Thursday, July 2, 2015

Building your workspace

For the longest time, I've been doing my typing and art in the dining room that we don't use for anything else. The office was split diagonally for my actual work space and my wife's computer. Then my wife made me an offer to go ahead and just move my artistic stuff to the dining room. I went a touch further and converted it to an official space.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to being creative it helps to surround yourself with your creations. Past that, things that inspire your imagination. Heroclix, for example, is my favorite game. I put quite a few on display as inspiration and my collection will actually be moved under the table soon. You can see the heroclix all over the two white shelf units on the right side of my work space. Those shelves also hold dictionary, thesaurus and art books. I'm not done with the organization yet, but you can see where it's headed.

On the left side you can see my geek shelf. It has all sorts of cool geekiness that has been randomly collected. Some are gifts, like the Monty Python rabbit and some are from Loot Crate. There's a giant heroclix figure because he doesn't fit anywhere else. But then we
get to the most important parts of this arrangement. That would be the creations of the Galaxy Zento universe. In the white shelves there is a copy of the role playing game. You can see the art posted all around.

Then there's the table. I built that table from a solid wood door and banquet table legs some 10 years ago. I burned a mural of my universe in the top of it. It was in the office but I had two strong guys from across the street move it for me. No way I can move it myself anymore. It's blasted heavy. A hundred pounds easy. When I work at my table, it's like being there. It's a solid piece of my creativity. It inspires.

Now on to the shadow box you see on the left wall. That's also very special to me. In it are custom heroclix figures of my characters. Yes, it's a little known dream that one fine day I can have a heroclix set of Galaxy Zento. Alas, my characters need to be a lot more popular for that to happen. Still, it was fun to make them back when I could do that sort of thing. And they are for my own enjoyment, not meant to infringe on Heroclix in anyway. The cool thing  is how tangible it makes my characters. Sadly, it's not their exact features, but pretty darn close.

It did wear me out to do all this, but it sure feels worth it. Today I'll finish sprucing it up and then I'll getting to more creative work.

(click on images for closer view)

For better views of the table go HERE.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Tabletop, Wil Wheaton, and Internet Judgment

(Language warning)

Incidents with Wil Wheaton's blog last week created an uproar on the net of tidal proportions. Who doesn't know that Wil Wheaton runs the coolest game demoing show on the net? If you haven't watched Tabletop, you are missing out. Alas, his third season has had some problems that he comes out to explain in the following of his blog posts:

TABLETOP, KINGDOM BUILDER AND SCREWING UP THE RULES

CRITICAL FAILURE

Before I get too far, I'm going to quote Wil on that second blog post where he says something that hits remarkably close to home for me and my project.

Note that first sentence. It's of incredible importance. It's a solemn reminder that we are human. Something that people seem to want to cast aside when it comes to the internet. You aren't allowed to be human on the internet. The entirety of both those blog posts show that Wil is just that, human. It shows that he deals with all the same bull that someone new to the industry can deal with.

It's also an important lesson in dealing with people who aren't going to like what you do. It's a lesson I learned, but I wasn't prepared for the level of gross "shitting on" I was going to receive. It honestly took me by surprise. As Wil said in his second blog post, he may not have responded to the issues in the best way he could. Same goes for me. But there are points for everyone when the needling just hits that nerve one too many times.

You're supposed to always be positive and always wear a happy face. But that's not the human thing to do when people are taking that gratuitous dump on your work.

When my art work was attacked; hold on, let me explain that. It felt like being attacked because the feedback consisted of unhelpful negative remarks given in force of numbers. When 8-15 people line up in one comment thread to say things like:

"Your work looks like a five year old did it."
"It looks purposely bad."
"It's abysmal."
"My kid could do better on MS Paint."
"Hire someone else to do it."

It's only natural to feel  outnumbered and it shook me up. Then I had people ask me questions that they clearly didn't want the answers to. When they got the answer they said I was full of excuses. But you know what all that really means? Two things.

-I'll never impress those people with anything. No, Nothing. Accept it.
-Those are the absolute wrong people for me to show my work to.

My artwork is my achievement. Do I expect it to be the permanent face of my project. No I don't. But it's still my achievement. These people have no idea how  hard it was for me to do what I did, and frankly, they don't give two shits.

So I have to get this going in my mind. When someone lines up to shit on my work, I need to dismiss them. I have too much to do to worry about their woes. If they have a constructive idea to toss my way, I'm all cool with that. If they just don't like my games or stories. That's fine too.

But even in the practice of that, I'm human. Has being human alienated me? Probably to some degree. I feel bad about that, but I just have to dust myself off and keep working.

