I’m Not Dead Yet!

I know you all saw that one coming…

So, yeah. Not dead. I have been quiet lately, so I apologize. I finished up some heavy lifting for Rogue Trader, took a week off, now I’m trying to get shit together again. This week I’m starting preliminary work on developing one of my ruleless settings for publication through Drive-Thru RPG. I just wanted to drop you guys a line and let you know I hadn’t forgotten you. I’ll try to do a really real post later this week. 

Tuesday Filler: GTFO

Thanks for all your hard work! By the way, get the hell out…

So, a year ago today, I got laid the fuck off from Palladium Books. With one little phone call on a Monday Morning, I lost everything I’d wanted. I’d lost a job, I’d lost Robotech, and I’d lost my rudder. After a bit of heavy drinking and some beating of breasts and gnashing of teeth, I said “Fuck this” and set about forging a new direction for myself as a freelancer in the contracting and increasingly niche Trad Games industry. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t always been fun. It’s been slower than I’d like. I’ve made some progress, though. Shall we see what the passing of a year has brought us Gentle Readers?

Bulleted list time. Goddamn I love bulleted lists! Let’s you and me have a look at the things I’ve accomplished in the past year, shall we?

  • Fantasy Flight: So far, I’ve worked on every Rogue Trader title so far. For those keeping score, that’s six books and close to 150,000 words. Plus I did some work for a Deathwatch supplement, which was pretty cool. Cultivating a creative professional relationship with FFG was one of the smartest, and luckiest, things I’ve done over the past year.
  • Other Companies: Weeeeeeelll…not as such. This is the part I really wish I’d done better at. Having said that, after a kind of disastrous Origins and a great GenCon, I at least now have some leads and face time that I hope to parley into more work.
  • Other Projects: Uh, yeah. So, well, not so much this either. I had all these harebrained schemes, novels, PDFs, schooling, becoming a media darling, but haven’t had the stones or gumption to bring any of it to fruition yet. This is something I want to work harder at in the coming year.
  • Became a Dad: I believe I mentioned this. Did I mention this? Yeah, I totally became a father in 2010, which is quite possibly the best thing that I’ve ever done. The Kid is one of the few things that’s kept me sane over the past months.
  • Enlarged my Online Presence: So, this here internet weblog thingy, my Twitters, the MCGW Facebook page, an Amazon Partnership…I’ve done all these things in an attempt to grow my brand and make a name for myself via social media. The results are debatable, but I’ve met some great fellow writers and game designers via the intertubes over the past year, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
  • Paid my Shrink a Ton of Money: Worth every goddamned penny, too.
  • Worried a Lot: I don’t think I can describe how stressful and worrying being a freelancer with a mountain of debt and a new baby is. Seriously, there are days it’s hard getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Serious Home Projects: I don’t really talk about this here, but in the past year I’ve refinished all the hardwood floors on our second floor, renovated the bedroom, built the nursery, and framed my basement for a finished room. In all, the house shaped up nicely.
  • Made a Bunch of New Friends and Contacts: Always a good thing, especially when they’re nice enough to give me advice even though they don’t know me from Adam.
  • Other Stuff: Surely there’s some other stuff that I can’t think of right now. Just use your imaginations.

So, yeah. Not a bad year but not a great one either. If I were being graded, I’d probably get a strong C+, which is better than I ever did in school, but not as good as I’d like. I’ve got a ton of work to do. Work to improve my craft, work to improve my career, and work to improve me. There you go, here’s hoping for a better year going forward.

Thursday Filler: En Francais!

So, check this out. A couple weeks ago a nice young Frenchman from Guide du Roliste Galactique, a Francophone RPG blog/site/thingy, contacted me out of the blue. Seems that he discovered me in the credits of a Rifts book I worked on, and wanted me to knock together a profile for him to post in his RPG Pros section. I’m big in Japan France, apparently. Here it is, all in French of course, none of which I can read because my high-school French teacher wasn’t so much concerned with teaching us French as she was with teaching us all 874 verses of the Champs Elysees song.

Friday Filler: Sometimes a D20 is just a D20

“Ja, unt now tell me about your relationship with your first GM”

So, way, waaaaaay back in 2005 while my entire life felt like it was collapsing around my ears and I was an absolute emotional disaster, I manned up and called the mental health number on the back of my insurance card. The catalyst for the call was, of all things, an Iron Kingdoms game that I was running, or, well, failing to run because I had the attention span of a crack-addled hummingbird. Anyway, I was sick and tired of the way I was feeling, the way these feelings were affecting my marriage and my friendships, and just generally feeling like shit all the time. So fast forward to today, where I’m still in therapy with an excellent therapist who I credit with saving both my marriage and, well, my life. What does all this have to do with games and werks you ask? Read on…

As I’ve gotten further into my therapy, which is much like going further down the rabbit hole, I’ve become more and more interested in psychology. Specifically, psychology and how it relates to gaming and gamers. See, when I became a full-time RPG writer type, I had a few therapy sessions where I felt I needed to explain the hobby and all its associated quirks to my shrink. She, being astute and never one to let a good analytical tool sit idle, seized on it and has been encouraging me more and more to use gaming and characters to further my own understanding of my, admittedly strange and unusual, psyche. It’s fascinating to be lying there talking about your character and his motivations and personality and from out of nowhere your shrink associates that with a comment you made three months prior about your parents or something. Anyway, ever since then I’ve been thinking more and more about why we play.
Now, I’ve talked about this before at length here. Why do we play? Why do we choose the characters that we choose? What is it that motivates grown-ass men and women to sit around and play pretend for a few hours of a Friday night? What are we looking for? What do we need? What are we running to? Running from? These are questions I want answered. During my time with my shrink, whenever I ship out to a con I always tell her the same thing, “I wish you could come with me, so you could see” because a  con is the pure distillation of the hobby. A crucible in which excitement, fun, camaraderie, loneliness, anxiety, longing, desire, and sexuality mix to form a potent kind of glue that bonds of all these disparate nerds, among whom I proudly count myself, together in a strange, largely functional community. 
So, because I’m so goddamned fascinated by this, I want to write a book about it. I’ve got this idea for a non-fiction book about the psychology of the hobby wherein I want to explore all those questions I listed earlier. I also want to further develop this theory I have that there are, broadly speaking, two kinds of gamer: Those running to something and those running from something. Another way to say that is that there are gamers who play to pretend to be someone else for a few hours, and there are those who play to pretend to not be themselves. It’s a fine distinction I know, but I believe it’s there and it has merit.
I’ve got a long way to go on this project. Right now it’s in the rough planning stages and I’m kind of hung up on some points. What’s stopping me? Well, there’s the fact that although I’ve been in therapy for five years, the last two being intense psycho-analysis five days a week, I know dick about the actual science of psychology. What I feel I need is a co-author, a trained and licensed therapist that can sort of help me filter my cockamamie ideas through actual science and established schools of thought. Someone who I can take to a con and say, “Look, what do you see?” So, yeah. this is harebrained scheme 847,520, but I think it has legs. Stay tuned, Gentle Readers. You may actually see me finish a project!