Geek In The Closet News

    Today, as I was continuing to plug away on my adventure module, it occurred to me that it would be very useful if there were a place for people to go where they could ask specific questions about game design for the community to answer for them. These kinds of questions can certainly be asked on the GITC boards, and I encourage you to so, but I have just discovered another tool that might be more efficient at providing this service – Google Groups.

    Google Groups is very similar to a traditional forum but I have set up the GITC group in a question and answer format that is ideally suited for people looking for an answer to a specific question.

    Please check it out and leave a question that you would like answered or identify a specific issue that you would like help resolving with respect to game design. If you can, try to answer someone else’s question and contribute to the communities knowledge database.

    Frick. Its day 6 and already I’m behind schedule. How sad is that? I will have to plow through the next few tasks in order to catch up so without further adieu …

    This step is all about organizing myself so I can actually find the images and documents when it comes time to assembling them into the book. Once I started to think about what might be involved here I realized that there is actually a lot more work than I originally anticipated. This was a full day excercise. Here are some of the things I considered with respect to file mangement.

    Well, its midnight so I will have to shut it down for the evening. I’f I’ve msissed else related to file organization please drop me a line and let me know.

    – Jerett

    Now that I have the Development Schedule fleshed out, I can work at identifying the tasks that need to be completed for Phase 1: Pre-Production. To be honest with you, I’m looking forward to getting this task done. I’m a little ‘scheduled out’ but its necessary so …

    A. Schedule (3 Days)

    B. Pre-Production Tools (2 Days)

    C. Concept (6 Days)

    D. Research (5 Days)

    E. Adventure Outline (4 1/2 Days)

    F. Webpage (5 1/2 Days)

    F. Crowd Sourcing (2 Days)

    The astute reader might have already picked up that I’m already behind schedule. I’d better keep going.

    – Jerett

    So I’ve given myself a full year to complete this adventure. My initial gut feeling is that this should be plenty of time, but having no frame of reference to know if this is true, the only way I can determine if this is realistic is to break each phase down into tasks and assign time to each of them while leaving some factor of safety to account for procrastination (we are all guilty) and unplanned events.

    Below is my preliminary Development Schedule which I generated by assigning a percentage to each phase based on what I would intuitively expect them to take.

    Looking at these numbers, I see that it might be really challenging to stay on schedule during some of these phases. This is especially true for the Manuscript and Illustration Phases which accounts for 50% of the entire work. Actually, getting this done in year might be harder than I thought. Hopefully I’ve overestimate some of the other phases and can pick up some of the time along the way.

    I pretty sure I read somewhere that an experienced writer should be able to write an adventure in less than 3 months, but I can’t for the life of me remember if this was for a shorter adventure module or a full adventure path product. If anyone in the industry has experience with what is typically seen, I would be very interested to know. I’ve also read that a decent writer should be able to produce 1,000 words a day if not more. According to “On Writing” by Stephen King, he writes about 2,000 words a day, but I certainly can’t compare myself to him. He’s a machine. Since I haven’t yet developed my writing ‘muscles’, I estimate that I should be able to generate 500 words a day during the Manuscript Phase but, only if I maintain the discipline to do the work consistently. With 102 days assigned to this phase at 500 words a day, I should be able to write a 51,000 word manuscript. Including the appendices, this is around the length I was estimating that it should be. I will be will be putting more effort into defining the actual target length in the days to come at which time I have a clearer idea if 102 days is sufficient or I will need to commit to a higher daily output.

    I will be posting this schedule on the web page fro the adventure and using progress bars to graphically illustrate where production is currently at with respect to the Development Schedule. Stay tuned for it and please feel free to drop me a line if I have missed any phases or key tasks in the schedule. This is a living document that will be continually refining as I learn more.

    – jerett

    So I’ve been doing some thinking and I’m going to revise the Development Phases I identified yesterday.

    I didn’t receive any comments from readers saying that they were poor selections, however, after looking at it today with fresh eyes I’m now thinking that maybe the number of phases are a little excessive and that maybe some of them would be better off as sub-categories rather than entire phases unto themselves.

    Here are the new revised phases:

    And here are the general goals for each phase:

    Produce a detailed design document (proof of concept) that clearly describes all elements of the adventure module to a point where there are no major design decisions that need to be made during the Manuscript and Game Mechanics Phases (who, what, when, where, and why).

    Write the first draft manuscript for the entire adventure and get the story onto paper including the introductory sections, adventure chapters, conclusion and appendices and sketch rough maps for adventure locations.

