Posts Tagged ‘folks I admire’
It’s been a while since I’ve done a Folks I Admire post. Today, I want to talk about Logan Bonner (who is sitting behind me right now, unaware I am composing this). He’s my officemate at Paizo,one of the half-dozen full-time editors here. I had the pleasure of working with him when he edited the Hit a Dude World Players’ Guide. And for the two years I’ve known him, he’s been someone I can call a good friend.
I respect the hell out of Logan’s creative capacity in game design and in visual design. He doesn’t do as much art as he does other things, but don’t let that fool you — guy’s a good artist. He’s prototyped some neat, well-themed board and roleplaying games. And if you haven’t checked out his Refuge in Audacity (which you should, and it’s free, though he deserves money), please do — it combines Synnibar absurdness, fully aware of itself, with some interesting theme mechanics that push that ridiculous play.
I don’t think he believes me when I call it genius. But it totally is. Try it for yourself.
Beyond that, though, he’s a genuinely kind, decent human being. He’s a reminder that perhaps we should not be dicks to one another, but with a sense of sarcastic and well-timed humor that makes him a awesome to be around.
I’m not the only one who respects the hell out of Logan. Some other friends in the creative community:
Logan’s one of those folks that I’m very fortunate to have enjoyed and admired his RPG work even before meeting him, and then later, getting to collaborate with him on Critical Hits. Refuge in Audacity is inspired madness and continues to draw interest, and I hold out hope that it will be turned into a deluxe, foil-covered volume some day. He has multiple game designs of his I have playtested that I hope become real releases next year. Also, he’s one of the few people who gets my Futureheads jokes.
Logan Bonner combines a thoughtful nature with a quick wit in a way I find astonishing and confounding. He’s always considerate, suggesting he’s taking the time to consider your feelings, but he’s so swift with support, enthusiasm, or a joke that it sort of frightens me to realize how fast his mind must work.
Logan writes. Logan edits. Logan designs. Logan draws, inks, and colors. Dammit, Logan does it all. One day that guy’ll be standing on the balcony of the house his skills built, and we’ll stand in the foyer raising our glasses and meaning it and he’ll still be all modest, with that straight-backed posture, making a well-timed callback to the night’s first gag and we’ll all laugh and remember that Logan hasn’t changed a bit—he’s still the mensch who does it all.
Logan has this intuitive sense of how tropes combine to form larger works that makes him a great improviser during RPG play. He develops compelling characters and challenges that blend essential touchstones with vivid details that help game worlds come alive in a flash—and he has the bravery to commit to the bit, whether it’s funny or sad. It’s just great fun to watch him work.
Was it Logan who introduced me to The Builders and the Butchers? I’m pretty sure it was. They’re in my headphones right now. Thanks for that, Logan.
Here’s to Logan Bonner. May he create more wondrous things. May he continue to remind us all to be better people.
It’s time for another installment of Folks I Admire! Today, I talk about the dynamic duo of Bully Pulpit Games, Jason Morningstar and Steve Segedy. They’re the minds & talent behind games like The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, Grey Ranks, and of course Fiasco.
But I want to set aside their games for a moment, because they really do speak for themselves. It’s the two behind them that are worthy of praise.
Jason is a kind and generous guy. One of my first interactions in indieland was talking on my LiveJournal (yeah, back then) about getting to finally play The Roach. Jason responded with a comment that made me feel like he was excited to hear about folks playing the game. It’s that interaction, where Google Alerts is used or whatever to see people talking about your game, and coming in to say “thanks”, that I still think about to this day. He’s been kind even when people he’s dealt with online have been assholes to him and his work.
Jason is the high water mark for being magnanimous.
Steve is much like Jason, generous and awesome. He’s taking up the mantle of Games on Demand this year for Gen Con, and naturally as a skilled editor I find in him a kindred spirit. When you talk with him, you feel like you’re important, that he thinks you’re worth the time for conversation. He’s engaging and friendly. And you way away from a conversation feeling somehow more awesome than you did before, either because of just pure niceness or because he dropped a bomb of wisdom in your mind.
