Showing posts with label Jess Hartley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jess Hartley. Show all posts

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Shattered Glass Project -- Jess Hartley's Fiction Foray into the Open Design Wilderness

A couple of years back Wolfgang Baur began a project that leveraged the hobby gamers' desire to support game designers they enjoy to create a revenue generating project taking advantage of the distribution possibilities the internet offers. With his "Open Design Project," Baur asked fans to become Patrons of role playing game adventures that he would design in collaboration with some patrons and distribute back to all the individuals who patronized his project. There were various levels of patronage that allowed for a greater, or lesser, role of creative input by the Patrons and also allowed for more individualized product offerings at the termination of a given project. For example, a high ranking patron would not only be allowed to have input on the content of the adventure, but would receive a signed copy of a printed version of the product as well.

Early in the process, the Patrons and Baur discussed whether finished products should be available for sale to the community at large upon completion -- perhaps after a given timeframe of Patron exclusivity. The answer was often some variation of, "No! We supported the work, we want to keep it special." Supporting a project often entailed a much higher price tag than is associated with buying a typical adventure at a hobby store, so the sentiment is easy to understand. This isn't to say that there haven't been projects "made public." Baur has done patroned work that was intended for public sales upon completion, and the vast number of Open Design bit torrents available has demonstrated the willingness of some patrons to completely ignore Baur's copyright -- and the rights of exclusivity shared by other patrons -- in order to make the "information free yo!"

In fact, it was upon seeing a group at my local gaming store playing an early Patron project that the GM announced proudly he had downloaded from a torrent that I cooled off on my patronage of Baur projects. I am still a patron of all of his projects, as of today, but the broad availability of torrents and my lack of time to participate actively has led to me reducing the level of my Patron status. I tend to be a mere "patron" rather than a glorious "Patron of the Arts," as I was in the past. Baur's project is inventive, and he is one of the better designers out there. He deserves your support, and not your scouring of the internet for a "freebie."

Speaking of deserving your support, on March 20th of this year Jess Hartley -- of White Wolf and other RPG design fame -- announced that she was beginning a patron supported project of her own. She calls the project The Shattered Glass Project and describes it as follows:

What is Shattered Glass?

Shattered Glass is a modern fairy (urban fae) short story, penned by Jess Hartley, which will be made available for a limited time, exclusively to patrons of The Shattered Glass Project.

What is The Shattered Glass Project?

The Shattered Glass Project is many things. It's an experiment. It's a work of fiction. It's a solution. It's a piece of art. And it's your chance to be directly involved in my work.

Why "Shattered Glass?"

Shattered Glass is the splintering of reality that happens when a person realizes that the world is not quite as they believed it to be. It is destruction, from which both damage and opportunity may arise. It speaks of magic mirrors and ice queens, of vandalized store windows and shattered windshields. It's the fragile nature of everything precious, and the value both of protecting that which we hold dear and knowing when to move on to something else when what we love is no longer good for us.

If you enjoy the thematic writing within the White Wolf gaming line, Jess Hartley is one of the writers who makes the flavor text of their games so engrossing. And let's be fair, it is the flavor text of the White Wolf games that helped them start a minor revolution that re-invigorated the role playing game hobby. For readers of White Wolf's flavor text, books and films like Twilight and Vampire Diaries are merely part of an existing obsession rather than new takes on older narrative tropes. As a contributor to White Wolf her work has been primarily within the re-imagined World of Darkness of the 21st century (if she contributed to the works in the 90s I apologize for limiting my credit giving to the more recent work), a re-imagining that broadened the scope of the line of narrative horror games. She has contributed to works within all aspects of the World of Darkness, but her largest area of contribution has been in the Changeling game line. In its 1990s incarnation, the Changeling game setting seemed mildly out of place. The game, with its focus on Faeries and the Fairy Court, seemed slightly out of place with the urban horror focus of the rest of the World of Darkness. With the re-invention of the line, and Hartley's contribution, in the 21st century version there is no longer room for doubt that Faeries can be as horrifying as Vampires, Werewolves, and "constructs."

With The Shattered Glass Project, Hartley is bringing her personal take on urban fae storytelling and I am looking forward to seeing the results. I have signed up as an "Artisan Patron." If I am going to participate in a Patronage project, I like to have something physical to which I can lay claim. I just don't trust that some other patron won't violate Hartley's copyright and make the digital version available beyond the "limited time." Which is a shame as all the revenue patrons contribute goes straight to the artist, which negates any "corporate overlords cheating artists" argument in support of piracy, and the virtual patronages are a very reasonable $5.

