Category Archives: Will Hindmarch

the sky above the port

This guest post is brought to you by Will Hindmarch, writer and designer of such titles as the one he’s about to tell you about…

A-N-N

You were the best. Underground, cyberpunk street samurai, burglars and breakers, agents of a mysterious spymaster with half a name, zero history, and a plan. He made the missions and you carried them out. You were the go-to crew for high-stakes break-ins, dangerous ops, and impossible escapes. You fought the megacorps, the tyrants, the killers—all for the sake of making a better future, of beating the Technocrats at their own game of shaping tomorrow. You always won, never quit, lived in the now. 

Until, eleven years ago, he disappeared…

Now he’s back—back in trouble—and it’s up to you to save him and maybe, along the way, change the world.

Today is the day. Today I debut Always/Never/Now, an all-in-one RPG adventure of futuristic cyberpunk action and intrigue. It’s 100+ pages in PDF format and available at DriveThruRPG right now for the somewhat remarkable price of FREE.

Additional posts and thoughts on A/N/N can be found at always-never-now.tumblr.com.

A/N/N is developed from adventures and characters my friends and I played years ago — and then brought out of retirement for one more mission in 2011. I retrofitted the adventure I wrote for that reunion and playtested it at conventions like Gen Con, Origins, and PAX until it was sharp enough to share. Then I invited artists Steven Sanders, Noah Bradley, and Craig S Grant to make it more handsome.

And today, at last, it’s ready for you to play.

If you find that you dig A/N/N and you’d like to thank me with dollars, please click the donate button on my website.

—Will Hindmarch

Forever All The Time Always

This guest post comes from Will Hindmarch (@wordwill), a writer, designer, and occasional guest blogger at WWdN.

Twitter is kind of a big deal to me. I (over)use it to stay connected with people that I am not near geographically. I use it to eke out little clarifying thoughts about my day and the way I work. I use it for jokes, for serious contemplative bits of text, for exchanges with people both known and unknown to me so I don’t feel quite so lonely at my desk all day. It helps me refine ideas down to morsels that can be terse, poetic, witty. I’ve been using it like a short-form diary for years. I love Twitter.

So when I finally got my Twitter archive feature activated, I was delighted. I wanted to go back in time and see how I’d changed, see what I’d forgotten, see if I could detect a difference in my writing from 2007 to now. I opened up my archive and dove in, expecting to see myself. In those tens of thousands of tweets, I discovered two things.

First, despite the migration of various comedic bits through my timeline, I haven’t changed that much as a writer.

Second, I needed help.

That’s not sass. I’m not being flip. I got a look at myself in a weird mirror and found lots of my tweeted messages came with tiny memories. Aspects of myself came into alarming focus. Much to my surprise, part of the secret was hidden in my hashtags.

Continue reading Forever All The Time Always

Will Hindmarch and Stepto and Shane Nickerson Are The Best Ever: A Post by the Real Wil Wheaton

INTERNET I AM IN YOU.

So, you guys, I’ve decided to let Will Hindmarch and Stepto and Shane Nickerson stay on at the blog forever and ever because they are so great at blogging. I mean, I’m great at it, too, but together I figure we’re like a great rock-and-roll band like what’s that band that’s made out of robotic lions? We’re like that band. I’ll form the head!

Seriously, these guest bloggers totally blew me away. They’re phenomenal writers, each and every. I think I felt every feel just now as I went back and read all their posts from this week. What generous and wise and funny and did I mention wise fellows these once-guest, now-forever bloggers were. I’m buying them all burritos.

I’m going to go brew the beers now, like you do, and let these guys do some more blogging because, like I promised, they get to blog here with me from now on forever and no take-backs. Okay? Okay. Burritos.

Signed,

Totally the Real Wil Wheaton Totally*

*(Not at all totally or at all)

Guest Blog by Will Hindmarch: We, Geeks

Will Hindmarch writes and designs stories and games. You can find some of his stories at venues like Amazon and DriveThruFiction. He blogs at wordstudio.net and teaches at the Shared Worlds creative-writing camp—registration’s still open!

A few years ago, I spent a month of blog posts writing about people I admire. On February 11th of that year, I wrote about Wil Wheaton:

… [H]e’s an energetic creator who strives to promote positivity and enthusiasm by creating fun, funny, touching things and spreading them to his friends and fans. He’s always creating—when it’s hard, when it’s tough, when it’s easier not to, he’s always making something new to post, to share, to publish. […] His enthusiasm spreads and warms like good scotch. Let’s get drunk.

