Monday, April 28, 2008

GenCon Sorrows

Well, I have decided that I am not going to GenCon this year. The shame of it is that I already ordered a badge and reserved a hotel room. There goes about $115. Basically, we are definitely moving the kids to a new school next fall (although we don't know where yet) and they'll probably start the Monday after GenCon (possibly during GenCon). Basically, I need to be here to help insure that everything is ready for them starting at the new school. Not to mention the fact that we have a "vacation" Memorial Day weekend to New Jersey with the entire family for a wedding. Yes, this will be very expensive. We will vacation in Wisconsin at with my parents at the end of July as well so the expense does become an issue.

As for releases, well, I am delayed a bit by the cartography thing, and a few other distractions. I believe I'll hit the end of May as several industry folks have suggested though. I have emailed Dundjinni for some clarifications but it looks like I can use their software to make some of the maps I need. I feel pretty good about some of the other elements and how things are coming together.

I hope to have a website update sometime tomorrow. The site has been neglected while I have worked on some other issues. My plan to have some sort of update every week hasn't worked out the way I had hoped.
I might have a message board up this week too. We'll see.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Poison Pill??

Okay, the internet is abuzz again with news of the 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Game System License (GSL). Sounds like companies with OGL games/products will have to stop those product lines if they want to release GSL/4th edition compatible products. We'll see what the details are, but there clearly will be a license for 4th edition compatible products. It does sound like a number of the larger publishers are going to hesitate to take the "poison pill" until they see how well 4e does. I am not sure how I feel about it to be honest. On one hand, it is a reasonable thing for WotC to do, on the other, internet buzz and rumors can have an effect on sales. Companies like Green Ronin, and Mongoose have significant OGL lines to support and I am pretty sure that they won't bother with that sort of restriction. Paizo is in a similar boat but the okay'd arrangement with Necromancer Games publishing 4th edition material should work out okay.
In my mind, this pretty much hands creation of 4e compatible materials over to the new/small publishers and .pdf publishers. We'll have to see what the exact, final wording is.
I have enough plans for generic products right now that I can sit back and wait to see how things sort out.

On that note, it has been a slow week, but I think the little progress I have made is significant. I hope to have some news up on the website soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Maps ...

Okay, I was hoping to post about a number of things but I haven't met my "work" goals for the day so this has to be short.

Maps, well, maps are killing me. I have some maps for 6 of my planned releases created by someone that I spoke to on the telephone and sent a contract to. Well, she sent me maps (pretty damn nice ones too), but no contract. The phone number I have for her is dead and there have been no responses to email that I have sent. What do I do? Well, I have one friend that claims the previous emails could be considered a contract and that I should just send a check and use the maps. Frankly, he isn't a lawyer, so this weekend I asked a lawyer (one of DS#2's teammates' dad is a lawyer) and he said, "You could try it that way, but it is very risky. It would be best to get a signed contract." He went on to tell me that without a signed contract the artist could make lots of claims, etc. Basically, his advice, don't use the maps until there is a signed contract. Then, he said he'd ask someone else in his office that dealt with more contracts than he did and email me. Well, email came in today, and the consensus is I need a contract OR another email responding to and confirming payment rates, etc. (damn, free legal advice rocks!). So.... I have sent an email asking for this to her account from 5 different email addresses (in case there is a spam blocking problem) and we'll see what happens.

Well, back to work.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Okay, things have been busy, sleep has been, well, lacking. DS#3 has been teething like crazy, add in those 1-yr old shots and some constipation, and, well, the poor boy has been letting everyone know how uncomfortable he really is.

Tomorrow early in the morning I take DS#2 out on a Cub Scout trip to the Lexington in Corpus Christi, TX where we will stay overnight. DS#2 has to miss seeing his cousin (who is 8 days older than him, the two are incredible pals) and the "extended family" birthday party for DS#3 turning 1. We had a family dinner and party on Wednesday when DS#3 actually turned 1 so he is happy with that. He was allowed to decide and decided that the Lexington trip was a once a year opportunity (yes, he said "opportunity", how many 8 year olds would say that?) and that he would see his cousin again in May when we all go off to a wedding in New Jersey. The truth is, I am really looking forward to this trip, I think that *I* will have a lot of fun and that DS#2 is going to have a total blast.

