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WCC018: Alyson Grauer (part 2)

WCC018: Alyson Grauer (part 2)


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Part 2 of our interview with actor, author, podcaster, and all around bard Alyson Grauer. You can listen to part 1 of her interview here.


Links

Episode Notes

  • Understanding the fundamentals of story structure is vital to good RPG gamemastering.
  • This can be learned through examination of the media we consume.
  • Roleplaying games offer some of the purest immersive potential. This can help creatives learn to imbue their work with the same sort of quality.
  • Tabletop roleplaying has really expanded the diversity of its core audience
  • Warda is Drew and Alyson’s current big project. It grew out of an impromptu worldbuilding conversation held while waiting in line for Disney World’s Haunted Mansion.
  • Alyson was reluctant at first but the conversation grew and blossomed and turned into the project’s foundations.
  • Two months later they ran a Fate RPG set in Warda, recording its audio. Alyson planned to take notes and write it up as a book later.
  • The book wasn’t working, and James D’Amato from One Shot asked them if they’d be interested in doing livestream gaming on their Twitch channel.
  • They decided to start a new Warda campaign for the stream. They’d been streaming Curiosities every week since.
  • It blew up in a way that they never expected.
  • The audio from the Changes has been released as a podcast.
  • Interactivity has been key to Warda’s success, and is a powerful way to shape your creative efforts and engage with your fanbase.
  • Drew and Alyson are moving to Florida, and have spent October wrapping up Warda with Glimpses, an anthology with different stories that bridge Winds of Change and Curiosities.
  • Winds of Change will be released as a podcast when the patreon reaches the $300 milestone.
  • They plan to recruit a new cast for further Warda podcasts in Florida.
  • Final message: There’s no one way, no single right way, to do anything. Give yourself permission to break out of your box.
WCC017: Alyson Grauer (part 1)

WCC017: Alyson Grauer (part 1)



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Alyson Grauer is an author, actor, podcaster, and ukulele bard who has been based out of Chicago for the last decade or so, but is soon to relocate to Orlando, Florida. Her novel, “On The Isle of Sound and Wonder” was released in 2014, she has several published short stories, and has written pieces for a handful of RPGs and online publications over the years. She is an audiobook narrator, blogger, amateur photographer, and dreamer of big dreams. Her current project is an original fantasy world-turned-live stream-turned-actual play podcast, Warda: an Edwardian fantasy world of fey races, social intrigue, and class struggles. Warda is co-created between Alyson and her husband, GM/writer/actor Drew Mierzejewski.


Links

Episode Notes

  • I reviewed Alyson’s novel On the Isle of Sound and Wonder in 2014. It’s a great piece of Shakespearean steampunk fantasy fiction.
  • She’d originally written it for National Novel Writing Month, and when the editors of an anthology she’d contributed to asked her if she had any novels to publish, she went with developing it for publication.
  • Following that she suffered through a long period of imposter syndrome where nothing has felt like something she could work on.
  • This June she broke out of that with a 45,000-word novel.
  • It’s important to cultivate a support system who will be objective and honest with their criticism.
  • Her husband Drew is an excellent supportive creative partner.
  • If you find someone who does work that you like, you will end up respecting their opinions more.
  • Managing your priorities is a vital skill, not just for creatives, but for any adult.
  • You can always go back to unfinished projects. They don’t have expiration dates.
  • Unfinished projects are not a waste of time. You learn from them.
  • Self-care is important.
  • Alyson didn’t know anyone who was into role playing games until college.
  • Her first experiences didn’t go well because the established group didn’t teach her anything about the game.
  • A few years later she tried again and had an excellent time, but she didn’t really get into it until she started dating Drew in 2014.
  • She met former guest James D’Amato of the One Shot Podcast shortly after that.
  • One of the highlights was the episode where they played Dogs in the Vineyard, a favorite of many listeners.
  • Part 2 of Alyson’s interview will air in two weeks.
Some of the above are affiliate links. Ordering through them kicks a little money my way, helping to pay for this podcast’s production and hosting. If you’d like to support it more substantially, I invite you to do so through my patreon.
WCC 016: System Mastery (part 2)

WCC 016: System Mastery (part 2)


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Part 2 of our interview with Jon and Jef, the hosts of System Mastery. Listen to Part 1.

