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When you edit for your readers it clears the smoke so you can see the fire and enjoy the true pleasure of revision

I decided to record a podcast and write this post about editing for a few reasons.

The first is that I am working on a draft of a novel.

The next is that I am also editing my first audiobook collection.

I am also the editor for the writing team on an upcoming digital strategy card game called Planet Rise. It’s the first game of its kind to offer a complete story. We are currently editing one of our drafts in preparation for the upcoming AfroComiCon in October.

Each process allows me to view the approaches I am taking and the results I am experiencing with a critical eye. The better I can understand my process the more complete I can refine editing my work and the work of others.

 

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I’m also talking about editing because it is hard. The goal is to make the work better, but that means painful choices that can create more questions and problems than it seems to solve, at the moment. It can show you gaps where you need more work and where you are being redundant. Both can be demoralizing if you are unprepared, and can still be frustrating even when you think you are ready.

I have a story on Amazon called This is a Language of Fists. It started about 18 years ago with a scene. A cold wind moving through a boxing arena in a small setting, and the fighters, and the people there to watch them. Later I added a scene about running on a beach.

That scene grew to between 25-30 pages over the next 10-12 drafts. Then I whittled them down to about 15-18 pages. Ten drafts later, I was back to 22-24. Sometime after the 25th draft, I began slowly paring back to 21 pages and then finally to the 20 pages that I published. I asked classmates and teachers and advisors for their edits.

I don’t remember when I crossed the 30th draft because by then it did not matter. What mattered, was that each round of edits brought me closer. And that became my single goal. Getting closer. Doing it again. Looking for opportunities to make my ideas clearer.

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” – Arthur Plotnik

Seeing the fire

Writing and editing are very similar. According to Arthur Plotnik, “You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”

When you’re trying to write and, when you are writing, you are crafting the ideas as they come. Whether you are using an outline or structure, there is still the moment of inspiration and excitement, and those moments can’t be planned for but it’s the editing where writers have the opportunity to shape the story.  As Plotnik says, to let the fire show through this book.

It’s a great image when you think about starting a fire, and how the initial effect can be hard to see at first. But the best signal is the smoke when the fire begins to brew and the bits of kindling and starter are working that under the larger pieces of wood you are hoping to burn.

 

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Once that smoke clears, the fire is burning so cleanly that it is only producing the flames. The act of feeding on oxygen and the fuel of the wood eliminates the opportunity for the smoke to billow.

That’s when a fire is really enjoyed. When the light and the shadows it casts, and the heat and in many ways the nostalgia. The ability to trace all of the moments you were entertained by a fire. The timeline from your first moment with a fire. Whether outside or in front of a fireplace. It is something we connect to every time we enjoy a fire.

It’s the same with great stories.  They are something entertaining. The more they can engage us with their best representations There is a timeline in our minds of the stories that we have enjoyed

Letting the Smoke Clear

This became true for me while I was working on the first draft of a novel and many of the pieces that were coming together began to crowd my storytelling. And, I realized that I needed to find a way to set myself up so that the story would allow me to come back in. But, that when I came back in it would be with direction and purpose.

So I employed a tried and true method of writing my ending and then walking away. So that when I came back to finish that draft I could see the pieces that needed to be filled in and the threads that I needed to connect to that ending in order for the framework of it to be maintained.

So that my first draft would have these many through-lines and an ending, that I could then begin working with as I edited.

 

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It was helpful because that period of breathing allowed the smoke to clear. For any confusion, I might have been experiencing at that moment to abate. And by stepping back and allowing the flames to burn, and knowing I had already set up this fire so that it would reach the ending, which would be, in my mind, roaring and burn with all of the excitement that it had begun with.

That stepping back and letting it breathe meant that the smoke could clear. And as it began to burn in my mind with what I had developed, with what I had built on top and everything all I had been reaching for then the pieces became clearer.

The missing threads were easier to see. I could identify all of the trees in my forest that I had not described the way I wanted to in order for the story to be complete. And now that they were identified. I could go back in and work on them with a purpose.

Knowing that, by doing so, with each one of those details and corrections, I was getting closer to my ending. I was creating this story that would burn a fire that would entertain. And something that I believed that would really create a value to the storytelling.

That if I had not allowed it to happen, that value might have been something I rushed passed towards something else that I assumed meant completion.

Because I was able to enjoy that period of waiting, the anticipation and the sense of, well, definitely of relief and also a sense of comfort. When the smoke began to clear I could see the flames, much brighter than they had been before and that was a guiding light.

