Keeping Momentum

I’ll be honest, I’ve been dreading making this update. Because writing it would mean looking back at this year. My father died without warning in March, rocking the world of our small nuclear family. Because of the virus, we still haven’t had a funeral. With so much grief, no closure, and an avalanche of ongoing death all around us, I didn’t know what I would find picking through the bones of this year. Would I even have anything to tell? Would my words be too thin to matter?

But as I dug through my timeline I began to have a lifting feeling. Wow,  I thought. I forgot I did that. And, Oh yeah, I taught myself something totally new. Despite all of the terrible things that have happened this year somehow, someway, I kept moving. When everything inside of me was grinding like glass, I still showed up.

I don’t want to frame this as an achievement. It helped me. Everybody copes differently, but having work to do has proven to be good medicine. The year did not go as planned. There were things that went badly,  opportunities missed, but I kept my job and got to work from home and be safe inside. More than anything, looking back at this year I feel grateful. Isn’t that odd? Or maybe not so odd at all.

Without further ado, here’s the news.

HoloVista released in September and has already been selected for its first award. The release was very positive overall, with the game being Apple’s Game of the Day several days in a row, and receiving top rankings consistently in the store.

Also, people like it.

I am incredibly proud of the entire Aconite team. I am filled with pride at the work done, the message of the game, and just how beautiful it is. This is a story that I put so much of myself into. Did you get to see the final release trailer? It’s great.

Beyond Blue also released! I helped set up the narrative of this game, and worked on it for over a year before moving to my current position. Anne Toole brought the narrative home.

Beyond Blue is about a daring freediver pushing the limits of depth and science in the ocean. And about capturing moments with its beauty. Since I AM a freediver, it was an absolute joy to work on this game and get to delve into marine science to make it.

P.S. André is my favorite.

I’ve been teaching more Clarion West workshops, and those have been very well received. I’ve got a few more coming up in the next couple of quarters. So if you keep track of the Workshop page you’ll see me there again shortly, and you’ll be able to nab a spot. They’ve been selling out, so don’t want until the last minute if want to take the class.

In terms of appearances and panels, well it’s been a weird year for that, but we still managed to get some airtime in.

I presented the nominees and gave a speech for the Games Writing award at the Nebulas this year. More nominees were added after an oversight was spotted after I recorded it, so you’ll see the host saying their names, but the speech was pretty good!

I was also on several panels at the Nebula’s with some of my favorite people, like Carrie Patel and Ryan Schapals. It’s fairly strange talking to an audience you can’t really interact with. It makes it hard to tailor your energy, but we made it work.

I also presented on narrative design for panels at LockdownCon. There was a livestream but I’m not sure where the videos have gone to.

In the tabletop realm I have also not been slacking! BFF! Best Friends Forever, a game I consulted on, was nominated for an Ennie Award! The glory for that goes to Ross and Taylor by and large, but I’m happy to see that I pick good projects to work on : )

I have one finished and one open project in tabletop right now. The finished one is NDA, but it should be announced next year. It’s for a pretty prominent TTRPG company. I’ll give you three guesses as to which one.

The other is a scenario/setting for Evil Hat’s Fate of Cthulhu, which I’m pretty sure the project lead would love to have from me any time now.  So you can look forward to that soon.

On the diversity and inclusion front, my husband and I have been running a private high intervention mentoring program for marginalized devs looking for their first job in games. We’ve had several mentees complete the program, and while we are learning as we go, the outcomes have been very good so far. We look forward to continuing this work. I took a pause on individual mentoring in April, and will be returning to one-on-one early next year. That’s about all I can share on that front, the rest is NDA.

And finally, speaking of NDA, going on in the background of all of this stuff this year, I’ve been doing my full time job. As you know, with any kind of AAA project, I can say nothing at all. Other than that it’s really exciting work. I am so proud to be at the narrative helm of this title. And it’s gonna shake you in your boots when you find out what it is.

I suppose I could leave you with a joke to check out my SoundCloud, but HAHA! It’s no joke! During quarantine I started teaching myself music, both ukulele and synth. Check out my first drone track.

