Jan 3 2011

2010 Recap, Plans for 2011

Whew, it’s been a crazy year. When I started this project, I had no idea what would happen, and I’ve got to say, I’m pretty pleased with the results so far. Let’s review: A year ago, in January of 2010, I decided to try to write one game poem a week for a year. I didn’t reach that goal, but I did make thirty-five out of fifty-two, and that’s not too bad, all things considered.

In that time, I also managed to get the wherewithal to pick my favorite twenty-four game poems (so far), edit the heck out of them, learn me some Adobe Illustrator to create some art, and lay out and publish a book of game poems that hit the ground at GenCon 2010. I hand-made fifty copies, signed and numbered them, and either sold them or gave them out to interested parties, and all fifty were gone by the time I left, thanks in big part to the folks at the Design Matters booth. The book (unsigned and un-numbered, but still as sweet) is currently offered for sale in print and PDF at Lulu.com, and I’m also very excited to have it now available at Indie Press Revolution, currently only as a PDF, but I just ordered a fresh print run, and they’ll have those up for preorder any time now.

I fell into a slump, poem-writing-wise, after GenCon, partly because putting together the book took a lot of time and energy, and partly because I spent a good amount of time working on a game (Skin Men) for the 2010 Game Chef competition. (Skin Men is still in development, and in dire need of fixing up, playtesting, and re-writing. Look for more as the year progresses…) I managed to get another half-dozen or so new poems out before year end, but definitely lost the momentum that I had earlier in the year.

So, what’s on the table for 2011? I’d like to re-attempt my goal of a game poem per week again, but I don’t know if I can realistically spare the cycles to commit to that. I will try, though, and if I wind up hitting at least half that number, I’ll be totally happy. (There will probably be another book forthcoming this year, as well, if the writing-machine keeps up.) I’ll also be devoting more time to my other games, and other projects, but I’ll always come back here as often as possible. In fact, expect a new one any day now…

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks for playing!

Nov 23 2010

We interrupt these game poems for a brief announcement.

Hey poem people! Two things.

One: Yes, there are more game poems on the way. I have been terribly remiss in writing and posting, but I assure you that there are some in the pipe, and it’s just a matter of pumping out some more, ready or not. Life has been crazy busy lately with a new job and cons and all that other life stuff, but that’s no excuse. The purpose here is to create consistently, rain or shine, so I’m getting out my umbrella and heading back in.

Two: Part of what I’ve been doing when I haven’t been writing game poems is working on other, normal, “long-form” games. Those of you who know me from the regular Gizmet side have been asking about new board or card games, but I’ve been mostly (mostly!) working on designing and writing a couple of RPGs lately. One of them is generally unannounced, but the other is my entry for the 2010 Game Chef competition, Skin Men. It’s a finalist! But the thing about this year’s contest is, once the finalists are chosen, it’s up to how often a game gets played to decide who wins. This is where you come in, gentle reader. It would please me greatly if you would follow the link to download the playtest bundle, give the game a shot with your local group, post on the contest site to register your interest, and, most importantly, let me know what you think!

Skin Men is certainly unfinished; it needs writing, clarifications, expansion, balancing and testing, but it is 90% playable, and 100% guaranteed to be a good time regardless. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to poke me. And don’t hesitate to play! The contest ends on December 15th, so get your gaming in now!

Thanks, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled game poetry.

Aug 25 2010

Twenty-Four Game Poems book at Lulu!

This was ready a few days ago, and me being me, I just realized that the place that I should be promoting it is right here. So, here it is!

The very same edition of the Twenty-Four Game Poems book that I printed up in a limited edition for GenCon 2010 is now available for purchase on lulu.com. It’s not signed and numbered, but it is thoroughly edited and laid out all pretty, so if you weren’t able to get your hands on a copy, now you can!

This took an awful lot of time and effort to put together, but it was totally worth it. I imagine that I’ll do another edition in six months or so, so if you’re liking what you’re seeing, keep your eyes peeled…

(I also have three new game poems lined up and ready to go once I make with the writey-writey and editing and whatnot, so those should be coming out sometime this week, barring disaster or sloth.)

Aug 10 2010

Three Weeks Behind

Okay, so the official excuse is that I spent two weeks doing daytime childcare in addition to regular work and editing and laying out and finishing the artwork for the Twenty Four Game Poems book that I released at GenCon this year.

Then I went to GenCon. Which was awesome.

So, the reality is that I’m at least three weeks behind. I’d like to call for another game-a-day run to make up for it, but, to continue the bummer that is reality, work is picking up this week, and I have a lot of post-travel catching up to do. The good news is that the book was very well received at the con, so I really do feel like I’ve been spending my time doing something worthwhile. As long as people are enjoying the games, I’m counting it all as a win.

