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Archive for August, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, of All Sci-Fi Phenomena:

It is my *absolute pleasure* to announce that the first, and great one, in a new series of reviews for Matt’s latest book, The Antaran Legacy, Book 1: For Duty, has been released on Sift Reviews.

We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to Kellie at Sift Reviews for giving us her time and talent. 🙂

So, in between your telepathic tactics and chess moves today, make sure you check it out!

–LFJ

PS:  My senses have picked up on those of you who have yet to experience the awesomeness of The Antaran Legacy, Book 1: For Duty.  Well, thank your lucky stars that you can go get your hardcover version at Lulu.com for 20% off!  Use the following link and promo code but remember, this offer expires August 27th, 2011:

Lulu Link:  http://www.lulu.com/product/hardcover/the-antaran-legacy-book-1/14916833

Promo Code:  SCHOOLED305

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On Fatherhood

My son and I, sharing a moment on the Boston "coast" recently

Life is strange most of the time and it’s worth appreciating the twists and turns. I decided to travel for my work as a consultant about 1.6 years ago. This decision was not made lightly and it has a whole slew of backstory (which I’ll not get into here), but the part I dreaded most was being away from my kids.

However, like I mentioned in the first sentence – a strange thing happened. Lemme explain.

I was there for the early years (until age 3 for both of the little ankle-biters), so I was lucky enough to experience all the newborn snuggling, one-on-one bottle feeding and early bonding moments. Now, however, I am gone monday-friday 50-75% of the weeks I’m working.

I’ll not sugarcoat that – it’s a freakin’ ton of time and it’s never easy.

But you know what? It has amplified my appreciation of exactly what I have at home: one amazing wife and two awesome kids. While I certainly spent a great quantity of time with them before I started traveling, I can say with utmost confidence that my time with them nowadays is full of more quality.

I do have some friends who are spectacular dads without this self-revelation process I’m currently going through, so being a father certainly isn’t the same for all of us. The picture above is lesson-worthy for two reasons, I think.

First, being a father has absolutely ZERO to do with whatever road you take to get there. If you want to be a parent, at the end of the day, in the twilight of your life – you are/were a parent. You nurtured and shaped a life, same as your caretaker(s) did for you (they/she/he cared at least enough to change yer dirty ass and feed yer hungry mouth for 15+ years). In the picture above, we’re just two dudes, discussing what’s in the water below and what we did that day. Every moment with my son is pretty amazing (not just the picturesque ones with a sunset in the background). To think he wouldn’t be here if we didn’t overcome all the adoption hurdles is a life-sucking thought.

Secondly, you should never say things like “I can’t do that” (“I won’t” is a different thing altogether). As a family, I believe we are finally on the course we are happiest on – and all of that started with me traveling for work. Ten years ago I said things like “I cannot be away from home for work.” Ten years ago I thought very differently about publishing my fiction. Ten years ago, I cared what my friends/family/colleagues thought about how I lived my life. Now that I’ve freed myself from those bonds (and all the “I can’ts”), life has no bounds. We don’t live in a self-limiting manner and all I can do is recommend it to anyone and everyone.

I can travel for work and still be a father to my children, husband to my wife and friend to my friends. I can accomplish anything (including an impossible international adoption) and still come out the other side stronger in all ways. I can share my advice and let y’all take it or leave it.  🙂

Enjoy!

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Wow, it’s been a while since my last post. Yup, been busy with my final edit on the graphic novel and revising Eden in prep for the audiobook (here’s hoping Audible.com says “yes”). Lots of great stuff happening!

So, the topic at hand: indie game development – is it similar to self-publishing a novel?

I never thought so, until now.

What changed? Very simply – there is a game under development right now that sounds like it is being made just for me. An endless adventuring sandbox devoid of 3d/realtime junkiness. A turn-based mashing of MMOG/CCG/RPG/TRPG.

Yep, that’s a whole ton of acronyms to describe the type of gameplay I’ve come to love in my older years.

I prefer “classic” turn-based RPG’s & Tactical-RPG’s like Poof of Radiance/Final Fantasy 1/Final Fantasy Tactics/Ogre Battle 64/Rogue-likes – but there are parts of them that I don’t enjoy. Character development is typically somewhat bland (except for the TRPG’s). Single-player only. Combat sometimes becomes tedious/bland. However, adding two elements of other games I love changes the whole equation: multiplayer and card-pulling randomness/deck tactics.

Pure awesomeness.

There have been some good online Collectible Card Games (CCG’s) as well – tops is the CCG in Free Realms. However, that’s all it really was. Sure, there were a few intro quests to gain cards, but it didn’t last. It soon became necessary to buy online booster packs and the game turned into straight-up duels and tourneys. Not bad (for a while) for those of us who like CCG’s, but it loses its steam when there’s nothing else to do besides duel.

Add some “adventuring” to the duels/card collection and we’re heading towards that pure awesomeness again!

The game? You want the name? Well, it’s not out yet but there are actually two in the works. Minecraft “Scrolls” (Bethesda lawsuit pending) and Card Hunter from Blue Manchu.  Card Hunter is very much on my radar and their leader (John Chey) had some interesting things to say in his last interview. His words really struck home and forced my pen to this blog.

