About Ludum Dare
This weekend, 20-23rd April 2018 is the Ludum Dare game jam. Ludum Dare runs a 48 hour competition every 4 months in which you must create a game based on a theme chosen by the community in the week leading up to it. At the end of the weekend you can release your project and over the next 2 or so weeks other participants play and rate it. Historically the competition was limited to video games but recently it’s officially been expanded to board and card games but the organisers warn that getting votes on non video game entries can be hard. There are two variations of the jam. The first is the competition. This takes place over 48 hours from Friday evening to Sunday evening. All code and assets (except licensed fonts and brand identities, such as your logo) must be created during this 48 hour period and by just a single person. Once submitted you must provide your source code to prove that it was created during the competition and I guess as a sort of give-back-to-the-community sort of thing. Libraries and game engines are allowed as long as you are willing to share your source. The second is the jam, this is the less formal version designed for teams, usually professional studios who would like to develop their games further, into full games. In this version you are free to use any assets from any source provided you have the license to use them.
I first participated in Ludum Dare during LD28 and the theme was “You Only Get One”. I made a little game where you had you complete mathematical equations using only the number 1, spawning more 1s as needed. I had intended there to be a little story where you could rescue and unlock other numbers to help progress through the game. Unfortunately this was the first time I’d really been developing something to such a tight deadline and I was creating the engine from scratch in Java so I didn’t get very far, only able to rush out one poorly explained and buggy puzzle.
I’ve taken part in most of the jams/competitions since with varying degrees of success, sometimes with friends, sometimes by myself. I fully plan to “compete” again in the upcoming event (LD41) depending on the theme and whether any viable ideas present themselves. I may even stream some of the process if there is interest or a streamable amount of progress being made. If you’d like to watch you can do so by visiting my personal Twitch channel.
Choices For the Jam
If I/we create a video game (the mostly likely outcome) I will most likely be using Godot Engine. This is a relatively new Unity-like engine with a fully open-source MIT license with a good community. I like Godot because it is lightweight, fully open-source using a license I prefer, integrates well with Blender, a decent little Python-like scripting language and seems to be under heavy development. While Unity and Unreal are more mature I’m not keen on the licensing and I’ve found their communities a little less helpful.
Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 is my go to for most production of assets such as textures, sound effects and music, though I’d rather use open source alternatives such as Krita.
Blender for 3D modelling and animation.
Bitbucket for git versioning, due to its free private repo functionality and team sharing. Backup repository on my local Raspberry Pi server.
Currently the headline themes are:
- You are the weapon
- A light in the dark
- Keep growing
- 3 rules
- Unusual magic
- Colo(u)r changes everything
- At the beginning there is nothing
- Combine 2 incompatible genres (e.g. turn based racing)
- You really shouldn’t mix those
- Floating islands
- It spreads
- The environment changes you
- You are what you eat
I’m keen on about 3, indifferent on about 8 and fairly against another 5 though I won’t say which in case the final theme goes against me, it usually does.
If you’ve been thinking about doing some game development, this weekend would be a great time for you to give it a go, yes the time is short and it can be very tiring but it’s also a great way to get over all those little excuses you might be using that put it off. The game doesn’t have to be great, several times I’ve tweeted that the game isn’t worth posting for the jam only to be tweeted back by someone that it’s better to post an unfinished pile of junk than to wuss out all together. Even if you only manage to get a character moving on screen it’ll be an improvement on where you are now. The game doesn’t even have to be that linked to the theme if you can’t think of a connection.
In my original post on my favourite games of 2017 I listed Elex as one of my favourites. There are several reasons for this, partly it was fresh in my mind having recently received it. That said it has a lot of flaws and I feel like I haven’t really played it enough to truly give an informed impression of the game. So I’d like to offer up an alternative game in its place.
Sonic Mania (Nintendo Switch)
I absolutely loved Sonic growing up. I had all of the games on the Mega Drive and Game Gear and played them for years! When the world moved to 3D gaming I lost track of Sonic a bit as I moved more towards Nintendo and Sony for console gaming so I didn’t really pick a new Sonic up until the re-release of Sonic Adventure on the Gamecube and what a disappointment! I’d recently bought Sonic 4 on Steam in a sale and was still pretty disappointed but could see that while it was technically a 2D Sonic game it was influenced more by the 3D games than the classics. So when I heard they were releasing a new classic-style 2D Sonic game I was cautiously excited.
I have to say the reason it slipped my mind is the fact that it’s a digital download on my Switch and when coming up with ideas for games I’d really liked I’d looked through my Steam library and the cases for my Switch games and completely missed the only purely digital Switch game I had.
Sonic Mania is a project envisioned by die-hard Sonic fans and it really shows, from re-imagined classic levels with a twist such as Sonic 3’s Hydrocity Zone and Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant Zone to some of the original levels it really feels like a good old Sonic game.
I have to admit to finding some of the new levels less fun though I really think that might be down to how interesting I found the twists on the classic levels. I also haven’t replayed the game yet and as such haven’t built the same memory of routes as I had from years of childhood repetition with the classic levels so maybe on replay I will develop a similar level of fondness for the new levels too. My favourite of the new levels was probably Stardust Speedway Zone, a level I felt nodded to some of my favourites from the first three Mega Drive classics whilst coming off as completely new.
