What a Week

Man, this has been a busy week. I’ve had something going on every night, which has meant being out of the house for 12-15 hours most days. This weekend I have a bunch of writing to do, correspondence to catch up on, and contracts to hash out. Tonight though I do not have any plans. It will be very tempting to just have dinner, crawl into bed, and watch some movies or something.

In addition to being busy, this week was also what you’d call eventful. Until today it was a mix of good and bad news. Today I had some really good news though. Literally within 24 hours of one door closing, a new one opened. More on that when I can talk about it.

Now it’s an afternoon of pirates and then some R&R;.

I Touched It

Last night we went to Jenny’s birthday celebration. It started at Hale’s Ales Brewery and Pub and then at 10:30 we went around back to “Hale’s Palladium” to see one of the Moisture Festival’s performances. This was a totally old school vaudeville show with jugglers, jokesters, magicians, trapeze artists, singers, and a full band. The atmosphere was festive, the acts were good, and the crowd was in the proper spirit. John had tipped off the MC, who led the entire crowd in singing happy birthday to our girl. All in all quite a fun time.

One of the other partygoers was Scott Glancy of Pagan Publishing and he brought an advanced copy of Delta Green d20 for Tynes. So those of you who have been waiting for this book for like three years, I can confirm that it exists. I even touched it. The main shipment is on a boat, so there’s still a chance that R’ley will rise and Cthulhu will seize the print run for himself, but it seems the book that has been “at print” longer than it takes most game books to be written may finally see release.

Corporate Mandated Friendliness

Nothing puts me off more than corporate mandated friendliness at a store or restaurant. When the sentiment is so clearly phony, it puts me off and makes me less likely to patronize the place, not more. It’s the same reason I can’t stand Rachel Ray. I tried watching her $40 a day show when that first came on, and her ridiculous hamming put me right off. “Ooooh, mmmmmm, it’s sooooo gooooodddd. Mmmmm!” Now seeing her stupid face on a box of Triscuits makes me not want to eat Triscuits.

Last night I had dinner with Nik and Rick at PF Chang’s before the Anti-Flag show. PF Chang’s has this weird “signature” thing where the waiters excitedly mix up your sauce for you before you even order. I usually just lay back and think of General Tso while this is going on, but last night I finally had to say something to the waiter. “One thing I never get about this place if your obsession with the sauce,” I said. “If I get something like dumplings, I might want a sauce like that, but if I don’t it’s just a waste. So, what’s the deal with the sauce and why are you so keen to give it to me?” Our waiter’s response was to leave the soy sauce and take everything else away in a huff. I guess it didn’t occur to him that I might want to use the chili oil or other condiments on my own. “I’m taking my sauce and going home, you bastard!”

He totally had the enforced friendliness thing going on. It made me think, of all things, of porn. No wait, stay with me here. I was watching HBO’s Pornucopia show and they were interviewing this actress named Katie Morgan. She said that when she first got into porn, she didn’t know what to say during the scenes. Then an older pro said, “It’s easy, you just say whatever is being done to you.” If you think about that, it’ll ruin most porn for you. Anyway, our waiter was doing the exact same thing, and he ended every declaration with “guys.” So he’s in the middle of clearing our plates and he says, “I’m just clearing your plates, guys.” Really, I get it, because I’m one foot away from you and I have eyes!

The Anti-Flag show was OK. I guess I just wasn’t feeling it. I mean, I’m glad there are still some earnest bands doing real protest music, but it takes a lot more than raising your fist at a punk show to affect change.

Not at Games Expo

A lot of folks have asked me if they’ll see me in Vegas this week at Games Expo. The answer is that Green Ronin is not attending. Here’s why.

Games Expo is a new show organized by Mark Matthew-Simmons. He’s spent a year going on about how he’s doing this show for the good of the industry and he only has everyone’s best interests at heart. I do not believe him for a minute. I think this is part of Mark’s lunatic vendetta against GAMA and I just don’t want to participate in that. He pretends otherwise, but why else would you announce a show in the same month and the same city as GAMA Trade Show? Just a coincidence I’m sure. Now to its credit GAMA decided to push GTS into April instead of having an outright bitch fight, but that still puts two game industry shows in Las Vegas within a month of each other. How many companies or retailers have the budget to go to both? And even if you could do both, is it really going to be worth your while?

I decided that Green Ronin would support GTS because we know what we’re getting with that show. As this is Games Expo’s first year, all we have is Mark’s promises and a location that’s way off the Strip. The danger here is that this show will split the audience down the middle and make neither show viable. If we end up with zero trade shows in two years because of this, we’ll know who to thank.

Another One Bites the Dust

I got up early this morning, determined to get some shit done. Spent about an hour proofing and polishing something for GR, and then cut up about three months worth of accumulated boxes on our back porch and garage. This allowed us to move the Christmas stuff still littering the living room into the garage and reclaim that room a bit from the encroaching tide of stuff.

