09 Oct

Is Your Game able to Withstand a Board Gamer?

Board Gamers make Magnificent Testers

Board Gamers make Magnificent TestersMy friend broke Elvenar.

I don’t know if it’s been changed since – I don’t play Elvenar myself – but if you do, and don’t want any spoilers, skip this post.

But enough with the disclaimers, on with the show.

My friend is a gamer, more specifically a board gamer. More specifically, my friend is a very, very good board gamer. And what differentiates board games from computer games (except for the whole “board” thing) is that in a board game the entire game system is always exposed.

Think about it – in a board game you see all the cogs and wheels all the time. You don’t get any graphics between you and the rules. You don’t have any unknown variables (ok, a draw deck of cards can be an unknown but you know that it’s there – you’ll never be in a position where variable X is secretly controlled by variable Y). What you see is what you get, and you get all the rules up front. Read More

05 Oct

How to Write 15 Novels in a Year – An Interview with Jason Halstead

I write because I breathe, Jason Halstead quote

I write because I breathe, Jason Halstead quote Jason Halstead is a prolific writer. In the six years since publishing his first novel, he has added over 70 novel credits to his name – and that doesn’t include some 35 novels written under pen names or co-written with his wife Dawn Michelle. How does he do it?

“I write because I breathe,” says Jason Halstead. “It’s as important to me as eating, drinking, my family, and my hobby of lifting weights. It defines who I am not because I want it to, but because I have made it a core part of me.”

During the day, Jason Halstead is a regular Joe, spending 45 to 50 hours a week as a Lead Software Developer. He’s also a competition power lifter (in 2009 he set two state records in the Son-Light Powerlifting Federation of Michigan), a father, and a husband. On a typical day he gets up at 5:45 (he sleeps in until 6:30 on weekends), exercises, works, takes care of the business side of writing, and then writes a chapter or 2 500 words, whichever is less, before going to bed around 11 pm. Read More

25 Sep

Forget Followers, You Want Fans!

Fan Schlock Mercenary quote

Fan Schlock Mercenary quoteI like Schlock Mercenary. I read the comic every day. I buy pretty much every Schlock merchandise that comes along. That doesn’t make me a fan.

What makes me a fan is that whenever someone asks about comics, I mention Schlock Mercenary. When I talk to someone about idle time, or surfing the web, or entertainment, I mention Schlock Mercenary. Whenever people talk about SF, or humor or anthropomorphic piles of poop wielding plasma cannons, I mention Schlock Mercenary.

The difference between a fan and a follower is not how much money or time they spend on your stuff. The difference is that a fan will actively try to broaden your fan base. Fans engage non-followers in order to make them followers.

And that makes fans the most valuable resource you could have. These are the people who will work in your booth for the honor of wearing a Munchkin t-shirt. These are the people who will repeatedly post links to your stuff in their Facebook accounts. These are the people you want on your side.

So how do you get fans? Read More

14 Sep

What’s Stopping You?

Work on it, James Altucher quote

Work on it, James Altucher quoteI’ve got a friend who designs games and his games are good. I don’t mean good as in “hey, dude, good game”. I mean GOOD. I like his games and I’m not even close to their target audience. If I were I’d be drooling at the opportunity to play again. And yet…

And yet my friend doesn’t do anything with his games. He pulls them out occasionally on game nights. He tinkers with them, making small changes that he sometimes reverts. Sure, he’d like to have his games published but…

Maybe he doesn’t know how. Maybe he doesn’t know anything about the business side of game design and he’s scared to find out. Maybe he doesn’t even know where to start finding out.

Perhaps he’s afraid that he’ll be rejected (that’s a given, everyone, even brilliant designers with brilliant designs, get rejected). Perhaps he’s got bad experiences with money, or authority figures or showcasing his work. Whatever it is, it’s stopping him from moving on.

Me, I’ve moved on. Read More

24 Aug

The Guide to a Professional Writing Career – Douglas Smith’s “Playing the Short Game” Review

Write and submit, rinse and repeat, Douglas Smith quote

Write and submit, rinse and repeat, Douglas Smith quote I can’t tell you what you should write. That’s entirely up to you. But if you are the least bit interested in having a career as a fiction writer then I can tell you what to read: Douglas Smith’s “Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction”. From now on this is my go-to book for all things related to starting and maintaining my fiction writing career. Read More

21 Aug

Breaking In the Hard Way

Chance of publication quote

Chance of publication quote Breaking in is hard.

