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Chipper

In fitness, a “Chipper” is a workout you chip away at, little by little.

100 deadlifts? Chip away at it.

50 squat cleans to thrusters? Chip away at it.

Tonight was one part of a “Chipper” of writing. I chipped away at my new manuscript, just 250 words. It’s not a lot by any stretch of the imagination.

But 250 words is more than zero words.

It’s progress. Just a little bit.

Chipping away at it.

Nine Eleven

On 9/11/2001 shortly after 8AM Central (9AM Easter) I had just walked into Geography class at Millard North High School. Someone mentioned something was going on in the news, and our teacher turned on the TV and switched to a news channel. Seconds after the TV turned on (9:07AM Eastern) the second tower was struck.

9/11 has effected the lives of countless people in the U.S. and across the world.

Almost two decades later, it still has an impact on my life and my military career.

We must ensure that our descendants are taught about this historical event that they may hopefully learn from it. They must be taught about the capability for evil in people, as well as the capability for compassion and heroism.

We Will NEVER Forget.

A Tale of Two Editors – Part 2

In my last post on editors, I talked about the last editor I worked with, and my experience with her. There was a lot of criticism – some warranted, some crushing, and some that left me with more questions than answers received.

Now I’d like to discuss the latest editor I worked with, and the night-and-day different experience I had with her.

Networking Works

I met my most recent editor through a friend. My friend, we’ll call him MV, is part of a Catholic Young Professionals group in Omaha. There he met a woman who had self-published two books. Through their conversation MV learned that this woman had her sister edit her books, and through several emails they put the two of us in contact.

I was skeptical at first, but sister of this editor has done exceptionally well for herself and her books are still selling. It helped that her price was a fraction of what most editors charge as she was just getting her editing services off the ground. Jackpot!

The Process

Over a four week period my editor and I worked through my manuscript, first two copy-edits, and the finally an in-depth content edit looking at story structure, flow, identifying plot holes, and strengthening certain points such as one main character’s growth from meek to strong and the culture of the fictional people I am writing about.

My most recent editor was very thorough with grammar and punctuation. She was able to catch quite a bit of what the previous editor and I had missed. My editor was also able to go through and help make sentences and even paragraphs more clear and concise to better get the story across to my reader.

Through the in-depth content edit, my editor identified areas of confusion which need clarification, and areas where the story was weak and need additional dialogue and/or description.

Drawbacks

It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. While my story is now stronger, there were times I wasn’t sure about my most recent editor. In all edits, and especially the last, she gave me a lot of pumping up and “your story is great, you’re a great writer” type of compliments. While this is a stark contrast from my previous editor, I don’t think it’s what I need to hear. I needed a hard, critical perspective and many times it seemed I was being provided too much positive reinforcement in a place where it wasn’t warranted.

Sometimes too many compliments and the like can be debilitating to identifying problems and fixing them, in this case in my manuscript. It can lead us into believing we have a great story when, in fact, we don’t.

With my current editor I had to be even more critical of my work, and bring things up to her and try to have her look at them in different ways. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes she replied with, “I actually feel that’s really good and I don’t feel it needs to be changed.”

Regardless of whether it is actually good or not, she said things like that so often that my blood pressure spiked a little and, after our meetings, I would go back and comb through my manuscript more.

So maybe it was a good thing?

Conclusion

Most recently (within the last two years) I have had two very different editors. One was overwhelmingly critical and, after paying a hefty sum for a single edit, cut off her availability. The other was much cheaper, but the constant positive reinforcement on things I thought were wrong made me concerned about the quality of her edits. The result: I believe I have a completed, ready to publish manuscript. Unfortunately, these, and one other editor many many years ago, are the only benchmarks I have for what editors should be like.

After reading both posts, what are your thoughts on these two editors? What have been your experiences with editors? I’d also like to hear the thoughts of editors/agents in the business.

Until next time!. . .

And So I Return

After a year and a half hiatus I am back! It’s been a busy 18months, frought with a new baby, marriage, training, work, family, moving into a new house, and dogs.

In the coming days/weeks/months I will have a regular schedule of posts on several topics: Geek stuff (miniatures, movies, comics, video games, conventions); Exercise/Fit Life (supplemets, workouts, tips, recipes); Supply Management (procurement, contracts, vendors); Space Exploration

These topics may be increased, decreased, or modified.

Until next time!…

Gen Con Prep

So Gen Con is just around the corner and like most people I am stoked. Weather.com shows that the weather will be mostly sunny with temps in the upper 70s/lower 80s the whole time the convention is going on. It’s going to be an awesome four days of gaming, First Exposure Playtest Hall, and Designer & Publisher Speed Dating.

