The Greatest Show 149: Hugs With Blood

DJ and Tricia are joined by Metal Jesus and Mel for a reunion that has been almost 6 months in the making!

BuJoRPG Dev Blog 006: Designing Old into New

There can certainly be a loss of focus in any project and BuJourneyRPG is no exception. While you might have rolled your eyes at that statement and thought “great, he’s off the rails,” you shouldn’t be worried because I’m talking about paying too close attention to one thing and not the other.

I’ve been so busy staring at the “story” that I’ve sort of let the “self improvement” aspect sit on the shelf and collecting dust.

Using the skill tree theory I’ve previously mentioned, I was focused on the actual things in the tree without necessarily allowing for how to achieve those things. While a passing “collect some sort of points to unlock the nodes” has been the focus, how do you acquire those points?

Self improvement.

Why just play through a story but to collect some Tree Points (TP, so I can shorthand this article a bit) when you can go from walking 5,000 steps a day to 7,500? Why just play through a story when you can learn the basics of a foreign language (like how to say “hello”)? While stories should certainly award TP, they shouldn’t be THE focus of leveling up on the skill tree.

Sometimes a slight course correction is needed to keep the goal directly ahead and that is what I’m talking about.

I’m still moving forward.

Emerald Specter 119: Vince McMahon Could Do MMA Better

He’s dabbled with the idea in the past, but don’t shut me down quite yet. Vince McMahon may have experience in exactly two large scale enterprises, but he’s got all the solid basics for a Mixed Martial Arts organization.

Vinnie Mac could literally be making better MMA.

The first, and most important part of this little exercise, would be to look at what the WWE does well. That’s putting on a hell of a live show. You may not like the product, personally, but they get thousands of people on a weekly basis together to scream at the top of their lungs at a pre-determined storyline and sell a ton of their products.

They even have four legit MMA fighters in their ranks: Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, Ronda Rousey, and Shana Baszler. Are there ones I haven’t mentioned? Yes, but let’s move along.

Aside from just putting on a great show, they know how to promote things in a somewhat last minute fashion.

How is pre-determined storylines considered “last minute?” Don’t you think that injuries happen? Yeah, they do, and sometimes the online rumor mill causes the WWE to swerve to a different outcome… last minute.

All Vince needs to do is build up things the way he did with the WWE when he took over. Was the WWE #1 when he took over? No, it wasn’t… but he had a vision for where he wanted to be and a plan on how to accomplish that vision.

Slight history lesson.

The WWE was one of many regional wrestling federations under Vince’s dad… when Vince took over, he started buying regions and placing them under the banner of the WWE (then WWF) to build the first non-regionally limited wrestling company. He even went so far as to stop calling it wrestling and use the term sports entertainment, more accurately reflecting what the company actually does. While the simulated violence is a foundation, there is so much more going on in the sports entertainment world than just wrestling.

Let’s start simple, by thinking about what an MMA organization would need in order to launch itself into the competitive market and thrive.

First, you need a PPV platform, which WWE has built in. You also could use a network to back up some programming for development or marketing of events. WWE has that built in. Rather than start with nothing, you could buy one of the established organizations and have talent already on contract to fight. WWE has the money to do that, too.

If Vince went the route he did with WWE, he could either buy a smaller company or build a basic one and start buying up other competition. I’m not talking about Vince attempting to take the UFC down, or ONE Championship for that matter, but I think that if Vince bought up some of the “farm leagues” and maybe a bigger piece of a pie (like Bellator), then I think they would have a solid foundation to build up from there.

Hell, UFC fighters either love the organization or hate it, and for those that hate it you could scoop them up with a better deal.

They already know how to run PPV events. They already know how to hype events and talent. They have a build in distribution network. They are set up for selling merchandise. Those WWE superstars who want to dip into MMA can do so without leaving the WWE umbrella… and they can even give them “light” competition so that they’re not going in against the #1 fighter in the world right away.

I’d love to see it, especially with the UFC/ESPN deal killing the ability of folks to watch as much UFC as they had been without paying.

Vince McMahon was looking into this at one time and I don’t think anything came from it. With the MMA stars on their roster and others interested in testing the waters, they could have huge crossover potential without shelling out wads more cash for bringing that talent in.

I don’t like the way he operates, but Vince knows what he’s doing.

