Immersive Story Methods is Live

March 29, 2008

John Kim’s terrific article from Push 1, Immersive Story Methods for Tabletop Play, is now nicely formatted and available on Bleeding Play. John lays out a solid set of guidelines for running a style of tabletop campaign in which one of the central goals is for the characters to explore their imaginary environment physically, socially, and emotionally.

Hopefully I can get the rest of these up this weekend, now that I’m less focused on other projects. Three more to go.


Website Updates

February 18, 2008 now redirects to this site. Yay!

Also, Emily Care Boss’ terrific article, Collaborative Roleplaying: Reframing the Game is finally formatted properly, as is my much less cool introduction. Emily’s piece is one of the go-to resources about the whys and hows of GM-less and “everbody GMs” play. The other stuff from Push 1 should follow shortly.

Push 1 Up, Needs Formatting

February 8, 2008

Getting closer. All the text from Push 1 is up and I’ve started formatting the introduction and Emily’s article, which are looking pretty sweet actually. Hopefully, by the weekend, I’ll have all the articles formatted properly, with tables and graphics included. Good luck understanding Mridangam without the gestures to go with it 🙂

In the formatted articles, I’ve stuck in links at the top to the PDF version of the entire book and the last few print copies available through IPR. Once those are gone, the book will only be available through Lulu and I probably won’t even bring copies to conventions. So if you’ve been planning on getting a print copy of Push 1 and don’t normally make Lulu orders, this could be your last chance.

Site Revamp Underway

February 5, 2008

I got the approval of the Push 1 contributors to post their articles online, so I’ve begun putting them up over on the new Push 1 page. So far, the only article up is my introduction, but I’m using it to fine-tune the CSS before going down the list and posting the other articles. Eventually PDF versions of the articles will be up too. Then it’s on to Push 2.

I’m also trying to redo the overall look of the website to prepare it to host the domain name and become the core of my publishing activities. Hopefully none of the feeds will change, so everyone can just keep being subscribed to this blog. More updates as I get more material posted.

Revisions to My Publishing Model

February 4, 2008

Finally, an update after a long hiatus. I’ve been dealing with work and real life for the past several months, without much time to devote to Push 2, but I’m beginning to gear up again.

My time away from working on Push has given me new insights into how to make the journal a less stressful and more productive project for me. Hopefully, my fellow contributors can get exciting about the new plan with me, since it’ll be more difficult (if not impossible) to implement without their cooperation. I’ve been ruminating and speaking with a few folks about my plans, but things really started to get rolling when Brennan Taylor emailed me that Indie Press Revolution was running out of copies of Push 1. I wrote in return:

I’m currently in the middle of rethinking my publishing operation. Like Clinton, I’m excited about turning my business back into a hobby and we’ve been trying to brainstorm on how to do this. Unfortunately,
it’ll likely require removing Push 1 from distribution through IPR, which I probably should have warned you about earlier. I apologize. But I think my products will be gradually moving to a free, at cost, or for charity, non-profit model.

This is not at all a reflection on my dissatisfaction with IPR. IPR is the greatest thing that’s happened to indie roleplaying in a long time. The move is really a reflection of my dissatisfaction with self-publishing under the model established by folks on the Forge. It’s a great model, but it doesn’t really fit my publishing goals, so I’m going to try to figure out something else. It may crash and burn horribly and I may come crawling back to IPR, hat in hand (or have new products a year or so down the road that are meant for this model), but I feel like I need to at least give this a shot.

I hope you understand and I really look forward to the opportunity to work with you and/or IPR in the future.

Brennan was very gracious about this, as I expected he would be, and even expressed his sympathies, since IPR has always dominated more of his game design and play time more than he wanted it to, I think. Being involved in publishing or distribution is not a small commitment. I certainly do not envy Brennan the amount of work it takes to run IPR, even with the excellent help he has now in Fred Hicks.

Then, the IPR member publishers — on the mailing list that I am still a member of, for now — began discussing what it would take for IPR to collectively put out a magazine of short articles or supplemental game materials. I wrote in reponse to some of this discussion:

I’m in the midst of totally revising the way I do Push, hopefully making it much easier for me to administer, and I can imagine doing an IPR magazine under a similar format. What I’m thinking about doing with Push is:

  • edit / layout one article at a time, working with the author(s) directly
  • post each article online in HTML / PDF format as the editing / layout is finished
  • once I have a number of articles done (say 5), enough for an issue, collect them and make that issue available in print
  • move on to prepping articles for the next issue

This kind of “rolling” publication model might work really well for an IPR magazine, because you do it in chunks, one piece at a time. That means that progress occurs in measurable steps and you only have to hound one contributor at a time instead of the “herding cats” approach I previously took with Push (and Matt took with Daedalus, I gather).

Certainly, one of the things I’ve always found the most challenging about Push is knowing which piece of the puzzle to tackle on any given day. For example, as I prepare to get back to work on Push 2, what’s my next move? Do I contact Eero about suggested revisions / additions to his game about memory palaces? Do I do redlines for Bill White’s article about using roleplaying games as educational tools in the classroom? Do I edit Thomas Robertson’s interview of Sarah Kahn into something that we can publish? Do I contact the various people who haven’t sent in drafts yet, talking them through whatever writing difficulties they’ve been having? Under the old model, I felt like I had to do all of the above at the same time, keeping track of everything but never really feeling like I was making progress on the issue as a whole.

I’m really excited about the prospects of working on a issue one article at a time, working with the author when they are available and ready to turn out a finished product. And then being able to post it once it’s done, have one article in the bag for a given issue, get immediate feedback on the posted article through the website (feedback that might eventually be included in the marginal commentary in the print version), and move on to the next piece of the puzzle. That seems, to me, like a model that’s likely to work much better with my busy schedule and the busy schedules of all the other contributors.

I’ve already contacted the contributors to Push 1, asking if I can cease commercial sales of that issue and post the contents online, in preparations for Push 2. Now, my next step is contacting folks who submitted or planned to submit to Push 2 and run this new plan by them. Hopefully they’ll still be interested and I can start polishing up existing drafts for immediate release on this website, which I’ve already begun revising. First up will probably be Eero’s game and Bill’s article + game, assuming everything goes well. Can’t wait.

Rob Runs RAND

July 9, 2007

While we were all sleeping, Rob McDougall secretly posted another section of his Secret Pre-History of Roleplaying thing. It’s super interesting, since it’s tangentially related to my day job.

Also, in other news, Timothy Burke, of Swarthmore and Terra Nova, has this to say about the possibility of writing something for Push:

    I loved Rob’s article and the publication, and I’ve been thinking about material that might well suit what you’ve got in mind. I recently wrote an essay for a volume on games and politics that was primarily about how players try to influence developer actions. One of the minor arguments in the essay is that the “grammar” of player-developer politics has been historically influenced by the relation between players and GMs in pen-and-paper role-playing, that there are structural inheritances. Let me think a bit on this and come back at you with an abstract…

So we might have Tim Burke dropping some science about MMORGs in Push 2 or, if deadlines are extra tight, Push 3. Exciting!

Meet Madeline

July 6, 2007

So I met Maddy through my brother a few years back and it just so happens that she’s a BNF (that’s Big Name Fan) in the online freeform Harry Potter fandom roleplaying scene, which has probably more total people involved in it than any tabletop roleplaying game. She’s working on an article for Push 2 and, using Thomas Robertson’s interview with Sarah Kahn as a starting point (unfortunately, it’s not available on the web anymore), we talked a bit about her experience with HP-based online play. Read the rest of this entry »