Overall Sonic Mania is a solid Sonic game and a return to the golden 16 bit era of 2D platforming games and with a release on all major platforms including PC there’s no reason you can’t play it if you haven’t already.
First up, not all of these games are 2017 releases, they’re just the games I played the most or felt had the most potential for me to during 2017.
Both of my honourable mentions are still in early access and as such I’ve not spent a huge amount of time playing them.
Ghost of a Tale – PC
Ghost of a Tale is an adorable little stealthy action-RPG game. You play a mouse called Tilo, imprisoned and separated from his little mousey wife. Your goal is to escape the prison and find your wife, the game is very much unfinished (at least it was when I last played it a year ago), though recent reports from the developers suggest it’s not far off being completed. That said, the first chapter was very compelling, if a little frustrating in its exploration at times with much backtracking and some areas that were maybe hidden a little too well. The visuals are very good, the animation is usually top notch and the puzzles feel pretty satisfying. Then again, it’s been a while as the game came out in early access in 2016 and I’ve been waiting for more of the game to be finished before diving back in which is why it didn’t make the 2017 favourites list.
They are Billions – PC
Tower defence meets RTS in a zombie infested land. The better you do, the more the horde desires you. This is an honourable mention because it’s only just been released in early access and hasn’t quite clicked with me yet but I think as it develops I’ll be enjoying it more.
10. Elex – PC
Elex is possibly a bit controversial for me to put on this list because I’m not sure it’s actually a good game. There are a lot of problems with the game, from lackluster sound design, where landing on a log sounds like you’re walking the plank on a ship to the fact that there seems to be absolutely no balance to the placement of enemies in the game, I’ve not had the game very long so I’m still in the starting area but so far I’ve found a lot of enemies who are too tough for me, a few that will even one shot you if you get too close. This includes one of the main story missions which I accidentally found while wondering around trying to do a side mission, apparently I’m still under level because the two enemies can kill me in two hits! Compare this to something like Fallout 4 or Zelda Breath of the Wild where there are some very tough enemies who you can encounter if you wonder into the wrong place but in the case of Fallout 4 it’s fairly obvious that you probably shouldn’t be there yet
The game continues to have problems with the way it controls, which feel almost tank-like. Very early on you get a jet pack which allows you to cross ravines and climb mountains but this feels very clunky and has almost no fuel. It’s also surprisingly easy to die from falling, it might have been a bug but I accidentally jumped off a small ledge and instantly died. I don’t think the fall was more than knee high but it’s made me wary of exploring where it’s a bit too hilly.
Combat also feels very clunky and I’m not sure I quite get how it works, you can pull off combos during slow motion sections but nothing ever seems to happen when you try to respond to the prompt. You can also build up special moves which you activate with Q but I’ve never managed to have enough stamina to pull one off.
There is one redeeming feature with the controls and that’s with the interaction distance which sees you able to pick up objects from quite a distance, while this may be a bit immersion breaking it does mean you can save a bit of time while foraging for things, it also makes climbing ledges feel a little more fluid as you don’t usually have to fumble near the edge to register an interaction.
You might wonder why I am playing the game with all these issues? Well for one it was a present, secondly despite all its faults I’m feeling oddly compelled by the world and the weirdness of the story, the story itself isn’t necessarily very well written but it is an interesting one regardless. While its graphics aren’t top notch in terms of technology, looking closer to a AAA 2010-2012 game than one released in 2017, the world itself looks very nice with some nice landscapes and interesting ruins. If you like games like Fallout or Skyrim it may be worth you giving it a go when the game comes down in price, in terms of tone it does feel like a near perfect mix of the two, merging magical abilities with a technological wasteland.
9. Zelda Breath of the Wild – Switch
Let me just say I’ve never been a huge Zelda fan, I don’t know why but they’ve never really clicked with me. That said I’ve put a fair amount of time into BotW and I find it by far the best Zelda that I’ve played. I love the graphics style and revealing the backstory through memories was a nice touch. The NPC missions are generally quite enjoyable. My main problems with it are the temples and the fragile weapons. I feel like they realised there wasn’t quite enough content in the game so they kept adding temples but then ran out of ideas. Some are just boring and there’s so many where you just walk in and get your rewards. Generally speaking, these temples are supposedly hard to find and the orb you receive is supposed to make up for the challenge in finding the temple, however some of them really weren’t hard to find and then there’s so much cutscene before you can actually receive the orb that it just feels like more of a chore to have found these temples than some of the other puzzle-based ones. I feel like Mario Odyssey did a much better job in its variation of puzzles to find Moons than BotW did in its temple designs.
In some ways I quite like the breaking weapons, I’m not sure I’d like to see it in too many other games but it’s an interesting idea, however the fact that some weapons break VERY quickly can get very frustrating. I seemed to spend most of my time running away from a fight I’d otherwise be capable of winning because I ran out of weapons and had to go find more. It also made the game feel less fun as I spent more time using lesser weapons for fear that the latest great sword would break just when I needed it most. Even the Master Sword breaks (with a cooldown time) and that just felt wrong.
