Odds and Sods

* Turns out I had almost an hour of usable material from the Norwescon Game Publishing Goes Digital panel, so I did release that as Green Ronin Podcast, Episode 9. You can find that here: http://greenronin.com/2009/04/green_ronin_podcast_episode_9.php

* I got a wicked flu last week that knocked me on my ass for four days. I went back to work today but am still not feeling 100%. I don’t know what that was, but I don’t want it again.

* While up in the middle of the night Friday, I ran across Starship Troopers 3 on TV. I had no idea they made a part 3, and weirdly it starred the Vulcan chick from Enterprise and Amanda Donohoe from Lair of the White Worm. The writer tried to emulate the satire of the original movie and it was funny in spots. The leader of Earth is a cross between Bush and John Ashcroft, who sings super cheesy songs about patriotism and sacrifice. Overall though, it was pretty terrible and thus eminently suitable for late night TV.

* GAMA Trade Show was last week. Nicole, Hal, and Bill repped for GR and it sounds like it went well. There were not as many retailers as previous years, but also far fewer swag hounds who were only there for collectible give-aways. Nicole said she got a lot more face time with retailers and had a real chance to engage with them. I’ll take that over crowds of frantic people with giant, bulging shopping bags yelling, “What’s free?” at me any day. I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to hang in Vegas with GR peeps and old friends, but I just can’t do every show anymore.

* I finally got a copy of the Trafalgar minis game from Warhammer Historical. With the recent layoff of Rob Broom and the moving of Warhammer Historical under Forge World, the future of games like Trafalgar and the Great War is uncertain. I wanted to make sure I got a copy in case it went out of print forever. If you dig the Age of Sail, it’s a lovely book. I don’t want to rush out and buy ship minis, but I do have a bunch of Pirates of the Spanish Main pocket model ships from WizKids and while they are from a slightly earlier period they would probably work.

That Would Have Been Timely

Months ago I agreed to be on a panel at Norwescon called Game Publishing Goes Digital. With the events of last week in the game industry, it was quite timely. I ended up moderating the panel, which included Jeff Combos from Exile Game Studio, Erik Mona from Paizo, Donna Prior from Flying Lab, and David Stansel-Garner from Catalyst Game Labs. I asked the Norwescon staff and the other panelists if they minded me recording the affair. I thought it would make a good episode of the Green Ronin podcast.

I need to listen to the file but I fear it isn’t going to be usable. For one thing, there was a woman near the front with a cold and she was sneezing and blowing her nose throughout. The con hotel was also in Seatac, so the occasional jet would fly overhead. Then at the end of the panel I noticed my recorder had shut off. I had tried to get fresh batteries beforehand in the hotel shop but despite being an airport hotel they had no AA batteries. So I’ll see how much got recorded and whether the sound is OK, but I may have to do something else for the next episode of the podcast. Too bad, as the panel went well and the topic is on everyone’s minds in gamerdom.

Norwescon overall was a good time. Tim Nightengale did an excellent job on the gaming panels and the con was well run. All but one of my other panels went well. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the Orc one, but I was joined by Tolkien scholar Michael Martinez and he had some interesting things to say about the literary side of things. I also attended two seminars, one about writing for comics (because one day that proposal I put in last July might go somewhere) and one about the pulps (in which Erik Mona was in full effect). It was good to catch up with folks I hadn’t seen in awhile, though I also missed seeing many others. It’s wacky that we all live in the same city but often only see each other at conventions.

