Tabletop roleplaying and digital game designer Jared A. Sorensen has been a mainstay of the indie scene since the turn of the millennium. He’s probably best know for his roleplaying game InSpectres, about busting ghosts while balancing the budget, but he’s worked across projects across the gaming spectrum.
Jared is one of my classic guests. I first spoke with him for Episode 8, all the way back in 2012, and I’m glad to have him back on to talk about his latest project, a hardcover compilation of his Parsely series of party games inspired by the text-based computer adventures of the seventies and eighties. As of this posting, the Kickstarter for the Parsely book has finished with over 300% of the requested target!
Join us for a chat about nightclubbing spiders, the great screenwriter in the sky, running a game at a planetarium, adjectives and expletives in Australia and the United States and being a travelling mad scientist!
Miniature model maker Fon Davis has worked on over thirty feature films across a two decade career. He’s an alumnus of the Industrial Light and Magic Model Shop and Disney, having produced concept art and made models for Starship Troopers, Galaxy Quest, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline. Recently, he’s worked on Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy and Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium.
Fon founded his own design and fabrication studio, Fonco Creative, in 1997 in San Francisco, and after setting up shop in the premises of Vanaheim Studios in Los Angeles, he bought the whole 16,000 square foot facility out at the end of first quarter 2017, renaming it Fonco Studios.
Join us for a fantastic chat about the importance of a portfolio in the special effects industry (and why Fon didn’t wind up needing one when he interviewed at ILM), the possibilities of virtual reality in entertainment, how special effects folks insert themselves into the movies they work on and the questions from the show’s Patreon backers!
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!
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 →
Cosplayer and game master Kimi is better known as the Golden Lasso Girl, which ought to tell you that she’s a full on geek. She absolutely loves Wonder Woman, not just as an arse-kicking superhero but as an icon of feminine empowerment. Naturally, Kimi’s enthusiasm for cosplay has led her to attending many conventions in various iterations of a Wonder Woman costume, but also for creating a YouTube channel for which Kimi records tutorials for cosplay and crafting. Kimi’s skill is such that one of her cosplay designs for a “bombshell” version of Big Barda was adopted by DC Comics as Barda’s official outfit in their Bombshells comic!
On to of that, Kimi loves tabletop roleplaying games, so much so that not only has she assumed the role of game master for her friends, she’s also become co-host of the Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast. This show features a crew of gamers getting together to answer listeners’ questions and have an enthusiastic chat about RPGs over a few bevvies. (Yes, that’s alcoholic.)
Kimi and I have a great chat about her interest in metalworking, getting into cosplay by wanting to show the professionals how to make a Wonder Woman costume, being one of the cool teachers at school, the joys and struggles of game mastering, sharing your hobby loves in podcasts and how-to videos and the wisdom of deciding not to monetise your passions.
Professional prop-maker Steven Meissner owns and operates SoloRoboto Industries as a full-time business. He makes custom and replica props, weapons, and accessories for cosplayers and collectors, and has occasionally made trophies for other companies, as well as worked on projects for the odd TV commercial.
Steven and I have a great chat about discovering that other people will pay you to make cosplay costumes for them, running the maths on your passion business, teaching yourself your craft with the help of a community, and what it means to live in a city that no one grew up in and where everyone’s pursuing a dream.
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!
Online fiction authors and multimedia producers Birdy and Mike Diamond follow a concept they call “Fiction Isn’t,” which they discovered whilst exploring psychic channeling. It’s the idea that, when authors say that their characters suddenly started telling their own stories, that’s what’s really happening: the author has made a mental link to actual people in realms elsewhere from ours. Instead of creating stories, authors are writing the biographies of these people.
Birdy and Mike are making early ventures in getting paid to play under their brand, JourneyBirds’ Wonderland. They’ve created a Patreon page to support their works, which include Arrows in Flight, an Arrow-inspired vigilante story; Church of the Guardian Angel, where two unlikely servants of a cat goddess quietly work to keep the world sane; and Crosswell’s Flying Circus, an unusual airshow company dragged into a dark conspiracy (all of which feature readings by yours truly)! They’ve also developed some tools to help writers find inspiration and crank their daily word count out!
I chat with Birdy and Mike about getting serious about writing whilst being trapped in a hospital bed, psychic hyperlinks, the struggle to be open about yourself in a society that frowns on the unusual, warbird outfits, winning NaNoWriMo, minimum viable perfection and how fiction facilitates the conversations we need to have about the issues that truly matter.
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.