Half-Cocked Game Design: Pulaski Day / Polish Orthography

I'm going to use this as a space to think through a game concept. Feel free to chime in—I'm hoping the occasionally curious onlooker may have a thought. I'd ask for collaborators, but this is really just an idle thought right now. Nothing has crystallized yet. Can't say it's a good idea to invite others into the madness.

So, Casimir Pulaski Day is a regional holiday in Chicago & Illinois. I'm noodling with making a game about them/him. American Emigrant, Union General, Possibly Intersex.

I'm thinking something semi-educational, but also ridiculous. Polish orthography is pretty cool (Z is a word? You win, Polish), so my recent thoughts have been about making the game in a Polish-American student's notebook. Partly writing, partly doodles.

I have some Polish-American friends and colleagues so there's the possibility that I'll have some real input from them on stuff they might have had to learn in private school, church or at home.

I have a real bad habit of not thinking through a game design, and just jumping in to art+code and hoping things will happen. Things happen, but they don't add up to an orchestrated effort, or a coherent product. I do this kind of stuff as an avocation from my day job, but it shouldn't be a vacation from my senses.

So, I'm going to commit to planning a bit better, and stuff. But, knowing my pathologies, I'm also going to make things easier on myself. I need to build the chops and discipline. No need to be brutal to oneself.


  1. An imperfect game is okay. Without a staff or more personal expertise, this will mostly be what it is. Embrace that. Think about what you want to do for next Pulaski Day (maybe I'll have a Playdate by then!). Year 2 can be bigger and better (or I'll have moved on to other things).
  2. Let's go with the notebook idea. Notebooks have pages. This allows for little mini games. Turn the page, the player deals with a new lesson or doodle.
  3. Conceptualize somewhere other than Pulp. Fine to have an idea there, but once you hit the first hurdle, don't try to hack your way out of it through tiled art or code. It's really limiting to try and iterate to a solution without a plan or a vision.
  4. You may not be able to make this thing yourself at the moment. Don't limit the vision to strictly what you know how to do.
  5. Be visual, you seem to forget you're a designer. Your company gave you a Adobe license, open Photoshop once in a while. Pop a marker now and again. Maybe time to get an iPad and Pencil again.

I think those precepts will help this move forward with some sort of one-way momentum.

Page world concept. We get it, it's paper. Not a notebook, you dunce. I thought you said notebook. Maybe a Trapper Keeper?

Next: Page/level ideas.

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[stubbed post]

Ideas from reading this Polish Orthography article, and a few more

Some level concepts:

  • False friends
  • Polish/Latin alphabet clash
  • "Die Critics!" doodle world when learning Diacritics*
  • "Die Graphs!" doodle world when learning Digraphs
  • Horseriding
  • Living Intersex in a gendered time but when all kids were raised in dresses
  • Perogies
  • Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
  • Polish & Slavic Geography
  • Casimir meeting George Washington
  • Casimir fighting in the American Revolutionary War
  • Polish Diaspora
  • Chicago neighborhoods
  • Futurism!
  • Ice Hockey

Some mechanic concepts

  • Player has an avatar - a doodled character
  • Player is a pen/pencil moving across the pages
    --Marks are made by dropping the pen/pencil to the page (with crank)
    --Marks are made by setting a stroke direction with the crank, then pressing A for the right duration
  • Play is a movable cursor moving across the page
  • Player is a Polish letter, trying to get into place
  • No moving player avatar - individual objects are selected with the d-Pad and animated with crank
  • No moving player avater - individual objects are selected with the crank then repositioned with the dpad
  • No moving player avatar - subtitle text strings are selected with dpad are cycled through with crank
  • Player is Casimir as Avatar - walking creates pencil marks, horseback riding creates pen marks
  • Casimir is on horseback, crank angles sword for attacks
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