Horse Fun and Games – The Making of a Card Game

For those of us who love everything equine, horses and games make a great entertainment combination. Creating a horse-themed card game is hard work and requires a lot of careful consideration. This article talks about the early days of discovery for the developers at Funleague Games as they embarked upon the journey of designing their very first card game called “Perfect Stride: Cross-Country!” Naturally, as with many things, the game started out as an idea. We wanted to create a fun horse game that was fanciful and stylized, yet still stayed somewhat true to the experience of riding a horse. Representing the idea of racing at high speed across country on horseback through a card game presented its share of challenges. We experimented with a lot of ideas and several times we experienced moments of “aha! This is it!” and away we’d go full-steam…only to discover a problem. The gameplay logistics were the main sticking points. We were cutting some new ground with this card game; it wasn’t closely based on any other specific game so we didn’t have a tried-and-true template to work from. Rather, we referenced bits and pieces of gameplay elements from other games we’d played and from our own vision of how we thought things should work considering the experience we were trying to emulate. Two other resources that have definitely been invaluable are Board Game Geek and Board Game Designer’s Forum. Thanks to everyone there who has posted such excellent info! Here are some examples of things we had a tough time figuring out: Our card game is essentially a race across country on horseback. You jump obstacles along the way…how do you represent that? Do you use tiles? Do you lay the cards out all at once, or one at a time? Face-up? Face-down? That kind of thing. Another element we struggled with was how the rider order was represented during the course of the race.

If you were in first, but then dropped back to third, how would you know? We tried a bunch of things such as using charts, placing a token amongst the jump cards, etc. After a lot of trial and error, we eventually figured out a system that wasn’t confusing (unlike our earlier versions). We also struggled with trying to inject some strategy into the gameplay. We definitely didn’t want this game to be all about “luck of the draw”. We wanted the players to have to evaluate each situation and choose a best course of action. Strategy does add depth to a game, but on the flip side of this, a bit of chance can really spice things up and keep you wondering as you draw that next card. As this was a racing game, we didn’t want the players to get too bogged down pondering their options. That would detract from the idea that you were all moving at high speed over terrain in a dash for the finish line. Those were just some of the many things we needed to figure out as we developed our initial idea into something fun, functional and richly thematic. After emerging from the idea phase, we entered a stage of development where we needed to examine more practical business considerations: How big should the deck be?

That has proven to depend upon a few things such as number of players, how many variables we were prepared to deal with, printing costs and art costs. We wanted the deck to have substance, yet still maintain some kind of control on the budget.
What should we price the game at?

Now that one is ongoing. Naturally we need to make some sort of profit as a reward for our hard efforts and the main way to estimate what kind of pricing is involved is by breaking down the “per-unit costs”. For example, we make an initial assumption that the first print run might be about 5000 copies. Therefore, we would get a printing quote for 5000 copies of the game. And then add to that the cost for artwork creation. And legal fees. And advertising. That sort of thing. Add all those costs together, and divide by 5000. That will be our per-unit cost.

How should we package and present the game?

We need to look at a couple of key things here. One is; what kind of presentation will be most appealing to people? We want the theme to be immediately recognizable and we want to convey the message that this is a quality game. A game where it’s a high-calibre entertainment experience made of durable materials that will be a pleasure to handle. The other consideration is how much will the packaging and materials cost? Printing/manufacturing costs are arguably THE most expensive part of creating a board or card game. And the quotes will vary widely with each print shop we approach.

Legal stuff?

A board or card game is a creative product. It’s art and entertainment, meets commerce. There’s intellectual property, copyright, trademarks and other basic business considerations. We recognize that it’s a good idea to protect our hard work and ensure that all communication is organized and in writing. Legal stuff is not only about protecting what’s ours; it’s also about being clear about obligations when engaging in business with another party. When it comes to hiring artists to create artwork for a game, copyright ownership is one of the biggest key factors. It’s important to ensure clarity about who owns the art. Paying an artist to create artwork doesn’t necessarily mean we actually own it. It’s essential to have an “Artist Agreement” in place. This is a legal document that details the rights and obligations between Funleague Games and the artist. Artists work hard to do what they do best (we know this firsthand…Jeff and I are both professional artists) and naturally will want to be clear about all the details involving the work they do.

What kind of art style am I looking for?

This is an important thing to figure out, but it can be a tough one. The style of art is heavily influenced by the style of the hired artist(s) working on your project. It’s important to choose carefully who will be creating the visuals for the game. Arguably good art will sell more copies of a bad game than bad art on a good game. People like things to look “cool” or “beautiful”. Make sure you deliver in spades in this area by having a strong vision for what your game should look like and by only hiring artists who have an art style compatible with that vision. Art style should also take into consideration the target market your game is aimed at. In the case of Perfect Stride: Cross-Country!, I’m going for a style that is distinct from other games on the market. I also want the style to be inclusive and appealing to the full range of my target audience. For example, I need to avoid an art style that is too “young” as my target audience are people ages 7 and up. I want to feature artwork that has a fun innocence to it, but at the same time possesses enough refinement to appeal to a more mature audience.

