The gameplay is essentially unchanged, but I've done a big upgrade to the artwork, and most of the Puzzle tiles are now quite beautiful: [caption id="attachment_869" align="aligncenter" width="625"] The Puzzle of Life, beta #4.[/caption] From the three tile piles above, you can see that I'm still exploring material options. The cardboard and acrylic versions were both made by Up In Pieces. Both look and feel very nice, with bright colors and sharp, high-resolution images. The only difference is that the acrylic version is more durable. The wooden version was made by Blue Panther. They've got a nice process, and as far as I know, they are the only makers of laser-cut wooden puzzles who can print images on both sides. The standard edition of the Puzzle will necessarily be in cardboard, as that's the only material that yields reasonable prices in medium quantities (500-1000 sets). I've talked with Up In Pieces about making this happen, and we've tentatively agreed to work together on a fall Kickstarter campaign to fund a first printing of the Puzzle. In addition to a standard/cardboard edition, I'd still like to have some sort of deluxe edition that uses a more substantial material, which is why I was interested in both wood and acrylic. The plywood is significantly cheaper than the acrylic, but the acrylic has a nicer finish and allows for sharper images. I'm currently leaning towards acrylic, but I want to get more opinions from playtesters before finalizing that choice. But I digress. The big deal in beta 4 is the images. With the kind support of several dozen folks, I was able to replace most of the (often scruffy) public domain images in beta 3 with some really high-quality photos. For example, this is the new human tile: In beta 3, both sides of the Human tile used the same generic grass/flower background image. In beta 4, the two sides of the Human tile have different images, both of which are colorful and classy. One side shows golden aspens on a Colorado mountainside, and the other side shows a busy NYC intersection. Having a different background on each side makes the point that humans are liminal creatures, with the ability to live in both wilderness and cityscape. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to photograph these tiles without also getting some glare, and the glare makes the colors look a bit washed out. My photographic skills just aren't good enough to do justice to the new design, but trust me, they're really quite beautiful. And, this is the new Cranberry tile: Again, my poor photographic skills caused some glare, making the colors on the tile seem a little washed out. But in real life, the sky in the tile is a wonderful blue, and the floating cranberry sea is a vibrant red. That's all the news for now. Keep tuned in. The next step is to finish writing the Puzzle guidebook and the Puzzle storybook, both of which will come in the box with the Puzzle. In the next couple weeks, I'll start posting drafts of both those documents.