One summer night, on a high-rise building in an emerald city, a flock of geeks like us gathered to play. We sat at a handful of tables to play myriad games. I sat at a Fiasco table with Wil and our friend Andrew and a few people I didn’t know very well but I’d admired because Wil had spoken highly of them. We elected to play one of my playsets, “The Zoo,” so I was excited to show off my work and nervous that it would somehow suck.

It totally didn’t suck.

One of those players I didn’t really know was Stepto. He wrote about that game earlier this week. At the time, I felt like Wil had climbed high up a tree for the view and was reaching out to help us climb up, too. I feel like everyone at that table took up Wil’s dare. It was a great fiasco, though we didn’t get to see the whole thing because we spent so much time digging into our characters in the first Act that we, uh, sort of ran out of time to play.

Partway through that first Act of play, people behind me started to sing the happy-birthday song. Wil smiled. They were getting closer. My friend, Lily, was singing in Hebrew. I don’t know what my face was doing but my insides fluttered. The hard candy shell on my heart formed a craquelure. It was my birthday.

I turned around and saw a host of friends—new friends, many of them—gather around, singing. I admit, part of my brain panicked. What was I supposed to do? But a part of my brain also immediately transported through time. I thought of ancient people singing to warm themselves around winter fires. I thought of people trilling together on tall ships swaying in the sea. I thought of packed pubs and bars where people raised their glasses in a chorus of cheers. Not all of us knew each other that night, but we all knew the song—in different tongues, with different memories of birthdays past and absent friends—we all knew the song.

Honestly, I don’t know whose idea that was. I don’t want to know. I like doling out my thanks in equal portions to everyone that night.

I bring it up now, though, because it’s one of my favorite memories of things happening around Wil. I met a lot of those people through Wil. I used to say that Wil’s built something remarkable here at WWdN, but the truth is that I think he’s gathered it—gathered us. So, here’s to this place. Here’s to the refrains we recite among friends. Here’s to singing in the comments section.

Cheers.

Guest Blog by Will Hindmarch: Flow

Will Hindmarch is a writer, designer, and mooncalf. You can find some of his stories for sale online at Amazon, DriveThruFiction, and other sites. Long ago, in ages past, he wrote things at wordstudio.net.

(Update: Looking back, I feel sort of silly sharing this. To be clear, I don’t think my changing relationship with video games is due to the games or gamers—not really. I’m just musing here, wondering why it is that I can’t dive into games like I used to. I still don’t know what’s up there. So it goes.)

Listen, can I confess something to you? Lately I’ve been having some trouble with video games.

I’m super excited to play some of the games on my to-play list but I don’t know when I’m supposed to do that. The impulse that used to signal me to play video games often gets met by different pastimes right now—for me, at least. By the end of my day, when I might otherwise power up my console, I find myself torn.

  • Music: “The Last Man,” from The Fountain, music by Clint Mansell

It’s a multifaceted problem. For comparison’s sake, consider how I operate at my desk. When I’m there, I’m almost always doing two things at once, whether I’m working or not.

When I’m working on something largely visual, like the layout for a book, I listen to podcasts at the same time. I listen to Wil and friends talk gaming with Gabe Newell and Co. at Valve. I listen to writers talk shop on the Nerdist Writer’s Panel. I listen to Ken Hite and Robin D. Laws talk about stuff. I get to take in know-how and stories at the same time I get to create things. I like that.

When I’m writing, I put on music. I get to absorb music and generate prose at the same time. This helps me escape my environment a little bit and put myself into a headspace that’s a few mental clicks away from the pressures of the blank page.

I often devise a playlist for the project I’m working on. For example, while writing “A Desert is Implicit,” I listened to a playlist I called “Future Desert,” populated with things like the soundtracks from Halo: ODST, Journey, Caprica, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Other playlists, like “Futuristic Operatic,” “Mission Driven,” and “Epic Fantastic” get played for a variety of projects that sort of sync up thematically.

  • Music: “Goodbye Renegade” from Tron: Uprising, music by Joseph Trapanese

These sorts of support structures aren’t necessary, though; they’re luxuries. They give me a chance to do two things once and get more day out of my day. They help work feel more like play.

