Wednesday, 12 February 2020

365 Day Artistic Challenge, Reflections and Tips -Keegan Blazey Art

Day 6: "The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates (illustration for General and the Spider)

This blog article is for any beginner artists, or intermediate artists who are on the brink of committing themselves to a life of hard won abilities at the helm of an easel/Wacom. IF you are thinking about challenging yourself to be better than you were, then you should read this before you embark on your journey. I have noticed a definite increase in my abilities and confidence levels as a result of doing this challenge, I also have a diverse hard drive full of potential portfolio pieces to draw from and a better insight into who I am as an artist and person. If you are thinking about doing something like this, it is definitely worth it.

To see the full challenge paintings:

Below are my thoughts, roughly cut and ordered into categories. These are my personal insights on trying to complete a painting a day for a year. Within the context of illustration and concept art with a bit of a fine art twist. This is from the point of view of someone who has completed the challenge, without missing a day while completing commissions for the gaming industry, children’s book illustrations and other illustration projects as a freelancer. 

I’m by no means a big name or even that great at art to be honest, but I can say that I’ve put a lot of time into this and I’ve been working professionally for about 2-3 years now. My hopes is that by reading about my folly, you may avoid some of your own folly. All artworks in this blog are from my 365 day challenge and they are unedited, they appear here in exactly the way I completed them during the challenge.

I’ve summarized what I learned below so you can read it quickly if you are in a hurry. 

SUMMARIZED VERSION: Encase you die of old age while reading
Day 51: There's never enough time, so don't wait
Getting good at anything is hard. In my opinion it requires discipline and grit to take you through the hard times. It also requires a sense of joy or fun. If you have one of these things, then you can be good at art. If you are lucky, you will discover joy AND discipline through doing this challenge. It will teach you to overcome the fear of starting a painting, of finishing a painting and posting it to the wider world. 

To be an artist in this kind of field you have to be fast, effective and a really good story teller. If you want to get better at these things then challenge yourself to do them everyday and to finish a painting everyday. It is immensely daunting to try and do something for a full year. And it certainly separates people who are serious about it from people who are not so committed.

If you want to find out who you are, try to do anything once a day for an entire year, without fail. It doesn’t matter in my opinion how good your attempts are. Of course you should aim to put your best in every time. What matters is that you do it everyday, and post it online. A whole painting a day. Give it a try, you will learn more about yourself than you will about art. Below is what I learned during the past year:

1. Give it Due Diligence, learn how to fail better each time. Don’t give up on yourself, aim to complete the challenge.
2. Don’t chase likes on Instagram, do what inspires you, don’t compare yourself to others.
3. Don’t split your focus. Do the challenge only.
4. Be careful of burn out. taking a break is more efficient, don’t sacrifice health and exercise.
5. Don’t let family and friends dissuade you from your challenge.
6. Combat your Laziness, GET FEEDBACK: Put the same amount of effort everyday or more. Work on your weaknesses. Ask professional artists for feedback.
7. Give yourself a theme to anchor your creativity and create healthy creative restrictions
8. Notice your Resistance and push through anyway. Procrastination creates more stress
9. Let go of perfection, everything is a draft, develop speed instead.
10. Have Fun! The better you get the more fun it is. This is about delayed gratification.

1. DUE DILIGENCE, DISCIPLINE, FAILURE,: Don’t give up on yourself

Day 136: Show up Everyday and build something

I have been prostrating at the alter of art everyday for more than a year. But this past year was different.  I now have 365 paintings to mark the procession of the sun and I didn’t miss a single day. Not everyday was a good painting. In fact some days were positively horrible. But that’s okay, this was never about masterpieces. In fact I am learning more and more that it wasn’t even about art. My over all feeling is that I have failed miserably to achieve what I wanted to achieve. But I have accomplished something for sure. It’s not important to succeed in my opinion, it’s important to fail more and more spectacularly each time. Incremental failure.

The point of this challenge is to set yourself a goal or intention and then follow through with it. Not just once, but 365 times. It will help you get over the fear of starting a painting, finishing a painting and posting it on social media. Yes you will be embarrassed to post things that are not ‘finished’. That aren’t ‘Up to your usual standard’. The point is that over time, a 1 hour piece of work from you will be better and better. Incremental failure.

