Hello everyone, and welcome to April’s letter. If this is your first one, hey! Thanks for dialling in.
1. Conditions for Learning
Goodness. I feel like I’m finally coming out of some of the most challenging couple of months I’ve had in a long time.
Starting with my scatterbrained mistake of forgetting half the contents of the Bucket/Artefact Collector’s Editions and continuing through zine misprints, badly-packaged parcels, missing or duplicate items and just good old lost post, it has been a hell of a time to single-handedly manage a small business. The variety of issues with the Bucket of Bolts KS fulfilment, combined with the scale of the delivery, have made my various inboxes a really challenging place to visit over the past two months.
I consider myself pretty resilient, but I’ve definitely had some dark times wondering if I’m really cut out for this line of work. But I’m lucky to have a good support network around me, as well as two rambunctious little lads who do a pretty stellar job at keeping me from getting too mopey. I think I’ve managed to work through the worst of it now—I’ve got solutions for the issues and lessons to take forward into my future projects.
We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us. — Marcel Proust
Anyway, all of us who’ve worked in an office for long enough know to bristle when someone describes a ‘development opportunity’, so while I’m glad to have been able to ride out my little jaunt through the wilderness, I’m happier to be returning to more tranquil lands now.
Speaking of tranquil, development on The Slow Knife has been going really smoothly despite all this nonsense, and you can still preorder a copy now if you’re interested in jumping on board. I don’t intend to print a lot of extra copies for retail, so if you think it might be for you I’d encourage you to pre-order1.
2. Conditions for Rest
After all that turmoil, plus getting hit with covid as a family for a second time, I’ve taken a good break from games writing over the past couple of weeks.
Making my own games started as a passion project, and through most of the last two years I’ve tried to nurture that mindset as best I can. But recently, especially with all the crap I’ve been dealing with, it had started to feel like more of an obligation than something I was really excited for.
Taking a break has been great for getting back in the right headspace. I’ve been hanging curtains, building raised beds, playing with duplo, perfecting home pizza2 and slicing through Elden Ring3—and now I can’t wait to find some time to do games stuff again.
I’m excited to write the other two Slow Knife playsets, especially as the stellar art comes in for them. I’m excited to run more playtests, and get feedback from a few hands-off playtests too.
I’m also in the period where I’m totally obsessed thinking about the game that comes after The Slow Knife, and that’s always a fun place to be.
3. Good Stuff
We’re making these quinoa burgers tonight from Little Green Kitchen, one of our favourite cookbooks for family-friendly dinners. They’re not trying to be meat-adjacent, but they’re their own delicious thing and itch that same scratch. We usually find the mixture makes enough for a boss sandwich the next day too.
Reviews for the Playdate went live on Monday, and it seems to be universally adored (which is good—mine is shipping soon!). I particularly liked this one from Eurogamer, which captured how it’s both a nostalgia trip and also its own weird, fresh thing.4
In more cynical news, I found Linda Codega’s article on Gripnr to be a well-researched dive into this NFT/TTRPG mashup. Like most NFT-adjacent stuff it seems to be both a huge money pit/scam, and also just not as much fun as normal non-NFT D&D?5 Presumably at some point we’ll have an NFT application which is actually exciting, and that’s when things will get dangerous.
4. Something Extra
A fourth section appears!
I don’t want to commit to anything yet, but I’m keen to see if I can transition this newsletter into something a little more productive. The most likely way I’d do this is by providing free games & mini-expansions for my existing games, possibly as part of some kind of paid subscription. I quite like the idea of moving away from Kickstarter as my main source of revenue for my games projects, plus I like the idea of having a closer relationship with my supporters.
Regardless, I’m not intending to do anything soon but I did have a little game to offer you this month. As I said earlier I’ve been playing a lot of Elden Ring lately, and this is a little solo journalling game inspired by it (and Souls games more generally). You can download it here, for free:
If you have thoughts about this idea/content I’d be really keen to hear them! Otherwise, speak to you next month.
this is definitely the biggest and most expensive game I’ve produced to date, and I don’t want to have loads of boxes of stock in my house
long live two-katana ken and his mimic friend two-katana karl
I have vague plans to develop an interactive version of Artefact for it—the crank just seems so perfect for scrolling through text prompts!
NFTs often feel like a badly-written villain: they’re not compelling enough to actually be as sinister as they should be.