“I really don’t know how I would sell this game to an investor or a publisher.” – John Chey, Blue Manchu

If you don’t know who John Chey is, well that’s not important. Suffice to say – he’s a big name, semi-granddaddy developer to many games all of us computer dorks have played (or at least heard of). He has worked on huge titles and has plenty of street cred. Instead of staying put where he was, he decided to strike out on his own so he could (presumably) make the games he wanted to make. Now, of course, he sold his share of the company he co-owned so he had the bank/contacts in place to launch his own endeavors. Some might argue that this is the only way to do it.

Well, I disagree.

There have been some great indie games from no-names as well as industry vets. Minecraft certainly came out of nowhere – almost 2 million copies in 2 years from a 1-man show “hobbyist”. If these guys (Markus, John, others) decided to either stay with their studio job or shy away from self-developing their games – where would we be? Same place we were back in the beginning of the computer gaming age (of which I have been a consumer from the start) – go see what’s on the shelf at Eastern Coin or Babbage’s.

Gosh, I cannot play games like Mass Effect, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Doom, Madden NFL 2kx, Gran Turismo (yes, I may have misspelled that and no, I’m not going to look it up) or The Sims for the rest of my life. While those games (and their many clones) are just fine, I have a deep, gnarled love for board games, CCG’s and tactical RPG’s. Fuck, tomorrow we’re all getting together for the Battlestar Galactica board game (in person, yes people still do that). I still contend Ogre Battle 64 for the N64 is the best game ever made (and I played it while recovering from surgery just last year). And I continually play the best damn CCG ever made (Jyhad).

However, never have I played all of these things together, mashed into one online game I can play with my friends. John Chey seems to think such a game would never exist in the world of big studios/budgets/expectations:

“My belief is that there is certainly room in the market, and an ability to reach groups of people that probably would have been hard to reach before, when you had to put things on the shelves and get distributors on-side. It’s just so much easier to reach people now that you don’t have to go for the biggest market possible. There is obviously no way that Card Hunter is ever going to compete with the big MMOs in terms of its audience, but it doesn’t have to.” – John Chey, Blue Manchu

So, thanks to an indie’s desire to see it happen – I’ll soon be able to play my dream game. Such a thing would never have been possible if everything I could purchase went through the “profitability filter” of some major game studio.

And so too: novels.

Why should we consumers of fiction be told what is acceptable and not acceptable for us to read? What if I’m into a certain type of book that hasn’t really been done to my tastes yet? Should I keep reading “what’s out there,” never fully satisfied? Why does someone else have the authority to “gate” my entertainment?

There’s so much disdain for self-published authors out there and I just don’t get it. I mean, if you’re into Elf Dragqueen/Centaur Stud paranormal romance, it’s a good thing you were born in this century! Chances are, someone’s writing something that nails a bullseye in your heart – the only difficult part is finding these things. Well, as long as the content keeps coming, at least we have a shot. Card Hunter might let me down like so many things I have banked my dreams upon in the past (*cough* Starwars ep. 1-3 *cough*). However, I’m glad it’s going to be available. There’s always the chance it hits that perfect string, just like the very few games I’ve been playing for the past 15-20 years.

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Thundercats (2011)

So, my wife and I were on a little, private tour of the Warner Bros. animation studio last July and I saw this poster:

At first, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at – then I saw the black/red Thundercats symbol and I nearly shat my pants.

 

I was a huge Thundercats fan when I was a kid. My dad even made me 2 wooden swords in his shop – 1 small and 1 large. I then magic-markered the red/black logo and pretended to be Lionel in my basement. Yup, I was very popular in school… wait.

Anyway, I stared at the poster for quite some time and our guide told us the team wasn’t there so I couldn’t pester them (we did get to meet some Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc peeps and other great individuals working on all things WB Animation). But that poster haunted me for quite some time.

Then, we moved and changed our TV service to UVerse – which included the Boomerang network. Score! My wife recorded some older Thundercats episodes and I watched one with my kids. Um, yeah… like Knight Rider, Thundercats didn’t stand up too well to the test of time. It’s a tad painful to watch as an adult. The kids liked it, though.

Well, the new series debuted a few days ago and I have only 1 word: wow.

Wow wow wow!

Mummra, mecha, some adult themes, *gorgeous* animation, refreshed storyline — WB Animation continues their renaissance (have you caught the new Looney Toons yet? If you like cartoons, you should… like, NOW!).

I eyed my kids carefully during the more violent scenes (of which there were many) and I’m not sure about continuing to let them watch this 2011 version. I dunno – the violence is a hair above GI Joe and a step below Japanese Anime samurai gore (no blood, just people dying/getting kicked in the face a lot). Definitely more thought required.

In any case, if you are a geek who’s grown into his/her adult body – and you still like cartoons – catch this series! I doubt it’s a mere coincidence all the things I loved as a kid are coming back. The animation studios know many of us have bred and our kids are now “of age.” Yup, I’m watching Thundercats, Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. and Looney Tunes with my kids – loving every second of it!

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