BuJoRPG Dev Blog 005: The Power of Why

I am about to start thinking of BuJoRPG development as a three year old. What I mean is that I’m going to ask “why” a lot.

For example, why go with hexagons as the tree design? It’s aesthetically pleasing and forces me to branch out more often. Why do I want to branch out more often? The more branches there are, the more interaction you’ll have to work on the story and your self improvement.

That’s just a short example.

The inclusion of certain aspects I was considering, once met with the “why” barrage, failed to hold up. If something doesn’t last through at least two questions, then why should it be included? I want some level of sophistication in this game but I don’t want it so difficult as to force casual users to hit me up constantly asking for clarification.

One thing I do want is to make it simple enough to understand solely by reading the instructions. Something I noticed with BuJoRPG v1 is that because I left so many things “up to judgment,” I end up getting a lot of questions about those open ended things. BuJourneyRPG will be more task oriented (like for walking, running, learning, etc) and should, by design, be easier to just throw into your own journal.

Bullet journaling IS supposed to make organization simpler, why wouldn’t I want BuJoRPG to do that as well?

So, let’s use an example of something I’ve decided to include and go from there.

Why are there four attributes (PHY, MEN, SOC, and EMO)? The foundation of any character is built on a solid foundation and I’ve boiled down basic attributes into just four. Why four and not two, three, five, or more? While being easily measurable, PHY and MEN (or PHY, MEN, and SOC) are a little too basic. On the flip side, more than just adding EMO to that list overly complicated things. Each attribute has sub-attributes to fulfill offense, defense, and recovery roles for each main attribute. Anything more complicated than that will make things overly complex.

I’ve so far eliminated a couple of things using this method that didn’t really have a purpose “at present.” I need to also keep in mind that I can add things in when I develop that aspect. A developer friend once said “development of a [system] is something that happens in layers, like an onion.” He was talking about apps but the same can be applied here.

Build the battle system to work independently of anything else. When that is done, build the gear system to modify your stats for the battle system. When that is done, build the “farming” mechanism to get the gear for that… it continues like that.

BuJourneyRPG is being built almost exactly like that. I built the stats before the battle system (which is still under development). Otherwise, onion.

I’m not entirely sure when the first viewable set up will be available but I’ll do videos as soon as something is worth showing.

BuJoRPG Dev Blog 004: Physical vs Digital

Something I’m having a hard time deciding is if I want to stay digital only or do both digital and physical media for releasing BuJoRPG and BuJourneyRPG. I know some folks out there use the physical only because that’s really what bullet journaling was designed for, but there are those of us (me included) that think digital is better because of the problem of storing “physical product.”

I’ve made some inquiries into wholesaling or custom printing a bullet journal with BuJoRPG loaded into it already. My inquiries have been met with silence, which I find odd considering I’m asking about purchasing something from a company that sells things. Their loss, though. When I find a company willing to print journals with BuJoRPG pre-loaded in them, I’ll put them up for sale.

There will always be digital, though. It’s the easiest thing to do, logistically, and as long as I’m designing the system digitally anyway, sending out the digital product isn’t a big deal.

Videos are still forthcoming, I’ve got some free time coming to dink around after March ends.

Emerald Specter 118: The Great Chess Experiments Are Over

What, you say? How can this be, you ask?

I’m fooling myself if I believe anyone out there really had a hard investment in what I was trying to accomplish… but it’s time to talk about what worked, what didn’t, and why I’m ending the “Great Chess Experiments” on this website.

Just over a year ago, I launched the Emerald Specter Chess Club with the hopes of expanding the Chess Basho system I developed into something that people would be interested in playing in. There were no rating limits, “titles” for those who earned them, and only a minimal commitment to make to the system in order for that to succeed.

Well, it was a big, fat failure.

At first, there was interest in competing in the tournaments. I had the first two tournaments fill up faster than I could possibly have hoped and was very happy with the results. I have talked about this before, so I won’t go back over it. There was hope early on but the longer the series runs, the less hope there is that exists.

When I launched Chess Basho VII, I made the trophies customized (and very pretty, if I do say so myself), gave everyone enough time to jump in, and ended up starting the tournament almost a full month after the designed start time because there was no one joining. Since this is something that has happened more than once, I’m calling this basho the last basho…

I had a simple goal: engage lower rated people in tournaments and competition to award them titles in a fun little amalgam of chess and sumo. Hell, the only sumo tie at the moment is the naming system and the means of awarding the titles. Results? Dead on the vine.