See you on the other side of the year, folks. Take care of yourselves.

At the Shore: A Fairy Tale

I made a video game in March and forgot to mention it!

At Train Jam this year I partnered with two amazing women to make At the Shore: A Fairy Tale. Some version of At the Shore has been floating around in my head for least two or three years, so it was lovely finally being able to manifest a version of it. It’s a mashup between Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and the Tennyo myths of Japan.  It’s raw and a little heartbreaking.

Reportedly it has made at least two people cry. So I’m calling it a success. It takes about 15 minutes to play. Enjoy.

The AAA Life

Hullo! Just wanted to catch you up on the news.  In March I joined Hidden Path Entertainment as a Project Narrative Director. I’m on a very large, very fantastic project, and I probably won’t be able to talk about it for yeaaarrrss. I’v officially moved into AAA territory and it’s quite a ride! Love this studio, it has an amazing culture.

Also in March I gave a talk at GDC’s Narrative Innovation Showcase on archetypal structures that is pretty neat:

Did a panel on storytelling and games at the digital convention LudoNarraCon for its inaugural year:

Released a VR game with Hidden Path called Raccoon Lagoon:

Played the release of the Endless Quest Dungeons & Dragons books wit their author!

Announced that I will be teaching a workshop on video game writing for Clarion West this April. If you’re in the Seattle area and are interested in writing for video games, consider signing up! By the way, I officially, finally joined SFWA. Woo!

And finally, we’ve just announced the indie game I’ve been working on for the last eight months, HoloVista!

I’m really pleased with HoloVista. Forbes did a fantastic write-up of our initial announcement here. That’s right, my game, my name, in Forbes! The Aconite team behind the game are amazing folks to work with, and I love them all. HoloVista is releasing in 2020!

As always, I’m sure I’ve missed things. Ta for now.

Bluebeard’s Bride Takes the Cake

Award season is finishing up here in the game world, and I’m left staggering around under the weight of what has happened. Bluebeard’s Bride has swept, just absolutely swept the landscape.  It’s competed with large traditional tabletop role-playing game publishing houses, other amazing indie tabletop RPGs, and even got directly in the fray at IndieCade, competing not only against the best indie analogue games, but the best video games as well.

And won. IndieCade. It won IndieCade.

Won: IndieCade’s Grand Jury Award 2018 (we are still confirming, but this may be the first time a tabletop RPG has ever won the grand prize)

Won: IDGN’s Indie Groundbreaker Awards – Game of the Year 2018
Won: IDGN’s Indie Groundbreaker Awards – Best Art 2018

Nominated: IDGN’s Indie Groundbreaker Awards – Most Innovative 2018
Nominated: Golden Geek Awards – Best Artwork and Presentation 2018
Nominated: Ennies (EN World RPG Awards) – Best Production Values 2018

I know we were making something special but, yeah, wow. To have the vision come all the way through, and know that you’re players are absorbing it, are thrilled by it. It’s what we live for, us designers and storytellers.

I’ve been hearing play reports from folks all over the world, and it’s fascinating to hear what grisly things each group gets up to. The game is also being taught as part of the curriculum at at least three university level literary classrooms in the U.S. I’ve had the pleasure of dropping in on some of these lectures, and helping professors adapt play for the classroom.  So hit me up if that’s something you’re interested in!

As always, you can purchase it here if you’re interested in it.

Making Games

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.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1921129910/bluebeards-bride/

At this point there have been many, many articles written about it. Too many to share in one post. So here are the highlights:

My piece on Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds
Interview with Gnome Stew
My piece on fairy tales for Tor
Podcast Interview with Narrative Control

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.

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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.

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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.

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Also, I may have gotten on top of the giant golden chocobo after the convention was over and gotten chased down by security.

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WORTH IT 

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.

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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.

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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?

Credit to VoidSmoker
Credit to VoidSmoker

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.

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I’m sure I’m missing stuff, but this post is already overloaded from waiting too long to get it out. Cheers!