Monday, 2 September 2013

Plague, Hacks, Odds, and Ends

The Con plague lingers. I am almost over it, a full 2 weeks later, but I have managed to pass it to my wife and daughter who are none too pleased with me. I wonder if the illness was worth the trip to Gencon? EVERYONE in my house is miserable right now, our Labour Day long weekend consisted of us sitting around being sick.

Warbirds is doing well. People are buying it and stuff. That is good news. What I think is great news is that people are already hacking it. I started my game design adventure hacking games over a decade ago, and to see people to the same thing with my stuff is really exciting.

If you go to the thread, they are using Warbirds to hack Macross/Robotech. Now if you have been reading the blog for a while, you know I have a special place in my heart for that weird, flawed, anime. However, the license for producing Robotech RPGs is firmly in the hands of Palladium. I have criticized their work with the license before, but it is theirs, and they also have a history of litigation, so as much as I want to contribute to the hacking, as a writer I choose to err on the side of caution, and keep my fool mouth shut.

Keep hacking, guys. I am waiting for a Top Gun hack (be sure to include rules for shirtless volley ball).

Odds and Ends
I recently fired off emails to everyone who bought stuff at Gencon. I had to deal with more than one mailer daemon telling me I had the wrong email. I was able to fight through most of them, but there are still a few that stumped me.  If you are reading this, and you were supposed to get PDFs, leave a comment and I will sort it out. Next year, people will type their email addresses into my laptop.

In other news, I have a few return to sender books that need to be re-sent out tomorrow. After that, all Warbirds commitments will be met... except for Mad Science. Still got mad science to do.

My work is never done.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Con Plague

First off, my plan to blog each day of the con fell through. I was up late at parties and social events, and my need for sleep defeated my need to blog. Now it's a few days later, we've done the 16 hour drive home, and things should be back to normal.

But now I am suffering from a severe case of con plague. Lack of sleep + improper diet + close quarters with thousands of people = one very sick armoured writer.

Still, I feel obliged to deliver a Gencon After Action Report. So here we go:

The Company
Outrider Studios did very well at Gencon. We sold a lot of games, met a lot of fans, and made some new industry contacts. Cait, Derek, and Desi all worked tirelessly to promote our products. We did a few book trades and came out of them with some very interesting products.

Business cards were exchanged, and deals were struck. We submitted Warbirds for next year's Ennies (you never know), and Indie Press Revolution agreed to start carrying the book as well. Our Broken Lands supplement also did very well. We sold all but 2 of them (out of 25) and those last 2 are now for sale at the Kingston Gaming Nexus (a game store that I have been frequenting since college). Our custom dice, always a favourite, sold right out, and we plan to have more for next year.

All told, Gencon was a huge success for Outrider Studios. Hooray!

The Haul
We managed to buy a few things despite our time spent in the booth. While there we picked up:
-Iron Kingdoms RPG
-Star Wars - Edge of the Empire
-The new Firefly RPG
-Achtung Cthulhu
-Cards against Humanity
-Call of Cathulhu
-Other stuff I haven't gone through yet.

The Downside
While the company did great, I did not. I spent most of my time on the dealer floor in our booth. The only game I played all weekend (other than 5 minute in-booth demos) was a 2 hour Warbirds demo. I didn't spend much time wandering the halls or finding fun pick-up games. It was far too much of a business trip and far too little of the gaming pilgrimage that it has been for me for over a decade. I woke up exhausted, and went to sleep even more burned out. I ate on the convention floor (bad idea), and considering my physical state, I am not at all surprised I caught the con plague.

Cait experienced similar issues (minus the plague), and we've agreed that next year we are registering for more events. There are 4 of us at the booth (plus a few friends now and then) and we can afford to not be there for every hour of every day, So next year will be about fun, in addition to selling stuff.

What's Next
First off, my lungs have to stop trying to drown me, my throat needs to stop feeling like it's on fire, and my head needs to stop hurting. Once we have those sorted out, I have to send out drivethru coupons to all the people who bought at the Con.

After that, I have a ton of writing to do. I also have a full-time job, and a 1 year old daughter to manage... I may have to give up on sleep for a few months.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Gencon Adventures Day 2

Fridays are always slow for sales at the con. But while sales are slow, lots of other stuff happened today. Let's review:

-Visa! That's right, we got Visa working for the first time ever. Hooray! This has made sales way easier. Thanks random customer who suggested!

-Fantasy Flight games: seriously guys, I want to buy your stuff. Stop with the half hour+ lineups so you can shut up and take my money!

-We talked to our artist cousin Chris, who wrote Achtung Cthulhu. He has some brilliant ideas and nothing beats WWII Mythos. Our Warbirds artist, Dimitris, works for Chris as well.

-We chatted with Kevin of 2gms1mic. He ran a Remnants game for 5 months for the podcasting team. He rocks, and they rock.

-Monte Cooke. We met him. he promised to sign my copy of Numenera. That is all.

We watched the Ennies for a bit, and then took a trip to Steak n' Shake. We ended the evening at the annual party hosted by our friends over at Gamer Concepts.

There is a little photo evidence on the day:
Even though sales are slow, I ran a lot of demos on the day.

Pilots Derek and Duffy looking sharp.

I wandered a bit and found this dangerous alien. He talked, moved, and threatened the local con goers with extermination.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Gencon Adventures Day 1

Well, day 1 of 4 is done. Sales were good, the fans were many, and people seemed to like our new game. Highlights of the day:

-We almost made sales equal to our last Gencon total. That's the old 4 day total. In 1 day. Tomorrow I am handcuffing the team to the booth. Sales are best when they are all there.

-Strange man thinking I would trade him one of our custom dice for a business card for an Indian restaurant. I do not understand.

-A customer cried in front of Cait because he loves gaming that much. He has real passion and we applaud him for showing it.

-A visit from the awesome podcasters 2 GMs 1 Mic. They bought some Warbirds stuff. They played Remnants last year, maybe they'll start up a Warbirds game...

-The valiant comrades from Indie Press Revolution agreed to carry and distributeWarbirds. Yay!

-Wil Wheaton! So the patron saint of geeks everywhere happened to walk down our aisle. Desi squeaked and elbowed Cait. They both froze in awe. I, strangely emboldened, jumped up, grabbed a copy of Warbirds and planted myself in front of the man and gave him a free review copy. I hope he likes it. I got him to wave to the team. I think it might have been the highlight of their weekend.