I guess I’m using many words to say “They’re two of the most decent, generous folks you’ll meet.” So…they’re two of the most decent, generous folks you’ll meet. Seriously.
And as craftsmen of games, I seriously admire the work they put into development. I got a peek at their process when I gave them some notes on Durance, and I’ve had post-play test conversations with them about Fiasco and Nine Roosevelts Against the Impossible. The questions they ask, the way they mine feedback, and how they process it is one of the most mature processes I’ve seen to date, and I’m including all I’ve been involved with.
Steve & Jason are wonderful people, they make great games and they’re serious about the work.
I raise a glass to you two fine gentlemen.
Amanda Valentine has been my editor since I started working on the Dresden Files RPG. I have met a number of fantastic editors in my life as a writer, editor & production manager, but my don’t often get to watch an editor work both on what I’ve written (thus dealing with me as a writer), work with me to coordinate editing (thus working with me as a co-editor), and work with me on scheduling (thus dealing with me as her project manager). The last three years being in Amanda’s orbit has left me, honestly, having very high standards for any future editor I work with.
That includes me. Jennifer Brozek got me starting in this life of being an editor, and it’s Amanda who has helped forge who I am today.
I wrote this for Amanda’s blog bio:
Athena. Freya. Hera. The goddesses of old inspire devotion and grant power. Today they’re myth, but we have a new goddess to revere: Amanda Valentine, goddess of editing.
Many writers, including everyone at Evil Hat Productions, would march with her to the ends of the earth if it meant she’d work over our manuscript. Her eye for prose, for flow, for content, for context, and for rules understanding are top notch.
I’ve seen her work on the Dresden Files RPG, Smallville RPG, and other projects here and there, and she’s amazing; she truly grants power to these works. And I have high expectations for the upcoming Marvel RPG, expectations I know she’ll meet and exceed.
Oh, and Amanda, don’t you dare edit this for content. I want you to feel ridiculous when you post this on your site. :D
And while I had fun writing that, I meant every word.
Amanda taught me how to better interact with writers that I didn’t already have a strong rapport with. She’s made me & Leonard Balsera get out of our own heads when writing rules in Dresden, with some techniques that I’ve since used on other projects as an editor. Things like Socratic questioning, asking for explanations in different ways, various ways she’s learned on how to get a writer to break internal patterns that can lock us up in how we explain rules.
She’ll be editing Mythender, when it’s done. She’s working with Evil Hat on Fate products, and with Margaret Weis on Marvel. I’m pretty jazzed that she got to edit the Fiasco Companion, even if I’m a bit jealous of that specific job. (One of the rare times that I am envious of a fellow editor.) All in all, she’s a “take no prisoners” editor, while still maintaining a personable nature with her writers. That isn’t easy, and some editors don’t even bother, but she pulls it off well, making a partnership where there could be friction.
Amanda is starting to post more to her blog. Like me, she has thoughts on editing and how it’s viewed in the community. If that sort of thing interests you, I recommend following her.
 If it’s ever done. I keep pondering letting it go and just accepting it to move onto other projects, but that’s a different post.
 Not that that’s a bad thing, especially if you’re a submissions editor. Dear god, especially then.
Let me tell you a couple things about Will Hindmarch (@wordwill). I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago at Gen Con So Cal in the early/mid 00s, back when that show was a thing. He worked the White Wolf booth, of course, as Vampire: the Requiem‘s line developer. He developed the only Vampire book I currently own: the Requiem Chroniclers’ Guide.
I figured noticed him because he did what I foolishly thought was impossible: he got me interested in Vampire. Being a GURPS-head hanging around game-snobs, I looked down at Vampire and larpers in general. So I was predispoed to hate. And Will forged this idea anthology that blew my fucking mind.
We talked some at the bar, along with folks like Jeff Tidball, Paul Tevis, Ken Hite, etc. I was a friend of Paul’s and well, this was long before I was “Ryan Fucking Macklin,” so I’m not even sure he remembers those conversations. (To be fair, there was a lot of alcohol involved, so I barely remember that there were conversations.)
I have heard nothing but praise for Damnation City, which I need to pick up at some point. I’ve heard it referred to as the best Requiem book by a number of folks. But this is Will Hindmarch, so at this point I’m unsurprised.
