Become a Patron on Patreon? — Sirlin.Net — Game Design

I want to show you some of what I’m working (Codex, Flowchart, and a Fighting game) and tell you about Patreon. Patreon has been the biggest surprise-great-thing to me in the last year. It might remind you of kickstarter, but it’s really not like that at all. Instead…it’s fun. You can get to my Patreon here.


Kickstarter is a great and useful tool to raise money for a project. “Fun” is the last thing that comes to my mind when I hear it though. It’s a place to do an enormous amount of work in a short time and mostly deal with hassles like shipping. Also, you shouldn’t be “trying out a new idea” there. You should be showing something you thought every detail of through, completely visualized, and hopefully already made most of. Anything less than that, and it’s going to be hard to get people interested because you don’t have enough to show AND it’s a bad idea anyway because you have to commit to a specific release date which you wouldn’t be able to estimate unless you had things mostly figured out already. (Side note: I shipped 3 out of 3 kickstarters on time, with the 4th one on track to be on time too!)


On Patreon, you support a PERSON, rather than a specific project. That person might have many projects, some of them not really even appropriate for a kickstarter (such as doing podcasts). The part that has turned out the most FUN to me, and to my patrons I think, is that I can post every update of everything I’m working on there, big or small. During Pandante development, I posted dozens of versions of the game board, cards, rules, etc. Patrons helped playtest and also just point out errors or give suggestions how to improve things. What I didn’t expect is that overall, patrons gave better feedback than any other medium I have used. So that encouraged me to post even more there, and so on. It’s a supportive and friendly environment where I can actually get things done, and show people the steps along the way.

Right now, in addition to my podcasts, I have three main game development projects in the works. Codex, Flowchart, and now…the Fantasy Strike fighting game (yes, really!). At the $10 subscription level, patrons get my “Raw Game Design” podcast where I discuss actual design problems in the middle of solving for my games, as well as some sneak peeks at art. Everyone, even non-patrons, get my main podcast about game design for free. At the $25 subscription level, patrons get all that plus they can see all the latest gameplay materials for the tablet games so they can make their own print-and-play version, and they will get builds of the digital games when those are ready. For example, they got keys for Steam Yomi weeks or months before it launched.


The tablet version of Codex is now very far along in development. Its theme is inspired by RTS games like Warcraft and Starcraft, so you can think of it sort of like Warcraft 3 in card form. Heroes are really important to the game and you need them to cast spells. Tech buildings let you build more powerful units. Your opponent is always a step behind what you’re planning, kind of like the fog of war in those games.

You can play 4 categories of Codex with the Patreon materials right now, which is hundreds of cards. It has all real and beautiful art, not placeholder, and the rest of the factions to follow very soon. Codex was a huge hit at Fantasy Strike Expo, and is what most attendees played and talked about the whole time.

Codex is a customizable card game that stands apart from others like Magic or Hearthstone in that it’s competitively fair. You will never play with an underpowered deck that doesn’t have enough rares or anything like that because there are no rares. You will never have intentional material advantage or disadvantage over opponents because it’s simply not possible in the game system, for anyone.

Just as importantly, it’s designed to not even need endless new cards. We can make lots of cards, sure, but there is just so much to the game that it’s interesting to play for years as it is right now. This comes partly from the core mechanic being that you build your deck as you play (but not like in Puzzle Strike or Dominion), and partly that from there just being so many in-game decisions that matter. Likewise, out-of-game decisions are vastly less important in Codex because so much of the strategy happens WHILE you play. Think of it like in a fighting game: you want all characters to be roughly the same power level so that you can choose one that’s FUN to you without being gimped and without having to start the game at a 1-9 disadvantage or something. In Codex, there are over 1000 possible decks, each one of them differing from each other by more than 1/3rd, and ALL of them at least as strong as a weak fighting game character (such as ST Cammy, for example). It’s really not like to put together like any other card game in that respect.

Here are some cards:

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