Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Making Mine Scenery Part IV

The chasm taking shape.
Today we're going to focus a bit more on the chasm board section. Last week I posted the above picture showing the pieces I was going to use for the incline. I actually opted to split the small connector piece in half and shape the "chasm end" some.

The middle piece was split in two so they could be spread apart.

The other half is sitting all the way to the left of the picture, on top of the black cardstock. The other weird offcut was to be used as well.

Cardstock spread across the pink foam to create the incline.

I spread the 3 pieces of foam out to create a more gradual transition, and then I glued down a piece of black cardstock across the 3 pieces. This created a nice shallow smooth incline. I had some offcut foam suitable for making some larger rocks so I shaped and glued those down as well. Finally, I laid down the two pieces of I-beam/girder, traced them with a pencil in the spot I wanted them, and then I cut insets into the foam and card to allow them to drop into place.

Pop in beams, textured floor, and shaped foam offcut sides.

I pulled out the girders, painted a thinned down layer of glue, and applied a coat of play sand, just like the other board sections, taking care not to fill in my insets for my beams. After the sand dried overnight I then took a bunch of foam off cuts and built up the height of my mine side walls so that they'd be equal to the others I'd already made. Some of the shaping was done before I glued these pieces down, and some was done after so that I could better blend the new pieces in. With these pieces of foam drying into place I moved onto another project.

The "secret" tunnel!

This piece was built with a deliberate "secret passage". Of course, it's not much of a secret passage if you have a giant opening, so I intend to create a few different ways of sealing it off. I've envisioned piles of rock that can be moved with a Strength Check, which would require that I put a couple of removeable big stones to fit with that sort of theme. But I decided to do something else first, inspired by this pic:

This is a great abandoned mine photo I used as a reference.

I really like the sealed off tunnel look of these large metal sheets bolted into something - a girder or maybe drilled into the rock face itself? I don't know. Either way its a really cool look that I set out to emulate.

I've owned this piece of plasticard for 15 years. Its finally getting used!

First I took a piece of thick plastic card sheet that I had laying around, and I cut a piece slightly larger than the opening. With thick card don't try and cut through it in one pull. Score the plasticard multiple times until you cut through, otherwise you could break the blade or slip and cut yourself.

Plasticard panels.

Once I had my large piece, I cut it into 3rds. As you can see, they were roughly an inch wide each.

The edge of the blade was used to whittle the edges of the panels.

When you cut plasticard it tends to create a raised lip along the cutline. These metal plates are supposed to be beat up so I lightly whittled the edges of each piece all the way around to create a distressed look.

A Plastruct I-beam was added to the bottom for some stability.

Next I glued an I-beam across the front at the bottom of the panels. This is going to act as the base to help prop the panels up. I also glued a wide piece of cardstock (not shown) across the back of all the panels to turn them back into a solid piece again.

Here's where they start to look more like the reference photo.

Finally (for today), I added details. In the "real life" mine pic there was a sign affixed to one of the panels, and each panel had two large rusty bolt/rivet type things that appear to hold it in place. I used two different sizes of Plastruct tubing (round and rectangular) to recreate the rivets/bolts. Its been a long time since I've done rivet work, and I consider it a true discipline. The red handle you see above belongs to miniature "paper cutter" style device used to to cut plastic I-beams and tubing in a consistent way. Its called "The Chopper" and is available at serious hobby and art stores that cater to scratch builders. With the bolts and sign glued in place with plastic glue, I called it a day.

Thanks for reading terrain makers and would be 28mm miners!
-Nick

Check out Making Mine Scenery: Part I, Part II, Part III.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Two New Renders: Ari Gaylen and Officer Tulson

Ari Gaylen - the Breaker daredevil
3D sculpt by Tim Barry

Its been another exciting week of development in the world of Broken Contract. Prototype figures are now in the hands of the caster and we are now eagerly awaiting our very first master models. We also had a batch of 3D renders from Tim Barry that we had sent back for revision, and two of them came back finalized on Friday. Those have now been sent off to VisionProto for prototyping! The initial model range is really coming together. Last week, I posted the new background and art for Overseer Billins. John Gendall's next project is actually the last essential piece of art for the initial cast of characters - Kollis, the Breaker Crew Leader. He has all of the references in hand, so hopefully he'll be done sometime this week.

