Saturday, February 3, 2024

Lights, Camera, Prep - The 65 Dollar Tool Kit

I have so much going on. I need my shelves back to do some gardening, which means cleaning and organizing my D&D and modeling supplies. 

For the past couple of months, I've had some crafting projects on my mind that never went anywhere. I want finished products, not another tote or bin full of unfinished crap. I have supplies on top of tools and that drives me nuts. 

We could do this together. 

Let's pull together a 65.00 dollar tool kit for DIY models. This toolbox is meant more for crafting as opposed to plastic models. You probably have many of these things already and my suggestion is to buy as little as possible.  

The inspiration for this series is this custom Star Smuggler Print and Playbox, which remains at 90% complete. 

This list does not include supplies for projects. Each part of this series will have a separate supply list for each model or project. These projects will range from upcycling junk to throwing together scraps from other projects. You shouldn't have to buy too much for these crafts. 

These are the 12 items you will need to follow along at home. I have included basic prices and only a few lies: 

  • Cutting mat - $9.00 
  • Paper cutter - $10.00
  • 3 in 1 foam cutter - $20.00 to $30.00
  • Razor knives - $5.00
  • Glue - $5.00
  • Paint - $1-2.00 each*
  • Tape - $1.00
  • Rule/Straight Edge - $1.00
  • Pencil - $1.00
  • Pen - $1.00
  • Marker - $1.00*
  • Brushes - $1.00*
  • (I forgot this one until I started working on a project. Sandpaper). 
Items marked with a * are lies. 

This collection of tools is pretty standard. You probably already have markers, pens, pencils, and tape, so we can shave off 4 bucks. 

Cutting mats are wonderful and highly variable in price. The green one above is 17" by 12" and I found a two-pack for $9.00. You can also find one at the Dollar Store, for a surprising $1.25. Of course, I can't find it for a picture, but the black and orange one I did find was $25 with some tools. If you want to save some money, go find a scrap of wood or a piece of cardboard. Tagboard or poster board is a little too thin. If you go with the board, shave off another $9.00. 

The cutting mat serves three functions: a scale or ruler, a nice surface, and safety. The ruled lines allow for nice straight and/or square cuts without resorting to a second tool. It has a soft surface that protects your workspace. Most importantly, the soft, self-healing surface can protect your body and hands as blades have a tendency to lodge into the surface on slips, saving you from a nasty cut or scare. 

I prefer cardboard over wood for catching cutting accidents. If you go with a piece of wood, pick a soft board. 

I will be using a foam cutter for many of these projects. I consider it necessary, but you can get by just fine with a very, very sharp knife or razor. Just be careful. The foam cutter eliminates a lot of messes, but it's a hot tool that takes some practice to use. My first couple of projects only involve straight cuts, so you can get that practice by following along. 

Foam cutters are wonderful, but the pricing is outrageous for no good reason. The item pictured was $20.00. However, I have seen the EXACT SAME ITEM for $200. Don't do that to yourself, shop around. You don't need it that badly. 

The paper cutter is an optional "nice to have, but not necessary" item. I like it but you can do just fine the mat and a razor or use a pair of scissors. This one I found at Target on clearance, otherwise, I would not have one at all. It's a product with a single purpose which may or may not come up that often. 

The paper cutter is nice but...

I feel like I can skip over many items on this list as you probably have them. 

Let's go to the LIES section. There are 3 of them: brushes, paints, and markers. The list claims you can have all three for about $12 assuming you want only 10 paints, a brush, and a marker. That is actually a tiny lie due to the projects we will be doing. 

DO NOT USE your wife's Copic markers on these projects. The same goes for her wonderful Citadel paints or her sable-hair paintbrushes. Murder will result. There is no "may" in that statement. It will happen. 

The projects we will be working on are rather rude. You can glitz them up to your level of comfort, but don't waste nice markers, paints, or brushes on this. Dollar store items will be fine.   

The same can be said of glue. I have three different items from the Dollar Store. We aren't building furniture, so don't waste your money on "nice things". There is one item in this picture that is a "must have", the Tacky Glue. It's a Dollar Store item which is shocking. It has the consistency of Mod Podge and can be used for both gluing and a surface cover. I love it. 

I can't wait for us to get started.

Before I finish up, I wanted to talk about the writing implements: pen, pencil, and markers. Certain materials do not like certain marking implements. Styrofoam melts with some markers, damaging both the craft and the marker itself. Pens are good for dark, soft materials as you can see the color. Pencils are pretty much universal to all products, but sometimes not for foam or dark surfaces. If I notice this happening in this series of projects, I will warn you in advance. 

That is it, here are the 12 items you will need for this project series, complete with three lies. 

(And one omission, sandpaper.) 

This post appears on These Old Games, but please do me a favor and follow me on Facebook, MeWe, Dice.Camp and/or Ko-Fi

Saturday, January 27, 2024

90% Finished - Star Smuggler

I post about Star Smuggler all the time. I had the boxed set when I was a kid and finally lost it in the fire. 

During the rebuilding and replacement year, I noticed that some products like Google Home and phones come in really heavy-duty boxes. I thought they would be perfect for some of my print-on-demand games. 

I started off by printing the rule and event booklets for the game on 20# paper. Then I did the tiles and mounted them on cardboard. Finally, I picked a box I thought was the right size. I use a Google Home box as that would probably never need to be packed up. 

Everything fit nicely. 

Of course, I wanted this to look like the original box, so I downloaded pictures of the box and went to town. The images needed to be scaled to the box as it was much bigger than the original. 

I printed on to photo paper, cut them down, and applied them with Tacky Glue from the Dollar Store. That worked pretty nicely. The one thing that didn't work was the edges. I will trim them down with a razor and use some tape to finish them off. 

