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A new game-themed expansion for The Metagame, created by the brilliant minds at Shut Up & Sit Down.
A new game-themed expansion for The Metagame, created by the brilliant minds at Shut Up & Sit Down.
1,399 backers pledged $68,315 to help bring this project to life.

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We Have Proof(s)!

Posted by Colleen M, John S, & Eric Z (Creator)
8 likes

Hi all,

We’ve received proofs back from the printer! This is our final check on all of the cards to make sure we haven’t misspelled “Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov” (bonus points for knowing who that is without googling!)

Look at these beauties:

proofsproofsproofs!!!
proofsproofsproofs!!!

We sent the proofs back already with our corrections… so this means we are getting very close to being on-press!! Now might be a good time to update your mailing address (by going here and using your KS email to login), or add more cool stuff (by going here)!

Once we’re on press and close to shipping, we will send out an updated ETA and remind you to update addresses again. And again :)

Cheers,

-Colleen, Local No. 12

Wires crossed!

Posted by Colleen M, John S, & Eric Z (Creator)
4 likes

Metagame Backers... 

As some of you have noted, we made a little booboo this morning.

The Local No. 12 crew has a couple of Kickstarter projects in the hopper. One of them is the Games Expansion for The Metagame. The other is our iOS word puzzle game, Losswords. Sincere apologies for spamming you with the wrong update! We are revoking Eric's computer privileges for a week and we promise it won't happen again.

On the Metagame front, there is good news. The printing order has just been placed with our manufacturer, which means production is underway! We will keep you posted on all of the developments and we'll let you know when we have an estimated ship date. 

In the meantime, if the erroneous Losswords update did happen to pique your curiosity, you can check out that project here

Thanks - and apologies! 

- Local No. 12 (Colleen, John, and Eric)

Working with the books

Posted by Colleen M, John S, & Eric Z (Creator)
2 likes

Hey everyone! It’s Alexander and Eric here from the Losswords team. We have been working on preparing the actual book texts that go into the game. And we put together this post to share a bit about how how that process works.

When you play a game of Losswords, you play through a short section from a public domain book. Below the player is making their way through part of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland.

screenshot from the current prototype
screenshot from the current prototype

It sounds easy, right? Just cut and paste some text into the game. Actually, no. Setting aside the challenges of selecting books and curating sections (perhaps we’ll write about that in another post), once we have the text in hand, there is still a lot of work to do.

We start with getting text files of public domain books from Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library, and has been digitizing public domain works and making them freely available since 1971(!). The eBooks from Project Gutenberg are all in a standard format, so they all can be cleaned up in the same way. We start by removing some of the header and footer information appended to each file, which includes information about the work, author and publication date. We just want the text of the work itself - so we can cut everything else.

Next, we make an effort to standardize the text. Texts sometimes have differing conventions for handling certain types of punctuation, sometimes from the original source material, or in the convention used when the work was digitized. We need all our books to be in the same format so that the algorithms we use to build our puzzles can work with every text and not run into glitches.

For example, there are actually two types of quotation mark, "this one" and “these ones”. We use the first kind. The straight, ASCII-style quotation marks have the benefit of being positionally agnostic— the same character can go at the beginning or end of the quote. The typographic “smart quotes” are not: they need to be placed correctly at the beginning or the end of a quote, so even though they are typographically-correct, they're more problematic to use in the game.

So we use a text editor to do a detailed find and replace of the curled styled quotes. (And don’t forget apostrophes and single quotes - which also have multiple types as well!)

War and Peace gets smartquote cleaned
War and Peace gets smartquote cleaned

 Ellipsis are another problem character. Certain works will use three periods, like "..." Others will use three periods separated by spaces, like ". . .", and sometimes more than three dots are used. Some of these inconsistencies are from the original published text. How to indicate a textual lacuna has shifted over time and by region. We replace them all with the single ellipsis character "…", so the whole ellipsis is one character instead of three. Em dashes are similar, sometimes indicated by varying numbers of minus signs, like "--" or "---". We standardize those into a single em dash character "–" as well.

We refer to this whole process as "cleaning." But it also has an editorial component: we are in fact changing the underlying work. For instance, some authors make frequent use of italics, which is sometimes indicated in the eBook text using underscores _like this_. Losswords doesn’t support italics, so we remove them. This can subtly change the meaning of the text - but the meaning of the original work is very important to us. (And a big part of the fun of the game too!)

So we try to avoid passages where digital encoding or incorporation into our puzzles will have a significantly negative impact on the text. If removing italics will change too much of the meaning of a selection, we’ll use another section from a book. We also avoid intratextual poetry, extensive uses of foreign languages (especially those with non-Roman characters like Ancient Greek), double columned dialogue to indicate characters talking over each other, footnotes, and other flourishes which complicate rendering a work cleanly inside the game.

Here’s an example of a text (the Mouse’s Tail poem from Alice in Wonderland) that just wouldn’t make sense in Losswords. Too much of the meaning is tied to the layout.

Something you’ll never find in Losswords
Something you’ll never find in Losswords

This text preparation is something we take very seriously. For each book and each selection, we try to balance the needs of the game against faithfully representing the source work. It's a challenge, but well worth the trouble!

In the end, we hope it will make your Losswords game more authentic and satisfying.

That’s it for now from the trenches of Losswords development! Stay wordy! 

- Alexander and Eric, Local No. 12

And... it's off to the printer!

Posted by Colleen M, John S, & Eric Z (Creator)
0 Comments
9 likes

For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

Surveys are OUT

Posted by Colleen M, John S, & Eric Z (Creator)
4 Comments
9 likes

For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.