Officer Tulson - the Prod gunner
3D sculpt by Tim Barry
A couple of days ago I showed a snapshot of a page from the rulebook. That same night Sam sent over a brand new mock-up Stat Card that I think is the best incarnation yet.

WIP mock up character Stat Card

We're actually getting very close to having something ready for the gaming masses. Everything is happening very quickly at this point so keep your eyes peeled for more developments.

Thanks for reading would-be Breakers and Prods!
-Nick

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Making Mine Scenery Part III

Abandoned iron mine pic I stole off of Google Images.

Today I jumped around between 3 different projects relating to the iron mine scenery I'm working on. The afternoon began with some quick shaping of the other half of the chasm I was working on in Making Mine Scenery Part II. Since I already discuss the shaping process in detail, I'll just show you two quick shots, one of the pieces after shaping and then another of pieces being left to glue. Pretty dramatic stuff (actually its really not). Thanks to Edgar Allen Poe for the assist.

More shaped pink foam waiting for glue.

Luckily for my project Edgar Allan Poe was a prolific writer. I'm not sure where my bricks are. Which begs the question.. "How do you lose a brick?"

So with the chasm section left to dry it was time to work on something else, so I dragged out the three original board sections from Making Mine Scenery Part I for some rough detailing. In the photo I started the article with you'll notice that an iron mine has a lot of color. Dirt, iron ore, and oxidation result in colors including brown, grey, metallic, and orange. As you can see in this photo I left off with having a Scorched Brown basecoat, Bubonic Brown drybrush, Bleached Bone drybrush (all old school Citadel colors), and then a targeted Graphite drybrush (Americana craft paint).

This piece looked pretty swank as is right? But not "iron mine" enough in my book, so more color must be added.

With these back on the table, I put them through three more stages today. First I did another targeted drybrush of Boltgun Metal.

Looking a little silvery grey. Its getting there.

I followed this with Chainmail because it wasn't dramatic enough.

Now its where it should be.

With the Graphite now having visible flecks of metallic shimmer, I moved onto the next stage.

Solar Macharius Orange definitely gave it more of the look, but I might still hit it with more orange when we get to the end.

Solar Macharius Orange was then stippled onto the ground and walls to add oxidation. Feeling like I had made solid progress on the original board sections, I grabbed this much more detailed piece.

Foamcore, pink foam, Plastruct I-beams, some cardstock used for picture framing that has a light texture to it, and some trimmed plastic bits. Yeah, I guess it could be a blog post on its own.

This piece has been hiding in the background of some of the pictures already posted. It's based on a section of the board that will come with the Broken Contract book and depicts a really unstable section of the mines where iron workers started to put up a retaining wall and supports, and then were reassigned somewhere else with the job left unfinished. The gubbins on the wall is an emergency door controller and alarm (complete with a tiny light on top, stolen from a Cities of Death building.) All I did with this piece was to basecoat by hand all the white areas with Chaos Black. No pic needed.

The board section for "It's Time", the sample scenario in the rule book. Graphic design by Samuel Alcarez.

Here's a shot of the game board section. The above piece represents the lower right hand quadrant of the board,

That's it for today. The sun is setting and paint and glue are drying and I have to do another pass through the current version of the Alpha Rules. Yesterday Sam Alcarez, our graphic designer, sent me 8 sample pages from the WIP rulebook and the background and boarder looks great, but he's working off of an old version of the rule book so its time to get him something up to date. That will be tonight's project.

