Nexus #7- The Art of working with Artists -Part 2

Finding the right artists for your project can be like finding a needle in a haystack — seriously, has anyone ever looked for a needle in a haystack? — bad phrase aside, finding artists can be difficult. Something I found interesting when speaking with Jay Goike and Scott Rumptz from D-Verse Publishing is that a lot of the best artists can be found through relationships with other artists. If you think about it, this makes sense. If you are a specialist in your field, chances are you have someone that you look up to — maybe someone you have always wanted to work with but just haven’t had the opportunity. Well, if you find a project that you really enjoy with a company that does business that favors your specialty — odds are that you will recommend that person you look up to in hopes of being able to work with them on a project you believe in. What I’m finding out is there is a lot of ways to find artists, you just need the right approach.

*Art by Michael Rechlin

When looking for artists for a project, it’s ok to look for people outside of your genre. The trick is to send them the lore — hopefully you spent the extra time on it — and if they enjoy it, have them send you some sketches. That’s exactly what our two heroes Jay and Scott did when looking for artists for their game Nexus. They weren’t swayed when they saw the artists they were interested in specialized in a different genre. Take a listen to what they said about finding a guy called “Viking Myke” who shocked them with his first pieces.

 

 

*Art by Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe

It sounds like letting artists do whatever they want can be very beneficial — but what happens when you need something specific and the artist just is not understanding what you want? Jay and Scott ran into this exact situation when working with an artist overseas who spoke only broken English which added an additional layer of complexity to the communication process.

 

The great comedian Steven Wright once said, “It’s a small world……but I wouldn’t want to paint it.” This adage rings true when you start working with people from a community — and the art community is no different. Listen to what happened to Jay and Scott with a couple of their artists they commissioned to work on Nexus.

 

*Sculpt by Roberto Chaudon

What I am discovering is there are many benefits to being flexible in the way that you do business and having a project that excites those around you. One of those benefits — which could easily be overlooked — is getting referrals from artists on who they think would be a good match for other areas of your project. Scott and Jay were fortunate enough to get this honor from one of their artists when they started asking around for a sculptor.

 

*Art byHelge C. Balzer

The referrals and recommendations didn’t stop at a sculptor. Jay and Scott needed to find someone to do an epic scene for the box cover that would incorporate all the different facets of their game Nexus all in one shot. Listen how the artist not only delivered but also suggested a detail that would be immediately incorporated into the game.

 

If you take anything away from this blog post — you should remember that doing business in a way that puts the artists first instead of yourself and taking the time to write immersive and unique lore — both will take you a long way with making the right connections at the right times.

Next time I am interviewing the artist Danny Cruz himself! His art is nothing short of amazing and I can’t wait to hear what he has to tell us about his experience as a professional artist.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share!

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

Artist Spotlight: an Interview with Danny Cruz

Nothing seems to catch my attention faster than a good piece of artwork. Art that is done well tells an entire story which is communicated in just a few seconds. The skill required to accomplish this takes years to acquire — and a lifetime to perfect. Some artists sit down, create their art, and think nothing of it — others, like the one I interviewed earlier this week, study and hone their craft for an entire lifetime.

This past week I was fortunate enough to speak with the very talented artist, Danny Cruz. You may have seen his work on the game Kingdom Death: Monster. Danny shared some insights about his experience as an artist and what types of projects he enjoys working on.

Danny---Lanista-3

*Art by Danny Cruz

I asked Danny how he got his start as an artist and what were his early inspirations. Like many others, Danny started drawing at a young age and realized he had a talent for it. Listen to what he shared with me about his early years and which artists caught his eye. 

 

I think everyone loves a “big break” story. Danny tells me how he got a couple of big breaks that he still benefits from to this day. He says he no longer has to go out and find work, rather the work seems to find him as a result of previous success.

 

What I found interesting is that although Danny has had such a great response to his art, he sets the bar for himself almost impossibly high. He tells me he is constantly trying to improve on his skills — trying to “level up” enough to impress his most harsh critic — himself. 

 

Danny---Hoarder*Art by Danny Cruz

Being new to the tabletop gaming world, I wouldn’t know who Danny Cruz is if it wasn’t for his current work with D-Verse Publishing and their game Nexus. I was curious to see what he had to say about the lore in Nexus and how he brought the characters in the game to life.

