I WON AN AWARD

John’s GenCon Schedule

GenCon is one of my favorite times of year, because it’s when I get to see the majority of my friends in one place for a few days, usually on or near my birthday. This year, however, my birthday already passed (it was yesterday), GenCon isn’t for another week, and many of my friends aren’t attending.

But this is all okay. I’ve got plenty to do, and plenty of opportunities to make some awesome things happen.

The Industry Insider program is one of those things I’ve pursued for years, and had always found it outside my grasp, leading me to make up a variety of reasons for my missing out – ranging from “they wouldn’t know what to do with my awesomeness” to “I wonder if they think I have cooties.” I’m very happy to announce that this year I have been selected as an Industry Insider and am fortunate enough to speak about two of my favorite topics: editing and motivation.

So let’s see what’s going on:

THURSDAY

So You’re Making Your First Game 10:00 AM- 12:00PM
Crowne Plaza :: Victoria Stn A 

This is one of my all-time favorite panels to do, because it arms new designers with the same toolbox I used to produce Noir World. This panel makes me super happy.  Ideally, this panel is done with Mark Richardson, who I will absolutely delight in tormenting while we discuss game development.

So You Want to Get Into the Industry 3:00 PM-4:00PM 1 hrs
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Conrail Stn 

This is the companion panel to the one above (at one point I wanted to do these back-to-back in the same room over the course of like 4 hours and make a crash course of it), and this shifts the focus out of specific game development and into being a freelancer available for any kind of industry work.  This panel works best when there are a lot of questions asked by an eager audience, and I’m hopeful that trend continues this year.

Breaking Into Game Design ICC 244 4:00PM – 5:00PM

Want to watch me hustle from one hotel to the next? Here’s your chance because this panel (my first Industry Insider panel) is going condense a lot of the stuff in the previous panels to a much larger audience, turning Thursday into a mini-Metatopia for interested attendees.

Creating A Bulletproof Rulebook ICC 244 6:00-7:00PM

Thursday wraps up with what I hope is the crunchiest panel of the day, because I really do want to get specific about things like construction and language.  Bonus points if you ask if I’ve had dinner yet.

FRIDAY

Mental Health and Gaming 2017 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM 1 hrs
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Pennsylvania Stn B 

This panel is dear to me, because it’s a chance to speak truth to stigma, and as tough as this panel can be for me emotionally, it’s worth it.

Writing Scenarios, Settings, & Campaigns That Kick @$$ 1:00 PM – 2:00PM 1 hrs Location: Crowne Plaza :: Victoria Stn C/D 

The first thing I noticed when they approved this panel was that they let me get away with the pseudo-curse @$$, because I didn’t think “Writing Not-Shitty Scenarios, Settings, and Fucking Campaigns” would fly. The second thing I noticed is that they gave me two rooms for it. Historically this panel has had about 4 – 9 attendees, so I’m hoping we break double digits this year.

Don’t You Dare Give Up, How To Set Reasonable Goals ICC 244 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Back to the Industry Insider panels I go for my final one of the weekend. This is also probably the most abstract and non-game-specific panel, because this hour will cover time management, goal setting, and organizing whatever it is you’re doing. I’m really eager to see this panel come together and I hope people respond well.

And yes, later that evening, I’ll be at the ENnies.

SATURDAY

RPG17105385 Death of a Good Thing Sat @ 10:00 AM 3 hrs Location: JW :: 310 :: 1 RPG17105386 Then Someone Died Sat @ 2:00 PM 3 hrs Location: JW :: 310 :: 2

I’m spending Saturday playing Noir World. Both games are sold out, and no, this year I’m not taking on stragglers.

SUNDAY

RPG17105387 Look, A Crime! Sun @ 10:00 AM 3 hrs

My weekend concludes with one more sold out Noir World game, and that makes me really happy.

In all, I’m really excited for this convention, and I hope to see a lot of you there.

Happy creating, and be good to one another.

Posted by johnadamus in convention schedule, gencon, gencon...ladies, I WON AN AWARD, noir world, panels and seminars, 0 comments

A Whole Mess of GenCon Thoughts

I’ve been home now about two hours, which for me is just enough time to really begin the deeper marination process of feelings and memories. I’ve put some of my thoughts already up on Facebook, but those are the first blush at these ideas. I’ve had delicious lasagna and a pint of iced tea, so I think there’s more to say.

I want to start by saying this was a good convention for me. I came home with far fewer business cards than I left the house with, and I’m hopeful that with all the people I’ve met, the horizon will have some good work ahead. While I didn’t walk the convention floor nearly enough for my liking, I have to recognize that lengthy periods of walking, even with a cane, aren’t easy for me anymore. I had quite a few moments of exhaustion and “Let’s just sit down/lean right here” and I am sure that I should have done it more than I did.