I hope tomorrow will be as awesome as today was.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Gencon Adventures Day 0

Today was a good day, but maybe a little too long.

So last night's budget motel made sleep difficult. I didn't fall asleep until 4:00, and Cait woke up at 4 and couldn't get back to sleep. It was an uncomfortable night. The morning brought a quick trip to Target for supplies, a stop at the McDonalds for breakfast, and some navigation to get to Indy itself.

We checked in, grabbed the boxes that the Holiday Inn Express graciously held for us, and then went to the convention center for booth setup. Cait's organizational skills once again made this a relatively quick and painless process. By 1 pm the booth was ready to go:
That is our daughter's Duffy bear dressed up as a fighter pilot.

We spent the afternoon wandering the halls of the convention center and the streets of Indy. It took longer to find a place to buy shampoo than it did to set up the whole booth. After dinner at the pub next door, we came back to the hotel room. Derek and Desi headed back out to a party, but Cait and I are exhausted, and bedding down for the night. Cait is asleep next to me, and I will be going the same way soon. 

Tomorrow is day 1 and I am excited to meet fans and sell a few books. I will let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Gencon Adventures Day -1

So we began our annual pilgrimage to Gencon today. Our team consists of myself, my lovely wife Cait, The Great Derek Breedon, and the wonderful Desiree Barlow. Unlike previous years, where there was always some sort of insanely early morning start combined with some sort of transport calamity, this year Cait planned the routing and the stops, and the trip is going smoothly thus far.

We began at the leisurely hour of 8:30. We left little Alanna with her grandparents, and then picked up the team. Traffic was light, highway speeds were high, and we passed the day arguing Breaking Bad and Doctor Who theories, among other things. We didn't quite get to Indianapolis today. We are actually in the town of Anderson, about 45 minutes outside the city, and we won't venture into the city proper until tomorrow morning.

Our hotel in Anderson is... interesting. The staff is very nice, but we immediately witnessed an "altercation" at the front desk with an angry octogenarian from Arkansas who didn't want to pay full price for his budget room. We then discovered our extremely lumpy beds, 70s-tastic ambiance, and the decorative used condom in the parking lot. We locked the car up tight.

The good news is it's one night. We are moving to the Holiday Inn Express tomorrow, and this should be a little nicer.

The high point of the day was dinner. Our motel is right next to the Red Lobster, and it was amazing. We ate far too much, and our server, Jason, was top-notch. Here's some photo evidence:
Cait and I with all of the ocean's shrimp.

Desi and Derek.

Tomorrow we go to Indie itself, and set up our booth. Tonight, we will make a valiant attempt to sleep. We may yet fail...

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Books Have Arrived! (And Other Stuff)

So, after much waiting, Warbirds has arrived in late July as promised! Photographic evidence follows, and there are some more notes below, so read to the end if you are curious:

The Fedex boxes in their natural state

Cracking open the first box to find the the Warbirds books inside.

We had 75 envelopes to fill with all the books and goodies.

It took me and Cait a few hours to pack everything up.

All 75 packages made up with our daughter's help.

Shipping Notes
It will be a few days before the books ship out, as I will probably have to take time off work to harass the Canada Post people for a few hours to get all these books shipped. Also, once you receive your package, please contact us if there is something missing, and we will send you a replacement via express post. 

Be careful opening your packages when they arrive; the ziploc bags holding the tokens for the Dogfight Tracker are right at the top of the envelope. Careless use of scissors might cause damage.

Electronic Products
The PDF version of Warbirds as well as the PDF for the WWII source book are done (we ended up with 25 aircraft in the source book). We will be rolling them out to backers next week, and will become available for purchase on DriveThruRPG on the 14th of August.

We are getting all of our materials together for Gencon and we couldn't be more excited. We will be selling Warbirds, Edge, and Remnants. We have already set aside books for backers who requested a Gencon pickup, and your books will be waiting for you at booth 1653. If you drop by the booth, we will be happy to give you a quick demo of any of the games, and I will be willing to run a 2 hour session by request if there is enough interest. 

Final Note
We are nowhere near done the summer rush yet, and there will be more posts soon.

"Very exciting times."

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Damned Map and Other Things

I know you are all hoping for more Warbirds updates, but things with printers move slow, so you're going to have to wait a bit more on that one. Sorry.

What I want to talk about today is the map for Remnants. When the game came out it had very little space for a map (that is one of the few problems with a 6x9 format). To make up for this, I spent a few hours in Photoshop labeling a high resolution map and then hosting it on our website.

My error, and it was a grievous one, was to host on my old website and then link to it from the far superior Remnants website. Things were OK until I forgot about my old site. It eventually crashed, and then the registration expired. The hosting company had the wrong email address for me, so I received no updates when it went down.

The first sign I had that something was wrong was when people started telling us that the Remnants map wasn't working. Confused, I looked into it, and eventually found the problem. I contacted the web host, renewed my old site, and discovered that all my old data was gone. I tried for a long time to recover it, but it's lost. Recently I thought I had someone who happened to download the map before it dropped, but no luck.

So, I finally went back to Photoshop and built a new map and hosted it in the right spot (with all the maps for Edge). You can take a look at all 2.6 megs of it:
Be sure to check out the full size map.
Going to Gencon
Cait and I are taking Outrider Studios to Gencon this year. We are bringing the Great Derek Breedon and the wonderful Desiree Barlow with us. We should also have Warbirds, Remnants, Broken Lands, and Edge with us. If you're going, you can come visit us at booth 1653. We'd love to meet you and give you a 5 minute demo of one of the games. 

Go See Pacific Rim
As a person who made a game about giant robots beating the shit out of giant monsters, I was pretty stoked to see a movie about giant robots beating the shit out of giant monsters. The movie exceeded my expectations. It was hundreds of tons of rocket punches, power swords, and armoured goodness. Go see it and watch the awesome.

Other Games
I backed Jason Pitre's Spark RPG and I have been reading through it. Jason has created a brilliant, intellectual game. If you remember my old Grognard/Warhol comparison, it falls squarely in the Warhol camp. It is a game designed around structured narrative building and examining deeply held beliefs. I have to admit, it is very different from the games I like to create. My games are about nostalgic wish fulfillment and focus on emulating a single concept in a fast and simple, but not too simple, manner (robots, dogfights, etc), and creating something beautiful in that narrow focus.