I have some friends who are published. Things are easier for them. I have some friends who have best-selling games. Things are even more easy for them.

We like to think that our game’s qualities matter. They do, but that’s only part of the truth. The full truth is this: “Chance of publication = Game qualities + Name”, and when you start out your Name = null.

Having a name is more than having a name. It’s knowing people in the business, it’s being known by people in the business. It’s having a fan base, no matter how small, that you can point to when you try to sell. It’s being able to sell directly to your fans. Read More

03 Jul

No One Will Care as Much as You

No one will care as much as you quote

No one will care as much as you quote Here’s the most important thing to remember about anyone you hire for any task:

No one else will care about your business as much as you do. No one else will work as hard as you do. No one else will ever have as much at stake in your business as you do.

– Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The above was written in regards to when to hire employees into your business but it might just as well have been about the games you design. The ugly truth is that no one else will care about your games as much as you do. No one else will work as hard on your games as you do and no one else will have as much of a stake in your games as you do. Read More

26 Jun

The Biggest Ego Boost Imaginable

The greatest ego boost quote

The greatest ego boost quoteI remember the first time I sold an article. It was in the spring of 2003 and I was in the Journalism and media programme at Gothemburg university. I had just finished my first on-site practice at a newspaper, a full two weeks of real journalist work where I went out and interviewed people on the town about such important matters as if they thought the cold spring would make strawberries scarce for midsummer, how many liters they planned to buy and whether they liked strawberries at all.

I had done a whole day at the feature desk, writing about a school play, and gotten some pretty good feedback on the piece (“hey Filip, this is pretty nice”). So once my time at the paper was over I went to the feature editor and asked to do an article about webcomics.

In 2003 this was a new and edgy topic – comics that could be read on the internet for free? You’ve got to be kidding me!

The editor said yes. Read More

05 Jun

Consider This Before Going Pro With Your Hobby Skills

Money in hand

Money in handI’ve gone pro with my skills twice.

Once as a writer, once as a photographer. I went pro and I went freelance since that’s what pros do. I managed to make it to around $20 000/year with my writing as a freelance (yes, that’s more than you earn working minimum wage – but not much). With photography I realized quite early that yes, I enjoy photography but no, I won’t enjoy making a living out of it. In fact, if I do make a living out of it I’ll enjoy it less, to the point where I’ll quit enjoying it at all.

Why am I writing this? Because I do enjoy writing. I enjoy it to the point where I do make a living from it and still keep writing.

I’m not sure that I want to reach that point with my game designing. Which isn’t something one should write on a blog about game design, a blog a potential employer, or partner, or publisher might read and decide that, no, we don’t want to hire/publish/work with this semi-pro bozo.

See the sacrifices I’m making for my craft?

Seriously though, there’s a very important point in knowing whether you want to design as a hobbyist, a semi-pro or a pro. Read More

10 May

Fight Mediocrity Review: Classic Business Books – in 10 Minutes Flat

Fight Mediocrity logo

Fight Mediocrity logoI’m a fan of business and self-help books. I like the idea of developing myself, of becoming better at what I do, of working more efficiently, knowing more, being happier.

Trouble is, I don’t have the time to read that I would like to have. I snatch minutes here, minutes there (and no, I don’t watch TV). But recently I stumbled across a great YouTube channel: Fight Mediocrity.

This guy is the animaniacs meets Cliff Notes of business and personal development book reviews. He takes an entire book and reduces it to the core concepts – complete with personal stories and explanations thrown in. So now I can speed-read (ok, watch) the classics in 10 minutes flat.

Yeah, you don’t get all the nifty tales and examples from the books. On the other hand you don’t need to spend hours upon hour reading. And his analyses are pretty spot on. I feel that I do get what the books are about from the short overviews and if I want more I can always get the book in question.

To sum it up: it’s fun, it’s accessible and it’s educational. One of those rare moments when what is good for you is also tasty. Go watch.

Here’s a sample:

Linky: Fight Mediocrity YouTube channel