Overall I liked Breath of the Wild the most of any Zelda game, the open world really helped ease my usual complaints but with a lack of variety in the temples I still found it falling prey to the issues I have with them.
8. Cuphead – PC
Cuphead is a weird one for me. I love the music and visuals, invoking the style of old 1930s animations, but find the gameplay a bit lackluster. I get it, it’s a “git gud” bullet hell game but I feel like without the visuals and music it probably wouldn’t have received as much attention as it did. That said, I’m very glad it has done well and I do quite enjoy it, if only in small doses.
7. Everspace – PC
This is a 3D space based rogue-like, a bit like FTL. You fly into a region, find as many resources as you can, kill as many outlaws as possible and flee to your next jump point before they send in reinforcements. It’s quite hard but does have VR support which is very fun and immersive. I actually backed this one on Kickstarter in 2016 and am very glad I did (although due to a snafu with emails I missed my chance to get my name in the backer credits which was a bit upsetting :(.)
6. Elite Dangerous – PC
Elite Dangerous is a space sim game where you fly around from star system to star system delivering goods, taking out space pirates and generally have varying level of relaxing or stressful journeys through the Milky Way. I liken it to Euro Truck Simulator 2 with less business development and more shooting. Though if you haven’t got Elite Dangerous yet I’d probably get it with the Horizons expansion, I really feel like I’m missing a lot by not having it.
5. Subsurface Circular – PC
This is an interesting little game from Mike Bithell, the creator of such games as Thomas Was Alone and Volume. Hopefully without giving away any spoilers you are are an AI detective on an underground train used by other AIs and you take it upon yourself to solve a mystery. The catch is that you can only do this by talking with other passengers as they arrive in your cabin on the train. It’s an entirely dialogue tree based game (at least as far as I’ve got in the 3 act story) but it’s very compelling. The only reason I haven’t finished it yet is that I’m saving it for when I’m really in the mood. I’d say it’s not really my usual taste but I also really appreciate it.
4. Overwatch – PC
While Overwatch came out in 2016 I feel like it’s still one of my most played games. Sure, there’s a lot of toxicity in the player base and I’m pretty sure Blizzard are still cheating on the “duplicates” front, they say they’ve reduced the chance of duplicates and that any reported duplicates are just people mis-remembering but it really feels off sometimes. I’m also less than a fan of how the loot boxes are set up regarding the gentle but ever present push to purchase them. Beyond all that, however, I really like the variety of characters and FPS has always been one of my favourite types of game.
The game has continued to improve with balance changes, a plethora of new characters from which to choose and a few new maps and game modes and honestly I really quite enjoy the game for the most part. My biggest complaint is probably in the lack of maps and game modes. While they continue to add new maps at a fairly steady rate and have added a few new arcade game modes, it can feel very samey after a while, especially when a server seems to get stuck on a map/game mode for a while.
3. Space Engineers – PC
It’s Minecraft in space with spaceships, what’s not to love? Well for one, the performance issues and general lack of content. All you can really do is construct shape ships and bases, there’s a bit of PVP and a survival mode but, co-op can grind to a halt with framerate lags as it tries to keep everything in sync across the internet. It’s also been in early access for a long time, having only recently been officially released in beta and while it gets a usually weekly update, it hasn’t really seemed to develop much. The addition of planets was a nice touch and some more realistic sound effects helped a bit with the immersion but at the core it still feels very unfinished, although the new physics system does add some interesting new potentials for ship design. I would, however, recommend it if you like space, creation games and can find it on sale somewhere. It has plenty of mods including several Stargate mods!
2. Super Mario Odyssey – Switch
Mario’s latest outing on Switch is very fun! The levels are all very different and it really feels like you’re going on an adventure. The mechanics are pretty tight, the puzzles are generally fun and the visuals and sound design are top notch. I felt the story was a bit short but there’s a lot more to do after the story has finished and I think the intention was to focus on the gameplay over the story. Overall a delightful experience reminiscent of the fun from the N64 and Gamecube Mario games.
1. Drum roll please… (Switch)
It might have only come out at the start of December but I’ve already put in possibly my most condensed and one of my longest playtimes into my absolute favourite game of 2017, Xenoblade Chronicles 2!
I had previously played Xenoblade Chronicles X on the Wii U and while I enjoyed the world I just found the gameplay too distracting, with an item collection point seemingly every couple of metres and a raft of enemies that were far too hard and often impossible to avoid I found it very difficult to keep on track of the story and had to eventually abandon the game. So far I’ve found that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has fixed a lot of these issues, while it’s possible to walk into an area full of aggressive over-level enemies and there are still a lot of collection points but they’re much less distracting, the story also feels a lot more compelling and I already feel like the characters and mechanics have been developed a lot more and I feel satisfied with my progression through the game so far.
I really like the variety of accents in the world, it really adds to the sense of scale and difference in the world’s regions.
