Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Progress, Crumb By Crumb

I'm in touch with a manufacturer, and they've sent me some very nicely cut pieces, in various sizes, both in cardboard and plastic. The problem so far is that the material they sent me is about half the thickness I want. So I've asked them to send new samples that are thicker and that have the coloring the pieces will need.

One interesting thing that's happened lately is that I've started teaching my online friends to play, using the web interface. So some people are learning the notation system almost before they learn the rules themselves. It's pretty impressive, given the complexity of the notation system. I'm still working on writing that up with examples and so on, for the site.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Crumble Rules And Construction

OK, I just finished writing up the rules, complete with diagrams, for how to play. As promised, it's an abstract strategy game for two players.

If you don't want to wait for me to get the manufacturing in gear (coming real soon now), here's a quick way to make your own set of pieces out of construction paper. I recommend playing someplace that has no wind at all, not even the wind of sneezes or laughter. Do your best.

NOTE: Crumble pieces really do move around a lot during play. Make your moves gently, and squarify the playing field after each move.

Here are the instructions for your Crumble afternoon:
  1. Run out to the pharmacy and pick up a pack of one color 8.5"x11" construction paper, one pack of another color, a ruler, and a pair of scissors.
  2. Take 5 sheets of each color, draw a grid of 2"x2" squares on each sheet, and cut them out with the scissors. This will give you about 100 squares of the starting piece. A quick way to do this is to stack the 5 sheets together, draw the grid on only the top sheet, and cut all 5 sheets at once.
  3. If you're feeling ambitious, glue each square of one color onto the back of a square of the other color. Do this before you start playing, or else you'll end up having to glue lots of little tiny pieces together instead of just these big ones. By the same token, spread the glue evenly over the whole surface of each square, or they may fall apart when you cut them into smaller pieces later.
  4. Set up the starting position and begin to play!
  5. Whenever you need a smaller piece, just fold one of the larger pieces in half, and cut along the crease with the scissors. You can get smaller and smaller pieces this way. After a few games, you won't have to cut any more pieces in half. When you're done, save all the pieces in a little bag for next time. Careful not to smush them!
There you have it. Crumble for everyone!

The above method is really for people who are very good at keeping a whole bunch of little pieces of paper organized properly on a table. If this isn't you, it's OK to admit it. The manufactured pieces will be thick enough and heavy enough that they'll be less likely to blow away, and they'll be easier to squarify after each move.

I encourage anyone who comes up with their own favorite way to make a Crumble set, to please share their experiences.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Manufacturing Fun

After you invent something, the hardest part about trying to manufacture it yourself is that there's no manufacturing company that is designed to do just what you've created, because you only just created it.

I've tried various techniques, just to create enough sets of pieces to give to a few people. I tried ordering a set of plastic pieces from Canal Plastics, and that was great, but just too expensive to get more than a single one of each piece. The standard set I'm currently thinking of has 11 different types of pieces (with the option to haul out the scissors and construction paper and make more). I tried casting the Canal Plastics pieces into silicone molds and making urethane positives, but that turned out to be a mess, with poorly shaped pieces, all bubbly and ugly-looking.

The method I use now is to cut mat-board with straight-edge and razor. It works very nicely, but is slow, and there's the risk of blood.

Fortunately, when all you want is a bunch of squares and rectangles cut out of thick card stock, it turns out the best place to go is a printer, someplace that makes business cards. So after Googling around a bit, I've found a few places that seem enthusiastic, and who hopefully will start making bids on who'll get to produce enough pieces for 250 full sets. That will more than satisfy current demand, and give a nice cushion besides.

Hopefully in the next week or two I'll have some actual sets available, and then the folks who've been asking for them will hopefully start showing their friends, who will want sets of their own. Nothing beats a business plan that starts with creating something great that lots of people will love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Patent Pending

Well, the lawyers have filed the paperwork, and Crumble is now officially patent-pending. Woo hoo! I just told my various playtesters they can feel free to spread the game around, and I'm looking into ways of producing sets of the game on my own, just to satisfy the demand that already exists.

Crumble is a very neat-looking game. How neat? Here's the end-position of one game where Black won. As you can see, there's something weird going on here - some of those pieces are getting pretty small!

That's one of Crumble's distinctive qualities. The game is played by dividing multiple pieces into halves, and joining multiple pieces together into one. See if you can guess what particular feature of the above position has made Black the winner. Soon I'll publish a Google Sites page that gives all the rules, hopefully clearly enough so that people can actually learn how to play. But for now, I'm just announcing that the game exists, this blog exists, and I'm very excited about both those things.

Happy Crumbling!