Who’s our audience?

This is important right out of the gate (now there’s a theme-appropriate expression :) . Even at the earliest design phase it’s important to know our demographic. For example, if we designed a game to include a lot of deep and subtle complexities or tons of arithmetic, chances are that kids under 7 years of age could find the game too difficult. As for Perfect Stride: Cross-Country!, I feel that this will be a game that can be enjoyed by almost everybody, but the primary audience will likely be people who love horses. And as there is an element of strategy to the game, the very young may struggle with some of the gameplay concepts.

Marketing?

This is SOOOOoooo important. If Jeff and I never bother to get the word out about our really cool game, how are we going to sell it? Entire books (and even university degrees) are devoted to the topic of marketing, but suffice it to say it’s important that we learn a little bit about how to promote our product. Not only will we not sell any (or very few) copies, but so many people will never get the chance to enjoy a super-fun horse-themed experience! As our game is very strongly based on a specific theme (or niche) one of the first things we’ll do is seek to get the word out at places where the horse-loving public like to visit such as horse-themed websites, tack shops, equestrian magazines, etc.

As you can see, we have our work cut out for us, but the creation of this card game has been a wonderful journey so far. We look forward to the time when the game is complete and ready to be enjoyed by many!

Math Activity For Fun And Learning

Math activity like drill and practice help a child gaining good mental number skills. Moreover, if the practice is done everyday through fun and games, children easily get familiar with numbers. Nowadays, we have a number of online math activities meant for children and the grown-ups alike. Teachers, parents and children have a number of games and number drill activities at hand. The online math worksheets help a child practice computing skills, number and logic, geometric and money exchange skills. The number skill in a child grows along with daily shopping skills- how they can get an object in exchange of money.

In online math activity like Dinner Time, a child can practice and grow its skill in measuring time. We have task cards, through which a child prepares a meal for dinner in a fixed time frame. He or she is assigned a specific time frame in which the food item is to be prepared. This number game is played between a small group of children and a clock pattern is maintained in playing the game. Games like Body Parts help a child know how to measure length with the help of a string and mark them in a data sheet.

Want to make your child familiar with Perimeter and Area? Now you have online math activity to help your child. Your child can measure and co-relate between area and perimeter of a particular figure. In this game, a child uses specific design shapes and blocks. These blocks are used according to the given instructions on a task card. The numbers are changed and so the area and perimeter of the given figures are also changed.
This game can be enjoyed more than two or three children in a small group. Not only solid blocks, we have number games in form of mold figures.

Play Dough is another mold figure game that children enjoy as a part of their online math activity. This game builds up number reflex in a small child easily. Through Play Dough, a child gathers number skills in measuring length, getting the volume of a particular object, area and perimeter of particular figures. Children use the playing dough to estimate and measure volume. An easy to follow task card is given to guide the children effectively. The child molds the dough to measure the lengths and areas of given figures and estimate the total circumference. The game is meant for classroom math activities and it can be played by one or more children.

Comparing Cylinders and Estimating Length are popular classroom math activity for children. Comparing Cylinders is played by children to estimate the surface area and determine the volume of given figures. Here students have to find the change in capacity of said containers made of same size of papers. In Estimating Length, children have to find the length by calculating the units of measurement. Children can estimate the measuring units to use while measuring the given objects. The game is played in a group and children have to maintain an activity data sheet.

