Welcome to the first episode of 2020 and the first episode of series 23! This series we’ll be covering Lancer, a tactics based mech combat RPG by Massif Press, with designers Tom Parkinson Morgan and Miguel Lopez! This episode we’ll be diving into what the game is about as well as a peek behind the curtain at game design as a whole.
Welcome to the first episode of 2020 and the first episode of series 23! This series we’ll be covering Lancer, a tactics based mech combat RPG by Massif Press, with designers Tom Parkinson Morgan and Miguel Lopez! This episode we’ll be diving into what the game is about as well as a peek behind the curtain at game design as a whole.
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Tom Parkinson Morgan @Orbitaldropkick
Miguel Lopez @The_One_Lopez
Massif Press @LancerRPG
Character Creation Cast:
Amelia Antrim 0:00
Welcome to series 23, and to our first episode of 2020. We're really excited about this series and about what the new year will bring.
Ryan Boelter 0:10
We have scheduled our next few recordings for the year and we can't wait for you to hear what we are working on. But we would love to hear from you as well. We recently put out a call on Twitter. But we want to ask here as well. Is there any actual play podcasts that you listen to that utilizes a unique system that you want us to feature on the show? Let us know about it. We are always looking for awesome new and old games to discuss.
Amelia Antrim 0:41
Similarly, we'd love to hear about any concepts you want us to feature in our evolution cast episodes. Is there something you want to know more about a concept you're struggling with as a player, something that you as a GM wish your players knew? Let us know and we'll see about doing an episode on it.
Ryan Boelter 0:58
And finally, one Our favorite things to hear from you is reviews.
Amelia Antrim 1:06
fireworks. Fireworks with my hands but people can't
Ryan Boelter 1:10
see that. So that's that's a very good fully work over there.
Unknown Speaker 1:13
Ryan Boelter 1:17
Well, you can leave us a review on Apple podcasts, probably the most helpful one stitcher pod chaser or anywhere else you showed into the void about shows that you like, such as a review from Blake Ryan 74 from Australia on iTunes, titled, like a warm blanket. These folks make every guest feel welcome and have a good chat about the what's And why's of their role playing games. Well worth a listen. Short and sweet. Thank you so much.
Amelia Antrim 1:52
Thank you so much. I like that. I like being a warm blank. I can go for a warm blanket right now. I'm really cold
Ryan Boelter 1:57
actually. I don't think it would be so cozy right now. Yeah, well I guess if you want to be cozy continue listening to the episode.
Amelia Antrim 2:43
Welcome to Character Creation Cast, a show where we discuss and create characters The best part of role playing games with guests using their favorite systems. I'm one of your hosts Amelia, and this episode, my co host, Ryan and I are thrilled to welcome Miguel and Tom, creators of lanser an RPG of mechs and their pilots.
Ryan Boelter 3:02
Welcome to Character Creation Cast. We are really excited you could join us. Really excited to be here.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 3:08
Thanks for having us on.
Amelia Antrim 3:09
Let's go ahead and start by introducing both of you to our audience. Miguel, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and any projects you're currently involved in?
Miguel Lopez 3:17
Yeah, sure. So my name is Miguel, I'm a writer based out of Portland, Oregon. Tom and I have been longtime collaborators, friends, we've known each other forever. 17 years.
Unknown Speaker 3:32
Miguel Lopez 3:35
which I'm sure we'll get to down the line and talking a bit more about Lancer but I'm currently working on Lancer full time actually, prior to that I was working a number of different different jobs just food service, working actually in radio production, which hopefully explains how good I'll be on today's podcast. Yeah, you have a beautiful radio is that my great my great Control right now my whole producers have been on the engineering booth right now. I know so I'm a writer, Avengers My only project and it is a both on the creative side and on the business side it is all that I'm working on right now. Very nice. Yeah.
Ryan Boelter 4:16
And what about you, Tom?
Tom Parkinson Morgan 4:19
I am. Yeah, my name is sorry, my name is Tom Parkinson Morgan. I lunch lunch this started as the work that I did to escape my other work which was drawing comic books. So I you might know me as the writer and artist of the comic kill 6 billion demons, which you can find on the web and published with Image Comics. And I've been doing that for about six years now. Formerly, I was a teacher in Japan for a bit. And yeah, and then halfway through, I decided to write a role playing game for some reason. Not sure why I did that. But
Ryan Boelter 4:55
that's how it usually starts though.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 4:57
Oh, yeah, I know. Yeah. Yeah.
Amelia Antrim 4:58
Yeah, you have an idea and then it won't go away. way and you're like, I have to make this. Yeah, yeah.
Miguel Lopez 5:06
It was definitely one of those projects that started to steamroll after we realized what we kind of had. And then, yeah, it was a hobby that became a bit more of a hobby and then it became work. Yeah. Yeah. I'm really
Amelia Antrim 5:20
excited to talk about this game. I've heard nothing but good things. I haven't had the chance to play it yet. So this is the closest I've come so far. I'm so excited.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 5:29
Excellent. Me too. I'm excited to delve into it. I love talking about RPG stuff. So cut me off of him talking too much. So
Amelia Antrim 5:37
not a thing. We can do that we can fix it in post. Okay, good. Well, let's go ahead and get into it. We're going to start by discussing what this game is all about.