What I’m Excited To See
There’s going to be a ton to see at Gen Con, and I’m sure more than there is to see in just 4 days. Note that this is my very first Gen Con. But consulting the Gen Con Exhibit Hall map and checking on other events that are available, I’ve already got a lot I want to see:

– Catalyst Game Labs: I will be haunting them. 🙂 No this is not creepy. (This is creepy.) But I cannot wait to meet their team and see all the cool stuff they have coming out. Shadowrun: Crossfire looks fun and I’d love to see/play a demo game. And of course Battletech. Duh. When in doubt, Battletech.

– Iron Wind Metals: Co-located with Catalyst Game Labs. They will probably be taking the second half of my monies.

– Corvus Belli: I’ve already pre-ordered my copy of Infinity Operation: Icestorm. But I’d love to see the other goodues they have.

– Privateer Press: ’nuff said. But rather than looking forward to just the stuff they have at the convention, I’m also heading over to The Ram for the tapping ceremony of the Everblight Ale!

– Table Forged: These guys are cool, and have a great game called Iron And Ale where you drink beer and beat the crap out of your friends. Oh there are cards to do fantasy stuff, too. 😛 But they threw down an arm wrestling challenge, and I answered it!

– Hawk Wargames: Dropzone Commander looks like an amazing game and I cannot wait to play it. I’ll be stopping by to see what they have, and maybe try my hand at a game or two.

– Mantic: Love the games these guys are putting out. Huge Deadzone fan, and already pledged for their Dwarf King’s Quest Kickstarter.

– Fantasy Flight Games: These guys are game making machines. Love their Star Wars game and may pick up a pack or two.

– Gale Force Nine: Everything I’ve heard about Firefly the Game is great! And being an ardent browncoat I wanna try my hand at it.

– Welovefine.com: Because I need a Catbug T-shirt.

– The D6 Generation: Recently started listening to their podcast and I am a huge fan already. Who knew there were people who talked about all the cool stuff I love? Gonna try to squeeze into their recording Friday with the other mob of people trying to get in. But would just like to meet ’em in general.

– The Cardboard Republic: Another great site and podcast that I instantly got addicted to, and would like to meet their team if I get a chance.

These are just a few of the companies I’m looking forward to seeing. The list is long and I have only a rough plan on how I will navigate…perhaps even astrogate this convention.

May have to break out those Delta-V calculations…

First Exposure Playtest Hall
If you haven’t already heard/read, my game Ship Strike will be debuted in the First Exposure Playtest Hall, located in ICC 107-110. If you’re there stop by and get a game in!

Schedule is as follows:
Thursday, Aug. 14: 10AM-12PM, 1PM-3PM, 5PM-7PM
Friday, Aug. 15: 3PM-5PM

I will be running two games at once, so four people can get in per time slot.

Work on Ship Strike has come along great. I’ve gotten some awesome feedback from playtests from friends, family, and the gaming group I belong to.

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Work, work, work...

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Laminate ALL the stat cards!

Probably one of the smartest thing I did was laminate the stat cards. It’s a lot of mind numbing work, but the endstate of what this is, and what it could become, drives me onward!

And So It Begins…
The final countdown to Gen Con has begun! I look forward to meeting a lot of fellow gamers and have a blast!

Gen Con 2014 First Exposure Playtest Hall

Finally everything is set for Gen Con 2014! Ship Strike will be available at the First Exposure Playtest Hall, and I have the days and times right here:

Thursday, August 14th
10AM-12PM
1PM-3PM
5PM-7PM

Friday, August 15th
3PM-5PM

If you’re going to Gen Con 2014, stop by the First Exposure Playtest Hall at any of these times and get in a rousing game of Ship Strike! I’d love to meet everyone and see what you think about the game.

Ship Strike Play Test

Last night was an epic one. A night to go down in the Great Rememberance of the Meyer Family (kudos to those who get the Rememberance reference).

First my brother and I played a rousing game of Deadzone! Though his Enforcers put up a valiant fight and killed over half my force, enough of my Plague infiltrated through to win the game!

Sorry unknown planet, the Plague continues to spread another day.

But this was just the beginning.

Once Deadzone was packed away, I brought forth an eldritch box. Lifting its lid, I exposed the dark contents within…

And the SHIP STRIKE play test began!

Ship Strike really has come along from all those months ago. Gangly mechanics have been smoothed out. Stats are easily read and utilized. Attributes have been simplified. Everything is determined by a single D10 roll and runs quick.

The Play Test

Initially we were going to play on the Hellspawn-class destroyer layout. Due to lack of prior planning and room, we ended up playing on the tried and true Voyager-class frigate. The Hellspawn will have to wait for another day.

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(Ignore the miniatures…standees coming soon…)

Set up went well. Tile layout, then we took turns laying out the lvl 1 and 2 crates, and then the objectives. Objective cards were shuffled, drawn, and then placed faced down – neither of us knew what the other was after.

