Production manager and writer Ryan Schapals works for the LA online media studio Hyper RPG. His job is to turn tabletop roleplaying games into live performance-based narrative experiences on the video streaming website Twitch.
Prior to joining the HyperRPG team, Ryan worked with computer game company Harebrained Schemes as a writer for the app-enhanced tabletop miniatures game Golem Arcana. Right now he’s juggling his minion duties at Hyper RPG building the world of Amaurea’s Dawn for a new tabletop roleplaying game rule set, Open Legend.
Join us for a chat about the second-guessing voices in the back of your head, getting into roleplaying games through Neverwinter Nights, turning down the opportunity to be on-screen talent and the zen experience of doing the dishes!
Game director, producer, writer and designer Neil Rennison is the original founder of Tin Man Games, a company that brings the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks of Eighties childhoods back to life as apps. Neil has worked in the computer and video games industry for over fifteen years. He’s been involved in over fifty published games including such high profile titles as the Need For Speed series, Nascar series, The Sims series and the Tiger Woods Golf series for a variety of platforms including iPhone, DS, PSP, and Wii.
Neil has had a number of articles published in 3D World magazine & PC Format, has dabbled in university lecturing, is an adjudicator for government funding in games, and has given talks at various gaming conventions and gatherings of the International Game Developers Association.
Listen in for a great chat about the snowball effect, going freelance in the video game industry, being asked by the superstar in your business to adapt one of his works and that odd sensation of, “I could be perfectly happy staying where I am now – but…”
Heroes of the Storm fan and coach of Texas A&M Team Maroon Zac is better known within the eSports community as The IMP. A former competitive player himself, Zac is working to get his team of five college students to the winner’s podium of the 2017 Heroes of the Dorm league; not only that, Zac applies his skill in Heroes of the Storm through freelance coaching of anyone looking to better their game!
As this episode goes to air, Team Maroon will be in the final matches of the the Group Stages and Playoffs of Heroes of the Dorm, but Zac has confirmed that they’ve now won enough matches to make it into the Championship Brackets starting on March 18th; if the team wins all four Bracket matches, they’ll be through to the Top Four final rounds on April 8th. The champion team will come away with each player’s college tuition covered for up to three years!
Listen in as Zac and I have a great chat about taking a group of alpha males and making them work together, the time commitments required of a competitive gamer, the sheer complexity of playing a Heroes of the Storm hero, the difference between a melee and ranged flex player and his ambition to return to the college competitive leagues as a player in 2018! Continue reading →
Veteran video game designer and roleplaying game master Steven Lumpkin has worked for some of the biggest names in the online gaming industry, including Red Storm Entertanment, the makers of the Rainbow Six franchise, and Funcom, the makers of Age of Conan, Anarchy Online and The Secret World, as a level designer. His job was creating the tense action scenes that have challenged players across the globe as they venture through these games’ vast virtual worlds.
Steven is now working on the Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise, but has gone from creating levels to working on the basic infrastructure of the game itself as a game designer.
Steven is also a lover of tabletop roleplaying games. He’s been a game master for the RollPlay team on the Twitch channel ItMeJP, where he ran the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition campaign, The West Marches, which featured a huge rotating roster of streaming and YouTube celebrity players. While Steven was on hiatus at the time of recording, he’s since returned to gaming with a new campaign on his own Twitch and YouTube channels and is looking forward to GMing for the Misscliks and other channels!
Steven and I talk about having a day job in gaming while pursuing a musical hobby in his off hours, the reality of working quality assurance in the video game industry, taking out the trash in online game encounter design, how to manage the “crunch” cycle at the end of pre-release game development and staying chill when gaming with some of the biggest names in live streaming.
Creative Director for Paizo, inc., James L. Sutter, is one of the privileged few who helps us geeks combine board gaming, improvisation and flights of imagination via the hobby of the tabletop roleplaying game. He co-developed the rules for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, which lets players adventure through dungeons and slay dragons, and was recently appointed as the Creative Director of the upcoming Starfinder Roleplaying Game which will shift the high fantasy world of Pathfinder a few thousand years into the future and add starships, lasers and cyborgs to Pathfinder’s elves, dwarves and magic swords.