As long as you don’t give up, as long as you complete the challenge, you can guarantee you will learn something. If you need to quit the challenge half way through, make sure it is for something more important than art. In that case, don’t give up on yourself. If you fail to try because of laziness or because of lack of attention. Then you are giving up on yourself. And that is hard, it results in a spiralling self confidence which is very hard to come back from. Don’t fail to try and don't give up on yourself. You can do it.  The ship is only sunk when the Capitan stops thinking of ways out of trouble, not when the ship is at the bottom of the sea. Sometimes the best thing for a Capitan is to have the ship sunk. So sink your ships! Then dredge them back up and try again.

2. COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS, CHASING LIKES: Do what inspires you, however obscure
Day 29: Diligently Polish the precious turd
I originally started this challenge because I thought it would bring me more clients, more skill and ultimately success. I thought that if I just did this I would be as good as those other artists who did the challenge. Well I’m not, it didn’t bring more clients(at least not directly) and I didn’t get much likes throughout the process. The artists that I compared myself to are simply magnificent and they applied themselves in a way which was (in my opinion) superior to me. They received much more attention and really pushed and polished their artistic practice. Good work speaks for itself and this is undoubtedly why they have such a large following. I gave up trying all the social media tricks and instead started focusing on being a better artist.

When I look at their work, I see that they have a much more conventional theme and a simple approach. Perhaps they got out of their own way, which I have declined to do. My point here is, my reasons for doing the challenge were folly from the beginning. And what I learned at the end was that I am not like everyone else. None of us are. It might take me another six challenges to understand what the other artists understood in a week(technically). 

And perhaps they will never draw the lessons I have drawn from this. I have learned through this challenge where my tastes lie. And now that it is in perspective, I know quite clearly which direction and theme to take my work in. If you want to know what you like and what you don’t like, then do 365 paintings and find out. My approach now is to know what I like and follow it. Be good at doing what you like to do. If likes become a bi-product of that, then well done! I'm not going to change my theme and taste so that people will hit the like button. In fact, it is a symptom of not accepting yourself. if you are willing to put on a mask for the masses then the truth will always be obscure to you. I say take the mask off and let others see that shiny turd that is your personality. Polish it diligently and don't be ashamed, we all have a precious turd to polish.

3. SPLITTING YOUR FOCUS: Abandoning other Projects
Day 361: Choosing a World, don't wait at the gate
I tend to scatter myself quite a bit because I have many interests. This is as much a curse as it is a blessing. I learn a lot from multiple fields and I see parallels that can be applied. This challenge was an attempt to focus myself a little and it was very hard to do so because it goes against my nature. I had to give up doing other projects. Towards the end, this was all I was doing, my only ambition besides my part time job and all the commissions that I’m working on. It’s enough to have one sideline project other than your day jobs. Having a few more is asking for trouble.

During the second month of the challenge I embarked on another difficult project(partly but not completely art related) which further split my focus. Eventually I couldn’t cope with all the stress and I ended up sacrificing the other project I was working on and stuck to the art. It was tremendously heart wrenching as it involved moving houses and breaking off working relationships and I still bare the emotional scars today. The art was a personal challenge, a personal promise and I don’t give up on myself. So I held to my word, I held to my promise to myself and I gave up the other thing. It was hard. It felt like sacrificing a child at the alter. It may have been a catastrophic mistake, but hey, collateral damage…. focusing yourself requires sacrificing distractions to the art gods. Don't wait at the gate of potential, commit yourself or forever be divided into oblivion. Having said that, it was a very unique situation and you will need to apply personal judgement with regards to your own life, don't quit other things just because I say so.

4. BURN OUT: Take a break, you’re not a robot.
Day 141: The painting mocked by my brother(and rightly so). Dead Animal card for my boardgame

Do not sacrifice exercise, healthy food and at least some leisure time with friends. It is important for your health. Do sacrifice any sideline projects which take your focus away from what you’re doing. If they are art related then use the challenge to complete part of that project.