That said, there are some faults with the game. There’s a LOT of noise during battles, every humanoid character has to announce its moves, often very frequently and often over each other, with a regular player party of 3 characters plus at least 1 blade per player character, you’re already up to at least 6 characters, all talking every couple of seconds. Enemies can also announce themselves, again, far too frequently, some soldiers will just yell “remember me!” over and over until you kill them. One big thing I find is that the framerate has a tendency to drop as you wander, even while docked. It’s not usually for very long but it can be a bit distracting. This isn’t really a problem as such but the game can be a bit childishly animé at times and some of the rarer blades are a bit fan servicey with jiggle physics and “high level” skimpy clothing so I feel it’s worth mentioning in the negative category.
I’m not normally one for finishing (J)RPGs because they’re too time intensive but I’m enjoying Xenoblade Chronicles 2 enough that I might actually finish this one.
Following on from my post about printing a Royal Game of Ur set as a last minute Christmas present I thought I’d do a quick post on how to actually play the game.
The Royal Game of Ur is an ancient game predating backgammon. There are several interpretations as to the true history of the game and its rules. This post will follow the work of Irving Finkle and the British Museum. The British Museum YouTube channel has a great video where Irving Finkle plays Tom Scott. If you’re more visual you may find this a better way to learn the game but if you do end up watching the video over this post just know that there’s a PDF download of the rules at the bottom of the page which you can print and package with your 3D printed gift.
The goal of the game is to be the first player to move all your pieces along the board. Each player has 7 pieces. Each player takes it in turns to roll the four 4-sided tetrahedron dice. Each die has two pips, if the die lands such that a pip is face up you count the die as a 1. As such it’s possible to roll between 0 and 4. If you roll greater than a 0 you must move a piece if you are able. You may only move a single piece per roll. A piece can only move onto a space that’s unoccupied or occupied by an apponents piece, you cannot stack your own pieces. If you land on a space occupied by your opponent their piece is knocked off the board and must start again.
You can jump an occupied space if you roll greater than that space. For example, you roll a 4 and the next 2 spaces are occupied, you can jump the two occupied spaces and move two more. If, however, you roll a 2 and the second space ahead of you is occupied by your own piece you cannot move to that space.
There are five rosette spaces on the board, in the image below they are the yellow and blue spaces. If you land on a rosette you must roll again and move again. You don’t need to move the same piece. If you land on another rosette you keep rolling and moving until you stop landing on a rosette. The central (blue) rosette space is a special tile. If you occupy this space that piece cannot be knocked off the board. One player moves pieces from the top row green space and follows the red path. Their opponent starts from the bottom row green space and follows the blue path.
To remove a winning piece from the board you must roll exactly. If your piece is 1 space from coming off the board you must roll a 1.
That’s all there really is to the game. I hope you enjoy playing your new 3D printed Royal Game of Ur set. There are other interpretations of the rules that you can find on the internet.
This post is mostly for gamers with a few technical and practical techniques. You’ll need to know your way around a 3D printer and how to mix epoxy glue as well as how to sand and similar skills.
Please note that when printing the demo for this post I discovered my printer had a loose pulley but I didn’t have time to fix it and start the print again so please excuse the wobbly print. It’s not the design it was my printer, it applies to the photos of the bronze-gold coloured board.
Back in May I watched a British Museum YouTube video about a game called the ‘Royal Game of Ur’, an ancient counter-based board game that predates even backgammon. I was instantly hooked by the idea of printing a copy. My mum absolutely loves backgammon and I thought she might get a kick out of playing something similar. I had a quick look on Thingiverse but while I found one, I didn’t like how long it would take to print. It was square-edged and designed to print long edge down which requires a lot of infill, resulting in a very long print. There was a thinner version designed for faster printing but I found that didn’t come out very well and I really wanted a full-sized game with a drawer to contain the counters and pieces. I could have printed the existing design, rotated onto its short end but I wanted one with rounded edges to make it my own. The design I’d found had a non-commercial clause on the license so I decided to go in from scratch and create a 100% new design in Blender.
Using references which I found online for the layout of the board tiles, I set about working on my design. Once it was finished I gave the edges a very large, smooth bevel. I knew this would cause issues with printing due to it having an overhang which was more than 45 degrees so I created some custom supports. For this project I thought I could generate better quality supports that would be easier to remove than auto-generated ones because of the simple nature of the shape.
Finally, I wanted to add some cut-outs to glue rubber pads to the bottom of the board to avoid any possibility of scratching tables because the rougher layer lines would be against the table and any movement might eventually cause small scratches. Because of the vertical nature of the design, I made sure that the tiles and pad cut-outs are as thin as possible so as to require no supports, whilst also giving enough definition.
If you have a 3D printer you can make a great present for someone who loves games like backgammon even with just under a week left until Christmas. Grab your filament (preferably 3-4 different colours) and get to printing!
Thee are three (and a bit) different designs. I’d recommend printing either version 1 or 2, though if you’re up for a challenge versions 2.5 or 3 are there for you if you like the look of them.
It’s quick to print and ready to play pretty much straight off the printer. It has a drawer for the parts but depending on your print settings, calibration and tolerances you may find this a little snug, requiring a little sanding of the cavity (and maybe the drawer too) to get a smooth fit. The latch that holds the drawer in place eventually wears off though honestly this isn’t too much of an issue most of the time, just don’t leave it face down in your bag.
