Steve’s Update 8/23/2016

(This column is posted at,, and Steve’s Tumblr)


Wait, so where have I been?

Sorry to vanish for, well, nearly two weeks, but it got crazy.

Short form is I had a crazy 4 weeks with work, book publishing, class, and a bit of illness.  This then compounded with two more weeks of crazy brought about by exhaustion, more work, family and friend issues, and more.  The smoke is finally clearing, but my major reaction is roughly A) WTF happened, and B) Thank goodness for No Man’s Sky and Gravity Falls as a break.

So six weeks so nutty it could be a candy bar.  So what’s up?

  • Way With Worlds Book 2 is now slated for “Q1 2017.”  Getting the editing done has been a challenge – my editor herself got mobbed at work, had technical issues that mangled one of the documents, and more.  After talking, she’s going to take it easy to focus and I’m moving the editing to someone else.  On top of that the holidays are still approaching so I figured best to keep this scheduled within a given quarter – not a month.
  • The Sailor Moon Book, Her Eternal Moonlight, drops in a little over a month!
  • Though I’m insanely busy, I have made some plans for my next writing in the coming 18-24 months.  This is not to overload myself so much as focus it and avoid overloading myself.
  • The Pizza generator has data ready to go (try 100 different ingredients) so now I just need to set something up.  I may not get it done this month but hope to soon.  Not sure what food to do after that – I was considering coffee or pastry, but I also have some notes on a candy bar generator that would be descriptive enough to nearly be used as a recipe . . .
  • I’m waiting to hear what I do at Con-Volution and Kraken-Con.
  • I got accepted to speak at the PMI Silicon Valley symposium.  I’ll be speaking on how to ruin a project.  Yes, you heard that right.
  • I’ve put some of my Civic Diary activity on hold, but am resuming – and have some interesting insights on what it’s like to sign up to help a campaign in the modern age (short form, technology makes things much easier . . . and gives you a bit too many options).

That’s currently it for now.  I’ll be back on top of this, return to Civic Diary, and more in the next few weeks.

– Steve

Steve’s Update 8/10/2016

(This column is posted at,, and Steve’s Tumblr)


Hey everyone, had a busy time with the book launch and so on, so here’s the latest.  I’ve had a crazy few weeks so it’s not much of an update:

  • Way With Worlds Book 2 is now coming out in January.  There’s two reasons: 1) Editing the last book was brutal and with the holidays I wanted more time, and 2) Deploying the book during the holidays is going to mean it’ll get lost among all the activities of the time.
  • I plan to write more books on creativity, since after a few decades of writing, making generators, coaching people, playing RPGs, and more I’ve got a lot to share.  In time of self-publishing, I figure more advice for creatives can’t hurt!
  • The Pizza Generator is in progress.  No delivery date in mind yet, mostly due to the recent craziness, but I think it’ll be worth it.  Pizzas have an interesting philosophy behind them, and when you look them over, you can see patterns.  For instance, there’s all sorts of ways to combine meats and toppings, but going outside the “normal” spices usually involves only one or two.

I hope to have more in the next week or two.

– Steve

Civic Diary 8/8/2016

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

Another brutal week – busy at work and got sick on top of that.  The illness meant . . . I ended up missing that big political meeting I’d been looking forward to.  But still keeping at it.  So here’s what’s been up.

  • Once I realized I was ill, I signed up for a GOTV event I’d been looking at anyway, and informed one of my contacts about my situation.  The event I signed up for is at a political headquarters I’ve visited anyway, so it gives me some foundation.  I found it by simply paying attention to my political emails and finding my candidate (Hillary, as you may guess) was having a GOTV event.  Never discount candidate sites.
  • There’s also a local club I’m part of, so I’ll try to work that into my regular schedule.
  • I’m rolling the GOTV event into another social event as I found someone I know was going anyway.  That’s something I never considered, and now the idea opens up a lot of possibilities – it’s probably more fun and builds better connections.
  • I’ve donated of course.  Money always helps, of course.
  • Still haven’t written my reps lately, which I noticed is a bad habit I’m getting into – I read the news but I respond less.  Maybe you can get too busy looking at the news and too little responsiveness.
  • As for the news, just damn, there’s so much to keep track of lately.  I’m going to need to dial it back on my news obsession.


– Steve

Way With Worlds Book 1 Is Out!

Way With Worlds Book 1 is out. Go get it in print or kindle. Or both if you want.

If you’re new to the book, it’s a giant guide to worldbuilding, from philosophy of setting creation, to sex, to ecology, and more.  There’s advice, exercises, several lame jokes, and some insights that should give you a different view on creating your settings.  It’s designed to be a manual for the important points of making a setting.

