FanExpo 2010: Done and Done.

FanExpo 2010 has come and gone, and damn I’m tired. But it was a fun show. I organized two panels – Writers & Producers, and The State of the Industry in the GTA – and I moderated the first.

Writers & Producers

My first time moderating a panel, and no one burst into fire (spontaneously or otherwise), or was mangled, or died, so I call that a success.

My two producers (Joseph Ganetakos from Ganz, whom I know well; and Alex Parizeau from Ubisoft, whom I just met and has a great rep) were terrific, and my two writers (Kim Sparks; Max Piesner) were awesome.

After the panel, Mia Herrera interviewed me about it for C&G Monthly. I think it went well, but I fear I rambled a bit while trying to restore my proper adrenaline/caffeine equilibrium. I’ll post a link when she shoots me one.

State of the Industry

Jason MacIsaac, from the IGDA & Electric Playground, graciously offered to moderate the second panel, and he did a fine job. Jason’s recap of the panel is here.

And one of our panelists, Ryan Henson Creighton, talks about it here. With much color.

The other panelists – Lesley Phord-Toy (Ubisoft), Ryan MacLean (DrinkBox), Ian Kelso (Interactive Ontario), and Philippe McNally (Longbow Games) were all very generous with their time, and I hope I thanked them all sufficiently.

It became very much a “how do I break into the industry panel,” but that’s ok as it’s clearly what the attendees wanted.

I’m already thinking of an expanded video game panel track next year, with a specific panel to address that. Not sure I’ll be able to put the time in, but I think we could easily cover:
* State of the Industry in the GTA
* How Do I Convince You To Hire My Rosy Cheeks?
* Writers in Video Games, and the Big Bad Boss Producers
* Bringing Your Art to Life – A Panel for Artists in/wanting to get into the Industry
* Hobby Games to Computer Games, Spanning the Bridge

Posted in Big Smoke, Current Events, Games, General, Writing on August 30, 2010 by Jesse
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FanExpo 2010: Writers & Producers

I’m thrilled to announce I’m going to be moderating a panel at FanExpo this year:

The Role of the Writer and Producer in Today’s Video Games

Saturday, Aug 28
12:00 pm (noon),
Room: 205A

While writing is essential in many video games today, the role of the writer is highly contested and often misunderstood. Writers are often seen at one end of the design spectrum, and the producer at the other. Producers are critical for getting the game done and out to market. Come join writers and producers to hear what challenges and hurdles they face; what producers are looking for, and the differences between writing for a cell phone game to a AAA game.

The list of panelists is terrific – click through to see the full list.

Posted in Big Smoke, Current Events, Games, General, Writing on August 23, 2010 by Jesse
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Smuggling By RC ‘copter

Great idea for a scene:

A toy helicopter is believed to have been used in an attempt to smuggle drugs into a prison.

Guards at Elmley Prison in Sheerness, Kent, spotted the remote control miniature aircraft flying over the walls of the jail and heading for the accommodation blocks one night after it was picked up by CCTV cameras.

It had a small load beneath the fuselage, thought to contain drugs.

The toy or its cargo was not found.

However, staff could not find any trace of either the helicopter or the package which it appeared to be carrying underneath it when they searched the Category C jail.

‘Using a mini-helicopter to get contraband into jails is unprecedented. When officers spotted it they nearly fell off their chairs’, a prison source told the Sun.

‘It could have been drugs or a mobile phone in the package. It is possible it was a dummy run.’

via BoingBoing

Not much more to add, but I have to remember this for down the road.

Posted in Current Events, Underbelly on January 27, 2009 by Jesse

Money to Burn – Music Stylist


Music stylists?

While Muzak has for decades created what it calls “audio architecture” for commercial environments, it is just in the last five years that a handful of music consultants, mostly in New York and London, have begun to specialize in creating custom domestic soundtracks. From Aspen lodges to bungalows in Belize, they are compiling playlists to match their clients’ décor.

“Hearing the wrong music in the wrong space can be very disorienting,” said Coleman Feltes, a music stylist in New York City.

I’m torn between thinking this is an awesome racket job, and thinking seriously? Do these people have that much money to burn?

Mr. Feltes and other music stylists typically visit clients’ homes or look at photographs of them to assess their decorating styles and to understand layouts. They may also peruse clients’ music collections to learn the genres and artists they’ve liked in the past.