 

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Revision is a pleasure of writing

There’s a really great quote below that illustrates editing your words the moment you realize what is wrong.

“Making love to me is amazing. Wait, I meant: making love, to me, is amazing. The absence of two little commas nearly transformed me into a sex god.”

―Dark Jar Tin Zoo, Love Quotes for the Ages. Specifically Ages 19-91.

Note the pause. It only took saying it once for the speaker to realize where their mistake had occurred and to backtrack and fix it by applying two little commas. By doing so, not only is the meaning, but the intention changed.

I think it is a great set up for this quote by Bernard Malamud. He won both the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and the National Book Award, but I still know him best as an author of The Natural, which captures a snapshot of baseball during it’s earliest heyday.

“I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times—once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say. Somewhere I put it this way: first drafts are for learning what one’s fiction wants him to say. Revision works with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to reform it. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.” – Bernard Malamud

Two different approaches to examining your work after it’s been produced.

One is the quick recovery, a verbal adjustment or correction. Or even a written correction that immediately follows to show just how quickly the desire is to fix where the mistake lies.

The other approach is the longer form. It goes back to that idea of the entertainment of the fire. Knowing what you are creating is part of the excitement in building a fire.

Knowing that it is the small pieces, the starter material, and the kindling, and finally, the larger pieces which let the fire roar and reach its crescendo and then a resolution glowing with the soothing warmth of the coals.

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Denying yourself that pleasure removes one of the aspects that Malamud points to here regarding the idea of revision.

What that fiction wants you to say. It’s a pleasure of writing. It’s an opportunity. It’s a gift because it requires time.

Time seems to be one of those resources that we are always in short supply. But, by dedicating time to this pursuit, we are actually taking pleasure in using our time for something that gives us pleasure.

The chance to take what we are writing and to make sure it’s saying what we believe, the best way we want it to and the best way we know we can make it sound.

You don’t have to kill your darlings, but…

None of this means that editing is easy. Or that the parts that are easy will guarantee that the rest of it, when it does get easier, will stay that way. It only promises that there will be hard choices.

Steven King loves to say, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

Even if you are not egocentric when it comes to your darlings, they are your darlings for a reason.

They brought you to a certain place in your storytelling, that has added a value to that story. Removing them challenges the work that you have invested. But, because your intention is to make this your best work, to follow the approach of writers like Malamud, and others by understanding the story and then working to make that knowledge broader, makes the hard decisions necessary.

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And it can give you the incentive to push past personal attachment or even emotional attachment to those darlings. Just because you are editing them from this piece of work does not mean you are removing them from existence. There is comfort in having a small notes file that allows you to look back on them with kindness and fondness.

Even if it just ends up being in a piece about all the things you did not get to use while writing that book.

And I think knowing, that by storing them in that document or folder and keeping them alive there, you haven’t really killed them. You’ve moved them to another plane of existence and potentially they can be reincarnated, recycled, or whatever the philosophy works best for you.

They can be repurposed into your writing. And you might never know when that will happen or if that will happen. But, that their possibility will always be alive as long as you keep them in that document.

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”―Dr. Seuss

Edit for your Readers

When it comes to any final thoughts about editing, that can often be first thoughts when starting the process, is to keep in mind why we do it. And the real purpose behind editing has to do with the reader.

There is a very sweet quote from Dr. Seuss that says,“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

It starts simple, with the idea of the writer simply creating too many words, more than is necessary, but it ends actually, with an interesting warning.

Because, not only does it become a chore for the reader, but it becomes a chore for the reader who reads.

A reader who reads is a reader who is paying attention, and If they recognize that the writer is using more words than they need, they will believe that the writer is actually making it harder for them.

And that is going to challenge the reader’s thoughts regarding the investment of their time into a work that in many ways is not respecting their time. Or the investment they are taking.

And whether it’s worth that amount of work.

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That can make the difference between the reader finishing what you have written, or deciding that it is simply too much work to try and understand what you might be talking about. But, what you have not made clear enough to them to help them understand, with a reason that helps them as they continue reading.

By asking the reader to invest their time, you are telling them you are going to share something with them that they didn’t know or that they can now understand in a way that they didn’t consider before.

Or many of the other revelations that can come from your writing that is beyond your initial intent.