Notes

  • When picking games to evaluate, Jef and Jon look for unique games with something fresh to discuss, regardless of actual quality. Strange is better than ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
  • Ambitious moves whether or not they work.
  • Disconnects in thought between intention and implementation gives them a lot to talk about.
  • One of Jef’s favorites is when designers inject a lot of their own personal opinions inappropriately.
  • Kevin Siembieda, creator of Rifts, is a sweet dude and fun to talk to.
  • Jon has so many opinions on Herbert Hoover.
  • Their next patreon goal will move Expounded Universe to a weekly show.
  • Jon and Jef have been working with the author of Strike! to develop the Blimpleggers rpg.
  • They are working with James D’Amato on a game where you build the rules as you go.
  • They’d also like to grow the house brand with a few more San Diego nerd podcasts produced by other people.
  • They’d like to do video content, but there are significant logistical obstacles to surmount.
  • The ultimate goal of any podcast is to have a pig butler, and System Mastery is no different.
  • Advice: Don’t go into podcasting with any kind of monetary goal.
  • Go into podcasting to produce quality content, and allow people to support you if they wish. Do it for the love of doing it.
  • Find the community that wants what you’ve got.
  • There’s a lot of luck involved.
  • One of the weirdest things to Jef is that people now consider them experts.
WCC015: System Mastery (part 1)

WCC015: System Mastery (part 1)



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Jon and JefJef and Jon are the hosts of System Mastery, a podcast dedicated to exploring the silly and sordid history of roleplaying games through the ages. In each episode, they pick a new strange old RPG to read, discuss, and more often than not, make fun of. Over the four years they’ve been doing this, they’ve branched out into movies, skits, live action roleplay, and most recently, making fun of Star Wars.

Note: This is part 1 of a two part episode. Listen to part 2.

Notes

  • System Mastery started when Jef approached Jon with the idea of doing a game review podcast in August of 2013.
  • He was inspired by the movie review podcasts at the time.
  • Jon had been considering doing youtube videos at the time.
  • A lot of System Mastery’s format choices come from a mixture of podcasts and YouTube inspirations.
  • Both Jon and Jef consider themselves natural entertainers.
  • Jon had previously tried to make it as a stand up comic, but gave it up because he doesn’t like living in a van.
  • Jeff’s attributes his taking that step to become a podcaster to being entirely driven by whim.
  • Jon and Jeff have been friends for over a decade. They started talking about Nintendo, and the rest is history.
  • A lot of their comedic bits come from just friendly casual riffing between the two of them. One of them comes up with an idea, and the other is willing to roll with it.
  • 75% of what they come up with is too weird to put into their shows.
  • Jon and Jef don’t work from notes or plan their podcasts out, but Jef takes notes as he reads the material they’ll be discussing, to help him remember.
  • Expounded Universe is an exception; the material requires it.
  • Other than that they have a strong ‘no research’ policy.
  • They recommend not listening to the episode about your favorite game first. Listen to something you can be more objective about.
  • Once a year they get a listener who will form an intense vendetta against them for about a month.
  • The community and their fanbase are overwhelmingly podcasting.
  • There’s very little competition within their podcast sphere. It’s all very supportive.
  • Their fans send them a lot of old and obscure games.
  • They started their patreon to raise the $6/month to pay the show’s hosting fees. By the end of the first month they were bringing in $50-60.
  • They never expected System Mastery to take off the way it has, and find the experience humbling.
  • After a few months of releasing episodes they announced their podcast on the Something Awful forums, RPG net, reddit, and EN World.
  • System Mastery has joined with former guest James D’Amato’s One Shot Network.
WCC 012: Robert Cudmore

