Thursday, September 21, 2017

Entanglement Board Game

The first version of Entanglement started on the back of Settlers of Catan hexagon tiles. It was not called Entanglement then: it was affectionately labelled "that game I scribbled on the back of Settlers of Catan tiles". Entanglement is not the shortest name, but when considering its original name it's not so bad. When friends came over, we would all play a round before starting a game of Settlers of Catan.


Later I wanted to play with bezier curves on the cutting-edge JavaScript canvas element (pre-"HTML5") and the first digital version of Entanglement was born! A few months later, with the help of a phenomenal artist, great musical ambiance, and a few rule changes, the current digital version arrived.

Lately I've been reconsidering Entanglement's board game origin and have been prototyping a physical version of the game. Last week I received a prototype from The Game Crafter, and it's much nicer than scribbles on the back of Settlers of Catan tiles. I played it with my sons and was soundly beaten by my 11 year old... ...I think this prototype may need more work; it's obviously broken.


In any case, if a physical version of Entanglement sounds super fun to you, go ahead and scribble on the back of your Settlers of Catan tiles (sorry, Mayfair!). If you're not willing to join the scribble-on-board-games club, hopefully I'll have something fabricated just for you in the near future!

(I just made up the whole "scribble on board games club" thing. I don't think it actually exists. But if it does exist, let me know: I really want in.)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Changes at Gopherwood...


With great sadness, I must announce a big change here at Gopherwood Studios.

Todd Lewis - the designer, the coder, the legend - is leaving. He's had a huge impact Gopherwood Studios, bringing an eye to detail, a quest for quality, a lunch everyday except those days when he forgot, a passion for panache, a gift for good games, and a talent for telling me when my game ideas stink. That last one is really helpful for a game company: otherwise we'd be stinking up the Internet with bad-smelling games.

Why is he leaving? His body told him to stop sitting at a desk all day. He's pursuing a more active career to keep his body happy. I think that's just great.

So what's next? I'm not sure. I asked him, but he's being evasive. I think he's afraid I'm going to throw more stinky game ideas at him. He's right. He'd better just run.

So now Gopherwood Studios is just me. It's a little lonely, especially trying to live up to a plural company name. But here I am, still making games for you. Hopefully I've learned a thing or two from Todd and they won't be too stinky.

Keep following this blog if you want to find out what happens next here at Gopherwood (aka me furiously tapping on an assortment of plastic buttons).

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mission Earth

We don't usually fancy ourselves as astronauts, but the past few months have changed our trajectory forever. We've been won over by the Propulsions, an alien family of travel writers, and have decided to help them show Earth's exciting features to the curious populace of their home planet, Bortron 7.

Mindy's on a mission.

Although this didn't involve us flying into space, which we're pretty bad at, it did involve us making a game, which we happen to be good at. Introducing MISSION EARTH, an exciting platformer that encourages you to snap photos of interesting Earth features and transmit them to Bortron 7.

She has a keen eye for photogenic animals.

Once you give it a try, you should probably let your kids play too: not only is it fun, there is a big helping of discoveries just waiting to be made by explorers everywhere.

Jet's arms are just a little stretchier than regular-ole Earthie arms.

We've really enjoyed working with the teams at PBS KIDS and READY JET GO to bring this game to life. Let us know what you think!


...unless you're thinking about something that has nothing to do with this blog post. In that case, don't let us know what you think.




Actually, I am just a little curious. If you read this post and are thinking of something entirely unrelated... ...maybe it's important - you can go ahead and let us know.






On the other hand, it probably isn't any of our business or the Internet's either. Feel free to keep it to yourself.

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Subterranean Search for Fossils

We're happy to announce that our latest game, Fossil Finder, has been released on the PBS Kids Dinosaur Train site!


Fossil Finder sends kids underground in the Drill Train in search of fossils! To make finding fossils even more fun, the Drill Train has been equipped with a Fossil-O-Meter that lights up as the train gets closer to a fossil. Just follow the meter to the fossil and dig it up!