Not only does James write for RPGs, but James is also a keen fiction author. He manages the the Pathfinder Tales novel line for Paizo and has written two novels for it; Death’s Heretic and The Redemption Engine, as well as a multitude of short stories for other publications. James enjoys playing with high-concept ideas like the meaning of atheism in a world where deities are objective fact.
James and I have a great chat about a high school teacher who encouraged his students to create their own RPGs, getting his arse handed to him in Wheel of Fortune, evolving timelines in game products, the joys of communal living and the spirit of adventure at the heart of tabletop roleplaying games!
Television host and actor Steven O’Donnell is better known to gamers across Australia as Bajo, one of the four hosts of the ABC television show Good Game. Bajo’s prestige amongst the Australian geek community has made him a go-to guest and MC for pop culture conventions.
Bajo has acted in close to 40 short films and 6 independent features and is part of a team developing a new children’s TV show for the ABC, which has just been green-lit after four years of development. If that’s not enough, Bajo and fellow Good Game host Hex have written a children’s book series called Pixel Raiders for Scholastic.
Bajo and I have a great chat about night-long Counter-Strike marathons four days a week, making children cry at Warner Bros. Movie World, the sheer amount of work involved in making multiple television shows each week, seeking out challenges that make you feel uncomfortable and how community is at the heart of any passion!
Game designer and writer Monte Cook has worked on hundreds of roleplaying and board game products. He co-designed the Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, served as design consultant on the Pathfinder roleplaying game and, in 2012, co-founded Monte Cook Games, LLC. As Creative Director and Lead Designer, Monte co-created the Cypher System roleplaying game rules that are the heart of The Strange and the award-winning Numenera.
Monte also bends his writerly talents to novels and fiction, comic books and nonfiction works. In his spare time, he makes the odd YouTube series with fellow geeks, like the a tongue-in-cheek take on ghost hunting reality shows, Geek Seekers, co-starring Jen Page.
Please listen for a great chat about sleeping on couches while interning with an RPG company, some of the dearly departed brands of the RPG industry, why you shouldn’t listen to gossip about the “big guys” and the differences between working for and running an RPG company.
Board game marketer Brittanie Boe, known to pretty much everyone as Bebo, is an example of paid to play success for those of us who feel like life has locked us into the nine-to-five. She is a single mother and lover of board games who had a day job working in the marketing department of an insurance company.
Now, Bebo is the marketer for a board game distributor, managing multiple social media channels with a team of fellow enthusiasts, attending industry and fan conventions and generally helping enthusiasts find the right games for their tastes. On top of all that, she works from her home!
And if that’s not enough, Bebo joins forces with my guest for episode 77, Teri Litorco; together, they are the blogging, YouTubing and podcasting duo of tabletop gaming, The Board Dames!
It was great chatting with Bebo about how she transitioned from day-job dullness to work-from-home wonderment, how Bebo’s friends and family help stop her from losing herself in work and what her next steps will be – as well as her not-so-secret desire to form a country music band!
Tabletop roleplaying game GM Adam Koebel is at the forefront of an explosion of RPG popularity online. Though the creative storytelling hobby of tabletop roleplaying games have been around since the advent of Dungeons & Dragons in the mid-seventies, it’s only in the last few years that people have been able to harness live streaming and YouTube videos to present their play for others’ entertainment.
Adam is currently the Game Master in Residence at Roll20, a platform for playing tabletop RPGs across the Internet, and GM of the RollPlay: Swan Song and Rollplay: Balance of Power campaigns for Twitch live-streaming channel itmeJP.
Adam also co-designed the award-winning Dungeon World tabletop roleplaying game and streams analytical content and video game play from Vancouver, Canada. Join me as I have a great geek-out over a shared hobby and chat about how modern technology is enabling not just RPGs as entertainment, but all us hobbyists a chance to improve our skills and find our audiences!
Tonja Davis is an incredible fusion of geek and fitness enthusiast. She’s not only worked in technology and for one of the biggest business names in the geek world, she’s also taken her own struggles with with chronic illness and injuries – in her own words, “If there’s something you can break, I probably broke it!” – and turned them into programmes to help those whom the mainstream fitness industry neglects.
The business born of the fusion of these loves is Action Hero Fitness, a comic book-themed body and health coaching business that aims to help geeks struggling with fitness. Tonja levers web technology and even online-enabled game consoles to run coaching sessions for people whose health issues prevent them from going to gyms or outdoor fitness courses.