During the first three months of the challenge while I was splitting myself into many directions, I actually produced some really amazing work. But it wasn’t sustainable. I eventually collapsed and burnt out. I used to have all nighters and push myself right to the edges of awareness, but now I prefer to stop when I am tired and take a break. Do something else, go climbing, go for a walk, chat with friends and have a beer. When you get back to the work the next day you are refreshed and the problems are solved much quicker.

I remember  getting really upset when my brother told me that he wasn't going to like one of my paintings because it was below my usual standard. The reason it was below my standard is because I had to travel for two days to visit him and spend time with him, which meant that I couldn't spend too much time on the painting.  I was on the verge of a break down mentally and emotionally from trying to fit too much in. After that moment I decided that people and family and relaxation time was more important than having a masterpiece every time and I suddenly stopped caring about the results as much as I did before. I might be wrong here, but it is something I learned about myself. I'm not going to sacrifice family and friends for this.  And I'm not going to put myself through the wringer every time I do a terrible painting. Look at the mistakes, learn from them and move on. Don't beat yourself up about it.

The old trope of choosing art above social time, leisure time, health in my opinion is a mistake. I agree that you have to have your priorities straight, and of course you won’t be the best at it if you don’t sacrifice some of these things. But what are we trying to be here? Art Robots? Or creatively dynamic human beings? Let's be honest though, it was a pretty terrible painting.

5. DO NOT LET THEM DISSUADE YOU: Believe in yourself and stick to your decision
Day 37: Keep going despite what they say

So many times throughout this year I was burnt out and frustrated and nearly at the brink of collapse but I knew that I would never give up, for some reason I am stubborn that way, once I make up my mind to do something I cannot put it down. It’s borderline obsession and I don’t think it’s healthy.

Anyway the point is that my friends and family all gently(some not so gently) tried to discourage me from doing this challenge. It was mostly in the beginning when I was on day 10, day 50, day 80. They stopped telling me to stop after day 160. People stopped caring or even noticing after day 240. It has become a way of life for me now and sitting here writing this I feel a bit odd because I haven’t planned something for the day. People think it is a fools errand when you start out, but slowly but surely the days tick by and when you are past the half way point they start to believe that you can do it and the cautions turn into encouragements. The trick is to believe you can do it from day one. Don’t bother about the number you are on, or when you are going to finish it. It’s the process that counts.

I don’t know if doing this challenge has been the catalyst to destroy my life or not. I am still unsure of whether it was right to sacrifice those other things. What I can say is that if you want to do anything that is remotely challenging, you will face difficulty. And if you have people who love you, they will try to spare you that suffering and tell you to stop. Don’t listen to them. Suffering is good for you. You are going to have to sacrifice a few things. Don’t let them stop you. Eat bitter, as my Kung Fu Shifu used to say, and probably still does.

6. COMBATING LAZINESS, working on Weaknesses, Turning off Distractions, Getting Feedback:
Day 242: It's more fun to be the creator than the created
It is extremely hard to put consistent effort into something on a daily basis, as life goes through it’s peaks and troughs. I am quite lazy by nature and the challenge turned into a task that I had to do before I could relax for the day. When I was tired, hungover or wanting a break, it would inevitably be low hanging fruit that I could get done quickly. On these days I did terrible meaningless work.  

The most frustrating times were when I wanted to just get it done. This is the wrong attitude to have for anything in life that you are trying to improve on. In fact I think it’s why I didn’t improve as much as I could have. I simply didn’t push the edges enough because I was just trying to get it done so I could relax. As the 365th day rolled around I suddenly realized how much time I have squandered. It’s like coming to the end of your life and realizing that you spent most of it in front of the T.V or playing meaningless games. 

Think of each moment you are practising as precious. Then you will start to see improvement quicker. Don’t get complacent. Don’t make the mistake I made repeatedly. Turn off everything else. Stephen King says in his amazing book on writing, 'Close the door to the world'. Close your studio door, turn off the phone, turn off the internet. Spend the 1 hour or 2 hours a day on mastering your craft. You don't need a challenge to do this, but it certainly helps to get into the habit.