    Generate all stat blocks (NPCs, monsters, settlements, etc.), assign DCs to skill checks, distribute treasure, check experience distribution, and design any new game content like magical items, spells, new monsters, etc.

    Digitally paint all maps, NPC portraits, actions scenes, front and back covers, page style templates, logos and other graphic design elements, and advertisement page.

    Self-edit the first draft of the manuscript for length and grammar and then send to an experienced outside source for professional editing.

    Write the credits, index, back cover text, and legal appendix. Assemble the manuscript, illustrations, and game mechanics into one document complete with typesetting and proofing. Ask a respected freelancer to writ the foreword.

    Formally announce the project on all social media channels, the Geek in the Closet Website, and the Paizo boards. Advertise the adventure on other affiliated Pathfinder fan-sites and Wayfinder magazine.

    Obtain constructive feedback from gaming groups willing to volunteer and playtest the adventure. Incorporate the community comments and Foreword and perform final edit.

    Print to PDF format and post on the Geek In The Closet website. Announce its availability on social media channels and print color hard copy for private use.

    Assemble addenda items and publish revised adventure module and respond to community questions on the forums. Solicit collaborators for the next adventure module.

    Yeah, that’s better. Tomorrow I’ll decide on the actual development schedule and assign timeframes to each phase. See you then.

    – Jerett

    Ok, let’s get down to business. I think the first thing that needs to be done, even before the adventure concept is fleshed out, is to break the project down into discreet phases that can be scheduled. I know that I don’t stand a chance of getting this done before the end of the year if I don’t spend some time thinking about what needs to be done, and how much time I have to do it.

    I don’t have the benefit of knowing the typical phases used by the industry but I suppose that’s ok; it’s probably better that I organize it in a way that makes the most sense to me anyway.

    Here they are as I see them. I’m sure that many of these phases are typically combined into one ‘Development’ phase, but as I’m a one-man-army, I’m ok with this. It will help me focus on one thing at a time.

    Make all design decisions necessary to fully describe the adventure and record them into a design document.

    Complete the written first draft of the adventure using hard-drawn sketches of the adventure maps.

    Generate stat blocks, check rules, and create items and other new game content, and balance gameplay.

    Complete the second draft of the adventure, modifying the manuscript as required.

    Create digitally drawn cartography.

    Complete digitally drawn artwork.

    Complete the front and back cover artwork and text, page background design, icons, logos, etc.

    Choose all fonts, and layout text and graphics on each page to fit within the desired format/length.

    Write legal disclaimers, open game licence, and referenced intellectual properties.

    Obtain feedback from playtesters and website viewers.

    Incorporate feedback and obtain final third-party editing.

    Create webpage on geekinthecloset.com to host the PDF file and promote the adventure.

    Publish to PDF and make available for download from the website.

    Announce the availability of the free adventure on social media channels and website.

    Provide product support for the adventure and obtain public feedback.

    What do you guys think? Am I missing anything?

    – Jerett

    As so many people feel compelled to do at this time of the year, I have made a New Year’s Resolution. In order to keep me accountable in case I should start to stray as the year progresses, I would like to share it here with you. Yes that includes you too, annoying spam-bot who keeps auto-commenting on each of my posts with links to commercial sites that do not interest me. In fact, this announcement might be only for you considering the amount of traffic I am currently getting on my blog – which is none. I will take inspiration from your unrelenting spam as a reminder to persevere in achieving my Resolution, no matter what obstacles or spam filters life might put in my way.

    “O.K., so what is it already” you ask? No, it is nothing as unimaginative as going to the gym 3 times a week and losing 20 pounds (although that’s not a bad idea considering), and it’s not about trying to make more money at my job. It is much less life-changing but no less fulfilling.

    What’s more, I’m going to document each step of its creation on my website for all to see, warts and all. While I fumble my way through each task, I encourage you to register on this blog and send me your comments to let me know how I am doing. I welcome your construction feedback, pointers, and maybe even the accessional word of encouragement to help keep me motivated.

    Now let me make this clear right from the start – I don’t know what the hell I am doing. I don’t claim to be an expert at any of this, and please don’t think that that I am trying to pass this off as some sort of How-To guide. I have no publishing or game design experience and I am only sharing my creative process so other aspiring freelancers can learn from my mistakes and to keep me on schedule. I’m also not a professional writer; in fact, I’ve never written anything that has been published before. You only need to read my blog posts to know that I don’t gots good English. I have a little bit if artistic talent, but I haven’t worked on developing these skills since high school, and trust me, that was a long time ago. And here is the biggest confession of all: I have never once played the Pathfinder RPG!

