Monday, December 12, 2011

Personal Log

Here I am, visiting Albany, NY, where my long-time friend, George Vasilakos lives. George is the Zombie Khan of Eden Studios, publishers of some game you may have heard of, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and All Flesh Must Be Eaten. I'm up here to do some shopping, since he also owns arguably the best game store on the East Coast -- Zombie Planet (I actually helped him name it long ago....). There may be some gaming going on, and some brain-picking, and some strippers. Because George knows how I like to roll.

I was originally going to write about my impressions about Zombie Planet (the best game store on the East Coast), because I think it has a value to game designers. But then, George handed me a book entitled "Designers & Dragons", which is a history of the roleplaying game industry. It took me 2.5 seconds to flip to the Last Unicorn Games chapter.

I must say, the author got her information right. It's odd reading about the history of the company for which I was a principle player. I was there. I remember what went on. I had largely tried to put it out of my mind, mostly because of the daily beatings. What's odd about this experience is that I was in it up to my neck. I lived it. For me, it isn't "history" so much as my memories of daily life. I knew what was going on in the office, but to see it in a book, described dispassionately, is a bit... odd.

For example: "Cashflow issues were made worse by the fact that the Dune RPG was sitting around unprinted due to legal wrangling over the Herbert Licence." This is true. Brian Herbert wasn't sure he wanted to approve the game, while we were pointing out that we had a legal right to publish it. He was, at the time, just starting his series of collaborative Dune novels and was a bit pre-occupied, too. That tidbit of information isn't in the book. So it's strange to read about something that occupied my days (I could hear the conversations on the phone between LUG and Herbert, and had many conversations about it with Owen Seyler), settled in a single sentence.

What I really found unusual was this sentence: "... new employee Ross Isaacs -- who had done a scattering of freelance work for AEG and Chaosium before doing more extensive work for Holistic Designs -- did the initial work on the 'Icon' system."

Wow. Where do I begin? First, I hadn't done a "scattering" of freelance work. I'd done a lot. Bronze Grimoire. Serpent Moon. Honor's Veil. I provided material advice for L5R's magic rules (so much so that they named a card in the TCG after me). I did do extensive work for Holistic, because they gave me the work. So I'm not pleased by the implication that I was some second-string banana who just fell out of the tree. I'd made a name for myself in this industry before going to LUG.

Second, I was there the first day we started to design Icon. It was me, Christian, and Owen sitting in Christian's dining room and hashing out what the system should look like. But it's a more complex process than the text of the book would have you understand. Kenneth Hite and Steve Long contributed tons of input. So did Matt Colville. So did Andrew Greenberg and Bill Bridges. I find it odd that so much of one's life, and complicated goings-on, could be summed up in so short and simple a sentence.

So while I like the book and my entry in it, there's sort of this weird disconnect between things I remember and the way they're recounted. I feel like Han Solo must have, while listening to C3PO tell the Ewoks their story.

1 comment:

  1. Again, excellent post.

    This is the second time I have heard someone being sort of discombobulated by being "famous" or at least known in their profession.