So What Goes Into A Firefly Game Anyway?

Firefly Avatar

Fans are excited and I’ve had non-stop questions about when the game is coming out. I mentioned this earlier, but I tend to err on the conservative side of announcing releases because, in my experiences, there IS such a thing as marketing/publicizing too early. This is also why we’ve been more transparent about what’s happening and when. Fan expectations are high and that means better (more) communication as this process continues. See also: talk is cheap and doesn’t get the words down or the game/album/story/novel/comic/etc. out the door!

Or, to put it a little more blunt: you really don’t want us to rush and put out a crappy game — do you?

Still, I realize there’s probably a ton of folks who have no idea what goes into game design and production. Hence, the reason for my post today. I thought I’d take a minute and show you what goes into this process. Mind you, these are very common components that relate to a lot of games and this one happens to be a little more complex because we have to get approval from our friends at Fox television studios. (This doesn’t include any of the other business-related elements like marketing, putting the game into distribution, convention planning, etc.) We’re not creating the game in a bubble, you see. They’re very much involved in what we’re doing.

Oh! Almost forgot! If any of my friends out there in RPG-land on the publishing side spot a missing piece or want to chime in to offer links or more visibility, feel free. Without further adieu…

  • Personnel – Who’s working on the game? What talents do they have? When will they be available?
  • Time And Resources – How much time do folks have to work on this? What’s the budget? How do different roles overlap/complement each other?
  • Scheduling – Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. So far, we’ve coordinated them for almost a dozen people. Without them, nothing for this the game would ever come out in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Brainstorming – What is the definition of a Firefly Role-Playing Game? What do players do at the table? What’s the mechanic going to be? What characters will they play? What releases do we want to make?
  • Setting Bible – Where the heck is this game being played? What’s the timeframe? What can we/can’t we do?
  • Development/Management – A developer works with the writers and knows the system to shape the game according to the overall vision of what we’re trying to do. We have a developer on Echoes of War and, in many ways, multiple developmental roles for the Firefly RPG. That’s partly what a Brand Manager (e.g. me) does in addition to people wrangling, outlines, etc. This is a step-up from brainstorming, because once the vision is clear, it has to be honed and sharpened for multiple people.
  • Writing – There are layers to writing the Firefly RPG because of the voice we use. First, we need good content. Then, it needs to be spruced up. Content here comes in multiple pieces and it all needs to fit together seamlessly. Now, here’s the thing. Right now, the estimated word count of the Firefly RPG is likely going to be 150 to 200K words. The Echoes of War adventures we announced will likely be between 20 to 30K a piece. The corebook may change pending game development; right now all we have are estimates. This does not include revisions; for every draft, there will likely be changes to fit the larger context.
  • Designing – Game mechanics don’t just grow on trees. The rules are important and that’s where the design team comes in. Even with a base system, everything has to tie together and that’s why we have a systems team in place. Remember, we’re making a Firefly Role-Playing Game. While there will be worldbuilding for fans to draw from, everything we do is in the context of a game — even the episodes.
  • Playtesting – The best games have been playtested and played a number of times before they’re released. We’re doing the same thing, but with closed groups. Playtesters have to be managed for feedback and the larger the number of groups, the more time it takes to wrangle the communication.
  • Editing – Our editors are QC – Quality Control. If something isn’t written clearly, they’ll revise it. If a paragraph has typos, they’ll fix it. But, they need a reasonable amount of time to review existing text. Yes, even text that is perfectly acceptable needs to be edited. A good editor (and we have two) is crucial to production. You can see how important it is to ensure the writing is sharp — especially for a game like this!
  • Art/Layout – Art can take anywhere from a month to three months to receive, or longer depending. There are layers to that process, too, and I think folks sometimes forget that art doesn’t just pop out of nowhere. After the final text and art is done, the layout artist needs to put together the book for whatever formats (e.g. print versus digital) it’ll be available in. This does not count time spent for revisions. And I didn’t even mention the indexing!
  • Approvals – Whether you work for your own company or not, the game has to be approved before it gets released. In our case, we have internal approvals and our friends at Fox. So, even when the game is finished, it still has to go to Fox before we can release it. If there’s changes, then the release is delayed.

I’m pretty sure I forgot something in this list… Hopefully, even with what I have written here, you can see why games are a lot more complex and time-consuming to create than you might have thought. Back to it then!

    Mood: WRITE. REVISE. RINSE. REPEAT.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Too many!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: There was a hill. And I beated it.
    In My Ears: The screaming cries of my thoughts.
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy IX
    Movie Last Viewed: Ted
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* need to take pictures…
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology

My New Gig As Brand Manager, Writer for Firefly

Today, I am thrilled to announce that I am the Firefly brand manager for Margaret Weis Productions. I will also be writing for the line, too! Margaret Weis has been a joy to work with and I have a fantastic team filled with very, very talented people.