On the other hand don’t measure the results so intensely. Sometimes it’s better to let pieces go even if they are bad. The important part is to practice each day. If I did the challenge again I would spend more time searching out and focusing on my weaknesses. This would guarantee some learning. Doing studies for a year is a great way of improving. I spent some time expressing myself too by doing random doodles which is also fun and cathartic and it trains a different part of artistic practice.  
 Now I would focus more on values and simplification and perspective. I would also try and get this painting started everyday in the morning before I start my commission work. That way there isn’t a rush at the end of the day to get it done. There is also time then during the day to come back to it with fresh eyes which will avoid a bit of embarrassment after posting. So many times I posted a portrait or something, only to see later that the nose or eye is completely out of proportion or perspective or whatever.

So if you attempt this challenge, do it in the morning! Come back to it for 30 minutes in the evening, then post it with a clear conscience. And don’t be lazy! Put as much effort in at the end as you did in the beginning.  Lastly but very importantly, try to become part of a community which gives artistic feedback. Ideally they should be professionals, but anybody will do. It's vital to get an outside perspective during the process of your challenge. I had feedback from time to time, but I would ask for more if I did this again. 

I contacted a few of my artistic heroes and I was surprised to actually get a response from a few of them. Artists have all been through this learning curve, some are more willing than others to help you out. 

Day 144: The Wild Deer card from my board game.
There was a period during the challenge where I was working on a board game. This was good because it gave me a theme and a kind of cohesion to my work. I think a theme is very important because it anchors your creativity to something that can give inspiration and allow you to solve problems within a self inflicted restriction. It also shows that you are capable of keeping to a style and of solving visual problems within a story framework. I've been given this advice over and over and I constantly ignore it because I am frankly an idiot.

If you choose a theme, make sure it is a theme that you love! And MAKE A STORY. This kind of artwork is story driven. For gods sake tell a story. If you’re not going to tell a story then make it clear that you are studying something technical. I think I might do a story challenge next. And a theme challenge. Because these are things that I neglect which are vitally important.  I eventually stopped doing the bored game because I was overloaded with clients and I got a few commissions from clients which were more professional than usual, so I needed my full focus on my professional work. Now I think I will pick this up again and try to finish it.

Day 289: Don't be too hard on yourself... okay be a little hard.
Some days I really didn’t want to do it, I would wake up in the morning with a kind of rebellious attitude underlying everything I was doing. I would procrastinate and desire strongly to do other things. Often on these days, I would push myself through that unwillingness and just start doing the basic things that need to be done to start the painting. Like opening up photoshop, creating a new canvas and then doodling a few lines. Eventually you will get sucked into what you’re doing and the resistance will fall away. Then when you are finished you will find that the things you desired to do so badly(like playing games, going to the beach or whatever) aren’t actually that enjoyable anyway and they were just some figment of desire. On those days, when I pushed passed the rebelliousness. I created my best work. You will begin to recognize these days even before you’ve fully woken up. Sometimes being a little hard on yourself isn't so bad. But don't be a slave driver.

9. LETTING GO OF PERFECTION, Developing Speed:
Day 295: Let go of Perfection, it's dead weight anyway
It is quite terrifying to have a daily deadline hanging over you all the time. My days for the past year have been planned so that I can get my drawing or painting in and posted on Instagram. When I had to travel, I would often do two or three paintings in one day and then post them over the next few days. If I didn’t do this then I would be rushing the work and in a terrible state at the end of a long days travel. OR after suffering with a difficult commission all day, obsessed with some problem I was trying to solve, then having to pull myself away to do a daily painting was often very painful.

There have been times when I have gone through serious emotional pain with the constant feeling of ‘work’ hanging over me. I managed to get through that feeling, as well as the feeling of pressure on myself to always produce ‘good’ art. ‘Good art’ is a myth that should be aspired to but if it is a pressure that holds you back and puts a restriction on each brush stroke, then I feel it is pointless. This daily commitment in some cases has freed me to try new things, to really play with what I want to do. When I have been overloaded with commissions and stress it has been hard to put enough effort into each experiment and in those times I did studies that would help to alleviate the stress of the insurmountable commissions. The challenge became an ancillary to my work.