Enter Things We Think About Games. Again, mind blown. (Enter this post’s theme.) I had a response to most of them on my Livejournal some time ago. The whole Gameplaywright project is amazing. He’s changing how many people think about games and stories. That is an uneasy task.
So, yeah, I’m a goddamned fan on the dude Paul Tevis & I call The Wolf.
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Will-the-person. He’s one of the hardest-working people I know. He’s hard on himself in the way I’ve come to expect of the most brilliant people — never feeling they’re brilliant because they live inside their heads all the time. They see the polished effects of others, and while intellectually they (or we?) understand that it’s polished and refined, still they hold themselves up to a lofty goal. The difference between Will and some others I’ve met, though, is that he rises to that internal challenge, and keeps making beautiful, mind-blowing things.
When Will Hindmarch makes a book, a game, a story, I check it out. I’m not a blind fanboy; I wouldn’t just buy is grocery list on OneBookShelf. But he’s not yet failed to impress me, and I doubt he will.
He often expresses his doubts on Twitter. Some people (including me, at times) brush this off and tell him that he’s fucking badass. But I also understand the desire to say “sure, okay, but I still have doubts, you know?”
Just as Will holds himself to the standards of the refined effects of others, I hold myself to the standards of his work. If I am half the creative badass Will is, that’s still like being a sorcerer-king of awesome. I would like to consider myself a peer of his. And that he expresses his doubts, his fears, his humanity — more than I’ve been willing to — I feel like maybe I am a peer. If one of the sharpest minds, a mind that can distill a wide range of ideas, has doubts, fuck it, I can too.
Will Hindmarch gives us all permission to vocally doubt ourselves, so long as we never let that doubt cause our inaction. And while he has doubts, he still pushes forward, still churns out words. I admire that he puts himself out there like that, both in his works and in his humanity.
Here’s to The Wolf.
Edit: I forgot, Will’s the very inspiration for this series.
 That including not owning the core book. I have borrowed it and others, though.
 If someone had told me at 21, “Ryan, larping means getting laid,” I would have had a very different take on that.
 Which is its own story, and has nothing to do with White Wolf.
 But I would offer to playtest it.
 Which is an even longer story, and has nothing to do with Will, so it’s one to be told over drinks.
Today I’ll talk about one of my favorite peeps, Chris Hanrahan, one of the owners of Endgame in Oakland, California. Chris, along with the other owners of Endgame, run one of the cleanest, brightest, most inviting hobby games stores I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. You can see pictures of the store, but they don’t do the store justice (and not because they’re bad pictures).
Chris is one of the sharpest minds when it comes to marketing hobby games, having been in involved in marketing in technology before spending years selling to consumers face-to-face. (If you like the fact that The Dresden Files RPG was split into two books rather than one large, heavy, more-expensive volume, thank Chris.)
He’s on the podcastosphere, notably 2d6 Feet In A Random Direction with Brian Isikoff, but also some episodes of That’s How We Roll with Fred Hicks, and Concept To Shelf with me (which is getting off the ground much slower that we expected). Wisdom flows from his mouth, as does passionate jackassery. *grin* He’s my kind of people.
And there isn’t another person I know who has stronger community building chops. He’s about to host the fifth anniversary Endgame Minicon. For five years, he’s built a community of indie/story gamers that flock to the store once a quarter to play all sorts of games. It’s an amazing event, and Chris puts a lot of work every time into getting people to run events, getting the word out, handling scheduling, all that jazz.
Hell, I moved down to the Bay Area partly because of the people I met at Endgame coming down for the minicons.
I bring him up because he’s got all this great insight into our hobby from an angle few of us have — meeting with gamers day in and day out for years. He’s pretty willing to share that with you, if you’re willing to listen. You can reach him at email@example.com or on the twitters @chrishanrahan. Seriously. He’s helped Fred & I. He works with other small-press dudes. He’s taken orders directly from folks.
Chris is good people, a man I’m proud to call ally and friend.
P.S. Dude can’t hold his liquor. Man alive, he can’t. :)