driven by design


This Home Rental Site Is Airbnb for Architecture Lovers

Sometimes, a great hotel is worth the trip all by itself. If you’re looking for design-focused accommodation—as opposed to just booking a hotel for utilitarian reasons—there’s a rental service that should be on your radar: PlansMatter.  Conceptualized by co-founders Connie Lindor and Scott Muellner, the company follows a business model that’s comparable to Airbnb.

“We were inspired to create PlansMatter by our love for architecture, combined with seeing the need for a tool to help other people who love architecture find incredible places to stay while on vacation,” says Muellner, who met Lindor on the design duo’s first day of architecture school at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design. “We are driven entirely by the design quality of the property. Our selection criteria is based solely on architectural integrity.”

D&D 5e: The Secret Railroad

Railroading is often frowned upon but it can also be a useful tool when players are getting too far off-track, or when they are taking too long to make a decision, or when the pacing of the session is at risk. Here are some sneaky and some less-then sneaky solutions to these problems:

The Speedrun Dilemma

The players are heading towards the endgame boss and haven’t explored the rest of your dungeon! The session is just starting and you need at least some filler before the climactic fight to maintain the game’s pacing.

Thankfully, you are the DM and have a map. The players do not. You just have that door they are about to open lead to another interesting part of the dungeon before heading to the boss. Have there be stairs leading up or down or add a turn left or right so it doesn’t interfere with nearby rooms the players have already explored.

I had to do this in my last session. The dungeon was a labyrinth (which is hard enough to DM with the players exploring every single dead end for secrets) and the players were about to find a secret passage right to the boss. Instead, I had it lead to a shrine elsewhere in the dungeon that they hadn’t explored, and then had a secret path in that shrine lead to the Minotaur high priest’s lair (he was the boss of this part of the dungeon). No one was the wiser and the pacing of the dungeon was maintained at a healthy level. The PCs got more info and foreshadowing to what they were about to face, as well.

The Shortcut Maneuver

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A lot of people chalk up battleborn’s failure to being released alongside Overwatch, but honestly I believe that, even if it was released in a vacuum, Battleborn would never see massive popularity. Not on the levels Gearbox and Pitchford believed. Like Battleborn is a 6/10.

For me, the big problem is the writing. I fucking hate gearbox writing. In gearbox writing, every character is obnoxious. They all spew shitty annoying memes and say dumb one liners about “Awesomeness” and “Badassitude!” and It’s all just so fucking annoying.

And of course, both games have creative character designs, but Overwatch’s characters actually have a sort of thread or logic applied. And more importantly, their designs reflect their gameplay. Let’s do an example.

This is Pharah. So let’s say you know NOTHING about Overwatch. Let’s look at the character from the top down. Naturally, you’re drawn to the face first because humans like faces. That’s a neat helmet! Sort of looks like a beak. Okay we have a solid bird motif. Ohhh, those are jets on her back! This character can clearly fly! Cool! Also, the angular design of her shoulders, chest, and knees show this suit is metal armor of some sort. This character is a soldier or fighter, and a high tech one at that. Finally, the exposed magazine of her weapon makes us understand this character uses a rocket launcher. Bam, we’ve gathered this entire character’s purpose and abilities without even seeing a second of gameplay.

Now let’s look at a battleborn character.

Okay, let’s ignore the fact that this is one of the worst, busiest, ugliest mech designs I’ve ever seen. We naturally look at the pilot first because he’s a different color than everything around him. You’ll have to squint because you can barely see the fucker. So he’s a penguin. Okay. Why is he a penguin? Why is this penguin in a mech? Is the mech ice themed? Well, it’s yellow and orange, which invokes thoughts of fire and heat. I mean there’s a gun there. Is it a flamethrower? But there’s a clear “Sharp and spiky” motif going on here, with spikes and blades all over the place. Is this a melee character? Is the penguin evil? If so why does he have cute little rosy cheeks? Is that the joke?

I think this is BB’s biggest fault. Because, like Overwatch, this game is driven almost entirely by character design. And don’t get me started on this bullshit.

okay this is almost the last project runway critical for the night but i literally DESPISE the judges/their opinions. like?? nina garcia is like the literal Worst. she is just so fuckin rude for no reason like cmon lady give these guys a break. also her taste in fashion is shit and really outdated (frankly im surprised she didnt like amy’s avant garde look but i digress).

and zac posen… to be honest he just makes me angry and i dont know why. heidi is really hypocritical tbh like she doesnt like a lot of skin or cleavage showing in designers’ looks like lady look in your closet. u have no room to talk.

and tim. tim tim tim. use your save for someone who deserves it. other than that i feel bad for tim but sometimes i think he purposefully advises the designers so that the judges will hate it. cause like, a lot of the time the judges disagree with tim and thats a lil suspicious.

the only unproblematic ones on the show are the models and swatch and u can fight me on that


I don’t usually feature reality shows on here (generally I can’t even stand to watch them) but this is the best I’ve come across in the over-saturated home-reno genre. Each season several 2-person teams are given a bare-minimum construction site (often the shell of an ex-commercial building) and a very generous budget to build a high-end residence. Unlike dire British shows with similar themes, the competition is design-driven, the contestants are talented, and the spaces they create are often impressive. Some tolerance for cheesy Australian jokes required. (Image via Not sure how comfortable those herbs plants are, though.)

i was rewatching the prince of egypt again thanks to @kissingagrumpygiant and i was struck by the realization that at least 70% of my character design for nymeria was subconsciously driven by tzipporah’s design and now i’m really happy because???? i love tzipporah?????? thanks @ my brain for making this connection, i feel like a little kid on christmas who just found that extra present behind the sofa

So I’ve been gone for a little while, but my car went through some pretty gnarly changes, and here’s how she’s sitting now.

Thanks to 201Wrap/Identity Design/PaintIsDead and everyone involved to help bring her where she is today.


Giant Squid was founded about three years ago with the intention of creating a small game studio driven by artistic and innovative design. Ever since, we have been hard at work hiring a team and creating our first game, ABZÛ.

Before starting Giant Squid, I had the honor of working on two games with the talented team at thatgamecompany. I was the art director on Flower and Journey during my time there. I learned a lot about the technical details of how games are made, but more importantly how games have the power to create meaning in people’s lives. With Giant Squid and with ABZÛ, I wanted to take what I had learned further.

ABZÛ is an underwater exploration game without much in the way of precedent. All of our energy has been devoted to solving tricky new problems that the design has presented, in an effort to make an experience that will have a moving effect on our players. We have had to figure out how to simulate thousands of dynamic fish, design a very unique character control scheme and camera system, and take an unconventional approach to rendering underwater environments, among many other things. The Giant Squid team has come up with some very innovative solutions to these challenges and we decided that it would be great to share some of these development stories with the community. Members of our team will periodically write about working at Giant Squid and creating ABZÛ on this development blog. I hope you enjoy it.

-Matt Nava, Creative Director