Click the Camera

I touched yesterday on one of the problems I wanted to solve with this dice deck, which is the limited number of games that use exactly two six-sided dice. Nothing against The Settlers of Catan or Backgammon, but let’s see what we can do to broaden the scope of the project just a bit.

First, we can include many other games that use just one die at a time, and even a few that use two distinct dice for different purposes. So, we’ll make the dice distinguishable, one white and one shaded. While we’re at it, by varying the color of the shaded die we can produce random colors (and yes, I can name games where that’s useful).

Now, how to produce the needed images? I have little skill as an artist, but I can program, and I can take non-embarrassing photos (the latter thanks in part to the excellent discussions of board game photography on, particularly the advice of BGG user EndersGame). I start with photos. But this means I need to be able to take very consistent photos of thirty-six different sets of dice.

dice cardThe solution is an inexpensive tripod and a foam core jig, with marks for the positions of tripod and dice. Natural light is best for this sort of thing in the absence of real lighting equipment (thanks again, BGG), so I set up out on the back deck.

All of this was actually done some days ago, and I’m reasonably happy with the results. I’m not 100% sold on the grey background of the foam core, but I want something that’s not going to argue with the shades of any of the dice. If I were a better photographer I’d probably be able to polish it up more in post. I did edit out a number of blemishes to the pips on my actual dice.

dice cardSo I printed up some prototype cards using these images. And, sure enough, the prototype is serving its purpose, which is in part to tell me what I did wrong. I didn’t think, at first, that I would need indices on the cards. Indices are the notations found in the corner, so you can hold the cards fanned. Those aren’t necessary if you’re just going to flip cards off the deck to give die results. But once you have the cards, you open up a lot of possibilities other than that one. You can easily imagine more variants, such as drafting or auctioning the cards. Or, yes, playing a hand of them. Plus, I’ve got another cunning scheme for this deck that would absolutely necessitate hands. So, indices it is. Well, the photos aren’t going to provide those.

I can think of few things I’d rather do less than editing little corner symbols onto thirty-odd cards, and then having to redo them all again consistently if I want to make changes. So, the solution for this part is nanDECK, a neat if quirky little card-rendering programming language by Andrea “Nand” Nini. Yes, there really is a programming language for everything.

That’s what I’ve mainly been doing this morning. You can see the results as they currently stand. I’m thinking I may want to further annotate the index for the color-blind, now that I’ve gone this far.

Tomorrow: Aren’t these cards starting to look a little bit like dominoes?

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