2010 In Review

2010 was a weird year for me in a lot of ways. Professionally, I went from being unemployed (as I was lamenting in my last belated year in review post) to having a job localizing freemium MMORPGs, which has me doing a job I enjoy, but making a good deal less money than I would like.

In terms of what I was playing, this year saw a big change in that I joined a second gaming group. It started as an attempt to get together to play Polaris, but subsequently fell apart and reformed as a sort of RPG tasting group on Friday nights. Thusfar we’ve done The Mountain Witch, Fiasco, Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition, D&D4e, Swashbuckers of the 7 Skies, and Sons of Liberty, with varying degrees of success. The other group has been almost exclusively D&D4e, though our Forgotten Realms campaign petered out and I started running a Dark Sun game (albeit rather infrequently). I did very little video gaming, something I’m hoping to fix in 2011, though both my Xbox 360 and Wii need repairs.

In terms of design, for me this year was mostly about Slime Story, with a bit of Slime Quest and a tiny bit of Raspberry Heaven on the side. I poked at Adventures of the Space Patrol a little (and did a couple playtests too), but only made very minimal changes to the game. On the other hand for Slime Story, Apocalypse World happened and had me again rethinking substantial parts of how the game works, and starting yet again a process of ripping out some bits and replacing them with better stuff. (Notably, trying to make the social side of the game more robust.)

I did a fair amount of blogging, but only a little bit of podcasting, and only one of the four podcasts I did in 2010 had anyone else on. (There are a few people I still need to bug about coming on the podcast…) Looking through my older posts, I was mostly preoccupied with Slime Story, though over the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about the thematic and historical underpinnings of D&D. As with last year, I think I only did one Kyawaii RPG, though I still have half a dozen or so in varying states of incompleteness.

In July I went to A-Kon, an anime convention in Dallas, as a guest of honor. I didn’t get nearly as much out of it as I would’ve liked to, on account of being ill, anxious, and unprepared, but I had a good time all the same, and the panels I did were pretty successful. My favorite bit was at the independent RPGs panel I got to close by saying something like, “Everyone can create something that no one else ever would, everyone has their own unique vision that they can realize if they try, and that’s incredibly awesome.” Meeting Malcolm Harris (who does Witch Girls Adventures) was cool too.

In terms of non-RPG stuff, the webcomic I write for (Neko Machi) got started in November of 2009, but 2010 was its first full year. It’s had its ups and downs, and although the readership is not yet there, creatively I’m happier with it than ever. I didn’t get all that much writing done though, in December I finished four short stories (see my DA), and hopefully that momentum will keep up.

As for 2011, the big thing on the horizon is a publishing project that I’ll hopefully be announcing publicly pretty soon. I’m also aiming to have a table for Neko Machi at the Alternative Press Expo (though some RPG stuff may make it in there too). I don’t have any other plans in the way of going to conventions (money’s much too tight for Gen Con to be feasible), but I have more than enough plans for games to play and design. I also want to get more into language learning, both brushing up on my Japanese (before it deteriorates to mere manga-reading level) and expanding into new territory (although it’s not technically required, at my work not being able to read any Korean[1] is becoming frustrating).

So, what have we learned?

  • D&D was loosely based on several different kinds of fantasy (and understanding those will help you better understand the game), but it’s evolved into its own genre based on how it works in actual play.
  • Board game fans have this blind spot that prevents them from seeing that not everyone is into board games.
  • 4E haters make me not want to play D&D, both to make it easier to avoid their nonsense, and because half of what they complain about applies to most editions of D&D.
  • The internet has a certain baseline level of toxicity, and you’re better off not having too much of it.
  • Being a guest of honor at a con is pretty sweet, but pretty exhausting too.
  • What a game’s rules don’t do is sometimes at least as important as what they do.
  • Fiasco is really awesome, but chances are you knew that.
  • Mostly, I just need to get off my butt and do stuff.

[1]Alas, unlike Japan, South Korea doesn’t seem to have much of a tabletop RPG scene. Also, 안녕하세요.

6 thoughts on “2010 In Review

  1. “Board game fans have this blind spot that prevents them from seeing that not everyone is into board games.”

    This can be said of ANY group who tries to talk to another who is adamant against that particular like.
    I’ve had some people react to me saying “I don’t follow sports” like I just said “The world is flat and you were adopted.” Unlike RPG fans, board and card games, the RPG’s cousins, don’t often have a major stigma attached to them. In their eyes, why should they not at least give it try? Sometimes it works, some times it doesn’t.

    1. The difference is that I’ve told people I’m not really into board games 3 or 4 times and they’ll still suggest them. That doesn’t happen to me with anything else at all. Ever. If I tell people I’m not into sports they might think I’m weird, but they’ll believe me the first time I say it, and may even preemptively notice how my eyes glaze over while they talk about it. Board game fans, not so much.

      1. You’ve been “lucky”, I suppose. I’ve had to learn how awesome the Lakers are, how everyone hates Kobe Bryant and why Wrestling is “fantastic storytelling.” It doesn’t help matters that your reasoning and associated hobbies (RPGs, competitive online games and puzzles) scream to others that there might be something you’ll like in that realm that you haven’t tried. Is it true? I doubt it.

        I personally only recommend games I think you could learn from in regards to related projects, rather than a way to bond because that avenue about as effective as trying to get me to watch sports on tape.

  2. Happy New Year Ewen! I just want to thank you for being you. I’m serious. Yours in a voice and an insight on the indie and Japanese RPG scene not often encountered any where else.

    I am working on my own game and while not Japanese RPG themed in is definitely inspired by your posts and discussions.

    Here’s hoping you post and podcast more in 2011.

    Take care,

    Barking Alien

  3. Happy New Year!

    I already wondered, since when Japanese would be into making MMORPGs. But later on I realized, of course, Korean. :)

    With that RPG Tasting Club. I thought about trying something of that kind after finishing my Heavy Gear campaign. How do you guys decide on who GMs and wich game to play? Does everybody bring along a game and then you decide the game of the evening or is it planned more thoroughly? How do you handle games that are supposed to “get good” just after a few sessions?

    1. We do very rarely get games that were originally in Japanese, but my job is more about making the rough translations readable.

      For the Friday group we do have a list of potential games in a shared Google Doc, but mostly we just talk about it, and when a game finishes up we talk about what to play the next week, assuming we haven’t already figured it out. The GM (if the game calls for one) is whoever wants to volunteer for it, and so far we’ve been sticking to stuff that’s 3-4 sessions or less, though we’re looking to try something that’ll last a little longer.

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