Unknown Speaker 5:48
Sure. What's in a game?
Amelia Antrim 5:51
Wow. Since this is a new game, yes. Can you give us a quick like elevator pitch for the game, the genre, the setting, that kind of thing.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 5:58
You know Miguel, Miguel was does a pretty good job of this, but I'll say he invented he invented the term modern lasers, which I quite like because it sounds like something that already existed but it really didn't. I think he actually made that up. But I hope I did otherwise Chris you ever did, but I know
Miguel Lopez 6:15
you I think I did. Yes, I'm gonna say I did until someone in the comments tells me that I did we like
Tom Parkinson Morgan 6:19
to say we like to say lots is a is a modern blazes met game. And it's about it's an RPG about customizing and making terrifying war machine. And the implications of that are in and it combines very narrative just outside combat stuff. And then tactical combat, which is its main focus, I'd say. And I know it has a heavy emphasis on on customization and like building your mech and making the mech, the mech you want to pilot and you have like your relationship with your mech and stuff. And that's kind of how that's sort of what the game is. But is that right, Michaela? Is that how you pitch to somebody?
Miguel Lopez 6:57
Yeah, essentially, it's a it's a it's a A rules light on the narrative side and rules heavy on the tactical side. And I think our intent followed the germ of the idea, which was a, you know, it began, I think, is a lot of having had to do a lot of time catching up in the next gen because I was not very familiar with it at all. And probably a year or so after we started writing Lancer. I feel like it starts where some mecha genre starts in that the we wanted to do something that was cool. And then the more we spent writing the the sort of mechanical systems of it and certainly speaking for myself on the narrative side, we realized that we had something that was we could say a lot with it.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 7:46
Yeah. Or at least Yeah, at least set up a system and in a setting that that players at their tables could could start to unpack a lot. I mean, we both like science fiction or McGill ins in the sense of that, like Hard sci fi like speculative fiction, but we also quite like, we like we like we like weird space fantasy. And, you know, we like Star Wars and stuff. So that kind of appealed to us a lot and we vibe on a lot of the same things I'd say. Right, right, Lopez, like you may have similar ideas about so. So that's, you know, that's kind of we like that sense of like discovery and mystery. And I'd also like to say so, so if you wonder the distinction what we actually do, and I like I'm like, I'm actually if you're listening, I'm actually pointing to the other window where Miguel is right now. And my screen doesn't make any sense because it's a visual bit and no one will get it. But Miguel Miguel is basically handled like 90% of the writing for the game like the the fluff and the narrative and like all the other the setting and all that stuff. And I've handled maybe 90% of the mechanical side of the game, and we kind of touched base and we sort of have a comment. station through the our respective mediums and then sort of build the game that way. So, a lot of the way the game got built would be I would write some something in the, you know, rules that were was named something weird like, like para Kozel blight cannon, and then Miguel will be like, what does that mean? You have to figure that out and put it in the story. That's how the game got created. So, so from that perspective, if you want, if you want to think about that Miguel did a lot of the setting stuff and we're both sort of involved in in the creation of the game originally. But I think it was also very important to us to return to my original point that Lance was fundamentally an optimistic sci fi setting, because both of us are quite tired of dystopias. And and we think we think we got enough of it. So we wanted to write something it was a little more upbeat or not upbeat, but but hopeful, I
Miguel Lopez 9:52
don't think yeah, I think there's there's to say it's upbeat. And that's what I break with Tom on that one. But not It sounds like actually cut them off as we're starting to agree on this. No, I didn't mean I didn't Yeah,
Tom Parkinson Morgan 10:04
I didn't mean to be I mean, I mean like hopeful optimistic, you know, not not cynical about about not cynical.
Miguel Lopez 10:11
Yeah. And certainly the elevator pitch part of it is that it's Lancers rules light and tactics heavy with deep customization and and sort of character prompting and story prompting or built into the mechanics.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 10:25
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we it's very important for us to that we put a lot of flavor in the game mechanics themselves, and and the character parts, which you'll see if you read through the game. We like to I like to joke with people that last is the only RPG that puts lore in the item descriptions, which is a Dark Souls joke. But it does, it does do that. So
Ryan Boelter 10:48
that's amazing. So what sort of things do we need to play this game then?
Tom Parkinson Morgan 10:53
d 20. And a D six. And, you know, you can get a character sheet or a sheet of paper or a cool free app. Comic Con, and you can build a character in it.
Miguel Lopez 11:02
And the book of life and the rules, the rules. Yeah.
Amelia Antrim 11:05
The game game designers you should like mentioned, there's a game involved.
Miguel Lopez 11:11
There is there is a product that you can buy.
