Sunday, August 28, 2016

Meeting Challenges

Brave the hurricane
No matter where you try to publish anything in any genre, there are an army of challenges to face. A lot of them are in marketing, gaining an audience, and taking rejection. The greatest of all challenges however, are in yourself.

Completing projects are typically the number one hurdle to scale. If there's one thing we authors do well, it's procrastinate. But that's not the only factor to work with. Self doubt, writer's block, and changes in ideas are all common demons of any creative work. Challenging perceived norms is another hurdle, if that's something you do. I know I do because I write stories and apply my universe to board games as well. Some people seem to think that's like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters.

As if the natural layout and environment of challenges weren't enough, you have to challenge yourself. What do I mean by that? I mean you have to push yourself. Whether it's coming up with that new idea or just finishing an art piece of chapter. You have to give yourself deadlines and push for them any way you can. We all know, if we get to that plateau we dream about, the deadlines will be imposed on us. We have to ready ourselves. Practice those deadlines now.

And don't get too down on yourself when a deadline doesn't work. Don't succumb to self doubt.

"If you begin to doubt your power, you lend power to your doubt." Yes, I just quoted an old movie, Mystery Men. Laugh away, but you know he was right.

I have multiple projects on my desk all the time. I have challenges of time management, completion, and self imposed deadlines all over the place. How do I handle them? I put my head into the game and just keep forging forward. It's the only direction worth going in. Right now, as many of you know, I'm pushing work through on my first expansion set for my board game, but that's not all. There is a cool surprise coming right along with that. It's been an additional challenge to keep my mouth shut about it. Then Chessmen2 is in final edits.

I have the challenge of appealing to varied audiences (something I will get more into later on). Board game audiences and book audiences are very different. But if you are a game designer, this advice holds just as true to you as it does an author. You have a lot of work to do in components, rules, and theme. You have management in development and manufacturing depending on how you follow through and what sources you use.

Not unlike being burned alive
Our age of self publishing ability can actually lend to a dangerous level of laziness because it's so damn easy to just publish whatever you want. This means you have an additional challenge of surpassing an ocean of crappy work that's all around you. And all the audiences for all aspects can be not only critical but unforgiving.

There is a lot of wonderful advice out there on developing board games, writing books, and publishing all of the above. I think, the best advice possible, is to just DO the work. And keep doing it. You have to have a special love for this too or you won't be able to handle it when someone says you suck. Another challenge, bad criticism hits hard. But keep doing the work, even if you fall flat on  your face. Your refusal to give up will eventually speak in your favor.

Next time I'll delve into understanding audiences and how diverse they are while being very much the same. Keep creating!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

UPDATE: New card layout!

People are liking it and its official! You get to see it first right here! It's the new card layout for the Galaxy Zento Adventure game. And it's happening right in the first expansion set. All the symbols are the same and definitions are unchanged. Only arrangement of information is different. As you can see, the borderless art stands out even more and information is all in one simply location. I'm working feverishly on getting these done right now.

Click on images for a better look. If you are playing "good", finding this artifact could mean finding a new ally! That would be non other than the top hero of GZ himself!

Fighting him won't be easy and recruiting him isn't a snap either. If you do get him for an ally, the only drawback is that you can no longer evade your enemies. That's because KF never runs from a fight. If you want him as an ally, neither will you.

Let's look at a beast next. In this case, you may find yourself dragged under mid fight! If he rolls a natural 20 against you, your next attack is stuck being and escape roll. Meanwhile, it keeps using its turns to attack you further. Good thing evading it isn't too hard (unless your just having horrid dice rolls that day).

Traps will have the same zing as always. This one is one example of how expensive they can be. Who keep setting these traps anyway?

There are only a few new events in this set, but I guarantee they will shake up the whole table. This one will probably be considered the most drastic. These are adventures where reality itself can take a turn on a dime.

Don't forget powers. The handful of new powers in this set will redefine game play in cool ways. Now you can mess with your opponents or just give yourself a better chance on the draw.

Special art cards. A few, and only a few, will have this special arrangement of art and information. These cards will have action and bright color for added fun. Obviously I couldn't do this with all card art because it just wouldn't work for some of them. I hope the few that are there will give you pause for their special appearance.

