Someone is WRONG on the internet. . .again!

Rather than writing (which I should be), I found myself sucked down a rabbit hole I normally know better than to avoid: Quora.

[With apologies for my post title to Randall Munroe and his great comic, specifically Duty Calls.]

This is the question that snared my attention: What is your opinion of the FATE RPG system (the one with the fudge dice)?

TLDR; I didn’t add an answer of my own. Francis Dickinson nailed it. +eleventy

However, another never-played-Fate maroon felt compelled to vomit into the void. I won’t reprint Ryan Marshall’s answer except to point out that his entire experience with Fate is that he “powered [reading] on through [Fate Core] anyway” already operating on the presumption that he didn’t like it. Confirmation bias much, bro? Feel free to downvote his answer at your leisure.

Here’s my answer to his bloviation (also featured on Quora with slightly different formatting):

You’re missing some crucial distinctions, Ryan.

For the sake of argument, I’ll stipulate to your (and my daughter’s) premise that Captain America is “the perfect soldier.” Steve still has plenty of opportunities to accumulate Fate points. Any reading of the things that happen to him during any comic or movie in which he is featured demonstrate this narrative fixture. He has weaknesses in the form of human interactions and emotional blind spots. His primary Trouble could be expressed as Loyal to a Fault. It drives the entire plot of The Winter Soldier.

Also, consider that a player in a Fate-based game accumulates fate points whenever her character is compelled to a decision or an event by an aspect. It does NOT have to be that character’s aspect. Any aspect in play is eligible for compels and invocations at any time. You could, in theory, make your personal version of Steve Rogers as “perfect” as you like and still accumulate a fate point when the GM drops Ironman on your head by compelling the game aspect Obey the Law. Whoops.

Let’s play “Name that Aspect.” I’ll bet you can come up with the character “flaw” that compels Steve NOT to turn over Fury’s flash drive to Pierce in The Winter Soldier and thereby become a fugitive and an enemy of the state. Hint: It rhymes with An Overdeveloped Sense of _____.

Better late than never?

The most common question we got at the OUYA reveal party during GDC was “Where’s your game?”

Great question! We’ll come back to that. First, some random pix from the launch party.

You can’t really see Julie from where I was standing on the other end of the enormous bar. Sorry.

Samia and I in the OUYA museum. Lots of fun toys! Phone pix make me look fat(ter) than I really am.

What was that? Game, you say? Heh.

The business model all along has been three parts:

  • Video games
  • Fiction (novels and graphic novels)
  • Paper-and-pencil roleplaying games

When we started developing Terrorland as a bake off between UDK and Unity, we learned tons about how much backstory was required to support a heavily decision-based game and how crucial quality art is. During the side project of No Tomorrow last year, it became very clear that producing quality fiction is more time consuming that we anticipated. Both learning experiences were fabulously helpful in helping us realign the business model into a more logical sequence.

  1. Roleplaying game
  2. Fiction
  3. Video game

In this order, they inform one another more logically and content developed for one isn’t wasted or shelved out of sequence for each of our product lines.

That’s a long-winded way of saying that we’ve been through seven evolutions of playtesting the roleplaying game called Modernity that supports Terrorland. All five active playtest have been instrumental in helping us vet world elements, story elements, game mechanics, and test player expectations with about 30 different people. Playtesting has been extremely helpful in coming to adopt Fate Core as the paper-and-pencil engine for our games. This will permit us to focus on the narrative elements and the FUN! rather than spending late nights crunching out new mechanics. (Even though I’m sad to release my grip on the d12-based system. Maybe we’ll come back to that again someday.)

The fiction is being developed in tandem with the RPG, because both require the same massive quantity of backstory and prewriting to get just right. Both streams of work heavily inform the development of the video game. Unity 3D has presented some learning curve challenges, but overall we’re happy with the engine and look forward to shipping our first adventure video game this year.

In doing all of this on a cash basis, we’re avoiding the feast-and-famine risk of venture-funded or debt-loaded studios. Our model is designed to be a sustainable one with a long tail. I want to be doing this decades from now, not bitter about having to “quit my dream for a day job” like so many people I know.

In short, we’re building momentum. Each little win gets us further and a little faster. Our intention is still to ship all three product lines as close to simultaneously as possible so that you can enjoy the stories and the games in whichever modes you most prefer.

Thank you to each and every one of you who has participated in the playtesting or even just encouraged us. It means the world (to me) that you think some part of what we’re doing is “cool”.


I had a phone conversation with another startup CEO this afternoon that reminded me of the importance of energy and passion when we’re chasing a dream, especially in the the throes of the first half of the grunt work. I guess that I crunched a little too much over the weekend, and kind of ran out of steam…

As I bang on the various components that will (soon!) become the product line known as Terrorland, it was great to chat with somebody else in another company, in an entirely different line if business, and be reminded to focus on why I’m doing this, and be reminded that there’s no such thing as too much excitement!


Thanks, Michel. =)


It’s a great, though unspecific, question. Since I’m talking mostly to myself at this point, I’ll answer it a couple different ways (in case we forget later).

  • Why Glacier Peak? Because nobody else is creating the games that we know can change the world… for the better. The games that are missing defy labels like “serious games” or “learning games”. All games are serious, as far as we’re concerned! All games obviously involve learning. What’s missing is more! (The short movie, More, is better in IMAX, but buy the DVD anyway.)
  • Why now? While we’ve been operating in stealth mode since 2008 and have dreamed up quite a lot for ourselves to do, it’s time to march. As Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Howard Tayler and Scott Adams (among many other brilliant minds) have all clearly pointed out: ideas are inherently worthless – what matters is execution, delivery, shipped product. Blogging on a regular basis will keep us focused on these projects and accountable to the mysterious forces of the webernetz. After all, all y’all are our customers.
  • Why? Because.