Tag Archive for SandCon

Frontiers

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

Upcoming panels:
PaizoCon

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.

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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.

hive

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.

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Weekly Affirmations!

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.

My viewers have made so rad fanart too. Shout outs to Voidsmoker, JPBeltran, Tonniecat, and BobTGoldfish.

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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.

Oneshot Podcast Actual Play of Bluebeard’s Bride:
Part One
Part Two 
Part Three

Jankcast Actual Play of Bluebeard’s Bride:
Part One
Part Two

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:

Episode 17: City of Sleep
Episode 15: Son of Planet X 

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.

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golden_cobra_iconI 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!

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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 Shadows Los 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.

Game Design in the New Year

Hey Folks, Strix here. I’ve got a mega update for you, so buckle up!

When you heard from me last it was August and I was about to embark upon Gen Con. This year’s Gen Con was great, and really transformative. It’s the first year that I’ve hooked up with Games on Demand, and let me just say, they are THE best organized gaming collective I have ever come across. Professional, diligent, empathic, and really good taste in indie games. GoD does an excellent job at maintaining a safe space where everybody can have fun, and I was super impressed. It was a pleasure working with them as a host, and I’ll be coming back in 2015 as an organizer.

I also sat on a few panels about diversity and inclusivity, cosplayed, attended the Diana Jones Award, etc. This year was also my first Peter Atkison suite party. Very entertaining. Gaming as Other was on the ground doing some work behind closed doors. Things are still in progress, so I can’t say a whole lot about it at the moment.

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Wolverine and Jean Grey professional cosplay:

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While at Gen Con I also attended the Hacking as Women event hosted by Indie Game Developer Network. IGDN brought in some heavy hitters from the indie world and sat participants down to come up with new games and work on their design for a few hours. Which is exactly what we did. I ended up being paired with a complete stranger, Sarah Richardson. But we got on quickly and we found we had a shared passion for mythology and fairy tales. We decided that we wanted to make a game based off one of the classical dark fairy tales, but which one? I suggested we do Bluebeard, and it just clicked. We were placed with Marissa Kelly, IGDN organizer and designer of Epyllion, who was supposed to be giving us pointers, but we all got so wrapped up in it that when the hacking event was done, none of us were willing to let it go. There was just something about Bluebeard that was amazing, and as we pitched it around the room it was clear that we had something good.

The three of us have been developing it ever since, and it’s gone swimmingly. We had our first playtest at Metatopia 2014, and our next playtest will be at Dreamation. When it’s all put together we’ll be publishing through Magpie Games, sometime in late 2015. I’ve worked on a lot of other people’s games in different capacities. This is the first one that is really mine. My two co-designers are brilliant, and I am so exited about getting this out into the wild. Here is a little bit of what I’ve written about Bluebeard’s Wife before. If you’re interested on getting glimpses of the development process, I suggest you go circle me on Google+, where I talk the most about these things.

The fairy tale of Bluebeard is one of the darkest in the European tradition. It’s the story of a young, poor bride who marries a rich and cunning nobleman who has already had several wives. He whisks her away to his castle where he gives her pearls and silks, the keys to every door. But the smallest key, he says, you must never use.

It is a trap, of course. Bluebeard leaves his wife alone in the castle and she wanders the rooms, trying to avoid the one room she must not enter, but ultimately drawn to it, and her doom. When she opens that last door she finds…well, it’s best if you see for yourself. 

In our game you play the Complexes, different aspects of Bluebeard’s wife; the Virgin, the Witch, the Mother, and many others, as Bluebeard’s Wife tries to navigate the castle, perhaps trying to find a way out of the front gate, or a way into Bluebeard’s heart, but always drawn towards the last room. The castle tests her sanity, and not every part of her will survive–if any part of her does at all.

This game is dark, erotic, and filled with creeping terror. It’s about the intricacies of feminine horror, which, trust me, is a vast and rich tradition. Unfortunately it’s a tradition that has remained virtually untapped in the indie gaming scene. We hope Bluebeard’s Wife will be the start of an exploration of a vital and powerful genre.