Miguel Lopez 11:15
Or you can get for free actually. Oh, yeah, yeah, we have. So one of the things that was very important for us is the being able to offer this. So we knew early on in the production process of lanser, when it actually became a production process and not something that was just a hobby for us to work on that we would be releasing it digitally. And if it was going to be released digitally, that means we control it basically, in up until the point that we actually published it online. So we figured both in the interest of making the game accessible to folks regardless of price point. And and ensuring that basically everyone would be able to play it and play the official version that we'd always have the free version. Now I am a strong believer in putting things on the internet for free,
Tom Parkinson Morgan 12:02
which is kind of a weird, I don't know, I could talk about it at length. But I think that the nature of the internet is one of the two strengths is the ability to like people to participate in things and to form communities around games or media, what have you. And so I thought it'd be really important to us to have an open development process. So we always had the game available for free online. And even today, the core rules of the game was still free, completely free. And the only thing that you have to pay for in the in the full game is the MPC creation rules and the setting stuff. So if you thinking about it this way, if you have a game of like five, five people in your group, only one person needs to buy the game. And it and it's a $25 PDF, is that right? Yeah. So So think about it that way chip in five bucks, you know, each person you get it, you get a copy of the game, you'd be good to go.
Ryan Boelter 12:56
Yeah, and this is a this is a 400 Plus page PDF. It is Yes, I love it.
Amelia Antrim 13:00
And it's beautiful. Like the art. The art. Oh my god. Thank you very much. Okay,
Tom Parkinson Morgan 13:06
I did most of it. So I you know, I have to go.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 13:11
Unknown Speaker 13:13
cool. Love it.
Amelia Antrim 13:15
So part of having that open development process is how you ended up with Comic Con. Correct?
Tom Parkinson Morgan 13:20
Yeah, yeah. Well, so basically we had this incredible community that sort of appeared because Lopez and I put it on the web on in Google Drive actually, just for a long time. It's just a link you could go grab it for him and
Unknown Speaker 13:31
his early days
Tom Parkinson Morgan 13:32
Yeah, and and yeah, unformatted Yeah, just like really just roll Expedia. Yeah, yeah. And people for grabbing and playing it eventually we found quite by accident like about year in development process or or less than that, even that people were playing the game to a high degree and it was quite large disco community was playing it. And so we discovered lots of people through that and did lots of play testing. Got lots of feedback and One of the people in there was making a free app for for use with game called Comic Con. And so we ended up bringing them on and officially funding it, which is probably one of the best decisions we've made, I think right? is absolutely, yeah. Yeah. And it's Yes, it's free. It's freely available. And it's an excellent character builder app, and it does make character building much easier than just doing it by hands even though by hand, it's not too complicated, but I broke the game, so maybe it's easy if
Amelia Antrim 14:27
you've looked at it for a long time. Yeah. What kind of themes and stories did you want to explore with this game? I know you've mentioned a little bit that you want to kind of be hopeful more than dystopian. Um, were there other themes and like ideas that you you wanted this game to really embody?
Tom Parkinson Morgan 14:45
I'll also briefly and then Miguel will answer like because he has more his jam. But um, we we went through when we very first wrote the game, we just had this crazy idea to write games together. We think we wanted to think about like, several core concepts that game which was Yeah, it was like it was optimistic that we didn't want a setting that was going to be like sci fi where there's a bunch of like rubber forehead aliens in it. Like it's just people. We don't like the way the other RPG handle race stuff because it's very difficult to talk about, you know, you know, and and so we didn't like that we didn't like that. So, you know, it just ends up being different varieties of people you know, with various rubber forehead makeup and stuff. So I think we agree there'll be no aliens in the setting. Mostly Right, right. Life is like I was thought that was Yeah, we can talk about that later. But yeah, like, like, we decided that we wanted to answer questions about like people's relationship with technology, and warfare. And it was also important to us that the central power in the setting was not like some kind of evil empire and was actually like trying to do the right thing. And the fundamental That there was an element of like, of like, positivity about that I think was was very important early on. And those are the questions I was interested in as like a fan of sci fi. But mostly I just wrote cool cool names and stuff and let Miguel figure a lot of it out. But uh, but it was kind of a conversation as we went because I would write stuff then he would write stuff based on that stuff. And then I'd go back and adjust what I was working on based on the themes that he was pulling out, but he was the guy who lead the lead. So I'll let him answer a bit more the that's my sort of short shortlist.
Miguel Lopez 16:30
Yeah, sure. So I mean, to echo sort of a lot of what Tom said we, you know, Lancer, is an interesting thing for me to work on. And that's often a challenging thing for me to work on. I'm a I'm a writer who's used to writing in like short stories or novel length work. Prior to Lancer, I was in an MFA. So my only real I guess you could call it writing experience was writing you know, things that I had thought control over stories that I well as much as you can have total control of the story I had total control over it. So when we, when you sat down to work on Lancer, it began as something that we thought was cool. And the more we discussed, I guess the why behind, you know why we thought certain aspects of it were cool, we decided or I certainly decided as someone who's going to be doing the bulk of the writing, setting, that we needed to have a setting that was aware of the fact that basically war and Empire is not good. Despite the fact that we are asking our players to engage, you know, in violence, generally, in relation to our opposition to
Tom Parkinson Morgan 17:47
other you know, in a setting like extent or extent, Imperial aims. Yeah, we want we want people to get him like cool robots. And then like, think about wider and a cool robot, and And like Yeah,
Miguel Lopez 18:02
because Lancers is I think like, despite the sort of the very sort of flash appearance of flashy appearance of you know, the art and the machines and the sort of hard science fiction aesthetic with soft science fiction science and and the sort of appeal and mystery and excitement of it all at its core, in the sense sort of sounds cliche, it sounds like anything a novelist would say, or a writer would say is such a writer whether they're writing games or stories or whatever, not to distinguish between the two but it's the distinguish between medium you know, Lancer is fundamentally a story about people. And yeah, AND and OR is a setting that is concerned about people and sort of the systems of power that they operate in. And and and the ones that they operate in opposition to I think there's there's a, it's hard for me to say what Lancer is about, because it feels to me like there's so much much room to tell stories in it. Yeah. Stories Yeah. To ones that are are much smaller we made sure there was open for people to kind of do their own thing and but we wanted to make sure that the tone of the setting you know set the expectations for the kind of game is going to be it was your ambition wasn't to us yeah yeah there's there's a baseline tone to the setting that I hope sort of defines Yeah. Through people reading
Miguel Lopez 19:28
the optional behind the paywall
Tom Parkinson Morgan 19:32
what we have what we have a lot of in the flavor sexy character options to that Yeah,
Miguel Lopez 19:36
I guess it's my hope that that in reading the setting people can find out what I guess Tom and I want Lancer to be about which is is is about a fundamentally if there's a distinction to be made between hopeful and optimistic, a fundamentally hopeful setting where the
Miguel Lopez 19:57
The only bad guys are Are are undeniably human. And the only good guys so far are also undeniably human.