Rule book WIP sample page from Samuel Alcarez. We're getting there!
Now go make some terrain. Follow Broken Contract on Facebook and Twitter. We'd love to hear your questions and comments. Oh, and I'm accepting terrain commissions right now. You can find out all about it at 2ndCityWarzone. Thanks for reading!

-Nick

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Making Mine Scenery Part II

Behold! Our project begins with a meticulously detailed sketch.

For the second part of this series I wanted to backtrack a little and show some of the steps I glossed over in Making Mine Scenery Part I. Its a little backwards, I know, but I'm a constant re-writer and often find myself wanting to expand on an idea I merely touched on. What can you do?

A little solo play testing shot of what should play out as a 15 minute demo. Breakers must hop a barricade, cross the chasm, and then move a boulder blocking a secret passage to win the scenario, all while a Prod is in hot pursuit. To discourage the Breakers from just beating the crap out of the Prod, those green counters after the barricade are where they hid their weapons, so they start the scenario unarmed.

All of that aside, we're going to start with a piece of 8"x10" masonite, just like the other board sections I've shown thus far. I very quickly sketched the essential details of the layout. This board section is an inclined mine tunnel with a chasm that must be crossed. I wanted to highlight the idea that this is a "miniature adventure game" in the demos I want to run at conventions, so one of the elements is crossing this chasm by either jumping or running across a beam. So now I needed a section of board to depict that.

My trusty breakaway blade. Foam dulls blades quickly so change them when they start maring the crap out of your foam. The glory of the breakaway blade is that since the tip dulls first, you can extend the life by using pliers to snap the blade at the breakaway markers a few times before it gets too short to cut through your foam.

Once I had my piece of masonite sketched out I needed my breakaway blade and my 1 1/2" piece of pink insulation foam. You can see I noted that I needed to cut a section of foam 3" wide. I used my metal ruler to measure out 3" at either end of the pink foam, drew my connecting line, and then cut the foam with my metal ruler as a guide and my breakaway blade extended. Its best to hold the blade at a 45 degree or shallower angle to get the most out of the cutting edge. Make multiple passes to cut all the way through the foam. DO NOT SAW! If you want a smooth cut you need to make a smooth drag through the foam.

I'm working with offcuts that aren't actually 8" long, but that's okay because making one cut and separating the pieces is less wasteful than cutting an inch or two out of the middle and tossing it. Save your offcuts in a box or bin so that you can just fish out an approximately sized piece when you need it rather than tossing tons of pink foam in the trash.

Its starting to look like something. Sort of.

Once I had my 3" wide section of foam, I cut my chasm into it, put my pieces in place to eye it up, and then I moved onto my next piece of  foam to repeat the process.

All of the pieces are roughly set in place to get a sense of how its going to go together.

Next I grabbed a piece of 3/4" foam to work on my inclined section. This section isn't going to be a gradual incline across the whole piece even though it would look better. Models are notoriously tippy, so there will be an incline but most of the surface will be flat for ease of play. Also, its important that the beginning and the end of the tunnel are fixed heights that can be repeated easily, so the left edge will be flat masonite and the right edge will be 3/4". As you can see the rough shape the chasm has also been cut across the foam.

You'll notice my foam is smooth and then rough at the bottom at an approximate diagonal. That's because I made one or two pulls through the foam and then snapped it. If you know the surface is going to get reworked this is fine and will save your breakaway blade some dulling.

With all of my base pieces cut its time to start shaping them. In Part I, I mentioned that I would use my blade to make "V" cuts into the foam. Here's a close up of a rough piece of foam that I made my first "V" cut into by making two cuts with opposite angles. I continue to work the piece until it looks like rough cut stone all the way around the sides. I leave it flat on the top and bottom.

Everything set in place and being analyzed. I actually don't like the inclined section so it will be reimagined in the next installment.

The right half of the chasm has been worked through and all three pieces look like rough stone. This gives you an idea of how its all going to go together.

This may seem like a boring shot of glue, but it was actually an opportunity to show of my dog's Hurley dog toy.