I'm really excited about the new look and there are even more surprises still ahead. So stay tuned for the next update. It's not far away!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

How Galaxy Zento got started

Galaxy Zento has been a long running project for me and the stories have been in my head for decades. Today I'm going to tell you how it all got started. It started as my "do it yourself" role playing game that I developed characters for. But it goes even deeper than that.

In my Junior High years art was my great escape and the one thing that actually made the bullies give me a break. It was the one thing I could do well that impressed others. I was also something of a cartoonist. Crazy Harry was my first character and he was a parody of Dirty Harry from the  movies. CH never used a gun, and he really is quite nuts. I gave him a superhero kind of vibe and made him a private detective. It used to be, when he went crazy, his hair would stand straight up on end, and that was how the bad guys knew it was all over for them.

Harry did things I wanted to do to get even with the world for my bullying. Harry was my outlet and no one ever realized it.

Years go by and as some people know, I ran away from home to escape abuse from my step mother. I really had no safe haven except for times when I was neither at home or school. While I nearly got myself killed, my running finally took root and I didn't have to go back. But then I had new problems that aren't for this entry. Eventually it all let to me going to Job Corps in Clearfield, Utah. Job Corps is a place for young people (mostly troubled) to learn a workable skill and grow up for lack of better terms. It wasn't a very nice place, but I did make friends. It was there, in 1987 that Galaxy Zento was born. I created a crew of heroes called PAC and started drawing mini comics of them.

There was a lot of DnD playing going on at the time and it was still in a controversial stage. I couldn't afford the books for DnD so I followed my Godfather's old advice from when I was a kid.

An OLD pic
"Make your own games."  And so I did. I started making a role playing game of my characters and the stories in my head. It wasn't called Galaxy Zento back then, though. It was called Galaxy Wars.

The immediate problem I had with the name was that everyone associated it with Star Wars. I didn't want that. I wanted my universe to stand on its own. Even though I had no idea what directions I would be going with it at just 17 years old. But there it was and I had some friends playing it with me regularly. Eventually I renamed it Galaxy Zento based on the Japanese word for "journey".

My friends enjoyed it enough that they wanted to play it quite often. There isn't a lot of exciting stuff to do during down time in Job Corps and it made for more colorful time spending. And it grew.

I really had no idea how to make a role playing game and my beginning stats were quite laughable. I actually made life points depend on what you had for weaponry in the very very beginning. That's not the case now, I assure you.

That's basically it, how the idea got started and eventually became the books and games it has now. There is more to the history of GZ and I'll be sharing more of those stories soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Late Summer Update!

It's amazing how easy it is to try too hard. Social media is a brilliant tool, but you sure can stumble it up. I know I do. Some people forgive it, others don't. Either way we can only go forward. That brings me to this update!

My awesome son is about to go back to school. While that may not excite him, it means more time out of the day for me to work on my schedule of cool stuff! Hey, it's not easy being an autistic parent raising an autistic child. Boy do I have stories! Sometimes we make for downright comical. Other times we trigger each other in just the wrong ways. My son has  renewed interest in Magic the Gathering. He's learning quick too. It's good to be a gaming family.

Ah, but I need to get on to what's going on GZ!

Several guest artists came forward about a month ago and they selected works off a list to put into the upcoming expansion set for the board game. They are going to be getting back to me around the end of this month (Aug). I'm still doing a  lot of work myself and the pics with this edition are works in progress. The new cards are going to allow you to rebuild the main deck with all sorts of fun and crazy stuff. I've already spoiled some awesome monsters. New spells are on the way now and sneak peeks are forthcoming.

I'm still working on the combat system in side time. It's a system that will allow for up to four (maybe six?) characters in combat with customized decks. That means you can build your deck for just one character (to take on a deck of another character) or form a team!

Also in design is the board for the next expansion: New York! The board is going to have various special effects on cards from the main deck depending on where you are. It will be based on the novel, Chaos Rising with amazing new character types and cursed artifacts.

Finally, I'm working on something else very very special. You won't be able to buy it. It will be a reward or prize. I call it the God Pack. It will be a special set of cards representing the gods of GZ. The special effects they have on the game will be like no other.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of busy work for creation. Gotta keep building and growing. Always more to come.