I think Wil Wheaton is going to bounce back from this and keep doing amazing things. I'm sure I can follow that example.

I have to stick with the facts that matter too. People who have played my game have enjoyed it. I have published two books. I have actually fully developed and designed a prototype in solid cardboard. These are my achievements. Let no amount of elitist shit ever tarnish them.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New board game prototype: It's a GO!

I just got this in the mail today. As prototypes go, it's definitely good enough for demos.

Let me say something up front for my critics and anyone else who wants to know: this is not the final look of my game. This is a prototype. Prototypes don't have to look perfect, they have to be playable. And this is.

I've gotten some great tips on rule tweaks, many of which have already been added. The cards are crisp, clear and readable. They shuffle well. It all performs like a pro made game. The Game Crafter does a pretty good job with their stuff.

The board. I am very happy with it and I must say it's exactly how I want it to represent the worlds depicted in my novel. It's a little weird with the theme of the cards, but once related to the story, I think it's forgivable. I have other boards planned for expansions that will definitely help out.

The cards, when I get them, I do have to go through and sort the cards based on what deck they are supposed to be in. Since the backs of the cards are clearly marked, this is a minor issue. I love the little ziploc baggies they send. They really help with game storage and to keep decks separate.

Everyone has really loved the little plastic meeples. There are several types to choose from, but these fit the board very well.

Artwork depicts very clearly, maybe too much so for some nuances. However, it's not a final product. One day I will have extra help (not that such isn't in consideration right now: hint hint).

This also serves as proof my game exists.

Some people out there are wondering what my future plans are for GZ. How do I intend to become a company? Well, as I've said before: everyone has to start somewhere. It's as simple as that. Right now, anyone who jumps in, needs to be aware that I'm asking them to take some risks with me. I need a graphic artist for one and likely a team of like minded people for another. But here's the thing, I'm not just going to sit here and do nothing until I find one. I'm building something here and I'm going to keep building until the day comes that I'm totally incapable of doing so. I refuse to just sit and stare at the wall just because I don't have the funds to hire someone. Great business minds have done the exact same thing and wound up with their own empires. Need and example?

The owner of Papa John's started in a broom closet at a bar. People laughed at him. They criticized him. They said a business like that isn't "worthy" because it's in  broom closet. And who's laughing or mocking now? He kept right on going and focused on those who were willing to try his pizza and look past the fact that he was operating out of broom closet. Sure, there are still people who hate his pizza today. Good thing he doesn't need them. Those who tried it, came back for more.

Those who have tried my game, have liked it. I don't expect everyone to love love love it. That's scientifically impossible. But for those who are going to tell me just can't do this, expect the brush off from now on. I'm sorry, but being told to go hire someone else isn't constructive or helpful and is already in my docket of plans. I will just no longer respond to anyone who can't do any more than bash my work, tell me I'm full of excuses, or any other negativity that I just don't need. For those who continue, I tell you what, live someone's life before you sneer at it. If you fail at this, fate may just lend a hand one day.

So, for those who are patient and willing to work with a person on a timetable, I have playtesting opportunities coming up. I have print and play available and I'm ordering one (sometimes 2) prototypes to send out to people per month. It's what I can do. If that's too much to bear, have a nice day, week, life.

Monday, June 15, 2015

As many of you know, the artwork for my game has been under a lot of scrutiny and ridicule. My skin is getting thicker, but recently I asked for input on my gaming page as it sits on Boardgame Geek's website.  LINK.

I can handle the fact that artwork is up to the person viewing. For everyone who says they hate my work, I have someone who says they like it. But recently someone went too far with their dislike of my work. And I'm pretty sure they've never even played it. They can't have, so what I'm about to show you is an example of a pretty rotten  thing to do.

Take a look at the image and allow me to explain. There are option on games listed on BGG that allow you, the player, to vote on your recommendations for how a game should be played. The red arrows indicate the answers someone came and lodged on the page.

First Arrow: This points to someone's opinion that my game is "not best with any number of players".

Second Arrow: This points to someone's opinion that may game is "not recommended with any number of players".

Third Arrow: This points to someone's opinion that the age range on my game should be from "6 to 8" years of age.

Now I've had some mean things said to me about my work followed with nothing helpful whatsoever. I've also had very helpful people give me tips on how to move forward. But this isn't about the helpful people (who seem to be rare these days). This is about the infantile children that play cutthroat and sabotage on people's hard work. This is about the long line of people I've had to line up whenever they see me to take a ferocious dump on anything I do.

They want me to give up and disappear for reasons I can't fathom. They will fail.