I say this because it’s important, in my experience, to be able to write without rituals. I don’t need music to write. One way I know the work’s going well is when a playlist runs out and I discover I’ve been writing in silence for an hour. That’s flow.

Continue reading Guest Blog by Will Hindmarch: Flow

Guest Blog by Will Hindmarch: Tabletop’s Dragon Age, Part Two!

Will Hindmarch was one of the guys next to the guy who did the thing. No, to the other side. Yeah, that guy. Will used to blog at wordstudio.net.

I imagine Wil would want you to know, as I want you to know, that the new episode of Tabletop—featuring the exciting conclusion of the two-part star-studded Dragon Age adventure—is now live online and you can watch it online because it is live online right now, online, here.

Go and watch and subscribe to the channel and if you like the video click Like, like you do. Okay? Okay.

Guest Post by Will Hindmarch: Fireworks Outside

Will Hindmarch is a freelance writer and designer who co-produces the occasional off-shoot event with Story Club Chicago. (New South Side shows are coming this spring!) It’s possible he drank the last of the almond milk.

(Now and again, I plug into Chicago’s rich and varied live lit scene. Watching people tell their stories live—and trying to tell my own—has taught me a lot about story construction, audience dynamics, and how to let people into your work. The following is the first thing I ever read at one of these events. I read it at Dana Norris’s amazing Story Club series in Chicago. Though I’d read in front of audiences before—on stage, in bookshops and auditoriums, on the radio—the experience with the audience there was a delight. If you can find storytelling events in your town, maybe give them a shot as audience or reader.)

(You can also hear me read a variation of this piece on Installment 4 of the Broad Shoulders podcast, for grown-ups.)

In summertime, the sky above my neighborhood gets loud. Explosions live there. They set off car alarms. Sometimes the echoes of the explosions get drowned out by cheers or laughter, sometimes by what sounds like panic. Most of the time, they’re followed by silence. From my desk, I hear the blasts whistle and pop, crackle and boom.

I’m inside, at my computer, making a big deal out of stuff someone wrote on an Internet forum or on Google+ or wherever. I fret and fidget and dwell and obsess. I mistake forum posts for, pardon me, actual writing. I sometimes spend time trying to get the language and nuance of a forum post just right, to reward a deep reading for context and subtext and what I didn’t say in addition to what I did say. I craft tweets to work in series, to counterbalance doldrums with guffaws, to modulate the ups and downs to convey the ongoing arc of the character I portray online. I open the browser like it was a leather case and I fiddle. It’s like busking, except I tweet out in the hopes that others will send tweets back. I tweet for tweets and wonder why my novel’s not finished.

And my modem keeps cutting out, like it’s trying to spare me from something, like it’s trying to hide a newspaper from me at the breakfast table. For a few days, I dreaded what was happening on the Internet without me. What gags and dramas passed by? What glimpses into other people’s lives? Was I falling out of the conversation, falling behind the discourse?

Outside, a firework booms.

Fireworks are both grand and nerve-wracking for me. I like my fingers. I want to keep my fingers. Yet I don’t think too hard about the explosions going off outside my building. They zoom and pop and light up the night for a second—just a second—and then they’re gone. I think of them as atmosphere.

But I’m sitting at my desk, facing the Internet, when another big boom rattles the joint and knocks a thought off a shelf in my head.

Continue reading Guest Post by Will Hindmarch: Fireworks Outside

Guest Blog by Will Hindmarch: The First RPG

Will Hindmarch is a freelance writer, game developer, and graphic designer.

Listen, I know you’re busy, but let’s talk about how you can help me out.

Some of you, maybe a lot of you, play roleplaying games like Wil and I do. Maybe you’ve just recently given them a shot after seeing things like Dragon Age or Fiasco featured on Tabletop. (You’ve seen those episodes, right?) Maybe you’ve been playing for years and the first RPG you started with has faded into legend.

Either way, I want to axe you two questions:

  1. What was your introduction to roleplaying games?
  2. What do you want in an introductory RPG today?

If you think these questions don’t apply to you, please reconsider. Don’t play RPGs (yet)? How did you first hear about them? What would you want an RPG to be to get you to give it a shot—faster, cheaper, more or less digital, more or less random?

I want to be smarter. Give me your knowledge.

