Wind Catcher Games

Games by Josh Raab


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


The Incubator and Beyond

This summer has been devoted to working on Sumer in NYU’s incubator program along with Geoff, Sig, and Misha. We’ve made huge strides after 3 months of full-time work: a visual overhaul (courtesy of new artist Jet Landis), new design features, mouse and keyboard controls, a tutorial, and even the beginnings of online play. It’s been a great experience, with help from a huge number of people.

Currently we’re looking around for publisher funding so we can continue working full-time and finish the game. I’m considering a move to Iceland as well, but everything is pretty up in the air. It’s scary not to know what’s next, but it’s exciting to be pursuing this game we so strongly believe in.

We’ll be showing it at the Boston Festival of Indie Games on September 12th, as well as more local events, including possibly regular showings at PAG’s I Got Next (Nevada Smiths, every other Monday). We’re also sending out alpha builds to pretty much anyone who asks, so if you’re interested in playing, stop by an event or send me an e-mail!

– Josh

MFA Complete

As of this May, I am officially a Master of Game Design! A huge thank you to the students, faculty, and administration at the NYU Game Center for two amazing years. You’ve made me a better designer and a better person.

My life now is distilled down to three games: Sumer, the Nika mobile app, and Crystal Brawl.

Sumer is what I’m doing full-time now at NYU’s summer incubator program. We got an incredible reception at the end of year Student Show, and we’re hoping to release in about a year. We’ve recently added AI (!) and are continually iterating on the visuals and design. It’s coming along very quickly, and has a special aura around it – I think it could be a huge success.

Nika is quite close to release. The main hurdle is AI, which has been improving but isn’t quite good enough yet. Otherwise, it’s just polish and QA. We’re aiming to release (on a ton of mobile platforms) before our Kickstarter for Crystal Brawl, most likely in September.

Crystal Brawl development is more or less on hold until we finish Nika, but we’ve got plans. If our Kickstarter succeeds, we’re hoping to add a couple new character classes, a whole new mode, and AI (see a pattern?) The timeline should be fairly similar to Sumer, releasing in about a year.

It’s awesome to just be able to work on these projects with few other distractions. All three are in large part my own babies, which makes me both proud and extremely grateful. Here’s hoping they all succeed.

– 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

Agency is Online!

Like the title says. We’ve put it up on Philomela, a lovely free Twine hosting site. Play it here and tell ya friends!

(Edit: Not sure how to have Philomela access our sound and art assets, so USE THIS LINK instead:

Here’s the Philomela link, but you should use the previous one:


Critical Hit Recap

Okay! It’s been well over a month, meaning I have been terribly negligent in my blog duties. So let’s get right into it!

Most of the summer was occupied by the amazing Critical Hit program at Concordia University’s TAG Lab. Each of the 15 other participants were phenomenally talented and wonderful people, and I’m honored to have spent 10 weeks making games alongside them.

I ended up working primarily on Agency, a text-based game built in Twine that explores themes of morality, necessity, and bureaucratic obfuscation in a not-so-distant-future America. You play as a government Inspector tasked with extracting information from a suspect. It will be online very soon, and I’ll post a little addendum when it is. I created the game alongside fellow NYU MFA student Pierre Depaz, and under the indispensable tutelage of Leanne Taylor and Jonathan Lessard.


On other fronts, Crystal Brawl was accepted into the Boston Festival of Indie Games (September 13 at MIT). Geneses, sadly, was not, but we have some good hypotheses as to why – more to do with difficulties in UI and teaching the rules than with the quality of the design, in which we’re completely confident. Still waiting to hear back from IndieCade about those two and Nika, but that should be coming soon.

Additionally, Crystal Brawl will be showing at two festivals in the near future: lwlvl this weekend in Williamsburg, and Maker Faire NYC September 20-21 in Queens. We’re going as part of Mark Kleback’s wandering indie arcade carnival Deathmatch by Audio, and both events look like they’re going to be awesome. Hope to see you there!

Lastly, team assembly and preliminary design work have begun on my MFA thesis project. I won’t say much for now, but stay tuned. It’s gonna be good.

– Josh

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