Diatoms - A Game of Microscopic Proportions

Diatoms - A Game of Microscopic Proportions

A puzzly tile-placement, pattern-making game based on the obscure Victorian art form of creating microscopic mosaics out of algae.

63,045 USD
of 21,000 USD Goal

Diatoms is a stunning, puzzly, tile-placement, pattern-making game where you create your very own beautiful mosaic out of single-cell algae.

A colorful render of the components of Diatoms. A ribbon badge over the image reads:

In Diatoms you take on the role of Victorian naturalists who practice the real (though obscure) art of creating microscopic mosaics.  Explore the algae waters, collect shimmery diatoms, and arrange them on your luxurious dual-layer microscope slide board.  Art and science may be their own reward, but if your mosaic pleases the judges the best, you'll also collect the first place ribbon at today’s exhibition!

Diatoms was honored to win the 2023 Cardboard Edison award for best unpublished board game. We are excited to be bringing this award-winning, beautiful, thinky game to your table!

Look at that shine and shimmer with beautiful algae tiles!

“Beautiful game, and lots of great decisions using different parts of your brain.” Corinne and M Yeager, Seraph Games

In the Box

An image representing the 150 diatom tiles in the game, with animated tiles that show off their shiny foil treatment

“The drafting system is brilliant...I felt like we were building and discovering something together. ” David Masnato, Designer of Roux Mates, 2022 Cardboard Edison Winner;Co-organizer, Protospiel Online

How to Play

Explore: Place your water tiles to strategically form sample points teeming with different algae colonies

An animated gif showing selection of a water tile and placement into the algae pond

Collect: Peer through the Lens Tool to examine your sample and determine what colors and shapes of diatoms you can collect.

An animated gif showing the translation of a sample point made in the algea pond to diatom tiles that the player can collect, using the Notebook reference and Lens Tool

Create: Arrange your diatoms on your mosaic board. Each slot can only fit two different shapes, so think carefully! Once placed you cannot move your diatoms.

Exhibition: After all the water tiles have been placed, it’s time to see what the judges think about your mosaics. How will your creation measure up under the scrutinizing eyes of the (possibly persnickety) panel of judges?

“The theme is amazing and the game is equally engaging. Each mechanic works seamlessly with the others and really puts the player in the world of the game. It was also a lot of fun to watch the beautiful mosaic I was creating throughout the game.” Suzanne Zinsli Cardboard Edison Co-founder

Link to current Rulebook Draft
Want to know more? Check Out the Rulebook: http://ludoliminal.com/diatoms/rules/

Want to try the game now? There is a public demo available on Screentop during the campaign: https://screentop.gg/@ludoliminal/Diatoms-demo. (Backers at the Digital Diatoms tier and above will get access to a backer-edition on Screentop.)

Solo Variant

In Commissions, the in-box solo variant for Diatoms, you explore the algae pond to find diatoms just like in the main game. But rather than pleasing the panel of judges, you've been "commissioned" to create a diatom mosaic with particular requirements. Each commission is a puzzle to solve and each time you return to the algae pond, your diatom-hunting luck may change! Create the commissioned mosaic as required without squandering too many diatoms to successfully complete the commission.

Diatoms will ship with a solo campaign of 36 commissions and a log to track your level of success as establish your reputation as a premier diatomaceous artist. The game also includes a Beat-Your-Own-Score-style log for each of the Guest Judges for solo play that mirrors the standard 2-4 player game.

(If you're curious to give Commissions a spin, there are four demo prototype puzzles in the public demo on Screentop: https://screentop.gg/@ludoliminal/Diatoms-demo and there are 30+ Commissions available in the Screentop Backer Edition, if you become a Digital Diatoms backer or higher.)

“Diatoms was my favorite game that I played at Origins. It looks amazing on the table and has some really smart, elegant mechanics to boot. ” Clarence Simpson Designer of Chomp, The Wolves Expansion, Merchants of Magick: Dangerous Business

“There is so much really delicious nuance to this game. Incredible mechanic-thematic integration, elegant gameplay, I'm really quite in awe...This is truly one of the best games I've ever played.”  - Tim Rodriguez ,Galileo Games

Shipping Estimates

These are estimate shipping prices. The actual costs of shipping could change based on many circumstances. Final shipping will be charged through the pledge manager* after the campaign ends and as we get closer to shipping. We are working with regional shipping partners in the US, Canada, EU, UK, and Asia to provide backer-friendly shipping in these regions. Depending on your location, you may also be required to pay Sales Tax, GST, HST, or VAT on purchases and imports. Our goal is facilitate these payments for backers in the pledge manager so that no taxes or fees are due at the time of delivery.

 You may add-on additional copies of the game to your pledge. We will provide discounted shipping rates for multiple copies. We can not split orders destinations. Each backer can ship to 1 location. Don't see your country on our list? Reach out and we'll see what we can do.

