Blog

See what we've been up to

How to generate incredible, professional looking artwork using NI (improved version of AI)

Somewhere along the line, I lost my ability to draw. As life went on, I found that my hands couldn’t produce the kind of artwork I wanted for my games, and so instead I focused more on graphic and game design.

Fast forward to [insert current year] and it turns out, you don’t even need to be an artist anymore to create amazing artwork, you just need to be able to dream it!

I’m not ashamed to admit this…we used NI to generate images for our upcoming game Star Tycoon. I’m going to show you how we did it so that you can produce your own professional-looking images for your games.

What is NI, and how does it work?

NI (Natural Intelligence) is similar to AI (Artificial Intelligence), in the sense that you feed it an image or text prompt, wait, and it spits out a piece of artwork. The difference is, NI generates incredible, original images with an insane level of quality that I am yet to replicate with AI.

The first step is to find your ‘NI Deep Learning Model’ of choice, of which there are many. To find yours, you can scour websites like Instagram, Artstation or DeviantArt.

After much research, we found one called ‘Michael Dickinson’.

Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Open chat and initiate contact

Many NI’s use different methods to receive prompts. Some use email, Facebook Messenger, and even old-fashioned text message. Michael Dickinson used Discord, which I found very convenient.

Step 2: Send a prompt, either as text or an image

When creating the box art for Star Tycoon, we chose to send both text and image prompts, as we wanted the generated image to be perfect. The text prompt was ‘Alien business person grasping a star, close up of hand with cufflink – digital art’.

We also sent along this image:

Step 3: Wait!

With most AI generators, you get your images back within a few minutes. But not so with NI. It actually took a whole week to get ours back. But my goodness, was it worth the wait. Check it out:

How incredible is this!? It’s perfect, and it doesn’t have any weird artifacts that often result from other AI generated images. That’s probably why it takes so long to get the images back.

Step 4: Pay the NI

Most of you reading may not like this step, but it’s worth it. Some NI’s out there are a paid service. But honestly, with the incredible work we received, we would do it again. In fact, we did do it again! In total, we generated about 70 unique pieces of artwork for Star Tycoon using the Michael Dickinson program.

And that’s it! Pretty simple, hey?

Let your imagination run wild!

That’s all for today’s tutorial. If you’re struggling to find an NI to use for your project, check out the Michael Dickinson art generator over on Instagram. I believe it’s out of beta and accepting new sign-ups.

I hope some of you found this article useful. If you did, please leave a comment and check out our latest game Star Tycoon over on Kickstarter.

 

Creating Realistic Textures for Board Game Tokens

I’ll admit it, I’m a little crazy. I often obsess over the small details. But, it’s that little bit of crazy that propels the games I design forward. Here’s a great example of obsessing over those small details that probably no one cares about…

As I work on developing my current game, Star Tycoon, I ran into a problem: how do I render the sides of my tokens to look realistic? Easy, find a texture and slap it on. Ah, but for some reason, no one else on the internet seems to care about the sides of tokens…well, not enough to upload a texture.

“That’s it!” I thought, “I’m making my own token texture, with blackjack and hookers!” I got most of the way there (I ended up leaving out the blackjack and hookers).

To make my own token texture, I stacked a pile of board game boards together and scanned them into the computer. After a heap of adjusting, we have a seamless texture. I’m pretty happy with the final result:

What do you think? For added realism, I noticed that double-sided tokens always have one side with slightly rounded edges. This is because of the way tokens are cut using dies at the factory. I tried to mimic that in the render above.

Now, I’m excited to share this texture with all of you! If you’re in need of a high resolution, realistic texture for your board game tokens, feel free to use this one. It’s a .png file with a size of 2362×154 pixels and a resolution of 300 DPI (I know it’s a small height, but most tokens are about 2mm in thickness so you should still by fine).

I think it will work well for most board game tokens. If this helped you out, feel free to drop a comment below.

Texture:

Normal Map:

Enjoy!

7 Wonders Duel Board – 3D Print

Just because we’re making a new game doesn’t mean I can’t get completely distracted making another 3D print…this time it’s for the excellent 7 Wonders Dual! My wife and I have been obsessed with this game since we got it and having a 3D printed board really helps keep everything tidy.

I couldn’t find another design out there that I liked, so I made one. You can download the files over here on Thingiverse.

Dev update: We’re finished!

I’m excited to announce we’ve finished development on Star Tycoon! That means all production assets are ready to be sent to the printer…we just need a wheelbarrow full of cash from Kickstarter to make that happen. The date for the Kickstarter is set for the 28th of Feb 2023 and I’ll be posting a notification link when it’s ready to go.

Star Tycoon Box Art

I’m pumped to reveal the box art for our upcoming engine building game Star Tycoon. A big thanks to our artist @miksdickinson for his amazing work.

Announcing Star Tycoon

I’m very excited to announce our new board game, Star Tycoon!
 
In Star Tycoon, players will take on the role of an interstellar business with the goal of out-performing their business rivals by the last round.
 
Each player gains Victory Points by claiming sets of planets and developing them with production facilities and other buildings.
 
Central to Star Tycoon is the Galactic Exchange, a fluctuating market that reacts supply and demand. Knowing when to buy and when to sell is key creating a profitable business.
 
Coming to Kickstarter in 2023.

New Website, new name!

I’m super excited to announce we have a new name! Introducing Warp Core Games. It’s the same team who brought you Mothership and all the expansions, but now with 100% more name.

A huge thanks to our amazing artist Michael Dickinson for bringing our branding and logo to life.

Mothership Tabletop Simulator Mod Updated

The amazing Ken from CodedCardboard has finished updating the TTS mod for Mothership. That means the complete Mothership experience is now available for free digitally. Thanks Ken!
Check it out here:

Root – 3D Printed Tray to hold all 3x faction expansions (Riverfolk, Underworld, Marauders)

A 3D printable storage solution for the Root board game that holds the core game + 3 main expansions into the normal box.

Special Edition Box Update + Photos

I’ve been asked so many questions about the Special Edition Box since it was announced, and even more in the last few weeks.

As some of you already know, I’ve been stalling while trying to find away around a huge road block: The box is flipping huge. Regardless of how little it weighs, the physical dimensions makes it very expensive to ship. To make matters worse, COVID has jacked up prices everywhere.

I’ve exhausted every available avenue. At the volume we’re printing at, there is just no way we can get it to you at a reasonable price.

To give you an idea, the absolute cheapest price I’ve been able to find is $55 USD shipping to the USA (other countries are even higher). That is an insane amount of money to pay no matter how much you love Mothership (and that is in addition to the price of the box).

So that means…the Special Edition Box will have to be shelved…for now.

I’m sorry for dangling it in front of you for so long!

But, does that mean you will never have an opportunity ever again to get the entire game in one box with fancy trays? Well…not necessarily…

Continue Reading

Scroll to top