If you can't spend $5 to support an artist you admire instead of taking the product of their hard work for free, then you don't really admire the artist. Actions speak louder than words.

So if you are in mood for a -- possibly pretty dark -- modern fairy tale, give Jess Hartley's project a little support. I can't wait to see the results.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sporadic Geek Update 11-17: Jess Hartley, Matt Forbeck, and Assault Girls

Here are a couple of items that caught my eye as I wandered the internet today:

  • Jess Hartley has a good "One Geek to Another" column up today discussing "Networking and Cross-Promotion." Her site, and columns, are on my regular must read list. She is an inciteful veteran of the gaming industry who regularly shares tips for the aspiring game designer and reviewer.

  • Tulkinghorn over at "The Hungry Ghost" pointed me toward what looks to be a combination of geek awesomeness -- ASSAULT GIRLS. A live action film with Big Guns, Kick Ass Women -- some with angel wings, Giant Sand Worms, all blended together through the Anime Transmogrifier.

  • Reactor 88 has released a conceptual trailer for a film based on Matt Forbeck's excellent BRAVE NEW WORLD roleplaying game.

  • Thanks to SF Signal, I discovered who have public domain books which they have kindly translated into a number of formats...including Kindle.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jess Hartley Provides Convention Advice for the Aspiring Game Professional

It is a maxim that every Game Master is a game designer to one degree or another.

It is also a maxim that every Game Master believes that he or she is a good enough designer to make a living making games and supplements.

The hard truth is that not every Game Master has what it takes to make a great gaming product, even when he or she is a wonderful Game Master. Additionally, there are some very talented designers out there in the gaming community who lack the confidence and experience to properly sell themselves to game companies who could use their talents. Sadly, there is a dearth of really great resources for advice for the aspiring game designer.

Okay, I hear you disagreeing already. There are a few tomes on Game Design Theory that reference bizarre sounding names like Huizinga and DeKoven. There are also hundreds of books covering Game Design for computer games. Then there are the "how to work for company x" panels at conventions and the recent Mongoose product "I am Mongoose and So Can You."

But even with all these resources, there is still a dearth really great resources for advice for the aspiring game designer...on how to acquire a career in the gaming industry. Truth be told, when you look at how many of today's giants in the gaming field became game designers there are a seemingly endless variety of paths to becoming a game designer -- and little guidance. Do I work in the warehouse shipping out games like Greg Costikyan did? Do I send my game setting in as a submission to a major company? Do I submit articles to their online/print magazine? Do I write some of the most rigorously researched campaign compilation material ever imagined for free consumption on the internet?

There are a hundred different stories to tell, each is different and none are really helpful to the mildly socially awkward individual that is your average gamer.

What is the best way to get that foot in the door and start building a professional relationship with a company you might want to work with? One answer, though certainly not THE answer, is to use the convention circuit as a "job interview" resource. It can be a daunting prospect and one that might make you nervous, but if you talk to most gaming professionals they will let you know that many business decisions are made at conventions or based on convention experiences.

This is where Jess Hartley's "GenCon for the Aspiring Professional" comes in handy. This sixteen page document provides a veritable crash course on "pitching" behavior at conventions, and its information can easily be applied to other situations. The document is a nice step by step guide of things to consider, things to bring, things to say, and things not to say. It must reading for anyone who wants to work in the gaming industry.

Jess knows what of she writes too. She is a veteran game designer who has worked on a number of wonderful products. She has worked on game related fiction -- including Buried Tales of Pinebox, Texas (as a Savage Worlds fan any one who writes for the Pinebox setting gets bonus esteem points in my patented gaming professional esteem-o-meter 2500). Additionally, she has been a central author in White Wolf Games new generation line of World of Darkness products and their exciting Scion game line. She is also one of the contributors to Green Ronin's upcoming Family Games: The 100 Best.

If you're interested in working in the games industry, check out Jess's pamphlet. You might also want to check out her excellent website which features a fun advice column entitled "One Geek to Another."

My only complaint about the website is that the "heading banner" doesn't have an embedded link to the home page. The link is on the side banner, but I like clicking on the header.