That can only happen when the writing has been edited to a point where all of those possibilities are clear enough to be seen, and when it comes to getting that writing in front of someone’s eyes, making it difficult for the reader can prevent your writing from moving beyond the editor’s desk.

There’s another great quote from J. Russel Lynes that says,”No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.”

If you are trying to get your work past the editor’s desk, the amount of time you invest in editing before you send it off it will improve your chances that the best work, the best writing, and the idea that you have now begun to understand even more clearly, has been presented more concisely.

It’s because of the many attempts and approaches you have made to make it transparent for them, with as little as effort as might be possible, for them to understand, to engage and more importantly, to continue reading all the way to the end.

To contact Seth about Content, Editing, Podcasts, or to just talk about writing, click here.

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Your Sneak Peek into Writing a Video Game: This is the best advice when you find yourself in the middle of a gaming love story

By Seth Singleton

We are in the middle of a love story.

I will explain who we are, once the where and why have been addressed.

What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of a love story?

Get out a pen and start writing.
An argument can be made that all stories are love stories, but that is a topic I am currently writing on and will link to when that post is published.
Let’s talk about now and here.

How did we get here?

If you don’t know something, like where you are, admitting that you don’t know can be a good starting place.
It’s just as important when you are talking about love. Perhaps even more important.

“and it ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love.”

Then, begin with what you do know.
Let’s start with the idea that we entered into this love story with innocent intentions…which is to say that we ended up in a love story because we started writing and talking about writing a love story for a video game.
That’s right. I said it. You might want to take a breath.
A love story for a video game.
Let that sink in because while many games are about love, and contain beautiful love stories, they are not marketed or sold as love stories.
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Where did Mario’s love for the Princess begin? Photo by Joao Tzanno

Explaining who “we” are

We are the writing team for Planet Rise. Together, we represent a collection of dreamers and writers and musicians and storytellers and lovers of great stories. We work together each day, each week, in each meeting to combine our talents to craft a story that you will cherish.
We also believe that the story we are telling reaches for the stars.
In literature, there is a canon of novels that represent milestones in writing. These books are singular and irreplaceable. These guideposts measure achievements in mapping new landscapes of human understanding through narrative.

Video Games Have a Canon

Video games also have a canon. They have many canons, with many lists, and in this way, video games are like books, movies, and other artistic mediums.
They are subjective, which makes them inclusive and exclusive based on the whims of the list creator. You can check the catalog of games in the Library of Congress, it’s probably biased too.
But any substantiated compendium of iconic games will include historic works like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and Legend of Zelda.
The story of Mario rescuing his love is the premise for both Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong.
Legend of Zelda featured the lost hero Link, searching for his one true love in a strange land.

What made these games great?

Original gameplay, graphics, puzzles, and options all created unique environments. But, more importantly, each game had an objective to pursue.
The tagline for Legend of Zelda, “The Adventure of a Lifetime.”
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Did You Know That Donkey Kong was a Love Story? Photo by Kelly Sikkema of Unsplash
Donkey Kong had three taglines.
My favorite is “Everyone’s going ape over Donkey Kong!” You can click here to see the other two.
The Super Marios Bros tagline is the closest to a love story, “Do you have what it takes to save the Mushroom Princess?”
Each game a love story, even when that was not the main pitch for selling the game. The love story was unspoken.
Fast forward to the present and any modern list will include the love story of Yuna and Tidus from Final Fantasy.
The promotional tagline?
“The world lies on the brink of destruction. Only a select few may be able to save it.”
Not a single mention of love.
So, why the love?

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Within and without our video game, exist multiple love stories.
The greatness of our love story is that it follows the footsteps of the games that came before it. Like Mario, Link, Yuna, and Tidus, our characters all have unspoken loves.
First, there is the story of our main character Nia and her sister Imani. Any story about sisters is fraught with love, and more. Nia is the older sister fulfilling a family legacy. Imani independently pursues a path that suits her strengths.
Then, there are the relationships with their parents. Separate reasons that reveal the unique loss that their actions will bring to relationships and the definition of their family.
Imani and Nia love their home planet Viridisia, but for different reasons. Exploring those reasons will reveal conflicting desires and beliefs. Many of them will remain unspoken.
Finally, the extended cast of characters have loves of their own. Their ambitions will drive their actions and conflict with the sisters, and the supporting cast they engage.
Directly and indirectly, sides will be drawn, and alliances will be chosen, if only in pursuit of personal or temporary goals.