For reference from now on I will refer to the board part on the left of the above photo the square board and the one on the right the tee board. I know these aren’t 100% accurate descriptions but they’re close enough.
The second design is for the more adventurous. It requires a few extra parts and more finishing time. The two board parts and the drawer, all, have cut-outs for small magnets. These need gluing in place and the cut-outs will likely need to be cleaned up a little. The magnets in my original design had a 10mm diameter and were 1mm thick, with a pull of 0.58kg. They weren’t VERY strong. They hold the drawer and board in place, even face down but if you shake the board, the drawer will usually fall out. The two board pieces will be held in place for a play session but can’t really be moved in-place like the first design. As a result, I’ve redesigned the cut-outs to take thicker magnets with a stronger pull. I’ve also made the cut-outs open faced insets rather than slots in the under side of the board.
The slot version is still available but I don’t really recommend you print it unless you want a “magic”/invisible magnetic effect as the clean-up is a little fiddly and the magnet covers are harder to attach. We’ll call this style version 2.5.
The final design does away with the drawer, replacing it with a cover that is once again held in by magnets. This is a fancy design but I realised that I actually prefer playing with the drawer as it makes tidying up easier, just put your winning pawns straight back in the drawer and you can just slide it back in at the end of the game. As such I’ve mostly abandoned the design. You can print it if you like the look of the design but I wouldn’t really recommend it as I haven’t tested it properly. One major advantage however is that it can be printed on a single 170 x 170 x 130mm printer bed and takes just under 8 hours at 60mm/s.
In the original design that used magnets I had designed it to use two 10x3mm disc magnets next to each other in all the parts, the thinking being that you’d get a bit more pull and the magnets would have more chance of getting lined up when attaching parts, however I found that this made it quite hard to glue them in place as they kept trying to repel each other out of the slots. You can see this design in the Version 2.5 picture So with this in mind I’ve modified the slots for the two board parts to take thicker 10mm magnets which should result in a stronger pull of all the parts.
Print Settings and Stuff
I recommend printing both parts of the board together if your printer has a large enough build volume. This saves a little time over printing them separately as it reduces set up time but the true benefit is that it allows you to print faster, saving time, and still end up with a high quality print. The single tile-width part of the T shaped board part tends to buckle if printed by itself as the layers don’t have time to cool properly.
You can counteract this by lowering your head temperature a few layers before you get there or printing slower but honestly, printing both parts together works much better as it significantly increases the individual layer time thus almost guaranteeing that the layers will have cooled sufficiently by the time the next layer starts.
Recommended Resolution: 0.3mm.
Walls: 2-4 (I usually do 2 but 4 might give you a cleaner drawer cavity.
Top/Bottom Layers: 3-4 (I usually use 3)
Speed: 40-60mm/s – It should print fine at 60 but if you want a more consistent quality you might want to try a lower speed. Print the dice quite slow to keep the first layer stuck to the bed.
Brim: Not necessary but you may have trouble getting the dice to stick without one
Infill: 10% for the boards and drawers 15-25% for the counters, 100% for the dice to give an even weight and add some heft to them.
Square and Tee Board Parts
I’d recommend turning build-plate-only supports on in your slicing software for versions 1 and 2. This adds almost no print time but just makes sure that the build-plate facing cut-outs are clean and don’t collapse.
You may find it useful to turn on supports everywhere if printing versions 2.5 or 3 as the slots can collapse a little bit without them but it’s not strictly necessary.
Dice and Counters
There’s no need for supports on these items
Regarding the drawer itself you can enable supports for the handle overhang, however it’s not strictly necessary.
I recommend printing the counters in either white and black or some garish colours like fluorescent green and orange. The board looks amazing in chocolate brown or dark grey and if you want to go even more garish why not try the drawer in some other colour that complements the board colour.
If you’ve printed well all that should be needed is to use a small, flat screw driver or pliers to pry away the custom supports (and magnet supports), a little medium-grit sand paper can be used to remove any left over support sprue and can be useful for loosening the fit of the drawer cavity. If you really want you can try to go for a glass finish. This will take a lot of time and require pretty much every grit of sandpaper there is. You can see how to do this in the references at the bottom of this post though I think the print looks fine as it comes straight off the printer.
One more thing you will need to do is to remove the rabbit ears that are built into the drawer files. These help to keep the drawer from warping on the bed. They’re relatively easy to remove, at 0.3mm resolution they should only be a single layer thick, just use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut around the edge of the drawer, this will get rid of the bulk of the ears, you then just need to sand, file or use a deburring tool to remove the rest.
Clean up the magnet inset/slot then insert the magnets a little way, try not to push them in all the way (if printing version 2.5-3). You just want to check the polarity, the magnets in the drawer and square should attract and the magnets in the square and tee boards should attract. Once you’ve got this sorted, you’ll need to glue them in place. You can either rough up the surfaces of the magnets with some sandpaper or a file then use some Loctite Precision super glue or try your hand with some 2-part epoxy glue. The epoxy may work better as the magnets don’t stick that well with regular super glue and filing the surfaces can sometimes snap them as they’re quite brittle.