My brother Matt deployed the marines of the Olympus Mons Technocracy. His force:

– (1x) Force Commander (Titan II)
– (4x) Marines (Titan)
– (1x) Reservist Medic

I fought for the free peoples of Elysium! My force consisted of:

– (1x) Sergeant (Centurion)
– (6x) Marines (Centurion)
– (2x) Marine Scouts (Ferret)

Turn 1

The first turn was full of glrious movement out of the airlocks and into the ship!…

…and not much else.

Turn 2

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A bit more happened. My two Scouts (the two Chaos Marine Raptors) shot through the ship toward the bridge, and Objective 3 in the mess hall on the gravity deck. Matt’s Olympian Marines split, two heading for Objective 2 in the aft section of the ship, while the rest charge twoard the fore.

Turn 3
My Elysian Marines began making headway into the ship and toward Objective 4 while my Scouts were charging full tilt toward the brigde and Objective 3.

Little did I know that one of Matt’s missions was also to claim Objective 4. One of his marines opened the door before him, and combat began in ernest! No deaths, but his lead marine and one of mine exchsnged shots.

Turn 4

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This is where things began to get crazy. As my brother and I duked it out, my marines became stuck behind their buddies so I could only get two marines into the fray. I killed one of his marines, but that only allowed his fresh forces to come forward. It was at this point Matt brought up his Force Commander and started dealing vicious damage with his power armor claw (2 damage).

Turn 5

My scouts continued to shoot toward their objectives in the gravity deck and the bridge, while Matt’s two Marines in the aft went for and took Objective 2.

It was this turn that two of my marines bit the dust. Matt also demonstrated the power of the Olympian Reservist Medic by healing his commander. That became a pain quick.

Turn 6

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With two of my marines dead, Matt moved one of his marines and his medic to take Objective 4, and two of my marines moved in to deny him. My scouts made their objectives on the bridge. His commander moved in to try to finish off another of my marines.

Turn 7

More combat happened here. Thats it. And that damned medic kept healing Matt’s marine.

Turn 8

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This is where the game should have ended. We lost track and didn’t realize (until just now) that Matt had been on Objective 2 for 3 turns.

But we didn’t and so combat went on!

Turn 9

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Where the game actually ended.

Matt’s Force Commander and marine but the dust. My Sergeant saw no action. Matt’s medic attempted to hold Objective 4, and my two marines fought to wrest it from him.

I thought I had won because I held the bridge and objective 3 for three turns at this point.

Silly me.

After action report

Overall great game. We both could have done things differently. But the goal was to test the game mechanics and they worked splendidly.

Things to change:

– +2 to-hit for each additional weapon instead of just +1
– Firm up all my materials (some cards were not current with my updates…the challenges of having stuff on both home and work comouters…)
– Debating on changing the objectives to 4 or 5 turns. But Matt said they seemed to work well, so will keep them for now.

More Ship Strike goodness to come in the very near future!

Gen Con First Exposure Playtest Hall

In other news, Ship Strike will be available to play at Gen Con in the First Exposure Playtest Hall!!! If you’re going to be at Gen Con, stop by to play a round or two.

More details to follow on exact time windows.

We’ll Call This Progress

So I’ve made some decent progress on getting Ship Strike ready:

20140612_214646Box full of completed tiles, and some uncompleted. CSM added for scale.

20140612_214629Level 1 crates (all 21 of them) and tiles that I’ll work on tomorrow…along with my mess.

Progress seems slow. But I have to remember I’m the only one working on this.

That said, using foam core instead of cardboard has been a great improvement over the cardboard I was trying to scrap from boxes and packages we had lying around the house. Though not pristine, edges are cleaner. I printed the tiles onto cardstock instead of using graph paper, making the tiles themselves look cleaner.

So where do I go from here? First I will finish cutting the foam core and gluing on squares. I actually have doors and stuff so I need to make those, too. Then comes the really hard part: making cut-outs of the dudes (read: miniatures).

Dudes are important for this game.

They are sorta the focus.

Hard to play a miniature wargame without your dudes/dudettes. (Disclaimer: Ship Strike is an Equal Opportunity game)

I’ve considered purchasing and painting up some cheap minis from somewhere, but I’m not sure where to look and I’d hate to pitch this to a big company and have them look down on, or even reject, my game because I’m using someone else’s – perhaps even a competitor’s – models. I’m not sure what route to go there. If anyone with real industry knowledge/experience has input on that I would greatly appreciate it.

And then more playtesting. While I’ve firmed up the rules for the most part, and the troops for each faction are pretty tight, there is always room for improvement. And you  never know when something will come up where you and your playtesters will go,”What the deuce?!”

I have also decided to post the rules on the http://www.boardgamegeek.com forums.

