Introduction

I have had an exciting life as far as careers go. I was Director of Marketing at a couple different places and then went into IT where I worked as a consultant for one of the largest IT companies in the world. About 6 years ago, I was laid off from that large company and without anything lined up for my next step in life, I decided to go back to school. Last May, I graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in Communication and a minor in Philosophy at 42 years old.  Since graduation, I’ve been doing some consulting in the areas of IT and Marketing just trying to figure out what adventures lie next for me. Well, a couple of my old friends I used to work with (and play MMORPG video games with) called me up a few weeks ago and told me about this incredible tabletop gaming project they have been working on for over a year now. Being pretty much a total newbie to the world of tabletop games and loving to hear stories on how things began, I decided to write a blog about how this thing came to where it is now.

In addition to the designer blog for my friends, I plan to use this site to blog about the things that inspire me in everyday life. Being middle-aged (almost 43), I have found there is still so much great stuff out there to learn and to share, it just takes a child-like spirit to jump in and see what it’s all about.

I approach everything as a total newbie, someone willing to learn looking for people willing to pass on their knowledge to someone else and have some fun in the process! =)

Nexus #1- An Idea Inception Story

The founders of D-Verse Publishing and creators of the game Nexus, Jason (Jay) Goike and Scott Rumptz are my heroes for starting and developing their own game. And like any good hero story, it is best to begin at the beginning. So, I asked Jay and Scott about their history together as far as games are concerned to get a better idea about how their journey to create a game began.

HockeyBoysJay and Scott both grew up in Detroit and cut their teeth early on Palladium games such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles And Other Strangeness, Robotech, and eventually Rifts. Being youngsters, they often modified the rules to make the game more fluid and to not get bogged down in the mechanics that didn’t matter to them. Both of them really enjoyed the character creation part of the games. “I didn’t really have the money for miniatures and paints, they always seemed out of reach for me [which is why] I loved spending time illustrating and developing a character’s backstory,” Scott Rumptz tells me. –But the two young boys didn’t stop there with tinkering with games. Scott follows up by saying, “Jason and I were never satisfied just playing someone else’s games or reading other people’s comics. While I loved the worlds that we were exposed to, they mostly just filled me with a desire to create my own. Not necessarily to make something better, just my own. Jason and I always did that. We made our own comics. We made our own games.” Jay mirrors these comments about their creativity starting at a young age.

JayJay Goike tells me, “eventually we would create our own RPG’s with different mechanics. Our home-brew games just became part of the rotation with the official games we continued playing. We didn’t have a larger group of friends that were into what we were into, so most of the time it was just the two of us playing.  Naturally, one of the home-brew games we created was a 2 player arena combat game. Out of all our home-brew games we created, this is the one that we kept playing.” –After years of the mixture of home-brewed 1v1 games and tweaked commercial games, the boys came across Games Workshop and played Blood Bowl. Jay goes on to tell me, “back then I painted Ral Partha mini’s with Testors paint in my parents basement with no ventilation LOL. I like to say I was part of the ‘lead’ generation.” —That might explain some things Jay.

As many friendships do, Jay and Scott’s lives took different forks in the road with Scott ending up in Memphis, TN and Jay going to Film School. As fate would have it, years and years later, Jay would eventually come to work at the same company Scott was working at in Memphis –which is where I met both of them. Now 30 years older, both married with children, they were reunited (*sings* and it feels so good). After working together, droning on like good little worker bees for years, they go out to lunch and Jay pops the question– “We are finally in a financial position to really make something great. Let’s do it.” and with the smile on Scott’s face, he continued telling me, “We started talking about that game we created as children. We got excited and carried away with the idea to bring this to life. We fell in love with the idea of bringing something from our childhood into our present lives and sharing it with others.”–And they picked up right where they left off as kids. Excited, driven, and finally able to see one of their own creations come to life.

CosplayI pressed Scott a little more to gain some additional insight into this desire to create. Scott answered, “for me personally, it was to keep from losing my mind. After years of working, raising children and being constantly bombarded by inspiring art and storytelling in every possible medium, I needed to create something myself before I exploded. Making a game seemed to bridge all my creative outlets with my systematic and analytical thought processes. This was a chance to express myself. It became more like an art project than a game.”–I can understand the need for creativity and creation, but it begs the question…why not just create something for yourself? Why go through all the trouble of making a game available to the public? To which Scott answered, “We have had a lot of fun designing and playing it [and decided to have some other people try it]. When we first started having strangers play test Nexus, we thought there was no way anyone was going to ‘get it’ and enjoy it as much as we do. We were wrong.“–And the desire to share the game grew stronger for our two heroes.

Next up in the Nexus Designer Blog, I ask Jay and Scott about the mechanics of Nexus and how they came up with their ideas of making this game work.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share. Also feel free to comment. I am really having a great time writing these and hope you are having just as much fun reading them.

To learn more about the game of Nexus, go here: https://d-verse.com/nexus/

Being the new guy — Best practices for entering a new community

Growing up, my father was often transferred and I found myself in a brand new neighborhood and school as the dreaded “new guy” way too many times. Being an only-child and an introvert at heart, this experience — as painful as it was — made me a lot better at socializing with people. It taught me communication and social skills that carried me far into adulthood — even to the point that people are shocked when I tell them I am an introvert because I seem so outgoing.