While we leave for that, my wife takes DS#1 out to his 8:15 AM soccer game in north of SA while my sister-in-law (she and my mother and father-in-law are in town with my nieces) will take DD to her soccer game. Yes, DS#2 is missing a soccer game Saturday (he wasn't happy about that). Of course, we'll leave Corpus Christi early Sunday morning so we get back on time for the 12:30 PM soccer game. DS#1 has a 1 PM soccer game too, but get this, both of them play at their home field ON THE SAME DAY-and almost the same time!

The cartography problem, well, it still exists. I actually have a few things ready to go with big empty boxes where the map(s) goes. I am going to have fun this weekend and worry about things again starting Sunday night.

Well, I have to go finish packing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


A busy day, or maybe just a "hazy" day. DS#3 had a REALLY bad night last night so my wife and I had some pretty severe sleep deprivation today. We did get his 1-year old pictures today (he turns 1 tomorrow), and I had a meeting with my accountant (tax time, yippeee!--the joys of both of us being self-employed) and the principal for the local elementary school today. These along with a few other tasks to do.

I finally started answering emails at 10PM and didn't really get through all of them.

Okay, I haven't done this for a bit, but my greatest frustration is Cartography. A while back I spoke to someone on the phone, sent her a contact, and she then (in a reasonable period of time) sent me some beautiful maps. Here is the problem, I don't have a signed contract, the phone number is disconnected, emails haven't been answered, etc. Basically, I have maps done by a cartographer that "fell off the map" and no contract. I can't use these maps in a publication without the contract or some sort of contact by the artist. My frustration level is beyond description. Can I draw a map? Yes. Can I create a map as nice as those I have received? Um, let's be honest, NO. I can make a decent map, I suppose, but the time doing so could be spent doing other things. Interestingly, Dundjinni has changed their license for commercial use maps, this means I might be able to use their software, grayscale the image, make a few other modifications, and use that. I'll be emailing them tomorrow.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Kansas v Memphis

Wow, what a finals game! What a good thing for San Antonio to host this year! I love an incredible basketball game.
Right now it is a 3 point game with 56 seconds left in OT. 5 points 29.9, okay, let's face it, I can't finish this post until the game is over ;). Congrats to Kansas!

Onto other things... I am close (oh so close) to having 5 finalized products ready for release. The question of what timing the releases remains. I find it strange that even companies that do not do DnD/d20/OGL material seem to be on hold right now. A number of industry people have been telling me not to rush for April releases but to go ahead and hit May and "hit summer hard." I wish I knew enough sales history for everyone involved to know what is best. I have been aching to have product out for ages now. I'll post more on the progress and how I have set a few things up to make the whole process easier. I believe that once I start releases I'll be able to have at least one product every 2 weeks. Obviously, if sales tank, well, that'll make things more difficult.

Okay, different topic. Children's books. Books for children come in a variety of levels and require different styles of writing and artwork. Well, there is a chance for me to work into some children's books--basically, 3rd-5th grade level books, and not necessarily "fiction." I am viewing that as pretty long-term but we'll see.

Schools: we've been looking at possibly moving the kids to a different school. Right now they are at a fairly challenging Catholic school but we have some concerns about the breadth of opportunity there. The main question is whether or not DS#1 (who is in 7th grade) really has the opportunity to explore the electives he'd enjoy the most. We'll we know he doesn't really, but the core classes at this school are VERY strong. Right now DS#1 is taking Algebra I in 7th grade. At any other school I have looked at so far, the highest math offered at 8th grade is, um, Algebra I. Math is a core, required course, this means if he changed schools he would have to take Algebra I over again. After talking to the GT (gifted-talented) teacher at the local school here, it sounds like DS#2 would not be challenged either. I suppose having bright children is a great problem to have, but, strange as it is, it does pose a significant challenge. Public schools throw tons of money and extras at the kids that are failing in order to bring them up to average but only a fraction of that at the kids that are on the other side of the curve. Private schools can be better, but only to a certain level. That leaves insanely expensive and exclusive private schools (um, not going to happen, sorry) or home schooling (ack! PANIC!).
Sigh, anyway, this has been a major expenditure of energy only to discover that the kids are probably going to be back at the same school next year.
Enough for now. I'll post more in a day or two.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Plugging Along

Okay, I am feeling like I have actually made some significant progress lately. Strange how that happens sometimes. Basically, more and more puzzle pieces are coming together and things are looking very good.

