This Summer: The G in CGS Unit

This summer at CGS, our big undertaking–well, other than our day-jobs–has been developing and playtesting our upcoming boardgame Stars Inc. Since May, we’ve completely revamped the gameplay, board, and rulebook–moving ever closer to a finished, publishable game!

The most important part of game development is playtesting, and we’ve done a lot of it this summer. We’ve busily recorded notes from dozens of playthroughs: from awesome meet-ups with other game designers through the Game Makers Guild, to play-throughs with friends and family, to demos with complete strangers at GenCon. Each time people play, we slightly tweak the rules–trying to find the right balance between every component that makes the game fun. This is a hard process! Sometimes it feels like trying to balance a pencil on its point–push a rule a little too far one way and the whole game falls apart. Say one particular strategy feels underpowered compared to another. So we make it a little stronger–maybe it scores another point every turn–but now suddenly it’s by far the best way to win the game. Then we buff the other strategies a little–except now the game is over way too quickly. Trying to fix that makes the game last for hours. This can be a difficult and exhausting process.

But it’s finally starting to pay off! The version we demo’d at GenCon seems to be very nicely balanced for the base game.  The only big things left to tweak are the powers for each individual player’s species. And, in incredibly exciting news, WE’VE BEEN ACCEPTED TO DEMO AT THE BOSTON FESTIVAL OF INDIE GAMES!!! This means we get to show off Stars Inc. to thousands of people and get a huge amount of feedback. Thanks to all our friends, family, and backers who have helped get us this far! Expect more news soon.

This Summer: The S in CGS Unit

So, all of us at CGS Unit want to apologize that we’ve been quiet for a little while. As grad students and support scientists, our summers are busier than the rest of the year because they are filled with conferences and summer schools. Since CGS stands for Crafts, Games and SCIENCE, I thought I’d fill you in on some of the SCIENCE I’ve been sharing and learning so far this summer. Doug will post soon on the progress we’ve been making on the game (YES, we’ve been making a lot of progress!!).

As a reminder, I study the Sun. I attended the 2014 SHINE conference (Solar and Heliospheric INterplanetary Environment) from June 22nd to June 27th. June 22nd was the SHINE Student Day, where graduate students get together in a less stressful environment and share some tutorials and research talks. My tutorial on Space Weather is fairly accessible to general audiences, and if you want to check it out, click/download here. I won the award for best tutorial, which was incredibly exciting! I also presented a poster on my research:

Starting July 9th and ending in a couple of days, I’ve been in Boulder, CO for the Heliophysics Summer School. Below, I’ll just share highlights from my live tweeting of the school!

And finally, a pair of tweets from this morning :)

“Stars, Inc.: Print and Play” Campaign is Live!

We’ve just launched an Indiegogo Campaign to fund the artwork for Stars, Inc.! Check us out at More information on the game can be found on its project page on this website.

Here’s the Deal

We have been hard at work designing an awesome astronomy-themed board game for months, and we’re at the point where we are reaching out to artists and graphic designers to make the game presentable for playtesters and printed prototypes.

We want this art to be awesome, which means we would love to have production-quality art right away. This campaign, initially set at $1200, is the budget we have for concept art. We need to fund this step in order to move forward in the process, including submitting the game to Boston Festival of Indie Games!

What We Need & What You Get

We need money to pay for quality art from full-time graphic designers.

If you help fund this campaign, we are offering digital rewards, since all of the money is going towards the art and not the printing or shipping of games. You’ll also get the satisfaction of helping out an independent company create a really cool game!

Other Ways You Can Help

We understand that not everyone can contribute in the same way. There are lots of ways you can make a difference in this campaign:

Thank you for your help, we appreciate every bit of it!

Looking for Artists and Graphic Designers

Although things seem quiet, we’ve been constantly working on both our observing journal and our board game. To that end, we are at the phase where we need artwork for game prototypes. We are looking to hire an artist or graphic designer for a short-term contract.

If you’re interested, please submit a few examples of your previous work to All applications should be submitted by June 9th. Contact us for further information!

***If you submit art by this Saturday, May 24th, we may contact you about an opportunity to redesign our current initial version of the rulebook for submission to Boston Festival of Indie Games (hard deadline of June 5th).***Image


Annie Jump Cannon in “Wonder Women of History”

Originally posted on STRAITENED CIRCUMSTANCES: Tim Hanley on Wonder Woman and Women in Comics:


If you’re not watching Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey every Sunday on Fox, you are seriously missing out. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is everybody’s favourite scientist, and the show is both gorgeously shot and does a fantastic job explaining big scientific concepts. It’s a lot of fun to watch.