Though they consider clients’ musical preferences, stylists said they are paid to be the final arbiters of what songs work in a space. “When clients hire me, they are buying into the Coleman brand of taste,” Mr. Feltes said. Stylists typically charge between $50 and $250 per hour of music, which they usually download onto iPods but which can also be delivered on CDs.

“Our clients are the type who send people all over the world to find the perfect spoon, or doorknob or type of marble,” said Jeffrey Reed, a club D.J. and a founder of Audio Sushi, a custom music service in London with an international clientele. “My job is to find the perfect music.”

Man, I tend to think I have a pretty cool job, but man…

Posted in Current Events on October 31, 2008 by Jesse
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GENCON: The Other Side Part 2

More thoughts about GenCon.

Friday we hit the show floor early. I was sporting an Exhibitor’s Badge with the Green Ronin logo, for the work I’ve done on the upcoming A Song of Ice and Fire RPG. (Which sadly wasn’t ready for the show, but with luck should make a fall release – I’m really looking forward to this one).

I made it immediately over to the WoTC booth, breezing by friend and author, John C. Hays with a quick promise to return after I’d obtained my swag. At the WoTC booth there was a barely organized queue – or 2 lines, really – one for the promo Heroscape figure, and one for the new Magic Dragon Box set. I stood in line with oh, 50 or so exhibitors, and got my promo figure (for my boss – he’s a big Heroscape fan), then dispersed. I have virtually no interest in trying to resell promotional items on eBay – I just don’t have the mindset for it.

That said, WoTC’s organization was pretty lame, considering the 250 Heroscape figures were all snapped up within 5 minutes of the doors opening every day. They could have punched badges (easy), or even calculated how many exhibitors would try to acquire figs and simply up the number they had to give out, or simply required people to play in demos.

Boardgame Geek has a pretty good description of the process.


Posted in Current Events, Games on August 24, 2008 by Jesse

Propane Explosion Update

First, we’re fine. We’re actually pretty far from the area in question. We did hear it last night, and the greater area is affected by traffic, highway closures, subway closures, lots of people whose sleep was interrupted, etc., but things seem to be calming down and we were never at any risk.

No one around here was evacuated, and the streets were surprisingly quiet when we out to pick up some groceries. Although lots of the staff at the store were a bit grumpy / put out from having their night disrupted.

Below I’ve included a Google Map of the area and some YouTube footage that was captured.


Posted in Big Smoke, Current Events on August 10, 2008 by Jesse
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4:00 am explosion in Keele/Wilson area Toronto

401 and Eglinton, somewhere around Allen or Keele, a huge explosion this morning.

News says it may have happened on Wilson, but reports are scattered.

Explosion happened around 3:46, and became a series of rolling, thunderous waves. Woke us up by rattling the windows and blinds.

Captured these images from the traffic cams.

Posted in Big Smoke, Current Events on by Jesse
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Puzzle House

This article is about a pretty amazing “puzzle house.” Basically, the woman gave her architect carte blanche to completely redesign, nay rebuild her apartment. With more than a touch of whimsy.

It all began simply enough, Ms. Sherry said, when she and her husband bought the 4,200-square-foot apartment for $8.5 million in 2003.

What Ms. Sherry didn’t realize until much later was that Mr. Clough had a number of other ideas about her apartment that he didn’t share with her. It began when [her husband] threw in his two cents, a vague request that a poem he had written for and about his family be lodged in a wall somewhere, Ms. Sherry said, “put in a bottle and hidden away as if it were a time capsule.”

That got Mr. Clough, who is the sort of person who has a brainstorm on a daily basis, thinking about children and inspiration and how the latter strikes the former. “I’d just read something about Einstein being inspired by a compass he’d been given as a child,” he said. The Einstein story set Mr. Clough off, and he began to ponder ways to spark a child’s mind. “I was thinking that maybe there could be a game or a scavenger hunt embedded in the apartment — that was the beginning,” he said.

And then it gets even more cool and all kinds of awesome.

But some of that furniture and some of those walls conceal secrets — messages, games and treasures — that make up a Rube Goldberg maze of systems and contraptions conceived by a young architectural designer named Eric Clough…

The apartment even comes with its own book, part of which is a fictional narrative that recalls “The Da Vinci Code” (without the funky religion or buckets of blood) and “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” the children’s classic by E. L. Konigsburg about a brother and a sister who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and discover — and solve — a mystery surrounding a Renaissance sculpture. It has its own soundtrack, too, with contributions by Kate Fenner, a young Canadian singer and songwriter with a lusty, alternative, Joni Mitchell-ish sound, with whom Mr. Clough fell in love during the project.

