Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Awesome Gamer Podcasts and More

Today I'm going to talk about some talents that I support in the gaming and creative genres. If you love any form of the talents I'm talking about today, you need to check these guys out! I can't tell you how important independent talent really is. There is so much to see outside of the main media that you really are missing out if you don't check them out. So let us get down to it right away.

Jason L Elliott (PaladinElliott): This man is an up and coming reviewer recently recognized by Board Game Geek's official website. He runs a podcast called Ready to Game (Link will take you to his second posting of the podcast). In that he talks about games he's tried, gaming opinion, how to play, what's coming up and all sorts of gaming related goodness. Catch him at his brand new blogspot HERE.   He did a review of my game, Marshmallow Fight (link takes you to the Boardgame Geek page where you can find the review). Watch this guy because he's going places.

Jason Pierce (Gorebad): He runs the acclaimed Twitch channel, Howreroll. It's amazingly entertaining with decorum and innovative gaming style. You can catch his blog HERE. What to say about this guy? Shoot, when you click on Howreroll, scroll down to Gorebad's intro. He's been gaming since 1979 in DnD and other paper and pencil games. He had his own shop in the UK, ran games at Gencon in Europe. Now he raises funds for St Judes Children's Research Hospital. What's really cool about that is that he's local to me. I can get in my car and go talk to him. If you want to see an innovative way to present DnD to an internet audience you have to see his channel!

Tortured Earth: Speaking of DnD (but this isn't) here's a new class of role playing game created by K.B Kidder and Artice Dowdey. Check out the official web page HERE. These amazing creators are also local to me, but that's not the reason they get to have word here. Their game, a class-less and level-less role player set in an apocolyptic future promises a seamless transition for integrated characters of unique scale. Genres include fantasy, horror and science fiction. It's style shows right away that this is not just another "everything but the kitchen sink" role player. It has it's own established style and form that is bound to put it on the map. As an RPG designer myself, I'm telling you not to miss out on this experience.

J Morgan: A romantic fantasy author with Desert Breeze Publishing with over 20 books under his belt. The link will take you straight to his books. If you want to see a new take on vampires, he's your guy. I particularly like the Scrolls of Eternity series. He has a new age young adult flair that's hard to miss.

Kingdom Death: A recent gaming experience I had showed me that planning to play some games, may mean watching them. I've never died so fast in my life, especially on the first play of a game. That's not to knock the game though. I found the game to be amazing if not incredibly complicated in its build. So what happened? Well, we played as a crew of villagers headed out on a dangerous hunt for a white lion creature. In going on the hunt there are a series of event cards you turn over. The very first card revealed a giant worm creature that sprang from the ground. The card said, anyone carrying an item marked as "noisy" was dead. Well, I had a harp and it was marked as "noisy" so my character's immediate mission for the remainder of the game was indigestion. The other players felt terrible as it was my first time even gaming with them. I laughed it off and told them not to worry about it. I wasn't concerned. I watched the game play out and next time I'm sure I'll last an event or two longer. HERE is the game's website. Be prepared to make a substantial monetary investment for this game.

That's about it for this weeks journey. Don't forget to visit the Facebook page and get in on the free drawing that's going on! The clock is ticking!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pre-Summer Update! Seriously Good!

There is a ton of stuff going on and it is seriously good. Let's kick things off today with the drawing that is still gathering names for this pile of goodies (plus a sweet black coffee mug!). I've decided there will be runner ups for additional prizes because this has gone pretty well in gaining interest! To spell out what's in the picture (or what you get so far) it's a copy of each of my games; The Galaxy Zento Adventure game and Marshmallow Fight (the links will take you to their Gamecrafter pages), a complimentary bag of marshmallows, a sample card for GZ's first expansion set, a cool magnet, and all four of my books that set the lore for GZ. The edition of Marshmallow Fight is a prototype edition but it still looks and plays great.

HOW TO GET IN ON THE DRAWING: You just visit the GZ Facebook page and follow the instructions in the pinned post. It's really simple. You make sure you hit "like" for the page and share the pinned post. That's it! I'll get an alert and put your name in! Sorry, for US residents only this time.

If you don't want to deal with all that but Marshmallow Fight looks like crazy fun to you, it's on sale NOW for 23.99 on TheGamecrafter. Just hit the link above to order your copy! Of course, I'll be signing everything from the giveaway (wink). You do get an improved game in several ways with ordering though, I must admit. Only in a few small ways though.