Being the new guy is never easy. But being the new guy online adds even more obstacles to fitting in. Online, there is no  body language, voice tonality, or other cues we use to communicate with each other to form bonds. Online communities are a real “space” — in academic communication terms — just like the place where you work is a real “space” where people interact and do things. Each “space” has it’s own set of unwritten rules and etiquette which should be learned before jumping right in. Each community is different and it can be tricky to navigate at first, but it is worth it. You can learn some incredible perspectives.

Everyone that knows me knows I love learning about things — and I have found the best way to learn something is to go to the people that know about it — go to their communities. This act will get you the best information the quickest way — but it will also have you playing the role of the “new guy” over and over again — this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing and it is definitely not something to fear. While I’ve been researching tabletop games and slowly introducing myself to the tabletop gaming world, I decided I would write about some best practices for entering a new online community. This list is in no way exhaustive and I am sure I have left a lot out. Feel free to post your ideas in the comments — more than likely it will help someone out.

What NOT TO DO:

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–Don’t promote– This should go without saying but it is something that obviously needs to be addressed based on the amount of people that still do this. We all have things we are working on and projects we are proud of and we want to share those things — with ALL the people!! However, jumping into a new forum, Facebook Group, Discord, or whatever with a link to your channel/website/etc is equivalent to eating dinner out with your family and having a strange guy walk up and try to sell you a used car right at the dinner table. It’s beyond annoying, it’s rude and inappropriate. More than likely, there will be a time that someone will ask about your project and you can share it — until then, be patient and follow rule #6 — be helpful.

–Humor– Being funny or throwing a joke out there is a strategy that works great to break the ice in most face-to-face situations, but it is something to be weary of while online — especially when you are the new guy. Without body language and voice inflections, jokes often lose their luster when typed — worse yet, they can come off very different than what was intended and actually offend people — the exact opposite of what you had in mind. Anything other than slight self-depreciating humor — such as, “can you explain that again? I’ve got 2 brain cells left and they are waving goodbye to one another” or something of the like — should be thought about very carefully before posting.

What TO DO:

–Get to know the rules– Whenever entering any online community for the first time, it’s best to take a peek at the rules. Sometimes, they can be hard to find or they aren’t posted at all. Even if the rules aren’t posted, if you follow these other best practices, you should be just fine.

Lurker–Lurk for a while– This might be the biggest trick of all. Just reading and observing allows you to get to know the people, the leadership, and the regulars. It allows you to learn the topics and how you might fit in. If you see an easy post to respond to such as a new leadership announcement, respond with a congratulatory message just to let them know you are there. Think of lurking like being at a party where you don’t know anyone — typically you listen for a long while before you jump into conversations and you only do so at the most opportune time. Pro lurkers are some of the best members. They are helpful, know pretty much everything that is going on in the community, and almost never are the cause of drama. 

CoolStory–Stay on topic– This is another one that should go without saying but still needs to be addressed. Every community is different and some are more stringent when it comes to staying on topic versus others — this is something you can learn during your lurker phase. For a best practice, it is best to only post on the topic the community is interested in — posting off topic is like having a conversation with your friend about crowdfunding and suddenly someone jumps in and slaps their phone in your face showing you a funny meme about dragons — don’t get me wrong, dragon memes are all the rage — or that might just be me? — but they have their place and time. Stay respectful to the community by staying on topic — at least until you have established yourself.

–Humanize yourself- I know, I know. Usernames are an opportunity to express yourself — and  as tempting as it may be to sport that uber-cool “xX420MiLeHiGhXx” profile name, it can easily become another obstacle when attempting to fit in a new community. I mean, usernames are fun and all — but it is hard to take someone serious when their profile name looks like something an edgy twelve year old came up with. Think about creating a name that is either your real name, or incorporates your first name. Something cool — like LogicianTim,  Hah! — if not, think about signing your posts with your first name — something like “~Tim” at the end — these things can go along way with building credibility. And while you are at it, using your real face as your avatar humanizes your profile. There are way too many trolls out there and a real picture can help build trust within the community quickly. 

help–Be helpful The one thing to remember about any community is that it is made up of people — people that have all different backgrounds and skill sets. At times, you will run across a question you know the answer to or have a different take on it — in these cases you need to answer it. People are posting to get the feedback and/or gain the knowledge of other people — and once you join a community, you are one of those people.  A strong community is made of people dedicated to helping one another. Being helpful and sharing your knowledge with others in a respectful way will have others in the community thankful you are there.

As I said, being the new guy can be intimidating — but following this list of best practices can help you become an upstanding member of just about any community over time. We live in an age — I hate that phrase — where face-to-face friendships are becoming more and more rare. At the same time, we have access to virtually anyone on earth with an internet connection. As we learn new things, gain more hobbies, and push the boundaries of our comfort zones — we open ourselves up to others — which, surprisingly can make some of the best friends you might never meet in “real life.”

Please like, follow, and share — leave a comment on what your best practices may be for joining a new community. I am sure I left some things out.