Finding Dragon Eggs

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So by now, you know that the slog-formerly-known-as-a-Handbook project is now officially out. (As in, currently can be bought as a PDF and soon-to-be hitting store shelves in print form.) Yes, it’s true. Handbook: House Kurita is a reality at long last.

I was skimming it the other day and realized I’d put a number of little ‘Easter eggs’ within the project. Not to be confused with pop culture references – not all Easter eggs are such things – these are more little quirks and nods to other things of note. Or secrets. Or, possibly, simply born from side discussions that suddenly spawned into fictional reality.

For example, the Wakamiya-class salvage destroyer is such an item. The idea came from a long discussion with a close friend of mine on the way back from a day of gaming; I’d been trying to figure out what new wet navy type of ship to put into the book. (Every Handbook in the series has a different type of wet navy vessel, so no repeating.) Somehow, we got to talking about Project: AZORIAN (since I’d just written an article on it) and then my friend (that’d be Brian, of Jadehellbringer fame) said I should build a ship along those lines.

I didn’t think about it too hard, and instead tasked him with it. Now, building a surface vessel under our support rules system is an exercise in spreadsheet algebra – something I personally loathe – and he couldn’t quite replicate it. So we passed it off to Brent, a mutual friend, who snapped into shape the vessel now proudly displayed in this book.

Some other Easter eggs:

  • Several headers and subheaders are actually haikus, when strung together.
  • Lovecraft makes an appearance with a fake cult that pops up from time to time, never boding well tidings for the citizenry affected.
  • One of the chain gangs listed is derived from my DC gaming group’s name.
  • The Obuzaabaa and Sasayaku vehicles were inspired by my old college Shadowrun (2Ed) group, who modified CityMasters into robotic killing machines (much to our GM’s regret for allowing it).
  • Yes, a particularly bad BattleTech novel is mentioned as a popular fantasy movie, along with an updated version of a popular monster franchise.
  • The Gossamer drone is directly derived from the Schatten airships I created for TRO:VA.
  • The Snapping Dragon came from a throwaway line by Ray: “We need more killer plants in this universe.”
  • The actual location of the Kensai Kami is put on a planet that becomes fairly important later into the Jihad; that was a decision I made about halfway through the Jihad plot, as I needed the Kuritans to hold onto some of their elite status and traditions. Putting it on a planet that would go under harm’s way was not ideal.
  • The Pachirisu is the most obvious nod to a very popular Japanese pastime, known as Pokemon. Herb, then the Line Developer, mentioned that it was only right we pay homage to that particular bend in Japanese culture. So I took the Pokemon pachirisu, a popular character in the series/game, and crafted the Kuritan ‘lightning squirrel.’
  • A ‘popular’ character from the Somerset Strikers does make a surprisingly detailed appearance, as part of the current royal family.
  • The ‘modernist haiku’ was written by a friend who graciously helped me with some cultural translation and adaptations.
  • The light bulb jokes came from a particularly hilarious gaming session between friends, when we came up with a long list of these for almost every faction.

And there’s more, but why spoil all the fun?

Games Most Wanted (In More Ways Than One)

Game shelfThis past Monday, a dream finally saw fruition: I saw my first non-fiction book on a shelf at Barnes & Noble. Games’ Most Wanted has finally made it into the public eye.

Granted, it’s not the first time I’ve seen one of my books on a store shelf; I’ve seen, on several occasions, many of my BattleTech books on game store (and some mainstream bookseller) shelves. But this particular book marked something of a milestone for me.

My first “true” publication.

Okay, so how is it my first? I’ve contributed, written, and produced more than thirty books in the BattleTech line, so clearly it’s not a matter of my first. At least, not in the literal sense.

What GMW represents is more of a step out of my comfort zone. I’m very capable and comfortable of producing giant stompy robot universe material; I’ve been writing for the universe for eight years now.

No, GMW is what I consider my next step. As Obi-Wan would say, my “next step into a larger world.”

