Thursday, 29 August 2013

Getting Back Up to Speed

It's a chilly, overcast August morning here in NYC, a harbinger of returning winter. We're entering one of my favorite seasons in New York, the autumns here are generally mild and pleasant. At least September and October. So I'm sitting here at the SoulJar Games World Headquarters, which look suspiciously like my bedroom, sipping a cup of coffee and getting ready to work.

I'm still trying to get used to this whole "day job" thing, which is weird to say since generally I work nights. But "night job" sounds like I'm a prostitute.... Which, as a freelance writer, I generally am. But still. The only days I really get much work done are my days off. I can get some things done in the mornings on work days, but then I lose momentum when I have to leave. Still, stuff is getting done.

One of the things that's gotten done is that we've received two new pieces of artwork from Jeff Laubenstein. When we asked him to do more work, Jeff asked for a list of what we wanted to see. Originally, when Jeff drew for Cairn, there wasn't really much for him to go on. He just drew what was in his head. This was terrific, because it inspired all of us (the creatives and you fans out there). But there really wasn't much focus to the artwork. This time, we made a list of subjects, and Jeff hasn't disappointed. We're getting artwork that's more representative of the setting, and much more detailed. I can't wait to show it to you.

In and around this, the SoulJar Team (Team SoulJar?!) has been having many conversations. All four of us use Facebook's messaging capability, since that's the fastest way to get in touch with each other. We've had conversations about setting up a creative process and organized our communications. We've discussed future projects, as well. Usually, this happens while I'm at work, so when I get home I have 82 messages to comb through. Like I said, the change in routine has flummoxed me a bit.

I also have a bunch of files I have to go through and review/edit today. One of the frustrating and mystifying things about the creative process, at least when it comes to games, is that 90 percent of the work happens in the last 10 percent of the time. I'm not sure why that is. We're plugging the remaining holes in the Cairn RPG text.

See, normally, when you embark on an endeavor like this, you start out with two principle design documents (even if you're working alone). One of these is the design bible. This tells you what the game is and isn't. What it's supposed to look like. So, for example, you'd summarize the Harmony system, set down how you think it should work. You'd describe the central concepts. Write about the world a bit. This way, everyone's on the same page, and you've done all the conceptualizing at the beginning of the process. The outline is vital for several reasons, the most important of which is that it tells you when a chapter is done. You've got 5,000 words to cover spells (for example). Once you get to 5,000 words, you're finished. No, you may not add just one more spell, because that takes you over 5,000 words. The chapter is done; save it for the Companion.... That didn't happen on this project, which is where I suspect most of the delays originated.

Finally, we currently have 131 backers to the Villagers of Cairn Bicycle-brand playing card Kickstarter. To you fans who have already backed the project, I offer you my hearty thanks. You've put your faith in the SoulJar Team, and we're all appreciative. If you haven't checked us out yet, how about giving it a look-see?

Here's the most recent card we've gotten colored. Color really makes the image pop. We've begun discussing the costs involved in adding a few color plates to the RPG, which means value added for you RPG backers out there. Take a look:

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