Tuesday, October 23, 2018

That's the Spirit

Working cover for Spirits of Manhattan (EN Publishing)

Way back in January I posted that I'd submitted the manuscript for a completed project - one that I had great fun doing, and really surprised me in more ways than one. Well, it looks like that project has gone to layout and should be available in a couple of months or so. 

That project is "Ghostbreakers: Spirits of Manhattan" - the next in EN Publishing's WOIN Studios line. WOIN Studios are the producers of film and TV projects in another reality, and EN Publishing has managed to secure the licensing deal for some of their properties for publication in our world. 

Ghostbreakers: The Spirit of Manhattan lets you play the characters from the highly successful first movie in the Ghostbreakers series, or to create a new "franchise" of Ghostbreakers hoping to save the world from ghostly and demonic invaders. 

I won't go into any great detail, but I must admit this really surprised me. 70-80% of the book is an adventure - something I haven't really tackled for a long time, choosing more recently to concentrate on settings and systems. I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I got VERY into the swing, creating the setting, rationalising how it worked, as well as detailing the many, many sequels that followed this first "movie".
Cover for manuscript I wrote for WEG's
Ghostbusters RPG back in 1987

It was really going back to those first adventures I wrote when I was trying to get into roleplaying game writing way back in the late 1980s. The first game I tried writing for was West End Games' amazing and legendary Ghostbusters RPG - though the scenarios I'd submitted had parody elements inspired by Weird Science, Back to the Future and Evil Dead 2...

It was strange going back to that style of writing, but it was a blast. And above all, it was great to write something funny. After all, we all need a bit of a laugh at the moment.

It did make me think recently about doing something else with the numbers filed off. Something about magic schools and wizards maybe...

But I should concentrate on WILD and not get distracted unless another paid gig should come along? 

Until next time, remember this one piece of advice...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pitch Perfect

Front cover of the Duffer Brother's original pitch - Montauk

It is #WorldMentalHealthDay, or #MentalHealthAwarenessDay depending upon which hashtag you're following on the various social media thingies... and I've just finished my last CBT seminar hoping to get me into a routine, sort my behaviour patterns out, and improve my mood.

I've been feeling better since my post at the beginning of September, but I need to keep to my plan to avoid social media. I've found myself slipping again and passing hours just staring at Facebook or Twitter, seeing if something exciting has happened. I do just need to get on with my own stuff.

So, as part of that "do my own thing", I've been thinking about my RPG - WILD, and acknowledging a problem I've had with it since I started working on it so many years ago. It's all about mental health, and motivation.

Very small sketch I did for the initial cover idea
for the corebook of WILD. The covers would fit
together with the supplements, uniting the middle image.
The problem is, I'm doing WILD for me. There are no publishers involved. No deadlines, no one to disappoint but myself. And, due to that, it has taken forever to get anything done with it. I'm so good at talking myself out of it, saying "No one's going to want to play it", "You can't afford to do it, not even with a Kickstarter", "You have no experience in publishing a game," right through to "People find hearing other people's dreams boring, why would they want to play a game of it?"

In the middle of #RPGaDAY2018 I had the revelation. I thought, if I could sell the idea of the game to a publisher, then I'd have the motivation to keep me working on it. If I didn't get it done, then I'd be letting down more than just myself. I'd be letting them down too. And I'm so good at letting people down...

I figured, if I wrote a pitch. A summary of what WILD is, explaining the setting, the basics of the system, how I wanted the game to be presented, and a sample of what I'd written, I could put it together in a document I could give to potential partners and see if they'd be interested.

After all, the Duffer Brothers produced this awesome little 20-page booklet called Montauk (the original name for the series) when they were pitching Stranger Things to various TV companies. Using aged photos from films and series that inspired them, they wrote a basic summary of what they hoped to produce, and it must have worked...

Example spread from the Montauk pitch by the Duffer Brothers, pitching the TV series that would
become the awesome Stranger Things.

A good friend of mine and ex-dayjob work colleague, Alrissa, for her final project for her degree produced a children's book. She had a few printed, only three or four if I remember correctly, but the wonders of digital printing means that you can do a very small print run as a sample and hopefully get people interested. After doing some research, and finding what can be done and for what price, I'm sure this is cool idea.

