The Post-Dreamation 2017 Post

I’m less than twenty-four hours removed from the last day of Dreamation, and before I lose the majority of my day to a crowded inbox and a variety of social media platforms, I wanted to put down a length of thoughts about what I experienced this past weekend at Dreamation.

Up front, let me repeat what I’ve said for years: Double Exposure runs an amazing convention. This has far more to do with how orderly the chaos seems, how kind the people are, and how filled with opportunity every event can be rather than the fact that their three conventions (Dreamation, Dexcon, and Metatopia) are held within 15 minutes of my house. Even if they were held on Venus, I’d absolutely find my way there. Not just because my friends go there, or because Metatopia is THE convention to attend if you’re serious about creating games and stories, but because I can walk into a Double Exposure event and there’s a palpable energy of “We’re here to have a good time, we’re all in this together, and we believe in everyone’s ability to be positive and enjoy themselves.” It’s like bathing in an awesome spring for a few days. I come out of there physically tired and mentally alive.

If you’re a long-time follower of all I do, maybe you’ve noticed there’s been a substantial shift in my attitudes lately. This will get its own post later this week (I’ve already started writing it out in another window), but I want to point out an instance where this became very clear to me. If you track down any early interview I’ve given (especially those pre-sobriety), I was kind of a dick. I was arrogant, I was snotty, I was far more Malfoy than Potter. Those interviews, though I am grateful for the chances I had to record them, I cringe thinking about them now, and prefer to not listen or have them brought up. I’m not that guy anymore. I’m so thankful to not be that guy anymore.

I say all this because I got interviewed while at Dreamation, and I am 1000% serious when I say that you should not pass up a chance to talk to Meghan at the Modifier Podcast. She is insightful and kind while not letting you give pat answers of negligible effort. She encourages comfort and honesty without ever forcing you to do more than talk like you’re talking with an old friend. Game people, go talk to her, she’s really good at what she does, and I enjoyed the two hours she afforded me in her busy weekend to talk about all manner of things.

This interview wasn’t only a “hey please support my art” discussion, though we did talk about it. It was a conversation similar to the other more recent conversations I’ve had in interviews about the congruence and confluence of my passion and my belief that it’s okay to make stuff and be happy about making stuff.  That’s a 180-degree turn from the entitled jerk who compared editing to plumbing and spent far too long worrying about his position on some editor hierarchy that only existed in his desperate insecure mind.

On the “what did I do” front, I showed off Noir World some more, and you’re going to hear/read me talking about it a lot in the coming days and weeks, because it’s going to go off and be crowd-funded and published. I won’t apologize for doing that, I can only give you fair notice that Noir World and film noir are going to be lenses through which we have some discussions in the future.

The Saturday evening session of Noir World made up for the unsettling feelings I carried throughout the previous sessions – they were okay, sure, but the game didn’t cohere and sparkle the way I like. Now I could easily attribute that to the number of people who attended the sessions (it’s disappointing when people sign up and then no-show) more than the specific people, I don’t think it was their fault, they did the best they could. Some of the blame also falls to me – I could have done a better job doing a bit of structuring and managing expectations that I in hindsight think could have given people a better chance at walking away from the table thinking my game is less gonzo and more “buffet of possibilities”. Again, this whole paragraph is enough to spawn a lengthy separate discussion.

At any convention, I always try and feel like I fail at striking a balance between being at the convention, and detaching from it to rest. I’ve got legitimate grounds to go put my feet up and reduce my stress levels (or nap), but at the same time, purposefully getting away from the convention climate means I’m getting away from my friends who I don’t see in-person very often and I’m getting away from the nebulous potential of “If I was there, would someone have offered me a possibly great moment/idea/opportunity/conversation/game/thing?” Being not a large fan of saying, “I’m sorry, this is all my heart’s fault, that’s why I had to go take a nap rather than talk to you, person who I enjoy the company of,” I tend now to make my withdrawals quiet, but it’s always with a pang of FOMO that I do it. Today in particular will be thick with the fear of missing out, based on people’s accounts of how their Dreamation was. I know I missed things, and I admit right now that I’m a bit frustrated about it, even if that nap I took made it possible for me to get through the day without collapsing.

In all a great weekend with many dear friends who I don’t think I spent enough time talking to, or showing off this thing I made in the “right” way that would lead people to be as enthused about its success as I am.

The world keeps turning, we keep going, and we’ll do it better next time, right? Onward.

Posted by johnadamus in conventions, dreamation

My Updated Metatopia 2015 Schedule

I love Metatopia. And not just because I could walk home from it if I had to. And not just because it has pretty nice parking and it’s in a hotel with nice bathrooms. I love it because it’s a chance to help get more amazing games out in the world. I love it because it’s a chance to see my friends. I love it because it’s so many opportunities to meet and help people.

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, Metatopia is (in my opinion) the best convention you could attend if you want to be a game designer, writer, or a creator of stuff. Its days of seminars, game playing, discussion, and education are unrivaled in terms of the offerings. This is of course a testament to its organizers, who are brilliant in ways that make brilliant seem like an inadequate word.

I maintain that if you attended Metatopia for the first time, with only the merest hint that you wanted to do something, you’d walk out of there armed with enough information to put together a first draft or prototype.

