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.

Dreamation 2016 schedule

Happy Valentine’s Day. Here’s my gift to you, my Dreamation 2016 schedule. It’s always a good sign when Dreamation comes around, because that means it’ll be spring soon, then summer, and the awesomeness of warm weather will revitalize me.

I’d love to see you this coming weekend in Morristown. I’ll be there all four days of the convention, so please come say hello.

It’s an all Noir World weekend for me. Come play my game, it’s had some big huge improvements lately.

THURSDAY
Come hang out with me and I shall regale you with tales of medical bureaucracy and general writing advice. Oh, and I was thinking about getting a burrito for dinner.

FRIDAY
R220: Apocalypse World; “Noir World: Make Mine Murder” presented by John Adamus. An INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED GAME – Part of the Indie Games Explosion! The City is a dark and dangerous place. Crime’s a fast track to success, but with it comes danger around every corner. In this game of Noir World, six players weave a story of tragedy, drama, and murderous intent. Friday, 11:00AM – 1:00PM

R251: Noir World Friday, 8:00PM – 10:00PM

SATURDAY
R308: Noir World Saturday, 2:00PM – 4:00PM

SUNDAY
R364: Noir World Sunday, 10:00AM – 12:00PM

Those are my on-paper obligations, which means I have oodles of free time to meet with people, hang out, do some work, have some laughs, fall asleep on couches, receive hugs, offer dap, whip and/or nae nae, bemoan the health care system, cough a lot, and in general associate with other humans.

Go enjoy your Valentine’s Day, I’ll see you later.

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.

THURSDAY

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.

FRIDAY

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.

SATURDAY

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.

SUNDAY

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.

My Dreamation schedule

One of my favorite conventions is next weekend. Dreamation, to me, marks the beginning of a long stretch of conventions and good times that stretches from now until November at Metatopia. I’ve been attending Dreamation now for a few years, and never had a bad experience, felt unwelcomed or generally thought it sucked.

So, I urge you to attend. Come to panels, come play games, spend four days embracing your inner nerd/geek and make yourself happy. Although my stuff is only on the weekend, I WILL be there all four days.

Let’s cover the big one first:
D814“The DREAMATION 2013 Writer’s Workshop” presented by John Adamus. 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 John Adamus 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. 
Sunday, 12:00PM – 3:00PM;

Okay, this is huge. THREE HOURS?! It’s going to be awesome. This year’s topic is

How to use Fate Core, Cortex-Plus, GUMSHOE and D20 To Write Your Story/Novel/Game/Whatever

Go sign up! You WILL NOT regret it.

This year I’m being more ambitious than usual – in addition to the Writing Workshop, I’m running two games. Here are all the details:

Game I: R248: Night’s Black Agents; “The Paris Sanction” presented by John Adamus. A deadly strain of the flu is up for auction, and plenty of terrorists have converged on Paris to bid. A week ago, a team of agents was dispatched to impersonate Basque separatists, but they haven’t been heard from. Now it’s time a replacement team to find out what happened, and hopefully stop the bio-terrorist weapon from getting into the wrong hands. Saturday, 9:00AM – 1:00PM

Why should you play in this game? How about PASSENGER JET CAR CHASE? It’s early, I know, but it’s going to be worth it.

Game II: R330: Night’s Black Agents; “The Budapest Disaster” presented by John Adamus.  There was a terrible accident in Budapest. Two trains collided, a tragedy of epic proportions, killing hundreds. Lost in the twisted wreckage though were some precious cargo – a suitcase full of diamonds en route to the Queen of England, and the launch codes for a portable nuclear device. A team of agents has been dispatched to recover at least one, and it’s up to the team to prioritize. Will it be the diamonds or the nuke? 
Sunday, 10:00AM – 11:59AM

Okay, I know the schedule on the website says until 2pm, but since I have not yet mastered quantum physics (Note that I go from Night’s Black Agents to the Writing Workshop, back-to-back), I can’t be in two places at once, I’m shortening this game. Also, this is more a playtest of some new mechanics I’m checking out, but I’ll explain all that on Sunday.

Other places I’ll be this weekend:
L040: The Dresden Files; “Dog Days” by Phoenix Outlaw Productions. The New York supernatural scene has been rocked by territory disputes, wars, and battles in the last few years. A great warlord, Raoul Ortega, has fallen and now his people are trying to put the pieces back together. Rising in the ranks? The werewolf and wereform population. Years ago there was nearly a were-form revolution and some believe it might be time yet again for people to be afraid of the tooth and claw. When the sun comes up, who will rule the streets? “Dog Days” is a live-action roleplay event set in the Dresden Files universe run by Phoenix Outlaw Productions. This event will also be the playtest of a brand new adaptation of a LARP adaptation of the popular FATE system. New players encouraged; previous players of the New York Dresdenverse games most welcome! 
Saturday, 8:00PM – 12:00AM

Shameless confession – I co-wrote the plot and mechanics. I’ll be on hand to make sure things work, and/or fix them on the fly.