The other thing I’ve recently attempted to create was SpecterChess. The “TL;DR” version is that I wanted to amalgamate chess and the UFC, awarding championships to players who wanted to be featured in events. If you visit that link, I even created a championship belt for the whole thing.

What happened to SpecterChess? Well, I had a podcast set up and the intention to review my games in my specific “rate class” (which is Straw Rate) to eventually work towards winning a championship. I recorded my first event and have had nothing but problems since that recording was made. I’ve recovered some of the audio, some of the video, but overall, I’m giving up on trying to do what I was going to do and am looking at alternatives.

Currently, as I write this, there is a 32 man StrawRate tournament to crown the first SpecterChess StrawRate Champion of the World. It’s a KO style tournament and it’s being run on (where else would I run it?), and whoever wins the championship (if it be someone other than myself, which is likely), I’ll challenge them to a match for the belt. The idea being that if I can get some activity for a championship going, there might be some hope of salvaging a little bit of the SpecterChess experiment.

Let me explain, in a perfect world, what the plan for SpecterChess would be if money were no object…

There are 10 Rate Classes (Heavy, Cruiser, Light Heavy, Middle, Welter, Light, Feather, Bantam, Fly, and Straw) to compete in, each having a rating (Elo) limit. I’ve come up with a lower number of Rate Classes with more of a “digital” feel to them (ExaRate limited to 2200, PetaRate limited to 2000, TeraRate limited to 1800, GigaRate limited to 1600, MegaRate limited to 1400, and KiloRate limited to 1200) to refine what I was hoping to accomplish. Since the experiment is essentially over, I’ll explain using the new Rate Classes.

A tournament in each Rate Class would be held (KO style) between 16 players to determine an initial Rate Class Champion. The 15 players in each Division who failed to become champion would be ranked 1 through 15 as the top contenders for the championship. Each month after the initial tournament would allow for the introduction of new players playing the established ranked players for a chance to play the champion.

This is basically a speed set up to establish a UFC-like ranking system. Since there would be six Rate Classes, there would be six champions. If the interest above a 2200 rating would be sufficient to create a stronger Rate Class, an expansion could be held to establish Divisions higher than ExaRate… but I digress.

Instead of relying on tournament play, like is almost exclusively what “real world” chess uses, SpecterChess is all about match play. The basic idea was that two players agree to play a four game match at a 15 minute per side time control to determine a winner and loser. The only time there would be a tournament would be if a championship becomes vacant and needs to be refilled (which would be used if there weren’t two clear contenders who deserved a shot).

This is all well and good, but why would anyone want to compete in this manner? Money. Again, I am setting this up as if money were no object, so bear with me.

Each signed SpecterChess player would receive a base annual salary of $2,000. Players would be matched by a Competition Board overseeing SpecterChess. A minimum of six match offers would be made per year, with players being required to compete a minimum of twice (or be fined $1,000 per match declined… meaning if you don’t play at all, you lose your basic annual salary).

Winning a game provides $500 (per game) to the player, as well as a possible “best game,” or “most exciting game” style bonus of $1,000 for exceptional play possible to earn (one bonus of each type per event). Losing a game would be worth $200 per game, meaning that if you either win or lose, you earn money. There is no bonus for a draw, period.

All championship related bonuses are doubled. Champions earn a pro-rated $4,000 annually (if they serve a full year, they get the full amount), $1,000 bonus per win, and $400 bonus for each loss… special bonuses are also doubled. This also applies to the challenger, since they are also competing in a championship match.

With a minimum of 16 players per Division, and six initial Divisions, the base annual salary of the entire SpecterChess organization would be $204,000. That’s only for the basic annual salaries of the champions and 15 ranked contenders. Just like the UFC, SpecterChess would have more players than ranked spots in each division to keep things interesting.

The incentive of money is where things would create an interesting scenario. Players who will never be vying for the World Chess Championship have a place to play (SpecterChess) under contract (lengths varying from 1 to 5 years) to create monthly (and eventually weekly) events just like the UFC to promote chess to players who aren’t top rated.

