Category Archives: News

Things we’re working on at Store32

Theme Is Important

I’ve been working on a sourcebook for The Artifact for a long time. I’ve written about it before, it was actually the first sourcebook I started on for the game. A few things about it bugged me but I couldn’t really figure out why.

I started to hate the introduction I wrote many years ago. It sounded weird, something was just off about it but I didn’t know exactly what. Slowly I realized that I was telling more than showing. Writing advice always says to show the reader what’s going on with action and not just tell them with exposition.

So I tried rewriting the introduction, again and again. Nothing seemed to work and it puzzled me. I’ve written a bit over the years and I’ve never had to rewrite this much. Sure I’ve written things that weren’t the greatest but this stunk and continued to stink.

Recently I realized why I wasn’t making progress. Because the sourcebook is chronological, it picks up The Artifact’s story five years down the line, it’s a mismatch of events that happen without a particular theme. In my mind, I just assumed that picking up the story and carrying it forward would simply work. That’s not how it happened though. There are a lot of cool things going on in the sourcebook but they head in two different directions and it’s nearly impossible to tie them together. I have two main themes going on, the advancement of Earth’s forces and the advancement and the Chezbah. I’ve developed them, fleshed them out, improved them but they were always fighting for attention and pulling against each other.

What I may have to do is split them into two separate books. I’m not sure I have enough content for each, but thinking about them individually might help build on what’s already there. Honestly some of the content is really huge to the setting and needs more attention but was always fighting for narrative space. I can already see some places where each theme would benefit greatly by being given more attention individually. It would be cool to release them as companion books.

Well, the case of the unwritable sourcebook is one mystery that I think I’m on the track to solving. Remember theme is important, find yours early and avoid a twenty year problem like I’ve got myself stuck in. Lets see what happens.

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New web host

We recently switched to a new web host, I thought I had all the links working but just found out a good number of them don’t. My apologies. I’ve fixed the core rulebook download so that works again. The Players Handbook and the setting book links all work but some of the other downloads still don’t. I’ll be hunting these down and fixing them shortly.

Update: I found the problem. It was a small configuration error which has been corrected.

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Queen City Conquest

I will be GMing a game at Queen City Conquest on Saturday September 9th. If you’re interested and in the area come out and play!

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Imbalance of Power

I just got my new art tablet working. I have a big backlog of art to do and in amongst that backlog is the art for The Artifact’s last sourcebook Imbalance of Power. This is a chronological sourcebook rather than location-based. It’s events happen five years after the initial arrival on The Artifact and things are really changing.

The biggest hurdle I’ve had with this sourcebook is core to the story. In the quickstart The Warp and scattered in other sourcebooks and the website are hints to what’s happening in this book, but I’ve struggled with getting the feel just right.

As far as art, I’ve had the book fully illustrated for a long time now. Only the art looks dated now, so I have to redo a lot of it. I’ve been frustrated with my old art tablet, it works, but not well. It made drawing a frustrating process. This new tablet is much easier and I’m feeling like drawing again.

So watch this space, a new sourcebook might be on the way in the next few months.

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Interested in Translating?

I’ve been seeing a lot of international traffic to the website, welcome all! If you are reading this and would like to do an official translation of the book for your language, I can provide source material like maps and images. Technically you don’t even need my permission since the game is creative commons, but I’m willing to go a step further by providing my higher resolution images to make things easier.

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Reversion

I’m feeling mighty disgruntled lately about working on games. I probably did it to myself, but I’d like to talk about what’s been bothering me. I’m all for nostalgia. If something from your childhood gives you the warm an fuzzies, go ahead and bask in it. The problem I have is that there are huge numbers of RPG players out there that basically feel all they ever need to wear again is Underoos.

Not literally, I’m talking about the gaming equivalent. I mean Underoos were fun and all, but haven’t we grown past that? They’ve decided that games from their childhood is all they should ever run. That’s backwards, it’s reversion.

I think there’s something to be learned here from the rejection of modern games but it’s the rejection part that’s getting me down. Honestly, there’s always a lot of rejection going on in RPG circles, so that’s nothing new. It’s the rejection of anything that isn’t directly modeled on their nostalgia. When there are so many possibilities that could be explored in RPGs, they only want to revisit their childhood.