This daily commitment has broken the ice of starting new pieces and allowed a flow of work with less fear and anxiety of not being able to achieve what my clients are after.

To start a painting and finish a painting everyday is quite freeing. Both horrifying and freeing at the same time. It has downplayed the importance of each painting and rather put a focus on a continuous process. Which I believe is more important as an artist. Nothing is ever finished and in my opinion it’s better to move on and work on something else to enhance the learning process, to speed it up. Quantity over quality. What I can achieve in an hour now is drastically different to what I could achieve in an hour 1 year ago.

Now that the challenge is over, I will take some of the best pieces from last year and finish them off for my portfolio.

10. HAVE FUN!: Above all, Have Fun!
Day 116: Do not mow the salad.

Enjoy the process of painting and mastering a skill. It is incredibly satisfying to be able to paint whatever the hell you want. As you get better and better, there will be no restricted areas for you. If you want to paint something, it’s only a matter of getting started. This is delayed gratification, don’t expect results straight away. If you don't know how to paint something, Google is your friend.


Day 365, Self Portrait To see the full challenge work:
While completing the last piece which was a self portrait, I gained some insight into myself which I feel was invaluable. It took 365 days of persistence to reach a single realization which I knew from the start anyway. But it was revealed to me in a way which really hit it home. I am constantly at war with myself, and now, that war needs to come to an end. There needs to be peace in the valley of my mind. So much needless strife and thrashing. Self acceptance is key to taking risks and putting yourself out there. Be willing to fail, if you accept yourself as you are, flawed and human, it's much easier to sally forth into the unknown and perhaps make yourself better. If you hide away from your own potential and try to cover it up with skill and comfort zones you will remain the despicable self that you believe yourself to be..... forever. The only way is to crash through and blunder into failure after failure without mutineering against your own intentions.

There is something that seeps beneath my consciousness, something that glows and ebbs and wants to come out, art is a way of making it alive, and above all, that’s why I keep painting. If I stop, it will continue to thrash around until both of us are dead.


I highly recommend setting yourself a challenge like this and trying to complete it. You will learn more about yourself than you will about art. In fact it doesn’t have to be art, it could be anything. The point is to challenge yourself and do it everyday without fail. Setting yourself on a heroic journey, giving yourself meaning is something that is lacking in this world. And it supplies the strength to push on through the pervasive suffering of life. I can guarantee that you will be a better person at the end. I can’t guarantee you will be a better artist though. I hope that my folly has been educational for you and I hope you enjoy creating your own folly in the future!

If you want to see more of my work or contact me for commissions/questions or whatever:

Personal Website:
Follow me on Instagram: @keeganblazey
for commissions/questions:

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Permaculture and Gaming

What can Permaculture learn from the Gaming Industry

Earth Defence Force Concept: in  a post Global Warming ravaged world, the EDF is a rogue military force hell bent on planting trees with military efficiency, deadly precision, anybody foolish enough to get in their way is fired at relentlessly with acorn launchers.

I recently did a presentation at the National Permaculture Convergence 2019 titled Permaculture and Gaming. This post will layout in more detail what I spoke about at the convergence with a bit more research here and there. All artwork showcased here is done by yours truly over the past year or so for development of a board game. If you want to skip straight to the description of the game please scroll down to the heading: GAME DESCRIPTION

I talk about the perils of the Gaming Industry,  some benefits of gaming in general, some ideas I have on how we can learn from the gaming industry and then finally I present the game that I am developing which I hope marries the best of both Permaculture and the Gaming industry.

The Perils of the Gaming Industry: TRAPPED IN A DIGITAL WORLD

I have spent most of my life playing some form of game on a computer or a console. I really love games, though there have been times where I have been helplessly trapped in a prison of my own making. I have never been too far down the rabbit hole to come out again, though I know of others who haven't been as lucky as I have. There are potentially millions of people around the world who spend more time than they should chasing pixelated pots of gold across a digital landscape. I would say that most games now days are used for pure escapism, though they have benefits and good and bad side effects, essentially.