WCC 012: Robert Cudmore



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Robert Cudmore is a radio lecturer who specialises in audio drama. Formerly one half of the Audio Drama Production Podcast team with Matthew McLean, they recently handed the reins over to Fiona Thraille and Sarah Golding. He’s starred in several Audio Dramas including Edict Zero, Hadron Gospel Hour, The Shadow of Lavenhan, and The Fiona Potts Interview. He’s also the main character, podcaster Lee Powers, in `A Scottish Podcast.`

Links

Show Notes

  • For the first few years he was writing and acting, but for the last few years he’s been mostly acting. Acting is easier, but he missing the writing
  • Robert has a degree in radio, which helps him with the production side. His day job is that of a lecturer.
  • He co-wrote Aftermath with former guest Matthew McLean inspired by their mutual love of the game Fallout 3 and the audiodrama We’re Alive
  • There’s nothing wrong with fanfiction, but it’s not conducive to the growth of the medium.
  • Audiodrama has seen explosive growth in the last 3-4 years. Robert attributes this to the technology
  • The older generation doesn’t really know about podcasting
  • Podcasting and modular content are the future
  • More large companies are getting wise to content marketing and putting out audio drama
  • To succeed monitarily, follow the rules of seriality and familiarity. Build a series, put out episodes regularly, build an audience.
  • The Audio Drama Production Podcast was made to pass along information as Robert and Matthew learned it.
  • Robert is a vocalist in a cover band on the side
  • Professional competency is a pyramid as you grow in skill and opportunities become more limited. Persistence gives a remarkable edge.
  • He attributes his success in part to the support of his wife’s full time career.
  • There are no permanent jobs in commercial radio.
  • Matthew wrote the first season of A Scottish Podcast, and Robert will be more involved with the writing of season 2.
  • People fall in love with characters.
WCC011: James D’Amato

WCC011: James D’Amato



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James D’Amato is the host of the ONE SHOT Podcast, co-founder of the ONE SHOT Network, and half of Paracosm press.

Links:

Show Notes:

  • James views his creative work as using tabletop roleplaying as a storytelling medium.
  • It’s harder to build an audience than it was 5 years ago, but the podcasting buy-in is lower. Marketing is one of the primary challenges.
  • James learned about and fell in love with RPGs in college.
  • James practiced stand-up comedy in high-school.
  • Other comedians just seemed like sad tired old men, and that didn’t look like it led to a good place.
  • He took an improv class and saw that the instructors didn’t seem unhappy.
  • He moved to Chicago to improve improv, and was introduced to Earwolf’s “Improv for Humans.”
  • He and his friend Alex decided to create a show of their own
  • Podcasting doesn’t require passing through a rigid system to book gigs, and allowed them to set their own schedule.
  • They created the Overshare, which was picked up by Peaches and Hot Sauce
  • Patrick O’Rourke approached James and asked him to create an Actual Play RPG podcast.
  • James saw that most Actual Play shows were DnD focused, when gaming is so much broader.
  • They came up with a format that allowed them to tour different game systems with a rotating cast of guests.
  • Their focus on a broader game base and high caliber performances helped them take off quickly.
  • Starting now would be more difficult as podcast quality has generally risen over the years.
  • Everyone has their own path into how they do what they do, and directly following someone else’s path isn’t effective, but if you look to the successes of a lot of people, you can figure out how to make “you” work.
  • One of the big factors in One Shot’s success was Pat O’Rourke’s focus on quality equipment.
  • If you’re dong an Actual Play podcast, have a microphone for each player to have a competitive footing. James recommends the Yeti Blue Pro. It offers both USB and XLR line options, and is thus upgradeable.
  • The free software Audacity is a perfectly adequate piece of software for every level of podcasting.
  • James believes that Twitch is the future of entertainment along with Netflix and HBO.
  • The successful production companies cater to narrow niches.
  • Podcasting is radio on demand, Twitch is the equivalent of live television. Twitch is where the money is going to be.
  • Time is their biggest limitation; One Shot Podcast is a full time job, but Twitch is also a full time gig.
  • You will soon see RPGs designed to operate within what opportunities Twitch provides.
  • James’s new project is the Dungeon Dome, his first attempt to really take advantage of the medium. It’s a PvP gladiator game, and he’s running a kickstarter to fund it.
  • The story arises from the procedural stories generated by the interactions between the characters.
  • Spectators will be able to impact the matches.
  • Backers will have greater influence. They can create items and events that are featured in matches.
  • High level donors will be able to co-create characters that will exist within the context of the game space.
  • The key is that they are offering engagement rather than exclusivity.
  • After Dungeon Dome’s first season of 15 episodes, James will focus on game design and new narrative projects.
  • The bulk of One Shot’s income comes through Patreon
  • Patreon is not a place to build an audience, it is a place to monetize the audience you already have. You need to have the actionable audience.
  • This audience is going to be 5-10% of your total fans for podcasts, less than 1% for less engaging art forms.
  • Give yourself the time to grow before deciding if you’re a success or failure.
  • Podcasts are higher engagement than other media. You spend an hour or so a week with the hosts in your ear. This creates an intensely intimate investment.
  • You are acting on this good will. You don’t need to treat it like a product, or a kickstarter. You are giving the people who think of you as a friend the opportunity to contribute to your existence.
  • Don’t let Patreon pressure you to the point where your life suffers.
  • Successful milestones focus on how your life will improve, rather than potential future projects.
  • Have faith in yourself as an artist, and never break yourself on a project. If something requires you to destroy your life, it’s probably not worth it.
WCC 009 Lainie Petersen