Add the pads
If you have some 10-12mm rubber pads, stick them to the bottom of the board parts.
Add the Magnet Covers
Hopefully you’ve made sure all your magnets are aligned correctly, now take the magnet covers you printed and apply a small amount of super glue (or expoxy) to the cover and press it into their designated slots. You may find it helpful to use some needle nose pliers to keep your fingers free of glue.
For the inset design (version 2) you want to have two circular covers, these should be placed on top of the tee board and under the square board. If possible try to align them so that the infill pattern matches the infill pattern on the board for a more seamless transition. The magnet covers for versions 1-2 are supplied in their own file. You may find it better to print them at a higher resolution like 0.1mm.
For the magnet slot in the drawer (versions 1-2.5) and on the slotted boards (versions 2.5-3) take the small printed magnet cover sticks and try to fit them in the slot groove. You will see that there is a small lip on which the cover can rest. You may need to trim/sand it a little depending on your tolerances. Once you’re happy that it fits, add a small dab of super glue to the lip of the slot and gently hold the cover in place. If you find you can’t remove the magnet cover but haven’t glued it, just gently add a little dab that fills the gap between the slot and cover.
For version 3 the magnet covers are supplied as part of the cavity cover file (the green item in the picture below), the two longest covers are for the slots in the square board (red in the below image). The middle length covers are for the magnets in the cover (green in the below picture). The final two covers (shortest) are for covering the magnets in the slots underneath the two board pieces.
Finishing the Dice
One last thing to do is to accent the pips on the dice. Each die has 2 pips denoted by a slight dent or cut-out. These can be a little unclear at a quick glance. If you have printed them in a light coloured filament you can try marking the dents with a sharpie marker. Otherwise you could use some acrylic paint to paint the pips in.
Everything should now be done!
If you feel like you want to add your own touch to the finish of the game why not paint the tiles or add some glow in the dark powder to the rosette tiles. The rosettes are the ones that look a little like flowers.
There is one special rosette and four regular rosettes. I’d add some green/blue powder to the regular rosettes and maybe some orange or purple to the special rosette.
On my Kossel Mini printer I can get it to print at around 66mm/s, at this speed the whole project takes about 10 hours, though I suspect the drawer cavity would be a little less tight if printed at a slower speed.
Board Parts: 7-8 hours
Dice: 40 min-1 hour
Counters 40 min (per player)
These times assume you have a well calibrated printer and can print each part first time.
You only need to print 14 counters in total, I’d recommend printing 7 of the traditional counters (counter-fingerGrip or counterStandard) in 2 colours OR printing 7 star counters and 7 moon counters.
The star and moon counters are my own interpretation of the counters to make it easier to distinguish between players and make it easier to pick the pieces up, however they may be a bit trickier to print.
|Version||File||Copies||Approx Print Time (at 60mm/s)||Additional Parts|
|1x 10 x 2mm magnet, rubber pads
1x 10 x 2mm magnet, rubber pads
1x 10 x 2mm magnet
|V.2 (inset magnets)||SquareBoardInset.stl
|1x 10 x 2mm magnet, rubber pads
1x 10 x 2mm magnet, rubber pads
1x 10 x 2mm magnet
|V.2.5 (slot magnets)||SquareBoardSlot.stl
|1x 10 x 2mm magnet, rubber pads
1x 10 x 2mm magnet, rubber pads
1x 10 x 2mm magnet
|V.3 (no drawer)||squareBoard-NoDrawer.stl
|4x 10 x 2mm magnet, rubber pads
2x 10 x 2mm magnet, rubber pads
2x 10 x 2mm magnet
You can download the STL files required for this project on Bitbucket.
All affiliate links below are provided for convenience and are not recommendations or guarantees that the items will work for you in this project.
3D printer, duh – 100 x 100 x 130mm minimum print volume
PLA Filament x 3-4 colours
Colour 1 – both board parts (and either the drawer or cavity cover)
Colour 2 – player 1 counters
Colour 3 – player 2 counters
Colour 4 – D4 dice – I’d recommend a light coloured filament to make adding the pips easier.
You could probably get away with some super glue but while I’ve had good results gluing PLA to PLA I have my doubts about the longevity of its hold on the magnets.
This is useful for gluing the magnet covers to the boards and drawer (PLA to PLA), the epoxy is probably a bit of overkill for this and harder to work with.
Not strictly necessary but good if you want to take advantage of the foot pad indents.
Side cutters – Can be useful for cleaning up prints
Safety Goggles – keeps your eyes safe from filings and any errant glue
Vinyl Gloves – keeps your skin safe from the epoxy
Respirator – If you really want to keep yourself safe use these to keep harmful fumes and filing dust out of your lungs
Magnet Versions Only (Versions 2-3)
Use whichever of the two sizes you can get, just try to make sure they have about a 2kg or more pull.
OK so this was a bit of a mammoth post but I wanted it all in one place for people to speedily get printing in time for Christmas. I’ll do a follow up post on how to play Royal Game of Ur shortly and if it proves popular, I will try to do a post on how to add glow in the dark powder to the board. I hope you find this project interesing. Please let me know if there are any issues.