So let's talk about Marshmallow Fight for a second. What is this? The name alone sounds like crazy fun. Well it is! It's a game for 3-6 players (but you could feasibly have more than that) ages 6 and up that last for about 15 minutes per game. The win condition is achieving 10 points before anyone else. You do that, by completing stunts with, you guessed it, marshmallows. Each player takes a turn revealing a card from the 36 card stunt deck and doing the stunts that they reveal. It's just that easy! There are two things that the game calls for that don't come with it; a bag of marshmallows and a clean dry coffee cup. But marshmallows are cheap and everyone has at least something like a coffee cup right? Oh, I neglected to mention that you will be throwing them at each other at some point in the game, possibly more than once. Hence it's name!

The game is easy to learn but the stunts may just have you rolling.

In additional news, I'm nearly finished with the first draft of Chessmen book two, The Queen's Gambit where the Chyssian solar system is in greater danger than ever when a plot to kill the Chessmen backfires. If you read the first book and though it was packed with action, book two will positively blow you away.

After that it's time to get to work on the first expansion for GZ the Adventure game to make it even crazier than it already is. That's the awesome thing about making this game customizable. This set is going to add so much to play.

That's it for this update, stay tuned, there is always more on the way!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Our experience at Southern Geekfest!

Photo by John Ethridge
We made it! Not only that but I have to say that I had the best convention experience I have ever had.

The con was arranged by the awesome people of Southern Geek, spearheaded by Rafe White and Tim Nicholas. With an awesome crew of volunteers they did a wonderful job of making this convention run very well. I know there were many times it didn't feel that way to Rafe as he was on the run non-stop.

The convention had everything you could hope for! A huge list of celebrities for autographs, amazing cosplayers from casual to pro, astounding artists, talented authors, a board gaming section, and vendors of geek paraphernalia. TEAAM for autism was there with their amazing Doctor Who Dalek laser game and a couple of cool TARDIS boxes for photos. ECTO1 from Ghostbusters was there as well as the awesome car from Supernaturnal.
Hangin with Discount Dark Knight and Capn Murica

Amazing people. That's what made this convention so special. I met people that I had only known online up to this point. Yes, that's something that I've done before, but this was the best meetup I had ever known by far. Southern Geek is a truly fantastic group of people. Everyone was friendly and glad to be there. Someone was always stopping by just to see how we were doing. The camaraderie was at factor 11. That doesn't even include the great people who came to see my board game or books. I had some wonderful discussions with people about my brand and everything in it. I'm still stoked today after this incredible weekend.

I was also on a panel for autism at conventions and it was such an honor to be involved. We discussed autism friendly environments, how to help someone who is being overwhelmed, and creativity in autism. Everyone on the panel had very educational information. Just one more great experience to add to the weekend.

Since this was a first time for me running a table (for my wife as well), I was a bit nervous. It went so smoothly, that I don't think I could have had a better first time experience if I tried.

For us, our convention fuse is lit. Now to figure out what we will do next!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February Update!

Bad Wolf Bar-Con is only a few short weeks away! As in, less than three! That's at the Bad Wolf Bar and Grill in Marrero, Louisiana on March 12! We are very excited to get there! And yes, that's a link to the event page on Facebook. I will have a small stock of all four of my books and will be demoing the board game. It should be outrageous fun. So, for those of you anywhere near that area, don't miss out! (And don't forget Southern Geek Fest in April!)

Writing is continuing on Chessmen 2 with so much action, your head will spin. Ever see a Minotaur take down a whole starship? You will in this story. It's the most astounding line up and collection of characters I've put together yet and the whoop-ass just does not stop. The image I'm using for this post is of Warhorse and he's in it too. I'm really having too much fun with it.

Artwork has started for the expansion set to the board game. If you haven't got your hands on it, you still can at The Game Crafter and the page for the game itself is right HERE. Check out the description and give it a whirl. For try before you buy, there is something of a free print and play available on the Board Game Geek page, HERE. You can at least see all the cards and the rules. I will say the actual game does look way better than the PNP. And it's only 44.99; not bad for trying out a new game. And when you buy the game you support growth for GZ!

GZ is more than just it's stories. It's stories, books, games, and aiming for so much more. We want GZ to go everywhere it can. That means toys, apps, miniatures, and who knows what else! It's started out much like a lot of ideas start out. I just do this at my home right now with a laptop and a few cute programs. The building will never stop.

What can I say? I love making heroes and I love making their stories.

Speaking of stories; if you send the words "free book" to Galaxyzento@gmail.com, you will get a free PDF of my first novel, Chessmen: Opening Moves. You will also be added to a mailing list (NO spam) that will lead to future sneak peaks and more. I don't send out to it very often, but when I do, who knows what coolness I will send your way. Hope you'll join in!

Coming up is also a little thing I'm calling "The Mad Men of March". No universe is complete without its crazies and I'm going to post all new artwork of them!