Love is Patient, Love is Kind, Love is Complex

Love is complex.
The Greeks have four, six, seven, or eight words for love depending on whether you are referring to the list in the Bible, the one in Plato’s Symposium or a popular article published in Psychology Today.
Even the singular English word love changes context with its usage. Adjectives define categories like family love, brotherly love, unrequited love, and internet love.
The more our team began discussing it, the more the passion began to build. One writer agreed that our love story needs the same emotional impact as the ending to Final Fantasy. Then he implored us to watch YouTube and find the clip of that ending.
“I swear,” he said. “Even if you never saw the game, or played it before, the emotion is powerful. And if you have played it, the emotional impact is just so much more than a video game. It’s a movie and a love story.”
Another writer referenced the game “The Last of Us” and the emotional weight it creates at the beginning. In the game, you begin playing the first-person role of a father with a family, and then your character dies protecting his family during the first arc.
The gameplay continues by placing you in the role of playing as a different character in the family. The emotional weight of that experience embeds the player with a sensation of loss that lingers after the game’s conclusion.

Embrace the love story

I got so excited that I felt the need to bring up what I felt were the elements of a love story that the people working on this game were living.
The case can be made that all great stories are love stories. Whether it is stories about characters who are in pursuit of love, defending love, demonstrating love, or yearning for an unrequited love that remains unattainable.
We are in the middle of a love story.
Three of the writers live in California. Two northern and one southern. Another writer lives in Washington D.C.
Somehow we all find a way to sit down for a conference call at 10 a.m.  Pacific/ 1 p.m. Eastern.
It isn’t easy. They can be 30-45 minutes long. Sometimes they go 3 hours.
Eventually, people have to leave early for work or miss a call because they have to do something that pays the bills or maintains a balance.
I’m fairly certain that I spoke for more than two minutes and probably closer to five.
Then someone, who shall remain nameless for the time being, said, “I f—in’ love you, Seth.”
It felt pretty cool.
Then it got a little quiet, and I felt self-conscious, so I broke out a Family Guy reference that I hoped would do the job.
“Like the evil monkey in Family Guy. I just listened to what everyone said, I said.”
There is a time-delay on web-calls.
Jabari laughed first, then like dominoes I heard chuckles and laughs from others. It was a funny way to talk about the truth.
But, for every time that we are able, each of us finds a way to be on that call because we believe in the value of our discussions.
All of the writers began working on this project before I joined. One has known Jabari since college. The other two met him through collaborations and messaging.
I know him because we used to work together.
Our reasons for coming together on this game were varied as our relationship to the guy we were willing to work with and for, but our commitment was based on a shared foundation.
What kept us coming back was the opportunity to tell a great story. The kind of story that feels as familiar and ancient as a children’s fable, but as rare and special as the dreams of the writers telling it.
This story will always be a love story without needing to call itself a love story.
Click the Follow button below to receive updates when new blogs are posted.
You can also email Seth at sethsingleton@gmail.com

Do Superheroes Ever Have This Problem? Finding Your Character’s Motivation

By Seth Singleton

 

Getting up in the morning is hard enough without trying to save the world.

Getting up just to save the world does not sound like a good enough reason.

How do superheroes do it? Do they struggle?

Does Superman? Does Spider-Man?

What reasons do your characters have for getting out of bed?

Let’s bring it closer to home.

Why do most of us get up?

Why do you get up?

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Sadly, motivation is not just written on the wall. Photo by Austin Chan.

Turns out, it depends on who you are and what matters to you.

Usually, doing something unpleasant, like getting up for work, is an obligation with a purpose, like providing for yourself or family. Like any responsibility, it can be hard to find the inspiration to get started.

Then it becomes about, how do you keep going.

Heroes, and other characters, often start out their journey with simple motivations, but they quickly become complex.

What is Motivation?

According to the American Psychology Association, motivation is “the process of starting, directing, and maintaining physical and psychological activities.”

It sounds simple until you read the second sentence.

“This includes mechanisms involved in preferences for one activity over another and the vigor and persistence of responses.”

That word mechanism implies machines, processes, and those are never simple when they are based on vigor and persistence.

The writing team at Blue Alchemy Studios was talking about the motivations for our characters during a recent meeting. I am the editor of the storyline for our upcoming release Planet Rise, and that means my job — one of my jobs — is to support the writers in every aspect of the story process. On this day we were talking about what these characters want. By establishing the goals of our supporting characters and our main characters we could map out potential conflicts and tensions.

