In the spirit of completely making a game for NaGaDeMon 2013, I’ve decided to dive all the way in with Otters. You can read part 1, about the idea behind the game, here. As a recap, Otters is a simple, kid-friendly card game that’s mechanically inspired by Smash Up (but greatly simplified).
My initial play tests have left me pretty darn satisfied with Otters the way it is right now. So what’s next? Let’s publish!
To be clear, this is a little nutty, yes. Generally a game needs tons and tons of playtesting. But this one is very simple, and it just does what I want it to do as-is.
Now, if I’m going to get a published, purchasable game done by the end of November, I’m not going to have time to commission a bunch of illustrations for the cards. That’s okay, though, since part of the inspiration for Otters was how much I love looking at photos of otters online.
Of course, if I’m going to be able to use photos, I’ll have to license them. This is new to me.
Picking a photographer… unsuccessfully
I started by going to DeviantArt (an awesome web site when you’re looking for artists) and finding a photographer with otter photos that I liked. I sent a message via DeviantArt’s system and later followed the photographer on Facebook and sent another message… but no response.
Stock photos? No.
Since I’m trying to move quickly on this game, I had to try something else. Some other designers had suggested I consider stock photos, such as from iStockPhoto or Shutterstock. Unfortunately, Shutterstock does not allow their images to be used on merchandise, including game cards, and iStockPhoto only allows such use if you buy an Extended License, which appears to cost about $200 more per image.
Yeah, that’s not going to work.
Creative Commons – woo hoo!
Finally, I realized that the power of the open source movement could help me here – Creative Commons!
I’m no intellectual property attorney, but the basic idea behind the Creative Commons licenses (there are different versions out there) is that you can put a creative work in the world and allow people to use it for various things. In some cases, people will even let you use their Creative Commons licensed stuff (like photos, but also music and more) in commercial products. Frequently, there’s a requirement that you provide the creator with credit for their work.
And as it turns out, there are tons of awesome Creative Commons licensed otter photos out there! Many of them can be found on Flickr, but I did most of my searching using the Google Image Search tool; the Advanced Search options let you specify that you only want to find images that are available to do various things with (such as use and modify, even commercially).
Fortunately, I don’t need a ridiculously large number of different otter pictures for my Otters game. There are cards with the number 1, 2 and 3 – so, three different otter pictures there.
There are special cards that let you play an extra card, play the top card of the deck or move a card from one spot to another.
There’s also an alligator card.
And finally, there are otter playgrounds, so I needed beautiful lakes.
Next step: Graphic design
Now that I have the art for the cards completed, I need some graphic design help. Specifically, I need someone to:
- Lay out the cards with the appropriate numbers and text
- Design a logo for the game to put on the backs of the cards (along with anything we need for the background of the card back)
- Lay out the rules (probably on a card, front and back, in order to use DriveThruCards for publication
I’m working on picking the graphic designer now. If all goes well, I’ll have final, laid-out files soon!
Michael Iachini – Clay Crucible Games
@ClayCrucible on Twitter