Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Inspirations

Who are the two people who inspired me to become a game publisher? Interestingly enough, neither of them was named Baum.

The first was Tom Smith, the World's Fastest Filker. Sounds like an odd choice, doesn't it? Maybe this will help clear things up. In March of last year, the restaurant I had been working at for the previous 8 years went under. It wasn't the drudgery that Tom Smith experienced in the mortgage industry, but the subsequent layoff (just a few months after Tom released that song) gave me free time and the impetus to change my life.

It also helped set up my expectations of success. If I'm able to support myself and do something nice for myself and my fiancee every so often, I'm doing well.

The second one was Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions Advertising and Marketing. He spoke at a seminar on breaking into the gaming industry at DunDraCon 32 (just one month before my layoff). His advice was cynical. He said, (I'm paraphrasing here) "There's no guarantee your game will succeed in the marketplace. In fact, it probably won't. But you'll never know until you try."

So, without a job and not much else to lose, I proceeded to try. I have since gained employment, which gave me more money, but less time. I'm still trying, though. And I'll keep trying as long as I can pay freelance artists to illustrate whatever it is that I write.

Keep voting on the poll, guys! Everything's got at least one vote, but Real Raw Wrestling and Better Than Rifts are leading the pack with three votes each.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I has a podcast, part 2!

This one doesn't have me in it, but they do take some time talking about Adventures in Oz. Thank you to Jason Corley, who has been one of my playtesters.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Barnstorming Oz

I recently had a chance to catch up on some reading and picked up A Barnstormer in Oz by Phillip Jose Farmer. This is actually the first time that I'd read this book, though I have read some of Farmer's other work in the past.

Farmer, being a science fiction writer, takes a shot at justifying some of the events of Wizard science-fictionally. It has a lot to do with electrical phenomena, from the space-time rip that lands Frank Stover, Dorothy's son, in Oz to the Wicked Witches.

The core idea revolves around a peculiar type of ball lightning that Farmer calls "firefoxes." Farmer's hero, Frank Stover, deduces that they are actually a form of bodiless mind. These firefoxes are what animates the curious characters of the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, and allows the animals of Oz to talk. Once they take on a body, they lose any memory or previous personality, so no spoiling the big surprises early

They are also used by Witches to extend their own lifespans. Unfortunately, this replaces the chemical bonds that hold them together with much weaker electrical bonds that can be disrupted by, say, a massive impact or a bucket of water.

Farmer studiously avoids tackling any other major oddities from the stories. For one thing, he has the main character dismiss the Oz stories after the first. This may have been Farmer inserting his own voice to say that Baum was a "hack", or because the other books were still under copyright with only Wizard in the public domain. It could also simply be that he focused only on those things that supported his firefox scenario. He even dismissed the China Country as something that Baum probably made up and added to the "true" story of his mother's original adventure in Oz. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

The story itself revolves around Frank's journey into Oz via an electrical phenomena and how he winds up fighting a war against the new Wicked Witch of the North. He also tries to keep the US Army (who have been developing the ability to manufacture the atmospheric phenomena that allows transit) out of Oz and results in the magical assassination of the President by Glinda.

It struck me as rather odd that although Farmer explains that the people of Oz originally came from Earth, they've all shrunk down to about 3 feet tall. This didn't happen all at once, but each generation was slightly shorter than the one before it.

My preferred solution is to assume that Dorothy is between 10 and 13 years old at the time of her arrival in Oz and undergoing a pubescent growth spurt (Although her age is not given in the story, Dorothy is noted as being tall for it). This would allow the Munchkins to be merely short, rather than midgets. It would also explain why some Munchkins seem to be normal-sized, or at least make the fact that the height issue was not carried into later books less jarring.

Keep voting, guys! As of this posting, Real Raw Wrestling is in the lead with 3 votes, with Beyond the Deadly Desert at second place with one vote. Only 22 days left to make your voice heard!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't Stop Now!

Now that Adventures in Oz is in the hands of other people (editing, layout and such), I am recalling a bit of writing advice I picked up some time ago: Don't stop writing. Especially with my realistic (read cynical) outlook on life, I should not expect to be resting on my laurels with only one product to my name.

But what's next? After a little thought, I've come up with a few ideas. In no particular order, they are:

Real Raw Wrestling: This was proposed to me some time ago and the idea is interesting. Especially since most wrestling RPGs that I've heard of rely on hit point attrition rather than modeling how wrestlers actually fight. As you can tell by my work on Oz, working out alternate combat systems is a fun challenge for me.

Better Than Rifts: For those of you unfamiliar with Rifts, it is a monster of an RPG. The rules themselves are crude, artifacts of an earlier time that haven't been updated in almost 20 years. But the setting itself is a wonderful, anything-goes madhouse. My goal here would be to create a rules system that can handle all of the gonzo joy of Rifts (the original rules really didn't do that good of a job) while actually appealing to the modern gamer.

Adventures in Oz: Adventure Supplement #1: This would be a book full of scenarios for an AiO Narrator who may not have the time to develop a fully fleshed scenario on their own or just needs a little kick to the imagination.

Adventures in Oz: Beyond the Deadly Desert: This would be a setting supplement for AiO. In the main book, I focus primarily on the land of Oz itself. This one would focus on the other lands of the Nonestic continent, such as Ev, Mo, The Nome Kingdom and others.

What do you guys think? Take the poll!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I has a podcast!

Well, technically it's Jared's podcast, but I got to be on it. He interviewed me a few weeks ago and got it edited to a point fit for human consumption yesterday.

On the one hand, it was largely what I expected: I wound up playing ambassador from the gaming world to the Oz world. On the other hand, I feel like I should have been more prepared. I was very nervous and rambled a good bit.

Having gotten that experience now, I'm thinking it might be fun to do a podcast of my own. But the blog here has quite a bit of what I'm trying to say about Oz and gaming already. Should I do more of the same, but in convenient audio format? Or is there something else you'd like to hear?

Oz in the Emerald City!

Adventures in Oz is going to PAX!

Unfortunately, it is doing so without me. With my job and other responsibilities, I can't really get away to do something that crazy. That's what family is for.

My brother is attending the convention as his honeymoon. I have sent him and his wife Adventures in Oz logo t-shirts as wedding presents. They will be wearing the shirts through the convention weekend to drum up buzz and interest in the game.

If you see him there, please be kind. He is on his honeymoon and trying to enjoy the Expo like everyone else. I'm the RPG and Oz guy, he's more of a video gamer. If there's anything you want to know about the game that he can't answer (which might be a lot), he does have a stack of business cards to hand out which direct you to me.

If you're reading this after PAX because you've picked up one of those business cards, I will direct you to my list of asked questions. If you need to know something that isn't covered there, feel free to ask in a comment on that post, this post or the email address on the card. If it comes up enough, it might turn up on the questions list.
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