Jason is far more ambitious. He has created a setting generator that treats the setting as an expansive, powerful character. His pre-generated settings are full of contentious issues, moral dilemmas, and multiple layers of complexity. The characters reflect and are directly linked to the setting as well as each other. The mechanical system that pushes his game is simple and easy, and if you remember my previous posts about mechanics, his design hits all the high points. 

So, I am not in the business of game reviewing, nor do I intend to start, so I will not give Jason a score or any such thing, but if what I have said so far intrigues you, you might want to check out his game. Oh, and the cover art is pretty cool:
It took me 5 photos with my Iphone to get 1 that wasn't blurry

That's all for Now
I will update here the moment I have some Warbirds news for you.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Proof

After some absolutely gut-wrenching delays, we received the Warbirds proof today. It is, in a word, beautiful. I snapped a bunch of photos with my iphone:

The front cover. The framed photo style is repeated throughout the book. 

The back cover. We agonized for days trying to decide what to say, but I am very happy with what Cait and I (who am I kidding? It was almost all Cait) came up with. 

Kind of a blurry shot of one of the nations. It has been noted several times that my photography skills are lacking.

This is a page showing an air combat example. The comic ties nicely into the text. 
You might have notice that the border changes colour.  Each of the first 4 chapters has a different coloured background, with colours repeating for the last 4 chapters. I am a big fan of making the book easy to navigate, so in addition to the colours, we put the chapter name at the top of each page, and a counter showing the chapter number in each outside margin. 

This is from our plane creation chapter. Those of you familiar with Remnants will recognize our "start with a generic design and then customize it with traits" system of vehicle design.

A very blurry shot of the Character and Warbrid sheets at the back of the book. We are going to put some larger and more robust sheets on the Warbirds website.

The Next Step
So now we have the proof, hooray! Our work is not done yet. Now we need to review it, decide if we need to revise anything, and then order the first bulk shipment of the book. While that's going on, we need to finalize the PDF version of the book, and make sure it matches up with the print version. We are also working on the WWII PDF, and the Mad science book is waiting in the wings. After that, we are supposed to start on Broken Lands II. The work is never done...

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Tokens, Lots of Tokens

With Warbirds at the printer for proofing, Cait and I have time to do all sorts of fun stuff. Today we spent five hours putting almost 4000 tokens into 102 tiny plastic ziplock bags. But the counters for the dogfight tracker are done. I have photographic evidence:

If you look at this photo you can see the templates that held the counters. We popped them out 8 at a time.

We hope to have the Warbirds proof soon, and then we will send all of this great stuff to our backers (and bring the leftovers to Gencon).

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Long Silence

Ok, I have been quiet for a little too long now. Sometimes work, life, and projects get the better of me and I go quiet for awhile. But, not to worry, we have been busy.


So Warbirds, where are we? Well, I am touching up the last of the layout and we are submitting the book for the printer on Monday (June 24th). We had some delays in art and editing, and a few last minute changes, but the book is looking pretty awesome. I would like to thank our artist, Dimitris, and our copy editor, Patrick, for turning in some excellent work.

Proofing the book with the printer will take a few weeks, but I expect to have copies to ship to backers in mid to late July. In the meantime, here's a little teaser art:

Warbirds Extras

We've also been working hard on all the little extras we promised. 

Dice – Done!

here's a few loose ones.

Here's all 200 dice from Chessex

GM Screens – Done!

100 screens all neatly stacked

Here they are from the front

Dogfight Tracker – Done!

Tokens –  Not quite done. 

They are printed, and should be done before the end of the month. We are just waiting on a custom die-cutter to cut out the 2000 circles we need.

WWII Aircraft PDF - In Progress 

We have written the few modifications needed for a gritty WWII game, and we have compiled the most “well-known” fighters of the era. We are now working on some bombers as well as conversion notes for naval ships.

Fighters on the list so far:
-Supermarine Spitfire
-Hawker Hurricane
-F6F Hellcat
-P-38 Lightning
-P-39 Airacobra
-P-40 Warhawk
-P-47 Thunderbolt
-P-51 Mustang
-Messerschmidtt BF-109
-Messerschmidtt ME-262
-Focke-Wulf Fw190
-Junkers Ju 88
-Mitsubishi A6M Zero

-B-17 Flying fortress
-Avro Lancaster
-Ju 87 Stuka
-Heinkel He 111
-Mitsubishi G4M Betty

If you think there is a plane vital to the list that I missed, leave a comment and let me know. There's still time to add it in.

You Must Be Mad! - Early Planning

The Mad Science book is still in planning stages. Writing on the first draft will begin after Warbirds is sent to the printers. We are planning on a fall release as we laid out in the Indiegogo campaign.

That's About It...

I could go on about my personal life, and I have a post I want to write about the new Superman movie, but I'll save that for another time. For now, back to InDesign and touching up some more Layout. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Modifications and Tweaks

So we just have a few days left in the Warbirds campaign, and we just breached $4000 (woot!). While all of this amazing fund raising has been going on, we have been playtesting the game and Cait and I are almost done the final re-write before we send the whole thing to our copy-editor to get rehashed one more time. After all the playtesting, the final rewrite is changing things I never thought to change and fine-tuning the game in some very awesome ways. So lets talk about some of these changes.

Thach Weave

That is not a misspelling of thatch. Admiral John S. Thach was an American naval aviator during WWII, and one of the best aerial tacticians in history. The Thach Weave was a defensive tactic that he devised that allowed the aerodynamically inferior F4F Wildcats of the US navy to fend off attacks from Japanese Zeros. It required two wingmen to fly together in a weaving motion that protected both from trailing enemies.

I really wanted to fit the Weave into the Warbirds ruleset, but we already had a mechanic for fighters working together, and it seemed to overcomplicate things. I finally figured it out just a few days ago, and added it to our Advanced Stunt list. This makes it an optional move, but one with huge benefits when employed correctly. The text reads like this:

  • Thach Weave - This is the only stunt that requires a wingman. After dodging enemy fire, the pilot weaves in front of his wingman in order to drag an enemy into the shot. The pilot’s Dogfighting roll counts as a 1 in the next round, but their wingman gets a +3 to the Dogfighting roll. This is an excellent stunt to use when facing a smaller number of highly skilled opponents.

The Skill List

The Rapidfire system has never had a very long skill list. We try to keep it short and simple. For Warbirds, though, we had to change a few things. The first thing was adding the 4 skills for when characters are in their planes. Those were pretty easy and obvious. What was less obvious is what we needed for characters out of their planes. It took a lot of playtesting to see where the skill list fell short, and where we had too much.

