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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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A hardcopy for cheap

Full color books are great, but what if you’re strapped for cash? What if you already have the full color book, but want another for passing around the table? What if you have a son like mine that destroys books?

For you, I introduce The Artifact RPG Economy Edition. The same great game, in black and white. You get the full book for less than half the price!

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Character Sheets are for Wimps!

A character BOOK is for AWESOME people.

Character Book

It’s time to let your character stretch their legs, throw their equipment around and keep all those notes somewhere.

The Artifact Character Book

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The Pitfalls of Publishing

A minor change to the Player’s Handbook.

I check and check and then when I think I’ve got it, I release a file. Almost without fail, the moment I publish, I find an error that just galls me. I know this happens, so I’ll even go over the text several times just before, but I find it after publishing. Maybe there’s a change in psychology that happens after publishing? I go over the file with new eyes, maybe more relaxed than before?

I debate if I should leave it as is, after all it would be easier than reworking a whole new PDF. But no, It’s bad enough, or prominent enough that it really needs to be changed. In this case it was a non-sequiter in the introductory paragraphs.

It probably was a thought that made some sense in the original text, but the surrounding writing had been edited and now no longer had a place.

I fixed it and now I’m happy again. The links to the file have been updated.

 

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After a very long pause . . .

It took me long enough but I’ve made a lot of progress on the Player’s Handbook. The file in the downloads section is updated. It’s not substantively different from the Beta, but there are many corrections. This means that hard copies could be coming soon!

Player Handbook Cover

Player’s Handbook

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Still Alive

I’ve been away from forums and the blogs for a little bit now. I could make excuses, but I just wanted to pause for a while. I wanted to see what some distance from thinking about all this social internet stuff would do. All in all, not a lot has changed. My brain filled with other things that were present, I worked on a couple games.

There is a lot I want to do with The Artifact. There’s another sourcebook to write, there’s the Player’s Handbook to edit (No, I haven’t finished that, I’ve been lazy). But I have a few very difficult nuts I need to crack to keep moving on. There’s the warping technology that I’ve written a dozen times but I can’t seem to get to the place I want. There’s the equipment generating rules in the Player’s Handbook, that are flexible to a fault but very involved, I’d like to ratchet down the intensity of. There’s the new aliens that I want to introduce. I want to get their mentality right.

There’s a lot to do but I feel like I need some inspiration that’s beyond me to get them right. I want them to be perfect, but as Dr. Lang says, “Perfect is the enemy of done.”

And come to think of it, that hasn’t been my development method so far. My method has been to publish something that works and then refine it as it’s played.

So I really should drop my worries about getting it just right. I should just get it out and work my way toward right. The Artifact has always been a case of “bit off more than I can chew”. I should be used to it by now.

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Editors, start your engines!

I’m tearing into the Player’s Handbook finally. I thought I’d share a bit of my technique. I don’t know if I’m doing anything unusual here (or wrong) but it works for me.

I obviously try and keep things error free and consistent while I’m writing but that’s never enough to get it right. It is important though to do a healthy amount of error checking as early on as possible. Without worrying about quality, editing later would be a nightmare.

Stat blocks are usually my downfall. Along with importing old text, I hate having to re-write, and I should just get over it. Stat blocks need exacting consistency and vehicles are really huge stat blocks so you can guess where a lot of my errors are. I usually copy one stat block and then modify the contents, but that introduces the problem of having fields that look like they’ve already been filled in, when it’s really old data. Things like prices, or the mass of an object can get overlooked.

For some reason, with me, having a printed book in front of me is better than looking at a book on my iPad a thousand times. I read with more clarity on dead tree and marking up a page is easier than any pdf editor I’ve seen. For short documents in the 20-40 page range, I print out the book, usually with two pages to a sheet of paper and make a booklet by folding the pages in half. For longer works, I’ve used lulu.com in the past to print out the book. I’m moving to Amazon Createspace, but they’re less forgiving and more of a hassle to deal with. There are more hoops to jump through. That’s good for a finished product, but I’m looking for a quick and dirty mock up.

Once I have my dead tree version in hand, I use a red pen or marker to start noting any errors I see. I’ve used blue or black, but it’s easier to lose notes made in more mundane colors. Especially when I’m noting that I missed a space. Red, almost universally stands out more.

Most of my notes are simple. If something is out of place, I’ll use an arrow to point to where it should be. If something is incorrect, like a number, or spelling it gets circled. In most cases, I remember what was wrong just looking at the circled item. In some I forget why I circled it, but after examination I can figure it out. Other times I need to write an actual note to myself about what I want to do with an edit. One of my common notes is “awk” as in awkward. After reading a sentence or a whole paragraph, it doesn’t convey the thought clearly or concisely. It’s awkwardly worded. This note usually requires that I throw the current paragraph out and start over, it’s not retrievable. A fresh take is the only thing that’s going to unstick my brain.

There are of course lots of simple notes, like adding an “s” or an “ing” to the end of a word, usually because the spellchecker didn’t like the suffix and dropped it. I know that I was up late writing when I see that I okayed the change. Write it in red after the word an move on.

So once I’m done with my edits, I go into the digital file and start making the changes I indicated. When I make the change, I write the date next to my edit. This lets me know that I actually fixed the problem and when.

I’ll usually go through the book again afterwards to make sure I didn’t miss any edits and that I still agree with them. If I find that I’ve missed some, I repeat the process over again, until my check runs clean.

Then the book is ready for prime time. (I hope.)

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Hoping to get back in the swing of things

I’m not even making excuses anymore. At this point I need to finish the new Player’s Handbook, I need to finish the Imbalance of Power sourcebook, not forgetting to put into it a lot of the new stuff I posted here for the Chezbah. I know, I’ve been slacking.

The Player’s Handbook needs a decent amount of editing. That will take a while, but it’s fairly straightforward.

The Imbalance of Power, or as we like to call it, the five year sourcebook (because it updates the initial setting by five years) STILL has problems with the feel of the tech introduced. I haven’t quite hit the sweet spot when it comes to getting the rules right. It also needs a lot of testing to get the new threat right.

There are also aspects of the world that still haven’t been developed fully. I have ideas for the Tanroc Fredar that I’d love to explore. There’s a new enemy that’s coming, in Imbalance, but I haven’t been able to fully describe them.

I have been working out some thoughts on Legions, the sequel to The Artifact. For one, the name needs work. The original name for the setting was Galactic Legions, but we always just called it Legions. Beyond that, “Galactic” sounds so. . . 80’s  Sci-fi. I’d like something that shows the desperation of the races in the setting. I was a little tickled by Exiguous Legions but. . . I’m not so sure. Beyond that, there were a few races that were coming to dominate the game’s landscape in terms of power. Oddly, one of those races was humans, but there are 19 races, all interesting, but too limited to compete with the big boys. I contemplated just leaving the rift and having in essence two separate game experiences but I think I have a solution now.

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