Miguel Lopez 20:08
Yeah. Yeah, we didn't, we didn't so despite the
Miguel Lopez 20:10
fact Yeah, that is again about giant robots and how you build them and how you highlight them. I think I would hope that that we've written something that is still concerned about the people inside the machine. both literally and, and somatically
Tom Parkinson Morgan 20:26
I guess, I think the medically I think that's what we're kind of going for. I think it's important because a lot of RPG games out there today to me, I think, to both of us, like, have a lot of unexamined assumptions about you know, colonialism and, and and, you know, race and all kinds of weird stuff that are kind of rooted in some interesting. Yeah, we want our in economics in the in everything. Yeah, we kind of wanted to avoid that and make something that there was an implicitly trying to ask you to be a little bit self reflective about Getting into a giant war machine but also have a good time while doing it
Miguel Lopez 21:06
not only to not only place people in the context of something where there's like these massive powers that are you know on the one hand unassailable and and and all over the place and that you're implicated in supporting by using their equipment in the in the game right to normally have have have that in there but have you like be able to fight back and and have that be be meaningful even if ultimately the scale that individual no matter how powerful they are can affect is still relatively small
Tom Parkinson Morgan 21:39
The game also ask you to think a lot about your goals I think in the structure of the game and so it's it's always asking like what do you want to do with this like giant God like walking death armory that you've constructed? So and yeah, i think i think i think it does a pretty decent job of that. I've actually written a lot of games and what I always found was the I tried to make setting less games, but I actually found that never works. Because setting to me is very important because it sets a degree of tone and expectation for the game. Even if it doesn't have any mechanical implications that the setting itself will say, yeah, this is a game about whatever. That's important.
Amelia Antrim 22:17
Yeah, it gives you like that box to work within which I know for a lot of people me included as a is important because it's hard when you have like this wide open thing. Right? Just figure out where to even start.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 22:28
Yeah, I never got into
Tom Parkinson Morgan 22:32
games like fates, because it's just too like unspecified from you. doesn't doesn't give me anything to work with, you know?
Unknown Speaker 22:41
Ryan Boelter 22:42
That makes a lot of sense. So what do character specifically do then, in this game?
Tom Parkinson Morgan 22:49
In the game, the game mechanically is about building building a giant robot and then running missions with a giant robot. And that's it. That's that's what the game is about. It's very focused. Okay, and it has it has a defined place structure, which is you go on a mission, you have a goal in that mission, you may may not accomplish it. You get more resources after the mission and you go into downtime and you figure out what your character does during the downtime then you answer the next mission. So it's, it's, it tells you directly like, this is the way the gameplay
Ryan Boelter 23:20
I'm getting. Like a mech warrior, combined with night witches, right?
Tom Parkinson Morgan 23:25
Oh, sure. Yeah, the the most direct inspiration for it was blades in the dark, actually. Because I love how the game cycle in that game is like, you're going to go in a heist, and then you're going to go into downtime. And that's going to lead back into a heist. And we know that and so we can build a narrative around that and I think Oh, that's interesting.
Miguel Lopez 23:43
Yeah. Yeah, there's a narrative cycle and
Tom Parkinson Morgan 23:46
there is very much and that's the game that's what the game is about.