But, enough jibber-jabber. Back to writing – there will be a new game poem up in the next day or so, with plenty more to come! I expect to be caught up by the end of next week – that should take us to number thirty-three or thirty-four – and after that, keep up all regular-like.


May 17 2010


To borrow a term from the outstanding 750words.com, last week was a complete miss, an empty frame, no points for me. Granted, I was felled by some thoroughly wicked food poisoning for the last part of the week, but that’s no excuse! If I had stuck to a Monday posting schedule, instead of waiting until the last minute, it wouldn’t have been a complete whiff. Anyway. Failure noted, moving forward.

You know what? Let’s get crazy. To atone for my lapse in productivity, we’re going to bump it up a level here. This week, I’ll be publishing a new game poem every day! (What? Are you insane?) Take that, sloth! (Seriously, people. He’s just not been feeling well.) Yeee-haw! (I’m going to make some more tea.)

On Friday, I managed to sit through the Spectacle, an improv and performance set at the Hideout Theatre here in Austin. The show consists of an opening troupe doing their thing, the headlining troupe, Parallelogramophonograph, doing their thing. In between the main acts is a five minute “Spectacular” (Big Poppa E, this week), and a “Spectator”, who watches the whole thing, and creates a piece of art based on the show. I was the Spectator this week, so we’ll be starting off today with a game poem based on the early works of noted pre-Victorian author Timothy Roberts.

Mar 5 2010

Notes so far

Stepping back for a moment and looking back at the first two months of this project, I’m noticing a couple of things.

First, the quality of my writing is… not what I’d like it to be. Mind you, most of these game poems are written as they’re conceived, usually within thirty minutes or so, and then posted with very minimal editing. But still, I’d like to think that I could construct sentences and paragraphs in a more engaging and clear manner. But, like my buddy Dave commented, “writing is re-writing”, and eventually, I plan to revisit each one of these (once I reach my goal of fifty-odd games for the year) and give them the once- or twice-over that they (and you, the readers and players) deserve. In the meantime, please bear with me.

On a related note, if anybody out there is reading (or playing!) these, and has comments, questions, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to post them hear. I’m interested in any kind of feedback, including (especially!) critical feedback, as my aim is to make these as good as they can be, and I don’t believe that I can do that all my my lonesome. I appreciate and look forward to any and all input from my patient and thoughtful audience.

Secondly, I notice that many of these game poems are a lot more… well, “gamey” than I’d originally expected, or intended. But, that’s okay. I’m kind of a gamey gamer, and my designs tend towards fiddly little systems where they may or may not belong. But, that’s where playtesting comes in, and if things are too fussy, out they go. I’m primarily interested in evoking certain impressions, feelings, or emotions with these game poems, but I’m also a firm believer in “system matters”, and I think that the right game mechanics can produce that kind of effect as well as the most finely crafted turn of poetic phrase. Thus, the “game” part of “game poem”. I’m going to try to focus a bit more on making them more evocative through not-rules in the next batch, but I write whatever comes out of my inspiration, so that’s not a guarantee. I hope that they do the job, either way.

Lastly, and kind of related, a couple of my favorite game poems so far (and I’m going to withhold the identity of those at the moment, so as not to taint the judgment of anyone whose opinion of a particular game might be influenced my by own) tend to leave out something important, something central to my conception of the experience that the game should produce. Leave out in the text, in the description of the game here, that is – I believe that these things emerge from the process of play. Eventually, probably not all the time, but as my designer-mind traces through the pathways and possibilities that a given game poem can produce, I see a few of them generating these awesome results that aren’t stated directly in the rules, but are discovered by the reader/players along the way. That makes me very happy, and even if this experiment ended right here and now, I’d feel that I was successful in doing just that. I hope to come back to this point and explore it and talk about it some more in the future, so if I forget, bug me about it, okay?

So, that’s enough jabber for now. I hope that you’re enjoying this game-poem experiment, whoever you are out there. Only ten months and forty-three games to go!

Feb 4 2010

January Failure

I failed! *takes bow* I wanted to post four game poems in January, and for various reasons, only posted the one. So, Groundhog Day reset, let’s double down and do this thing. Trying again…

Jan 6 2010

Game Poems

This is where I’ll be posting my weekly game poem.

You can find out more about game poems here: http://www.story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=6545

Ideally, I’ll be posting a new game poem every week, ideally on Mondays. Ideally. By the end of the year, I should have fifty or so. Ideally. Let’s see how this works out, hm?