This was the first year I didn’t have some rushed sense that I was running out of time or that I should have been doing something else (more on that in the next paragraph), and this was the first year I didn’t have something looming over my head while I was there. There wasn’t a big spectacle at an awards show this year, I didn’t have to spill too many guts out for the first time at panels, I didn’t have to worry about staying high or drunk or anything like that. I just got to be me, and I liked that.

A funny thing happened when I stopped living and acting for other people and made myself a priority – I started having a lot of fun. I started laughing at jokes again. I started making jokes again. I started liking things that I somehow convinced myself were “beneath me”. Like peach cobbler. Like pickled jalapeños. Like 90s music. And all this liking gave me a renewed sense of purpose towards what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I don’t think I lost sight of that entirely, but I know it got obfuscated by a lot of people and paranoia and pettiness. Without a feeling like I should be doing something else because it would have been boring for other people to stand around and watch me hand people business cards or chat with people I see once or twice a year, I let myself enjoy things. And that’s … good. It felt good. Also, it saved me a ton of money in bar tabs and loads more in frustration.

I’ve never had a good sense that my panels help people. Sure, I get a few people who follow me on twitter after a panel. I get maybe some passing bit of information that so-and-so did something, but more or less, I leave a seminar thinking I’ve reached no one and left no evidence of an impression. It can be tiring to think about the days of prep and the hours of rehearsal all amounting to nothing, so I try to make sure that I did do something that helped, even if asking or thanking people grows annoying. This year though, I am confident, so absolutely confident that I helped people. Not just because I gave them a place to sit for an hour, but because they got answers to questions, or they made new friends or they got to put a voice to something they had been sitting on for a while. I watched people get hugs (seriously, hugs happened). I watched people do a lot of nodding to the people seated next to them. I attribute this to two things – I stopped making panels about me and how great I am, and I didn’t overload the panels with information.

See, I used to think that my panels were boring, so I’d jam them with material, far too much material, and leave people in an overwhelming cloud of “what do I take away from this”. Partnered with a sense of “Yeah I just spent sixty minutes talking about how cool I am, this is sure to bring me work”, I am pretty sure this often made me an asshole, and as I step away from that now (somewhat, I mean, leopards and spots, guys), I realize that the panels are there to help people. And I like helping people. So I did.

Oh! That brings me to the awards portion of the blogpost. Something I worked on, the Designers and Dragons industry encyclopedias, was up for a few awards. I was very eager to win one, as I was closer to this project than many of the other things I’ve done. And I’m happy to say, the book won an award.

It's a pretty sweet certificate. It comes with a medal too.

It’s a pretty sweet certificate. It comes with a medal too.

I could not have won this award without the hard work of so many amazing people at Evil Hat Productions, but I would be lying if I said this award didn’t also feel like some personal recognition too. These books had A LOT of words in them, and they took time to edit. No, don’t take that to mean the words all sucked, just that there was a lot of reading and checking and little corrections like commas or unclear sentences to trim up. And yes, I did ask for my own copy of the certificate and medal. Call it an early birthday gift to myself.

((At this point in the writing, I’ve written and deleted a few paragraphs about something that happened about the awards show (didn’t involve me), and I’ve decided that warrants its own post, probably later in the week. So instead of paragraphs of words, look at these doughnuts))

2015-08-02 10.09.38

I miss my friends. I miss the family I left back there. I miss being woken up early. I miss the way the shower I used all week creaked underfoot. I miss the stink of sewage that seems to drape over downtown Indianapolis but no one ever seems to be talking about it. I miss the sight of 61,000-something (!!) people milling around a few blocks in a city I’ve come to really like (except for the smell).

But, I am glad to be home in Jersey. I missed my dog. I missed my garden. I missed my iced tea and my video games and my music.

The inbox is crowded and dense, and there are many thank-yous and replies to messages to write. Better get to it.

Be good to each other, and make awesome things.

Posted by johnadamus in amazing experience, I WON AN AWARD, 0 comments

Post-GenCon – The Ups and Downs

I’m writing this after spending 2 hours in traffic (it’s normally about 15-20 minutes in the afternoon), so if this is a little plodding, it’s entirely because I’m tired and am torn between the age-old debate of eating versus sleeping. I’ve decided to eat something (egg whites) while I figure out what else there is to eat (I think I should go grocery shopping).

So, I’m home from GenCon. It was such an amazing and wonderful and overwhelming experience that I’m not sure I can chronologically track it all. I mean, I wanted to, but there was just SO much going on and so much that happened (all of it good, even if at times it was a bit more and a bit new), that I’ll just hit you here with the highlights in a semi-broad sense. The personal details, well, those are just going to be for me and the people involved.

I disclaim right now that I’m going to cover a lot of topics and speak personally here. If that’s too much for you, or you’re not interested, just know that I had a good time and we’ll talk more soon.

1. I benefited from a space to getaway. There’ s a lot of things going on at this convention — tens of thousands of people make a lot of noise and generate a lot of sensory overload. Really critical for me was the ability to get away from that, even for an hour or so and head back to the hotel room, where the environment was more stable and I could unwind.

2. I can’t say it was flawless, but I am really proud of myself. Okay, honesty time – I had some ups and downs. The specifics aren’t really for this blog, but just know that they weren’t anything catastrophic or ruinous, and I still have all my fingers and toes, and my heart and soul are still kicking. Several of the events, being big huge anxiety-triggers (few things make me go all shallow-breathing and fidgety like the idea that I’ll meet ALL the people I admire in rapid succession), did lead me to pop a pill, but that’s what I have them for right?

And sure I pushed quite a few comfort zones for five days straight. But I came out okay. I made great new wonderful beautiful fantastic friends, made great incredible memories (some of which I’m not sharing with anyone who doesn’t already know), and in general had a great experience.

Order and structure prevailed. Those days where I made sure I ate regularly, stayed hydrated, got rested and took charge of my thoughts and moods were days I was this great new me that I am really coming to love. That’s not to say that when my head got the best of me, or when I didn’t eat and got all fidgety and wan I was sub-human…but there was a clear difference between John-in-charge-of-his-shit and John-at-the-mercy-of-rising-mental-floodwaters.

I did it. I fucking did it.

3. In the face of fears, I took the chances. I can cross quite a few things off my bucketlist after this weekend. I won’t give you the whole list (that’s not for you, gentle readers) but I’ll give you some highlights:

a. Ran a game at GenCon (for people I didn’t know) — I don’t know why I waited so long to do this…I should have been doing this sooner. Okay, yeah that would have taken more prep, but seriously, to have absolutely new people get so into a game and enjoy themselves sincerely (it’s hard to doubt people screaming “Hell yeah” and “That was awesome!”) is deeply gratifying.
b. Ran a game (for people I did know) — Yes, I do this all the time, but here it was different. I ran a hack of a game I am deeply in love with. And it was a HUGE HUGE success. Again, I cannot believe I was so afraid to be expressive with my friends.
c. I went out to eat with people. Sure, that’s not a big deal. No, that’s a very big deal. I tend to eat with, at best, one or two other people. Maybe three on weekends or holidays. I tend to prize my meal times since I’m actually a little embarrassed by how fast I eat (well, ate, I’ve slowed down since beginning treatment). There was a group of people, sometimes upwards of 8, and we all ate together. Indian food, grilled meats, whatever. It wasn’t awkward. It wasn’t scary, even though those people do somewhat affect my livelihood and I do answer to some of them on occasion. But this…this was a meal. With friends. Together, and happy. I could seldom ask for better.
d. I saw my name in A LOT of print. There were piles of books that all had my name in them, and it was very humbling (I admit now that after seeing my name in 2 piles of books and watching people buy them like mad, I did walk away crying happy tears)
e. I was recognized. People sought me out. And not in that we’re-going-to-find-you-and-chase-you-away style I was expecting. I had a lot of great people come tell me that the blog is wonderful, that I’m a good person, that they’re happy for me, that they’re following my progress and it’s inspiring them to do things. Better still these people were happy to see me and put a an actual personage to my online presence. I even signed a few autographs and got a shout-out in an acceptance speech.

Speaking of which….

4. I WON AN ENNIE. (There’s a photo of me with said ENnie floating around Facebook). If you go here, then scroll down to “Fans Favorite Publisher” you’ll see that Evil Hat took the silver. Evil Hat is one of the companies I work for. It was also pointed out to me afterward that I was entitled to go up on stage and receive the award, but at the time it didn’t register (much of the work I’ve done hasn’t really come out yet in full force) nor did I feel like I really did anything to deserve it.

And then the scope of the award was explained to me, as was my role. I shall spare you a lot of that summary, suffice to say it was incredibly moving to know just how well I am regarded and how people I respect see me in such positive ways.

So yeah, it was a great first GenCon.

Have a great evening. I’m off to eat something and crash out on the couch.

Posted by johnadamus in amazing experience, gencon...ladies, good times, I WON AN AWARD, living the dream, post GenCon post, 0 comments