Showing posts from August, 2013

New Art Revealed!

Yesterday, I mentioned that Jeff Laubenstein has been drawing additional art for the Villagers of Cairn Bicycle-brand Playing Card Kickstarter. Jeff has graciously agreed to add more art for Cairn because he believes in this project strongly, and he's fitting it in and around his other, paying gigs. This benefits the Cairn RPG by adding more artwork, as well as making it a bit easier for us to publish the book. All of us on the SoulJar Team (Alyssa, Jack, jim, and myself) want to thank Jeff for his contributions. I think it's safe to say that Cairn would have a very different look without him.

Isn't this lady groundhog beautiful? In the Cairn RPG, you must choose two professions, which gives you a range of options. You can choose two complimentary professions, like warrior/marksman, which would allow you to fight equally well with both sword and bow. Or how about priest/healer, giving you access to spells that deal with both Harmony and health? You could choose two differen…

Getting Back Up to Speed

It's a chilly, overcast August morning here in NYC, a harbinger of returning winter. We're entering one of my favorite seasons in New York, the autumns here are generally mild and pleasant. At least September and October. So I'm sitting here at the SoulJar Games World Headquarters, which look suspiciously like my bedroom, sipping a cup of coffee and getting ready to work.

I'm still trying to get used to this whole "day job" thing, which is weird to say since generally I work nights. But "night job" sounds like I'm a prostitute.... Which, as a freelance writer, I generally am. But still. The only days I really get much work done are my days off. I can get some things done in the mornings on work days, but then I lose momentum when I have to leave. Still, stuff is getting done.

One of the things that's gotten done is that we've received two new pieces of artwork from Jeff Laubenstein. When we asked him to do more work, Jeff asked for a list …

Update: BlockPath Pro for iPhone and iPad

My main regret in my original review of BlockPath was that it is too expensive to unlock all puzzles, since it requires four separate in-app purchases. This has been addressed today with the release of BlockPath Pro, which costs 99 cents and has all the worlds unlocked.
While I feel a bit cheated since I had already bought 3 worlds in the Free version, the good news is that the puzzles in the Pro version apparently are different, so I didn't buy the same stuff twice. Also, it looks like their size is large from the very beginning. In the Free version, the first few puzzles are played on smaller grids.

The developer is promising new puzzles to be added in September, so this looks like a bargain. Get it.

©2013 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmoria and with appropriate and specific direc…

Review: Spliced Colors for iPhone and iPad

Make no mistake: Spliced Colors by Maria Cristian is not a logic puzzle. It is, instead, a game to exercise your visual-spatial abilities.
The goal is peculiarly odd. You have a set of 12 tiles, and a pattern shown on the right of the screen. You need to pick in order the 5 tiles that reproduce the pattern, but rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise.
So in the above case, the solution would be this one:
Picking the tiles is not intuitive: you must tap the tile and swipe up. Don't try to drag it into place, that won't work.

You get 10 points for every level you solve correctly, and lose 10 points (and a life) when you make a mistake or run out of time. Every 50 points, there is an extra level where the tiles scroll across the screen instead of being lined up at the bottom.
Every 50 points, the tile set changes. Don't be confused by the different shapes: topologically, it's always the same set, the lines just get more tortuous to be harder to recognise.
There are five tile sets i…

Review: Reiner Knizia's Kaleidoscope for iPhone and iPad

Reiner Knizia's Kaleidoscope is a nice variation of domino placement puzzles, flawed by a mediocre user interface.
Whether Reiner Knizia was actually involved in the design of these puzzles, or his name is just used for marketing purposes, is unclear to me. The game uses the same double-hexagon domino pieces of Knizia's Ingenious (marketed as Kaleidoskop in some countries), but that's a totally different game.

There are six symbols, and 21 domino pieces showing all the possible pairs of symbols.
The playing area is a hexagonal grid, which in each puzzle is populated by a different pattern of symbols. You must place all the 21 pieces on the board, matching the existing symbols. Each puzzle has only one solution.
When you tap a piece on the right, the places where it can be moved are highlighted. This is helpful because to find the solution you only want to place a piece when you are sure of its position.

If you try to drag the piece over the board, which would be the natural t…

A Statement from Alyssa Faden

Colored Cards

Hi SoulJAR Fans!

First, we need to come up with a cool name for you guys. SJers? Jarheads? I don't know. You guys let me know.

Second, we got a card colored by a friend, Alberto Tavira Espinar. We always intended to make the face cards color, so they stand out in the deck. We are also toying with the idea of adding a little design behind the image to add a little depth. What do you guys think?

Leave them as plain sketches?

Color the cards?

Color and a little design?

Vote in the comments section.

Check out our Cairn Bicycle Playing Card Kickstarter for more information, and a chance to own these awesome images of warrior groundhogs, rogue squirrels, and sorcerous weasels drawn by the incomparable Jeff Laubenstein.

Update: Lazors 2.2

An update to the popular Lazors was released a few days ago, featuring 5 new groups of puzzles with cleverly thought themes, for a total of 50 new puzzles.