 

Getting a glimpse into the mind of an incredibly talented artist such as Danny Cruz was a great experience. Danny’s never-ending quest to perfect his craft is nothing short of motivational. He is a great example of someone who was given an ability and rather than squander it, he has turned it into something that will move and inspire people for generations to come.

If you would like to see more of Danny’s art, you can visit his DeviantArt page at http://dannycruz4.deviantart.com/

Next time I will be sharing the interview I did with the artist Michael Rechlin — also known as Viking Myke. It will be interesting to see Myke’s perspective on being an artist in the world of tabletop gaming.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share! Comments are always nice too!

Pre-Origins Jitters from a noob

I leave my cozy, comfortable house and my super-awesome family to attend Origins for the first time on Tuesday. Having had a career in marketing, I am no stranger to attending conferences – but this one feels different for some reason. This time I am attending a conference with a subject I am actually interested in but know very little about. I am also attending Origins with a Press Badge — something I’ve never done before. All this unknown triggers anxiety inside me, but it is not all bad anxiety.

It is just so easy to sit in my comfort zone and be knowledgeable on the topics I deal with from day to day and I rarely have to worry about looking stupid. But I know that by doing so, I will not be growing as a person. Besides, this is a chance for me to meet some really cool people and write about how gaming has impacted their lives. All the excitement about the adventure ahead and the stories to be experienced and retold also give off some good anxiety. I get to go in, be the new guy and — hopefully — meet some people who want to show me the ropes. From what I’ve seen of the tabletop gaming community so far, I don’t think that will be a problem at all. Everyone has been incredibly helpful and so willing to help others — unlike any other industry I’ve ever been in.

As I embark on my journey to a place many hours away into the unknown, I can’t help but think about how I relate to some of the games I’ve learned about recently. I’ll be that little meeple who starts off on a quest with no clue what awaits me. And much like that little guy, I’ll probably face some obstacles along the way — and if I keep my explorer spirit — I’ll come out the other side a bit stronger, wiser, and better prepared for the next adventure.

If you are attending Origins this year and see me wandering around looking overwhelmed, come say hi to me! The best part about about any adventure is the people you meet along the way!

If you like what you see, please like, follow, and share. Comments are always nice too!

Artist Spotlight: Michael Rechlin aka Viking Myke

There’s a certain image that pops in your head when you are told someone calls themselves “Viking Myke.” Then I saw his artwork for the first time — and the image became more pronounced. Finally, I got to interview him over Skype and the full picture came into focus. Michael Rechlin, aka Viking Myke is as dynamic as his artwork. A driven guy who knows what he wants and — like a Viking — doesn’t mind fighting hard for something he believes in.

When looking at a piece of his art, I can’t help but get a sense that there is some deeper meaning behind it all. It is humorous, dark, and sometimes twisted. If you look closely, it seems possible there is something to be learned about humanity in each piece. For example, one of his pieces depicts a rich fat guy getting his toenails clipped by people of a lower socioeconomic status which could symbolize how disgusting and twisted our world can be towards those that are not as fortunate in life. Needless to say, his art is nothing short of breathtaking and I couldn’t wait to dive right in and learn more about his influences.

Myke---Lanista-Life*Art by Michael Rechlin

 

Myke tells me about his need for independence and how early on he knew he wanted to pursue art for a living. Listen to what he says about his early influences and how they helped shape his work today.

 

There is little doubt that Myke enjoys what he does. Several years ago, his desire to continue doing art would be tested. Listen how an unforeseen event almost ended his ability to draw and how his determination to find a way to keep doing what he loves pulled him through.

 

I’m finding that some artists like to warm up a while and have a ritual of sorts before working on commissioned pieces. Viking Myke seems to have a different take when it comes to starting on a piece of art. Listen to Myke explain why he thinks of himself as an “Artistic Sniper.”

 

Myke-FloorSawsFinal*Art by Michael Rechlin

 

While Myke works with all types of mediums and enjoys paint as well as black and white work — he explains to me there is something pure about black and white. There seems to be a fan base out there that enjoys black and white and how it hearkens back to our younger days and brings back a sort of magical nostalgia. Listen to what Myke has to say about the tabletop gaming industry and black and white art.