Miguel Lopez 23:50
Yeah, as a system it's it's it's fun because I think there's right now's a great time for indie RPG us, especially for RPG that do a ton of different things and not necessarily only combat so i think it's it's while we do have narrative side we do have downtime actions Lancer is definitely like, do a lot of fighting in it. And yeah, it's it's
Tom Parkinson Morgan 24:10
Yeah, it's kind of it's very much focused. I mean, the majority of the rules and stuff are about tactical combat so you know, I can't lie to you and sell you the game is about examining your feelings. It's about destroying
Miguel Lopez 24:21
things with your giant room. Not that that's a bad thing. There's a can't swear on this podcast, no entire quote. But there was a poet who told me that you'll feel a whole lot better if you can shoot off the and then bleep a lot of this out but the oppressors head basically. And and, you know, I'm thinking about like, our game is very combat focused, but I don't think necessarily that that is a bad thing. Hopefully in the setting and hopefully players
Amelia Antrim 25:01
We recently, we recently released an episode but we covered the concept of the eight kinds of fun. And one of those kinds of fun is challenge which is basically like you'd like to go into a thing and you like to beat something sure you want to go up against a monster or a boss or something like that, and you want you want to win. And there's this feeling sometimes I think, especially in the indie space that like RPG is are not for winning, which, you know, I agree with, but there's also the idea that like, within that you can beat something and you can beat the odds or you know, like have your combat experiences and for a lot of people, that is a thing that is really satisfying to them like that is their preferred type of fun. It's like go up against this thing, and I beat the challenge.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 25:47
Yeah. And you know, violence and you know, giant mech fights are very good source of drama. So I think that's what we what we enjoy, but I also like there's the aspect to which I enjoy which is like the sense of like ownership you have over this like giant war machine you you inhabit because you've built yourself and stuff. And in a sense, like meck meck anime and mech like media is always about, like being really empowered, you know, and like learning how to how to how to use those powers. And I think that's that's also an aspect of it, which is quite fun. Oh, yeah.
Amelia Antrim 26:20
What is something that you feel is particularly unique about this game that sets it apart from other games about Mex even or just games in general. Um,
Tom Parkinson Morgan 26:31
I think we've paid a lot of attention to feel and flavor in Luxor. And it's very important to me and look as from the very beginning that the again, we talked earlier about, like the tone was communicated very clearly, but also that when you picked character options, and when you do stuff in monster, it feels very satisfying, both in terms of like, actually playing the game, but in terms of like, even just picking gear for your character or making character builds. Like I've mentioned before, we have flavor txt in almost every character option so even if it's not just like you're picking a choice from a list, like you're, you're actually reading about the mech that you're about to take parts from as you're building your character. So we wanted to really immerse people in that and I think that's something that our game does does very well compared to other games. And also, I think we have a very well tested games and it's very balanced. And the sense of the combat and everything is like very tactical, but it's pretty fast paced. And I think a lot of a lot of games get very bogged down in like my new detail when it comes to that stuff and I think you've done a fairly good job of for finding a time so it's a nice experience where you feel like you have a lot of options and it's very satisfying to play. Because I love the love of tactics games I love ex con you guys played x comma two or x comps one of my favorites. It sounds like one of my favorite games ever and Miguel knows I used to I used to play like Iron Man and runs that and just like carousel every five minutes, my favorite guy got you know easily. Save scum. Sometimes Yeah,
Miguel Lopez 28:00
yeah, that was my strategy. Yeah, yeah.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 28:04
And I love that stuff I love I like female like Fire Emblem and with like tactics stuff I love. I love games like that. So that was a direct and I think not enough games an RPG space aside from, you know games that are d&d for he derived or inspires really pay attention to that tactic side of the game and try to refine it into something that is like, balanced, playable, and like and like very refined, you know? Yeah. Like, like, if you're going to have a game in a game, make it a game. And that sounds a little redundant, but there are certain games out there. I won't mention tnd fivey that have a tactical combat components to them, but don't really examine why that's the case. And don't make any effort to make it particularly interesting. Yeah. So we've tried to try to do a good job of that. I hope. I hope we have people have certainly given us good feedback about it. So yeah,
Miguel Lopez 28:57
yeah, I think one of the things that's been really interesting is that People are often confused about Mansour because they come into it thinking that the the I would say, I'd hope that the setting is something that is unique about an answer and the setting as seen player facing options, which I find funny because sometimes people certainly and like new folks to the fan discord which we can shout out at the end of this on Twitter often gets confused about the setting because they expected to be far more grim. They do are far more cruel. Yeah. Then Then I think either Tom or I have written to be they really want to be cynical. They really do
Tom Parkinson Morgan 29:37
Miguel Lopez 29:37
Yeah. And yeah, I don't know how to tell them other than to tell them playing like it's not. If you're reading something cynical into the setting, it's either i think it's it's not a problem. I would say I would say like having a at least a non cynical setting is is relatively unique when it comes to a game that is you know, In many respects about power struggle
Miguel Lopez 30:03
or insightful in science fiction,
Amelia Antrim 30:06
especially something that has such a focus on combat so yeah,
Miguel Lopez 30:09
yeah, yeah and like death is a thing in our game too which is which is another thing that like as a writer, you know, thinking about how you know, form following function I guess the sort of the story and mechanics together the setting and the mechanics together you know, that's why I think I pause sometimes I say I don't know if that answers an optimistic game but it's a hopeful game
Miguel Lopez 30:30
because you can still die
Tom Parkinson Morgan 30:32
Yeah, you can you can find lots of it's fairly hard and we actually had a conversation about this because I had a I wanted to include a mechanic in the game. I was like, I mean, we need we need to have an option of people who want to be able to bring a character back it's died some like so we have to bring cloning into this. And like I was like, I don't want to include like, like people come back from the dead I'm like, well, doesn't have to be the original character. So lots of has this take where like, if you if you die for character dies, the dead mean that person is dead, but You could play a clone of them just just once. But But then we also talk about the impact that has in in the world in a universe and the fact that cluding exists and it's like really sketchy and like, it's all kinds of caught, you have to put on the publication's chart, everything happens. And like all this other stuff is spun off from it. So, you know, we it. Yeah, we, I guess I guess we tried to think about the implications of things, certain things existing or not existing in the game universe as well, which is,
Miguel Lopez 31:28
in part why the book is like 450 pages. Yeah. Yeah.
