Rediscovering a hobby

It all began with The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Somehow, I found the game during my wandering on the internet, and after purchasing a PDF copy of it, I wanted to write a companion app that would take the provided story hooks, randomly select one and provide it to players instead of them having to select something from the included story hook appendix. So, I made it. Then, I contacted James Wallis to get permission to publish it [I did get permission. Look for it later this year. --ed]. A few weeks into the project, however, Mr. Wallis offhandedly mentioned the Bundle of Holding website. My wallet has never been the same since.

I was one of those 'aspiring gamer-collectors', where one acquires games in order to read them and never actually plays them (I used to play regularly, but stopped after University as friends moved away). As a result, I amassed a large collection of cool indie RPGs, The collection started getting too big, and I didn't even have a regular gaming group, so I got more choosy. I started looking at reviews, then I found the wonderful world of Actual Play podcasts. What better way to evaluate a game then to listen to a group playing it. But my particular strange tastes didn't have too many podcasts that played them. At the time, the only podcast I could find that had a play session of Monsterhearts was the One Shot Podcast. After listening to it for months, it rekindled my love for role playing games (and even got me out to some improv classes) . Then the creators of the One Shot Podcast Network, James D'Amato and Kat Kuhl, started talking about a game they were going to launch on Kickstarter called Noisy Person Cards. It struck me that I could leverage what I built for Munchausen and make something that worked for NPC. A few hours later, I had it, and the way things go, the app became a stretch goal on the Kickstarter campaign [the goal didn't get met, but I still have the prototype kicking around].

Sometime after the NPC campaign, I decided that I wanted to actually play the games in my collection and to that end to try to get through my backlog, I spun up the InDices Podcast, recorded a few episodes and started a regular-ish Monster of the Week campaign. It went a bit on hiatus over the summer, due to vacations and other work issues, but I hope to get it going once again soon. But I digress...

Because of that earlier interaction, with NPC, James D'Amato and I got to talking idly about wanting a peer group in which analog game developers could just bounce ideas off of one another and help get past the barriers that have tripped them up as (usually) solo game devs. 10 minutes later, I had acquired, and had a prototype teaser site up within the week and a youtube channel waiting for content. A bit more scheduling work and I had lined up a couple of groups for the first two episodes to be recorded in early September, as soon as I got back from a family vacation. The show worked out beautifully, And that brings us to today, where I'm considering where GMParty will go, what will happen with my game prototypes, my companion apps, and all the relationships I'm building in this new aspect of my world.

I am EXTREMELY thankful for the luck that has brought me to this point, and especially for the people that have been there since the beginning and along the way (though it is very much the beginning still).

Announcing: Game Maker Party

If there's anything that helped me in my 20-year-long career in video game development, it's my luck in collaboration with other phenomenally talented developers. My recent foray into analogue game development has me feeling a bit lost. I don't have the same regular check-in that I get from peers at my day job. The openness of the game-dev communities on twitter and G+ is fantastic, but I found myself wanting that real-time group experience. So many times in digital game development, the core of my idea combines with another and together we build something amazing and lasting. Having a regular event that allows for that kind of mash-up culture and serendipity seems very nearly essential for creativity.

To that end, after some idle twitter chatting wherein I realized this is actually a Good Idea™, I'm creating Game Maker Party (website to be available soon at It's a periodic analog-only game dev remote workshop and support system. Participants will join a video chat and talk about what they've been working on since the last Party and raise issues and concerns and half-ideas that might need some more brainpower. Very casual, very much a gathering of friends and peers. GMParty will also stream the game dev chats for people to watch live, for fans of the individual developers, or just people interested in behind-the-scenes, or breaking into game development.

Analog game devs interested in this should contact me either here or email or G+ (+AndyBerdan) or twitter (@andyberdan). Once I get a better idea of interest, we'll figure out timing and event size and duration.


Ideas can shift your entire world.

Imagine you walked into a space -- a space that begins life as an empty box. The walls were blank. There were a few pieces of furniture, distinctive and styled, oddly out of place with the stark white room. The lights came on and projectors flickered into life, painting the bare walls with a world of imagination. Suddenly the contents of the room made sense. The ornate desk nestled into a cosy alcove decorated with images of stuffed manticores, dragonets and even the rarest basilisk (whose eyes were stitched shut for safety).

You had entered the space holding a small book with a screen instead of pages. Opening up the book revealed diary entries that you made in the past, talking about your innermost feelings. Turning the page revealed a list of spells and incantations. One such spell, titled "Promethean Fireworks" caught your eye. You ran your fingers over the runes and the spell vanished from the book. Thunder rolled as the walls erupted into a fantastic display of flame and spectacle, ending with a phœnix being borne aloft on fiery wings. You lit one of the manticores on fire, and its scorpion tail now forever resembles a charred match.