 

When it comes to deciding who Myke will do business with, he tells me he likes to feel out the person to make sure they will be a good fit before taking on a project. When Scott Rumptz and Jay Goike of D-Verse Publishing reached out to Myke to work on their new game Nexus, Myke was not sure he would be a good fit at first. Listen to what factors helped him make up his mind on the project.

 

Myke--SKURN-Death-Saws*Art by Michael Rechlin

 

Sometimes in life you meet someone that you can just tell will be a really big deal once they get that one big break. Myke is one of these people. It’s almost like he is a hidden gem just waiting to be scooped up once his work is brought to the surface in the sunlight. I foresee a day real soon where Myke will be busy beyond his dreams and people will be fighting to commission his work.

It seems the universe always finds a way to test you the most when you feel you have found the thing you want to do in life — almost as a way to say “are you sure you want to do that? You are going to have to work twice as hard for it!?” Myke’s tenacity and determination to keep going when times get tough and sticking to his beliefs should resonate with anyone who has tried to do something on their own. From now on, I will always remember my inner “Viking” when those tough times hit and urge myself to push on through towards victory.

If you are interested in seeing more of  Michael Rechlin, aka Viking Myke’s work, you can check out his website here: https://michaelrechlin.carbonmade.com/

Next week I will be attending Origins 2018 in Columbus, Ohio for the very first time. I am very excited and look forward to bringing you some stories about the people I meet there. The blog may be delayed a week or so depending on if I have time to get writing done while in the hotel room or not. I have a feeling I’m going to be busy meeting all the great people in the tabletop gaming community! See you there!

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share! Comments are always nice too!

 

Noob at Origins 2018 Day 1 – Unforeseen Obstacles

My first day at my first gaming convention was both thrilling and disappointing. I had traveled with my friends Scott and Jay from D-Verse Publishing, LLC. along with artist Michael Rechlin a little over 9 hours to get to Columbus a couple days before. We had spent the previous day setting up the booth for Nexus and that night we stopped by a meet-up for a while. The hotel was just shy of a mile from the convention center which we walked to and from — something I am not conditioned to do — but the excitement of being there kept me going. Needless to say, anticipation and anxiety kept me from sleeping well.

OriginsWe arrive at the convention center an hour and a half before the doors open to the public. The time slips through our fingers fast as we make last minute adjustments, preparing printed materials, setting up the demo area ,and vacuuming the black carpet (yea bad idea) before the show. A steady, low roar is building from the hallways outside as people line up to get in. An announcer comes over the loud speakers and I hear “Origins 2018 is now open!” followed by sounds of yelling and cheering from the exhibitors as well as the eager public. The crowd comes flowing in the doors, rounding corners, and melting into the exhibit hall almost like a viscous liquid. Excitement is high as people rush to their “first hit” list to make sure they get the limited editions, coupons, or other rarities before they run out. Passing by the exhibitors’ booths, the enthusiasm is high as stuttered and stammered sales pitches, still not quite perfected try to catch the attention of passersby.

There is nothing I want to do more than to walk around and watch all the people. My legs and feet are so exhausted from all the walking and preparing the booth and everything over the last couple of days, I just can’t muster up the strength to make a lap right now. So, I sit here in a chair and watch as people flow by me probably wondering why this guy is sitting against the wall typing on a laptop at an awesome tabletop gaming convention. “Maybe if I just sit here and rest for a while I’ll be able to make a few laps in a bit” I tell myself. Knowing damn well I could sit here for three days and not have the physical strength to walk around without pains in my feet and legs. I can’t help but think about how many people are walking by, so many stories I’m not catching. “Later” I tell myself, “there will be time later once I can get some rest.” But that feel-better moment never came as I was struck with another dose of reality. Stimulus overload.

Tim and Myke 450Being a natural introvert, I recharge my batteries being alone. Normally, just an hour or two alone can give me the charge I need to function at a high level. On this trip, there is four of us staying in the same hotel room, going to the conference, and eating together 24 hours a day. There is no alone time and I am starting to feel it on the first day of the convention already. The sights and sounds of the exhibition hall are intoxicating and I am constantly looking and listening, trying to pay attention to every detail to make sure I don’t miss out on something really cool. This high-focused intensity leads to me becoming more and more mentally exhausted and I can hear myself stuttering and searching for words when I speak — something that rarely happens to me. I had to find a quick-charge somewhere. Luckily for me, there is a first-aid room right next to our booth that no one is using — and technically I do need some aid. I sneak off in there from time to time to escape the sights and sounds for a few minutes of time to pull myself together, but the reprieve never lasts long. Like a 5 year-old, I don’t want to miss out on any of the things!

