Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NIKA Interview with Game Designer Josh Raab (Tabletop)

Today's interview is with game designer and active member of the NYC gaming development community Josh Raab. Josh is currently running a Kickstarter to fund development of his tabletop game NIKA, which he describes thusly: "Command a Greek city’s hoplite soldiers. Push and rout enemy lines. Coordinate allied attacks to secure victory, but watch your flanks!"

Watch the video to learn more about improving Kickstarter success through building community before launch, the importance of playtesting, and thoughts on the creative process. I've included a partial transcript of the interview below.

Hope you enjoy!

Tell us a little about you and your game.

I'm a grad student at the NYU Game Center, MFA in Game Design. Studied Ancient Greek History in undergrad, which was the inspiration for NIKA. It's a game about ancient Greek warfare, where you have four Greek cities, two allied against the other two. You're basically trying to get one of your pieces across the board into your ally's territory.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What's In a Blog? Choosing a Focus to Get Noticed

I've never been entirely happy with the way I've run this blog. True, after writing (off and on) and evolving the content for almost six years, there's a lot of value wrapped up in it. Even without publishing regularly, I'm getting a couple thousand views per month; I peaked at 4,500 last March when I ran my Mechalarum Kickstarter. But I've never identified a target market and consistently delivered interesting and useful information to that audience.

It's hard to pick a focus when I'm interested in so many things. I could easily write pages and pages geared towards people running crowdfunding projects, authors writing and self-publishing their books, science fiction readers looking for entertainment, or NYC-based entrepreneurs building tech startups. Or I could just post photos like the one above because, come on, who doesn't like beer and waffles?

Another consideration is content style. Although content marketing is bigger than ever, blogs seem somewhat passe in 2014, falling in popularity compared to Tumblrs or simply "news sites." We have more stories than ever competing for our attention in a variety of formats. The stuff that succeeds needs to be rare, slick, attractive, informative, and/or easy to consume.

A third important factor is a bit vague - what will make me want to come back to writing my posts, day after day? My friend vowed to pick a "song of the day" every day this year, and he's stuck with it. It's fairly simple, interesting, personal, and sets up an expectation that people can get behind.

2014 is going to be the most rewarding and most profitable year I've ever had. Creating a regular content stream is an important part of that vision. I'm excited to try out new ideas, assess for both personal and audience interest, and iterate as needed.

Oh, and if you want to beer-and-waffle it up, check out the delicious selections available at Sweet Revenge.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Games As Stories, Plus A Cultus/Cram Games/Boston FIG Shoutout

Excited to share some great news.

True, I'm a bit biased, as I kind of like game designers Phillip Schmitte and Jesus Garay. But the game also has a great story, perfectly encapsulated by flavor text and shown off with gorgeous art.

Earth Grinder

“An unorthodox sword to fight greedy earth spirits”

Enduring Confection

“Sweet ecstasy from the World Before attracts the hungry”

The premise is that, in a post-apocalyptic world, people find 'relics' from past times (shovels, well-preserved pastries, football helmets), interpret them, and build up cults around them. As the cult leader, it's your job to use influence to construct shrines around these relics, fill the shrines with devotees, and execute 'ideas' to strengthen your following. The person with the most power at the end of the game wins!

As a writer, I've been thinking a lot about the different mediums in which people tell stories. Games (whether video, tabletop, board, or other) are fascinating storytelling vehicles that often use imagery, social interaction, music, movement, and more to convey something authors attempt using only words. I'd love to explore what it's like to craft a world, plot, and characters in this way.

Can't wait to hear what happens at Boston FIG!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Writing Mechalarum on the Subway

Don't have much time for an update, but wanted to let everyone know that I'm making good use of my daily subway commute to get in some extra editing :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Insomnium Interview: Zach Bonelli Talks Serialized Science Fiction Kickstarter Thoughts

In honor of Zach's continuing campaign to Kickstart Insomnium, here's another great interview where he delves into thoughts about the art and science of writing. Hope you enjoy!

Insomnium is Latin for a "waking vision." What interests you about blurring the line between dreaming and "real life," between consciousness and unconsciousness?

The main character of Insomnium, Nel Hanima, is in a place in his life where nothing is as it should be, nothing is functional. The worst part is that he has no idea how to move himself toward something better.

The dream forced upon Nel and his friends is an inverted wake-up call, forcing them to deal with their respective situations. I think that, when we peel away the surface layers of reality, we’re forced to ask ourselves really hard questions about who we are and what we’re doing with our lives. Nel can’t do this in his waking life, so the City of Nowhere comes to the rescue.

Your story deals with multiple characters in a dream-like scenario. One of the questions you ask is, "Who is the one actually doing the dreaming?" Tell us more about how this question ties into how much of our reality and identity is formed by our perceptions.

That is the big question for most of Insomnium. Whose mind created all of this? Could it be one of us? What does the dream have to do with us disparate people, who don’t even originate from the same universe?

Put differently: why are we here? Why are any of us doing what we do? Our answers define who we are as people and how we interact with the rest of the world.

The twentieth century has created some massive philosophical questions for humanity. What is the “right” way to spend our time on Earth? In many parts of the world, we’ve solved hunger and disease, but now that we no longer struggle to merely exist, what should we be doing with all of our time?

Finding answers to these questions, I think, is the key to our identity crisis. I’ve developed an answer for myself, which I think Insomnium will make clear, but I believe it is up to each individual to arrive at his or her own answer.