After some sixteen years, this is the next stage in my efforts to bring this old work to life!  First rewrites, now books.  It’s fantastic to see this journey turn into something physical people can hold in their hands!

Certainly it’s not done yet – there’s one more book to drop in November/December (probably December). There’s some smaller followup work. But this marks that transition to the new formats.

My mind still goes back to, when in the midst of the rewrites, someone told me how they’d printed my old columns out when they were younger. It had mattered to them that much, and they remembered it that well. That turned my efforts into more of a mission.

Mission isn’t over yet. Book two drops in November/December (probably December honestly). There’s some followup works I want to do.

But today I can note the next stage of Way With Worlds has started, and it has printed pages and the smell of paper, highlighted with fond memories.

So go on, take a look. There’s thoughts on sex and religion, characters and ecology, and of course plenty of philosophy. In this age, where anyone can put out book or a comic, good worldbuilding is needed more than ever – and is where you can stand out.

– Steve

(This column is posted at,, and Steve’s Tumblr)

No Man’s Sky: Documentary And More

(This column is posted at,, and Steve’s Tumblr)

As we eagerly await the drop of No Man’s Sky (OK, I am, but considering my hobbies it’s not surprising), I noticed a thread on reddit discussing the desire for a documentary on the game. I wanted to address this and more.

In short, as I expect NMS to be successful, and certainly groundbreaking even if flawed, and yes, it’s one we should know more about.

But a documentary is just the start of what we should see.

Yes, We Need a Documentary: The game itself has an impressive history, and it’d be great to see it documented. A good documentary should go beyond just the history, but also to the influences and impact – from 70’s concept art to he modern hype. There’s a great story to tell here if done right (and Hello Games could probably make more money selling one).

Management Interview: I deeply treasure the development interviews I read in Game Informer, as I learned a lot from them that I use to this day. I want to see an in-depth discussion in Game Informer if not a professional management magazine on just how Hello Games pulled this off.

Artbook: There’s tempting concept art we’ve seen, so let’s load it all into one book, have interviews with the artists, and sell it. Yes, again more money for Hello Games, but also the artistic insights that could be gained would be impressive. Plus, great coffee table or gift book.

Procedural Lessons: After making NMS, Hello Games teams could probably teach classes in procedural generation. So, do it! Imagine what people could learn with such folks as instructors.

Fandom Study: I’m expecting a huge impact from the game – not Minecraft level, but still intense. I’ve seen the hype, seen fans creating artworks and even role-playing. I’d love to see the fans studied respectfully if it is indeed the hit I expect. Great for general or academia.

So that’s what I want to see come out of NMS documentarianism (there’s a word). Things that will teach us something.

What do you want to see?

– Steve

Curb My Enthusiasm: TF2, Overwatch, PokemonGo, and Work

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

I should be really enthused about games right now.

TF2, which I adore, has added ranking and competition along with smooth new interfaces. Games feel they’re taken a bit more seriously now, as opposed to SwagBag420 dancing around his sentry.

Overwatch, which is amazing, is here. It’s got competitive mode and casual mode and great gameplay.  It’s got a new character coming.

PokemonGo realizes many of my ideas of augmented reality and socialized gaming.  Also it’s Pokemon and it’s highly social.

Except . . . I’m not feeling that enthusiastic about any of them. This is probably a phase, but I realized it said something about me, games, and recreation.

All of these games, for lack of a better word, involve resource and people management. TF2 may require teamwork, but Overwatch’s whole rock-paper-scissors type mechanic means teamwork is overwhelmingly important. PokemonGo is social and can involve various rival gyms and factions – and management.

And lately, busy at work, where I’d probably want to game, I find myself less enthused about two beloved games and one interesting take on the franchise. I should be interested and I’m not.  Then, I realized why.

Because these games are about what I do in real life.

I manage people. I direct resources. I’m used to charging forwad, goal-driven, with a team behind me (or me behind them). Work’s been pretty busy lately, and that in turn means the games that I like to escape with . . . seem a bit to much like what I do for a living.

This is weirder to me as I love games that play to my strengths – especially resource management and planning things. I love games with people. But when I have enough of that at work . . . I don’t want it as much in my games.

Moreso, a lot of these games feel “workish” anyway. PokemonGo has things constantly happening in the real world. Game wiht a team of friends in TF2 or Overwatch and people will inevitably want to play competitive – and TF2’s casual mode still has its leveling. The games are a bit too close to my job right now, and then a bit too workish anyway.

It’s a strange thing to feel and I’m curious to what happens to my interests anyway. I feel a bit bad as I haven’t gamed with various friends online from anywhere from a month to a week and there’s a strange sense of guilt about it. But really fun things that happen to be like my job – and like work – in all the wrong ways is a new one on me.

