of tees, belts, and notebooks that I’ve been designing over the past 2 years but haven’t had the means to produce. Of course, the priority project for Linty Fresh is now HEXICA, a sci-fi strategy board game that the co-designer and I are confident you are all going to LOVE!
I’ve posted a bit about this game in the last couple blog entries, so by now some of you have already gotten a feel for the game, or at least are familiar with the mechanics. But you may still be wondering how fun it is.
Lemme tell ya, it is a BLAST! Ok, so coming from the creator, that may not seem to carry a whole lot of weight, but keep in mind that at this point we’ve played HEXICA hundreds of times. By far, I have spent more time with HEXICA than any other game, digital or tabletop. And as much as I love games, I usually tire after the first 10-20 plays or 30-40 hours. But with HEXICA, we’ve managed to create a gaming system that evolves as the players’ skill level increases. We also wanted an exciting game. We wanted it to be stategic, and cerebral, but we didn’t want it getting bogged down in having to make a multitude of complicated decisions. And, since the mechanics and rules are not incredibly complex, almost anyone can learn this game within a few minutes and jump in.
With HEXICA, we wanted a game that you could teach to family and friends that aren’t game afficionados, and we feel we’re really striking the right balance with what we’ve got. As evidence of that, over 90% of our original prototype testers have either already purchased one or more copies of the final game or have requested to pre-order.
Another nice thing about HEXICA is that it’s not an incredibly long game. Our typical 4-player games last 1.5-2 hours, meaning we can get in a second play before the night is over. And rarely does anyone want to just play a single game. Trust me on this one.
WHEN CAN WE PLAY?
Soon! Very soon. Like, within a few weeks! We will be shipping a new batch of handmade copies of HEXICA next week. Once it arrives at our warehouse in Atlanta, it’ll go on sale on Linty Fresh, and that’s when we’ll unveil the new site.
What about Kickstarter?
We’re only making these handmade copies for a limited time. We want friends of Linty Fresh to open the game up, play it with their friends, and get people excited about it. After that, the only way to get more copies out there will be to fund a Kickstarter.
We’ve already got the backing levels and rewards set (above is the second backing tier, which at $15 includes icons and wallpapers but no actual game). Of course, this being Linty Fresh, we’ll also have some apparel to offer to backers as rewards, and even some really cool custom blank books (below).
We also have a bunch of enticing ideas for stretch goals, including 3D mini plastic ships for use in the game, and the development for an expansion to HEXICA that will feature a ton of cool stuff we couldn’t fit in the first game.
So stay tuned! Our Kickstarter won’t be up for very long (about a month), so we’ll be needing everyone’s support when it goes live! In the meantime, if you’d like more info on HEXICA, you can check out the videos in the last two posts. Also, I’ve been posting HEXICA-related images to my Flickr. And finally, Eli, HEXICA’s co-designer, is managing the official HEXICA Instagram: “@lf_hexica”. Check it out!
HEXICA is almost ready to ship, so we decided it was best to show everyone how to play this crazy game of ours!
Hi there everyone!
It’s been a long, long time, hasn’t it?
In July of 2011, I shut Linty Fresh down due to having some issues with the partner I was working with at the time. He was doing his best to run things, but was falling behind, and orders weren’t going out as scheduled. Unable to find any other options, I was forced to go on hiatus. Eventually I was able to move all of my LF stuff to a warehouse, where it’s been looked after ever since. I always had it in my mind to get things up and running as soon as possible, but between settling into a new life here with teaching, design, and getting married, I just didn’t have the time and energy needed to refocus my LF efforts.
Meanwhile, in the Fall of 2011, a good friend of mine, Eli Ortiz, decided to give China a try as well. He ended up being my roommate (before I got married). We spent the first month or so reminiscing on our childhood games and hobbies and eventually came up with a wildly intriguing idea – why not try to design our own board game? Within two days we had an idea for a pirate-themed game where players would compete for control over islands full of treasure. We called it “Isle of Gold”. But after putting together a prototype and testing it, we realized we wanted the ships to be more varied in their movement and abilities, and the seafaring theme seemed a bit restrictive. So why not set the game in space? With this new setting allowing us a LOT more freedom, we went back to the drawing board and started brainstorming what kind of ships we wanted, what their abilities would be, and oh yeah, how do you win?