Some statistics you should be aware of:

  • There are over 2.5 Billion Gamers Worldwide
  • The gaming industry was valued at 78.61 Billion Dollars in 2017
  • Players of World of Warcraft have collectively spent 5.93 million years solving the virtual problems of Azeroth
  • Average gamer, 10,080 hours playing games at the age of 21
There are more interesting statistics but this is all I need to make my points. Why are games so compelling?

Through my experience in playing games and my experience as an Artist working on the fringes of the gaming industry I can summarize the following:
  • Games are designed to be addictive: Rewards for continued play (level ups, new items etc), scaling difficulty, satisfaction when winning or beating other players, games designed with no ending and open world, multiplayer and therefore actions in the game become more important and timing dependent. 
  • Constant positive feedback
  • Emotional Story telling, players develop connections to the characters they interact with.
  • Epic Music 
  • Long form story telling (when compared to a 2 hour movie, an 80 hour Single player story-epic is like being inside another world where you choose your own adventure) .
  • Image I made inspired by a game I love
  • Expertly designed Immersive worlds. players can forget they are playing a game for a time and really get into another dimension

These are some of the reasons why gamers would prefer to buy a game rather than a book or a cinema ticket.  Almost all of the above bullet points are good things to try and mimic if you are making an educational game, except the addictive part.

A good game should have endless play value and endless learning points, but it should be a basis for real world action and not a substitute for real world action, in my opinion. In my life I have swung between the two extremes of games being the devil and games being the solution to all life's problems.

Are games inherently bad for you?

I firmly believe that we can't throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to games, the energy of 2.2 Billion people can be harvested and used to solve real world problems, much quicker than we could  solve them without the games. I am not alone in this thinking and what will follow is some research that I have uncovered.

Some Key Benefits of Games:

What are gamers getting good at?

Urgent Optimism: desire to act immediately combined with the belief of a reasonable hope of success. Gamers mostly believe that an Epic Win is achievable at all times. (Jane Mcgonigal)
Social Fabric: we like people more after playing a game with them, even if they beat us badly. Takes a lot of trust to play with someone, we all must play by the rules. (Jane Mcgonigal)
Blissful Productivity:  We are happier working hard than relaxing and hanging out. Gamers are apparently doing the 'right work'. We are optimized to do hard and meaningful work. (Jane Mcgonigal)
Epic Meaning: having an epic powerful story attached to why you are doing something is compelling. (Jane Mcgonigal)
Endless Iteration and instant Feedback: gamers can win and lose very quickly, therefore learning and adapting to the positive and negative feedback in a very short space of time.

If you combine these qualities, then you end up with an individual who believes that he or she is capable of individually changing the world. The only problem is that they only have this belief when playing a game. (Jane Mcgonigal)

This is a problem that I am trying to solve. How can we get people to approach the worlds multitudinous problems in a similar way to that of a game? How can we blur the lines between reality and game sufficiently to produce a result that furthers the well being of our natural world? I don't want to produce people who have no idea what is real or not, but what I want to do is make sure that the games we make have some sort of link to real world action.

The Epic Win Phenomenon: this is when a player manages to win in a way that they never thought was possible. The result of their efforts was simultaneously surprising and thrilling. It often involves intense concentration, coordination, risk management and problem solving on a micro second level, what's even more amazing about these epic win situations is that they often involve a team of people.

In my experience, often there are decisions to make, sometimes the risky decision is the best one to make, and this is often when epic wins occur. I am not promoting risky decision making, but what I am trying to highlight is that in a game, the downside of taking a risk is very small, in fact you only lose the game, nothing bad happens to you at all.