 

Guest Blog by Will Hindmarch: Some of My Favorite Wi(l)ls

Will Hindmarch is a writer, game developer, and graphic designer whose work has appeared in the likes of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities.

Some of my favorite Wi(l)ls are the Wils Wheaton. Those Wils are great. Wil the Actor, Wil the Podcaster, Wil the Host, there’s a whole slew of them out there, working hard. You know them. You dig them, same as me. One of my favorite Wils Wheaton, though, is Wil the Writer.

I’ve dabbled in acting and radio just enough to know they’re tough—enough to know I enjoy them more than I am good at them. So I can look at those Wils as an audience member with just a fine fiber of appreciation for why the work is difficult, even though I mostly don’t know what I’m talking about. I admire those Wils the way I admire a lot of my friends with jobs I cannot do well, by being grateful that other people are better at stuff than I am so that stuff can get done.

But Wil the Writer? I make my living as a writer, so I know the racket territory. I come to Wil’s writing with the appreciation of the cobbler from across the way. I picked up Wil’s books and blog posts and admired their craftsmanship, from the stitching to the gloss, and I instinctively wanted to take them apart to see how they worked.

Here’s what I wanted to recreate: Wil’s capacity for sentimentality without syrupy additives. What the hell does that mean? It means Wil writes frankly about the feels without being being all cloying about it.

Sometimes he dances (barefoot) right at the edge of Sugarsville, but he knows what’s sweet and what’s too sweet and he’s got a honed knack for staying on this side of the saccharine line. He writes honestly. He finds the moments. That ain’t easy.

In 2008, Wil and I were both writing flash fiction at a website called Ficlets. The gist of the site was that you composed little bits of fiction within a limited character count and posted them where others could write prequels or sequels to them, turning any piece of flash prose into this potentially branching, sprawling narrative. (That site eventually burned down, but they built Ficly on the old lot. I wrote a few things at the new site, too.) I don’t know if Wil wants me posting stuff he wrote back when, but let’s see what happens. At the end of January of 2008, Wil wrote this passage of fiction called “A Godawful Small Affair:”

Continue reading Guest Blog by Will Hindmarch: Some of My Favorite Wi(l)ls

I’m on a boat: Welcome your guest bloggers!

I’m on a boat! Or, maybe I’m on my way to being on a boat, or I have recently gotten off a boat, or I suppose I was on a boat at sometime in the past. (Boy, covering all the timelines is a lot of work, you guys. I see the benefits of just leaving things in a superposition… or, at least, I think about seeing them. I don’t want to observe them and ruin a perfectly good superposition.)

So.

Last year, while I was on JoCo Cruise Crazy 2: Cruise Harder, I programmed something from my archives to publish once a day. You know, for kids. Well, this year, I didn’t have the time to search for and curate posts, so I’m doing something a little different: I invited some of my friends to take over my blog while I’m gone. They’ve been instructed to post whatever they want as frequently or infrequently as they want, and I’d like to introduce you to them now.

Meet Will Hindmarch. Will is a writer, graphic artist, game designer, and better at all of these things than he gives himself credit for. If you’ve ever played a game from White Wolf, you’ve probably played something Will put his filthy hands all over. If you’ve played the Fiasco playset we played on Tabletop, you’ve played something that Will and I wrote together. If you’ve read Memories of the Future Volume 1, you’ve seen a cover that Will designed. He blogs at wordstudio.net and is @wordwill on the twitters.

Meet Shane Nickerson. I’ve known Shane for mumblecough years, ever since we did shows together at the ACME Comedy Theater. Shane is the executive producer of Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory and Ridiculousness. Shane is one of the funniest people I know, and that’s saying something. He’s also an incredible father to three kids, never uses Comic Sans, and has paid me off exactly the right number of times in poker games. Shane blogs at nickerblog.com and is @ShaneNickerson on the twitters.

Meet Stepto. Stepto is probably best known as the leader of The Steptos, and as the former banhammer at Xbox Live. Stepto is a wonderful, thoughtful writer, and once pulled a man’s finger in Reno just to watch him fart. He’s the author of A Microsoft Life, and just released a comedy album called A Geekster’s Paradise. He blogs at stepto.com and is @stepto on the Steptos.

Please welcome this team of talented, funny, smart, and interesting people to WWdN, and make them feel at home. I’ll expect a full report when I get home from my trip, and don’t even try to replace the fish if they die. I’ll know.