With my three pieces all cut to size and roughly shaped I felt comfortable gluing them into position. I spread some white glue on the bottoms of the two taller side pieces, pressed them into place and then weighed them down with bricks, checking to see if they shifted after about 20 minutes and adjusting them if needed. I left them overnight and then in the morning I glued the middle piece in place. I test fitted it first and realized I had to shave an 1/8" off of it. Easy enough with foam, so I cut the 1/8", test fitted it again, and then pulled it out, applied glue, and put it back into place.

Progress. But more to come!

With all of the pieces cut and glued for the right side I can return my focus to the left. But that's for another installment.

Thanks for reading! Follow Broken Contract on Facebook and Twitter for notification of when more updates are posted, or click follow on the blog. Comments and questions are welcome so bring it.
-Nick

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Assembling the Cast XXVII. Overseer Wire Billins

Overseer Billins by John "Geng" Gendall.

Overseer Billins is of those breed of petty tyrants that flourish in bureaucratic environments. A ruthless supervisor who uses the system of indenture to bolster his ego through the systematic abuse and repression of basic humanity and decency in all his employees. Pain, fear, deprivation and a set of rules that none could live up to are the tools he uses to shape a world in which he is a valued member of the FeSky management. A squat and toad-like form combine with mean spirit and a bellowing shout of a voice to create a presence even his peers prefer to avoid. Under the sign of efficiency and order he is allowed to enjoy power over his charges and rather than use that power to build others up he uses it to crush the spirit and make angry and beaten beasts of those who were men. The Prods he keeps closest are men and women who enjoy his methods and relish the opportunity to do violence in the guise of keeping order. What is worse, his methods have worked for years now making him secure in his tiny kingdom. Should the time come when those under him rise up he would not live out the hour, and not even his fellows would mourn him.

Overseer Wire Billins (Overseer)
Core: Actions: 3 Move:  3 Wounds: 3
Combat: Shoot: 5 Melee: 5 Strength: 5 Agility: 5
Brain: Intellect: 5 Perceive: 5 Psyche: 5 Medic: 5
Social: Lead: 5 Dealing: 6
Intangible: Recovery: 6 Faith: 6

Equipment: Shock Baton, Riot Shield, Arc Pistol, Key Card
Special Abilities: Authoritative 

Authoritative: +1 to Dealing when performing "Stand Down" Actions.

Early version of Overseer Billins by John "Geng" Gendall.

By Robert Ferrick with Nick Baran

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Making Mine Scenery Part I

WIP Mine sections.

Broken Contract can be played on a flat game board, and is designed to be played that way to allow novice gamers and hobbyists the ability to jump right into the game. Still, I made the conscious decision to play the game using rulers and inches rather than squares because I'm a miniature wargamer at heart.

Prototype game board sections to show the look and feel of the game.

When I first began play testing Broken Contract I was using thick cardstock cut to 8"x10". The corridors are all 4" wide. Why 4"? Each inch is ~5', so 4" is approxiately 20'. When I was doing the early research for the game that was within the realistic spectrum of sizes of room and pillar mine tunnels, and gives just enough room to move characters around.

Original poster board play test game sections painted with craft paint.

With that being said I'm working on taking some of the prototype board sections and turning them into 3D mining terrain for playtesting and running demos at places like AdeptiCon. Playing on a three dimensional field really brings the environment to life and is very visually satisfying. It brings out the "WOW!" factor in a game and shows that it can be "more than just a game" if you want it to be, and it all begins with a bunch of pieces of 1/4" masonite or hardboard cut to 8"x10".

Today I ran a scenario that involved a crevice that needed to be crossed so I grabbed on of my 8"x10" sections of hardboard and quickly drew on it with a black Sharpie as a stand in for the session. 