Oh! one last thing, here’s the YouTube video that inspired all of this in case you haven’t already rushed off to find it.
This is a quick top tip for playing Sub Terra, a game I backed on Kickstarter. I backed at the Collectors Edition level which means that I received a little UV torch in the box, among other things, such as the 3 expansions, an art book and developer diary. A lot of the art on the game pieces is UV reactive (the logo on the big box glows in the dark too which is cool). I find, however that the torch tends to be too direct and blow out the UV reactive effect. I’m also concerned that it will be difficult or expensive to replace the battery when it runs out so don’t really want to use it that much. A quick note, all products mentioned in this post can be found in links at the bottom of the page.
It’s actually possible to get LED strips that emit UV-A light relatively cheaply, around £8 if you already have a 12V power supply, £18 for the strip and power supply . These usually come in 5 metre strips, around 300 LEDs and use about 24 watts. What’s cool about them is they have a sticky tape on the back and come on a flexible PCB so can be shaped around the room to maximise the UV effect. Some, like the set I got can be chained together though I suspect you may need a power supply that can provide more than 2 amps for more than one strip.
How I ended up using them was to run them up the wall, over part of the door frame and then draped them over the struts of the chandelier that hangs over over the dining table, this gave a really nice ambient light around the room with a nice strong light over the game pieces. The way they’re draped gives a nice organic look, a bit like some ethereal, glowing tentacled horror, perfect for the theme of the game. The strand running across the room in the photo below isn’t hanging as low as it seems, the photo was taken from a high angle to get the Sub Terra box in the same shot. I’ve since tacked the strip to the ceiling so it’s even less in the way.
The set-up is also pretty portable. I was able to take the entire strip to my friend’s flat and we managed to illuminate the room by draping them over his lamp shade and some shelf units around the room, a completely non-damaging solution. This worked pretty well even when the lights FELL DOWN in a real life jump scare during an actually tense moment in the game, bah gawd my heart!
The above photo(s) show the game we played at my friend’s flat. The room is lit entirely by the UV LEDs but even the lower picture doesn’t really come close to how bright it seems in real life. This was probably realistically only about 1/3 of the LEDs providing useful illumination. To the right of the image you can see two little green blobs which are the official glowing die (the brighter one) and my custom designed horror tokens, activated entirely by the LEDs.
Alternatively if you don’t have many draping points in your games room you could get some cheap light stands. There are some pretty cheap ones on Amazon for about £20. You could then drape the lights around these, over the table, maybe using a small patch of the 3M backing tape to secure them to avoid slippage.
Of course this lighting setup might not work for everyone. You really need to own your own property to make the most of the set-up permanently as it’s best when the strips are pinned to the wall/ceiling. Or if you’re using the light stands you need a decent amount of space around your gaming table so as not to crowd the players. If you like the idea of UV atmospheric lighting but don’t want the hassle of the strip, there is one final simple option. You can actually get some UV bulbs that fit into standard light fittings though I’ve not personally tried any. If they provide anywhere near the same level of light you could just replace the standard bulb in your games room for the evening and play all your scariest games.
A More Advanced Solution
If you have electronics skills how about controlling your new UV LEDs with an Arduino. While the LEDs aren’t individually addressable like some other strips they can be split up every 3rd LED. You could use a set of relays or transistors to control the 12V power supply to several smaller strips, making them flicker at random to increase the atmosphere. If you add some RGB LED strips and a couple of buttons you could code them to respond to certain in-game events. Say you encounter a horror and lose consciousness, hit the button and the room temporarily lights up bright red or white. If you reach the “Out of Time” state in the game you could dim the UV LEDs over time and have some red LEDs fade up at the same time. Finally if you’re looking to make this a more permanent solution you could have a button that turns the RGB or maybe some white LED strips on full, disabling the UV LEDs and have these be your house lights for regular gaming sessions. If you like this idea and want another post on how to set this up, let me know in the comments.
The below Amazon affiliate links are actual recommendations.
UV LEDs – This is the actual LED strip I ordered.
Some games that should go well with atmospheric lighting
Welcome to the Dungeon – a game of monster-chicken
Zombie Dice – a dice game about risking it all to become the most well fed zombie out there
Cthulhu Dice – A dice game by the same people who brought you Zombie Dice featuring your favourite madness bringing eldritch horror. I’ve not played the physical version of this game but there is a digital one you can try out that I quite enjoyed.
There are others such as Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror which seem like they’d be a good fit however I’ve not played them so can’t really recommend them at the moment.
The below affiliate links are provided for convenience but as I haven’t used them they are not recommendations.
Large Cable Clips – These look similar to the ones I used but again, only really usable if you own your property.
Some Light Stands – While I haven’t used exactly these stands I have used ones very similar and ordered other things from the same manufacturer so I’m sure they’ll hold up fine.
DISCLAIMER: The techniques used in this blog may be considered copyright infringement however the steps taken were used purely for personal, non-commercial fan improvements to the game. With that in mind you are recommended to replicate these steps only for the same non-commercial purposes and at your own risk.