So that's what I've been doing with my time. I've been working on a pitch for WILD to show to potential game companies that have partnered with people for Kickstarters in the past. There's no commitment from them, but if they say they're interested and would do the game with me, I have the added motivation to actually get the darn thing finished.

Sample layout of a potential Harry Potter RPG, text by me, layout by Will Brooks
Of course, seeing how cheap you can print a decent sized hardcover book as an example has me thinking that this would be the ideal way of pitching for Harry Potter or James Bond. Just do as we did with Doctor Who (produce an example of what we have in mind) and show off just what we can do...

The original printed pitch given to the BBC for the Doctor Who RPG.
Very, very few of these exist. 

There I go, letting my thoughts get away with me again...

Until next time, look after yourself and each other.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Wizarding World of Roleplaying

Debs and I, about fourth in the queue at the first Fantastic Beasts fan event 2016 in London
(Yes, J K Rowling was there. No she didn't hear us screaming)
Yes. I have a problem. I'm a little obsessed.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I need to write the Official Harry Potter tabletop roleplaying game. Not some "numbers filed off" unofficial one. I need to write an official, licensed RPG set within J K Rowling's Wizarding World.

The frustration that there isn't one, and that I'm not involved, ebbs and flows but it is times like yesterday when the leaked footage of an awesome looking video-game RPG within the Wizarding World hit the internet, that I start screaming at my computer.

First of all, about that video game footage. It looks amazing. I'm so glad I wasn't part of their focus group as I would have been leaping about the room, making noises like a Fwooper. It's a great studio behind it if the rumours are true (Avalanche who did Disney Infinity), and the game looks stunning.

Like Portkey Games and their Hogwarts Mystery game, they've been sensible and set the rumoured RPG in another time period to avoid clashing with the events of Harry Potter (and Fantastic Beasts). And like Portkey's Hogwarts Mystery it tells a new story within the Wizarding World, with new characters visiting familiar locations.

My character tutoring Lumos in Hogwarts Mystery - so long ago... I'm a fourth year now...

So the question is, if this fantastic video game, as well as Portkey's Hogwarts Mystery, can tell new stories at Hogwarts (and in the Wizarding World in general) that are not necessarily considered canon, why is a tabletop roleplaying game any different?

I'd just love some answers.

If it's fear of players creating their own stories and adventures within the Wizarding World, in the games they play and create sitting around a table, it's not like it's that far from fan-fiction. It's not making money and it's certainly not considered canon to the universe.

If it's worry about the potential publisher creating new stories and adventures, I'm sure that any adventure idea would be vetted by Warner Brothers, and is it that different from creating the narrative of the video games currently published or in development? When Portkey first announced their games there was a section in their FAQ's that said J K Rowling would be approving everything - a line that was removed a few months later making it seem like the developers have been given a little more free rein.

Is it just about the money? While a Harry Potter tabletop RPG would be huge in the games world, the tabletop games industry makes a fraction of the money that a video games company would.

I've addressed in earlier posts the many benefits of tabletop gaming and how a Harry Potter RPG would get kids (and adults) interacting sociably in a face-to-face environment, fuelling their imaginations, getting them thinking on their feet, problem solving, and creating. You can see the lengthier post here: http://autocratik.blogspot.com/2017/11/harry-potter-adventures-in-wizarding.html

Pitch layout for a potential Harry Potter RPG - layout by Will Brooks

That same post also details my first attempt at pitching to Warner Bros with the support of a major game company, and how it didn't get very far. I have to wonder if the thing that stopping a Harry Potter RPG is not speaking to the right people? Or getting through to them in the first place? When we pitched (successfully) to the BBC for the Doctor Who RPG, I learned that a factor in other companies' attempts at the license may be purely down to them not getting through to the right person with their proposal.

So my big questions are...

Why is there no Harry Potter / Wizarding World tabletop roleplaying game?

If it's purely financial, I can understand that - I'll just have to hope either to gain the backing of a successful and fluid publisher, or hope for a lottery win. Of course, if a publisher is already working towards a Potterverse game, please let me know!

If it's about creative control, then why can video games companies do all of the things that seem to hold a tabletop game back.

One day I'll corner the Warner execs in a room with J K Rowling, and I'll give them the Powerpoint presentation of a lifetime...

Until then, I'll just have to play with my hack of Tales from the Loop...