The first example that came to my mind was Keifer Sutherland in the film A Few Good Men. Sutherland brought the character of 2nd Lt. Jonathan Kendrick to life when he explained that a dead marine, Private First Class Santiago, did not understand the consequences of the marine code.

A Character’s Code

This code is Unit, Corps, God, Country. Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson, one of two defendants held responsible following Santiago’s death explains the code to his defense attorneys here:

This ethos defines the fundamental values held by a group of Marines who turned on a member of their unit. A series of ritual hazings led to his death and a military trial. Sutherland’s character, Kendrick, reasons that Santiago died “because he did not have a code.” He then explains that his code represents the priorities in his life. His first priority is his unit, then his corps, then to God and then to his country.

It is a powerful scene that demonstrates the decision-making process that dictates or justifies a character’s actions. It also shows the lengths a character will go when they believe their motives are just. Kendrick adds that Santiago was weak and his weakness was a threat to the unit, which threatened the corps, and their allegiance to God and country. This was not only the basis for his personal beliefs but the military orders he gave and obeyed.

“Commander, I believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ, and because I do, I can say this. Private Santiago is dead, and that is a tragedy. But he is dead because he had no code. He is dead because he had no honor. And God was watching.” – Kendrick

Back in the writing meeting, we agreed that by establishing the priorities for the characters in our story, we could decide what actions they would be willing to take and how far they will go to achieve them. Done correctly, and we would have a better understanding of what drives the characters we are writing. Characters who can make bold claims because they believe them.

What are Cornerstones?

In the recent HBO series Westworld, humans travel to a customized theme park where they can live out their fantasies, no matter how illicit. There are no consequences.

During one episode, a technician named Elsie explains how the characters portrayed by androids must have a foundation in order to help guests suspend their sense of disbelief. These “hosts” establish a connection for the guests that allows them to invest in the story. “Backstories do more than amuse guests; they anchor the host,” she says. “It’s their cornerstone.”

Rachel Scheller supports the word and explores its usage in the Writers Digest article What’s Your Character’s Cornerstone. She relates to the concept because a cornerstone’s roots lie in architecture.

In masonry the cornerstone was the first stone set in a foundation, influencing all other pieces, and if uneven the structure would never have a sound foundation. It’s a good place to start, but only if your characters don’t move.

Cornerstones were central to the construction of churches. A cornerstone’s exact measurements exemplified superior craftsmanship. This led to comparative analogy in religious teachings featuring Jesus the carpenter and architect of the church, and ideas about the cornerstones of faith. Peter, a follower of Jesus, was called the rock that the present-day Catholic church was built on.

Cornerstones were introduced by a guild of builders aptly named the FreeMasons. They were marked with the seal of the masons and can still be observed at national exhibits like the Washington Monument. They guarded their secrets carefully, which insured the mastery of their craft and the freedom of the order.

Why Characters Require Two Motivations (or More)

Monuments have it easy. Like all stone structures, they only require the one cornerstone. This is because buildings of stone are not designed to move. Once they are built, they stay in the same place.

Characters move. This makes their thoughts, beliefs, and actions more complex and requires more than one anchor to define them.

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Motivations drive the characters we love to greatness. By Stephen Leonardi

Cornerstones of the characters we love anchor our connection to them through their beliefs. This does not mean that the cornerstones of our characters are not in conflict. In fact, it is the conflict that drives our characters. Much like the conflict that drives our own lives. We don’t want to get up in the morning. But we do. The reason why is complex.

The same is true for the characters in Planet Rise. Our main character Nia Kasai is facing a conflict that is a direct result of her two cornerstones, Duty and Family.

Nia is the eldest daughter and the member of an order sworn to protect her world from danger. Her responsibilities have always included looking after her sister and honoring her role as a member of the order.

Now that she is in the order and her sister is an adult these two cornerstones are at odds. Nia’s choices will decide the fate of her world and the world of her sister and family. Choosing family means sacrificing the belief that she has spent her whole life working for, it could mean the end of her world. Choosing her duty will sacrifice her ability to be there for her family and protect her sister from looming threats.

Storytelling is about revealing the motivations that create conflict. The actions a character is willing to take did not form out of the aether. Motivations reveal the dimensions of a character that cannot be shaped by a cookie cutter. They bring characters into conflict with heroes and villains alike, by showing the tension that competing desires create.

Click here to talk about the motivations and characters in your story.