WCC 009 Lainie Petersen


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Lainie Petersen is the bishop of a small, independent church and a full-time freelance writer and podcaster. She is a founding member of Hard Lens Media, a new media group based in the Chicago area. 

Links

Show Notes

  • Lainie was one of the first guests I considered when conceptualizing the podcast.
  • She’s day job is as a web content development freelancer, largely blogging and news aggregation.
  • This day job allows her to pursue activities with her church and with Hard Lens media.
  • She just started a blog called Necessary Strivings.
  • Freelancers need to treat their day job as a business to develop skills and command higher rates.
  • Lainie has been building her freelancing career since 2010.
  • Creative professionals must accept their situations to get out of their predicaments.
  • Your day job, if managed correctly, can be your liberation.
  • You have skills that someone is willing to pay you for, and this is a noble thing.
  • Being an employee does not train you to be a business owner.
  • It’s up to you to take it upon yourself to improve your skills.
  • Understanding and aligning yourself with economic reality is important. You can have all the skills in the world but if no one is willing to pay you for them, you will be struggling.
  • Set your goals, and don’t feel like a sell out for trying to stay alive.
  • When we set our rates we need to build into them everything we need to run our businesses effectively.
  • Coursera is an excellent resource for freelancers looking to educate themselves.
  • Respect your own schedule because nobody else will. Don’t answer family and friends who text or message you during your work time. Protect it. Teach them to respect your work.
  • Demand respect for your body’s limitations and wear and tear when setting your prices and deadlines.
  • Prior to the ACA the way insurance worked made it very difficult for the self-employed to start their own businesses. How Healthcare develops in the US will have an enormous effect on freelancers.
  • Guaranteed Basic Income works, but is far off because of the politics of cruelty.
  • Hard Lens Media are a group of people with backgrounds in media reporting on news from an independent perspective
  • Have faith in your ability to grow and improve and change.
WCC 008 Joe Griffin

WCC 008 Joe Griffin


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Joe Griffin’s work as a recording engineer, sound designer, and composer over the past 25 years encompasses a wide variety of media, including theatre, film, music, and advertising. He’s one of the founders of Toxic Bag Productions, which in 1996 pioneered the field of sound effects specifically designed for use in tabletop roleplaying.