So what makes GMW a must-need book? Who are we targeting? What’s the point?

In GMW, we take a look at board, tabletop, war, and video games. We also look at the culture that has grown up around it – from the arcade junkies to online addicts, casual social gamers to hard-core professional leaguers. It’s a book aimed at anyone who is, was, will be, or knows a gamer.

I’ll let a little bit of my introduction in the book explain:

We wrote this book with a variety of readers in mind. If you’re a casual game player, we hope to broaden your experience to the enormous variety of games out there. If you’re a parent of gamers, we hope to explain some of the cultural idiosyncrasies that have arisen as gaming continues to grow. If you’re a hardcore gamer, we hope that as you read, you’ll relive some great gaming memories as we mention your favorite games. For those who are partnered with a gamer, we want you to better understand your significant other’s gaming personality—and give you some common points to discuss with them when you both have some “together” time.

Most important, though, is that we truly desire for our reader—no matter where they are on the gaming spectrum—to walk away an improved gamer. If you learn just one thing from these pages and apply it to your gaming experience, you’ll be a better gamer.

Table of Contents

Press kit/sheet

GMW came about from an out-of-the-blue phone call by Kathryn Owens, who would end up being my main point of contact and editor of the project. She’d called me in 2009, wanting to know if I’d be interested in putting together some sort of book on games or gaming for Potomac Books, Inc. Considering I’d just been laid off from a prior employer and in the middle of job hunting, I jumped at the chance. Of course, I had my main cheerleader pushing me forward as well; my wife is really good at inspiring me beyond my own criticism.

I ended up pulling in a co-author on the project in 2010, after faltering with various chapter ideas. I’d come to the realization I was woefully unprepared to handle the swath of games that faced me for this book. Chris had many years in the industry and also was (at the time) a prominent host of the Fear the Boot podcast. He had some clout and experience in some gaming areas I lacked. After convincing him to jump aboard (it wasn’t that hard), we set about redefining the chapters, the content, and the workload.

About 2011, the book stalled again for a few reasons. It was mostly complete, just lacking a few final chapters as we ran out of steam. Potomac had designated the book as the last of their “Most Wanted” line and interest seemed to wane. So it was shelved.

In mid-2012, Kathryn again called me. The book had received renewed interest in completion and she wondered if we could finish up within a month. We certainly did, though we fell short by four chapters of the original 42 we’d planned. The word count was more than enough, however, even after the shedding of another chapter on conventioneering that didn’t fit the book’s tone and content. We were set at 37 chapters of game goodness.

And the rest, they say, is publication history. Or at least, standard publication workflow. Copy editing, corrections, red line check, final proof, layout, print, and viola! There it is, on the bookshelf, waiting to be bought.

So. That’s Games’ Most Wanted. In the coming weeks/months, I’ll revisit the book and some of the topics therein. In the meantime, please follow the book’s Facebook page. Of course, we’d love it if you bought a copy and read it. Hey, buy two and give one to a friend! And reviews are always welcome, especially on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, and other prominent bookseller websites.

Go forth and read. And then get gaming!

Update the Whatever (aka What I’m Reading Right Now)

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My wonderful wife and her family got me a Nook Simple GlowTouch for my milestone birthday recently, and it’s turned my passion for reading into overdrive.

Those who have known me for a long while know of my “talent” for reading 5-7 books at a time and managing to keep everything straight with regards to characters, timelines, plots, and so forth. I feel like I’m lagging behind when I’m down to only two books, so you can see my appetite is voracious for reading. It’s not always fiction; I have a wide range of taste, from military tactics to history, how-to manuals to spiritual insight, fiction to gaming resources.

The Nook has simply turned my reading passion up to “11.” (That’s a Spinal Tap reference for you young ‘ins.)

So, to clue you in on where exactly my interest is as I finish Handbook: House Kurita and Gamer’s Most Wanted, I give you my current reading list: Continue reading