Watch out though, your drill wears out as you dig! Drill too much and your drill will break and force you to return to the surface! Thankfully minerals can be used to strengthen your drill allowing you to drill even more. The stronger the mineral, the stronger your drill will be!


If you need some extra help finding fossils, you can always ask the local Troglobites. These subterranean dwellers will point you towards nearby fossils. Just follow the arrows!



Now, head on over to see how many fossils you can find!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Cat in the Hat Website Refresh

We recently had the pleasure of working with Penguin Random House and PBS Kids to revamp the PBS Kids Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That website. The primary goal of the revamp was to create a responsive site in HTML5 that worked well on desktops and mobiles, all while capturing the charm of the Cat in the Hat universe.

The previous website was a tough act to follow. It did an excellent job of highlighting the characters from the show while displaying the site content in exciting ways. However, as screen sizes have grown (and shrunk in the case of mobiles) it was in need of an update both technically and in terms of modern web design.


For the landing page, we decided to retain a similar layout to the previous site, but remove the borders allowing the content to fill the page. This layout shifts as the screen grows or shrinks in size ensuring that it always looks good.


On mobile devices the landing site transforms into a vertical format that is easy to navigate via touch by visitors of all ages.


For the games and printables page, we designed the page around a Seussian machine that pumps out the site content in a joyful manner. The conveyor belt of content shifts via buttons or touch scrolling allowing visitors to access content in an easy, playful manner.


Even the video page got an update with a unified but flexible layout for mobiles and desktops.


It's always intimidating working on the website for a beloved property. There are so many goals that you're trying to accomplish all at once, technically and artistically, all while trying to retain to spirit of what makes the property so loved. It can feel like a juggling act. We loved working on this project and we hope that we managed to capture and share some of the magic that makes Cat in the Hat such an enduring character. If you want to see the site yourself, you can check it out here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rail Rally Release!

Do you love dinosaurs? Do you enjoy trains? Do you find yourself daydreaming about bezier curves? Do you wish that you could experience all three together!?! If that's you (and I am quite sure it is since the you not reading this wouldn't be the same you reading this), we have just delivered on your dream!

That's what we do here at Gopherwood Studios. We make dreams come true. Not all dreams, mind you. Just dreams involving things we're making come true, obviously.

What? Racing against a Zeppelin!?! Is that fair?
Behold Rail Rally! In this prehistoric adventure, the Dinosaur Train chugs across the serene hills of the Cretaceous, racing against three other formidable Troodon inventions: the Solar Train, the Rocket Train, and the Zeppelin. Test your train engineer mettle as your trusty train chugs along the rails, passing bonuses along the way that boost you past your opponents!

After you've finished trying out all four vehicles, give your child a chance to play too. All kids love HTML5 games. Mine do. They're always saying, "If it's not HTML5, it's not really a game." Not really, but one day they'll understand the wisdom of their father's words.

Thanks to the awesome folks at Jim Henson's Dinosaur Train and PBS KIDS for giving us the opportunity to make this dream come true, for you!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dinosaur Train Gets Remodeled!

Here at Gopherwood Studios, we pride ourselves in our wide range of expertise. We're talented at game design. I'm particularly great at pressing keyboard keys. We're decent software developers. I'm also fantastic at describing how fantastic we are. And never ones to be shy about the breadth of our expertise, we're now showing off our prowess in engine development. Not game engine development, train engine development! Yes, we've become what every engineer and paleontologist aspires to be, Dinosaur Train developers. Check out how smoothly our latest creation rides the rails.

Once upon a time there was a mom. Her name was Mrs. Pteranodon...
This is a little atypical for us, since we usually make games, but the dinosaurs (especially Derek Deinonychus) really enjoyed Station Race and thought we could put more trains on more web pages. Boy were they on the right track! We really trained the Dinosaur Train home page and gave the rest of the site new digs worthy of the Cretaceous.

Have your 4-year-old check it out and let us know what she thinks! We've found that kids really dig the latest HTML5 standards (and dinosaurs and trains can be pretty cool too).

A big thanks is in order to folks at PBS KIDS and Henson for giving us the opportunity to put together the new site and pretend we're time-traveling paleontologist train engineers!