Here now is my 2015 schedule, and I’m quite excited by it.


Help, I’m Making My First Game!” presented by John Adamus & Mark Richardson and Laura Sampson. So, you’ve decided to make your first game. How exciting! Discuss what pitfalls to avoid and what strategies can speed you toward success with designers also making their first games. Friday, 11:00AM – 12:00PM

Ask an Editor!” presented by Cat Tobin & John Adamus. You have questions, get answers. Ask about how to write, finish, organize, clean, trim, playtest…whatever help you need in the production of your idea, get it. Friday, 12:00PM – 1:00PM

Noir World – Come check out my awesome game! Friday, 2:00pm to 4:00pm (Game R190)

Writing Workshop and Publishing Q&A” presented by John Adamus. Let’s talk the nuts and bolts of writing, no matter what you’re writing. Ask your questions, get some answers, get some motivation, some clarification and some education. And then go make a thing happen. Friday, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

Making Your Best Pitch” presented by John Adamus. Let’s say you have a great idea. Let’s say you want to produce that idea for a company. In order to do that though, you’re going to need to put together a pitch for that idea. And that can be daunting, if not downright nerve-wracking. But there’s hope. This panel will teach you more than a handful of techniques to produce pitches that excite publishers. Friday, 11:00PM – 12:00AM


Learn From My Mistakes” presented by John Adamus & Brennan Taylor. We’ve made mistakes. Come hear about ours so you can avoid making them yourself. This panel will discuss topics in RPG and story game writing, editing and designing. Saturday, 11:00AM – 12:00PM; Serious, All Ages.

Noir World – Come check out my awesome game! Saturday, 2:00pm to 4:00pm (Game R434)

Effective Settings and Scenarios” presented by John Adamus & Meguey Baker. Come learn about the interplay between setting and scenario in this roundtable. Discussions include what makes for a compelling scenario, how to use setting to inform your scenario design and generally how to use the two to engage your players. Saturday, 10:00PM – 11:00PM;


Why Do You Hate Your Readers or Players?” presented by John Adamus. When writing a game or project, it’s important that the language be clear and enjoyable, not just showing off how smart the author is. Learn techniques to keep your project readable and enjoyable. Sunday, 10:00AM – 11:00AM;

Publishing Workflow” presented by Jason Pitre, John Adamus, Cat Tobin & Chris O’Neill. Publishing a book is a complicated process involving playtesting, writing, editing, layout and art-direction. In this panel, we discuss how all of these components fit together and how various professionals can help each-other in the process. Sunday, 12:00PM – 1:00PM

What An Editor Can Do For You” presented by John Adamus. Editors are here to help. It’s their job. They’re tasked with making your project better. So why not use one? Get answers to what they do and how they can benefit you. Trust us, everyone needs one. Really. Sunday, 2:00PM – 3:00PM

How cool is that? If you’re attending, come say hello. I’d love to see you there.

Posted by johnadamus in convention schedule, conventions, metatopia

My 2015 Dreamation Schedule

My apologies for the late schedule. Next week (Thursday through Sunday), I’m at Dreamation, and I’m doing quite a few things.


THIS EVENT ISN’T ON THE BOOKS! 8PM TO 12AM Noir World: Criming Up The Social Ladder. This event isn’t listed on the schedule because there are 869 events and it just wasn’t possible to fit me in there. I get it. BUT! That doesn’t mean the game can’t go on! I’ll be in the lobby, so if you want to play, come find me, and we’ll go find a table for a few hours.


THIS EVENT ISN’T ON THE BOOKS! 9AM TO 1PM Noir World: Heist-A La Vista, Baby. I’ll be at the hotel that morning, very eager to run a Noir World session you won’t forget. Again, just come find me in the Lobby, and we’ll find a table for a few hours.

R271: Friday, 8:00PM – 12:00AM “Noir World: Closing Crime” presented by John Adamus. Noir World is a storytelling game that sits at the intersection of film noir, murder mysteries and tragic personal dramas. Your Role can be anything from Private Eye to Girl Friday, your story is up to you. In the black, white and rainy City, this tragedy is all yours.


R321: Saturday, 2:00PM – 6:00PM “Noir World: A Crime Worth Remembering” presented by John Adamus. Maybe you’ll be criminals planning the big score. Maybe you’ll be cops tracking down who got bumped off. Maybe you’ll be spoiled socialites glitzing it up. Whatever happens, it will be noir. It will be black, white and plenty of shades of gray. It will be tragic and grim and fun.

THIS EVENT ISN’T ON THE BOOKS! 8PM to 12AM Noir World: Four and Twenty Blackbirds baked in a DIE. Once more into that tragic breach dear friends. Spend Saturday night being awesome and dramatic and let us all have a good time.


D869: “The DREAMATION 2015 Writer’s Workshop” Sunday, 12:00PM – 3:00PM A discussion and workshop of what’s needed to take your ideas and make them practical – turning your imagination into a real game or book. Join me in this discussion of what you can do to make your creation come to life, while avoiding typical pitfalls, stumbling points and roadblocks along the way.

I look forward to seeing you there. Have a great time, write and create awesome things.

You can register for Dreamation here.

Posted by johnadamus in conventions, dreamation, noir world