Earlier in the year I backed a game on Kickstarter called Sub Terra which I like to describe as a weird mix where Carcassonne meets Forbidden Island in a deadly caver setting, I guess some wouldn’t agree but it’s what I feel describes the game quite well. The game turned up in late October and it was super exciting to unbox and play. One of the main parts of the game is “horrors” which spawn and chase you round the map, causing immediate loss of consciousness for any player they touch. These can be quite threatening however during the campaign the production company explained that their custom designed horror pieces hadn’t come out as they’d anticipated and had resorted to using stock black wooden pieces.
Honestly, this was a bit of a let-down partly due to the size and shape of the pieces (a short untextured cylinder) and partly due to the fact that the cave tiles are quite dark and the black colour of the pieces made them vanish on the board. That said their decision somewhat understandable from a production standpoint.
So, having been excited to play and being an avid 3D printer with 3D modelling skills I decided to make my own custom pieces. Now it’s worth quickly mentioning that they do offer a version of the game with custom miniatures and it’s only £18 more than the version I purchased and had I been in possession a bit more spare cash at the time and a bit more confidence in the campaign I would have almost certainly backed this and if you can afford it I’d recommend you investigate that.
I mulled over how to make some custom pieces from finding some “horror” like figure on sites like Thingiverse to a more standard looking “token” shaped item. I couldn’t find anything I particularly liked on the web so I decided that something akin to their original design would work well. The creators had released a print and play version of the game and I thought it would be cool to model something similar to the official horror artwork, which looks like a monstrous triple claw slash on a jagged outline background. I had planned to import the artwork into Illustrator and trace the outline of the claws fairly accurately but with ease of printing in mind. As it turned out the artwork in the print and play downloads is semi-editable PDF vectors. As such I was actually able to extract the claw and jagged outline design into Illustrator, export the shape in an SVG file and import THAT file into Blender.
In Blender the SVG is represented by a NURBS curve. This needs converting to a mesh. After a bit of scaling and face/edge cleanup I was able to extrude the claw and outline shapes. I modelled a simple cylinder shaped token based on a guesstimate measurement of the game tiles and applied a boolean modifier between the cylinder and the imported shape, resulting in a really nice claw cutout on the top face.
I exported the STL and opened it in my 3D printing slicer of choice (usually Cura – slic3r seems to make my printer act weird).
My first attempt in Cura didn’t go so well, the claws were too small and I knew they wouldn’t print cleanly. I scaled the token up a bit until the claws had definition then went back into Blender to make the tweaks final, adjusting the cylinder to better fit the scaled design without letting the volume get too large. I still wanted these to print as quickly as possible.
They came out great! They also print pretty quickly. The game requires 3 tokens and this turns out to be the perfect number for the design. Being quite small you really need to print multiple copies at once to improve the quality of each one. If you’d like a more detailed blog on 3D printing let me know in the comments, though I’m assuming you already have a printer or a friend who has one if you’re reading this post. As it turns out, three copies were just enough to optimise the print quality.
Like I said the prints looked great however there was one last touch missing. When I got my printer, one of the first non-filament items I got for it was some strontium aluminate powder. This is a non-toxic, non-radioactive (despite the name) glow in the dark powder that can be mixed with almost any liquid binder. I had always planned to add this to the cut out face around the claws to give the design an eerie, sinister, threatening feel. I mixed the powder with some clear nail varnish and used a small brush to get the paste right into the design. In the past I’ve had trouble with the nail varnish evaporating and leaving just the residue stuck to the printed part.
This works quite well but doesn’t look all that great when the lights are on (and uncharged), especially if you’re not too accurate with the brush like I am, however in the dark this looks amazing! As such I would recommend trying a binder less likely to evaporate like epoxy resin or even better maybe using some pre-made glow in the dark paint. If I had any glow in the dark PLA filament I would maybe redesign the tokens to have a second “fill” part that would fit into the top face, around the claws, however getting the tolerance on the fit may take a few attempts. I don’t think printing the entire thing in glow in the dark filament would be as impressive, you’d probably lose the claw design in the glow.
What surprised me about the glow in the dark powder was that I had anticipated needing to leave the tokens out in the sun for the better part of a day to get a good game’s length of glow out of them, however I found that they glow really well under the UV light from the torch (and from my atmospheric lighting that I’ll cover in the next post).
I will be looking to get the blessing from the game’s creators, ITB to release the designs, using the original artwork I’m not even comfortable releasing the design for free, however using the steps above you should be able to make your own if you fancy it. If you don’t have and can’t afford a 3D printer (they’re not for the faint of heart) you might be able to find a local hackspace where you could get help or having made your design you could try a service like shapeways, a commercial 3D printing company.
I have been toying with a 3D printable token for my own game, coming to Kickstarter soon, for the community to print if they want a more personalised feel to their game and hope that this will be a nice post-release add-on for fans with 3D printers.
If you have a 3D printer and would like to print some of these yourself you may find the following products useful. The Amazon affiliate links are not recommendations, they are purely supplied for convenience. That said I have used the strontium aluminate powder and it works about as well as you would expect and these are products I have considered and would consider trying in the future.