Who better to learn from than players within your own reach? (Strong teachers will tell you to review GM games, but if you aren’t able to understand some basic concepts of the “weaker” game, then how the hell are you supposed to grasp GM concepts?)

Salaries would increase with sponsorships, there would be physical locations for the events (so there would be attendance possibilities… more on this in a paragraph or two), and vendors could jump in to make it more of a convention rather than just a “sit and watch to two players play four games” at a time.

That’s if money were no object. I had hoped to get some sort of footing to use as a “proof of concept” to sell the idea to sponsors.

The physical locations bit might have scared you a bit… fear not, the idea could be to have multiple venues for a single event world wide, not necessarily all players in one spot. I’d like to have all players in one spot for the early events but the Internet is the only means of building this proof of concept, so I have considered many options. The fact that being paid, guaranteed, is involved should at least make this idea as popular as the PRO Chess League.

With the exception of trying to do what I planned on doing with the podcast feed, I think that both of these experiments are officially over. If the SpecterChess StrawRate Championship works out, maybe I let that one hang on a little longer, but the whole idea is on its last leg as I write these words.

I won’t be completing the SpecterChess events as I’ve numbered them out, but I will be reviewing games… I need to go back to what I’m good at: audio production rather than video. Video may come, but I need to start where I know I can do positive things.

Thanks for reading.

Emerald Specter 117: My Comic Book Art Hangup

I have, in my mind, this idea for a grand column that is long… it’s about my own personal comic book art hangups, specifically related to me not wanting to draw my own comics because I think my art sucks.

I’m sorry if this is too short, but I wanted to at least discuss this in the open so that I can push through and start working on my comics in earnest.

When I started collecting comic books in 1987, I believed my own personal art was good enough to grow into one day becoming an artist for one of the bigger comic book companies. I was drawing pretty regularly from 1987 to 1990 when I finally decided that my own art style wasn’t good enough to be in comic books… switching instead from an art goal to a writing goal (though I wouldn’t have ruled out inking or coloring completely at this point).

Here I sit, some 30 plus years later still thinking that my art isn’t up to snuff to be in a comic book… but there’s a problem with that line of thinking.

Everyone has their own style. I read a lot of comics that wouldn’t fit with my “idea of a top company quality” that I believed existed way back in the 80s. In fact, there are some artists who’s style flat out sucks… in my opinion. It’s not that their art is bad, it’s that I don’t like that style of art… but for the purposes of the rest of this column, I’ll stick with calling it “bad.”

My own art style hasn’t evolved since the mid-90s. If I sat down right now and drew Iron Man, I think that I would hate it just as much as the last time I drew Iron Man (back in the 90s). The problem is a simple one, mainly a mental block, but there is a reason attached to it.

I want my art to look like the comics I read back in the 80s. Picturesque quality without a lot of “license” shown to design.

Humans should look like humans. Clothing should look realistic. Basically, I’m talking about what is now known as photo referencing… or that’s what I was looking at mimicking back in the 80s.

That doesn’t have to be the case.

In the series Black Hammer (all of Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer universe stuff), the art would have completely turned me away from the book back in the 80s. The fact that I enjoy this art lets you know right away that my tastes have changed, but I still feel my own personal art needs to be held to a higher standard.

Lots of artists would have caused me to go a different direction that have regular, very successful work right now: Mike Mignola, Dean Ormston, Darwin Cooke, and Mike Allred would be some of the more well known names.

I like their art, to an extent, because my tastes have changed.

If we look at the independent creators in the world, and I won’t name any names, there are more than a handful who’s art I’d legit call “bad.” I mean, it looks like a 4th grader drew it, handed it to a kindergartener to redo, then handed it in as “complete.” Is that harsh? Yes. Is it wrong? Not to me.

My art is BETTER than what I literally just described.

I need to stop thinking of trying to look like a Jack Kirby or a Todd MacFarlane. These are artists whom I admire but will never be able to emulate. I need to embrace my own style, make it my own, and make the damn comic books I want.

Why don’t I hire an artist? Well, money. I understand everyone needs to get paid, but there is also another reason: I’m a bit of a control freak with my vision. I have a very specific vision that needs to happen very specifically and look a specific way before I would be willing to deviate.