I’ll be popping in on my other friends/clients/projects too (Project Ninja Panda Taco, Revelations, the Fate Core games, etc).

Also, I’ll be tweeting the hell out of things. You are following me on Twitter, right?

Hope to see you there, would love to meet you and say hello.

What Dreamation Taught Me About Writing, Editing and Business

This weekend, I attended Dreamation. Similar in some regards to Metatopia, this was a much bigger and broader-themed event, tending to be more about playing games and LARPing, rather than designing them, improving them or making an industry rock. 

But it was a good experience on the whole, and I come back to the blog a little dehydrated and sleep-deprived, but a little more savvy than when I was last here. I’d like to share some observations I made.

1. I am 100,000% doing the right thing by shifting my focus more and more into helping game designers and moving out of less-than-satisfying “traditional” novel-editing experiences. Yes, the game industry pays about half (or less) than the usual editing rate, but the upside of it is a far better experience and better turnaround. I know that I can expect quality and commitment from the jump in gaming (I might just be lucky and be surrounded by the greatest people and have the best experiences), and that there’s very little to none of the “throw-the-editor-under-the-bus syndrome” I see in traditional publishing. I’m still getting my feet under me as an industry editor, and working on my tone has SUPER helped, (as have many other changes), but I really feel good about this move. The lesson here – It’s totally awesome to pursue what you love to do (editing for me) in a field you love to be a part of (gaming).

2. Even at midnight, with very little buzz, I can turn out one hell of a seminar. If I were to speak ill of Dreamation, it’s that I shuffled off to one side. I’m not saying I need or warrant celebrity status, and this is not me playing the don’t-you-know-who-I-am card, this is me saying that I deserve the same opportunity, and the same publicity as anyone else who’s put together a presentation or a game or a whatever. A midnight to 3am slot Friday night into Saturday is great if we’re all hopped up on Red Bulls and we’re seventeen and the world is our oyster. But that’s not the case.

I understand the issue – that people shouldn’t have to choose between a passive sit-in-a-chair panel and an active game experience, and I respect that, but…what about the people who actually wanted a panel? I don’t teach…basket-weaving, I help people write better, and that’s not a very passive experience for them when I take questions throughout the seminar and give people really (well, I think) practical advice in a palatable way.

So ok, I had to jump on Twitter and do some in-person leg work to get people in seats. Yeah it was super late and people were super tired. But I had quite a few people (a lot of them shocked I was actually doing something both at the hour and about the topic) who I think really benefited from it.

The lesson here – I don’t mind doing the legwork to promote myself (I’m always happy to talk about myself, even if I have to work on my tone while I do it), but more important is the idea and actions to back up that I deserve the fair shake. I am good “enough”/ capable “enough” to do what I do, regardless of hour or audience. 

3. When I feel passionate about something, I should commit fully to it. I have a deep love affair with a game called “Night’s Black Agents” that runs about as deep for my love of superheroes, Doctor Who, the Dresden Files and peanut butter. I did my best to squeeze a 4-hour game into a 2-hour slot with a group about 3 players too large…and the results were not (in my opinion) the best. Yes, people had fun, but my concern is that they walked away from it with entirely the wrong sort of feeling for the tone of the game. Oh, and I’m way rusty on running a game. The plus side here? The brownies we ate were delicious. The lesson here – Had I just had trusted myself to do a better job, had I been a little more confident in something not-editing/writing, I could have asked for a slot to play the game, and really made a good show of it. Confidence and passion are going to carry me far, when I admit them and let them help rather than hold me back.

4. When in doubt, I need to go back to “fun”. I can, at times, take myself way too seriously. (See the above item where I just bitched that perhaps people didn’t play a game the way I thought they would). Sure, sometimes the world is all serious-and-business-face, but other times the world is all goofy fun with loud obnoxious barking laughs and imagination and helping each other have a good time. I didn’t play many games this weekend, both because I didn’t want to expose myself to “con crud” (happy to report that aside from tiredness and dehydration, I’m healthy) and also because nothing really jumped out at me – because I was taking myself WAY too seriously. The games I did play (Champions of Midralon, Technoir) were AMAZINGLY FUN TIMES, once I lightened up. The lesson – Stopping and laughing and enjoying myself is NOT an indication that I’m incapable of hard work, or somehow showing disrespect to the people who pay me to help them. I’m allowed to take days off and relax.

Okay, I’ve got about 70 pages left to edit today, so I’m wrapping up this post here.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about cliffhangers, ribbon endings and how to tie pieces together.

Happy writing.

PS – I’ve started using a new hashtag on Twitter lately “#helpushelpyou” aimed at freelancers to give advice to future clients/employers on how we can all make our lives easier working together. I strongly recommend it.