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Home Improvement Tips: Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Reasons for A RedoHome improvement projects often begin with someone saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if… ?” usually followed by a wish for a remodelled kitchen or a room addition for space to accommodate every family member’s needs. More often than not, reality and dreams don’t coincide, due to limited funds for realizing the dream, or limits on the available space. The trick: turning your dreams into reality. Begin with a realistic evaluation of your needs. Homeowners usually consider home improvements for one of the following reasons.You may feel the need to update something that is out-of-date. If your kitchen colour scheme was perfect a few decades ago but no longer works, now may a good time to update it.Some home improvement projects grow out of an immediate need to replace broken or inefficient fixtures. If a sink, tub, or toilet needs to be replaced, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to do a makeover on the entire bathroom.If you’re preparing to sell your home, you’ll want to be sure to get top dollar from the sale. That’s great motivation for some home improvement projects.You have decided that staying put and improving your home is a better option than moving.Your family has grown and you need more space.Improving to Move? or Improving to Stay?Evaluate your plans carefully if you’re improving your home to list it for sale. Cutting corners may hurt your prospects rather than helping them. But don’t go overboard either. Potential buyers may prefer not to pay for some of the extras, such as a hot tub or pool. You’re better off keeping the changes simple.And remember that buyers who view your home may not share your tastes and may not appreciate the care you took to find just the right shade of green paint for the walls.You’ll find that improving to sell is easier if you can think about it from the prospective buyer’s point of view: What is important to the home buyer? Here are a few remodelling projects buyers are likely to find valuable:Adding or remodelling a bathImproving the kitchenAdding a new roomLandscapingAdding a bedroomAdding or enclosing a garage.If you’re remodelling because you want to stay in your home, you should still avoid over-improving it. You’ll probably want to sell it someday, and even if your house is the best on the block, it may be difficult to convince potential buyers to pay for the things you considered important. And when you consider making improvements, keep in mind the value of other homes in the area. Your home’s value should not be more than 20% above the average, which means that a $10,000 kitchen improvement project well could be a better investment than a $10,000 hot tub, especially if yours will be the only home in the area with a hot tub.Home Maintenance versus Home ImprovementsIt’s unfortunate that some home improvement projects are undertaken because something has broken. Replacing a leaky bathtub may be the first step to a major bath remodeling: since the tub has to be replaced anyway, why not do the whole room?While that might be a legitimate reason to remodel, avoid basing your home improvement projects on immediate needs. You’ll be better off if you minimize problems with proper maintenance. Examine every part of your home at least once a year. Check the roof, the plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. As soon as become aware of a problem, fix it. Making repairs when you’re first aware of them will help you avoid larger expenses later on. Keep in mind that maintenance does not add to the value of your home. Usually repairs are not improvements; they are necessities.Hiring Professionals May Save You Time and MoneyIt should go without saying that home projects can be expensive, so you may be tempted to tackle them yourself as a way to save money. That may be a smart move for small projects. You won’t have to wait for someone to fit your house into their busy schedule, and you can boast about having done the work yourself.But unless you’re very versatile, major home improvements are better left to professionals. If you decide to remodel the kitchen and plan to do the work yourself, will you be able to handle the plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work on your own?. And don’t forget that you’ll need to finish it quickly, because you won’t have a kitchen as long as it’s a “work in process” and eating three meals a day in restaurants could get expensive. Keep in mind, do-it-yourself jobs generally take more time. And you’ll be responsible for getting all the necessary permits and inspections.Hiring people who have the required experience can save you money and time, too. For example, these professionals can help you get a custom look using stock products, and that can be a significant savings. Getting something done right the first time will give you value that lasts for years.To find qualified and dependable home improvement specialists, check with friends, business associates, and neighbours for recommendations. Always get at least three references, and check them out thoroughly. Also check with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Their numbers can be found in the community services section of your telephone book.Once you’ve located the necessary home improvement specialists, make sure everyone is in agreement about the design, the schedule, and the budget, and get the details down in writing in a signed contract.It’s also wise to check on professional certifications and licenses, where required, and be certain that the contractors you hire are fully insured and bonded. Your town or city Building Department can provide that information. And it’s very important that you make sure contractors carry workers’ compensation insurance: if workers are injured on the job, you won’t be liable if the contractor is covered. Request copies of their insurance certificates. And make sure that either you or your contractor have gotten any necessary permits before the work begins. Contact your local Planning and Zoning Commission for information.Here’s a quick overview of some of the professionals you may need to work with when you remodel your home:Architect: Architects design homes or additions from the foundation to the roof. If your project will require structural changes such as adding or removing walls, or if the design is complex, you will probably need an architect. Since architects may charge an hourly or a flat fee, make sure you get an estimate of the total cost: drawing up the plans for a major remodeling project can take 80 hours or more.Contractor: The contractor oversees the home improvement project, including hiring and supervising workers, getting the necessary permits, making sure inspections are done as needed, and providing insurance for work crews. It’s always a good idea to get proposals from one or more reputable contractors, based on the specific details of your project.Be sure each contractor bids on exactly the same plan so that you can compare their bids more easily. When you’ve chosen a contractor, make sure the contract specifies that you will pay in stages. You’ll usually pay one third when the contract is signed so that the contractor can buy supplies. The number and timing for making the remaining payments will depend on the size of the project. Do not make the final payment until all the work is successfully completed, inspected, and approved.Interior Designers: Interior designers are specialists who will provide advice on furnishings, wall coverings, colors, styles, and more. They help save you time by narrowing your selection, and save money because they usually receive professional discounts from their suppliers. When meeting with an interior designer, be sure to tell them about your personal style and preferences. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, or you may be able to negotiate a flat fee of approximately 25% of the total project cost.