Right now you might be saying, “Come on Tim, we get it, you were exhausted. There has to be some upside to all of this. Right? ” That is where you are correct. The old silver-lining, lemons into lemonade stuff starts to come into play here.

If you have kids and have ever been to Disneyland, you probably have seen one of your young ones being so excited they wear themselves out and end up falling asleep on one of the benches during a 5 minute break. I was honestly afraid that someone was going to bust into the First Aid room and find me snoozing away hours after the show had ended or something. Being out of shape has its upsides though. Being lazy goes hand and hand with finding creative and easy solutions to problems. I found that if I just sat still in a chair off to the side, others were tired as well and would sit next to me. Conversations would pop off about the show, how tired we all were, what booths we couldn’t wait to share with one another, and a myriad of other topics. As it turns out, tired people are everywhere at the convention and they wanted someone to talk to as well. So I ended up spending most of my time right there against the wall which allowed me to meet people I would have never otherwise run into.

As I said in the beginning, the first day at my first gaming convention was both exhilarating and disappointing. The sights, the sounds, the booths, the people were all incredible and were better than I could even imagine. My disappointment came with my own physical and mental limitations and the expectations I had placed on myself being unrealistic. I knew I was going to learn a lot at Origins this year, but I didn’t think my big takeaway from the first day would be facing my own shortcomings and resetting my own expectations of myself the rest of the trip. The good news is that I was able to reset those expectations and make the best of my time there and I was able to capture so many great things to write about. I just had to go about it a different way then I had planned and narrow my scope and reach.

I didn’t set out to make a blog post all about me, but this really was the big story for me personally the first day. It is my hope that it might help some other convention newbie prepare themselves in the future and give them the expectation that you are going to be tired, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it.

Next time, I want to share with you all the things I noticed from someone that is not in the gaming industry. Things I found surprising and unlike other industry conventions. I think you’ll find it as interesting as I do.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share! Comments are always nice too!

Is the Kickstarter spirit dead?

kickstarter_headerI want to talk about what I always thought the spirit of Kickstarter was about. Kickstarter is a great platform for new, innovative companies to test public interest in their new product as well as gather funding to get their new company started. People that think the product is a good idea will give money to the company. To say “thank you,” the company will normally give something in return such as schematics, a prototype, or a finished product after manufacturing is set up. This process allowed many innovative new companies to get the capital needed to get their company started and bring their product to the market. This seems to still be happening in the tabletop gaming industry, however the process seems to have been tainted somewhat.

Where before, Kickstarter was dominated by small startup companies trying to get off the ground, large or established companies have entered the Kickstarter market which is something that I would argue goes against the spirit of Kickstarter. They recognize the reduced risk and somewhat predictable return on investment they can achieve on the platform. Established companies have larger marketing budgets to be able to advertise their games a lot more than startups. The larger companies also have established manufacturing lines which in some cases can allow them to sell their games at a cheaper price than a startup company. The combination of these two factors hurts startup companies by taking market spend away. Backers have a limited budget and they too recognize a lower risk and better value by backing a large company versus a new startup designer. This pattern of larger companies using Kickstarter and lowering the funding of smaller companies is not necessarily bad. It forces savvy startup business owners into changing the way they do business if they want to make a break through.

If small startup companies are to survive and compete in the Kickstarter market, they cannot continue the old ways of running their campaigns. They have to find new ways to market and develop their products. They have to innovate in every aspect of their business now, not just in their product design. Gone are the days of putting up some sketches and rough drafts along with a description of the product. Now, backers are used to seeing professional graphics along with well thought out and tested marketing trigger words all designed to attract the attention and promote action by the viewer. Startup companies need to spend a lot more time — and sometimes money — in these areas if they want to have a chance at a successful campaign. I’m currently doing some marketing consulting for my friends on their upcoming game Nexus — if there is interest, I can share some secret strategies we are incorporating in a future blog. Anyways, even though larger companies have entered the market with some obvious advantages, it doesn’t mean that the smaller startups can’t take advantage of a natural weakness.