Of course, a project isn't complete on one pass. I plan on reprinting the tiles on photo paper and maybe mounting them on thicker cardboard. I'd like to have the books with a heavy stock cover, maybe like a D&D module where the cover serves as a map or reference guide. That is super easy because I already have the booklets done and really don't need to reprint them. 

The counters are the very last item I need. I remember using random counters when I actually had the original set. I love the Star Frontiers counters and maps and I will probably repurpose them from the set I ordered off of DriveThruRPG. I love both the original counters from Alpha Dawn and the ones that come with the Knight Hawks set. 

The back of the box could serve as a map, but really I just loved the artwork enough to make it a part of the box. I recall the original box had a yellow back. I was pretty sure I couldn't reproduce plus the Google Home box is a flip-open box with the lid attached. 

The final image shows the poor job I did with the edges. Trimming will help, but I think I will use a bit of cloth tape to make sure the photo paper stays attached.  

Setting Unknown - The Rules

The other day, I posted about "Setting Unknown". I want this to be a spiritual successor to games like Star Smuggler. Very light rules and can be played as solo endeavor or as a small group. 

Clicking the Star Smuggler link will get you to the review of the game, which at the time was termed as "a programmed adventure". It has over 300 different events stitched together in a series of Choose Your Own Adventure style connectors. Replayability is very high but at this point, it's been nearly 40 years for me. I think I have played this to death. 

Over on the MeWe Sandbox page, John Salway asks what the minimum amount of information and details you need to have a sandbox adventure. 

Personally, I would define a game as a set of rules that describes a challenge to be overcome by a set of known rules by an agent or player.  I offer that the minimum information and detail needed for a sandbox game is a description of the scenario, a game space, and a means of resolution.

Scenario=Knowning the rules
and Challenge=Game space

Let's use the drawing of my ship as a starting point. It is both rules and game space. It presents a surprising amount of information to the player. You are on a spaceship. Unless there is some new information, this game will not involve ghosts, dinosaurs, magic, swimming, cooking, etc. 

I should address the elephant in the room: Doctor Who. I love that show because it changes its default settings with every episode and book. It took 60 years and a host of really creative people. I am not that... so I won't go there. 

I have labeled a few things, engines, lasers, radiators, rail guns, and cargo spaces. 

I guess I should use all of those points to create the challenge and the rules. There are many rules already implied. The ship has engines, so it moves. It has weapons, so there is combat. It has a radiator, so there must be heat. Then comes the storage spaces, something must go there. If you can obtain things to store, then there must be some sort of economy. 

All of those things relate to the challenges met by the players. I haven't worked it all of that out, but I do have some hopes. I would like to have ALL of the rules fit on two sides of a sheet of paper. Every scenario should be on one side of a sheet of paper. 

How many sheets of paper is debatable. Setting Unknown is definitely one of those back-burner tasks, but enjoyable nonetheless, especially as a reason to start drawing again. 

The Plug: I am now back on Facebook which is a big change. I am not using the whole "Link in the comments", so my only way to attract followers is word of mouth. You can also see me on Mastodon.Social and Dice.Camp in addition to MeWe. My last outlet, one that I am going to start working hard on this year is Ko-Fi

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Software Review - Escape Velocity

Title: Escape Velocity
Publisher: Ambrosia
Year: May 1996
OS: Mac OS 7.6 up to OS 9.2.2
Overall Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, good games don't die. Escape Velocity was a gem by a local WNY company called Ambrosia. They attempted to buck the trend by offering all of their software as shareware and this one was my favorite. 

Escape Velocity was unlike anything I had encountered. Some place between an exploration game, a trading game, and asteroids with some inventive challenges. You start off with a tiny shuttle reminiscent of a Star Fleet Shuttle and make your way from there. The game has a steep learning curve as you have very limited funds. Purchase some goods here, and try to sell them there. 

Simple, eh? 

No. You can run out of gas really quick. 

Hit the map key to learn what is in store for you. At first, your map is largely blank. You can fill it in one of two ways: A blind hop will show you that system and all of the jump-ways out or purchase a map. The map is super helpful as it will show you the services and features of each system without having to travel there.  

Once you have that down, you can set up an easy path to sell goods. At first, you will be able to earn enough to refuel and then more to refit your ship. The first thing you should buy is the escape pod. If you get blown out of the sky, it's the only way to ensure your survival. The second thing you need is the fuel scoop. This saves money on refueling. It makes you self-reliant. 

Once you have that sure trade route, grind away until you can purchase a new ship. 

Oh, the grind. It's the meat of this game because every time you think you have the best thing, you'll see something else that strikes your fancy. 

As you explore and trade, the galaxy opens up. There are missions, stories, and adventures everywhere. Sometimes, you need this or that to progress, so don't get too used to the ship you're in. 

It's not so bad. As you upgrade your gameplay, you'll also upgrade your ship to the max. Lasers, blasters, 3 types of armor, and other things will make every ship you own unique. It's a blast as not only can you upgrade your weapons and such, but you can also name your ships. 

That is such a simple thing, but it's great. Like Oregon Trail. 

Anyway, you'll work out the factions and the storylines as you go. Soon you might have a fleet of ships, escorting you around the galaxy. That will unlock new locations and stories while freeing you from a lot of the money chase you experienced in the first few hours of the game. 

Trust me, you will be spending hours on this one. 

This is an interesting game as it contains stories and missions while also being very sandboxy. I will leave you here with a few screenshots I took. You see, I knew which ship was my favorite. Then I remembered my other favorite and then a third favorite... 

Escape Velocity is amazing. If you have the means, give it a try. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

DriveThruRPG Bonus Points!

Look what arrived today, at the tail end of a blizzard! 

I can't wait to review this one. Thank you DriveThruRPG and the USPS for a timely delivery.