Online bullies only steel my resolve.

I'm actually quite disappointed with the behavior I've seen from some gamers. We tout that we are such an understanding geek community and then someone does things like this.

So, you don't like my artwork. You say I should hire someone. I'd love to, but I can't. I'm starting from very humble beginnings since I'm disabled (they probably hate disabled people) and have a family to take care of.  So maybe you don't realize it, but everyone has to start from somewhere. So I'm lucky I can still do any artwork as it is.

You don't like what I stand for? Good for you. You don't have to sabotage me for it.

Maybe I should be flattered that some are so threatened by my presence that they have to pull hate games like this.

I refuse to be destroyed by the likes of online bullies who think they need to control what people get to play or build.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Gearing up for Print and Play! And a bit more.

It seems there is some decent demand for games in the Print and Play society. One notable is Cards Against Humanity. There are others too. I'm putting together a print and play version of Galaxy Zento and hope to get it into players hands, for guess how much?

NOTHING.

That's right, pretty simple right? I'm not totally sure how I will make it available. I will likely give it out via email to certain folks who enjoy print and play games or who want to give it a go.

Lining up the pages hasn't been easy. You can see what I've done in Photoshop. The idea is that you print it all out and put the decks together. You can play on any board with a sufficient amount of spaces OR draw your own board with a big ol piece of cardboard, ruler and marker. That doesn't mean I won't have the board available though. Depends on how tech savvy you are when it comes to images and printing. I'm not.

It seems weird to give away my game like that, but the reports I get back is that people who enjoy my game are more likely to order the hard copy. The hard copy isn't available yet as I'm still waiting for a new copy of my game to get to me so I can check the new designs I added. The same designs you see right here.

As for local friends who want to score a copy, I may have a way for them to do so if they wish. I'm still working on that. What I'm considering will require patience however, because I have to have it printed and sent to me before sending to others. But that means a signed copy so you have that to look forward to, if that's a direction I take. I will probably do so at something of a discount from the aimed price of 45 dollars. Maybe 40 plus the 12 dollars shipping.

One thing is for certain, there is a lot more to putting together a game than I even thought of. And I thought of quite a bit.

So, if you would be interested in a print and play copy of my game, hit me up at my Email: Galaxyzento@gmail.com. First come first serve.

Warning: it is a big file and in color, but you can always set your printer to black and white.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Just the start of the summer giveaways!

I'm finally jumping into an area of  promoting that I hadn't before. I'm actually going to give out some seriously cool free stuff.

Tomorrow I will begin with a 3 day event that allows you to get Chessmen, the fantasy novel, for free as the ebook version. All you have to have is the kindle app and you're golden. Guess what, the kindle app is free too! So there's really no reason not to jump in and grab yourself a book. The only thing I hope people will do in return is to return to the Amazon page later on, and do the 'star vote' thing to rate what you read. Even doing that is free. And no one has to write out anything, but if you do I consider that a bonus and I'll be quite grateful! Here is the LINK. But really it's also in the upper right of this page, my author's page.

Each of my books can only have ONE promotion like this in a month, so you can bet, that the book of short stories will be up next and not far behind.

But I'm not stopping there. How many of you would like to have your own print and play version of the Galaxy Zento game? It's a board game, but the cool trick to it is, that you don't actually need the official board to play the game. You can play GZ on any board game with a sufficient amount of square spaces to move around. Put a pair of chess boards next to each other if you want!. More on that will come later for you print and play fans out there, just know that.

I'm also still working on getting the new novel Chaos Rising ready to hit the shelf! It's not far from done, I promise. Then there is the next book of short stories and Chessmen book 2. So work is still being plugged away at.

On the board game front, we may go ahead and make the game available at The Game Crafter for a very fair price of 45 bucks. That is pending the next prototype I ordered this month. When we get a look at it, we will decide the next move. This should not affect print and play.

So much to learn and discover and so little time to cram it all together. I'm working on more than that, but I honestly have no idea what that all will be just yet. So stay tuned, there is more to come!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Off Track: Avengers vs Revengers

I almost never write about other companies' characters, but I saw this interesting graphic and it spurred something in me. So I wrote this up, a basic fan fiction. Not a lot to it, but it gets it's own point across. It's totally based on the movie franchises and not comics in any way. Remember that as you red and I hope you enjoy it


Avengers against Revengers.
Here’s how it would start:  The Cennobites are in control and set loose the other horror monsters on New York for all the delicious pain they’ll cause. Freddy is the Captain of the team because he’s the only other one with brains equal to power (which ticks off Chucky to no end).