Around 1 Rick swung by, as we had plans to visit American Eagles AKA the game store that time forgot. The way to American Eagles goes right by Fire and Sword, a miniatures shop near the Northgate Mall. Rick asked me if I wanted to stop in and I said sure. We got inside to find that all stock was 30% off. A cursory glance around showed the racks were pretty picked over. I asked if the store was going out of business and one of the employees confirmed that it was indeed on its way out. After 5 years the owner was packing it in. It’s hard to be a game retailer these days.

I always liked Fire and Sword. It was miniatures focused, which made it unique of all the stores in Seattle. The owner was also pleasant and seemed to be doing it because he loved it. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t that close to me and as I don’t drive I didn’t get there that often. I always meant to go down for one of their DBA nights, but never did get a chance. I’m sorry to see the place go.

I did make a point of buying some stuff there today. I hope it helps the store close in the black. I picked up three Osprey books about the English Civil War. It’s a period I’m considering gaming and while I hadn’t planned to buy those books today I figured what the hell. Also got a couple of army books for the Disposable Heroes game and Ferdinand assault gun for my 15mm Germans. I think the store is open for another few weeks, so if you are in the Seattle area and like minis do stop by and help Fire and Sword go out of business with as much money in pocket as possible.

A Shameful Legacy

The media would make me laugh if I wasn’t so busy being sick. Lately I’ve seen a spate of “legacy” articles about the Bush administration. With nearly two years still to go in office and uncountable damage to America and the world still to inflict, George Bush is apparently worried about how he’ll be viewed by future generations. The so-called surge in Iraq is one example of him trying to salvage something from his foreign policy disasters. These media articles ask in all seriousness what his legacy will be and whether it will be positive or negative. When it has become clear to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that the Bush administration is dangerously incompetent and grossly corrupt, is this really a serious question? On almost a weekly basis some new horrifying scandal breaks, to the point that one can’t even keep up with all the ways this administration has made a mockery of the Constitution and the supposed ideals of American democracy. So no, dumbass pundits, the question is not, what is Bush’s legacy. That is clearly to go down as one of the worst, if not the worst, president the history of the USA. No, the question to ask right now is much more troubling.

What has the Bush administration done that we don’t know about yet?

For 6 years these no good liars have done whatever they’ve wanted, the law and decency be damned. Until recently the democrats had no ability to even get a Congressional debate going, never mind subpoena anyone to find out what was going on behind the scenes. Even so, enough information has come out to make the scale of incompetence and corruption jaw-dropping. But it surely can’t end with the scandals we already know about. Behind Dick Cheney’s death mask and Karl Rove’s huckster grin I am certain there are much, much worse things that the administration has done in the name of democracy and freedom that will shame America for decades to come. We won’t really have a chance to know about them until after the next election (one hopes) and even then it’ll probably take at least a decade for something close to the truth to come out. If what we’ve seen so far is the tip of the iceberg, one can only shudder at the possibility of what lies beneath the surface. If the journalists of the fourth estate would remember what it means to actually do their jobs instead of endlessly repeating back talking points while giving equal time to every crackpot idea the right wing idiocracy spews out, we might find out some of this sooner. I’m not holding my breath.

A Thousand Cuts

I have been meaning to do an update since I got back from Vancouver but I have overwhelmed with small tasks. There’s no one big project or problem consuming my time, but a seemingly endless series minor things that don’t mean much individually but are collectively important to get done. To quickly sum up a few things:

Vancouver was fun as always. See www.nikchick.com for more details.

The Pirate’s Guide to Freeport is going to rock.

I have less and less desire to argue with my industry colleagues about pointless bullshit.

The Sarah Silverman Program, sad to say, is just not funny.

The Rex Mundi comic is a great read and I can’t believe I never heard about it before last month.

I will not be at GAMA Trade Show this year.

That’s all for now.

Harder Without Minis

I was so on autopilot yesterday morning that I forgot to bring miniatures with me when I left for work. That made it rather difficult to play a minis game last night at Rick’s. Initially we thought we’d give Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge a try, but when I was still reading the rules come 9 pm I knew there was no way we’d finish. Instead we played a couple of games of Ticket to Ride, which was fun as always.

Next week we’re going to start a mini-campaign of Blitzkrieg Commander that’ll probably last about a month. Since I have German paratroopers, we’ve decided to kick it off with a theoretical airborne assault in the opening hours of the Battle of the Bulge. I’m trying to seize a vital crossroads for the advancing panzers from Rick’s Americans. Historically, the Germans did try a paradrop during the battle but it went disastrously wrong (in part because at this point in the war very few German paratroopers had actually received jump training!). Our scenario is slightly different but plausible enough. We’ll see if it ends as badly for the Germans. Without tanks or heavy guns, it’ll be a challenge for sure.

Well Said, Mr. Spector

Ex-TSR and current computer game designer Warren Spector gave a talk at GDC this week. In it he said:

“If you think that story has no place in games, you’re crazy. If you think story is everything in games, you’re just as crazy. It’s all about balance.”

He’s talking about computer games but I think it equally applies to tabletop RPGs. The roleplaying part of RPG is important but the game part is just as crucial.

Gamespot story here: http://www.gamespot.com/events/gdc07/story.html?sid=6167016