* A "pledge manager" is how most crowdfunds manager backer orders after the campaign. It will allow you to update your shipping address, pay for shipping and taxes, and even add-on items to your order if you like. You will receive your pledge manager link after the campaigns is over and before shipping begins. We currently plan to use Hive - www.hiveinteractive.net - as our pledge manager.

“The gameplay was extremely smooth and pretty snappy. I liked how I had to make tough decisions regarding what type of shape I wanted or even how many tiles I was seeking.” Eric Alvarado Talon Strikes Studios

“Especially enjoy the piece of art you create at the end.” Dave Chalker Editor-in-Chief, Critical Hits

A Lost Victorian Artform

“Few objects are more beautiful than the minute siliceous cases of the diatomaceae: were these created that they might be examined and admired under the high powers of the microscope?” Charles Darwin Victorian Naturalist, “On the Origin of Species”

Diatom mosaics are real!  The creation of these tiny mosaics of painstakingly-arranged algae cells was a practice of scientific art that peaked during the Victorian era of the late 1800s. Individuals would create these miniature arrangements and sometimes sell the slides and photographs to wealthy naturalist collectors. 

Check out the short video below featuring the most prolific modern-day practioner, the late Klaus Kemp, and read more about diatom mosaics here and here.  

Arranged Diatoms on Microscope Slides in the California Academy of Sciences Diatom Collection. Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide by W.M. Grant.

“If you’d like to take a journey into the world of microscopic mosaics, you enjoy a spatial puzzle game, or you just like shiny and sparkly game components, I’d definitely recommend Diatoms! I think it’s a great game.”  -Eric Yurko,  What’s Eric Playing?

For Retailers

$15 Retail Reserve

For Retailers: If you are a retailer and are interested in carrying Diatoms, wonderful! We've made a low-cost Retailer Pledge tier just for you. Purchase at this tier to reserve access to Keystone pricing for the game, along with a free demo copy, and retailer-friendly shipping.  More details will be shared after the campaign ends.

About Us

Diatoms is presented by Ludoliminal, an indie game design and publishing studio based in Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania, USA

This is our first in-house-published board game, though we’ve collectively made many games of all sorts prior to this through our various professional & personal work.  Sign-up for our newsletter at ludoliminal.com.  Ludoliminal is comprised of:

Sabrina Culyba, Diatoms Game Designer: Owner and principal creative of Ludoliminal. She’s poured her creative heart into Diatoms and can’t wait for you to play it! She also hopes you too fall in love with the quirky scientific artform behind the game.

David Culyba, Collaborator-in-all-things: Faculty at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, where he guides students on the ins and outs of working in creative industries like game development, theme parks, and virtual reality.

Nim Ben-Reuven: Freelance Art Director, Custom Lettering Artist, Illustrator, Graphic Designer, Video Producer and Design Ethicist living in Brooklyn, NY with a great affinity for well made letters, intricate linework, self-effacing humor and making all sorts of stuff out of cardboard.

Terms & Conditions

This project, while close to completion, is still being finalized. By pledging, you acknowledge that the final look, materials, content, and retail pricing of the rewards and game are subject to change and may differ from what is presented while the Kickstarter project was active.

In order to fulfill your , information including your address may be required. You are responsible for confirming your pledge, address and other information required to ship your rewards. If you do not confirm your pledge and information within 12 weeks of our notification via email, you agree that we have fulfilled our obligations to you in full for payments received. That said, we may, at our discretion, refund or ship your pledge if you contact us and confirm your pledge after this 12 week window has elapsed. 
If shipping attempts to your provided address have failed, you will be responsible for any additional postage/shipping costs to ship out your rewards again.

Update #2

The Words We've Been Waiting To Say! 🏁 June update for Diatoms

2024-06-18 14:00:01 Read More
Update #1

Diatoms Monthly Update - May 2024

2024-05-23 15:20:58 Read More
Pledge Levels
Diatoms The Game
Diatoms The Game

Procure your own beautifully-crafted physical copy of Diatoms!

Pledge $50

Estimated Delivery: October 2024

Double Diatoms
Double Diatoms

Twice the game-- literally! At a special discount. get two copies of Diatoms - keep one and gift the other to your favorite sci-art game-playing friend.

Pledge $95

Estimated Delivery: October 2024

Retailers Pledge - One Case w/Free Demo Copy, Discounted Shipping
Retailers Pledge - One Case w/Free Demo Copy, Discounted Shipping

Retailer exclusive! 6 copies of Diatoms for the price of 5, at 50% discount on MSRP.

✨📦Discounted Shipping: a $20usd discount is built into shipping for first case. Additional cases ship with up to $40usd cost per case- which for some retailers in the US or other select countries, mean additional cases ship free!

Retail Backers will receive their orders in Fall 2024 with other backers.
General distribution of Diatoms will be in Spring 2025 giving backer retailers exclusivity in retail for at least two months.

Retail Backers must be verified and/or share their tax exempt documentation by April 30th, 2024.

Pledge $137

Estimated Delivery: October 2024

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