Drought Card

My Game, and Intentions: Using The Energy of Gaming Industry

  • I am particularly interested in the problem of Climate Change and the way that we obtain and manage our resources as humans within an ecosystem. Of course this is a rather large problem with many moving parts. It seems to me that it is primarily a psychological problem, since we already have most the technology and methods needed to make our systems sustainable. 
  • So what is preventing humanity from cooperating towards an Epic Win? I hope that gaming, with it's endless and fast iteration capabilities can help us solve these questions in the time frame that  we have. I'm thinking beyond the scope of the board game that I have made here.
  • I am also concerned with the vast numbers and energy that is going into the Gaming industry today. Kids are playing games at earlier and earlier ages, my hope is to get them interested in these topics (permaculture, ethics) from an early age and hopefully allow the game to be a starting point for learning about it in real life. This may mitigate some of the damage that is being done to gamers with addictive tendencies.

  • I have used many artistic elements from the Gaming Industry to try and make the imagery fun and dramatic. The primary goal is to dramatize the game and tell a story, to elevate the mundaneness of farming and survival to an epic emotionally charged adventure with friends.

  • The cards and elements in the game are based on real life and contain the sorts of animals, and structures which real subsistence farmers would use. 
  • Permaculture principles are taught subtly and without mentioning it directly, learning without learning is more fun.
  • The story background being set in the future after Climate change will hopefully highlight the dangers we face with climate change.
  • Ideally the game description that follows should be an online multiplayer game, but for the time being I have neither the skills nor time to make that happen, this is the best I can do with the resources and skills that I have. I hope to gather allies, collaborators and funders as this is developed into something more viable. 

GAME DESCRIPTION: A work in Progress!

This is a Survival adventure board game with an ecological twist. Players compete or cooporate to survive the winter in a post Global Warming ravaged world. Explore the world to find the items you need to craft your way to survival. 5 unique player classes and a simulated weather system to keep you on your toes as you trudge through a derelict countryside 200 years in the future. Will you help or hinder your fellow beings?

Farm House Card

Game Overview and story:

It is 200 years in the future, our descendant have inherited a world ravaged by lack of bio diversity and food and water shortages. The sea levels have risen due to the polar ice caps melting. Weather patterns are harsh and extreme, though still barely resembling the four season system. The rich have retreated into inland cities and walled them off against the poor and disenfranchised. Guns and ammunition are in short supply and are mostly held by the military guarding the cities, though there are rogue factions such as the EDF (Earth Defense Force) which hold caches of their own.

You are a wanderer who has been displaced by rising sea levels. After a hard days scavenging and avoiding war bands and scavenging crews, you happen upon an abandoned farm house. You decide to make it your home and to develop it into a viable place to live. You find to your amazement, there are some basic supplies that seem to be relatively untouched. The owners appear to have left in a hurry, no doubt due to some immediate threat that has long since departed.

Upon more investigation you discover a curious collection of books, an old Permaculture Design manual and various gardening and farming reference manuals.After briefly considering their practicalness in starting fires, you decide it might be a good idea to keep them.  Its a good thing you know how to read and do basic mathematics, which most people in this age, do not.

You are excited to make this work as you are tired of scrounging around for a living in a dangerous cut-throat landscape. Will you and your companions be able to survive the ravages of nature as well as the ravages of your unscrupulous fellow humans? 

Basic Storyboard



There are four players on the board,  Players need food and water to survive.  Every round each player will draw a weather card, the weather cards progress through spring, summer, autumn and finally winter. Players must survive the winter, which is followed by a catastrophe which will test the resilience of the systems and stores they have built up. Each player starts off with an Abandoned Farmhouse which they must place in the tile closest to where they are sitting.

Players can build 2 structures per tile, structures can be combined for beneficial effects.  Structures will allow for more storage of food and water and more secure sources of food. The weather system is very harsh and therefore it is very difficult to survive without some sort of production. 

The players who are able to survive the catastrophe with the most resources left over are the winners.  Players can trade with each other, harm and sabotage each others structures, form alliances, revive each other when dead (only once).

There are 7 player classes to the game, Engineer, Gardner/Forager, Herder/Hunter, Scavenger/Thief, Defender/Fighter and Forester. Each player class can create a specialized structure and process certain materials. Players wont be able to survive the winter without each other's skills. 