And yet, on another day, the book you were given contained listings of nanotech programs and routines for hacking through black ice.

A week later, the book featured musical passages that inspired armies to war... or peace. The very walls echoed with music as the ghosts of the battlefield rose to join the chorus.

The week after that, the book featured another musical that contained personal anthems that a chorus of witches sang to bring their spells into being... or just to make scones.

A month later, it is instead a portable control panel hooked up to the inner workings of a giant robot, and every subroutine seemed to trigger a theme song in Japanese, complete with blazing special effects visible out of the main control room you inhabited.

This is the world I want to build.

However, it's a big hairy idea, and going from zero to Mach 3 is not practical. I feel like a reasonable experience can still be crafted using similar concepts on a tabletop scale. In other words, personal digital "props" married to a tabletop role playing system that is custom-built around this hybrid experience.

The Roaster's Creed

This is my coffee. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My coffee is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My coffee, without me, is useless. Without my coffee, I am useless. I must fire my coffee true. I must roast better than my enemy who is trying to outroast me. I must outroast him before he outroasts me. I will...

My coffee and I know that what counts in war is not the beans we roast, the noise of first crack, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the cuppings that count. We will roast...

My coffee is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its origins, its acidity and its flavours.

I will keep my coffee clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before God, I swear this creed. My coffee and I are the defenders of my sanity. We are the masters of our mind. We are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!

Adapted from the US Marine Corps' Rifleman's Creed. If it's not obvious.


Have you heard about The Listserve? It's basically an email lottery. You sign up. You get emails. Every day, one email. Every day, one of the people on the mailing list sends an email to the rest of the list. It could be you.

Yesterday, that was me.

I’m a game developer by trade and a general creative-type, I figured what finer way than to develop a game.

I gave it a bit of thought, and a friend of mine tried to get me to design an ARG for it. I didn't think that I could pull that off in 48 hours, but the idea of a game as a gift really appealed to me. I've replicated it here for those not on The Listserve, presented below with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.



  • stack of index cards (or multiple sheets of paper)
  • pens/pencils (at least one for each player)
  • players (4-8, probably)


  1. each player should take a card, think up a name for a fictional person, and write it down. Share it with the group. Ensure there's lots of room for more writing, and pass it to their left.
  2. each player takes the card they receive and writes down a sentence or two of what will be public knowledge about the character on the card, share it with the group, and pass it to their left.
  3. each player takes the card they receive, and writes down (on the back) a sentence or two of a deep dark secret involving the name on the card, and after folding it to hide the secret, passes to their left.
  4. the card you receive is now your identity for the remainder of the evening. Your goal is to uncover all the other players secrets, while hiding your own.


  • the secret works best if it’s something that would ruin the character completely if it were to be revealed, or if there's a Secret task built into the knowledge
  • intertwined secrets can be especially fun if it’s something that involves another character, and recall you’ve seen two names before you write the secret for the third
  • remember that at least one player knows your secret from the moment you start the game. However, that player's CHARACTER probably doesn't know it.
  • get into character as much as you can. You’ll feel silly at first, but it’s WAY more fun.
  • it can be interesting to establish prior knowledge and setting before you start creating the cards, such as: all characters are trapped in a bomb shelter together; or they’re kids spending the night in a haunted mansion on a dare; or The Inspector won’t let anyone leave until he figures out who murdered The Victim


(note: only three players are used in the following example, for clarity. This is probably too few to play Secrets adequately)

Alice, Bob and Charlie decide to play a game during Prohibition Era Chicago.

Round 1 (Everyone starts with empty cards)

  • Jimmy the Squid (written by Alice)
  • Mike Donovan (written by Bob)
  • Francine de Witt (written by Charlie)

Round 2 (Alice has the Francine card, Bob has the Jimmy card, Charlie has Mike)

  • Jimmy Public Information (written by Bob)
    • Jimmy is an enforcer for the Chicago Mafia
    • Jimmy's squeeze is Francine
  • Mike Public Information (written by Charlie)
    • Mike is Jimmy's best friend
  • Francine Public Information (written by Alice)
    • Francine is a very successful moonshine smuggler that works with the Mafia

Round 3 (Alice has the Mike card, Bob has the Francine card, Charlie has Jimmy)

The following is Secret information. Only the author and the final player of that character will know each one.

  • Jimmy the Squid has never hurt anyone in his life. His enforcer prowess is all lies and rumour (written by Charlie)
  • Mike Donovan is an undercover detective with the Chicago PD. He's trying to figure out where Miss de Witt's operation is located. (written by Alice)
  • Francine de Witt actually smuggles people, not moonshine (written by Bob)


  • Alice plays as Jimmy the Squid
  • Bob plays as Mike Donovan
  • Charlie plays as Francine de Witt

Have fun!

Let me know if you play it. Or can think of a better name. :)