Last weekend, Cosmos profiled Annie Jump Cannon, famous for counting and classifying thousands of stars. It was great to see Cosmos spotlight female scientists, and it reminded me that Annie Jump Cannon was profiled decades ago in Wonder Woman as part of the regular “Wonder Women of History” feature.

In the Golden Age, each issue of Wonder Woman profiled a notable historical woman in a 3-4 page strip. There were several astronomers spotlighted, including Cannon, Caroline Herschel, and Maria Mitchell; the latter two are famous for their work in comets. In Wonder Woman #33, dated January 1949, Annie Jump Cannon was the…

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PAX East 2014 is for Game Lovers AND Game Makers

PAX East is easily my favorite time of year. There’s always weeks of giddy excitement leading up to it (much like Christmas used to be when I was little) culminating in three days of frantic rushing around the Expo Hall, attending various panels, and playing ALL THE GAMES. Plus, the convention itself is one big game, one that I always love playing:

This year, I went into the convention with a clear focus. I attended all of the crowdfunding/kickstarter panels (there were four!) and met several independent game designers. I even got to show my game to Chris Cieslik of Asmadi Games!

Besides all of the helpful advice on crowdfunding, networking, and game development, the best parts of PAX East were discovering new games and meeting new people who share my love of games and interest in game design. I wanted to specifically mention three new tabletop games that will be kickstarting soon (I’ll be posting about each kickstarter when it launches, because these games are AMAZING).

  1. Heat, by Asmadi Games, is a card game where you’re trying to steal money without attracting too much attention from the law. I took a picture of the game in progress, and I can’t wait to own a copy!
  2. Slap .45, by Max Temkin, is a fast-paced card game set in the old west. You’ve got a gang, and you can shoot other gangs, duck for cover, or post bounties. Glad I found these guys in the Indie Megabooth!
  3. Castles of Caragaba, by David Wilkinson, contains all of my favorite game mechanics and has gorgeous art by Erin Koehler. It’s a tile-laying game with a wonderful theme. I’ll be backing them on day one of their kickstarter campaign!

Anyway, we’re totally stoked here at CGS Unit to continue developing our board game and we have learned so much that we can use to make this a smooth and successful process! Thanks for reading.

Spread the Word

As is becoming increasingly apparent these days, the internet is way too big for a website to be able to reach its target audience from only its own social media. I’m a big fan of TED talks, and recommend their playlist Our Digital Lives. To get an idea out into the general public, it has to spread through a massive network of people and links.

We just passed the $1000 mark on our current Kickstarter, hitting 25% of our goal! We’re so excited for how the project is going (it’s a staff pick in its category on Kickstarter), but projections have us falling just short of our goal. We’re asking for your help now to spread the word. Every pledge, no matter the size, helps us to move forward. If you post about our project on your blog, let us know so we can add you here! Thanks Delespri of for the first shout-out!

If you have a project or website that needs some social media love, please let us know! We’re more than happy to facebook, tweet, and press about anything related to Crafts, Games, and SCIENCE!

Our First Kickstarter

Less than half an hour ago, we pushed the LAUNCH button on Kickstarter! We’d absolutely appreciate your support, we are so excited to bring our first project to everyone. If you can’t contribute money, we’d love if you could spread the word on twitter and Facebook! The short link for our campaign is and we are thrilled to follow the progress of this campaign over the next four weeks!

If you’d like to embed the video or widget to a blog or website you run, here is the code (which sadly doesn’t play nice with our WordPress theme). Make sure to change the brackets to the proper < and > to use:

Video: [iframe frameborder="0" height="380" scrolling="no" src="" width="220"][/iframe]

Widget: [iframe frameborder="0" height="380" scrolling="no" src="" width="220"][/iframe]

Social Media Launch!

Welcome to the official website of CGS Unit LLC. After years of working on project ideas, we are bringing these ideas to life. Please check out our project pages above. We hope that we can share our love of Crafts, Games, and SCIENCE with you!

Today is step one in our grand plans, and we’re so glad you’re here! If you haven’t already, we would love if you could take a second to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (links in the site’s footer). Later this month, we’ll be launching our first kickstarter project! Stay tuned for more information about this awesome observing journal, and we have more information in our Observing Journal tab.


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