I assume as work calms down my mind will change.  Heck I sort of want to force myself to play. But for now I feel like I peered around a corner into some demographic issues that could be explored more.

When are fun thngs too much like other things to be fun? What does tht mean for the audience?

– Steve

Civic Diary 7/15/2016

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr)

If you’ve been following my Civic Diary for any time you know one of my goals as an engaged citizen is to get connected to politics.  My attempts to connect with local groups was pretty scattershot, much of it because people kept moving the damn meetings.  Finally I found one by going to whatever I could and visiting a local political office.

So what I went to this meeting it was a kind of polyglot of local chapter meeting, club meeting, and a meet-and-greet of various officials.  I couldn’t see everything due to work, but I managed to finally network and connect and find ways to get involved.

  1. I’ll be going to a big meetup to get involved in Election 2016.  This is a specific date at a specific place for the specific purpose of different political groups coordinating.  I will go to this and state “I want to do this, now what.”
  2. I’ve got contact with a local party member to get more advice.
  3. I found a lot of local officials are pretty accessible, and got some insights on campaigns I may want to help with.

So finally.  Being civilly engaged in local politics.  The plan is to 1) Help with the election, 2) Network and connect, so that 3) I have a long-term plan.  #3 is almost certainly communication and/or recruiting.

Now that one hour I spent? Insightful.  I’m sure the things I share won’t be new to some, but they were pretty amazing to me.

There Are People Really Into It: Politics as a calling?  Yes.  People get into this like anything else.  It’s more than say a fandom (for some) but also there’s a calling/obsession/lifestyle/hobby vibe to it.

The Network Is Real: When I started doing my Civic Geek research, I began realizing just how much of civilization is due to groups and people getting stuff done that we don’t realize.  You see it at one of these political meetups as you meet local officials, see recommendations from organizations boost a candidate’s profile, and other such things.

You See The Bigger Network: Ever think politicians are distant?  Well it’s understandable in some cases.  However at least at this meetup I suddenly saw how politics itself is a giant Network of candidates, groups, donors, workers, and more.  I’m talking to people who worked with my state’s governor casually.  Now extend that further.

There Are Careerists And That’s Good: I totally support the idea of citizen government, but some people are career (or side career) in government and that’s good.  They build expertise.  They know how things work.  They have arranged their lives to take advantage of it.

There’s Ways In – But It’s Not Apparent: One of the things I realized is that, yes, there’s ways to get involved and get into office, but a lot of people don’t know how.  Where’s the instruction manual?  Here at this meeting I had an idea of how people did it – and how people not very political connected wouldn’t know when to start.  You have to work at it.

I Can See It’s Something I’ll Like: The energy of the meeting, the chance to make a difference, the engagement was something.  It felt the same way as helping at a con.  So I’m pretty sure after all this I’ll be doing political work as part of my life.

Definitely worth going.  I saw not a different world, but more saw the world different.

So for you?  Want to get involved?  Go to a local political party meeting.  It may just give you the opportunity you needed to make a difference.

See you at the phone bank – and next column!

– Steve

Steve’s Update 7/11/2016

(This column is posted at,, and Steve’s Tumblr)

Man, so much going on last week – ranging from work to all the terrible incidents in the world.  Sorry for slow and weird updates.  So where am I?

Way With Worlds Books:

Way With Worlds Book 1 is pretty much done.  I just have to check the print copy one more time.  The Kindle version is looking good, but a Kindle isn’t something requiring tricky page formatting and breaks.  I’m really proud of it – which is good because there’s a few times during editing I got sick of it.

Way With Worlds Book 2 comes back from my editor really soon.  As noted before my plan to edit this one is to experiment with a slower, but more detailed editing pace to see if that’s more efficient.  Still planning to deliver in November, after Thanksgiving.

Oh and the project after those?  Already halfway outlined.  But I’ll keep teasing that . . .


Sadly, not a lot of work on these as other things (work) ate into my free time.   Still got my notes, still got my plans, just getting to the point of having time . . . though maybe having three freaking print books in the work in one year was a tad excessive.

And yes, the theme is still food.

Sailor Moon Book:

Final print copy is coming to me.  Kindle copy is over at my co-authors.  We’re going to use this month to confirm it and wait on any more feedback, do some tours and posts in August, and drop late September.  I also should be speaking at some cons on the subject – hopefully both of us thanks to Skype!

And we’ve already got other subjects to write on after this, so stay tuned . . .

Other Writing:

As you’ve seen I’m back to writing about No Man’s Sky – which makes sense as A) I like video games, and B) it involves procedural generation.  I’m going to keep this up until the game comes out – which it looks like it will be doing on time in August!

I’m also queuing up some more items to blog about I think you’ll be interested in, so stay tuned as I always say . . .



– Steve