Progress with “GameHacker” – 01, Laser-cutting the board pieces.

If you remember – Gamehacker is a visual and tactile aid project that sets out to use a simple to complex board game to teach Games Design students about the genesis, implementation or use of game mechanics/gameplay within their game designs.

The game itself has no rules at the beginning of play other than those dictated by “convention” (i.e. these pieces would no doubt make a board, these peices would no doubt be player markers, and the die and spinners must therefore act as specifiers of movement – etc). The players must assign meaning and mechanics themselves as part of the overall gameplay.

The visualisation of how the game might look prior to play was this:

The Game Box

One of the key elements was the jigsaw board peices. I designed them in such a way as that with a minimal number of individual pieces I could predict that an ever-expandable board could be created dependant only on the number of board pieces cut/owned.

I started out, as part of my visualisation of the game, using SketchUp as a tool to work out the dimensions of the pieces and the best possible configuration of their Tabs, Blanks* and mutual Mating. I needed space on the final pieces to allow for adhesive graphics to be placed in the centre at a scale that could be “readable” without being overlarge or coaster like.

Graphics for Gamehacker2

I opted for an outer dimension of about 40mm leaving an inner space of about 18mm square for imagery.

0 Jigsaw Extendable Game - Final Dims

The configuration came together in the end through playing and intuiting to find the correct layout and the swapping-out of edge profiles for profiles at the opposite side of a grouping of nine pieces, slowly testing the fit of a second set of nine to each outer edge (this took longer to work out than you might think).

*Sometimes called Outies and Innies respectively.

Jigsaw Extendable Game b x

I tested the repeatability and expansion capabilities of the of the board digitally and then generated the final artwork for the lines.

Those lines I carried forward Exporting them first into Photoshop and resizing the files (below top-left, behind Illustrator window).

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 13.40.01

Then into Illustrator, where with the help of my design and teaching colleague Dave Eccles we turned the raster based line information into vector information by “Live Tracing” the image (see results above); this was done as the laser cutter I intended to try my first batch out on worked best with vector information as carried in the Adobe .ai format.

But to be on the safe side we also saved out another version in the AutoCAD .dwg format also compatible with the laser cutting software.

The Laser

So, from there it was time to take the files down to the laser cutter in our work shops and get the help of fellow Masters Student Phil Ratcliffe.

These are just test pieces cut from 3mm MDF and Clear Acrylic for the time being.

Laser Cutting - close up

Above is the laser doing its thing…


And below another test using the Acrylic


The short video below shows the pieces being cut using the digital information from the vector file.

And finally…

The cut pieces themselves.

Cut and ready for Graphics

Final Cut Out Peices

The pieces themselves… as you can see the jigsaw pieces cut from two differing materials all work and link together in an extendable fashion as predicted by my digital tests.

The board pieces even being capable of forming more traditional boards such as those used in chess etc.

Chess board

Right, next up, graphics.

~ by hesir on July 9, 2013.

One Response to “Progress with “GameHacker” – 01, Laser-cutting the board pieces.”

  1. […] Manufactured board pieces would be printed directly on to a given substrate (more often than not 2mm laminated cardboard – prone to “lifting” at the corners), without that option at this stage, I opted (after consultation with workshop technicians) for a somewhat more robust test material, 3mm MDF and 3mm clear Acrylic (see previous post). […]

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