    Yeah, that’s embarrassing I know, and probably more than a little puzzling considering the nature of my goal and the amount of work and knowledge that will be required to create an adventure that is enjoyable and memorable, let alone playable. I mean, who makes a commitment to invest so much time into something they don’t know the first thing about? Well, I do that’s who! I’m stubborn and I have always wanted to do this and as cliché as it may sound, I need to. I have to have some sort of creative outlet to help manage the stresses of being a father of three and a very demanding career or I just might explode.

    But it’s not all doom and gloom mind you. What I do have going for me is that I started playing Dungeons & Dragons in the late 1970s and never lost interest in the game through all of the many editions that have come and gone since its conception. While Pathfinder has evolved from D&D in many ways (all for the better I might add), at its core it is still the same game that I have been passionate about almost my entire life – and it’s a game I know very well. While I can’t claim to have actually played Pathfinder, I do have a strong grasp of the campaign setting, its lore, and its rules. Perhaps more importantly, I know what makes the game fun and memorable.

    That said, while I cant predict accurately how my adventure will compare to that of a third-party publisher or even Paizo for that matter, I can make you two promises. One: the adventure will be finished and made available by the end of this year (actually, I would expect it much, much sooner but no need to overpromise at this point). And two: I will create it with honesty, transparency, passionately, and to the best of my ability in order to make it as enjoyable as I can both for you and for me.

    Thank you for spending the time to read this and have a Happy New Year!

    (note: send more spam to indicate your support of this creative journey.)

    – Jerett

    A few years ago when I was first considering starting a Pathfinder fan-page I realized that I should probably have some sort of site mascot to identify with the website brand. Considering that the site is named Geek In The Closet I though it would be witty to choose the meanest, toughest monster and deck him out in geek gear.

    My first attempt was the beholder shown below. To this day, this is still my favorite version of the idea, but I realized shortly after drawing it that Pathfinder doesn’t have the rights to them so I unfortunately had to abandon it. It just didn’t make sense to use a beholder for a mascot when the monster doesn’t even appear in the game.

    I then though about what monster best represents Pathfinder. That, of course, would be the goblin but I thought I might get my hands slapped by using that particular monster so I quickly discarded that idea as well. I did do a funny sketch of a geeky goblin that one day I might post on this blog if anyone is interested in seeing it.

    At about this time, Misfit Monsters Redeemed came out and I thought there had to be some lame monster in there that would be perfect for the site. Sure enough, there it was – the bizarre flumph; an outcast among outcasts. It was perfect. Unfortunately my art skills are not nearly as good as I thought the ideas was and the resulting drawing was more than a little embarrassing.  I still really like the idea though so I might take another stab at it one day. Who knows, maybe somebody with more artistic talent will draw a geeky flumph for me and donate it to the site.

    With the flumph idea not working, I kept finding myself going back to the beholder graphic which I thought would have worked really well if not for that whole intellectual property thing. It then came to me that it wouldn’t take much tweaking to the turn the beholder into a Cyclops. Do cyclops appear in Pathfinder? Check. Are they mean and tough? Check. At last, here was something I could work with.

    Just to get something on the site for launch day, I deleted the eye stalks and did some quick coloring. Unfortunately he still looked a lot like a beholder since he had no ears and still had the leathery skin texture. The version that appears on the menu now is hopefully a little more ‘cyclopsy’. I’m not super satisfied with it yet though and I will undoubtedly tweak it some more and work on the coloring.

    Let me know what you think.

    I broke the site yesterday. It wasn’t the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

    I’m not sure exactly what went wrong but for some reason, the larger image files refused to properly upload to the web server. The glitchy upload resulted in some graphics displaying half of the image. Very strange. I suspect it might have to do with the very slow internet speed I was experiencing yesterday. Its faster today and there doesn’t seem to be any issue so far so who knows.

    With all systems go, I took the opportunity to make a few changes to the main menu on the homepage. Now that I have a proper forum and blog, some of the menu options were redundant so I deleted them. The menu is now a bit cleaner but still a little busy. I’ll leave it for now and try to focus more on content but I’m sure I will be revisiting it again.

    I also deleted the large ‘Latest News’ panel that was at the bottom of the page and changed it to a much smaller accordion-style button centered at the top. This allowed me to maximize the size of the side-scrolling images which I think are the most important part of the homepage (at least they will be when they are completed).

    Some other minor changes include:

    Let me know what you think of the changes. Is the menu better or worse now?

    Pembly the Cyclops

    I will be using this news feed to discuss products and other news from Paizo Publishing and other third party publishers.

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