The Firefly license, which encompasses the hit Fox television series by Joss Whedon, will incorporate role-playing games and supplements so you can game in the ‘Verse.

More news to come!

The Minis Fantastic

Just wanted to let you know that my very *first* miniature game is now up on Kickstarter. I worked on the setting development for War Echoes and got to do a ton of world building for different scenarios in action, mystery, and conspiratorial themes.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen here are the miniatures. It’s a very strange (if not wonderful) feeling to see the signature character you wrote about in a physical form.

If you want to jump in on this one, the Kickstarter for War Echoes by Battle Bunker Games just launched last night.

Romance, Vampires and Men

One of the questions that popped up for Russell Bailey and Eddy Webb, the developers for Strange, Dead Love, alluded to the impression that romance was primarily for women. The question really struck me and I want to talk about it in a more generic context about paranormal romance than address what it means to Vampire: the Requiem.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been involved with a romance writer’s group. I am not what you would consider a traditional romance reader or writer. Sap is really not my cup of tea. My flavors tend to run darker, like the types of relationships you might see in Dracula or Buffy: the Vampire Slayer. The reason why I dived into this group was to overcome my (for lack of a better word) stupidity about the genre as a whole from a creator’s perspective. When I first started, I was hesitant to infuse lipstick with vampires in my own work.

This group of men and women took my flowery impressions of romance and really helped me better understand it from a technical standpoint and, even better yet, a reader’s point-of-view. Romance isn’t just about one thing (e.g. smooches, a box of chocolates, or tears). Those elements — whether they’re part of the setting or not — allow the characters to express their emotions. A romance isn’t a scene or a dozen roses: it’s a story arc just like any other.

Those emotions get stronger as the story progresses. BUT! (And this is a big but in my book…) It’s harder to pick up a romance two-thirds of the way through. Like any other book, you really have to start from the beginning and understand what happens between those two characters in order to feel the emotional impact of their relationship.

Getting back to vampires…

I’ve read a lot of vampire fiction and watched, well, too many movies to count. Some authors like ghosts or zombies or fairies? Me? I’m a vampire girl. Tried and true. Like traditional romance, there are many flavors of paranormal romance that include vampires. There are some stories that don’t dive into the nature of a vampire and focus on the mortal who faces the predator instead. There are others that highlight the tragedy of the romance because vampires are damned, evil creatures. And then? There are some romances where vampires are just window dressing.

When I think about audiences for paranormal romance, I think about audiences for other emotionally-driven genres like horror. I feel, and continue to feel, that whether or not “a” man or “a” woman will like a particular title comes down to personal preference. With romance, it’s tough because it’s also heavily-influenced by cultural norms and attitudes. Take physical contact for example. If I just met you, how would you feel if I walked down the street with my arm around your shoulders? Men kissing in Europe means something different than men kissing in the States. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Based on my experiences, I don’t think romance is exclusively for men or for women. That’s what marketing is saying. That’s how they sell and, from what I’ve learned, companies like Harlequin and the authors who work for them are dedicated to providing what their established audience wants to read. They do an amazing, amazing job!!!

Anecdotally (for I don’t have hard numbers on this) paranormal romance does seem to attract a broader audience because there’s often other plots happening at the same time. Genre lines are pretty blurry, but paranormal romance and urban fantasy are often intermixed because of that. To an author, though, the romance is about the story between the characters. If you get the chance to talk to a romance author — of any sort — I highly recommend that you do. These conversations changed my view on romance entirely and have allowed me to introduce those types of stories into my own work.

I have the utmost respect for all flavors of paranormal romance and the authors therein — which is why I was thrilled to be a part of Strange, Dead Love. I can only hope my contribution did the genre justice within the context of Vampire: the Requiem. Guess I’ll just have to find out what you think! *gulp*

Heads Up! Help FlamesRising.com Interview White Wolf for Strange, Dead Love!

Vampire: the RequiemRemember when I announced I was working on Strange, Dead Love? Today, FlamesRising.com posted an open call for fans to ask questions about the paranormal romance sourcebook. Both Eddy Webb and Russell Bailey will dive in and spill all their secrets.

What do you want to know about Strange, Dead Love? Ask your burning questions in the comments below. Then, on Monday, October 3rd, we’ll shoot your deepest desires over to Eddy and Russell.

The finished interview will debut on FlamesRising.com on Sweetest Day, October 15th and will include ten questions chosen by White Wolf. Not all questions may be answered.

Pop on over to FlamesRising.com and fire away! Here’s the link: www.flamesrising.com/help-us-interview-white-wolf-for-strange-dead-love

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