The past few weeks have been pretty crazy for me, as shall next couple I'm certain. As of a few minutes ago however, today probably marks the most significant day in this period of chicanery. I'll save the news for the end of this post, where I'll just list a few of the things that have and will be going on.
My previous post was on the subject of Homestuck, and the new direction I am taking Or8 in the hopes of evolving it into its own thing. Since then I've worked a fair bit on adapting the rules of Fate to my setting and altering Or8 as well. I've made a good bit of progress on both fronts, though admittedly between all the revisions and things left to address it feels akin to unraveling a particularly tangled ball of wires. It's a slight bit overwhelming, but bit by bit I'm beginning to see the underpinnings of the final product. Now it's mostly a matter of bringing in the old material into the new, and rigorously editing it until all the kinks are worked out. I imagine I'll still be working on it for some time before I really have anything worthy of showing here, but I'm confident that some day I'll have made something I can be proud of with this.
I've mentioned Pathfinder quite a bit in my recent posts, since it's recently been very significant to my development as a game designer. That said, my latest milestone is as a player. As of last Saturday, I completed my first adventure campaign, having aided in striking a final blow to the undead pharaoh Hakotep of Mummy's Mask. Granted because of the sheer power of our party, the outcome was never really in doubt, but it was deeply satisfying nonetheless. Mummy's Mask is notable in that it was the first adventure path I ever played (and with the same GM), though the first time our campaign ended with the final boss of the second book. I joined this new party at the start of the third book, so it was effectively both my first game and my first completed game start-to-finish (and first completed game overall). It may not mean much practically speaking, but it holds a fair bit of significance for me personally. I'm quite pleased; it was a fun ride and I'm glad to have seen it to the end.
Though I still haven't succeeded in finding a full time job in the industry, I've been working fairly consistently thanks to the Crowdsourced Testing Company. As of last week, I received my first payment from them. Though it may not be full time work in the traditional sense, it's kept my hands busy, my mind sharp, and my pantry full, and it's doing so in a way that allows me to retain the convenience of my unemployed schedule. I dare say I wouldn't be able to take advantage of all the summer activities otherwise, so in a sense it makes for a good way to take a "year off" without being too draining on my finances. And there is a certain gratification in being frequently told that I am apparently quite good at my job as well. Even if they are just platitudes, they've been giving me enough work and attention that I get the impression there is some truth to them. If nothing else, it tells me that I am indeed still a competent individual, despite the challenge I've had getting into the workforce proper. But given the final subject of this blog entry, those challenges may soon be alleviated...
I've attended the Ottawa International Game Conference since its conception, and wasn't about to break my streak with this one. Despite saying on multiple occasions that I have trouble seeing Ottawa as having a real games industry, I do still hope that it might one day develop one. I know from experience that the potential and the talent are there for it. And that aside, Ottawa is an excellent meeting ground between Toronto and Montreal.
That said, this year felt rather underwhelming by comparison. There was a distinct lack of major industry presence (especially when you consider that the year prior featured major figures from Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa). It was still very enjoyable, and certainly there was value to be had. Nonetheless I can't help but feel like there was a lot of industry pull that was lost. Admittedly I have a good bit of knowledge as to why that is, seeing as I'm well acquainted with a few of the major organisers of both this and previous year's OIGCs, but I won't get into that. In any case, it was much more akin to a social meetup than a conference.
The most noteworthy thing to come from the conference was that I had the opportunity to meet with Liana Kerzner, a feminist advocate and games consultant whom I have a great deal of respect for (I've followed her YouTube Channel for quite some time). I managed to have a few fairly interesting conversations with her and some other attendees at the conference, and learned quite a few things about the games and TV industries from seasoned veterans. To be perfectly honest, the chats over drinks were much more intellectually and personally engaging to me than any lecture could be. Really, that's why I go to these events. Well, that and the networking.
There was one particular conversation I wanted to broach but didn't get the chance to at the conference, which had to do with the interpretation of the D&D alignment system. It's something that Liana has recently assured me she will tackle, and I hope to eventually post my thoughts in a bit of a more organised manner once I hear her response.
I did also get called a "shitty person" by a bartender for not tipping him (while being in the process of procuring a bill from my pocket to do just that), which did kind of sour the last night a bit for me, but that's another story for another time perhaps. Moral of that story is don't name call your customers, even if they are shitty people. That's just bad business.
My Old Home
On another note, this visit to Ottawa marked another fairly major milestone in my life. My mother has for a good while now been planning to sell the house in Ottawa that had been my home since birth (and which only stopped being my home last year). The process had been ongoing since before that, but now we really are reaching the final stages, to the point that my visit this past week might very well have been my final one ever. If things go as planned, it will be sold at some point this summer.
While I know that from a logical standpoint it makes sense (I don't live there and my parents rarely stay there, preferring either the cottage or Florida), I can't help but feel a little sentimentality over saying goodbye to it. Yesterday they even gave away my old piano! Not that I played it much in recent years... I only ever played one song around Christmas time, just as a sort of personal tradition.
It occurred to me that I never even put up the image collection I had made of the house (it was a pseudo-time lapse with a shot at the start of each month for a year). I might still put it up, since it's already done, though at the same time I wonder if I should, considering very soon it won't be my house any longer. I'll have to think about that.
With the past taken care of, there's the subject of what's to come. Toronto is my next big event. To be exact, I'm visiting my dear friend and university partner in crime Andrew Richardson in Oshawa for a week, which will include a visit to Toronto both for TCAF and just to visit the city. It's been a long time since I visited Toronto properly, and that was back when I was too young to properly appreciate it, so it will be interesting to compare it to Montreal and the various other large cities I've been to.
There is also the chance that I'll get a little look into Andrew's job. He's doing some interesting stuff with a motion capture and general media studio, including the Quantum Tunnel YouTube channel with Denis Dyack (yes, THAT Denis Dyack). They've also done some work with game companies, including ones in Montreal, so who knows, it might provide a chance for some more networking. Even if that doesn't turn out to be the case, It's been quite some time since Andrew and I have hung out together, so I am really looking forward to that regardless.
Now then, speaking of university and networking (I know it's a terrible segue. I can smell my pizza getting ready in the oven and it's distracting me from thinking of a better one)...
The final bit of news relates to that application I made to the University of Montreal's "D.E.S.S. en design de jeux" (which translates to Advanced Studies Diploma in Game Design). I'm pleased to announce that as of today, I've been accepted into it for this upcoming fall term!
Needless to say, given the amount of hope I'm putting in this being my foot in the door to the game industry, I'm quite excited with this news. Though I was fairly confident that I would get in (modesty aside, I am a pretty good student), the three month wait did have me feeling a little nervous. With this confirmation however, I know that my biggest and best chance to get into the industry is secured. Obviously it's just a step, and it's by no means a guarantee that I'll get anywhere, but I know that I have the capability and the drive to prove myself with such an outlet, and I'm definitely prepared to put the work in to reach my goal.
In the meantime, I'll probably stick with the testing job for the summer and focus on getting some of my various personal affairs in order. I have enough things that need to be sorted out that I'm hardly going to run out of them before the realities of school and work further limit my free time. At the very least, I can put my energy towards reducing that shock. But for this particular moment, I'm just going to enjoy my little success.