Many people worry about piracy and having their idea stolen, and I had this worry, too. But Adam Ferrel, creator of the game Havok and Hijinks, made an excellent point on The Cardboard Republic podcast when he was asked about it. First, Adam stated that he didn’t believe piracy really existed. If someone snagged and played his game for free, oh well. But he made a much more important observation. He stated there are three types of gamers.

First, those who would never buy the game. They would print off his rules and cards and play for free forever. And he doesn’t care. He’s just happy someone is enjoying his game.

Which leads to the second category of gamer, those who will first play it for free, and then go out and purchase it. Whether they download and print everything themselves, or are introduced to the game by a will-never-buy-friend, this individual will, theoretically, become a customer.

And finally there is the gamer that will always buy the game to support the creator and to get all the cool stuff you don’t get when you print and play.

In Adam Ferrel’s mind, all three types of gamers are good for his game. Word of mouth and PnP gaming sessions will spread news of his game and increase its popularity.

I’m inclined to agree with Adam Ferrel.

The Ship Strike rules will be posted in the next day or so after I give them a once over and ensure the majority of spelling errors are corrected, and that any changes to rules/stats are updated in the official documents and not just my notes.

It’s all coming along, and I’m getting really excited about it! Playtests this weekend. I will update with pictures and results.

No One Can Hear You Scream in the Black

The two metal behemoths charged through the hatch as it hissed open. Both were mere men, but the two tons of robotic armor than encased them transformed them into the super soldiers of the Olympus Mons Technocracy. The metal claws of their left hands were open ready to strike in close combat. The right arms of the suits ended in the thick barrels of man-pack lasers and tracked back and forth, up and down. Around them the cargo bay, normally full of crates and equipment, was empty. No crew could be seen.

“Area clear,” the trooper on the left said.

“Moving,” another voice said over the comm.

Another trooper appeared through the hatch from the airlock. His armor was a carbon copy of that of his comrades except for the Chief’s rank adorning his helmet.

“Advance to the bridge,” Chief McIntyre said. “Wagner, left. Lin, right. Make sure to check high.”

“Aye chief,” came the response.

The magnetic clamps of their Titan power armor suits made their footfalls heavy and loud in the bay. The resounding thump of their steps rose the blood pressures of the Olympian troopers, but not enemy appeared.

Chief McIntyre had almost reached the hatch leading to the ship’s central spine. This was an old ship from when man began to conquer his solar system. The bridge would be at the “top” or “front” of the ship, depending on one’s perception.

Just before the three troopers reached the next hatch it opened on its own.

“Chief?” Wagner asked.

“Wasn’t me,” McIntyre replied.

Suddenly two people in old, ratty armored space suits swung into the open hatch, each wielding heavy machine guns.

“Contact!” McIntyre yelled.

*     *     *

Hail!

After almost a year and a half I’m back. A lot has been going on with work and life. Not a lot of writing (though there’s some of that on the back burner).

My latest work:

SHIP STRIKE – The game of space-boarding combat in the 24th Century.

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Above is a picture of a partial game board layout. From left to right: bridge, centrifuge/gravity deck, cargo deck.

In Ship Strike players battle one another to achieve their objective, whether that be annihilating the other player, taking the ship/space station/habitat, finding lost technology, or even setting the vessel’s self-destruct. Along with fighting one another and achieving their objective, players have to navigate ships without gravity.

At the moment there are five factions to choose from:

Olympus Mons Technocracy (located on Mars)

Elysium (located on Mars)

Lakshimi (located on Venus)

Star Folk (space nomads)

Minor States/Pirates

The reason minor states/pirates are a single faction is two-fold. First, many minor states may revert to piracy to meet their resource/monetary needs. On the other hand, pirates that build bases may find themselves the leaders of small or proto-states due to the number of troops, support personnel, hangers-on, and slaves in their camp.

GenCon 2014

It’s just 79 days until GenCon 2014! This will be my first EVAR GenCon, and my first evar wargaming convention (though I have been to Dragon*Con and other comic conventions). I’m super excited. The younger brother, my fiance and her daughter are going with, though the fiance and her daughter will not be participating in GenCon itself. They’re there for moral support/shopping. 🙂

Why do I mention GenCon 2014?

Ship Strike will be previewed at GenCon. Either officially, in the First Exposure Playtest hall (if my application goes through), or off to the side (if my application does not go through). I will have at least two playable copies of Ship Strike at GenCon. Three or four ideally. If you’d like to help playtest, please comment below or shoot me an e-mail.

In addition to playtesting, I will also be taking part in the Publisher and Designer Speed Dating put on by Minion Games! In a speed dating-style event, designers (like me) will pitch our prototype games to major publishers with hopes of getting our games published! I’m REALLY excited for this and will be putting a lot of work and effort into getting ready for this.

Future

I will be posting a lot more development and playtest updates as I go with plenty of pictures, so keep an eye out for that!