The initial winning condition was defeating all enemy ships. But it just didn’t work. It took way too long! Also, the board was so huge that it took a couple turns to get into place. We we scaled things down, and came up with a new element that would forever define the game – flags. Instead of having to destroy everyone else, players simply had to collect a certain number of flags, which would appear randomly on the map during each turn of the game. To complicate things, we put a flag limit to the game, so that eventually the flags would run out, forcing players into combat to steal other player’s flags. This created a very interesting dynamic to the game, where no one wanted to get the flags too quickly (lest they become a target), and yet waiting too long was certain to make a player lose. This made every game a really fun exercise in outwitting your opponents, and took the strategy to a new level.
As the weeks turned into months, the game continued to develop. It suddenly got very complicated (11 different kinds of ships, 30+ event cards, conflicting rules) and some of the fun of the actual gameplay seemed to be evaporating. We realized we needed to make it simpler – our new goal was to be able to explain it to a new player in 4 minutes or less. So we started the painful process of removing ships. It was difficult because we had some we really liked, like a Shield Frigate that could protect all adjacent friendly units, and a Laser Frigate that could shoot along rows and columns (much like a rook in chess) Still, we realized these were bogging the game down, and we needed to streamline.
In the end, there were only 6 ships (including the Mothership). The way they fought, moved, and defended became MUCH easier, and we found a way to simplify the money system so that players barely had to think about how much they cost, or how much they could make when being salvaged. The result was a very intuitive and easy-to-understand system. And that made it play faster, and funner.
Over a year has gone by since that first pirate prototype, and we are thrilled to have a finished game in our hands. The name is HEXICA, and it’s a fast-paced flag-collecting strategy game. We are confident that people are going to love it! In the places we’ve tested it, some players asked to buy a prototype copy after just one play. In one area, they still get together several times a month to play! As for production, we are working on a mini-run now, which will be released on a re-opened Linty Fresh soon!
The next plan is to launch a Kickstarter to raise funds for a full factory run. If all goes well, that will happen next year in the Spring. So if you’re interested in playing it before then, be sure to grab a copy early, as they will likely sell out soon! (More info here when the game goes on sale on LF)
Want to see more? Check out our preview HEXICA video below.
One of the cool things about being in the indie tee industry has been getting to know a lot of awesome artists and entrepreurs from around the globe. Unlike the corporate world, there’s a real sense of comradery present within the smaller tee brands. We keep in touch via each others’ Flickr and Twitter accounts and will occasionally do tee trades.
One such brand that I’ve personally followed for awhile is Seibei. Chances are, if you know your indie tee brands you’ve probably heard of it already, because the owner and designer, David Murray, has worked his butt off for the last five years making awesome stuff. You can read the full story behind the brand here (I really need to get my story up on my website!).
One thing that makes his stuff so appealing is its unique sense of wackiness, most of which comes straight from its creator. This consistency is really important in branding, and it’s that unique voice that every brand owner needs to find and polish to be successful.
Awesomely, David has just launched a new version of his website, which now features a second language to choose from (Japanese) and a bunch of other cool things to explore. So go check it out!
(David sporting one of his new tees. Gotta love the VHS collection in the back!)
And just for the record, I’m doing this because Seibei and David are both awesome, and not because David’s old site listed me as a partner and drove tons of traffic to Linty Fresh…
So a few days back I was on the bus, riding around town. I noticed all these caution signs on the side of the road and thought it might be interesting to throw them all together as a design. You could have your standard ones like “falling rocks” and “curvy road” but then you could do some ridiculous ones, too, like dinosaurs and aliens and such. This time, before I started I decided to catalog my process.
The first step for me is always research, usually poking around the web for images that help refine the idea in my head. Since this design was more or less reconstructing something that’s already been done, I didn’t have to look far. Google images gave me a multitude of examples to reference.
The next step was to get the sign shapes just right. I use Flash for this. I’m not sure that many other designers use this as their preliminary tool, but I find it much more straightforward than the other popular programs (so long as it doesn’t involve drawing freehand). I saved the sign shape as a symbol so that any changes made thereafter would be universal, just in case I changed my mind about the color or shape later on. Individually editing several dozen shapes is a pain. I’ve done it!
One of the problems I perceived with this design was repetition. Even though the sign images would be different, the basic shape and color of each sign would be identical, so I decided to opt for several different styles and mix them together. Another advantage would be that it would provide differently-shaped canvases that I could choose from depending on the inner image. A triangle can be be a restrictive space for design sometimes.
Next came the fun part. Working from a list that I’d jotted down in my sketchbook, I put together the images for the warning signs. Because they would appear so small in the final design I had some leeway with details, but overall they look as good closeup as they do far away.
It was at this point that I started worrying about the originality of the design. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that someone else had problably done the same thing (and maybe better). What could I do to push this concept a bit further?
