Friday, June 11, 2010

Team of Ninjas

Given that I mentioned them yesterday, I want to give a shout out to the Dresden Files RPG Team of Ninjas. See, here's a confession - I have some fingerprints on this game from early on, but between kid and work and such, I've only been able to watch from afar as these guys have pulled together an unbelievable game. To the reader, they're just names on the credit's page, but I want to take a moment to call each of them out.

Leonard Balsera - Lead System Developer
So, folks may know Lenny as the third name on the cover of Spirit of the Century, but may not know how he got there. See, back in the day when all this stuff was just Fate 2.0 and getting kicked around on mailing lists, there was this one guy who was so on top of things an so enthusiastic that we really had only two choices: recruit him, or kill him. Assassins are expensive, so we have been the beneficiaries of Lenny's boundless, booze-powered energy ever since. Lenny has a keen instinct for mechanics and a passion for play that becomes apparent within about 15 seconds of meeting him, which I strongly suggest you do. And when you do, call him Landon Darkwood. He likes that. I promise!

Genevieve Cogman - Author
Genevieve is an old friend from AmberMUSH, the same place we met Jim Butcher back in the day. She is this brilliantly creative woman whose only flaw I can spot is that she lives in England, which is just too damn far away. The very first actual material for the game came from her hand, and as with everything she writes, it was a joy to behold. While she's done other RPG writing, including no small amount of In Nomine stuff, what you really want to track down is her long awaited GURPS Vorkosigan.


Adam Dray
- Assistant Managing Editor
Adam is a local who we only see at conventions and only interact with on the Internet. I genuinely have no idea why this is, because he's a cool guy, but for our purposes here, he's also a sharp eyed editor who also made sure a lot of the One Bad Egg products ended up looking properly polished. He's also a game designer in his own right, and like all good game designers, he has one outstanding project that we're all very excited to see get finished, a post-cyberpunk conspiracy game called Verge.


Ken Hite - Author
Author of The Idiot's Guide to American History. Apparently, he also writes games!


Ryan Macklin - Lead Project Developer, Assistant Editor
If there is anything related to the RPG business which Ryan does not do, I can only assume it's because it has not yet occurred to him to do it. Podcasting, blogging, publishing, designing, editing - he does it all. I suppose he might not illustrate, but then, I've never seen anything he's drawn, so who's to say? Yet for all that, Ryan maintains a fantastically unique view on the hobby, almost as if his range of experience helps him maintain a broader perspective on things and lets him see gaming things the way they fit in the world, not just fit in the world of gaming. Should you ever find him deep in discussion, mysteriously full (but quickly emptying) flask on hand, you owe it to yourself to join the conversation. And bug him to get Mythender out. He loves that.


Chad Underkoffler - Lead Setting Developer, Assistant Editor
Contrary to reports, Chad is not actually a robot from the future powered by beer, but it's understandable why there might be some confusion. See, Chad is this brilliant, creative guy who is responsible for games like Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies and Dead Inside, and there's a picture you get from those games and how much heart they have that, I think, opens a window to the kind of passion this guy carries around. But it's easy to overlook that passion in the face of his pure technical mastery. Chad shoved more Dresden Files canon into his brain than I think it's truly designed to hold, and more than anything he's the reason the setting material is as thorough and amazing as it is. How does he do it? I do not know, but this is how rumors of robots and the future come from. If you see him, ask him a question. Seriously, any question. The man's a vending machine of insight, so take advantage.

Amanda Valentine - Managing Editor

So, a bit of context. Notice that we have something like 4 people with the title editor, plus a Project Developer? This is not entirely normal, and our implementation is especially abnormal because we are true believers in the power of editing. And that RPG folks need to be herded like Cats. To that end, Amanda demonstrated her super powers. Now, I don't mean to downplay her editing chops, for they are profound, but they are just one arrow in her quiver of making sure things happen. We were lucky to have two people with really strong project management skills with Ryan and Amanda, and together I like to think of them as the Stick and the Carrot. Why Ryan is the stick is a reason I'll leave to the imagination, but Amanda is the carrot because she is an absolute sweetheart who is a joy to interact with and who will sweetly, kindly and politely make sure you get your stuff done without ever explicitly stating the number of places she's willing to break this carrot off.