4e Rumors/Speculations: Wow, the internet is rife with rumor and speculation about 4e and the "GSL." I find it, well, interesting. I think that the main thing(s) you can say are (1) WotC STILL has not delivered the GSL to 3rd party companies, (2) WotC has a new CEO, (3) people like Scott Rouse and Linae Foster fully support open gaming and want to get a license out. Now, these have been put together in various ways to create an interesting set of, um, ideas. Now, I have pretty reliable information that Bill Slavicsek does not like open gaming, but I think even he has to admit that it doesn't really hurt WotC and negative PR does (okay, maybe he doesn't). A number of posts on several message boards talk about how much the OGL and d20 benefitted WotC. Frankly, I sort-of cry "foul" on that claim. NOBODY has anything to back-up that idea. I really don't think you can claim that WotC had a financial benefit with any degree of certainty. I DO think that the OGL/d20 helped reinvigorate RPGs in general, but I don't have any proof of that either. I like the idea of a license to publish material for the "world's most popular role-playing game" but I don't think anyone has a right to demand a free license. It'll all get sorted out one way or the other sometime (hopefully sooner rather than later).

4e good or bad? I posted before that 4e exit polling indicated that approximately 30% of those that played 4e DnD at "DnD Experience" said they a) weren't going to buy the books or b) were going to wait to buy the books. I was told that I got that wrong and that those weren't the exact questions/answers asked/given. Whatever the exact poll wording was, something close to 30% said they aren't going to change systems right away. Either way, this sounds like a potential problem for WotC in terms of predicted sales. Of the people that I have spoken to personally that have played 4e (either as a playtester or at the convention), it sounds like 80-90% like it and are planning to switch immediately. Truthfully, one person didn't really like it, and another thought it was "okay" and will probably switch because he expects his gaming group to.

Other stuff: Final Four in San Antonio. Yes, folks, we are a tourist destination. The weather this morning wasn't great, but it looks like the weekend is going to be absolutely stunning. Hooray for San Antonio and those tourist dollars. Hmm, wait, I am not in the tourism industry, oh well.
School Questions: yes, we are thinking about putting our kids back into the public school system. We love the school they are in, but it has had a few problems lately and, perhaps more importantly, the public schools have a lot more money and offer a much broader range of opportunities. We are looking into it anyway. not sure what the final decision will be. I don't think anyone is going to the public high school we feed into (academically pretty good school, but the "other" problems are pretty severe) but the middle school and elementary school are pretty good. Anyway, this is a long story for another time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools!

Okay, no April Fools jokes here today. Normally, I would, but, well, it has been a busy day and I spent most of my creative energy on a few other things.

First, yes, we are back from vacation. We had a pretty good time, but only pretty good. My wife and I were sick throughout most of vacation. I got 2 days of skiing in, my wife got one. One of my days of skiing was really only 4 runs, but at least I could say I went skiing with my brother before he had to head back to Alaska. My parents enjoyed seeing the kids, particularly the baby, and the kids had a blast skiing and playing in the snow. The older 3 had 3 days of skiing in.

We actually got back late Saturday night (meaning, technically, Sunday morning) and DS#1 had a soccer game at 12:30 Sunday afternoon. They finally got a game into the win column. Basically, this means that a couple of bad calls didn't "steal" the game from them. Apparently during the game we missed on Saturday his coach was VERY upset with the officials. Almost glad we missed it, but his team really needed him. Sad thing is, Sunday's game wasn't really their best game and they beat one of the two best teams in the division.

GU: Well, things are going forward. I hope to put more information on the website and here on the Blog soon. I have been wanting to get some releases out in April in order to submit some things to the Ennies but I received an interesting suggestion. It has been suggested that I wait until May around the time the first preliminary adventure/intro 4e material goes out but to try to have a lot of things ready to go so that I can release locations that might be related to whatever locations happen to be in the village mentioned in that adventure. I honestly don't know if this is the way to go or not. I might not have much choice in the matter though as I am behind the schedule I set for myself (again). I was doing fairly well before I got sick and even hoped to catch up a bit at my folks on vacation but I didn't even check email until late Thursday night.
On the bright side, I might have convinced a major fiction author to write a City Streets location for me. We'll see how that goes, and if it does happen, I am sure it'll be a good year before it goes out, but you never know.
Well, that is the news for now.