Game Design

Behind the Scenes with Bhaloidam

I love learning about how things are made.

The finished product often hides the false starts, the problems solved, and the journey.

The iPhone’s scratch-resistant glass is something owners don’t think about because many of them don’t know that the scratches on earlier prototypes were seen as problematic enough to do something about, even a little over a month before the official release. Robin Williams tried out a number of different ways to portray Mrs. Doubtfire, so that scene in the movie when he was getting turned into a women and discarding a few attempts also happened in real life. Disney animators had to work out how many frames of animation to show before playing speech in order for it to look natural.

Upon discovering that his email address was publicly accessible, I once emailed American McGee to ask him about the workings of Alice, specifically about the part in which you turn into chess pieces and move about the giant chess board on the ground. I got a short reply along the lines of “We had to ship, so it wasn’t perfect. Try to have fun instead of focusing on the details!” I remember thinking, “But, focusing on the details IS fun for me!

When you have only the finished product, you don’t think much about it and you take a lot for granted. When you learn how it was made, you gain a greater appreciation for the craft, the effort, and the ingenuity of the people involved.

So I was excited to see that my friend Corvus Elrod has released a visual history of Bhaloidam, the participatory story-telling platform he created. You can read more about it at

I know what Bhaloidam looks like today, but it’s fascinating to see how it back in 1991. I’m curious about what CorWorlds was, as a quick search online reveals nothing. B-)

I loved exploring how complexity was added, then stripped completely away, before coming back into something recognizable in today’s Bhaloidam. I was delighted when I saw the hexagonal paper cups and pente stones.

It was only a high level history, but it still felt like digging under a city to find another city acting as its support structure. And while I knew he was working on it for over two decades, now I can walk through and see the progression over that time in a more visceral way.

Bhaloidam‘s handbook and lifewheels are freely available online as print and play (PaP), with high-quality Skein packs available for purchase in the store at a great price.

3 replies on “Behind the Scenes with Bhaloidam”

The CorWorlds was my original name for the multiverse in which I set my gaming sessions. A bit of a play on words there with my name and the idea of ‘core.’ Which turned out to be misleading, but since I’ve rebooted that plot line, I won’t say more lest my current skeins are stalking me. 😉

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