A long time ago, I dreamed of launching ongoing titles that would just keep going with new teams and stories after I told my own story. Seeing what is happening to Invincible and other titles in the independent market that are “ending,” I realize that if I don’t do what I need to in order to tell my vision, my stories won’t get told… and there’s more than a 95% chance no one else will want to pick up my characters and carry their torches.

Thanks for listening… reading… and I’ll be more thorough in the future.

BuJoRPG Dev Blog 003: Power Creep

Back again so soon? YES!

It has come to my attention that my “tree” idea might cause something I’ll call “power creep.” Basically, in a nutshell, that means completing a couple of these adventures and exploring the entirety of each of the trees for those adventures might have you, or your character, at a power level well outside of what would be considered pleasing… like, you start adventure 1 with a basic “early learning” type power level, but by adventure 6, you’re so strong that you waltz through the entire story without much resistance at all.

How is that any fun?

I do not currently have a solution for this, but I have put a little thought into the idea. How about having the story “scale” with your character’s levels… instead of “villain has power of 3,” you’d have “villain has the power 115% of your current power level.” It’s just a thought.

The only other idea that I had before I sat down to write this was to have your character enter “the matrix” with some basic level scores, regardless of what your accumulative scores are… that would seem to work a little better than the first option, right?

I would love a little feedback on this… if you’d like to drop me a line… use the subject line “BuJo Dev” and I’ll make sure my email programs don’t scrap those…

I’m still working on things but I wanted to put out another blog post with the problem I ran across in my excitement to move forward. This is precisely why I needed a Dev Blog.

Emerald Specter 116: Redefining Comics

There is a movement in the comic book industry that is finally starting to take a little hold and I wanted to talk about it because if I can make my own comics, this is the method I’d like to use.

Before I get into that, though, I wanted to point out to anyone that might be hiding under a rock that I’m doing a BuJoRPG Dev Blog (which by this posting has had two written posts). If you look on the main page and simply scroll below this post, you’ll see the blog post.

The idea of the Dev Blog is to keep everyone up to date on what I’m working on with the BuJourneyRPG… and to keep myself publicly accountable for not doing anything if I have a lengthy gap between entries. There will be written blog posts and as soon as there are enough graphical things to show, I’ll be doing some YouTube videos as well…

But now, onto the meat of the column.

Since forever, comic book publishers have been working on a “monthly release” model for comics. That means that if you want to read Captain America, you’re picking up a 22 to 26 page book every month for some progression in the ongoing story. (I chose a recent issue to highlight in that link.) This is how the entire comic book industry has worked for years, decades, and forever. Sure, there has been an original graphic novel now and then, as well as trade paperbacks (collections of specific runs of issues that tell a cohesive story in a single title), but basically if you have been reading comics, you’re reading issues month after month.

This isn’t news, I know, but I’m getting there.

Recently, however, there has been a movement by some creators to stop the monthly model and instead going for a graphic novel (GN) model. Rather than release 12 issues a year, they might choose to release one or two GNs a year in their place… telling a complete and cohesive story.

Two major reasons for moving to this model are 1) creators are essentially at a sprint all year long to keep up the pace of a monthly release schedule and 2) more customers who read the comics are moving to the trades instead of collecting the “floppies” (individual monthly comic books are sometimes referred to as floppies).

“Back in the day,” which everyone should know signals a “Wednesday,” comics were sold at newsstands and releasing monthly issues kept consumers coming back for new stories while also keeping the characters in the forefront of the consumer’s minds. Just like with any business model, if you don’t start adapting with the times, you eventually begin to die out. (For example: old school newspapers are slowly dying because they don’t have catchy, click bait headlines or have an almost exclusive online presence.) This may have worked in the 50s, 60s, and 70s… and when the 80s rolled around, the comics started moving to direct market (i.e. local comic book shops).

This isn’t bringing in new readers. Basically, if a reader wants to discover a comic, they have to go to a physical location with this model to “browse” (or, for the purposes of not re-explaining this in a different form, online, too).

I don’t know about others, but I discovered my comics on a spinner rack at my local “five and dime” store (as well as the drug store down the street) before I ever thought of looking for a comic book store.

Another important factor in this is the big companies, Marvel and DC primarily, keep relaunching their characters in “new books” so that they can put a new “#1” on the cover as a starting point for new readers. While this may have worked for a couple of years, I find it highly ridiculous that there are eight volumes of Avengers because they keep relaunching with “new #1” issues.

