Sunday, 18 June 2017

I've been busy...

As it's been quite some time since I've posted anything, here's is an update of the pile of things I've been up to since... October?  last year?  Yeah, I need to post more often...

Novel Writing

Everything looks easy from the outside
I started a novel.  Yep, I'm checking off an item from my bucket list.  I'm writing a science fiction novel and will self-publish it on Amazon and other places online.  I won't subject you to a litany of what my novel is about, but I may devote a future post to talking about this project, as there is some cool (to me at least) setting development I've done which leaves room for additional stories in the future about these and other characters, and some people may find my methods interesting and or useful.

I've always wanted to do this and like a lot of aspiring authors I've had my share of dreams of writing many novels, making mountains of money, and having scores of fans.  Right now, I just want to finish this novel.  I have too many started novels, and no completed ones.   This one is different though, I swear! :-)  I'm further along than any previous novel attempt, I know 90% of the plot, including the ending!  I have almost half of it written.  It's a slow process, far slower than it needs to be, but we Humans do tend to throw obstacles into our own paths.

Board Game Design

prototype board w/ no graphics
I designed and prototyped a board game.  The original concept was created by my 5 year old son.  The basic gist is each player is a Potion Maker, searching the land for ingredients with which to produce various potions.  At the end of the game, the player with the most valuable potions produced wins.  There's a lot more to it with exploration, monsters, equipment, special locations to visit, set collecting, unique player abilities, and so on, but it's a workable one sentence description.

I've played it with my son and with a couple of adults and they all enjoyed it.  There are two levels of play, making it playable in either "kid" or "adult" settings.  I made cards using the free NanDeck software (a powerful program, but the learning curve is somewhat steep).  I'm not sure if I want to publish it though.  It's a fun game, but I'm concerned about spreading myself too thin.  I have an account at The Game Crafter, so I could make it available, but I'm also busy with other projects right now so who knows...

Hero Kids Products

I do intend to produce more Hero Kids material, however... my external HD died recently, taking with it all my working files for everything I was working on last year for Hero Kids.  Yes, you may freely deride me for my lack of data protection.  I was dumb and I can own up to that.  Next time will be different though, I swear! :-)

Anyway, I do have some ideas of what to make next.  For example, I want to produce some adventures to go with Corvids: A Racial Supplement, which has been selling rather well (thank you!) considering it has no supporting adventures and I haven't promoted like I should.  I have other ideas too, but any Hero Kids product has to stand in line for a little while longer until I finish some OTHER other projects...

Customisable and/or Expandable Card Game

Not exactly visually exciting yet...
I'm making a card game with a friend.  It has deck building, CCG like elements, and a handful of design choices we've not seen done in any other game to date.  Hopefully people will like it.  We are planning on professionally publishing it  - probably with a Kickstarter and all the bells and whistles.  We're still at the designing stage though, so it'll be at least a few months before version one is ready for internal play testing and then we're allowing 1-2 years of external, blind play testing with play groups and the further re-designing before we'll even consider publication.  We want this to be a polished and fun game, so we're putting the time in to do it right instead of rushing a half-baked idea to market.  I've designed about 20 or more board and card games over the past 20 years, I even self-published about a dozen of them around 1998-2001, so I'm comfortable in completing this project.  It's my friend's first game though, so he's pretty excited about it all.

Contract Graphic Design

Definitely NOT a staged screenshot... ;-)
Most of my readers won't know this already, but during the tail end of the 1990's I was a graphic design professional, doing all sorts of work for small to medium sized clients - everything from business cards, to brochures, catalogues, books, magazines, comic books, and web sites, I even did corporate branding for a few clients.  Then the "Dot Com Bomb" struck, the small design house I worked at shut down, and I refocused, heading in a different direction for over a decade (ironically enough, co-founding a successful online custom clothing business, but that's a story for another camp fire).

The upshot of this preamble is I have "mad skilz yo" with layout - I am the shizz nizzle and various other silly, self-aggrandising statements.  So, when my good friend and owner of The Stuffer Shack, Chris Stevens asked if I would do graphic design and layout for his new publishing imprint Stuffer Shack Press, I was happy to oblige.  That was about a month ago and now he's willing to talk about it(check it out, he's offering cash prizes!), so I'm able to show you a little as well.  I'll be talking about this project again, so stay tuned.

They totally should compete, they'd rule!
It's been a really fun project for me as he bravely gave me pretty much free reign to design and reorganise his work, allowing me to bring my creativity to the table.  Obviously, anything I did had to be approved by Chris, but overall I was free to come up with whatever I felt would work best.  It's given me a welcome opportunity to further develop my software skills with Inkscape and Scribus.  I was already pretty good with Inkscape, but in truth only a novice with Scribus.  Luckily DTP skills, even old ones, are very transferable though, and I've been scaling the Scribus learning curve like an Olympic quality mountain goat - er, if mountain goats were competitive climbers in the Olympics that is... You know what I mean!  Of course, I have tonnes of things still to learn, but I'm quite pleased with being able to take my ideas and realise them on the page.

Will Graphic Design for Food?

I can make stuff look great.
This project reminded me I REALLY enjoy working on graphic design.  It's creative, puzzling, and has a zen mantra like aspect to it - basically, it feels like combining artistic painting, Sudoku, detective work, and meditation into a single activity.  Hey, that's what it feels like to ME, okay?  Back off and get your own sammich! :-)  My point is, I like doing it, and without being boastful I think I'm pretty good at it.  So, if anyone out there in internet-land is looking to take their Word docs, napkin scribbles, or whatever and turn them into something professionally publishable, hit me up and we can talk turkey, or some other meat if turkey's not your thing.  I can produce in multiple styles, and I have at least one very recent reference for RPG graphic design I've done for someone other than myself.