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Your Virtual Tour of Winter Play with Play Rise and Blue Alchemy Studio

I have never been to a gaming demo event.
My first game demo event was on January 11, 2018.  Playcrafting presented the event, and Google Launchpad was the host.
My friend Jabari Alii is the founder of Blue Alchemy Studio. Tonight he was introducing the demo for his first game Planet Rise. I had been editing the writing team since August, and I was itching to see this other side of the gaming world.
I had no idea what to expect, but I had hopes.
By the end of the night:
I would meet new contacts
See a person possessed by virtual reality
And sit in on a conversation about where a writer’s story ideas originate.
I met Jabari at his building in downtown Oakland at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon and we started packing.
We loaded the cords, fliers, laptops, and posters. Then folded up the cardboard standout of our main character, Nia.
Actually, I took a lot of photos of it, because I thought it looked so damn cool. And then I had Jabari take pictures of me next to Nia.

 

Then, me holding the posters, one in each hand and while offering my cheesiest presenter smile.
And then we folded up Nia and walked down to Kinkos to print out more fliers before we boarded BART for SF.
We disembarked at Embarcadero station. Then we walked down Howard, then through the glass doors of 301 and up to the third floor.
Inside our hosts guided us to a pair of white folding tables where we could set up and start foraging for more gear. Fenyang joined us. We began setting up tripods for a Facebook livestream and other cameras.
I have only worked with Fen on writing projects, where he is a writer for Planet Rise and I am an editor. On this day we were semi-professional audio and video crew. Setting up a demo was a new experience for which we were both untested, but hopeful.
Soon, the laptops were open and screens loaded. Visitors introduced themselves. Developers came by to say hello and discuss progress. Some had met Jabari at previous and similar events. Our engineer, Kaleb, was preparing for the player-vs-player demo.
I met Uzo, who is a consultant and we sat down for a few impromptu conversations. One of my favorites began when she asked Fen about writing and where ideas and stories come from.


In the minutes before the event began I took a walk around and met some of the other games and developers.

Level Ten Games featured a game called “Check, Please??”

 

It reminded me of an Uno-style strategy game. Elliott and Katherine Ten created the game and was friendly and engaging when describing it.

After a short summary, some pictures and a business card I realized I needed to hurry if I was going see every table.
The game Closer used image capture to place player’s image into the game.

Hony Tawk’s was a delightful, parody-racing-demolition game.

 

Games like “Flythru Space”, “Tornado Tower” and “Cardslinger” had a steady crowd. They were close to the entrance and visitors stopped in and then moved on.

Rush-Pupp-Game-Sign
At Least They Left a Sign Behind….
Rush-Puppy-Empty-Table
Where’d They Go?

Rush Puppy is a table that confused me. I’ll never know what the game was, because the table was empty.

Games like Labyrinth and College Quest had large-screen televisions. Some games had an Apple TV or mobile app configuration.

 

 

When I returned to the Planet Rise table, Fen sat between two players. He was recording notes while they pointed out issues that occurred during gameplay. Jabari was talking with a small group of developers about the game. Kaleb was cranking out an update for the game based on initial reactions and questions.
I saw a small group of people lingering a few feet from the table and I walked up with my hand held out. “Hi, thanks for stopping. Would you like to try our demo?”
The rest of the night was a steady flow of Jabari, Fen and I maintaining a consistent rotation. One person was always at the table. The other two moved about, and spoke with visitors who stopped to look or wrote down email signatures or answered questions.

The Pizza Situation

One of the features of the event was the provision of free food. This appealed to anyone stopping in during what was a traditional dinner time. Pizza was the featured entree. I was talking or doing something when organizers announced that the food was ready.

I thought I would only be a few minutes. Then Jabari appeared with a few slices and said that the pizza was almost out and we should hurry. Fen reached up and said thank you, before taking the paper plate with the slices.

 

Three hours later, the organizers were walking through. They reminded everyone to pack up and that closing time was fast approaching.

I looked around. The crowds were thinning. Tired and excited eyes began to glaze with fatigue. We started packing back up and in minutes we were walking towards the exit.

 

Already, you could hear the excitement at the response and interest the game had received. Plans were being made for the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March.
We walked out the glass doors of Google Launchpad onto Howard street as a team of dreamers. Sure, we had found bugs in the gameplay. Yes, we realized what we wanted to do differently for next time. But now, now we were looking together with the future in our eyes.

 

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