Large companies, in fact have a natural weakness. You see, they have a smaller tolerance for taking risk. Steady and predictable return on investment is what most of them are looking for. This avoidance of risk lends itself to products that are reproducible and somewhat predictable. This is not to say they aren’t cool or fun to play, it’s that they leave a lot of room for innovation by risk-taking entrepreneurs. I know it is tempting to follow trends that big companies are setting — after all, it is working for them. As we discussed earlier, the startup is outgunned in the “tried and true” market. This is where startups need to look for things that have never been done before. For instance, I have found many ideas buried in the comments section on Kickstarter on how customers want to purchase things a certain way or ideas on how to make products unique or better. Smaller companies are more agile and can take the risk to see if there is a big enough market to support doing business a particular way or making a product available in a different way. This is their secret weapon. Yes — you will have more chances at failure, but you will also have chance at incredible successes by finding niches that large companies haven’t carved out yet.

To sum it all up, the Kickstarter spirit is not dead, but it certainly has been changed by the influx of large companies. Smaller companies can’t follow the trends set by large companies, but instead need to be able to compete in the areas of marketing and need to take advantage of their risk-taking abilities by being innovative in product design and offerings. For the entrepreneur that can listen and learn from failures and successes, Kickstarter can still be a great place to both test ideas and raise capital for your new business.

I am sure I have left out a lot of angles on the intricacies of the Kickstarter market. Comment below and let me know your thoughts on the condition of the Kickstarter spirit.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share!

 

NEXUS – Who are these guys?

So, my friends Scott Rumptz and Jay Goike just got finished on an all day video shoot this past weekend and I decided to barge in and give them an impromptu interview . My thought is that when people decided to back a Kickstarter, they are not just buying into a game, but the people behind it. In this mini-series, you will get to learn a bit more about the guys at D-Verse Publishing, LLC and their debut game NEXUS which will be on Kickstarter August 1st.

Forgive my microphone, I had it on directional which picked their voices up great, but mine was a bit muffled — silly mistake, but I got the important part.

So, without further adieu, hear is Scott and Jay telling me about their journey so far and how it seems like all their previous projects were preparing them for this one.

Scott and Jay talk to me about how the game was received at Origins 2018. Jay was hearing so much positive things about NEXUS, he kinda thought maybe the entire convention was punking him lol.

When Jay and Scott first started playing games together as kids, they often changed the rules of the game to fit them. They incorporated this type flexibility inside NEXUS as almost a “sandbox tabletop game”. Here they tell about “house-rules” and “self-generating narrative” in the game.

As the game continues to be noticed by more people in the community and more information is released, I think I would like to know more not just about this game, but the future plans of Scott and Jay at D-Verse Publishing, LLC.

Next time, I will focus on what their ultimate goals are for the continuation of making innovative and nostalgic games.

If you like what you see, please hit that like and follow button. Don’t forget to share on social media as well!

To learn more about NEXUS, check out their website here: https://d-verse.com/nexus/ or you can visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nexus.dverse

NEXUS — What do they have planned next?

When I caught up with Jay Goike and Scott Rumptz after their day of shooting video, they were obviously tired, but I didn’t let that stop me from taking advantage of an opportunity to ask some more questions.  This time I was curious to find out what they had planned after the Kickstarter August 1st.

Scott and Jay tell me about how the outpouring of support from people both in person and online tells them they are going in the right direction and how exciting it is when someone comments and likes the game of NEXUS.

When I asked about the big driving factors for D-Verse Publishing, LLC and what keeps them dreaming of new things, Jay and Scott tell me about how they are inspired by the artists and the infinite amount of worlds out there to explore. They said they want creators, designers, and industry people to be able to continue doing what they love to do.

Scott and Jay tells me that D-Verse Publishing, LLC does not end with the game of NEXUS. In fact, it is just the beginning. They want to continue to bring in more and more talented people from across the industry to make innovative and nostalgic games for years to come.

I am really enjoying doing these video interviews with Scott Rumptz and Jay Goike with D-Verse Publishing, LLC. I get to learn more about their philosophy behind the game and what drives them to put in the long hours and work so hard to bring a new game to the market.

