I have been keeping my head down and just grinding. So I thought I’d surface with a roundup of what I’ve been doing this last year (hint: it’s a lot, per usual).
Let’s start with the biggest news first; I recently joined a studio as the narrative design lead on their next big game!
That’s right, a game about the ocean. Do you know how jazzed I am? So jazzed. This is full time, which means I’ve officially made the crossover from part time freelance spliced with tech industry work to concentrating on narrative design exclusively as my profession. I am really, REALLY happy about this. It’s been years in the making and this is basically the perfect job.
How did Bluebeard’s Bride do?
The kickstarter ended up bringing in about $130,000. It’s already been nominated for one award, it held one of the top spots for most purchased game on DriveThruRPG for weeks, and the reviews have been glowing.
I did a lot of interviews around the game release, and they’re floating out there in the ether somewhere. I knew I hit peak interview when I sat down to talk about Bluebeard’s Bride with a frog.
What other projects are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a playset for Weave by Monocle Society.
And Celestial Rangers, based off the Sailor Moon RPG.
Things I finished up.
Okay, it’s a lot of things. Pretty sure this list is incomplete, but I’ll do my best to remember.
I wrote a freeform game called Möbius that was published in the #Feminism game anthology. Did narrative consulting for Qneuro. Judged the Golden Cobra game design competition. Translated some ancient Egyptian for Chaldea. Saw Mulaka launched. I had a very minor role consulting with the Lienzo team, but I’m super proud of how well received Mulaka has been. In the early days it was really a struggle, and I wasn’t sure the game was going to get released. Now it’s got everyone’s attention.
Did diversity and inclusion narrative consultation and VO work for the new BattleTech game that is launching this month. I really like doing voice over work! I also love all the folks over at Harebrained Schemes.
Both live streaming shows Death From Above and Weekly Affirmations have wrapped up. Death From Above was a seminal experience, and I miss the whole cast and crew. We really made something special.
Weekly Affirmations will probably come back in a new form with a new name at some point in the future. Several Twitch studios have offered to pick it up, I just haven’t had the bandwidth to do it yet. It’s a show that takes a lot of work on my end to produce. But it’s totally worth it. So many meaningful experiences.
I did various other Twitch shows including fundraisers, voice acting to Hatoful Boyfriend and Night in the Woods, Feminist Cookies, The Gauntlet, Masters of the Metaverse, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, and lots of others. And no, I’m still not a streamer : p
Also participated in the Games to Grow panel on Culturally Responsible Gaming.
I dropped out of the rest of the con season in 2017 after I contracted dengue fever in India, and was too ill to travel for a while.
I’m going to be a speaker at XOXO!
I’m also going to be attending Project Horseshoe, an invite-only game industry think tank. I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of this, and can’t wait to mind meld with other top folks doing cool work.
That’s it for now. I’ll try not to wait another year to update.
The Bluebeard’s Bride Kickstarter campaign is live! And it’s a runaway success! Myself and my two co-designers are so proud of this game after two and a half years of work. The Kickstarter speaks for itself, so you should go check it out. There’s only a little time left, and no guarantee of what will be available for distribution outside of the Kickstarter, so back it while you can.
Had the honor of being a Boss at GaymerX. I love this con! Sat on some panels about game mastering, the space between video and analogue games, diversity and inclusion, and even had my first ever scheduled time at an autograph booth! It was a wonderful space and I look forward to attending again. I met so many cool people.
I sat on three panels at Pax West. One on horror, one on Twitch, and one where the audience tried to make a game or we would kill them and destroy the world. Who’s great idea was that? (Looking at you, Luke Crane!) The horror and the game design panel both easily had over a thousand attendees.
Aaaand I also went to E3, the golden paradise mecha of all games. I had the privilege of repping an amazing game anthology, #Feminism. I was there for the very first meeting of the #Feminism collective, and it’s so amazing to see this thing come together and be awesome. I’ll be honest. I freaked out at E3 really, really hard. I played the new Zelda demo. I saw all of Capcom’s new stuff. I nearly had an aneurysm. I did a livestream interview about #Feminism on Twitch, available here.
Also, I may have gotten on top of the giant golden chocobo after the convention was over and gotten chased down by security.
I did some writing for State of Decay 2 for the Xbox, which was awesome. And I also did a whole lot of writing and design for Scion 2nd Edition for Onyx Path. I did some consulting for the new Geist that Onyx Path is putting out as well. And finally, I popped out a little piece for the indie game Sig: The City Between. Now that I have all of those and Bluebeard out of the way, I have a little more room to think about what else is on my plate.
I was a guest of honor at PaizoCon! This con was fairly small and laid back, which was nice. I presented panels about mythology and games and how to diversify your game.
What, still not done yet? I’ve been doing some VO work in various places too. Turns out I really enjoy it. I strongly suggest you check out the sci-fi podcast drama The Voice of Free Planet X. I’ve done VO for a handful of episodes now, but this one is my favorite: Parable of the Leopard.
I’m still doing my thing at HyperRPG. My show, Weekly Affirmations, is still going strong. We haven’t run out of indie analogue games to explore yet : ) It’s also been moved to a prime time slot, and now airs at 6:00 PM PST on Thursdays right here. Did I mention the fan art is rad?
Death from Above, the HyperRPG show I’m on that takes place in the BattleTech universe wrapped up it’s first season! It was amazing and I won’t give any spoilers. So go watch it.
I’m sure I’m missing stuff, but this post is already overloaded from waiting too long to get it out. Cheers!
Prepare to be drowned in content! It’s been a while, so there’s lots to talk about.
I’ve slowed down my con appearances a little bit as I’ve taken on more work in other sectors of my life. And by slowed down, I mean attending 5 or 6 in a year, rather than 11 or 12 : P
I’ve also waded much deeper into the video game industry, and the work I’ve been doing there is very rewarding. It’s mostly been in the areas of writing and narrative design, and I hope that continues. But in addition I’ve been doing some consulting on diversity and inclusion, and for funding for companies outside the U.S.
Upcoming guest of honor appearances: GaymerX – GaymerX Boss of Honor, woo! OrcaCon – Special Guest
Right now I’m slated for three panels at PaizoCon. One on mythology and games, and several on diversity, inclusion, and community. It’s coming up real fast, so if you’re in the area stop by!
I recently attended The Game Developers conference. GDC Was awesome. I applied for and was accepted into two competitive initiatives for GDC. The first was the Amplifying New Voices leadership bootcamp sponsored by Oculus. They put upcoming leaders together with veterans in the field for professional mentoring. The free Oculus swag was neat, but sitting down with people like Caryl Shaw and Brian Sharp was very special.
I was also an #INeedDiverseGames Scholar. Through #INeedDiverseGames I got to connect with other minority folks in the game industry, share experiences, and build my network. I felt honored to be counted among so many talented people.
The highlight of GDC for me was the Narrative Summit. Yes, all of the Narrative Summit! It was like I had come home. It has very strong programming, and I hope that the rest of the organization can slowly get on board with the way the Narrative Summit does things. It’s good, good stuff.
We’re going in reverse chronological order here, so next up is Hive. Hive is a highly selective global leadership program for visionaries, entrepreneurs, etc. who are committed to positive global change. With all the brouhaha I kick up over myth and play, I figured I’d give it a shot. Several thousand people ended up applying for about 150 spots, and I was selected. Hive was four days of being surrounded by amazing people, and all of us working together to figure out what comes next.
I started a new adventure in the world of Twitch! The showrunner of Geek & Sundry recently moved up to Seattle to try his hand at a new channel in partnership with Harebrained Schemes. The channel is Hyper Rabbit Power Go! (or Hyper RPG). I started off hosting two shows for Hyper RPG, but found I didn’t have enough time. Now I’m solely dedicated to Weekly Affirmations, which is MY show, utterly. On Weekly Affirmations I run indie and freeform RPGs, talk about feelings and emotional safety, host local game designers, and generally just have a freaking good time. It’s my ship to run, so all the content and programming is my choice. It makes me very happy.
I’m involved with other parts of the channel too. I sometimes guest on Death From Above, a Battletech show, or Trivia Hops, in which I was forced to wear a unicorn onesie and answer questions about the Justice League. Hyper RPG is good people, and I’m glad to be associated with the studio.
My Death From Above Character, with awesome fanart from Stephzorz.
This is a video from Honesty Hour on Hyper RPG, where we talk about real stuff and I can put my hosting personality aside for a hot minute. Honesty Hour got very involved, and ended up being Honesty Three Hours instead, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. We talked about some really interesting stuff.
Here is also the latest video from Weekly Affirmations! We played Our Radios Are Dying by Caitlynn Belle, which is a freeform game about lesbians hiding a forbidden love dying in space together. So many #GameFeelz!
The entire youtube playist of all Weekly Affirmation episodes to date is HERE. So far we’ve featured Fall of Magic, The Warren, Dread, Our Radios Are Dying, and now Monsterhearts.
Bluebeard’s Bride is in its final stages before release. We’re writing the copy and commissioning art. So THE BOOK IS REALLY HAPPENING OMG. If you want to get the down-low on Bluebeard’s Bride, join the Google+ community, follow on Twitter at BluebeardsBride, and check out the official page through our publisher, Magpie Games.
We have a bunch of actual play recordings now too. Be advised, all actual play content is considered to be 18+ and not safe for work. Trigger warnings for sexual violence, body horror, and other spooky stuff.
I’ve also been doing some voice acting for a recurrent role on The Voice of Free Planet X, a sci-fi podcast. This has been a lot of fun as the character evolves, and the creator of the podcast has informed me that there will be more coming up for this character. You should take a listen to the whole thing, but the episodes I’m in are linked below:
Let’s see, what else? I think I’ve mentioned the consulting I’ve been doing with video game companies on diversity and inclusion. On the whole, I think it’s been going pretty well, and with some of them I’ve seen the needle move a lot. I was a Special Guest at Big Bad Con down in San Francisco. I ran Bluebeard’s Bride and successfully made a player cry. In a good way! It’s how I know the game is really shaping up.
I was a judge again for this year’s Golden Cobra Challenge. Golden Cobra is a freefrom game design competition, and this is its second year running. year one produced some stellar games that are still being played all over the world. We had some fantastic games come through the door this year as well. The full anthology of this year’s games is here (warning, large PDF). The highlights for me were A Crow Funeral by Timothy Hutchings and The Other Place by Banana Chan. Look em’ up!
SandCon happened. Geek Girl Con Happened. They were both wonderful and I’ll be doing them again, I’m sure. SanCon is where I got to play The Warren for the first time, incidentally. At Geek Girl Con I got to hang out with some hard hitting ladies!
I was also prominently featured in a divsersity in table top games documentary made by John Sheldon. It’s very eye opening.
Here is the documentary:
Here is my full interview:
I spoke with John about the overall tone of the documentary, because it leaves the viewers hanging with a lot of questions. How do we change these things? What steps do we take? John told me that this first film is meant to establish a solid foundation for defining the issues around diversity and inclusion in tabletop. He felt we needed that piece first. He’d like to go on to make a second piece that details how we can affect a sea change. I really hope he does, and in my own interview we do get to talking about these things.
I was on a Virtucon panel about fostering local RPG communites. This one got a lot of views and comments, and people reached out to me privatly for months after it came out. I think it’s worth the watch also.
Finally, finally, we’re nearly at the end! Touching base on the game writing I’ve been doing for digital and analogue games, I’m afraid I can’t say much. I’m tied up with a lot of NDAs these days. However, I’m still writing for Undead Labs, who are the folks that made State of Decay. I’m on two big projects for Onyx Path, one for Storium, and I’m working on a handful of indie games. I think I’ll wait on listing specifics until I have something to point you to. My Warren playset Baliganapalli Fields is done and available at Bully Pulpit. My Urban ShadowsLos Angeles playset is available to backers. You know who you are. Just waiting for a lot of these other games that I’ve written for to come out!
Okay, I think I’ve linked enough media to keep someone busy for literally a week, so I’ll stop here. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of things. I’ll try to not go so long between updates next time.
2015 has proven to be quite a busy year already. There’s so much ground to cover! Where did we leave off? Ah, yes. DREAMATION 2015. It was a great con, and I was so busy that I actually didn’t get any photos this time! Both Marissa Kelley and I ran playtests of the game that we’re developing together with Sarah Richardson, Bluebeard’s Bride, which I’ve talked about before on this blog. Bluebeard’s Bride has finally ousted me out of my semi-retirement from GMing. We’ve been getting some really awesome feedback, and I’m pretty darn excited about getting it out into the wild.
Then there was Carnegie Mellon’s Transformational Experience Summit, which I co-presented at with Emily Care Boss. It was a great experience. Our panel was very well attended, and we met and spoke with a lot of amazing people, including the guys from over at Games for Change, and Heather Kelley, an amazing and awesome game designer and thinker. Thanks again to Jessica Hammer and Chris Klug for inviting me to the conference.
Then it was off to India for two months, were I did field work for Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, which is the most astounding NGO I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. While I was there I playtested Shanna Germain’s No Thank You, Evil! with some of the kids at the school. These children had never encountered an RPG before, and I was a little nervous that it would just be too far out of our depth. However, they seemed to immediately grasp what RPGs were all about, and THEY LOVED IT. They begged me to bring No Thank You, Evil! again the next time I visited the school.
On the way home from India I made a brief stopover in Japan, and got to spend a day with Andy Kitkowski, who has translated some really great Japanese RPG titles into English, among many of his other distinguishments. He took me to a game store in Akihabara, and we discussed some of the fascinating differences between U.S. and Japanese gaming cultures (while also stuffing our faces with ramen). It seems that no matter what country I go to I can find something to do that involves games. I’m billing Japan as a vital games research opportunity : P
Immediately after coming back from India I moved cross country and started a new job. At the last minute before Gen Con I discovered that I wasn’t going to be able to make it. Much to my chagrin! Still, I had friends on the ground, and a couple of great GMs volunteered to run playtests of Bluebeard’s Bride for us. One even sent me a picture of my Industry Insider profile. I was honored to be selected as in Industry Insider, and so incredibly bummed that I wasn’t able to make good on it this year.
Now, on to actual content.
I had the pleasure of writing an article titled “Why Minority Settings in RPGs Matter” for TOR.com in April. It went off pretty well, and several other places picked it up. It was even translated into French! If there’s any of my stuff that I would point you to, it’s this. Go read it! Afterward I was invited out to Tor in New York City, and got to me my editor, Bridget, who is one of those people who can just light up a room. The whole staff is great, actually, and they stuffed a bunch of books into my hands, which anyone knows is the most direct way into my heart. I got to go a floor or two down to see my friend Liz Gorinsky, and she and I chatted about her lasted work, including editing The Three-Body Problem.Incidentally, it won the Hugo award for Best Novel last night! Eeee! A super hearty congrats to Liz!!
We did (or rather, Evan Torner did) a write-up in the Knudepunkt Companion Book for the Golden Cobra freeform competition that I helped judge, entitled “The Golden Cobra Challenge: Amateur-Friendly Pervasive Freeform Design“. Article starts on page 70. Jason Morningstar also did a write-up of the same title over at NordicLarp.Org. We’ve decided to host another Golden Cobra competition this year! We’ve invited a new judge into our rotation and changed up our challenge constraints. I’m really looking forward to what the competition produces. Last year’s games blew me out of the water.
Lastly, I’ve been working on a section for The RPG Studies Handbook with Jessica Hammer. It’s a university level text book that will be published through Routledge when it’s done. Can’t say more about it than that for now!
I’ve been on some panels and video casts, also.
“My Gaming Resume” hosted by Richard Rogers as part of Indie+
“Larping as Other” hosted by Julia Ellingboe as part of the Gaming as Other Indie+ series
“Lady Event Organizer Roundtable” hosted by Anna Kreider
As for the games I’ve been working on, my freelance docket is nearly full.
Urban Shadows has launched, and my L.A. City Guide has been released out into the wild, so I’m officially all finished up with that.
I’m developing a Greenwood District/Black Wall Street setting for Dead Scare, an RPG about 1950s housewives surviving a zombie apocalypse. I’m developing an “Encyclopedia Draconica” entry for Epyllion, an RPG about being a dragon. So badass! I’m co-developing with A.A. George a setting based in rural India for The Warren, a terrific and terrifying game about being rabbits. I love these indie projects, and they make me very happy.
Oh, and doy! I am of course in the middle of co-designing Bluebeard’s Bride. We’re getting very close to an open beta. If you’re interested in reading more about it, I post our playtest feedback and wax philosophical about the game over on my Google+ page.
In relation to larger publishers and studios, the things I’m doing are harder to talk about. I’ve signed a number of NDAs that basically mean I’m not allowed to tell you what game I’m working on. What I can say is that I’m doing a pretty good chunk of work for Onyx Path, in an area that directly pertains to my academic expertise. It looks like I’ll be signing on for a second project with them soon.
I am also writing for a video game being produced by Undead Labs. These are the guys that partnered with Microsoft to make State of Decay. Video games are a different animal than their analogue brethren, but I’ve really enjoyed the work so far. I’m considering opening up to video game writing more widely. I guess we’ll see!
I’ve been doing a bit of mentoring work through Different Play also. Not as much as I would like. It was especially hard to get anything done when I was in India. I’m looking forward to picking it back up again now that I’m back in the States. It’s a pleasure working with such creative people.
Coming up I’ll be ghosting around PAX Prime. Then it’s off to Sand Con on the East Coast. And finally, in October I’ll be a con sponsored guest at Big Bad Con. I know there’s a couple of things I didn’t get around to discussing this post. I just can’t remember what they are!