People just want cohesive stories and some folks aren’t buying issues anymore because they want to know that the story will be complete when they read it. There are a ton of unfinished comic book stories out there, or dangling threads that were never finished, in the monthly release cycle. This is why trade collections are more popular, because anyone wanting to read the story actually gets the whole story and not left hanging because a creative team changed hands.

Personally, I consider the idea of GNs to be brilliant. First, people don’t have the time to read monthly issues as often… prime examples of this would be Adam Mudough of Comic Geek Speak, who infamously is probably a decade behind on reading. (He has a “spinoff” podcast he does called the Time Bubble, where he talks about the old comics he’s just getting to reading.) Second, people want complete stories to be able to read through without waiting to see if there will ever be another issues (for those that remember, see CrossGen Comics). Third, people like the idea of continuity and crossovers but actually hate them in practice… which a GN can do without bogging down a potential customer with needing to buy 75 issues of different titles just to figure out how to read the damn story.

That’s just THREE reasons! There are more… but I’l move on.

I personally consider the GN model to mirror what the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is currently doing. Set up a rotation of “releases” to come out per year, link them together if you want (but don’t make them “required” in order to love the story being told), and you’ve got the “movie release” model working 100%. This doesn’t bombard the reader with needing to have tons of floppies to follow what is going on and the story is all in one place, start to finish.

I started thinking of my “making comics” goal to be more like this GN idea. First, I start with my first GN (I’ll call it Robots from Hell), which tells a cohesive and complete story all by itself and release that in a January. Next, in March, I release my second GN (I’ll call this one Mutants), which also tells a complete story from start to finish… and it may contain an “easter egg” that relates back to Robots from Hell, but you might also see that there were easter eggs for Mutants in Robots from Hell… then, in July, I release my third GN (I’ll call this one Quantum Man), which is complete and cohesive but has easter eggs for both the previous GNs (that aren’t required reading). A couple years into the process, those who were on board for the whole ride might start noticing a larger “through story” that was happening in the background, leading up to (for lack of a better example) an “Avengers” moment where all the characters meet to tackle a threat… they’ll be the Power Patrol taking on the Robots from Hell, or something like that.

Nothing is required to read other that what you pick up. Will you need a little background to understand what is happening in Power Patrol? Sure, but you won’t need to go and buy all the previous GNs because the gist is completely within Power Patrol… hopefully the lure to knowing the details is great enough for someone to pick up one of the previous GNs, but it still doesn’t need to happen.

This is a far better way to create comics, especially for those bigger companies looking to capitalize on the potential of selling more stuff to a broader audience with the potential of a larger story arc between select GNs.

Would there be eight volumes of a signal title? Maybe, but those “volumes” would be referring to an entire GN rather than just a run of monthly issues.

I think reading Green Lantern recently with their run of Rise of the Third Army, which went into Wrath of the First Lantern was not as good as things could have been. You can tell when you move from one series to another (like from Green Lantern to Red Lanterns), because the tone and focus shifts so hard to that series you’re almost left wondering what happened.

As a series of releases, these would have been written and drawn by the same people in a cohesive manner, which is hard to capture with multiple creative teams in multiple titles.

Some creators have already moved to this model with indications that others are strongly considering or will be moving to this model in the near future. This is the future of the industry, I believe, and I’m excited that things might be better as a result.

Sure, there are drawbacks. Superman isn’t constantly in everyone’s face, month after month, so that people don’t forget he exists. Creators working for the big companies may not get as much work, or as steady, because of the big releases instead of the “many little” releases model.

This could allow for better exploration of characters in complete stories, though, and would avoid the “random cancelation” problem that has happened frequently over the past decade. We would also avoid the “random creative team change in the middle of a run” that has also plagued us.

While I don’t believe Marvel or DC will move this direction, I think places like Image and Dark Horse would benefit greatly from no longer trying to compete in a monthly model. They’d have complete stories, released as frequently as they choose, by steady creative teams not bound by creating 12 cliffhangers a year so that you keep readers coming back.

I am still plotting my “GN release” strategy with my own stories. Do I have an “Avengers” finale in phases? Maybe, but I’ve shifted from that being THE thing to that being just a possibility. I will definitely be connecting all the characters in a larger shared universe, but there won’t be some “Thanos level endgame” strategy in play… at least not now.

