Difficult Teens

The decade in review

Andy Berdan

It’s early. Early in the morning, early in the year, and early in the decade. It’s a good time for reflection on the 20-teens and for thoughts on the time ahead.

Berdandy Studios had an interesting start. It definitely suffered from a lack of goals — the honest original goal of Berdandy Studios was just to make games. What kind of games? Shrug. Whim and artifice, fancy and desire. Plans didn’t go out the window… they were never really allowed in the house in the first place. While this is just fine for a boutique business or hobby sideline, the sustainability of such an un-plan is fraught with peril, and all too frequently it sits abandoned on the back burner while the day job — yes, more game development — chews up mental cycles. Ultimately, I found dissatisfaction there.

Some personal health crises motivated me to take stock on what I was doing on that front, and redoubled focus towards projects that fueled me, rather than consumed me. Which led to a couple of job changes. In the meantime, I managed to release PitchFest and Mic Drop, though I have no patience for Marketing, and remain content with my slim sales. Indie tabletop seems so focused on the convention circuit, I found that too much of a challenge. There’s a possible direction for a market-interested partnership there, or even reaching out to the various organizations that will do that con circuit for/with the studio.

I also undertook an few show experiments. First was the InDices Podcast, an indie-only Actual Play (AP) podcast — mostly an attempt to play through my collection of games. Unfortunately, my local group of gamers and the local gaming community as a whole turned out to be disappointingly D&D- and Pathfinder-focused (with a few terrific exceptions). As a result, it was somewhat challenging to find players, not to mention scheduling them. Incidentally, I also found that audio editing is not something that I love to do. It’s easy enough, but strangely, I find video editing more compelling. Also easier to do while listening to music in the background.

The next experiment was to start up a game developer show — GMParty — a live stream of game developers talking about their game designs and game design problems. That solved a couple of issues: no longer had to edit (live, baby!), and minimal prep was needed. But, the scheduling problem remained, which I partially tried to solve by going to the broader design community. Turns out, remote multi-camera live-streams are not particularly well supported by much of anything. Except for Google Hangouts (which only streams to YouTube), or a $1000 software package for tv stations. Gross. For those technical reasons, I put GMParty on hiatus. There’s some additional plans in the wings for rebooting it, stay tuned.

Speaking of staying tuned… what are the Berdandy Studios Goals beyond the next few years? So much is unknown. My day job is new, but seems it’ll be fulfilling — game development for a existing vibrant AAA product — my wife is finishing her Masters degree in a year and a half, my son is going to be off to some kind of post-secondary schooling in a couple years, and yet, Berdandy Studios still seems compelling… if I can figure out how to work within (or circumvent) the tabletop gaming market. Interestingly, PitchFest has had success as a brainstorming workshop product. Turns out that playing together is similar to being working creatives together. There just might be some promise to this whole group creativity thing. That’s certainly the route that improv organizations have gone — selling facilitation of improv workshops as training and team building. Additionally, I have some games that I’m trying to rewrite as a stage improv production. In particular, Mic Drop seems extraordinarily inclined to that. Now I just need to figure out how to make it happen.

Hashtag goals twenty twenties.