Once you have your hardboard cut to the right size you need to cut out pink foam to the right size. You can see if you look closely that I stacked my pink foam (that has since been painted dark brown). The bottom layer is 1 1/2" and the upper is 3/4". I made shallow cuts at various angles, trying to create a rough stone look. To get a "V" groove you need to make two cuts in the same direction at opposite angles. You just need to keep working the cuts until you're happy with the look. I usually make a bunch of deliberate deeper "V" cuts and then sort of slash at it for a while, rub my fingers against the grain of the slashes, and then go back to deliberate cuts. This is how you end up with sections that look a bit more crumbled than just large hunks of stone.

Foam stacked 2 1/4" tall, glued, textured, and painted.

I worked on multiple sections at a time. Once the foam was cut and glued in place, it was left to dry overnight. White glue and foam are slow to bond so when I set the foam to dry I placed bricks or books on each section and check on it a few times over the next 2 hours to see if it shifted at all. If it did I repositioned it and placed my weights back in place. After they were dry I gave them this fashionable coat of dark brown. This color was the old GW Scorched Brown that I matched and got a gallon of at some point. The pink foam was given a thorough coat but I left the floor alone for now. When you coat everything at once and you have all that moisture drying you have a greater chance of things warping, so doing a little at a time is preferable.

Three board sections drybrush with two layers of highlights and then the tunnel floors were given a layer of glued down play sand for texture.

Each section was given a drybrush of matched GW Bubonic Brown and Bleached Bone, essentially a yellowy brown and a tan. This brings out the details. Drybrushing is best done starting with a heavy drybrush of the darker color, and then going less heavy handed with any lighter colors going on after, so the yellow brown got a good heavy drybrush and the tan was done much lighter. Since drybrushing doesn't really cause warping I elected to finish out the night by painting some watered down white glue on the tunnel floors and then spreading play sand (sand box sand from the hardware store) onto the floors. These were then tipped and the excess sand shaken off and left to dry overnight.

Once the sand was thoroughly dry I gave it a coat of dark brown and left it to dry again.

In the morning when the sand was dry I shook off the excess again and then applied a coat of dark brown over the sand and left it to dry again for a couple hours.

The sand floor was then drybrushed with a light highlight of yellow brown and then tan. Then small sections of the walls and floor were drybrushed with a dark grey color called Graphite.

Once the floor was dry I gave it a light drybrush of yellowy brown and another of tan. I want the dirt floor to be obviously dark and dirty so I went really light with both drybrushed layers because all of those raised grains of sand can pick up a lot of color if you're too heavy handed. If you look closely you'll see some dark grey drybrushed "here and there". That's because as an iron mine, veins of iron ore run through the dirt and rock. Actual iron mines are brown, grey, dark metallic, and orange with the mix of dirt, rock, ore, and oxidization all visible in the mine wall.

A picture from an actual iron mine to show the range of colors: brown, silvery grey, and orange.

Though this ends today's tutorial, it is far from the end of the project. More to come!

Where I finished for today. Next up: detailing!

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are welcome!
-Nick

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Miniature Prototypes, Conventions, and 2015

We've entered 2015 and I look to the new year with a great sense of excitement. Its a new year, and my partner and I have moved from Chicago to Milwaukee to start a new life. We wanted to save money and slow down our pace to concentrate more heavily on our personal projects, and Broken Contract is one of those projects. Even during the hectic and labored move, I kept my eye on the prize, and that's getting our introductory miniature line and game ready for the public.

The 3 newest prototypes from VisionProto. Talla Kellerman, Officer Hickley, and Trest the Gen-Mod Brute.

A few days ago a package arrived from VisionProto of three new 3D print prototypes. When I received the first two 3D prints back in October, I was struck by how I felt that the typical approach in wargaming of scaling all humans to the same approximate size felt odd. I envisioned each character we had created to be an individual and some should be diminutive, and some should tower over the others. To that end, with this latest batch of 3D renders I asked that Tim Barry keep the weapons to a consistent scale, but the characters should conform to a ratio system so that an average sized human male (5'10") should be a 31mm model. A hulking 7' tall gen-mod should stand 37mm and a petite 5'4" should stand 28mm. Seeing the end result I think really heightens the sense of individuality of each character. With that experiment a success, we can start to move full steam ahead.