Cooperation or Competition: I have thought about giving the game two play modes, as cooperation all players are required to survive the game for the game to be won. As competition, the aim is to have one survivor (in which case combat will need to be sorted out)
Players can gather community members (by exploring) who can assist in the running, defense and maintenance of their settlement.  


Wood (W) is scattered onto the midland tiles (there will be counters for this) and they do not regenerate after being harvested. 
Food (F) and Water (A) can be found through adventure cards and by catchment of rain. 
Scrap metal (S) can be found by exploring and must be smelted and shaped into Parts (P) at the steel mill. 
Planks (PL) can be made by bringing wood to the mill.
Plastic (PLS) can be found at the DIY plumbing tile.

A Typical Turn:

Each turn players draw a weather card, subtract resources from their systems and add harvested resources. They roll a dice which determines the movements and actions that they have. Then they move/build/repair/fight etc.

Whenever a player enters a new tile they draw an adventure card which should make encounters quite interesting. 

More info on the classes and various cards follow:



Map Tiles:

The has 3 main types, Highland, Midland and lowland tiles. The players will assemble the hexagonal tiles randomly when they start the game this will allow for a different game each time as well as an imbalance of resources.  Players can't move between High and low tiles.

There are also Special tiles, for instance, Abandoned mine, abandoned Mill, etc which contain special items and machinery that the players must use to craft Planks etc. 

Weather Cards: Disasters, pests, invasive plants, rain, wind, sun etc. 

Back of the Weather Cards


Pests, and Rough Weather Card Drafts

Players must draw a weather card each turn. There are 3 effects per weather card, one for high medium and low terrain. There are also pests, disasters and invasive plants. The cards don't reflect those changes at the moment but they will in the next iteration of the game.

Adventure Cards: animals, encounters, items, food, water, good things, bad things etc.

Two encounter cards

Wild, formerly domesticated animals that can be redomesticated.

Wild, formerly domesticated animals that can be redomesticated.

Adventure cards are drawn each time a player enters a tile that doesn't have any structures on it. They contain challenges, boons and animals, potential community members, resources such as scrap and water. They could involve some scrapping or transportation to another tile for example. The animals roam that tile until tamed or hunted.

Player Class Cards:

So far there are 6 player classes, though I haven't finished this off yet completely I plan to have each class have a special skill that is needed by the other players. This will hopefully encourage cooperation and maybe even some fighting and unexpected combinations between players. The six classes are: Forester, Herder/hunter, Engineer, Gardener/Forager, Defender, Scavenger. 

 Structure Cards:

2 Structures per tile, they can be combined for various effects. I have whittled the structures down to:
Animal housing
Water Tank
Poly Tunnel
Ram Pump 

I am still working on the effects and what they cost to make, but at the moment I want each structure to require some special ingredient that makes the player have to explore. An eventual outcome of the game could even be that between all the players they can only muster one settlement and are forced to share out the food and water each turn. 


So far the greatest feedback has been the complexity of the game. I am working on implementing all the changes I have gotten from testers over the past month or so. The key challenge is making it as simple as possible and taking the burden of complexity away from the player and into the game mechanics. The key will be balancing the weather, and adventure card packs so the players can be free to think about their moves and building.The fact is that most players don't read the instructions. So the game will need to be boiled down to a simple principle to make it viable for players to stay interested and to actually play in the first place. It may be that the board game must be abandoned and rather set up as a digital game. I'm open to this. The other challenge is balancing the numbers of each weather card and the amount that the players consume etc.

Conclusion and Hopes:

The game is a continuous work in progress that I am busy with in spare time(which I have very little of). I will need endless play testing and help if I want to get this done. My vision goes beyond this little board game and I eventually want to have a study dedicated to creating healthy games for the gaming industry. It would include collaborations with scientists, psychologists, ecologists, game designers and permaculture designers. If we are to design a new world for us all to live in, why not start it off in a game and iterate it until it's workable.

LINKS TO MY WORK: Contact me for Art Commissions
Instagram: @keeganblazey

Research Notes:

I've gotten most my research from Jane Mcgonigal, who is doing amazing things with games. I will be reaching out to her soon to see where I can take this and what sort of communities I can tap into online.