2012 in Review

Apparently it’s going to be a regular thing that I write a year in review blog post (with some images pulled from safebooru). Overall I’d say it was a good year for me as a writer and designer, and a so-so year in terms of actual gaming. Where last year I was in a really memorable Smallville/PTA game, this year nothing quite gelled that well. We had some fun with a retro space opera game done in FATE, played a bit of GSS, did a good amount of Dragon World, and did a heck of a lot of Channel A playtesting.

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One of the biggest developments for me as a gamer was that I discovered I love talky, creative party card games. I tried Cards Against Humanity for the first time, then in short order I got my own copy and made my own expansions. By and large I’m not a big fan of board games, but I found that I really like when they have some element of socialization or creativity as a core activity. I went on to design two card games of my own, Channel A and i.hate.everyone.

Although I did a good amount of work on Magical Burst, in 2012 the big winners for me were Dragon World and Channel A. I posted up versions 0.1 and 0.2 of the Dragon World Hack, and got in a dozen or so game sessions. Although it has a ways to go before it’ll be ready for publication, I did make some considerable improvements, and Monsterhearts inspired me to do a better job of making the AW rules my own. Channel A came into being in a rush of inspiration. It was sufficiently simple and on-target that it was relatively easy to get in enough playtesting to refine it with unusual speed. I went as far as to put together a color prototype for printing through The Game Crafter, and after another round of refinements made it available for purchase. There’s some really exciting stuff cooking with Channel A, but nothing I’m quite ready to talk about publicly just yet.

During the last few months of 2012 I was unusually prolific in how much I wrote. In October I made some more progress with the next draft of Magical Burst, in November I wrote the first draft of a Magical Burst novel, and in December I started on Magic School Diaries, Retail Magic, and a new version of Peerless Food Fighters, AND wrote the first draft of the Yaruki Zero book. Magic School Diaries is a solo RPG that will work as a sort of guided writing exercise, where you play a student at a modern-day school of magic, kind of like Harry Potter with a mix of American and anime sensibilities. Retail Magic is a game where you play employees at a magic item shop in a fantasy world, and will use the Maid RPG rules. I conceived of it basically because I wanted to share the awesomeness of the Maid rules with people who can’t handle playing maids, but it’s also a game concept I’ve been wanting to do something with for many years. I posted up a first draft of the new Peerless Food Fighters the other day, but it has major design flaws that I need to address before I do anything more with it.

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Of the blog posts I did this year, two were fairly large and substantial. One was a lengthy overview of the rise and fall of Guardians of Order. My interest in mixing anime and RPGs made GoO’s products and history stand out in my mind, and not for the first or last time I wrote a history, from my own point of view, of something few people have really written about. I also wrote a long post called “The Assumptions,” where I outlined what I felt were the overriding cliches and assumptions of RPGs, and discussed how and why we should be breaking those a bit more than we are. That kind of writing is what led me to start putting together a book titled Yaruki Zero: Collected Thoughts on Role-Playing Games. I had started with the idea of simply collecting some blog posts, but I very quickly found myself doing major revisions and writing a huge amount of new material (some of which I’m going to be posting up here). I’m currently in the process of finishing up the second draft before I send it to a for-reals editor (an acquaintance named Ellen Marlowe), and just yesterday my friend C. Ellis sent me a sketch of the cover I hired her to do for it. At the rate it’s going I’ll launch the book (through places like Lulu, CreateSpace, the Kindle store, etc.) in a few months.

Golden Sky Stories has been dragging on for a while now. It’s no Tenra Bansho Zero, but it’s certainly taking a lot longer than anyone concerned would prefer. A lot of that has to do with my business partner having a rough time with his employment situation, though I won’t pretend we’ve been going at full steam like maybe we should have. The good news is that the layout is about 99.9% done, we already put out a free preview replay, and we’ve got a bunch of really neat bonus material lined up. My latest e-mail exchange with Kamiya brought news that there are two more new character types we’ll be able to do in English. We’re hoping to get the Kickstarter moving in the next couple months, but it depends a lot on how Real Life decides to treat us.

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