All of the completed prototypes we've received thus far.

We now have five prototypes in hand, so its time for master molds and our first casts. I personally can't wait to have casts in hand that I can paint up and use for playtesting, demos, and to show off in my home display cases. With these five prototypes, we're also more than halfway to what I see as the minimum size of our first box set, which should contain at least 5 Breakers and 3 Prods. Tim is furiously working on more 3D renders this week and we should have several more ready for prototyping before the month is over. Geng Gendall is also working on art right now for Overseer Billins, the head of the Prods in the mines, and then Kollis, the Breaker Crew Leader will soon follow.

Personally, I've been working for the last month on Alpha Rules 2.0. I would have had them done in December, but the move to Milwaukee interfered with that deadline. Still, very soon I will post that up so that people can read them and play the game with proxies. I'm really looking forward to having the Alpha Rules ready for fine tuning and then approve them for graphic design.

The two big goals for the next 3 months will be to complete the rules and initial model range so that we can run a small Kickstarter and make a showing at AdeptiCon. These are lofty goals. The timeline is tight. But its possible. I'll dare to dream and work really hard to make it a reality, so watch this space!

2015, the insurrection is coming! Thanks for reading.
-Nick

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Broken Contract: 2014 in Review

Early concept art by Oliver Zavala. This art pre-dated the escaping miners storyline that the game is currently based around.

2014 was a very exciting year for me. This, the Broken Contract Design Blog, was launched in late January 2014. With each month that past, the project evolved. What began as a rough set of rules and a couple pages of story developed into a thematic rule set and a much deeper setting with many paths for future adventures. The first two pieces of art conceived by Oliver Zavala helped frame the context for future artists, Samuel Alcarez and John "Geng" Gendall.

One of the earliest play testing nights at my old place in Chicago.

Over the months I hosted play testing sessions in my home, Next Dimension Games (RIP) and Dimo's Pizza (all in Chicago), and got a lot of great feedback that inspired better scenarios, and a more dynamic set of rules. I used Miniature Addicts Anonymous regularly to solicit feedback on art and sculpts, and found most of it insightful. As time went on, we also honed the look and feel of the play cards and other game aids.

Orphan by John "Geng" Gendall

In September, we did attempt a Kickstarter that failed and that was a disappointing experience. However, I think it was a necessary learning experience that allowed us to glean a lot more information on what we needed to be successful, and how to repackage and re-attack crowd funding going into 2015.

This piece of Sam Alcarez concept art is one of many that are kicking around waiting to be fleshed out and used.

By the end of 2014 Broken Contact had accumulated a bunch of art from artists like John "Geng" Gendall, Samuel Alcarez, Oliver Zavala, and Colin Swanson-White, a half dozen 3D renders from sculptor Tim Barry, and two printed prototypes from VisionProto. Not to mention additional writing from Robert Ferrick, and editing help from Robert Ferrick, Michael Hughes, Lisa Quintero, and Jesse Lex. Play testing was done by Brian Parisi, Charles Hickey, Will Blood, Efran "Monkey" Ramirez, Daniel Kessler, Josh Kolakowski, Josh Raymond, and Aaron Schmidt. Its been a real team effort getting to where we are.

New concept art by John "Geng" Gendall.

I feel great hope and excitement for what awaits us in 2015. I just moved from Chicago to Milwaukee and am amped to get involved in the Milwaukee gaming community. In the meantime, Tim is working on 3 new sculpts. VisionProto just contacted me to let me know 3 more 3D prints have been completed and are ready to ship. And of course, more great pieces of art and writing are in the works. We're gearing up for another crowd funding attempt, and of course AdeptiCon is closing in on us rapidly. It should be a fun and hectic new year ahead so stay tuned!

-Nick and the Broken Contract Team!