That’s not where I want to be though. I’d like to build on what the past has taught us. I want new players to come into the hobby, not having to relive my childhood, but find something demonstrably better.

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Update For July

I’m still alive! As to what I’m up to, I’ve been working on a space opera I’m calling Jump Temp and talking about it over at Store32. It’s almost done, but I just thought of an important rule that needs to be added today, so I’ll have to get at it. Jump Temp is almost done being written but needs more art. I just haven’t felt like drawing lately. If anyone wants to put art in a project, let me know in the comments.

As for the novel The Imbalance, I know what I want to write but I’ve just been having too much fun putting together Jump Temp to sit down and hammer out the next chapter. I started it, but each time I get a little time to write, I feel like working on rules or other fiddly bits.

I haven’t sat down lately to work on the last sourcebook for The Artifact, although I have talked about it with my son. He’s starting to play with some of the ideas in it and I really need that kind of feedback, because I don’t know if what I’ve written makes any sense to anyone but me. Although There’s work to do on some elements in the book, I think the core of the book is where I want it to be. It’s been my big worry, that the systems introduced aren’t coherent enough, but an intelligent 13 year old is able to throw them around easily enough, I’m pretty happy with that.

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Goodbye

I’ve had a bunch of different thoughts going through my mind lately but they all lead to the same conclusion.

One is that I’d like to do something a bit revolutionary as far as game design is concerned. I’d like to bring RPGs into the 21st century.

Another has to do with a couple threads on an RPG forum. Among the respondents of those threads, there was a strong disregard for anyone trying to produce an RPG and trying to make some money. Now I’m not here to make money, but I think what I do has value, so the conversation struck me as disrespectful. If RPG enthusiasts look so poorly on the efforts of designers, then why would someone want to work for them?

A third thought is about sunk costs. In economics, it’s considered an error in logic to keep putting resources into something because you’ve already “sunk” a lot of resources into it. I’ve certainly sunk a lot of resources into making RPGs and I had plans to do a lot more.

Each thought is important to me. I have the desire and ability to do more game design but there is no reason for me to do it. I’m not designing for money, I’m not looking for accolades. But I put money and time into keeping these websites running. I’d like it if that was for something. I could easily play my games with friends and it would be a lot easier than trying to typeset everything exactly right, to have enough artwork to balance the text, to buy new software and equipment to handle a gigabyte and a half book file, to maintain these blogs and pay to keep them running.

I love designing and developing RPGs but does the RPG community care? Let’s be honest, for the most part, no. There are a few people that have cheered me on and I appreciate them immensely. They’ve been wonderful and I can’t thank them enough.

When I was about half as old as I am now, I saw something ugly. I was working for my Father in the construction industry, in the region where I live, people we were doing work for didn’t want us to succeed. They viewed us succeeding as them being ripped off. We started working in other parts of the country and guess what? People wanted us to succeed, they would help us to protect our profits when changes were made or when we had to compensate for mistakes by others. We started traveling all over to do work.

I think I need to do some metaphorical traveling. If I’m going to do design work, I need to leave this place I’m in and find a place that wants me to succeed.

Now be honest, when you read that last sentence, did you think “I want you to succeed?” There are about five people that I know that will, the majority of people probably are indifferent or even adversarial. That is a sad statement for the RPG community. Someone giving away product that they pour themselves into should not be someone you’d be indifferent to.

I’m not giving up. I’m not quitting, but if I’m going to do something to bring RPGs into the 21st century and find the place where I can succeed, I need to leave what has become comfortable behind. I’m going to have to develop new skills. That will take time. So for now, this is goodbye. I have a few projects that are mostly done. For closure I’ll probably finish them off.

I certainly hope that the lessons I’ve learned here will be useful wherever I travel to.

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The Artifact Has A Sound

There’s something that video games, movies and tv have that RPGs traditionally don’t. Music.

The Artifact has a sound.

You can get it on the downloads page.

Thank you to Joachim Heise who’s the artist behind the sound. If you like his work, look at his other music at Absolution Ceramics.

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The Artifact Player Handbook Hardcopy

It’s finally here! The Artifact Player’s Handbook is available as a hardcopy.

Player Handbook Cover
Order your own copy today!

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