Have you ever been stuck on a project and couldn’t find a way out?

When I first started teaching game design at DePaul University, I discovered a book by Jesse Schell called The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. It introduced me to a novel way to get unstuck. Typically, when I hit a roadblock, I go for a walk, distract myself with a play activity, or make something. What Schell’s book adds to the mix is the use of design prompts as lenses to view your work through. It’s a fascinating concept, and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in design or game design.

Fast forward to today — I’m now teaching at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. A few days ago, I picked up an old notebook inspired by Schell’s lens concept. This notebook contains about 200 different principles from the realms of design, philosophy, and art.

When I started the list, tools like chatbots were still in their infancy. I tried running the list through a local model to see if it could generate anything interesting, but it wasn’t quite there. But now, with advancements like Perplexity…

I ran the list through a contemporary chatbot, and the results were quite intriguing. While the quality wasn’t perfect, it provided a set of 52 principles (like a deck of cards) that I can now use as building blocks. This is promising — something my students might find useful. But can I make it accessible to others as well?

This is where Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) come in. I don’t want to spend too much time on this project, but if I can turn it into a web app, maybe I can distribute it more widely. Which brings me to this blog post.

Below is a video of an early version of a project built using Next.js that I’m currently calling, somewhat uninspiringly, “Design Cards.” It’s still a work in progress, but I welcome feedback and thoughts on how this could be adopted by others who find themselves stuck sometimes… just like me.