This brings me to one more thing that has had a very interesting outcome. Last year (and still recently) there's been some significant hating on the artwork for Galaxy Zento. It was so much that it actually made the artwork controversial. Well, today I thank the haters because they actually increased visibility of GZ by a good strong leap. Not everyone is going to love the looks of the game or other art representation, and that's fine. What they don't understand is that the artwork carries a special meaning. It's dedicated to people with disabilities who keep on struggling for their dreams, no matter what.

The fact that I can still do any of this, is pretty amazing. Those who actually get to know me (and I'm pretty approachable) know that I have multiple sclerosis and autism. I'm losing the coordination in my hands to a point that many daily tasks can be difficult. Yet, I still manage, with great effort, the artwork and writings that you see. I walk with a can and I'm one step away from a wheelchair. A lot of people would give up and just sit in the corner. I won't do that. I fight and I do my best to inspire others to do the same. This especially goes for my son (who has autism) who needs to see that his disabled, at home Dad doesn't ever give up.

The fact that I can hold up one of my books or my game and say "I did it all, even when my body didn't want to" speaks volumes.. Eventually there will be other artists and designers, but for now, this is the start of it all.

That's the update for now. More news coming soon! Hit me up for that free PDF!

Friday, February 5, 2016

The SPAM trap: Getting your product known on social media

I don't play golf, but I sometimes find myself comparing my journey with my brand to hitting a ball out of a sand trap. But what I call the "SPAM" trap is much harder to miss. When you are trying to get your brand out to your prospective audience, you have to remember one thing:

EVERYONE HATES SPAM.

And everyone seems to have a hair trigger response to anything they think qualifies as spam. There was a discussion on the Boardgame Geek Facebook page recently that highlighted this very point. It began with this:


This led to a long drawn out and very messy conversation/debate from many angles. But then someone added this:


It rings true. There is such a fine line between being seen as spam and getting actual interest in your product that it's decayed and broken. It's like tightrope walking on a wire that's fiber thin. So what do you do? Well, you can look to the advice of those proven successful or simply look at what they do.

James Mathe (Minion Games) and Jamey Stegmaier (Stonemaier Games) are established pillars of the gaming community in multiple fashion. They each have blogs that will give you detailed examples and "how to"s that are considered the cornerstones of game manufacturing information today. But how did they do that? And what if you aren't going to be a blog writer gaming guru? 

I asked James Mathe and his group over at Tabletop Game Kickstarter Advice how you get word out without becoming a spammer. 

James Mathe said, "That's not an easy question to answer. You kind of have to be a spammer; but a nice one that doesn't go overboard."

But how to do that?

James Campbell of "I will never grow up gaming" said: "Contribute to the wider community for months before getting the word out. Don't push your product continuously. Provide helpful and informative commentary about things other than your product regularly."

And he's absolutely right. You have to give people a chance to get to know you as a person. Not as a designer or anything else. A person. After all, unless your brand skyrocketed and got word out everywhere at once, no one knows who you are. It's going to take time in talking to people and learning about their interests. That means that not all your posts should be about your product. The same rings true for books if you are an author. So what do you do? 

While it's hard to post to lots of groups and keep up, you should try to be involved as much as you can. But you should only post updates about your product once a week at maximum. All the rest should be interest in group discussions. Your product may become relevant to some discussions, but avoid making all discussions sideline to your game or book. Take interest in other peoples interests. If you don't have tons of advice to offer, then become the student rather than the teacher. Aim to learn new stories, games, and get to know people for who they are. 

Over time as people watch you online (and make no mistake, they will be watching) interest will grow. You will get approached with questions. When that happens, you are in a good position. Don't overdo it. Keep your response simple and give a link to where they can get a good look at your game ( if you aren't on Boardgame Geek, why not?). Or be able to give a nutshell run down on your game. Then leave it up to them to continue for more information. I like to give a link to my page on Boardgame Geek and remain approachable if they have questions. 

Never send unsolicited messages to people in social media about your game. If you see someone posting interest in a game like yours. Ask them on the public forum: Hey, I have a game that fits what you are asking for, would you like to know more about it? Then back off. 

Keep these realities in mind; even though you have an accomplishment you want to shout to the mountain tops.

-People hear about this guy or that guy has made a new game, every single day. Some people get sick of it. So bear that in mind. The better they know who you are, the more likely they may want to hear what you have to say.

-There is no holy grail of gaming. Don't pop in out of nowhere and claim that your game is the greatest ever made. It's one of the biggest red flags out there.

-Never bash another designer, especially when you're new. Just don't do it. Stick with what's good about your and your brand, not what's bad about someone else's.