For those of you familiar with the ruleset, there will be some differences. First, There are a lot fewer personal combat skills. Everything is covered with just Close Combat, Shooting, and Athletics. We dropped Archery/Throwing, Unarmed Combat and Dodge. We collapsed the skills down so that players would have less to deal with if they want to be good at combat, and still have skill points left over to diversify.We also collapsed all of the science skills (Sciences, Social Sciences, History) down to the single skill "Academics". It makes it easier to be an educated character, and, as above, have a diversified character.

We also added and expanded skills, especially those that deal with social situations. There is now Persuade and Publicity to help characters deal with their adoring fans, and we added Mechanics, of course, so characters can modify their planes. The functions of other skills has changed slightly, all in the service of making the game smoother, faster, and more run. 


There are all sorts of other tweaks and alterations being made to the manuscript, but we are almost finished with the final re-write. I can't cover them all here, but the book is going to be awesome when it's done. 

I am incredibly excited about our campaign, and where things are going. We are creeping ever closer to the $5000 stretch goal, and we just might make it. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Credit Where Credit is Due

We just got a massive donation from my old friend Chris, and now the book is going to be in colour. So huge props to Chris, but that's not what this post is about.

I haven't been giving enough credit to my wife and co-designer on this project, Cait. I've mentioned before that collaborating is hard for me, and I continue to struggle with it, but the results that Cait and I get when we work together are so much better than what I can make alone that it is always worth the effort.

So how does collaboration work? Well, we brainstormed the setting together, I wanted islands in the sky, and Cait came up with the idea of using the Caribbean. The rules were mostly my purview, but when we needed something to give the game a unique spin, Cait came up with the Fame system.

In terms of writing, Cait wrote a lot of the country info, and re-wrote sections of the book where I let the topics get away from me. She has a talent for communicating clearly and concisely, and can take something that I take 20 words to say and cut it down to 8 (and those 8 words will be better than my 20). She is also in charge of structure and layout, and even determines things like chapter order, and the order of subjects in each chapter (we've been using her character creation step by step process for 3 books now)

Outside of the book itself, she helps manage our website and Facebook page, and most importantly, she vettes pretty much anything I say on behalf of the company. Any time anyone reads a forum post by me, chances are it has Cait's touch on it. She even coaches me on how to run our playtests (they're getting better, I swear!).

She helps shoot and edit our videos and she will be starring in the next two. And she just spent the last 4 hours building our art commission list with me for our artist.

In short, Cait makes this whole adventure possible. If not for her, Edge and Remnants would not exist, and if not for her, then Warbirds would not be the success that it is going to be.

Thank you Cait.
I love you, even when you're mad at me for accidentally a word.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3,

I have heard it said that playtester is worst job in the video games industry. I give you this comic as non-scientific, non-empirical, purely anecdotal evidence:

Fortunately, I am not in the video games business. Working with table-top RPGs makes playtesting a lot more fun and responsive. To test the game I run it, see how it works, note things that need to be fixed, and get player feedback. If there is a broken mechanic, then we fix it on the fly. If there a problem with the setting, then we hash it out then and there. It's a lot like making a home-brew game, but you keep better notes. 

We've been testing Warbirds quite a bit lately, and now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty details. The core mechanics are pretty much locked down. Hell, the Rapidfire core mechanic got locked down when Q and I hashed it out over a couple of weeks back in the fall of 2006. The dogfighting rules are actually older, and date back to some arguments with my buddy Kirk that we had back in the 90's. The Strafing rules are quite a bit younger, but the mechanics were figured out long before I began writing.

What the playtest does is test rules modifications, and all of the various tweaks and special options. I have always said that Rapidfire is not a "generic" system, but more of a framework that can be endlessly modified to fit different genres and play styles. For Warbirds the biggest modifiers to the basic system are the reduced lethality rules, and the addition of Fame. Scaling back lethality meant my players were able to get into a firefight with a bunch of gangsters (who were kidnapping people off an airship) without me worrying about a PC dying on the first shot. The use of Fame as wealth led to an interesting negotiation where a character wanted a lockpick kit, but couldn't get the money together. That kit would have come in very handy later.

I also like to think that we are constantly adding little improvements to the ruleset. For those of you that are familiar with our other games, we've been adding little mods here and there that can make a big difference. The skill list is much more explicit in terms of how the skills are used, and giving difficulty examples. The advantages and disadvantages are expanded, include more precise descriptions, more rules effects, and the GM section talks about awarding and removing them.

The best part about testing the game is getting together with family and friends and having a good game. If you look close you can see our prototype GM screen.

Alanna is showing how the planes are flying with her hands.

We have two weeks left in the Indiegogo campaign, and we are at $2432. We are just over $500 away from making the book with a colour interior.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Blown Away!

Today (the 26th of March) is one week since we launched the crowdfunding campaign for Warbirds. In that time we have raised $1880, with 42 backers from a dozen different countries. The support has been mind-blowing and the feedback has all been positive.

In short, I am honoured. I never thought we would get here.

We are now entering the second week of the campaign, and donations are slowing down. This pretty common, as most campaigns slow down a bit in the middle. To keep interest high, however, we are going to keep releasing weekly videos throughout the campaign, and we are considering making regular videos until the game launches.

In other news, our prototypes for the GM screen, Dogfight Tracker,  and Tokens are nearly finalized, and we will be putting up picks this week. I'm also working on the custom dice. The plan right now is to go with a blue die with gold pips, and the silhouette of a fighter on the 6 face. The dice will be ready with the game, but will take a little more time to prototype, as we have to go through a third party for them.

I'm running another Warbirds playtest tonight, but we don't have too many of these left before we lock down the text. There have been a few nudges and changes here and there, but we are closing in on the book's final form, and then it goes for copy editing and proofing.

I also picked up a copy of Bioshock Infinite today. I might have to budget my play time to make sure I stay on top of this campaign.

There will be more videos, pictures and blogs in the near future.

Thanks for all of your help.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Inspiration and Research

So a few commenters have been mentioning different animes that may have served as an inspiration for Warbirds, so let's talk about where the ideas for the game come from. The game wasn't created in a vacuum, and there was a massive breadth of pop culture and history to draw from. Let's look at some stuff.


My degree carries the fancy name of "Military and Strategic Studies". In english that means "War History and Political Stuff". So I spent years studying wars and conflicts and strategy. One area that I enjoyed was studying the disruptive effects of technology, and looking at how new innovations changed warfare.

With Warbirds, I wanted to create a place where fighter pilots are at the apex of society. To do that, I needed to mess with technology a bit. So first I created a Guild for the pilots. Guilds are great at controlling and limiting technology to further their own ends, and they did for centuries from the middle ages through to the enlightenment. Next, I built some structures into the setting to limit the power of disruptive technology like radio and radar (radios work, but they suck. Radar is absolutely useless). Finally, I wanted a lot of diverse countries and cultures that would clash frequently. We ended up grabbing the Caribbean from history because of its diversity.

When we were looking at pilot personalities,and how they relate to fame and the media, we did a lot of research on Amelia Earheart. She was not only a skilled pilot, but also a canny self-promoter. She had her own fashion line, a long list of sponsors, and a knack for getting herself in the media. She was able to use her fame to generate money to finance her flying and become even more famous in the process. For Warbirds, when Cait designed the Fame system, she took Earheart's business model to the extreme, and made "Fame" the game's currency. It works very well.


Let's get this out of the way. When I think of dogfights, I think of the space battles in Return of Jedi. The final space battle in that movie was fast-paced, visually interesting, had high stakes, and managed to do it all using primarily minor characters (Luke, Han, and Leia were never involved in the space battle). When I decide whether not to take the dogfighting rules in a certain direction, I compare it to the Jedi space battles, and see if they hold up.

Hand in hand with the Star Wars is Indiana Jones. A lot of the game's art direction and flavour is directly influenced by the three Indie movies (I disbelieve the 4th film). Even our aircraft design is influenced by Indiana Jones. Does this look familiar to anyone?
Other movies that definitely influenced the look and feel of game include Sky Captain and the World of  Tomorrow, The Mummy (first one), and The Rocketeer. When we look at anime films, the two that spring to mind are Wings of HonnĂȘamise and The Sky Crawlers. If we are talking classic WW2 movies, then I direct you towards Tora Tora Tora, and Midway.

We need to have this conversation before we continue. I both love and hate Top Gun. It was the ultimate 80's movie, Tom Cruise's vehicle to legendary status, and the source of uncounted thousands of military jokes. Do I take inspiration from Top Gun? Yes. I think it might be impossible not to take a few things from it when writing anything about fighter pilots. Am I proud of it? No. I could go on for hours about the shit that it got wrong, but I won't. Next section.


I might get skewered for this, but does anyone else remember the old Disney cartoon Tailspin? Disney took the characters from the Jungle Book and gave them airplanes. It was a good kids show for its time, and when I look back at why I like airplanes and aviation, Tailspin was one of my starting points. It had air pirates, airships, action, and adventure. I have a feeling if I went back and watched it now I would be disappointed, but I can still hear the theme song in my head.

The other big TV inspiration is the old Macross episodes of Robotech. I have talked about Robotech before, but I cannot stress enough how smooth and flowing its aerial battles are. If you watch Macross Plus, the are even better, but they go a little missile crazy.

Part of my research for the book was going back and watching almost every episode of History Channel's Dogfights, and then digging back to primary sources from there. One thing that show was good at was distilling the air battle down to layman's terms, and I made several of my rules choices based on how the show kept things simple but still accurate and interesting.

Video Games

There are a ton of air combat flight sims out there that I used to play (I was universally terrible at them). More recently, I loved Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge. I never liked the board or clix versions of Crimson Skies, but I think the video game caught the right feel for a pulp game. A lot of the Mad Science stuff in the game is inspired by Crimson Skies.

An Incomplete List

This is just the stuff I thought of off the top of my head. There are dozens more media properties to whom I must tip my hat, but this post is already a little long for my liking. I haven't even touched cultural sources for all of the different islands (maybe that will be a separate post).

Campaign Update

As of this writing, our Indigogo campaign is at $435. We are almost halfway! Thanks again to all of the backers, and if you aren't a backer yet, then please donate

I will see up in the unfriendly skies.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The New Game is Warbirds!

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you may have noticed a lot of references to that other game without much in the way of details. Well, I can finally announce it to everyone.

Warbirds is Outrider Studios' new game about fighter pilots, pulp-comic action, celebrity culture, and exploration. We are crowdfunding the project on (no kickstarter for Canadians) and I am hoping that you can contribute and make the game a success. You can learn a bunch more about the game by going to its website. Please give it a quick read before continuing here, as some of the stuff I discuss won't make much sense unless you already know the basics.

During the next month of the campaign, I will posting all sorts of little bits of insight into how the game was made, how the new dogfighting system works, and the though processes on why the game is the way it is. In this post, we'll look at the roots of the game, where it started, and why it evolved the way it did.

Why Fighter Pilots?

Right after Warbirds' first playtest a friend asked, "Steve, why the hell did you make a game about the crap you deal with every day?" He asked because my day job is "Air Weapons Controller", which means I spend my day job staring at radar screens and talking on radios to provide guidance to fighter pilots as they carry out missions. Right now I'm teaching the job to new controllers, so I spend all day thinking about fighter tactics, engagement ranges, radar characteristics, and communications priorities. Modern air combat is, in short, complicated.

So, why the hell would I bring my day job into my hobby? Well, for starts. I love it. I love fighter aircraft, I love the intensity of a dogfight, and not a day goes by that I'm not jealous of the pilots out there doing it for reals. (Full disclosure: I failed flight training after spending 120 hours in the air. It turns out that guys with poor hand-eye coordination, and frequent bouts of airsickness make poor pilots. Who knew?) 

Next, I refer to the old adage: write what you know. I know air combat. I am not an expert on it, like an actual fighter pilot is, but it's safe to say I know a lot more than the average layman. The other thing I know is RPGs, so I have a unique opportunity to try to bring them together in a fun an interesting way.

Why Dieselpunk? Wait, WTF is Dieselpunk? 

First off, here's Wikipedia's take on dieselpunk:
"Dieselpunk is based on the aesthetics of the interwar period between the end of the World War I and the beginning of World War II... The genre combines the artistic and genre influences of the period (including pulp magazines, serial films, film noir, art deco, and wartime pin-ups) with postmodern technology and sensibilities."

So why dieselpunk? Because, as I said before, modern air combat is complicated. It's also a little dull from an RPG perspective. Modern fighters start shooting at each other when they are still over 30 miles away, and most engagements end before either pilot ever sees the other. The best tactic for a modern fighter pilot is to fire his best missile at the longest range, and then run away and wait for the missile to hit. If pilots do get close, the planes have heat seeking missiles that lock on just by looking at the enemy plane, and radar assisted cannons that take the guesswork out of the ultra-rare guns kill. 

Let's contrast that with World War 2 air combat. Machine guns of the era could shoot a few thousand yards at best, and most kills happened at ranges of a few hundred yards or less. Pilots mixed it up in massive dogfights, and had to take serious risks to get a kill. World War 2 is the moment where fighter pilots had the best machines that didn't automate important tasks. It was the era of the fighter ace, and the perfect technology level to use for a game about fighter pilots. 

So What's Up With the Alternate Reality Setting? Why Not Just Use WW2?

Figuring out the setting for Warbirds was always a tricky one. The game actually started out as a sci-fi game with Star Wars style space fighters and a Battle Star Galactica style story, but the whole thing ended up being pretty 1-dimensional. There just wasn't enough to do when the pilots weren't out fighting. Setting it in WW2 worked a little better, but I found that it limited player choices in terms of character creation a little beyond what I would like. 

It was Cait (my wife and co-designer) who figured out the game's setting needs to actively affect the characters when they are not in their planes. She hit on the idea of combining the infamous ego of fighter pilots with celebrity culture and hero worship. Once we knew we wanted pilots to be famous, we worked on a couple different setting ideas, but settle on islands floating in the sky. The reason being that a society in that setting would have a huge investment in aviation, and pilots would be revered. 

After that, we looked at the cultures that we liked, and found that the Caribbean was absolutely full of different cultures, languages, and religions. Furthermore, all of these micro-cultures were already packed into conveniently shaped islands and peninsulas. So we grabbed them from our history (1804 to be precise) threw them up in the air, hit the fast-forward button on their timeline, and hit stop when they reached 1940's technology and culture (we gave them an extra century to get there; getting marooned in the sky slowed down tech advancement for quite a while).

What else can we expect in the next month?

I am going to make frequent blog posts here, I plan to make a few videos that will give you the gist of the rules, and I will keep trying to convince you to donate.

If you have already donated, thank you very much. I hope you are as excited about this project as I am. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Art: equal parts beauty and frustration

Art can make or break a game.

This is a no-brainer. Good art can make a good game into a great one, while mediocre (or god forbid, bad) art can kill a game before anyone looks between the book's pages.

Example time

This is the cover of my Remnants game:

It has several important qualities. It is simple, iconic, well drawn, generates a mood, and tells players the game is about giant robots. This cover screams awesome, and I have had customers buy the book without so much as reading the blurb on the back.

If you look inside, you will find more mechs drawn by the same artist. Some of the work was licensed, and some was original, but it all worked pretty well. Above all, though, that cover knocked it out of the park.

Getting that cover was a lot of work. My artist lives and works in Germany, while I'm in Canada. This makes scheduling any kind of real-time communications tricky. There were a lot of early morning and late evening Facebook and Skype chats to get it all together. After scheduling comes concept designs, followed by draft after draft as we narrowed in on finished product. Even the font we chose, Criovision, was not approved for commercial use, and I had to contact the South American company that created it to get permission to put it in the book.

The Waiting

The fallout of all of this is that art takes a lot of time. From first email to finished cover took months. You also have to remember that most of the artists I work with do commission work on the side, and only work for me on evenings and weekends. All of this adds up to weeks and months of waiting for art. It can be frustrating, and it has held up several projects in the past, but when a new email comes arrives with new art attached, it's like getting a Christmas present.


My experience working with artists has taught me a few things:
1. Get the best artist you can afford, especially for the cover. A good cover will draw people in. A good game will get them playing.
2. Give your artist a long leash when it comes to image composition. While they need direction in terms of what to draw, let them surprise you with their interpretation of your ideas. My artists have always produced their best work when they were able to use their imaginations and go in directions that I never thought of. 
3. Keep the business part of the deal simple, honest, and straightforward. Be sure to agree to a payment system that gives at least a partial advance upfront, and then more upon the completion of the work. If you ask for lots of changes, you should expect to pay more.

The Payoff

When it all comes together you get great art and a beautiful book. For example, I got some art for that other game. Here's a sneak peek:

Friday, 22 February 2013

Done, Done, and Never Done

So the print version of Remnants: The Broken Lands is on sale as of today.

Happy Dance = done.

I am done with Remnants for a bit... or am I? I still do Q & A's on's forums, I am setting up discounts for everyone who bought the PDF, and now wants the print book, and I am still stressing over sales, distribution, and format errors, among other things.

In addition to the above, our first short module for Remnants, which we contracted out to another author, just entered the editing stages, and needs to be content-approved by me before the editors tear it apart and rebuild it.

Now Broken Lands was already successful enough that I want to release Broken Lands II next year, and III the year after that. In the meantime, there's that other game I'm working on.

That Other Game

That other game is both similar and different to Remnants. It has familiar rules, but a new setting. It follows a similar structure to other Outrider games, but throws some new curve balls in terms of rules and themes.

The new game is not my sole creation either. It is a collaboration with my wife, who helped design some of the new (and very interesting) rules, built a lot of the setting and background, and is writing several very large swathes of the game text. I will admit that collaboration is difficult for me; I like things my way, but the magic of working with someone else, is the work you make together is better than anything either person could do alone.

Play-testing, though, has been rough. The game is good and the rules work, but every time we go to the table we find problems with how I have written things. If there is a way to make a rule vague or confusing, I've found it. If there is a way to write an instruction so that the player reaches an incorrect result, I've written it. With each session we iron out more problems, and the manuscript is nearing completion.

That "new game in August" promise is looking good. We've hired an artist, and even acquired our first few pieces of concept art. We're even looking into a crowdfunding campaign to up production values and provide extra goodies.

Very exciting times.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Little Tangents, Random Thoughts

Sometimes I have ideas that I want to share that are too small for a blog post. So I will throw a bunch together to make a random scattering of thoughts that might give you some insight into the chaos inside my head. This stuff is way off base, and in no way related to anything else I talk about. So, yeah.

Agent Coulson Lives

If you saw the Avengers, you remember that Coulson died, or did he? News is that they are bringing him back for the TV series. I just re-watched the Avengers, and I can buy his surviving. He was breathing and moving when Nick Fury found him, so that spear missed his heart. That means it hit his lungs. Big trouble, but he was only passed out for a few seconds when the paramedics arrived to work on him. Fury says they called it immediately, but that guy is a lying bastard who would totally fake Coulson's death if gave the other characters the push they needed to come together to fight Loki. I figure Coulson went into emergency surgery, spent months in recovery, and will be back to his old self in time for the TV series.

Firefly is Still Awesome

Hmm. Two Joss Whedon vehicles in a row... gotta keep these more random. Anyways, I just re-watched all of Firefly and Serenity, and it still holds up. Everything about that show is pitch perfect and I pick up new little details and turns of phrase every time that makes the show better and better. It died too soon.

More Star Wars

I gotta say, taking Star Wars away from George Lucas is probably the best thing happen to the franchise since Empire. Now I have heard rumours of all sorts of spin-offs, sequels, and TV series, but I  will withhold judgment until new stuff actually shows up on screen. Besides the new J. J. Abrams sequel they are talking about spinoffs for Boba Fett (talk about pandering to the fan base) and a young Han Solo (we'll see how that goes once they cast some one). In other news, the new Star Wars RPG is getting mixed to positive reviews. As a rule, I don't trust games with proprietary dice (except FATE, they're cool), but once again, I withhold judgment until I see how they deal with Jedi and the Force. My heart is still with the old WEG Star Wars, but I was never happy with their Force stuff, so we'll see how it goes.


The best place to write in Cornwall (Where I live. It's a small town in Canada) is not in Cornwall at all, but 15 minutes up the highway at the Denny's Restaurant in Lancaster (A very small town). It is open 24 hours, has free Wi fi, and lots of plugs for laptops. They also don't mind if you just order a sampler and drink and sit there for hours. The music they play is pretty awful, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with some earbuds.

Neil Degrasse Tyson

You really should watch some of his talks. The man is able to talk about science in a way that is both interesting and relatable. His most important contribution to society, though, is his insistence that investing in science, and science education now will pay off in improvements in our society decades from now. People really do need to learn how to take the long view on stuff.

Age and Experience

Up until recently, I loved getting into debates about religion, and I was a total bastard about it. I would do it just to stir shit up and piss people off. I was contrary just to be contrary. In the last six months, though (coinciding with the birth of my daughter), I have been loath to have religious discussions, and I have to be dragged into them, at which time I try to crawl out. The problem is that while I am not a fan of organized religion, I longer get kicks over having arguments about it. It stresses me out to think about what faith my daughter will choose (if any) and activates my instincts to protect her from any religious influence. It is her choice as to what to believe, and I don't want it made for her before she is mature enough to figure things out for herself.

To make matters worse with the whole religious debate thing, I find that most religious debates are built around irreconcilable premises. There is rarely any middle ground or compromises to be had. And debating the subject tends to cause people to become more entrenched in their beliefs than doing anything to convince them you might be right. Science backs me up on that one.

Mini Cinnamon Buns

They come in $5.00 buckets and are so delicious. They shall be my downfall.

Friday, 1 February 2013

What Does Indie Mean?

So what does "indie" mean? I have described my games as "indie" on several occasions in several different venues. No one ever questioned me on it, and everyone seemed to know what it meant. But seriously, what the hell does indie mean? It's time to do some googling.

Google answer:

  1. (of a pop group or record label) Not belonging to or affiliated with a major record company.
  2. (of a movie) Not produced by a major studio: "she's landed herself the lead in an indie horror movie".

Well, we're not talk about movies or music. This is games land. Let's try again. This time, we will try Wikipedia and search "indie role-playing game". Here we go:

"An indie role-playing game is a role-playing game published outside of traditional, 'mainstream' means."

OK, that I can work with. Indie means your game doesn't have a big distributor right? If you read the rest of the article you will find that the whole thing is pretty murky. Some people claim that "indie" is a self-identifier and you have to be part of a indie community, while others claim just by not being part of a corporate structure (like Dungeons & Dragons) you are magically indie. 

Making the waters even muddier, detractors of the term will tell you that the tabletop RPG industry is so small that almost every company is "indie" when you start to look at things like distribution numbers and profits (D&D being the exception again). From now on, I will refer to this as the Grognard School of thought.

Yet another school of thought is that indie RPGs tend to cover "unconventional" play styles, an emphasis on rules designed to support specific settings/concepts, or a focus more on improvisation and story than actual game elements. Just for fun, I will call this the Warhol School of thought.

Both the Grognards and the Warhols have a point. Gaming is small business. The costs are small, the volume of product moved is small, and the profits are minuscule. So the Grognard claim that we are all indie cannot be discounted. At the same time, the unconventional games of the Warhols are wicked fun. I have a cabinet full of their quirky goodness, and I would be lying if I said that their works didn't influence my own game design. Those Warhol games, by the innovative use of rules, change the way games are played, and, much indie film and music movements, they are having a real tangible effect on the design of the more mainstream games. 

Now to tear the schools up a bit. 

The Grognards are forgetting about relativity. While the industry is small, there are still discrete tiers of popularity within the industry. We have D&D (and perhaps Pathfinder?) at the top, a cadre of middle tier publishers who make good profits (For those in the know, companies like Fantasy Flight, Privateer Press, and Whitewolf, amongst many other), and then there's the rest of us fighting for whatever is left, and trying to break even. Those of us at the bottom are working on very different publishing and distribution models than those at the other levels, and so the indie moniker could definitely apply to us.

The Warhols are on shaky ground as well. If you look at their "creator owned" moniker, then such wonderfully "traditional" games as Rifts (love him or hate him, Kevin Siembieda is Palladium books) are indie. If we look at the Warhol idea that indie games are experimental, or explore games out on the fringe of design, what happens when these games become mainstream. Most Warhols would have called FATE an indie game, it won some indie RPG awards back in 2003, but Evil Hat's $400 000+ kickstarter (hell's yes, I contributed) means that FATE is now smack in the RPG mainstream. 

So are the Grognards right, or the Warhols? is there some sort of compromise? To hell with it. Let's look at this another way. 

Steve's Rule of Indie Game Design:

If you can't afford to quit your day job, your game is indie!

You can quote me on that.

This pays tribute to the Grognards in recognizing that most game designers are tiny, and need to have "real jobs" to keep publishing. But it also acknowledges that a few people do "make it" in the industry and are able to it as a full time job, and a few even make good money at it.

