Wind Catcher Games

Games by Josh Raab

Archive for the category “General Ramblings”


Time for an overhaul! The new version of the site will do a much better job showcasing my more recent work. I’ll be removing some old stuff and structuring things a little more cleanly in general.

It’s going to take a little while, but as every game designer knows, sometimes the best course of action is just to throw everything out and start over from scratch. Here we go!


Back in the US

Iceland is an amazing place. Almost anywhere you are, even in the heart of Reykjavik, a majestic vista of snow-capped mountains is no more than a few minutes away. The people are warm and welcoming, and they definitely know how to celebrate the holidays. I got to experience some of its natural beauty close up just before leaving, venturing into a lava cave and snorkeling between continental plates.

A few more pictures from my time there:


On Sumer, we’re gearing up for Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter campaigns. We’ve been busy preparing our promotional materials as well as continuing to polish the game. Artist Jet Landis has been working with art director Sig to create striking new versions of the goddess Inanna, the central personality of the game: she’s the one demanding sacrifices and bestowing her favor on the best divine servant.

On a personal note, as much as I love and am proud of Sumer, funds are low and I’m currently seeking full-time employment. It’s a stressful process, but I’m hoping this new game design MFA degree of mine (plus those sweet sweet NYU connections) will hold some weight. I’m also not a winter person; I expect the next two months to be rough, emotionally. But spring always comes in the end, right?

– Josh


Hey there! Since the incubator ended, I spent a month just sorta working on Sumer and then gallivanted off to Iceland.

I’m currently living on a tiny farmhouse in the remote north as the first participant in the Kollafoss Gamedev Residency.


The guy who runs it, Johannes, is a sound designer and experimental musician, and a great host. If living out in the middle of nowhere with no distractions and two sweet, adorable kitties sounds like something you’d enjoy, I highly recommend it. Plus, even including all the transportation costs, I’m actually saving money over a month in NYC.

I recently visited Akureyri, the biggest town in Iceland outside Reykjavik. I say “town” because it’s still fewer than 20,000 people, but it’s a cultural center and an extremely beautiful location. Mostly mentioning this trip so I can have an excuse to show these pictures:


As for Sumer, we made a big push to polish it up for our IGF submission. The art, animation, and audio all received major improvements. Special thanks to our super-talented new artist, Jet Landis, who stepped in when our super-talented original artist, Adam Alexander, got a full-time job.

We’ve begun overhauling the tutorial and adding actual menus, and we’re also redesigning the narrative to be more dynamic and appropriate to a digital board game. We’re also pushing toward a Steam Greenlight launch with an eye toward early access, and discussing the possibility of a Kickstarter. As part of our ongoing efforts to get the game out there, we’ve showed at various festivals including the Boston FIG, Metatopia, and Gameacon.

Oh, and since I’ve been here I started working on a secret side project as well. It’s not even interactive right now and probably will never be developed into a full “game,” it’s just kind of a cool system I’ve been wanting to make for a while. As much as I love collaborating, it is nice to work on a solo project for a change!

And that’s about it. I’m not expecting any big announcements anytime soon, but maybe once we put up our Greenlight page. Until next time!

— Josh



Just checking in. Some updates on the games:

Sumer is coming along great. The design feels close to complete, with only relatively minor changes to come. We have a ton of work to do on the art, UI, narrative, tutorials, and audio, but it’s good to know that we have such a strong core.

Crystal Brawl has undergone major refactoring and optimization in order to make it run at an acceptable frame rate on the Wii U. It’s mostly up and running, though we have some significant bugs to work out. We’re looking at ways to fund full-time development so we can finish it in a reasonable time frame, we’ll see how that goes. We’ve also started to design a single-player mode – exciting!

Nika has also been getting refactored, so there’s nothing too exciting to report, except that the AI is definitely making progress. It hasn’t become sentient and gone on an apocalyptic rampage just yet, but it can move pieces around the board in something approaching an intelligent pattern. Lots of work still to do, but we’re hoping to have a decent AI (as well as final in-game UI) in time for the Playcrafting Spring Expo on April 29th. Fingers crossed!

Otherwise, I had a lovely GDC as a third-time Conference Associate. I’m graduating in a couple months, which is both exciting and frightening. Hopefully I’ll have some news for my summer plans in not too long, but until then I’ll just have to wait and see. Until next time!

– Josh

Hello Again, World

Alright! Quick runthrough of the last two months. First, I completed my third out of four semesters at NYU Game Center. Games I worked on include:

My thesis project:

1. Sumer (temp title): A video game inspired by board games, we’re calling it a “worker placement platformer” – Mario meets Settlers of Catan, or (more accurately) Agricola meets Killer Queen. Co-designers include Misha Favorov, Sig Gunnarsson,and Geoff Suthers. Art by Adam Alexander, sound by Seori Sachs. Not the last you’ll hear of Sumer!

For Rob Daviau’s board game design class:

2. Jefferson: A deck-builder using a standard deck of cards. Designed solo.

3. Lia Frank’s Rainbow Road: A real-time math game using a board and a standard deck of cards. Designed with Jesse Fuchs and Elyse Lemoine.

4. Train-a-saurus Wrecks: A game for preschoolers where you stack dinosaurs onto an electronic train. Designed with Vanessa Briceño, Misha Favorov, and Geoff Suthers.

5. Ratnakara: A Euro-style board game where you play as a merchant captain in the 1400s plying the Indian Ocean. Our final project, and a pretty fun game! Designed with Bruce Lan, Wynn Chen, and Jason Schoenfeld.

I also wrote a feature on Keith Nemitz, founder of Mousechief and creator of 7 Grand Steps and Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!, for Chris Plante’s’ journalism class.