Ryan Boelter 31:34
Yeah. That's amazing. So we talked a lot about the history game here in there throughout the conversation, but wanted to dive a little bit further into that a little bit more of the specifics. So way back at the start, where did this idea come from initially?
Tom Parkinson Morgan 31:56
Well, Lopez and I playing d&d, Playing d&d and then we were driving like
Amelia Antrim 32:01
this games Dhamma.
Unknown Speaker 32:05
d&d needs more Maxwell. Well, we
Tom Parkinson Morgan 32:08
actually met Miguel playing d&d, third edition, middle and middle school.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 32:15
And we played a bunch of fourth edition in college. And so like, it's always kind of been a thing between us. And we were driving to go get fitted for suits for a friend's wedding. And in the car, he goes, like, I want to play in that game, but on any met games out there that aren't like, proprietary games, or like apocalypse world hacks. And I was like, well, we could just write one. You know? Yeah. And at the time, I just finished writing an apocalypse world hack from my comic, I made an RPG for my comic. The people will ask me about, they were like, I want to write a d&d hack your comic and I was like, I'm not going to do that. But I will do an apocalypse world ones. And I actually published it on my Patreon and you know, got laid out and everything. And those like that was not too bad that was pretty fun. So I ran it by Miguel was like hey, let's just read the game Let's do it. And I'd like an idiot I decided to write it from scratch instead of like hacking into the existing system.
Amelia Antrim 33:12
Tom Parkinson Morgan 33:13
yeah. years later there we are. But it was very fun because we
Miguel Lopez 33:18
did this specific process to was was Tom wood right and we've we've said it a couple times but but just for to keep it concise in one section dealt with post processing, Tom would write it would often work in this way where Tom would write a set of rules and a set of equipment and pass it to me with just the name just sometimes just or sometimes just the the the sort of function of what it's supposed to be. Yeah, and I would write initially just fluff so just sort of like dialogue or brief description about it. Because I think both of us really thought that initially having never played Dark Souls, but Tom have Tom had I played with floor and he sort of wanted that that sort of sense of being able to find, again, it's my understanding that it works in this way. And the game you can you can sort of find the lower season throughout the world. And yeah, and if Lancer at that early stage of the world was just basically player options and rules, we wouldn't we would stick the world in those. Yeah. So development basically continued like that for, for the whole at least the whole first year of us working on this because it was it was also a side thing that we're working on.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 34:30
Yeah, it's very much a secondary project for both. Yeah, yeah. And sort of remains a secondary project for me in a weird way.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 34:38
But it's a Yeah, it was like a side thing we're doing and then and then basically, as soon as we found that there was a huge community playing the game because we put out for free, we began to collect a lot of play testing feedback. And so we became was serious about making our divisions in the game and finishing up for it and Miguel actually began to write like an enormous amount of material for the for the game and for like, like a lot of the stuff we're gonna be talking In the upcoming year, and the girl actually wrote, like a year ago, and
Miguel Lopez 35:05
I think the earliest versions are probably late 2017. Or we had a number of stretch goals that we hit during our Kickstarter that will, our goal is to publish them sort of quarterly as this year comes on. We'll see how these were all written. Yeah, yeah.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 35:20
Yeah, yeah. Yes. And then basically, it came to the point where we were just like, Well, what do we want to try to finish this properly and publish it? And we decided, yeah, probably a good idea. I mean, there's enough interest in the game has a huge amount of buzz about it. And it was actually for a long time. Despite the game not even being properly laid out or finished or anything. We had a ton of people playing it. So we decided to take its Kickstarter back in May. And that was a very harrowing process, but it went really well. So and the route Yeah, yeah. And that was the that's the development process pretty much a very open the kept it very open. Huge amount of participation from people on the discord. people emailing us and saying it's messages being like this is broken. This is wrong. This is going okay
Miguel Lopez 36:03
one thing one thing I do want to say about the development process though is it was certainly something that Tom and I had to make time for outside of our main things because at the time I was working food service and a radio job is worried and I would write I would write Lancer when I should have been like, doing side work or paying paying attention to my, to my, to my levels. And Tom would find time outside of work, not as comic as his main thing. So yeah, it was a it was a risk that we that we took to take it more seriously. And it was definitely a risk that was supported by a healthy community that actually invited us to join them at that a server just which they already set up. And
Tom Parkinson Morgan 36:49
I think to a degree, like the kind of thing that I like to do, which is to like be very public and let people will consume stuff for free and then participate and then ask them later to support you. You can't really do that as a primary gig for a while. That's the one caveat I have to add is that you have to be doing something else. Right? You know?
Tom Parkinson Morgan 37:08
Because Yeah, don't quit your day job.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 37:11
It was fun though.