If you too are enjoying learning more about the creators of NEXUS, leave me a like and a follow. Comments are always nice too!

The best place to stay up to date about NEXUS is by liking their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nexus.dverse

Tales from the Nexus: A Helot awakens

500-Helge-The-PitsThat smell. It’s pungently putrid — but familiar. It reminds me of something — something from my youth? — Yes, that’s it — from my youth. Memories instantly flood my mind of the Meatgardens and the years I spent training there in the Little Fucker League. Especially of this one match with a tentacled fellow — its name escapes me — who wrapped me so tight I couldn’t……WAIT. I CAN’T MOVE. Where…where am I? — Sounds of laughter and moans all around — my vision blurred as my eyes start to roll back into my head — I look and I can see I am strapped to a bed — I glance at my right shoulder and see meat dangling off the white bone of what remains of my right arm — A loud burst of laughter and more yelling from around the room. My memory is coming back to me now. I…I had won.

The room is darkened with fluorescent lights flickering every so often. Water drips through tiny spots of rust in the ceiling — one of those spots happen to be hitting my left knee — infuriatingly irritating — drip….drip…drip…– In the middle of the room, hanging from the ceiling is what looks like a miniature jumbo-tron — four televisions, one on each side. It is playing what every television plays in the Nexus — Blood.Stream — but we just call it BS for short. BS airs nothing but live or recorded Barge Fights sparing the viewer none of the graphical gore and prides itself in sacrificing media reporters for the very best of action. — And what is playing on BS right now is not just any Barge Fight — it is MY Barge Fight!

I watch myself on the television as I am fighting a giant Helot and we are lunging and dodging — I grimace as I know this part — I know what comes next. — drip — A foreign telepathic command combined with my desire to please the crowd inspire me to make a sacrifice. I watch on the screen as I  skillfully lunge my right arm out far, just grazing its left uppermost appendage. I purposefully stay outstretched just a little too long — knowing it won’t be able to resist the temptation of an easy strike — it uses its lower right appendage to slice my right arm off — in doing so, leaving its midsection — cough — its sexual organ — open for a fraction of a second. — I quickly uppercut with my left arm right into its meaty flesh driving my blade through its testicles directly up through its torso almost three feet deep — impaling it like some over sized Helot corndog. The giant Helot’s scream was only overshadowed by the roars from the stands as the massive barge began to rumble from the decibels. Last thing I remember is feeling completely fulfilled from the approval of the crowd just before its enormous body goes limp and comes slamming down on top of me rendering me unconscious. — The room I am now in explodes in yells of victory as the other Helots — all in differing states of disrepair — scream in blood lust and cheer at the creativity of the kill. — drip…Drip…DRIP!

Full of adrenaline from watching the kill and enraged at the incessant dripping — I jerk my body back and forth and the bed starts to slide across the floor with each movement. I manage to slide it just far enough to escape the dripping when I see horrid figures out of the corner of my eyes — figures I am all too familiar with. All the sudden my brain is filled with thoughts — thoughts that aren’t mine — commands that I must obey. “Rest. Relax. All is calm. You feel nothing.” — Instantly, I am in some sort of trance as I watch these beings approach me carrying what looks to be an arm. But this is no ordinary replacement arm, no– this arm is almost twice as muscular as mine and is plated with spikes and protruding daggers out of the knuckles. — Oh yes! I am getting an upgrade!

 

Here is a dramatic reading of the story: 

 

 

Tales from the Nexus: How I made it in the Nexus

When I arrived at the Nexus a little over a year ago with my meager life savings, I followed the advice of those before me. I was told to become a Lanista, hire the Gnoems to grow me some fighter Helots, and to become rich and famous in the arenas on the Barges — sounds easy right? — Hah! Not for me. I have never had the best of luck, but in the Nexus I learned quickly it’s not luck one needs — it’s money, and lots of it. You see, it’s not just having enough money to get things done — no, no — it’s having enough money for when everything goes wrong and you have to start over again — and again…

Everyone has heard of the famous Lanistas and their legendary Helots who dominated the Barge Fights, took down all opponents, and even survived bouts against the dreaded Barge Beasts. But for every one story of those that make it, there are thousands of others — like me — who don’t do so well and have to figure out how to survive here — bankrupt, disenfranchised, disillusioned — the Nexus is an unforgiving place. But alas, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you how things REALLY happen in the Nexus for most of those who come here looking for fame and fortune. This is my story — and many others share it.