Links

Show Notes

  • Joe’s company Toxic Bag has been producing audio products for use with tabletop roleplaying games since the 90s. It grew out of their desire to add an audio element to their home Call of Cthulhu campaigns.
  • Initially they intended to produce audio-enhanced scenarios, but chaosium didn’t have the budget for it.
  • They stripped away the scripting and actors and focused on sound effects.
  • They put together their first CD, the 20th century, in 1996.
  • They would sell these physical CDs at GenCon.
  • Back in 1996 mp3 formats were terrible.
  • After a few years doing sound for film and theatre, they got back into RPG sound effects but aren’t doing CDs anymore.
  • Convention sales are difficult to manage when you’re selling digital files, but the modern internet provides more distribution options. Now they sell through DriveThruRPG.
  • Toxic Bag creates their effects through foley and field recording rather than relying on commercial libraries.
  • Their podcast started out as coldly promotional, but they revamped it to provide more content, including sketches, reviews, interviews, and parodies.
  • Joe does the sound design, his partner Steve Baldwin does the writing.
  • I have appeared on the Toxic Bag podcast with my Burning Brigid Media co-producer Kat O’Connor
  • Joe’s day job is in advertising as a recording engineer. His marketing wisdom: People don’t like being sold to. Make it a conversation.
  • Promotion is okay, but if all you’re doing on twitter is marketing yourself, people will tune you out. Reveal who you are. Put yourself into it.
  • You need to have a thick skin to put your work in front of people.
  • Joe composes music for theatre and toxic bag projects.
  • He performs as part of the experimental band Donny Who Loved Bowling
  • Joe is doing sound design for John Klein’s short film Limerence. The kickstarter was successful and they’re moving into post-production.
WCC 006 Simon Whistler

WCC 006 Simon Whistler



Simon Whistler is a YouTuber who hosts 2 popular YouTube channels. He makes content that aims to both educate and inform on TodayIFoundOut and TopTenzNet. He also recently launched a third channel which focuses on global politics. Further, he also hosts a bi-weekly podcast where he interviews leading indie authors about their journey to success. 

Subscribe via: iTunes | Google Play | RSS

Simon Whistler

Links

 

Show Notes

  • I had a co-host for this episode, in the form of the woodchipper outside my apartment. It makes periodic appearances throughout the interview.
  • I’ve been on Simon’s Rocking Self Publishing Podcast twice, episodes 37 and 154.
  • He juggles multiple content-heavy projects by prioritizing his time carefully. After 150 or so RSP episodes he felt it was slowing down, and moved to a biweekly schedule.
  • His youtube channels were picking up, so he focused on them, and produces 14 episodes a week.
  • Building daily systems for himself keeps his workdays productive.
  • Bringing other people into your creative process helps distribute the weight as well.
  • Simon is always refining his process to be more effective and efficient.
  • Google Sheets are his taskmaster. Each month he uses a new sheet that tracks each video’s current production status.

Simon's Scheduling

  • I use Trello as a production schedule.
  • Simon started podcasting and YouTubing at about the same time. The podcast found a niche audience faster, but over time the YouTube channels have proven to have a broader potential audience.
  • YouTube is a more competitive place and it took longer to gain a foothold.
  • Standard advice often promotes finding a narrow niche over going broad, but if you break through as something broad the audience is far more vast.
  • As you gain exposure to and an understanding of your chosen discipline’s market, you get a feel for what “gaps” exist that you can fulfill for broad or niche topics.
  • Simon was having difficulty finding work with his law degree in London due to the shaky economy.
  • He found an opportunity through AIESEC to work with a grassroots organization in Sri Lanka, in their media department. While there he met his girlfriend.
  • He returned with her to what was then the Czech Republic, and is now Czechia.
  • He went to a meetup for the Tropical MBA podcast in Prauge, and was inspired by the connection between hard work and success. He gave up freelancing to focus on podcasting and youtube 12-14 hours a day.
  • People often avoid discussing how hard they work to achieve their successes.
  • The more content you can feed a consumer, the more they’ll come back. People binge.
  • Do what you can to get involved in the community of creators you can count on.
  • When you work really hard and pursue something you really like, good things will happen.
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