Clark Valentine - Author

Clark is a god-damned secret weapon. If I did not know him to be a real human with real human weakness, I would say he is the one man alive with no fear of the blank page. You tell Clark you need words and, no matter how poorly you asked or how little guidance you gave him, you will by God get words. And they will be the words you would have asked for if you had been smart enough to think of in the first place. I can say firsthand how good this guy is because I know what the notes on Baltimore looked like when he received them, and I have seen what he did from that messy, messy starting place. Clark has no idea how good he is, and even as I say this now, he thinks I'm just being nice, but he's wrong. He's really that good.


As an extra note, Fred made an amusing discovery about the credits. According to the credits page, we have no layout guy! But don't worry, Fred's going to kick the ass of whoever made that mistake, and make sure that our mysterious layout guy gets recognition, whoever he is!



EDIT
Fred called out the two secret weapons in the comments, and I think this is important enough to pull forward into the post, so quoting from Fred here:

There are two people listed explicitly as secret weapons on our credits page, so let me speak to them a little:

Priscilla Spencer -- Priscilla not only provided the killer image of the brothers Gruff for the game, she was also Chad's "silent" secret personal Archive about the series. She's been my lieutenant moderator and site-runner over on the Jim Butcher website for a while now, but she got there by way of being a big fan, showcasing her extensive and in-depth knowledge of the series. On the forums, she's the keeper of the timeline of the series, even, which is no mean feat by itself. Part of the reason Chad's stuff is so good and so on point is that he had someone like Priscilla looking over his shoulder.

Chris Hanrahan -- Chris is one of the owners of Endgame out in Oakland, California, one of the best game stores in the nation, and the guy I do the irregular That's How We Roll podcast with. But he's also been an invaluable business consultant on the entire project. Whenever I had another crazy idea about what to do with the product, he either reined me in or cheered me on as was appropriate. And if you like the names we gave to the books, those happened through brainstorming sessions he and I had. For the game-as-product, his fingerprints are all over it.

8 comments:

  1. Fred didn't credit himself for layout? Oh, man, that's karma for you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. There are two people listed explicitly as secret weapons on our credits page, so let me speak to them a little:

    Priscilla Spencer -- Priscilla not only provided the killer image of the brothers Gruff for the game, she was also Chad's "silent" secret personal Archive about the series. She's been my lieutenant moderator and site-runner over on the Jim Butcher website for a while now, but she got there by way of being a big fan, showcasing her extensive and in-depth knowledge of the series. On the forums, she's the keeper of the timeline of the series, even, which is no mean feat by itself. Part of the reason Chad's stuff is so good and so on point is that he had someone like Priscilla looking over his shoulder.

    Chris Hanrahan -- Chris is one of the owners of Endgame out in Oakland, California, one of the best game stores in the nation, and the guy I do the irregular That's How We Roll podcast with. But he's also been an invaluable business consultant on the entire project. Whenever I had another crazy idea about what to do with the product, he either reined me in or cheered me on as was appropriate. And if you like the names we gave to the books, those happened through brainstorming sessions he and I had. For the game-as-product, his fingerprints are all over it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. With regards to Priscilla: Damn. Straight.

    (Also, as a beta-reader of Jim's, she was privy to important information from the long-ago mailling list and the forum, which helped inform some of my work and round it out.)

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  4. All of the above is true. And, speaking as somebody who has been completely outside this project yet has known many of these people for a very long time indeed, no greater single force for excellence has been brought together before or since.

    Which also means that if for some reason you haven't already ordered this game, you should, just so that when you get it you'll experience the waves of passionate creative endeavor rolling off it in sheets.

    I guess that sounds kind of creepy. But it isn't! These people are bad-ass! That is all.

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  5. Thanks for the kind words, Rob.

    So that you know, you've always been my wise man atop the mountain. There have been times when you've spoken single sentences that have entirely changed the way I think about design.

    So, you can call them "fingerprints" if you want, and I'll chalk that up to your general erring toward humility. But I think it runs quite a bit deeper than that.

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  6. These ninjas look forward to killing on their next project soon!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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