Being of high moral values and one who always tries to follow the rules, I started where one is supposed to start — if you want to become a Lanista and buy Helots to fight for you, surely you would start at the beings that genetically create the Helots, right? So, I went to the Gnoems — hideous beings — they just looked at me and told me telepathically, “must get papers from the INC.” — What the fuck is the INC?? — Well, let me tell you. The INC stands for the Inter-dimensional Nexus Commission. Think of the INC as the bureaucrats and regulators of the Nexus. Nothing — supposedly — gets done without their approval. Ever had to go to the DMV to get your drivers license renewed? Well — trust me — you’d rather go to the DMV every day than to have to deal with the INC just one time — incompetence, red-tape, lethargic — holy shit I never thought regulation could be this painful.

So, I wait in a line that literally last for days — camping out in the waiting room — living off vending machine food — only to get to my turn and be told I am in the wrong line and I need to get in the line twenty feet over to my left which was twice as long.  — Yea, I told you this was bullshit. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there — Finally getting through that line after almost a week — yes, these are literal times — my paperwork is stamped and I am sent back to the first line. This incessant waiting keeps going on, seemingly endless line after line, stamp after stamp, fee after fee — and the next thing I know three months have gone by and I still haven’t left the INC offices. Finally, I pay my final fee and get my final stamp and I’m told, “Do you want to pay for expedited approval? Fourteen day response time guaranteed.”– Fuck yea I want the fast response! At this point it is costing me a fortune in just vending machine food! –I swear the INC makes a shit-ton of money off those machines — it’s a racket I tell yea. I patiently wait and on the fourteenth day — what do ya know? — I get a response! The envelope is tattered and has a tear down one side that has been taped back together haphazardly. I open it and find a letter inside that reads, “Unfortunately your paperwork has been misplaced. Enclosed, you will find your refund for expedited approval. Please visit the INC to refile your application.” — DO FUCKING WHAT?! — Oh, and yea someone stole my fucking refund too — that is, if they ever included it to begin with.

Myke - Lord Beakington of Snozataria
Art by Michael Rechlin

After going through this exact process — multiple times — they “lose” my paperwork time and time again — I look back and realize that over nine months has passed and I am still not making an income. Living on my reserves — eating vending machine food — I can see my savings going down faster than a date on prom-night. I am starting to figure out that going to the INC and doing things “the right way” — is apparently the wrong way to get things done in the Nexus. My virtuous values are hindering my ability to succeed as a Lanista. There has to be a better way — and I don’t give a fuck who I have to step on to get it done — I’m getting desperately low on savings — I need to make some quick cash just to stay afloat. One thing I have learned, is that the INC doesn’t know their head from their ass — the workers in the windows steal most the money that is given as fees and only pass along part of it to the INC — they are a totally fucked up, unorganized mess — but, as crazy as it might sound — I’m going back in again.

I purposefully start waiting in the wrong line — the one closest to the vending machine and the wall. It’s late at night on the fourth night — I think — it’s easy to lose track of time  here under the florescent lights — most people are sleeping, including some of the INC workers at their windows. I am patiently leaning on the side of the vending machine — the smell of body odor and mold are horrendous — the sound of buzzing lights overhead and the occasional cough or sniffle is about all that is going on — and then it happens. The worker at my window gets up for shift change — this is my chance. I quickly slide around the railing and sit down at the desk — I grab the stamping tool and hold it in my hand as the replacement worker slowly walks up to me. I ignore them at first — and they say, “hey, uh, man…was I not on the schedule tonight?”– “I guess not. You can have my shift if you want,” I answer — and the motherfucker turns around, chuckles, and walks away.

I click the “Next Button” and the person waiting in line — after rubbing their eyes from being half-asleep — comes up and hands me their paperwork. Looks like everything is in order to me — I collect their fee, stamp their paper, and send them on to the next line. I pocket most of the cash and put the rest in the drawer for the INC so no one will come looking for money. I find the schedule on the computer — enter my name in for the next night — and every night after for the next six months. It’s not exactly the fame and fortune I was told about — but I’m not going to starve — Oh yea, and I found the keys to the vending machine in the drawer — cha-ching!!!