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Hello there. It’s very hot today but not even this horrible, ouchy-grouchy kid-making heatwave can stop an email, so here we are.
1. Between Projects
There are a huge number of steps that go into making a physical product, and as I move towards the end of my fourth I’m starting to get a sense for the rhythm. First, a flurry of activity as mockups are made, pledges are priced, marketing is half-heartedly attempted and a campaign is launched. Then, as the weight of the project’s delivery rests itself firmly upon my shoulders, I spend weeks – maybe more – writing & laying out the book. Alongside this, I coordinate with artists, editors, printers, people that make boxes, the man that makes the tiny foil blocks, the nice Swede who understands IOSS, and a whole host of other folks—a process that continues all the way until the project is delivered.
This coordination phase, like anything involving lots of people, is often painfully slow and protracted. But it’s all part of the rhythm. But it requires a very different kind of energy to writing and layout work, and sometimes I miss that more creative energy.
So, while emails pass back and forth about margins and stock weights and EORI numbers, I’ve been whiling away at a couple of other projects.
The first is easy to talk about—Notorious, the latest project from my friend and former Chancellor Jason Price, is being laid out by me. He describes it as ‘a game of hardscrabble bounty hunting amid intergalactic war’, and yes—it’s very Star Wars. It’s a solo game where you play the role of a mid-tier bounty hunter on assignment: picture the first half of the first episode of The Mandalorian and you’ll get what he’s going for.
It’s been fun doing a project that is tonally pretty different from what I usually work on. I find that I can do layout work in short bursts if required, and I can hold up okay even if the boys have slept badly (and hence so have I). Writing and design, on the other hand, really require longer periods of fairly cognisant energy, which is hard to come by with two young kids!
When I have found those times though, I’ve been working on my next endeavour. I’m holding off sharing too much until The Slow Knife is fulfilled (I have 900 packages to assemble and post from home first! 😅), but I can tell you that this is a solo game that I’m hoping to launch in October with a fancy, lay-flat casebound book.
I’m very excited to share more with you, especially the incredible artwork that I’ve got coming in, but for now I’ll leave it there.
2. Between Phases
We’re at a bit of a crossover point in our home life too, with our eldest starting school in September and all the changes that brings. For now, in this (very hot) summer, we’re taking stock and spending lots of time doing things together while it’s still relatively straightforward.
I also, finally, cleaned my studio space. As discussed above, I don’t get a lot of time to work at my desk these days and so I’m pretty terrible at tidying things away. I had a teetering tower of zines that had arrived from Kickstarter projects, a stack of print samples almost a foot deep, and an assault course of kids toys and loft-bound bags to get to my chair each morning.
It feels very good to have sorted things out a bit, and it’s also nice to actually be able to see & reference my books easily. Maybe one day soon we’ll get round to playing an RPG again—our group is in the clutches of Oath and Gloomhaven which, admittedly, are a lot less work to run when we’re all dad-tired.
3. Good Stuff
I’ve been doing a lot of research into mid/late-century Italian culture at the
moment, and I found this amazing article on vintage Italian posters. As well as some great graphic design, it also has some interesting history on why Italian posters from the 20th century are so much harder to find than, say, French ones.
I found this article from Cannibal Halfling on marketing & indie RPGs pretty insightful. I’m somewhere between ‘too tired’ and ‘too awkward’ to get really excited about marketing my own work, but I also recognise that things like ZineQuest, which are essentially marketing, have brought huge numbers of people to my games who would never have seen them otherwise.
Finally, a quick shout-out to the Sustrans page on the National Cycle Network. It’s not the easiest thing to navigate, but you can see cycling routes across the UK that are mostly or entirely car-free. We’ve been without a car for a month or two now, so it’s been really helpful for finding ways to get around without ending up on an unprotected A-Road all of a sudden!
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4. Something Extra
I really enjoyed writing this fake ad for slime-based sci-fi ammunition last year, so I thought I’d tidy it up and share it with you. It’s system agnostic, but would work well in something like Mothership or Paranoia.
That’s it for this month, speak soon & stay cool 🥵
For no particular reason 👀