Amelia Antrim 37:12
Ask, like, how do you maintain that momentum? Because like, that's, that's the thing that I found really hard like podcasting. Easy enough, because you have a release schedule, right? Like you've said, it's gonna come out every week, right? Um, but I know as I try and like dip my toes into game design, I'm finding that like, making time for that or keeping up the momentum of it, especially when you're working with someone else to have to have like, find time to kind of collaborate on it's really difficult.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 37:41
Well, collaboration from the golden was fairly easy because we actually live together so we literally do things like go across the whole and like banging on the door and be like, what do you what do you think about this like, but but like, in terms of finding time, might be different from McGill? Because I am a workaholic. And I've also been doing I've been working for myself, like independently self employed comic artist for four years now. And so I'm used to doing I'm used to doing that, like I am, to a degree extremely self motivated, but that's very, very difficult. Yeah. And it's a very, very, it's like a very hard lifestyle to like, adjust to and like not have it be unhealthy. So I wouldn't recommend it. That's essentially my, that's essentially my, my explanation is just like, and you know, the thing I'd say is that you need to make it by making it a public process, we automatically had an audience that was waiting for updates on things. So it
Amelia Antrim 38:40
sounds like that was like a good motivating factor. Like checking in with you like, when's more stuff gonna come out? What are you gonna fix that
Tom Parkinson Morgan 38:47
if you want to publish anything, you must do it to a degree that people will read and participate in your work.
Ryan Boelter 38:53
There's no other way to myself right now.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 38:57
You can't You can't keep it to yourself. I know. People who do game development or comics whatever they never published anything or put out even for people to check out and and to me that you know you're not actually doing producing that until you expose it to other people in my opinion I don't know Miguel What do you think?
Miguel Lopez 39:17
What's your yeah I mean let's see how to keep up the motivation to work on Lancer when it wasn't my main full time job which I have to fully acknowledge is a combination of massive luck and and and and hard work. When it wasn't my full time job it was my escape
Miguel Lopez 39:39
I so as
Miguel Lopez 39:42
about the tenants are working in Lancer was just in a in a sort of in the year after I'd finished up with my MFA. So I was very used to pulling long hours writing and I was working I was waiting tables and and working at a radio station and sort of those two jobs. I would Work all morning from there was a morning show that I was working on. I said work on morning for maybe five in the morning till about usually 11 to noon. And then I'd run to my restaurant job and work from about four to 10 or 11 not kind of buffer not counting close. So Lancer was my escape. Lancer was the thing that I could write. A lot of stuff got left on the cutting room floor because there'd be a lot of frustrations right into it. But it was also my place to to continue one of the things that I wanted to do, which is right. Narrative fiction, and if I could do it anywhere. Lancer seemed like a good bet because, you know, I was working on it with a friend of mine. Tom
Amelia Antrim 40:49
Yeah, these are friends. That Tom guy I don't know. I know
Miguel Lopez 40:56
that all the time. So I love But I
Miguel Lopez 41:03
so it was basically it was my escape it was my refuge it was the thing that I could work on to feel like a human being. My my radio job was was great and I cared deeply about it, but it was incredibly difficult. And it was all it was for a news.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 41:18
They never was crazy. Yeah.
Miguel Lopez 41:20
I was working working
Miguel Lopez 41:25
for not a lot of money. paid for. Yeah. For a second. Yeah, but Oh boy. So so it was tough.
Miguel Lopez 41:35
That was tough. And then Food Services is food service. I mean, solidarity with everyone out there punching the clock on that I've worked that I've worked in various restaurants ever since. All through college, basically, and a little bit in high school too. And it was you know, it's hard to to to interact with people while you're doing work that people think is unskilled and labor was a place that I could write out my frustrations, with capitalism, with everything that I saw on the news every day with everything that made life hard for myself and for people that I loved. And it was also a way to write in that hope, you know, what does a better world look like? What does an optimistic and I know I said, it's not optimistic, but hopeful. But what does the future look like? Even one you know that that is that is undeniably sort of couched in a lot of fears and anxieties that I think that I have about the present world and then I think a lot of folks have about the present world. Lancer, in the early days, tend to bring this
Tom Parkinson Morgan 42:44
up. It's a real millennial. It's a real millennial RPG ism. It's pretty terrible. Yeah, I yeah. I mean,
Miguel Lopez 42:49
Miguel Lopez 42:51
Yeah. So in the early days, it was it was very much like it was it was it was writing, writing at the mouth of a fire hose, you know, like, it was actually Very easy to write although it was not healthy, I should have been sleeping. You know, I should have been hydrating and going to the gym or going outside, but I would spend time writing Lancer instead. And and I think the fact that both of us didn't treat it as a project, but we treated it as as as a hobby and as you know, a shared labor of love until we we sort of realized over the course of a couple conversations towards the end of 2018 I want to say that we actually had something that we had a following and we had a little bit of time to to try and make it be more than a hobby. So I you know, I don't know I like I hate to say that the process of writing Lancer was one that was just a process perseverance and grinding at it. Because as someone who like there's
Amelia Antrim 44:04
something to be said for that, though, because I think that that's a thing that I've started getting out of the projects that the couple of projects that I've been working on is this like. So like, obviously, if you have an MFA, like you're very passionate about writing and those kinds of part, like you don't do that kind of thing, unless you are really super into it. And I think, like, some of what I've found that I'm getting out of mine is like, I have a degree in political science. Yeah, my job is, like, uses some of those skills, but it doesn't deal with like the politics part of it. But like, I started doing like world building projects and have pulled out like all of my political science books to be like, okay, here's what the government structure looks like, and how these things interact. And it's like, these are things that I'm really passionate about, but I don't get to deal with in my regular life. And so part of that hobby, too, is just like, Oh, right. These are things that I really love and wants to participate in.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 44:58
Here's the problem. Here's the problem. Is that I think everyone that comes through a project with this comes through out of passion. But also there is a certain amount of discipline you have to have about to make a project like this, especially when the slight edge, I think a lot of people fall off and passion kind of exits the situation and it becomes work. And, and that's where the perseverance that McGill is talking about actually does become very important. But the huge one of the huge things that kept us motivated, I guess, was the fact that like, today, you can do a thing you know, like, like work on a game by yourself, take it to Kickstarter and publish yourself with no intermediary. And so there is no gatekeeping doesn't exist. So you you're able to actually take a project to completion. If you want to do that. It's It's not easy to do. But the venue been open for you is like a it's like, it's always been a huge motivating factor for me personally, that I can take ideas that I have and turn them into something that can become finished and complete and people will participate. reading stuff is like a massive motivating factor for me. And it largely because of the internet, I don't think you would have this kind of, you know, flourishing of the indie RPG scene that you see today. If like a site like itch, itch didn't exist, for example.