In short: PLAY BLUEBEARD. FEEL HORRIFIED. 

bluebeardpromo

In August I also sat on an hour long Indie+ web panel, “How to Build an RPG Community.” You can watch it here:

In September I attended SandCon, which really wasn’t a con at all, but a private event in a rented beach house out on the Jersey shore. SandCon was great because there were a lot of cutting edge thinkers there, and there were some very lively and intelligent discussions going on at all hours of the day and night. There were also great games, and new things being tried out. I got to test out John Harper’s Blades in the Dark as well as experience Jackson Tegu’s Silver and White for the first time. My big contribution was giving body surfing lessons and facilitating a larp in which all the players were eight year-olds at a birthday party. We did not bring enough paper towels.

SandCon

I finished up the Los Angeles City Guide for Urban Shadows, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. There is a lot of awesome flavor, but my favorite piece of the work was bringing to life the kick-ass vengeful Chumash spirit bent on destroying L.A. Urban Shadows should be doing their full release soon. I can’t wait for you guys to play in my setting!

I also sat as one of four judges for the Golden Cobra Challenge, a freeform design competition. I was amazed, simply amazed by the diversity and quality of the submissions that came to us. There were about 50 entries, and it was extremely hard for us to pick the winners. My personal favorite out of the bunch is Still Life, a freeform game where you’re playing…rocks. But no! I promise it’s beautiful and compact and very cleverly designed and I am in love with it. There were so many other good ones as well, like REBOOT, Glitch Iteration, Dream Bear, I could go on and on. You can download the Golden Cobra Anthology of all the games that the designers elected to include here (Warning, massive PDF). I think that we are going to see many of these games become fairly popular among the indie and freeform crowd, and I’m honored to have been apart of such a massive creative endeavor.

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I, along with a bunch of other talented and inspiring people, have also been helping with James Stuart’s brainchild, Different Play. Different Play is a Patreon initiative to diversify analog games. Our goal is to offer previously unpublished writers support through mentoring, feedback, editing, and design services. AND they get paid for their work. We’re really excited to be bringing this to life, and we’ve already received enough support to begin the development process with four new designers. You can find out more about them and their games on the Different Play website (different from the Patreon site). I would, of course, suggest that you invest in this particular Patreon project. Contributions will directly aid the community in developing a more robust and diverse design scene, which only makes the scene healthier, stronger, and more interesting.

14dd8613133daaad183716792170c8deAll of us working on project CHINA decided to ice it for a few months, but in February we’ll be picking it back up again. The producers have put Tinker on hold for financing issues, and ADAM 8 is in the course of looking for its private investor funding, now that a sufficient chunk of pre-production has been put out. I’ve been so busy in the gaming industry that I haven’t pursued a whole lot of new Hollywood projects in the last few months. We’ll see what direction that goes from here.

As for the academic front, there’s been plenty going on there too. The AAR annual conference was hosted in my home city this year, so I got lucky. I passed my doctoral comp exams and received my masters degree in September. The paper I was publishing in the Wyrd Con Companion book got delayed, so it looks like it’s going in next round. I have several others in development, and I’m considering what conferences I want to submit to this year. My research with Carnegie Mellon’s game lab continues, and I’ve in fact branched out to assist with research in other areas of the HCI department as well. With assistance from Emily Care Boss I wrote a ludography of larp for CMU’s internal use. I also assisted with a study on massive online open classrooms (MOOCs). I’ve made friends at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) too, which is a separate department. I’ve been invited out to speak at their transformative game conference this spring, and I’m currently consulting for a game design class in which students are tackling the sticky topic of sexual assault. Working with everyone at CMU has been a great pleasure so far, and I really like the institution. Their HCI department is cutting edge not just in their approach to science, but in their approach to their own culture. I really dig it.

Coming up in February I’ll be attending Dreamation. I don’t have the full details for the tranformative games conference yet, but it’s looking to be some time in April. Looking even farther ahead, I will likely be spending a large chunk of my summer—roughly a month to a month and a half—volunteering for an NGO in India where I’ll primarily be teaching at a residential school.

2015 looks promising, both for me, and hopefully for what I can contribute to the community. Be well my friends.

Best,
Strix

© 2008-2016 by Strix