-Patience is a virtue, no matter what aspect of your brand or reaching people you are thinking of. Rushing only looks desperate.

Do you have a tip you'd like to share? Feel free to post in comments. 


Monday, January 25, 2016

You may enjoy the GZ Board game IF...

Because such exciting times are coming up in the next couple of months, it seems fitting to share this list. I'm still seeking the audience I know is out there for my game. In that I'm still hard at work learning new ways to reach people (hopefully without falling into the spam trap). I'm going to have to dedicate a blog to that later on.

Besides that, if you like any of the following in your games, you may find GZ to be quite a bit of enjoyable fun!

-If you like rolling D20s for any reason: The 20 sider is used heavily in the game for almost everything you have to roll dice for. It's for escaping traps, recruiting allies, combat, evading enemies and more. The simple combat system employs taking turns with D20 rolls to hit your targets defense. First person to score three hits wins the combat. No chance of ties.

-If you are a fan of games like Munchkin. Mostly the random draw from the main deck, gives the game style a little bit of a "munchkin feel". Kind of like "kicking in doors" for Munchkin, for every move you make on the board for GZ, you reveal a card from the main deck and deal with what ever jumps out at you. It's a randomization that will keep your game on its toes.

-If you like games you can customize or change with expansions: The planned expansions will allow you to change your game up in practically any way you want. You decide what kind of characters, monsters, and traps will await you on your mission. And it doesn't stop with just those. Items, spells, artifacts, and special events are all available to spice things up.

-If you like to beat up other players: Because you totally can! Not only can attacking your opponents be fun, it can keep them from completing their mission before you do the same. The game is all about completing your mission before anyone else does theirs. A well timed combat can really slow someone down. Player revenge has not been uncommon among players so far.

-If you like fantasy adventure with original characters: With the game based on the characters from my first novel (with a 3.5 star rating on Amazon), you get to interact with a unique character base. You don't have to know the story to enjoy the game, but it sure doesn't hurt. As I'm currently working on my fifth book, you can expect the adventures to continue! But guess what, you may be able to get a free copy the book as a pdf, just for being involved with GZ!

Yep, all you have to do is send me a request to be on the GZ mailing list for updates, stories, and more. Once you send me your email address (that will not be shared) I will send you a pdf copy of Chessmen: Opening Moves. With the king and queen of Chyssia dead, only an infant stands in the way of the killer taking the throne. After being framed for the royal murders, the royal guard have no choice to but to take their princess on the run to protect her. They face mercenaries, assassins, and monsters but those are only the beginning.

It's a great chance to get your read on! Now, if any of the above are of interest to you in your games, then you are just the people I am looking for! Check out the free print and play where you can read the rules for yourself!


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Early schedule for 2016!

Oh yes! 2016 is starting with a bang. I have two events to tell you about and you can bet I'm planning on having plenty of goodies to hand out!

I'm so honored to have been invited to these events, I can't even relay it in effective words. Just so you all know.

Bar Con at Bad Wolf! Starting at high noon on March 12th will be a con unlike most I've ever heard of. It will be held at the Bad Wolf Bar and Grill in Marrero, Louisiana. I'm going to be there with my wife. We will have the books, the board game, and goodies! My wife will also have some great geek stuff from her project (partnered with GZ) Passions by Pecanflower. I'll get more into her work in a minute! This really looks to be a unique and amazing event!

Southern GeekFest! April 2nd and 3rd will see us in Hattiesburg, MS for the first ever of it's kind, Southern Geekfest con! You best check out the link because the guest list is already huge! I can already tell that, for being a new con, it's going to be mind blowing! Again, dear wife will be with me and you can meet us both! More books, games and goodies!

For the creative schedule, my next direct projects are finishing Chessmen 2 and getting work done on the expansion set for the board game. This first expansion of cards are really going to spice up the game. You're going to have the ability to tailor your game experience with all new characters, artifacts, and spells. There's even a CURSED artifact! The art is going to take some cool new directions with guest artists to make the game even more unique. The next expansion after this will actually have a new board with bearing a new location and new effects! I'm really excited about this.

The schedule follows the books that have already been released, so you can get an inside view by reading the stories.

Now I want to tell you about Passions by Pecanflower. My wife Lisa Hale makes the coolest crocheted geek things in our given area. Her best work by far has been the Dr. Who scarf. But she's great at so very much. The link is to her Facebook page. Don't worry, she'll be posting more there soon. But she makes dice bags, geek scarves, and pretty much anything else. Her prices are good too. She'll have some works to show off at the events mentioned right next to me. Be sure to add her page to your favorites!

That's the update for now but there is so much more to come. 2016 is going to be a great year!