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
I’m thrilled to announce I’m going to be moderating a panel at FanExpo this year:
Saturday, Aug 28
12:00 pm (noon),
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.
* I went to Ambercon 2010 for the first time in many years this past March. I co-ran a terrific dark superheroes game, “Where Angels Fear to Tread.”
* Just got back from GenCon, where I bought too many games (lots of Trail of Cthulhu,Armitage Files, Delta Green, and Ganonoque: the ice-people who fear the dawn is coming) and have a head filled with too many ideas.
* I’m in THE BONES. Why do you not own this book yet? It is very good.
* I will be at FanExpo 2010 in one week!
The only show I’m going to make it to this summer is the Fan Expo in Toronto.
I’m listed as a “Special Appearance,” which…I dunno. I think it means I’m on a panel or two, and I guess I get to wander the hall and exclaim, “No, I do NOT sign body parts!”
I might make it in for a bit on Friday night, but primarily I’ll be at the con on Saturday. Once I know the schedule, I’ll post it here. While I’m mostly repping myself at the show, I plan to say good things about Green Ronin, White Wolf, and of course, Ganz.
The gaming guests are listed here (and it’s a good list).
And the main page is here.
Honestly, this looks like it’s going to be a great year (check out the comic and SF…I won’t say SyFy…sections of the above link). Great to see how big FanExpo has grown since its early days.
Hope to see you at the show!
Seeing as I have no time for anything, Dr. Jones, I thought I’d rip off / riff off Rob Heinsoo who started this, and Mike Mearls, and list the Top Ten Most Played Games (Hobby-Style, excluding board games & video games) in rough order:
#1 Dungeons & Dragons
#2 Amber DRPG (lots of Ambercons and numerous campaigns)
#3 Big Eyes, Small Mouth / Tri-Stat (in various incarnations)
#6 Magic: The Gathering
#7 Space Hulk
#8 Champions / Fantasy HERO
#9 Warhammer 40K
#10 The Last Crusade
Other notables include Call of Cthulhu, Chill, Cyberpunk 2020, and other games that start with “C.”
As I’ve likely mentioned, my good friends (Todd, James, and Jason) in Austin work on Wizard 101 – a pretty spiffy tween/family-oriented MMO.
Massive Gamer Magazine posted a review last month.
Gord and I often talk games, game design (he has a particular fancy for games like Gloom, Zombies, and Graverobbers from Outer Space), and movies.
Here’s Gord in his own words:
This is my corner of the web to rant, rave, and pontificate about things that interest me, which will likely be very heavily biased towards science fiction movies and TV, video games, and news on science/technology/archaeology/anthropology. I’m just going to dive right in tonight with my first post on today’s experiments running Windows 7.
You can see more of Gord’s writing at:
Earlier this week I started discussing the Twilight of the Superheroes game I co-wrote and co-GM at Ambercon US 2003. We designed the game as one of the “big event” games for the con. 2-3 GMs, anywhere from 10-16 players, 2 slots (ranging from 8-12 hours). The “big event” games tend to have primo locations, such as use of the VIP Suite at whatever hotel we’re based at, and are run a bit “free form.” They aren’t LARPs in the traditional sense, and costumes are rare if ever used, but players are encouraged to move around the space, to break off into small groups, to live it up a bit, as it were. We also – assuming the space is big & primo enough – tend to designate different parts of the game room as different locales. So one year we ran a game where Rebma (the underwater reflection of Amber) was key, we used the master bedroom as Rebma, the en suite bathroom w/jacuzzi as the queen’s quarters, and the main living room as Amber, the outer hall as the sky city, etc.
By 2003, Ambercon was a place to try out new games that weren’t just Amber based (although they were almost entirely diceless). Some of the diehard Amber players (like Chris Kindred or Sol Foster, I believe, and of course Erick Wujcik who started Ambercon had a long history of games like Zelaforms and Red/Black) had already been doing this for years, but it was becoming more common to stage the “big event” game as something non-Amber. In Part 1, I said that Prestor John’s Gods Game had been a year or two previously – he actually debuted it at Ambercon North 1998, so clearly my memory is shot. The Gods Game, properly entitled “The End of Days,” featured about 15 players, 3-4 GMs, and used a game system that was a fairly extreme extension of the Amber DRPG. There were three political groups – the archangels of God, a mixed bag of gods from any (historical) pantheon, and Lucifer & his minions.
Again, using the “End of Days” as our foundation, and Alan Moore’s now-classic “Twilight…” pitch, with more than a hint of Warren Ellis’s late 90s/early 00s comic work, we set to work crafting our take on “Twilight of the Superheroes.” Leaving the game rules aside for a moment, we began by riffing on what would be core to the scenario.
I’m guest-blogging over at Jeff Tidball & Will Hindmarch’s site, gameplaywright.
Pencils to Pixels
Last month I was lucky enough to attend GenCon, and I caught one of the “Pencils to Pixels” panels (apologies for all alliteration), given by Dave Williams (of Red5 Studios, formerly a designer at AEG), Ed Stark (of Red5 Studios, formerly of Wizards of the Coast), and Jack Emmert (of Cryptic/Champions Online & Star Trek Online, formerly of City of Heroes).
The discussion was on the transition of game designers from pen&paper RPGs to video games. Specifically MMOs in this case, but I think many of their comments are applicable to all sorts of digital game development. Although I’m nowhere near the designer that these guys are, I’ve worked in pen&paper games for more than 6 years now, and have about 3 years working for various computer game companies under my belt. So I figured I would try to riff on some of their ideas and add my own thoughts to the similarities, differences, and trends across the two fields.
Unfortunately, the way the pen&paper market has downturned so much in the past 5 or 10 years, it’s very hard to make a living wage doing game writing or design full time in hobby games. There are only a handful of companies big enough to employ a full staff, and salaries aren’t great at the best of times. Never mind working full-time as a freelancer.
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.