My Norwescon Schedule

I am a guest at Norwescon this weekend. If you are in the Seattle area, come on down, play some games, and have fun. Here are the panels I’m on. So little has happened recently in the game industry, I don’t know what we’re going to talk about…


I’m not dead yet…..sticking with 3.5
3:00 PM; Evergreen 2

Not thrilled with the new edition? Stop by this panel where prominent gamers and industry professionals share options for sticking with 3.5 via Pathfinder, True20, or other 3.5 variants. Learn how to get involved in organized play events, find other gamers, and keep playing the game.
Wolfgang Baur, Jason Buhlman, Darrin Drader, Chris Pramas, Sean Reynolds

Comparative Study: Orcs
5:00 PM; Cascade 5

They are easily recognizable by their green, grey or brown skin, tusks and fangs…not to mention the fact that they are almost definitely trying to kill you. Orcs have haunted our nightmares (and therefore, our stories) for decades, but what do these creatures have in common with each other? Comparing Tolkein, Salvatore and other literary works with games such as Warhammer and Warcraft, this panel analyzes the origins and history of Fantasy’s favorite barbarian horde.
Dave Butler, Michael Martinez, Chris Pramas, Dylan S.

Writing for the Gaming Industry
8:00 PM; Cascade 8

How do you write for a game? How does it differ than just writing a novel or short story? How does writing for a video game differ from RPGs or board games? What are they looking for? Our panel of Editors, Publishers, and Gaming Authors and Freelancers share what is wanted – nay! What is needed! – from writers in the gaming industry.
Mike Mearls, Erik Mona, Chris Pramas, Teeuwyn Woodruff, Jason Buhlman

The Future of Gaming / Future of Game Design
9:00 PM; Cascade 8

Join our esteemed panel of gaming industry professionals in a discussion of their views on the current status of the industry. How has it changed in the past year or two? Where is it going?
Mike Mearls Gwen Kestrel, Chris Pramas, Teeuwyn Woodruff, Jeremy Holcomb, Darrin Drader


Those Who Forget History – Are Just Plain Doomed…
1:00 PM; Cascade 4

Exploring “Lost-History” themes such as are illustrated in Professor Tolkien’s work as a means to inspire up and coming authors and screenwriters, as well as History and Humanities students of all ages.
Cymbric Early-Smith, Chris Pramas

Game Publishing Goes Digital
3:00 PM; Cascade 7

Pdfs “versus” print. Blogs. Online content. Podcasts. More and more gaming companies are finding a way to move their marketing, and even their products, onto the Internet. What does this mean for the future of the gaming industry? What does it mean for your local gaming store?
Chris Pramas, Donna Prior, Randall N. Bills, Jeff Combos, Erik Mona

Falafel Truck

When I first moved to New York City, I lived blocks away from Mamoun’s Falafel on MacDougal St. I could get a hot and fresh falafel for $1.50 or go crazy and get the falafel/hummus combo for $2.00. I was a vegetarian at the time, so a cheap and tasty sandwich I could get as late as 5 am was most welcome.

For years Seattle was a vast wasteland for falafel. I finally discovered Zaina on 3rd Ave and that was at least reasonable. Then that location closed, but it reappeared in Belltown. In fact, the Belltown joint is like a block from Flying Lab, so falafel problem solved, right? Well, not quite. I’ve eaten at the new Zaina a few times and while their food is pretty good, I keep getting cold falafel. The cook wouldn’t make it hot, just scoop it out a basket cooked who knows when. This is all too common in Seattle for reasons I can’t fathom. Falafel should be served hot, so it’s crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. The otherwise excellent Cedar’s in the U District also serves it cold.

On recent trips to Georgetown Nicole and I noticed a yellow falafel truck parked near our yoga studio. I was intrigued, so we finally made it down there to try it out this week. The Hallava Falafel Truck is apparently run by just one dude and he serves only two things: falafel and schawarma sandwiches. We got one of each and headed home to eat them. It was hard not to tear into them in the car because they smelled great.

Now these are not traditional sandwiches. Hallava puts in some really interesting fixings like beet relish, peppers, and zucchini tomato spread. I did not see any hot sauce at the truck and lamented that until we tasted the sandwiches and realized they already had some spice going on. The falafel was prepared fresh and was hot and delicious. The schawarma was tasty as well. It’s different than Mamoun’s but in a really good way. And the truck parks in front of the 9 Lb Hammer on weekend nights. I predict many visits in the future.