With Studio Mercato, the most exciting news was showing Crystal Brawl at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in early December. We’ll also have it at MAGFest later in January. As for Nika, you can purchase the board game version online here, and we’ve been putting the app on all kinds of new platforms as well as working on the AI and polishing up the look. I expect it’ll be available for release within a couple months.

That’s about it! See ya next time.

– Josh

Catching Up

Well! It’s certainly been a while. Most of my time has been going into my thesis project, a sort of digital Eurogame/spiritual successor to M.U.L.E. whose working title is Sumer. The core team of designer/programmers is myself, Sig Gunnarsson, Misha Favorov, and Geoff Suthers. Seori Sachs is our sound designer, and we’ll hopefully have our artist nailed down within a week or so.

For my other classes, I’ve been learning journalism from Chris Plante (Polygon, the Verge) and board game design from Rob Daviau (Risk Legacy, Betrayal at House on the Hill). Moving into final projects now, in the form of a feature article and a hobby-market board game. Details to come.

At Studio Mercato, we’re continuing to iterate on and playtest Crystal Brawl and the Nika app. We brought CB to the Boston FIG and Maker Faire in September, and are most likely planning to have it at MAGFest in late January. As usual, people enjoyed the games but there’s always lots more work to do.

I went 0 for 3 in terms of IndieCade submissions, but hope springs eternal – we submitted Geneses to the IGF Student Showcase. We did get good feedback from the IndieCade judges, mostly on issues of UI, legibility, and learning the game. Hard stuff, but super important!

Lastly, I applied for my third stint as a volunteer at GDC. I won’t hear back for a while, but I’ve loved volunteering there in the past and hope to be able to do so again.

That’s about it! I’ll have more updates when I hear back from various places, and as my school projects continue.

– Josh

End of MFA 1st Year, Now To Montreal!

With the MFA end of year showcase at NYU on May 22nd, my amazing and exhausting first year of grad school finally ended. Though Chomp and Bandit Kings were present, I mostly manned Geneses, which got quite positive response. We’re planning on submitting that to a few festivals, so hopefully there’ll be some more announcements on that front within a couple months. Also, if you haven’t seen it already, the show and the program have been getting some pretty sweet coverage from publications like Kill Screen and the goddamn New York Times.

As for me, since the show I’ve been enjoying some much-needed rest, hanging out with cats, and catching up on games I’ve been meaning to play. On June 5th, however, I’ll be leaving NYC for…

Critical Hit! Until the middle of August, I’ll be jamming away at Concordia University in Montreal, making weird experimental artsy games or something. The program looks pretty great, and I’m damn excited to be heading up there (along with fellow MFA students Pierre Depaz and Winnie Song).

As for Nika, I’ve just contacted the publisher and learned that there was a slight delay, but the game should be arriving in your home in early August. I’ll be receiving a sample copy within a couple weeks – can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Lastly, the Studio Mercato projects are both making major steps forward. The Nika app shouldn’t be too far away from finished – we just need to add visual polish and possibly AI, then we’ll push it out the door. We added a major new class-switching feature to Crystal Brawl and are currently overhauling our level design process. Both Crystal Brawl and the board game version of Nika are being submitted to IndieCade, so I hope to have at least one reason to buy a ticket to California this October!

Studio Mercato

Studio Mercato

At last! Studio Mercato, beloved NYC developer collective and indie label which I helped found, has a true internet home. Inspect it with great fervor!

Also, if you happen to be in Boston this weekend, come to the Boston Festival of Indie Games at MIT! I’ll most likely be manning the Nika table all day myself, but we’re also showing Crystal Brawl.

Otherwise, I’ve mostly been occupied with being a newly minted grad student at the NYU Game Center. My favorite moment so far came on the first day of class, and went something like…

Me: “Man, it feels like I’m, like, at Hogwarts.”

Misha (friend, colleague; mishearing): “Did you say, ‘It feels like I’m back at Hogwarts?’ ”

That… that was it. Um, it was funny at the time. I should probably go to sleep now. Until later, internet!

Gen Con and On

So, Gen Con was a suitably bizarre experience. Probably my favorite moment was seeing a dejected, lonely LEGO Superman moping around the lobby of the Marriott. Also got lots of people playing Nika, as seen here:


Their joy is evident.

I finished up at Grasshopper this week, but I will most likely continue to run playtests through the semester. I’ll update the site with details when I have them.

Coming up soon: I’ll be at Ret Con this weekend, then starting at the NYU Game Center masters program in game design in September. Crystal Brawl AND Nika both got into the Boston FIG, which is super exciting! I’ll be demoing Nika all day at the Tabletop Games Showcase, and you can join the Studio Mercato gang at the Digital Games Showcase for Crystal Brawl. That’ll be Saturday, September 14th at MIT.

Think that’s about the update for me – but before you go, here are some sheep.



Come Out & Play

Hey all,

Last Friday (July 12th) was Come Out & Play After Dark, the night section of New York’s biggest public games festival. Hundreds of people turned out for the night’s games, including Studio Mercato’s own Don’t F**k Up for the Grasshopper table! The game was a big hit.


For Crystal Brawl, we’ve recently heard news that suggests we’ll be able to put it on the Ouya, our target platform. Hurray!

If you want to check out the game, come to the NYC gaming meetup on July 23rd. We’re demoing, and we’ll have a playable version available. Hope to see you there!

There’s also a chance Crystal Brawl will end up in an arcade cabinet at a Brooklyn DIY music venue. I’m talking with the guy on Tuesday. Gotta say, that would be pretty awesome.

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