Miguel Lopez 46:16
Yeah, I think that to to echo what Tom said, one of the things that came around to to is there's there's a certain amount of discipline that you need and I think that that you know, to work through when it's difficult or the discipline to come back to something after you've set it aside for a little while. It's hard. Yeah, and and I you know, I don't
Amelia Antrim 46:43
learn skill like it's a life it's a life skill like same as like time management or Yeah, like that. The thing that you have to practice
Tom Parkinson Morgan 46:50
it's it's very cool.
Miguel Lopez 46:52
Yeah, yeah. I think if you if you really do it, and and as your you know,
Miguel Lopez 46:58
the best advice that I hated to hear that I've heard from every one who's finished a project is the only way to do a thing is just to do it. And it's a, you know, like, it's hard to hear that. As someone who I write, I tend to write more passionate, focused. And disciplined is hard for me. The discipline to return to a thing over and over and over and push through when it's difficult. I'm actually I'm experiencing that now. I was just talking about that today with a friend of mine about current stuff or Lancer current narrative stuff. But Dang it, the only way to do something is to do it. Yeah, that's true. Yeah. Yep. And people really have to have a community to find a community and have other other folks, whether it's on the creative side or on the on the reader side, that's one of the best things to do. Yeah. And if you can't find that community, to do what you can to try and create it, I think is also very helpful.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 48:00
People often asked me like how do you how'd you get how'd you get into comics? Like how do you practice comics and like publish comics professionally? And how did you get the point? You're like, well, I'm about 180 pages in my comic right now. Because
Tom Parkinson Morgan 48:15
that's how you were maybe a
Miguel Lopez 48:16
maybe a decade before and yeah, that's how that's how you get good
Miguel Lopez 48:22
Tom Parkinson Morgan 48:23
that's pretty much it. So the stuff
Ryan Boelter 48:25
Miguel Lopez 48:27
but that's a good thing is that Sorry, sorry. To end on an optimistic note that's I think that's that's the good thing right is that it's not hard I mean, the advice that you need to hear the tools he had some some particularly difficult there's no like course that you need to buy there's no book that's going to teach you how to be a good writer right? I mean, read obviously read because reading makes you a better a better writer, I think. But but there's no secrets that the is there no secret to unlock. It's just yeah, just do it. The legendary
Amelia Antrim 48:58
barrier to entry is yeah lower than it has ever been, I think
Miguel Lopez 49:02
Yeah, yeah. I mean,
Tom Parkinson Morgan 49:04
yeah, the legendary Bob Ross said that talent is applied experience,
Miguel Lopez 49:11
which is true.
Tom Parkinson Morgan 49:12
So you know, just just keep at it, whatever you're doing. You get there eventually.
Amelia Antrim 49:22
Thank you for joining us for part one of this character creation series. We'll be back in part two picking up right where we left off.
Ryan Boelter 49:29
Character Creation Cast is a production of the one shot Podcast Network and can be found online at www dot Character Creation Cast calm, head to the website to get more information on our hosts this show and even our press kit. Character Creation Cast can also be found on Twitter at Creation Cast Born on our Discord server at discord Character Creation cast.com i one of your hosts, Ryan bolter, and I can be found on twitter at Lord Neptune or on my At lordan Neptune calm. Our other host Emily antrum can be found on twitter at ginger reckoning. Music for this episode is used with a Creative Commons license, or with permission from the podcast they originated from. Further information can be found within the show notes. Our main theme music is hero remix by Steve combs, and it's used with a Creative Commons license. This podcast is owned by us under Creative Commons. This episode was edited by Ryan boltar. Further information for the game systems used and today's guests can be found in the show notes. If you'd like to leave us a rating or review. We have links to various review platforms out there including Apple podcasts in our show notes. Also, check the show notes for links to our other projects. Thanks for joining us. Remember, we find that the best part of any role playing game is character creation. So go out there and create some amazing people. We will see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai