I’m still cranking away on my board game designs, but it’s been a while since I’ve shared the progress. The two games I’ve been focusing on the most are The Lonely Dungeon and One Dimensional Chess.
Luckily there’s no shortage of game design meetups in the city, so I’ve been getting plenty of great feedback and ideas lately. Here are some recent events:
The Lonely Dungeon is a single player dungeon crawler that I’ve been working on for a long time. During a recent playtest I decided to try a major rule change. I had been requiring players to engage with every new tile they encounter, but in this new version I decided to allow them to choose whether or not they want to engage with a new tile. I thought this change would break the game, but it worked out fantastically. In fact it fixed the key problem I had from most of my players and gave them the feeling of choice and control. Unfortunately you can’t make a change that big without needing to rebalance the game, which had been so finely balanced before.
One Dimensional Chess is one my most popular games and I believe it’s the best game for me to release first. So I’m working with Minusbaby, an NYC designer and musician, to create the perfect packaging for the game, then I’m going to release it on Kickstarter.
There’s also a prototype for 1D Chess on mobile phones, thanks to my friend Kurt Dekker.
Thomas and I just got back from our belated honeymoon trip, which we spent in Madagascar (with a few days in Instanbul to break up the travel).
I must say, I didn’t really know what to expect. Thomas had done the majority of the planning and fixing ahead of time since it was his idea—a childhood obsession with lemurs made this a dream destination for him his whole life. I expected to see lemurs and baobab trees and other beautiful nature, and in that regard it did not disappoint. But I didn’t realize that the majority of our days would be spent making 8- to 10-hour schleps in a 4x4 on poorly maintained roads to slowly make our way to our destinations. It certainly allowed for a lot of time to watch the scenery change as we passed from highlands to rolling hills, from golden savannahs to rainforests, and beyond. It allowed for a lot of reading—I started and finished the Broken Earth series in the matter of a few days. And I spent a lot of time thinking. We passed through countless villages lacking basic infrastructural things we take for granted in the western world such as electricity, waste management, maintained roads, clean water, access to technology—it’s impossible not to feel very “other” from people whose reality and life experience is completely separate from my own in so many ways.
That said, it was a great trip. Here are some highlights:
This park took 2 days to travel to, and 2 days to come back from, along mostly dirt roads with various water crossings. It’s in a very remote area. But you can see it’s appeal—craggy erosive limestone formations as far as the eye can see. Our trek took us through the rainforest canyons (which felt very Legends of the Hidden Temple), into caves with stunning stalactites, and then up and around the tops of the Tsingys, where carefully constructed routes complete with cables and platforms gave us safe passage.
This, as far as the eye can see.
Thomas on an actually-quite-safe-feeling suspension bridge on top of the tsingys.
The majority of species of baobab trees in the world grow only in Madagascar. This stretch of road off the western coast of the country is arguably one of the best places to see them and experience their grandeur.
These baobab trees are insanely tall and strange
With a Jenna for scale
We saw many different types of lemurs—brown lemurs, jumping rat lemurs, sifakas, greater bamboo lemurs, golden bamboo lemurs, mouse lemurs—but the most charismatic of them all is definitely the ring-tail. They are like if you combined a cat, a raccoon and a monkey all into one bouncy, cuddly, curious creature. Watching them effortlessly hop and climb around the forests provided endless entertainment.
The Yosemite of Madagascar. A little known climber’s heaven, this valley off the side of the larger Andrigitra Park features huge granite massifs comparable to our beloved California park. It sees only ~2,000 visitors per year. A french climber runs a hotel nearby to cater to the climbing crowd.
The weekend, we hiked the Nakasendo Trail through Kiso Valley in the Japanese Alps. The hike followed the old mountain route from Kyoto to Tokyo and passed through several towns that preserved their Edo-period aesthetic.
We had a great time and put in some serious mileage - today we hiked 16km over a mountain pass.
Some pictures from the trail:
Every week here is filled with great food – here are some standouts from the last few days:
Soba noodles in a chicken broth with black truffle:
Taiyaki with camembert cheese:
Sweet potato tempura:
We’re down to just two weeks left in Japan but I’m sure we’ll squeeze in a ton of great meals.
After some fun but exhausting travels, it’s good to be back in Tokyo for a bit and have a routine again. We’ve been keeping things low-key but have still had time for great food. Here are some recent pics of great dishes, but you can always find more on my Instagram, @randylubin.
It’s not just your imagination, NASA t-shirts really are everywhere now. Not only are these shirts popping up at your favorite retail stores, a new wave of NASA themed collaborations are appearing all over the fashion world. But why?
An easy answer is nostalgia. Both of the NASA logos (the classic red “worm” and the newer “meatball”) have a wonderfully retro look that translates well to a t-shirt design, but it’s also possible that there’s an economic incentive at play too. As a government organization, NASA does not require licensing process or licensing fee to be paid for the usage of its logos.
My personal theory is that this current boom was sparked by the popularity of a pair of astronaut-themed shoes designed by the artist Tom Sachs. In 2012, Sachs and Nike teamed up to release the “Mars Yard” sneakers, which were inspired by the quirky “Space Program” installations that Sachs was making at the time. These shoes became instant classics and are covered by sneakerheads around the globe, sometimes selling to collectors for over $2,000. After the popularity of these shoes, more and more street brands started dabbling with NASA themed logos and designs.
So these shoes were just slightly ahead of the trend or the current wave of NASA inspired fashion was the result of an artist who was known for making spaceships out of plywood and glue. You decide!
The post Blame Tom Sachs for the mainstream rise of NASA fashion appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.
I’m still cranking out the PopCast Yo-Yo Vlogs. Episode 21 talks about the history of Branding and episode 22 is an interview with someone who designed and manufactured 5 pieces of their dream yo-yos. If you like these episodes, please help support the show on Patreon.com/docpop
Continuing from last week’s post on Kyoto and Nara.
On Monday we checked out Nijo Castle in the morning
Then we had an incredible kaiseki meal at Nijojo Furuta. This was my first kaiseki, which is a traditional Japanese meal of small plates and it was phenomenal! Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwi-knIpUsY/
Then we checked in at Hiiragiya, a 200 year-old Ryokan (guest house). It was a phenomenal experience with gorgeous rooms and amazing service. We had a great kaiseki meal there, too and a delicious Japanese breakfast with tons of small bites.
After leaving Hiiragiya, we travelled south to Okayama where we checked out the castle and Kuraku-en gardens.
The next day we took the train south to Shikoku island which included a beautiful 8-mile bridge over the inland sea.
We arrived in Takamatsu and quickly checked out the the castle there, which included another great garden
We then ferried to the small nearby island of Ogijima which had cool art houses, painted boats, and a hike to a lighthouse
The next morning we caught a ferry to Naoshima, the famed art island where we slept over in the Benesse House museum. The island was covered with art installations and it was a treat to hike around and take them all in.
The next day we took the long journey back to Tokyo: Bus -> Ferry -> Train -> Train -> Shinkansen -> Taxi. We were completely exhausted but it was well worth it!
I spent the weekend in St Louis at the United Yo-Yo Contest. I lived in STL for a year and it was good to come back for a quick visit. The contest was rad. I was a sponsor and judged the fixed axle throwdown that happened after the main events were over. I met a lot of rad people too.
While I was in town I got to hang out with Kyle Nations, one of my favorite modern responsive yo-yoers, and a bunch of other rad folks. I even got breakfast at a chess themed diner inside the chess museum.
I’m traveling this week with Avital’s parents and we’ve spent the past couple days in Kyoto and Nara. Previously, I’d only spent about 24 hours in Kyoto and it’s been great to see more of the city.
We spent most of today in Nara, capital of Japan before Kyoto, and visited temples, shrines, and gardens while hanging out with the tame local deer.
Last Sunday we took a great day trip to hike Mount Takao, a small mountain on the edge of Tokyo. We took our local train line about an hour east, through greater Tokyo megalopolis until we reached the mountains.
We took a beautiful trail up along a river bed and were rewarded with great views of Tokyo and nearby mountains from the top (also ice cream)! We took a different route down and got to some interesting temples and shrines, plus more great views.
This was a perfect day trip and great way to get out doors!