The Tears of a Machine S.C. is on its way. The full text of the book is written and in editing. The fancy new logo is ready, courtesy of Nathan Paoletta, and cover and interior art is already in progress with Jennifer Rodgers and Rashad Malik Davis. We’re on track to bring the game to Kickstarter, but there’s a lot more going on here than just a book. When I first created Robot Claw Design for my first edition of Tears of a Machine, I made a commitment to better accessibility for role-playing games. I will continue that intent by creating a human-voiced audiobook of the new edition, and even taking that a few steps further. ePub and rich-media books have developed and grown in the years since I released Tears, and with Tears S.C. I can take further advantage of that to include video demonstrations, as well as audio narration, and even embed the book into a Robot Claw website, allowing it to be its own standard reference document release. And it can continue to grow from that. We have the ability to include interactive features that could even become learning tools for teaching people to play!
Get ready for The Tears of a Machine S.C. Kickstarter campaign July, 2021!
You may think I’ve been very quiet. Just the opposite! I’ve been very talkative in my studio, with my microphone and TOBI recording. Now that first big milestone is past: All of the text has been recorded! The raw audio files total 8 hours and 4 minutes so my prediction was good.
Next will be the detailed editing passes as I go through all of that audio removing stumbles or misreads and ironing out the placement of marks. How long will that take? I’m not sure but I expect it will be easier to get the time for it since I only need my laptop and headphones instead of the home studio and a quiet day. I’ve set a goal for myself to have the book released in DAISY and EPUB formats by August 2nd, the one year anniversary of our Kickstarter success.
Speaking of anniversaries, if you have any friends who’ve been wanting to get their hands on Tears of a Machine but are waiting for a sale, July 3rd is the anniversary of the KS launch, so they’ll soon have their moment.
Been a while since my last full update but that’s because we’ve been busy, busy, busy.
Cards and Badges
The “feelies” (physical rewards) are set! I got the box of CRC ID cards this past week and they look and feel as good as I had hoped. The Preservation Forces patch has been drafted and approved and is in production now. He’s a peek at the studio’s proof:
This image is slightly lower res, but I was surprised at the scale and detail that we were able to get for our budget; 4 1/2 inches tall by 3 inches wide. Everyone of our SAInt tier and higher backers will receive one of these with their physical copy of the book. Thank you, once more, to our Angel tier backer, Athrun Nailo. Continue reading →
Nathan Paoletta’s work continues and it’s really gratifying to see the text laid out. It looks like a real book!
There’s still work to be done in tweaking the layout and settling in some elements. I’m on another hunt for typos as I review. In the meantime, Nathan is working on translating my Excel spreadsheet character sheets from the demo package into real character sheets. Once all of the page numbers are settled, I can begin setting up the files for the accessible text versions and soon start the audio recording for the digital talking book.
Nathan recently joined the crowd-patronage support network Patreon. If you enjoy his work then consider making yourself an ongoing backer of his future projects.
CRC Cards On the Way
CRC ID cards have been ordered so I’ll have them to pack in with books for the SAInt and higher tier backers. Take a look at the digital proof: Continue reading →
Sorry that I’ve gone dark for so long and deprived you of updates! J. R. Blackwell returned the text to me with her editorial remarks and I’ve been making my way through, tweaking, adjusting, correcting, and polishing with her excellent guidance. This is the “how the sausage is made” part of the process, with lots of minutiae so there’s just not much to share. Nothing exciting at least. So while I continue to trawl my way through all these words, let’s enjoy some pleasant distractions.
Pilot Launch Suit Design
Jennifer Rodgers, our esteemed illustrator has been working on more designs for the illustrations of Tears and here’s her first draft of the pilot’s Launch Suits.
The astute viewer will notice a few references to religious iconography in the patterns. It will be more obvious once the pilots have their neural exchange halos attached. Continue reading →
As editing proceeds, we’re working on getting the other rewards prepared and ordered. Thanks to the generosity of our Angel, those of you donating at the $30 and higher level will receive a patch declaring your enrollment in the future forces that will save humanity from the Mayzor scourge.
When Jennifer Rodgers asked me what the patch should look like, I sent her this:
She, being an actual illustrator took a few hours to tinker with it and then sent me this rough draft:
How about I distract you from that embarrassing comparison by telling you more about Preservation Force tech? Continue reading →
It feels very official to be getting contracts signed and payments underway for Tears of a Machine. The draft is in J. R. Blackwell’s care, Jennifer Rodgers and I are reviewing my notes on illustrations and planning the sketches. We’re also turning my crayon draft of the Preservation Force’s emblem into a patch, as per the Angel backer reward. I’ll be able to share more about that with you soon. But how about some background on the Preservation Force . . .
Defenders of Humanity
The Preservation Force was formed on the order of the Cloistered Research Council. When they revealed themselves as the authority on alien technology they insisted that it should not belong to any national power. The world was in dire straits already and their representative said it would be too easy for a still-powerful nation to abuse the new weapons, taking needed resources from a neighboring country or “walling” themselves in and leaving others to fend for themselves. If they would use this science, it would be a world-wide effort and the weapons would belong to no one group.
Beginning with UN forces, the CRC oversaw the organization of an international military force. Soldiers were uprooted and shuffled and their commanders complained about loss of combat effectiveness but the CRC were adamant. Organizing these armies into a collective was difficult but the need for a defense from the aliens drove the world to put aside differences and cooperate however they could. Meanwhile the CRC was pulling together resources to construct bases of operation for the new army. The Arx.
Jacob Wood has planned a presentation on accessible games for Virtuacon this October. He has invited me to join him and share my thoughts and plans on accessible text and audio books. If you’d like to see the presentation, you don’t have to go anywhere! Virtuacon is a weekend of gaming through Google Hangouts, organized by RPGGeek. You’ll be able to join and play or run games and attend panels all from the comfort of your internet connection. You can find the schedule of international time slots and a list of planned events on the RPG Geek site. And I’ll try to get some more Tears demos on that calendar too!
Messages have slowed down, payments have been made, and we’re ready to proceed. Before the text goes to the editor, I will make one last solo pass to look for any omissions or typos and to pluck out a few more needless words. The less work J. R. has to do, the faster the book turns around and it’s just poor manners to ask a professional to deal with my misspellings.
J. R. taught me an editing trick that I think everyone should know. In truth, it’s something I already knew myself, but didn’t think to apply before J. R. pointed it out to me. Read it aloud. Out loud. Mutter if you want to but don’t just silently mouth the words. You will be more focused when you engage your ears as well as your eyes and your attention is less likely to wander. Once you start using your voice you’ll quickly find passages with awkward wording or misspellings. That one-two punch of visual and auditory learning is the reason that having an audio-book format to accompany the text makes it easier to read, process, and internalize.
Presentation at Metatopia
On that subject; because of the impact that the accessibility plans had on funding Tears of a Machine, I’m preparing a presentation on the importance of accessibility for other designers. I’m planning to make the presentation at Metatopia in October. Metatopia is gaming convention focused on the designer with panels and mini-seminars about games of all types and a schedule of demos and playtests designed to find players for your game in progress. I highly recommend attending!
Social Media Sorting
Many of you have added me to your social media groups and I’ve done the same but in a haphazard way. I’m sorting out the Facebook groups and Google circles now. If you’d rather only receive information about Gaming in general, or Tears specifically, please let me know through their messaging channels and I’ll spare you my posts about the “really great pizza I had.”
There will be more progress reports ahead and I’ll be organizing more online chats and demos soon too. I expect that they will be on Wednesday evenings and weekends to fit my schedule but I also hope to get more of you involved, perhaps as early GMs for your own groups.