I went to the kitchen and made myself a sandwhich. My roommate and I talked about the movie Cloverfield. He hated it, I loved it. As I was being derided for my taste in cinema, I began to think of what JJ Abrams had said in an interview. He explained that the premise behind the movie was simple – it was Godzilla for America.
I began thinking about how monsters are regional – Loch Ness in Scotland, for example, Godzilla in Japan, etc. That’s when it hit me – this design would be so much cooler if it was actually an infograph of all the hazards around the world (real and imagined). Re-enthused by my idea and my sandwhich (it was delicious), I returned to my laptop and began charting out where everything ought to go.
Conveniently, I already had designed a map of the world for a personal project from last year (I was working on designing a RISK-style game, which will explain why some countries are missing above). Now it was a matter of filling in the blanks and figuring out what signs ought to go where.
Since I didn’t want to reuse any signs, I had to come up with new ideas for a lot of places, and consider movie and song references that might help. (For example, the broken heart by California is a nod to Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”) For some places, it was tough. Like Canada. Even Google couldn’t come up with too many Canadian hazards. It was at this point that I entertained the idea of naming the design “Let’s Move to Canada”, but I’d already settled on “Everywhere Sucks”, and the mood seemed to fit that name nicely.
Once all the signs were done, I went into photoshop for the finishing touches. I distressed the map to give it a bit more pessimism and mocked it on a shirt. I also put together a little emblem and copy to go along with the design as a “badge”. It should be up for voting on Threadless tomorrow.
Today’s English lesson with one of my students was pretty interesting. She recently started working for a Chinese company that finds English-speaking Western teachers (primarily Americans) and hires them to teach seminars here in China. Lately, most of our lessons have consisted of her showing me copies of the emails she’s been sending out to these teachers and asking for my input. Usually the grammar and word choice mistakes are minimal, but there are often suggestions I have regarding the tone of her writing. In English, there’s a tricky balance between formal vs. stuffy and casual vs. sloppy, and it’s not something that can be tuaght overnight.
But one of the bigger problems is actually pretty easy to correct, and it applies to business and branding, so I thought I’d share it here.
As I’ve mentioned before, Chinese culture places a heavy emphasis on “face”. As a result, people put themselves through great pains to create or maintain a reputation that may not necessarily reflect the truth.
A simple example of this is a scenario I experience regularly when shopping. If I walk into a grocery store and ask a random employee where a particular product is, I will get one of two answers. A) It’s over there, or B) We don’t have that item here. The employee will tell me this whether the item is actually over there or not, and whether their store carries it or not. In the entire two years I’ve been here, no one has told me “I don’t know” nor have they proposed a solution to find the answer from someone who does. This puzzled (and infuriated) me when I first got here until I realized what it stemmed from: they were simply saving face. They believe that to say they don’t know would reflect poorly on their abilities as an employee.
This save-face-at-all-costs mentality has a chokehold on businesses here, and a situation that my student mentioned today demonstrated this. Her company has been working tirelessly to organize a seminar here in China taught by foreigners and attended by expatriates. Because of schedule conflicts with one of the professors, the seminar was cancelled. So, under the direction of her boss, my student sent out emails to the attendees explaining that they would be refunded due to the class being… “full”. A lie.
Why lie? Because a cancellation, in this company’s imagination, would look bad to the attendees, while a “full” class would create the illusion of high demand.
Of course, this company forgets that it is dealing with Westerners, who view this matter from the exact opposite angle. I encouraged my student to think about the consequences of this lie, and how it would affect the business down the line. Eventually, attendees would talk, and would find out about the cancellation, and realize the company had lied. And when us Westerners are lied to, it pisses us off. We consider it a breach of trust, a personal affront, and are wary to proceed any further with the relationship.
So if you own a company or are thinking of starting one up, know the concept of CANDIDNESS and make it a pillar in your enterprise.
Sure, we’d all like things to go smoothly 100% of the time, but the fact is that there are too many variables sometimes, and people make mistakes. If and when that happens, be candid about it. If the problem can be fixed, propose a solution, implement it, and move on. Sure, your customers may be momentarily inconvenienced by your fault, but in the end, their trust will grow, provided they can guarantee you learned from the experience and it won’t happen again.
This concept of candidness and transparency goes beyond how you handle your mistakes, too. It should be reflected in the very persona of your company, which is easiest to maintain if it’s an extension of yourself. If you’re a small startup running things out of an attic space, say it. You won’t scare customers away. In fact, you might actually attract folks looking to support the little guy.
I’ve actually been using twitter for a few years, but haven’t been on it much since I’ve been in China. But I’m getting back on the ball. I post designs in progress and crazy foreign stuff that happens to me here. It’s basically the cliff notes of this blog.