May Madness

Settling down for a while

Welcome to the latest WAY LOST letter, with a new look and a new platform. TinyLetter, which I had been using, was bought up by MailChimp a few years ago and then shut down at the beginning of this year. Boo Capitalism! But I’m back, now trying out Beehiiv to see how that goes.

But enough of that. Let’s dive in!


  • I’ve settled in nicely in southern Germany again. I’ve moved to Ludwigsburg with the intention to stay here for a while and to work out of the lovely Kokolores Collective here.

  • Initially the plan was to find a nice room in a flat share somewhere but a) finding a nice and affordable place here is terrible and b) because my good friend Thomas valued my company so much that I’ll be moving back in with him. If you recall, I stayed with him during 2020 when COVID started and I had to cancel all my initial travel plans. And it’s great being back. Living with him is a lot of fun.

  • I’ve also been working on some skin color studies using the iPad. My art has been a little blocked recently as the work on the video game has taken up so much space, but I still wanted to share one of them with you:

Skintone study, click through for more!

  • I will be at AMAZE, the indie games festival in Berlin in a few weeks. If you’re going to be there too, let me know!

  • And that’s mostly it. Things have slowed down, which I don’t mind. I am meaning to enjoy the pleasures of a sedentary life style for a while. Part of that is that I want to take up some interesting classes but I haven’t yet gotten around to that.

  • Oh right, and I’m about to turn 43 in a few days. So happy birthday to me!


  • I have watched the latest season of the Fargo TV series and enjoyed it as much as the ones before it. They’re all fun in their own way and I really like that.

  • I’m also almost through the latest season of True Detective: Night Country, which is also good TV. It seems like it’s treading water a bit in the second half but I’m still invested and eager to find out how it ends.

  • I have played through Marvel: Midnight Suns, because I heard good things, it’s a deckbuilder and I noticed that they’re doing similar things to what I want to do with HBC. All in all it’s solid but I think it has too many systems crammed together and too much of empty-time between the combats, which I actually enjoy. Still recommended but I wish the non-combat stuff was shorter, snappier. Definitely something to take away for my own game.

  • I have also started watching the newest season of Dimension 20. I never really got “actual play D&D” until I watched a handful of comedians sit around a table having fun. And the new season “Fantasy High: Junior Year” goes back to the crew and world of their first big campaign and it’s a hoot so far. It’s on the affordable streaming service, if you want to check it out.

  • I’ve also spotted a documentary on that same streaming service about Rick Perry, the miniatures builder of the show, which I watched. He’s living on a farm somewhere on the west coast where he builds the sets with a small crew for part of the year. And once the shows shoot he’s on site in LA setting up, tweaking and building. This idea of a focused creative community resonates with me deeply.

  • It is something I have been thinking about and talking about with my friend Alex. Maybe we’ll be able to build something like that some day…

  • It also made me thinking of the wonderful behind-the-scenes material from the indie movie Prospect. They show how they put a team of artists together to create all the props and costumes for the show in what feels like a really collaborative and communal way.

  • Watching the documentary also led to this screencap from the documentary, that really spoke to me:

The creative process, from awesome over shit to awesome


One of the benefits of staying in one place for a while is an easier collaboration. So to help me build HBC I’ve been looking for a game design intern to come join the team and help out with the game design. And after a multi-week search, I’ve got someone on board, and they’ve started in April!

HBC - New Game Title!

After running with the working title for quite a while now, I’ve finally decided to start looking for a proper game title. It took a while to get there but it’s finally done. The game is from now on known as Crownbreakers!

There’s also a website ( as well as a subreddit, a twitter account and more!

Originally HBC stood for Halo Bright Cards, which is not really a title I can use. It’s grown that way because years ago I started to work on a fictional world I called Bright. Much of this has changed but it has morphed into what is now the core of the video game. However a few years back that bad Netflix movie with the same name came out, even set in a comparable world of modern fantasy. So I knew I had to change the name but for the time being I just slapped Halo in front of it and kept going.

Crownbreakers - Gameplay Decisions

Last time I talked a little about the tension in the gameplay, and for the past few weeks I’ve been torn between two paths for the game. So what I did was to keep working on two versions of the core gameplay at the same time, sending out both versions to people to collect feedback, and finally iterating further.

One of the versions that has more “arbitrary” game rules and leads to a more constrained, more puzzle-like gameplay. The other is more open and simpler and lads to an experience that’s more brawler-like.

There’s something funny happening between the two versions: The puzzle one has fewer possible actions for the player, but instead of simplifying the game it leads to the player thinking about all actions, because it is possible. Through the Breach is a good example of that end of the spectrum.

On the other hand, the more open version has too many variables to really approach it like a puzzle game. You try and do your best but there’s no real searching for “the optimal solution” because that process isn’t feasible.

After much deliberation and feedback I decided to go with the more open version. One of my goals for HBC is to make an accessible card game that is more of a popcorn and less of a thinky experience. It’s still a card game so solving the turn by sequencing your actions right is still at its heart. I just don’t want you to feel like you need to do it perfect all the time.

Crownbreakers - Audiovisual Prototyping

I’ve also been working on some visuals. I just grabbed a few free Unity asset packs and played around with them to create a simple 3d environment, so it’s no longer the simple grey-green background.

You can see some of the new scenes in video form, because I’ve had a rough early teaser made for a funding application. It’s very long but that was at their request. It’s not really snappy enough to be a marketing thing but if you want to take a look, you can check it out:

(The trailer still opens with the working title because when I got it made, the final name wasn’t set yet…)

Goblin Errands - Game Jam

I’ve been thinking about it for a while but I decided to set up a game jam for Goblin Errands for my birth month of May. Me and hopefully a number of other people will create fun things for the game, anything from artwork to new rules to playbooks or pre-made adventures!

As part of the month-long event I’ll also host regular “office hours” on stream where I will be working on my ideas for the jam, but I’ll also be fielding questions from other people working on jam projects, or on games in general.

If you’re interested, you can sign up on

Goblin errands game jam header

The Mending Circle - Art Progress

As mentioned in the last letter, the art creation process for the Mending Circle has been dragging on a little. But here’s a preview of the cover, both front and back! It’s obviously still in progress but it’s coming together really nicely:

The Mending Circle cover preview

Ex Novo is part of the Palestinian Relief Bundle

The ongoing genocide in Palestine is something that has been weighing on me, and when I heard of the opportunity to join another wonderful charity bundle I immediately jumped in. As part of the Palestinian Relief Bundle you can now get 373 games at a low price, and you’re doing something good for the world! My own Ex Novo is part of the lineup, so maybe give it a look and help the bundle reach its goal!

And that’s it for this letter. As always thank you so much for reading and following!

Until next time,

💜 Martin