Rolling around in my head have been stories, or different genres as well as different eras, that I’ve personally decided to put into the same universe. I do have a cohesive reason why this exists the way it does and I could absolutely work towards a giant “mega-phase” event cycle, like the MCU phases. Hell, I’ve even got the final “big bad” in the background that would require a massive amount of characters to be present to defeat… but I haven’t decided that is the direction I want to go.

I’m reading Black Hammer. The universe has been expanded, too, with Quantum Age, Doctor Star, and Sherlock Frankenstein. I love the hell out of this universe of titles and I can’t wait for more… and Jeff Lemire hasn’t indicated an intention to make his “phase level super-crossover” book at all. There is a thing linking all these together, but that isn’t the “big focus” of all the stories. Each of these is wonderful on its own.

I just hope I can create something as wonderful… and if I choose to make my version of the Avengers, then I hope I can make it as epic as it needs to be to succeed.

Coming Soon… BuJoRPG and More

There has been a lot of thinking that has gone on for the better part of the year so far… and I’ve already launched the BuJoRPG Dev Blog, which has immediately made an impact with traffic. So, with some other tings on my plate and a rough outline of a plan made, let me tell you what is about to happen in the next few months on

First and foremost, BuJoRPG and those related items are going to come to the forefront of what happens on this site. You will see more BuJoRPG related items, whichever version, than anything else on the website. This is “where my bread is buttered” so I need to start catering to what people want if I’d like to succeed. That means a couple of things are going to need to be explained if this is going to work as promised.

All pre-written columns will release as scheduled. They were written on a rotating variety of topics, some of them are “in the can,” so I’m not wasting that content. After the pre-written and loaded stuff finishes releasing, I may put out an unrelated column from time to time, but the Emerald Specter regular column as a non-BuJoRPG column will drastically be reduced.

Podcasting is coming back. The Specter Show is going to be recorded during a trip that I’m taking soon, so you’ll get a new episode and that episode will be heavy on the BuJoRPG content, so if you’re into audio, listen in. After that, the Specter Show will probably become exclusively BuJoRPG content, meaning I can either keep this as audio-only content or move into the “video” that I took a poll about, making way for a switch in format.

Website redesign is also impending. I’ve used this theme for my site for about two years and I’d like to switch things up to put content first. Some links will become obscured, disappear, or generally head to the background while I concentrating on making BuJoRPG content front and center. Along with a general “refreshing new look” I’ll be adding things into the site… like some game-ified content, as well as some other interactivity things (like the return of the forum, which will have a serious BuJoRPG related direction). I can’t say what I’m adding yet because I don’t know all the particulars, but things will definitely be more interesting if you show up on the site.

Things that are going to change drastically: the Greatest Show will probably be highly infrequent, with my desire to keep the show active and the hurt I’ll suffer if I let the show die after running for 5 years. The latest recorded episode will be released on both YouTube and through the podcast feed, as soon as I can figure out why my programs aren’t operating like they should…

Another big change, as explained before, is the pull back of the Emerald Specter column. I may make a commentary now and then but regular weekly releases are going to go away (for the foreseeable future). The stuff in the can will drop until it is done and then you’ll see a lull… a BIG lull.

Projects that have been stewing for some time are going to be removed from the site. Chess related items, which will be discussed in an upcoming release, will be removed almost entirely from the site. That’s not a big traffic item and when you read the column, you’ll understand why I’m pulling things back.

Social media and Patreon will become more important as I progress forward. If I get Patreon support, I’ll have exclusive content as well as being able to dedicate more time to BuJoRPG related items. No Patreon support and I continue at the current pace, which is a “if I have time, I can work 15 to 20 minutes here and there” situation.

Finally, with the new look will come the opportunity to have some new content. BuJourneyRPG is story related items and I would potentially like to post some of my own story related work on the site. No plans are set in stone but if the drive hits, I’ll add a special section for those that are interested.

BuJoRPG and BuJourneyRPG are going to be taking up most of what gets posted here… and now that I’m killing the regular release of Emerald Specter, I can put out MORE BuJoRPG content because I don’t need to shift my focus to anything else.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for impending changes…