I returned from California last night from another hugely productive design week at inXile. Coincidentally, I was there just in time to attend the launch party for Wasteland 2 (for which I wrote the Mannerites in LA), so I got to congratulate the team for their achievement in the launch, hang out with some of the backers, and see old friends who accused me of traveling there too stealthily for them to make plans to hang out with me. (note: this is actually true, because I was working pretty much the whole time)

Post-party-hangover, the remainder of the week was spent writing dialogues, learning how to deal with technical issues, and having some excellent personal interaction with the Torment team. We tightened trickier aspects of the story, and are continuing to answer other questions that pop up as we iron down other aspects. Story in games is an ongoing process through development, as aspects of the story come into sharp relief and require answers that won’t break other parts, and each discussion we have is aimed toward honing the player’s experience and deepening the story’s significance.

Wednesday night, Jesse Farrell taught Steve Dobos, Nathan Long, Kevin Saunders, George Ziets, and me how to play Chaos in the Old World, and I would have won if Mr. Dobos hadn’t pointed out I was going to win. I had two paths to victory, both eminently achievable, and all those rat-bastards (Nathan especially; he was playing the Skaven scum) teamed up to deny both paths… opening the way for George to defeat me, 54 to 49. (Perhaps I spoke too soon when I announced to the table that they couldn’t beat me.)

This is the part where I give a shout to Jason Dora for his excellence with the Torment website, and to Charlie Bloomer and Alisha Klein for their stunning work on the TTON video. I realize I’m supposed to be all cool about this job, but seeing ideas brought to life is a thrill that never, ever gets old. Working with this team is a pleasure and a privilege.

On that note, I’d also like to thank Adam for his patience, his memory, and his enthusiasm. Working half a world away can’t be easy for him, but he’s always ready with an incisive look into story, design, and other aspects of the game, and his patience with changes and his understanding of the ramifications of those changes is always amazing. Plus, as he notes, he’s great at revision.

Enough. Time to get back to revisions and rebuilding Unity.

The Magus’s Tale in print? … er, no.

Sweet, my On Demand publishing payment came in! I hope you’ll forgive me for talking numbers, but I’m giddy with anticipation.

So let me open the email… it’s a whopping $3.62!


On the bright side, this means I’m still a professional writer.

On a more serious note, this is a large part of why I haven’t printed Book 2 of the Oathbreaker series yet (as opposed to making electronic copies available): it’s not worth it in terms of effort and time. Book 1 has moved thousands of copies electronically – though, granted, a lot of those were people who said, “Hey, free book!” and haven’t moved on to the next one – and no more than 100 as a printed version. Comparing those numbers to the smaller sales of the (relatively pricey) Book 2, I’d probably move five or ten printed. Given the costs of printing, shipping, and proofs, I’d be looking at a net loss.

So… sorry, print lovers. It’s not going to happen in the near future.

Cadaver Bone anthology

My pal Chris Pramas of Green Ronin started getting shoulder pain last year. I thought he might be joining me in the joy of adhesive capsulitis, aka frozen shoulder (shut up, it’s totally not just for old guys), but it turns out his malady was much more dire.

Dire enough that he needs spinal surgery to replace his vertebra.

Since health care in this country is the best in the world if you can afford it, and not so great if you can’t, he’s looking for some help in paying his medical bills. But he’s not just asking for your help, though he has provided countless hours of entertainment in a long and illustrious career. Instead, he asked for my help.

And the help of Cecil Castellucci, Christopher Robert Cargill, Richard Dansky, Ed Greenwood, Matt Forbeck, David Gaider, Steve Kenson, John Kovalic, Robin D. Laws, Jess Lebow,  John Rogers, Lucien Soulban, Melinda Thielbar, John Scott Tynes, and James Wallis.

We’re writing stories for a benefit anthology for Chris’s surgery. That’s a lot of stories. Granted, it’s also a lot of surgery– so I’m putting the word out now.

Kick in a few bucks and you get to help out a highly talented designer, AND you get some sweet stories.

Here’s the link.

A recommendation: the Broken Eye Books Kickstarter


Yes, right away I’m going to start by offering a link. This Kickstarter is just about 2/3 of the way to its final goal, and it’s something that’s pretty damn cool.

The summary is basically this: Authors with twisted minds and fun stories want to share those stories. This is your chance to help make it happen.

Richard Pett is (or at least should be) well known for his work on Pathfinder’s more ghoulishly twisted adventures, and I’ve had the opportunity to read his fiction. It’s good. In fact, it’s damn good. So damn good that I wrote a blurb for it:

If you’re familiar with the work of Richard Pett, then you know that he’s a master of the macabre and a painter of unearthly horrors. “Crooked” follows in the vein (and I use that word advisedly) of his other efforts, and it’s a stunningly cool book. If you’re not familiar with his work, you should be… and “Crooked” is a great place to start.

Then you’ve got Clinton Boomer, whose Hole Behind Midnight was hilariously entertaining, foul-mouthed, and also extraordinarily reminiscent of the stranger side of Planescape.

Then there’s a dark fantasy anthology featuring authors such as Jennifer Brozek, James L. Sutter, Elaine Cunningham, Erin Hoffman, Shanna Germain, Cat Rambo, Jeffrey Scott Petersen, Christie Yant, Lillian Cohen-Moore, Torah Cottrill, Erik Scott de Bie, Andrew Romine, Ed Greenwood, Amber E. Scott, Jaym Gates, Nathan Crowder, Julia Ellingboe, Minerva Zimmerman, and Dave Gross! (I totally copied those names from the Kickstarter page)

Seriously, what more could you want? Pledge three bucks and you get some stories free, right away.

I’m totally in. You should be too.

Today in personal news

I had to sit out today’s karate tournament because of the broken toe, but my daughter competed. As I was offering her advice and strategies, I suddenly realized how I must sound to her – namely, like a hockey dad. I apologized to her and told her that I don’t care if she wins or loses; I’m only passionate because I want her to feel like she did her best, and if she knew she did her best then she’d be happy no matter the result. I added that I’m just happy to watch her compete, and that I was proud of her just for getting out there.

I also bribed her by telling her she’d get a treat if I saw her rush in on an opponent at least once during her sparring match. Since she’s ordinarily a back-peddler during sparring, I figured I wouldn’t have to pay up. But after her opponent kicked her in the side, my little sweetheart charged in and chased her opponent around the ring for a bit, and for the first time I can remember, she came out of a sparring match smiling.

She didn’t win, but she did her best. That was good enough for me.

Plus, she enjoyed the 2nd-place trophy.