Numbered features grids shaped like the numbers 1 to 10, and each puzzle even has a matching number of blocks!
Grande contains grids larger than average. I found these puzzles to be the hardest of new ones.
Tinier has the smallest grids in the game. These are so small that it's easy to stumble on the solution by accident.
Glassware only uses glass and crystal blocks.
Elementary is a set of puzzles all using the 4 "elements" of the game, that is one of each kind of block.
The new puzzles are all entertaining as usual, so if you deleted the game from your device for some reason, it's time to download it again.

©2013 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmori…

Cairn Bicycle Playing Cards Update

Just a quick note. So far, we're up to 66 backers for our Cairn Bicycle Card Kickstarter. I want to thank those of you who backed us so far. We appreciate your confidence and support.

jim pinto is working on getting a new card ready today. We hope to reveal one new card every day (or thereabouts). Jeff is drawing new art. Alyssa is shepherding the Kickstarter. I continue to write what's left of the Cairn RPG. Jack continues to read the most recent draft. And we have a conference call scheduled for tomorrow to keep everything moving.

Thank you again from all of us for your contributions and interest in SoulJAR Games. Without you guys, we wouldn't get to do what we enjoy. You're what it's all about.

Review: BlockPath for iPhone and iPad

BlockPath Pro (also free) is a fascinatingly minimalistic path finding puzzle which hooked me from the beginning.
It was created by Tehnio, a Latvian developer, which is an interesting thing in itself since Latvia is one of the smallest countries in Europe, with a population smaller than Houston, Texas.

The puzzle concept is not entirely new, but the implementation in this case is excellent, making the game very enjoyable to play.

You start with a grid mostly empty, except for one blue and a few red cells. Your goal is to draw a continuous path starting from the blue cell and passing through all the cells except for the red ones.
For example, the solution of the above puzzle would be this one.
Surprisingly, even when the grid size increases, every puzzle has a unique solution. I think the largest size is 6x8, which is perfect for the iPhone screen size.

The lack of explicit clues makes these puzzles simple and elegant, in a way similar to Monorail, which is another favorite of mine.

If I we…

More Shots of the Mortis... Moti?


SoulJAR Grows

Today is another day of big announcements for SoulJAR games. So I'm just going to get right to them.

SoulJAR Adds People

SoulJAR has been something I've wanted to do for some time now. The idea grew out of my work on Torn Armor with Alyssa Faden, Jack Cull, and jim pinto. As we all worked together, we discovered we had a synergy and always kept in touch after my work on the Torn Armor rules was done. jim pinto agreed to do the layout for Cairn gratis. Jack has been reading over the Cairn rules. And Alyssa has provided managerial advice over the last few weeks.

As we were all working together on an ad hoc basis, I decided to ask them if they'd like to make it more formal. Happily, all three of them jumped at the idea. So I am pleased to announce that SoulJAR just got a lot bigger, I have more resources upon which to draw, and I get to work with some of my favorite people.

SoulJAR is now Jack Cull, jim pinto, Alyssa Faden, and Ross A. Isaacs

For the time being, we eschew formal t…

5 Core Elements Of Interactive Storytelling

Over the past few years I have had a growing feeling that videogame storytelling is not what it could be. And the core issue is not in the writing, themes, characters or anything like that; instead, the main problem is with the overall delivery. There is always something that hinders me from truly feeling like I am playing a story. After pondering this on and off for quite some time I have come up with a list of five elements that I think are crucial to get the best kind of interactive narrative.

The following is my personal view on the subject, and is much more of a manifesto than an attempt at a rigorous scientific theory. That said, I do not think these are just some flimsy rules or the summary of a niche aesthetic. I truly believe that this is the best foundational framework to progress videogame storytelling and a summary of what most people would like out of an interactive narrative.

Also, it's important to note that all of the elements below are needed. Drop one a…

Scale comparison 15mm Crusader and a 28mm Stormtrooper

I had a few people asking for a scale comparison of the upcoming 15mm scale Crusader and a 28mm miniature.

You can see it scales nicely for the 28mm crowd, the head is large enough to fit a pilot into and the overall size looks good.

Ghaaaw, I wish I went to Gencon

Spoke with some of the folks from WGF and they said that they had quite a few backers come say hello... Makes me very sad I could not attend. I would have loved to meet the folks that made this possible.

Here is a shot for Gencon

Next year come hell or high water, I will be there.

August 16th, 2013

Break Evens
There have been no new products to break even in the last two weeks. There are a couple that are flirting with the possibility (having covered at least 65% of their costs). They are:

CE 3 - The Folk of Osmon by Daniel Bishop

Heroes of the Fenian Triarchy by Josh McCrowell
Legendary Classes: Rune Magic by Josh McCrowell

Break Evenish
The Paths of Power II: Paths of Blood (and its associated mini-releases) have covered 75% of their costs so far. But its not a finished product yet so when I release more content, its costs go up, and then there are some new sales. So its fluctuates up and down and will continue to do so until the book is done. From a page count, it looks about 1/2 done so far but its returns are promising.

Deus ex Historica: The product is finished and has been submitted and approved by the print process in both softcover and hardcover. I suspect we might hit a snag on the hardcover but I have my fingers crossed. Proof copies of the softcover…