It also should appease the Warhols to some degree. Creator owned projects tend to be works of art that are full of passion and new ideas, but do not sell enough to let their creators live off of them in any significant way. Under my new rule, once you make games profitable enough to live off them, you are no longer indie, and the Warhols can either keep supporting your games, or much like their hipster cousins, they can move on to other newer projects.

As for me, my day job has excellent benefits, a good pension plan, and very good pay. I am sticking at it for at least another decade. So my games are indie for now... I guess.

I have a feeling some people are going to disagree with me on this one. If so, let me know. I can handle it.


Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Thrill of Victory

My new Remnants book went to the printer for proofing today. That means it's done! Happy dance time? Not quite yet. Proofing is one of the many parts of game design that has yet to go smoothly for me.

Proofing works as follows: create PDFs, upload to printer, get printer approval, have proofing copy shipped back, approve proof, green-light sales, profit. Well, that's how it's supposed to work. Things have yet to be that simple.

Problem crop up at every step. Just getting the PDFs right takes multiple attempts. This book took three attempts before everything looked right, and I was happy with the setup. Uploading to the printer went very smoothly this time.

When I tried to upload the first Remnants book, I first tried to upload it in a size the printer can't print, then I had colours on the cover that were outside the printer's saturation limits, and then I accidentally tried to upload a black & white book as a full colour product. After fixing all of that, the printer finally approved it. So now I hope the book gets approved a little faster than the last one.

Getting the proofing copy is always exciting. All of your work is laid out in front of you in a slick finished product. Too bad it's always full of problems. I am 0 for 2 for the first proof being "right". There is art that is too dark, or too light, or too blurry. There is a glaring spelling mistake in a major heading, or there is a format error that needs to be fixed on EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE.

So this means we do a bunch of formatting, editing, and uploading, and do the whole dance again. Remnants made it through on the second proof, but Edge wasn't right until the third. After all of that we can move onto the sales stage.

All of this means I am not ready to do the happy dance yet. That book still needs to be approved by both the printer and us before it's done, and that might take a while. When you can go to, click on the link and buy the book then, and only then, will I do my happy dance.

And it will be very silly.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Getting Things Done

So I have to write to make games happen. I also have to wrangle artists, go to conventions, convince local retailers to carry the books, keep track of expenses for my taxes, keep an eye on the forums, and also, attend my day job.

The good news is that I have a team that works with me on a lot of this stuff. My wife is also my editor and fellow salesperson. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend handle a lot of the online/publicity stuff, my friend Patrick is a professional copy-editor who edits and proofs my work, and I know a bunch of gamers who are happy to play-test my games and give feedback on how to make them better.

All of that stuff is great, but it is all predicated on one thing: I. MUST. WRITE. There is no way around it. I have to sit down in front of my keyboard and slam the keys until the jumbled ideas in my head become a semi-coherent stream of 10 point helvetica characters. I must do this until tens-of-thousands of words are typed and sorted and then split up into chapters, sub-sections, sub-sub-sections, sidebars and charts.

The problem is that writing, for me, is really hard. I am not exaggerating when I say the ideas in my head are jumbled. There are a lot of them in there, and some of them are pretty damn good, but they alternate between all wanting to escape at once, and all of them refusing to leave. They fight for attention and sometimes just give me a headache. I often find myself caught in what I call "cognitive loops" where the same ideas, images, or phrases repeat over and over agin inside my head. Trying to write out a cognitive loop is pointless, as the loops are abstract and lack structure, and have almost no bearing on what I am supposed to be writing.

So let's say I manage to get the loops out of my head for a few minutes, and I want to write. Well, let's see how many ways I can distract myself first: reddit, facebook, emails, playing with my daughter, TV, movies, making dinner, wikipedia, let's look for the perfect Youtube clip, now I will stress out about life for a few minutes, ooh cats, hmmm or I could put up a blog post. During my time in University I mastered procrastination, and I have yet to unlearn the skill.

Despite all of the crap in the last two paragraphs, at some point I obviously sat down and wrote. A lot. Edge was 250 000 words, and we cut it down to 180 000 before publishing, Remnants was a lot tighter, and clocked in at around 45 000. My sequel to Remnants, despite taking forever to write, will be a little over half the length of the original book. (hmmm, at this rate my next book will be a 2 page pamphlet) So, somewhere along the line I did a whole lot of writing.

So what do I need to write? I make a lot of barriers for myself (see above), but I found that a few things can come together, and the words just flow. They are:

Solitude - I need some privacy to really get writing. That means everyone at home but me is asleep, or I go somewhere alone like a coffee shop (does that make me a hipster? I think it does... I am ashamed) or restaurant. Perfect solitude doesn't seem to work though. If I am home alone and my wife and daughter are off visiting family, the words don't come. I have to leave the house and be in a public place to find the words.

Music - I was a teenager in the mid 90's. My youth was awash with bands like Nirvana, Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, The Offspring, and Pearl Jam. I still listen to "alternative rock" and consider it by far the best writing music. Rather than spending time building the perfect playlist via file sharing or itunes, I just tune into the radio. Most radio stations stream their music online, so I just pick one and go. I recommend Kingston's 98.9 The Drive, Ottawa's Live 88.5, or if you must, Toronto's 102.1 the Edge. I am hesitant to recommend the Edge, as it's commercials include those for Spence Diamonds. Their announcer is the most annoying bastard on the face of the earth, and every time I hear a Spence ad, I want find all of their stores just so I can fire-bomb them (that was hyperbole, firebombing is wrong. Still, never buy Spence diamonds. Their ads are shit clogging up the airwaves).

Stress - This one is a little hard to define. I need to be a little stressed for the writing to work. I first noticed this when I was running games back in the 90's: I did all of my best work when I was miserable. Well, that wasn't exactly right. I did all of my best work when I was using gaming to escape the things in life that upset me. It's still true. The problem is that if I get too stressed out, then I can't concentrate, but if there aren't at least a few things bugging me, then I can't get the words out either. I guess in those cases I should just think about telemarketers, or religious fundamentalists, or that damned Spence diamonds bastard. Ugh, I hate that guy.

Anyways, assuming I get everything right, I can type thousands of words a day. When things aren't coming together I can go weeks or even months without writing a damned thing. To make matters worse, I set my own deadlines, so I can always just push shit back and encourage my own procrastination.

All of that being said, I swear: New Game. This August. It will be done on time and it will be awesome. There internet, hold me to it.