Here’s how it ends:
Chucky likes the chicks so he goes after Black Widow. Chucky likes to go for the legs first to bring down his prey. He may get that first hit, but after that, she’ll be onto him. Since we are talking about the movie universe, we can’t forget that there is another lady Avenger in training that may not be far away. Namely, Scarlet Witch. Scarlet’s powers are mystical in their existence and she can sense not only Chucky but the Cennobite pals he brought with him. Now Chucky is in real trouble because his ability to act through the doll body is mystical and Scarlet screws that up ten ways to Sunday. Chucky winds up either disenchanted or paralyzed. The Cennobite drones only have so much to fight with to being with, outside of their own dimension, so they go down like good cannon fodder often does.

Next we look at Leatherface who was set loose on the general population with a troop of Cennobites. Here comes Captain America. After the fights he’s been through, a jerk with a chainsaw is not going to scare him. And I’d lay odds he can take down 20 Cennobites without getting tired. You see, all the horror movie creeps are great at killing ordinary people, but that’s not the case now. Now they’re trying to step up to killing extraordinary people and even gods. Not going to happen. We see Leatherface quickly disarmed (and I mean a shield throw that cuts his arms right off) and then another shield throw that pins Leatherfaces head to a wall, cutting it in half cross ways.

Scream takes a trip to Hawkeye’s house. Do I even have to explain what’s going to happen? Even if he takes a squad of Cennobites with him. How many alien deaths are already under the archer’s belt? Go back and count if you have to. You have two full movies worth of fodder to figure it out with. Scream is a nobody compared to the other horror freaks. No powers, nothing. Sure, he’s really sneaky against teenage girls, but he’s way out of his league here.

Pennywise gets sent to create pure chaos in New York, but I have to tell you, it’s going to be very short lived. But he does have Micheal and Jason helping out. Before I tell you what happens, let just remind you that Pennywise was killed with a freaking asthma inhaler. He has only one movie under his belt not much of a body count. He’s a one trick pony here and his true form is just a big spider. By this point, Avengers are closing on the attack.

Cennobites are everywhere. Here comes Thor and Vision. Pennywise’s true form can’t hide from the Mind Gem. Vision gets right to him first and fries himself a big ol spider. Because when it comes to what can kill Pennywise consider which can do more damage; asthma inhaler or mind gem? I’ll let you think about it. 

The Cennobites have no chance against Thor who wipes them out by the dozen with each swing of his hammer. Here come Michael and Jason to team up on the God of Thunder. Since they are so hard to kill by conventional means (which is nothing more than ‘cute’ to Thor) they’re really just a pair of crash test dummies to the big Asgardian. But he may  not get the time he wants to bat them around. Cap, Widow, Scarlet Witch, and a very angry Hawkeye just arrived.

Meanwhile, Stark and Dr. Banner are working on tech to send the Cennobites back to their own dimension. Time for Freddy to take hand. Ol Freddy decides he can take down the biggest and strongest of the pair and jumps into the head of Dr. Banner who slumps to the floor unconscious. I suppose it’s not the worst strategy, but he quickly discovers that, even asleep, Banner is not alone. The shock of meeting Hulk’s mind instead of Banner’s throws Freddy into the physical world, with Hulk right on his heels. Hulk takes him right through a super enforced concrete wall while shouting something about puny blades. He gives Freddy the same treatment he once gave Loki. Freddy doesn’t take the beating nearly as well as Loki could. Next it’s chains and fish hooks from the newly attacking Cennobites. Sure, that’s a good idea, cause now Hulk is really pissed! I’ll let your imagination take it from there, but the Cennobites are dead meat.

Ironman goes into action at this point, but he needs to get his device to downtown NewYork and fast. Meanwhile, Jason and Michael are done for. There is a certain limit for both of them where they have to go back to Hell to regenerate. As you know, that takes at least an average of 5 years (time between movies hahaha) and they more than take that as soon as they get hit by the combined force of the now present Avengers. Heck, Hawkeye gets Jason for himself with a grenade arrow. Michael is fried to dust by lighting combined with hex bolts.


But now comes the big bad! The Cennobite leader himself, good ole Pinhead. And while the rest of the team fights and Ironman sets up his device, it will be just one avenger that puts him over the barrel for a whooping of epic proportions. It’s Vision with the Mind Gem. Vision is the one member of the Avengers that the Cennobites have completely zero chance against. Why? Because they take people on measure of how they can feel pain. Vision doesn’t even register the word. Starks device is trigger and Vision gives Pinhead a royal beat down that will redefine pain for the Cennobite leader forever. And then they’re gone. The winners of the fray, Avengers!