Really, it is the stuff of fantasy to have the money to design something like this, and find someone who is willing to do it (and I’m sure worked far beyond the money, no matter how good it was), and then have them do it as a surprise to you…like Willy Wonka meeting Holmes on Homes or something.

Not sure if I could ever work it into a story without sounding too far-fetched, but read the whole article here and see for yourself.

Posted in Current Events, Urban Fables, Writing on July 23, 2008 by Jesse
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Gaming the Election

Robin Laws has a great piece today on the idea of treating the US primaries as a strategy game, and how Hillary’s people may have misread the rules.

So you know the Clinton campaign strategy of ceding most of the February contests to Obama and then dealing him knockout punches in the big states of Texas and Ohio? Problem is, the very complicated rules in Texas do not remotely favor this. Plain ordinary proportional delegate allocation would make it very difficult, but the weighting of districts according to past support for Democratic candidates renders it nigh impossible. When did Clinton strategists figure this out? A month ago.

If I were a Democratic primary voter in one of the upcoming contests, this blunder of nuts-and-bolts detail would weigh heavily on my decision.

Especially in a candidacy predicated on being ready on day one, it would have been helpful to also be ready on day -346.

Interesting that Texas is suddenly so important. It’s nice, isn’t it, that one year Florida is key, then Ohio, now Texas has a turn…(sigh). Not sure why they have the make the rules so bloody complex. This ain’t Champions after all.*

I don’t have a lot to add other than I’m pleased so far with the leading candidates…on both sides of the spectrum. Oh, they all have their issues, and I’m sure we’re still in for a rough ride…but damn change will be good.

I need to figure out how to vote as an ex-pat once again…during the 2004 election my last residence had been in Boston (which was like throwing my vote into a sea of blue), although now that my last US residence was in Texas, I suspect it will be like throwing it into a red sea. Whaddya gonna do?

* I love the guys at Hero Games, and kudos to Steve, Darren, et. al. on the big news.

Posted in Current Events, Games on February 19, 2008 by Jesse
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GenCon files Chapter 11

From the GenCon site:

SEATTLE (February 15, 2008) Gen Con LLC announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the State of Washington. This action became necessary as a result of significant unforeseen expenses associated with attempts to expand its core business to encompass externally licensed events. Gen Con’s flagship show, Gen Con Indy, remains a vibrant, profitable event. Gen Con Indy will take place as scheduled August 14–17, 2008, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The protections afforded by Chapter 11 will allow Gen Con to further its efforts to address its liquidity needs, preserve value for its creditors and explore strategic alternatives for the business. “Because the fundamentals of our business are strong; and because our debt problems are challenges mostly linked to one-time events, we feel confident that the profile of our company will benefit under Chapter 11 and come out strong in the end,” said Peter D. Adkison, CEO of Gen Con.

Chapter 11 refers to the section of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that provides for court-supervised restructuring of companies as they continue to operate normally. This proceeding is intended to help companies to become stronger financially.

Gen Con LLC will continue to operate without interruption during this process and looks forward to an expeditious resolution to the short-term challenges and the ability to focus entirely on producing Gen Con Indy, The Best Four Days in Gaming. International Gen Con events are unaffected by this situation and will continue to operate as scheduled.

All of which is a little concerning, but not too terribly troubling. Peter is a smart guy, and he has lots of people who are going to make sure he gets through this intact – people who love GenCon, and have made it part of their lives by making it an annual ritual. It’s a tremendous business opportunity for anyone in – or interested in – the industry. And the increase in computer gaming over the last few years only increases its long-term viability.

In case you are wondering what they are referring to in the press release by the “externally licensed events,” dollars to donuts it’s the Star Wars Celebration show. A few days ago news broke that Lucas was suing GenCon. My pal, the punk-hacker bastard Adam Jury, talks about it here.

It’s unfortunate that GenCon LLC hasn’t been successful with the SoCal show, and now with the Star Wars Celebrations (though maybe that has as much to do with the property being corrupted lo this past decade). But I think the Indy show will continue to grow – and it should be a blast this year. Doing my best to figure a way to get there…

Posted in Current Events, Games on February 15, 2008 by Jesse
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Jesse Scoble

Jesse Scoble is a writer, story editor, and game designer in no particular order.

He has won awards, written a Western Horror script, worked on computer games & pen&paper games, contributed to more than 30 titles, and makes a mean mojito.

Currently he is a freelance writer in Montreal, QC.