Game Developer – William Ward

Game Developer – William Ward

William Ward has a passion for storytelling, be it short story or comic strips. He is also an award-winning photographer and RGP developer. Let’s find out a little bit more!

William, it’s no secret you started out as an avid (and talented!) Dungeon Master. Would you say that D&D played a big part in your passion for storytelling?

The similarities between modern tabletop role-playing games and traditional oral narratives are, in my view, an exceedingly fascinating topic. Before the rise of the novel telling stories was a community driven process. It was interactive. The reason that a single folktale has dozens of variations is because of storytellers that altered their tales based in there audience. I think that tabletop role-playing games fall into this tradition of interactive storytelling. Seeing my audience at the game table was certainly rewarding – an experience that made me want to tell more stories.

What do you enjoy most in roleplaying games?

I’ve always enjoyed the creativity involved in the planning and running of the game sessions. As a player you have the opportunity to creatively solve problems within the game. As a game master you have the challenge of creating scenarios that will be well received.

How often do you GM nowadays?

I’m not able to play as often as I would like. I typically run Pathfinder once every other month. Our schedules make it difficult to get together more often, but in addition to those sessions in person they also roleplay on message boards between games.

How about working in RPG? What is the most rewarding part?

The things that I find most enjoyable about creation process overlap a lot with what I enjoy about playing. The process of creating a RPG is interactive. While you can create a role-playing game solo, it’s most often a group process. Game designers, writers, artists, designers – it’s a process that can create a lot of back-and-forth. I think it’s the same reason that I enjoy the collaborative process of comic books.

Speaking of writing comic scripts. When did comics enter your life?

When I was in elementary school and junior high school I’ve read a lot of superhero comics. I enjoy them, but at a certain point they no longer held my interest and stopped reading. I was fortunate enough to have my interest rekindled during my freshman year at college. A professor included Maus in one of my classes and it made me give comics a second look.

With a little research I discovered that the reason I lost interest in comics was that I was not reading the right comics. I began to read through all of the comics my childhood grosser didn’t carry: Sandman, Hellraiser, The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, The Incal, and dozens of others.

Photography is another one of your passions. Is this something you consider a hobby, or more of a parallel professional activity?

Photography has somewhat come full circle for me – hobby, parallel profession, and back to hobby. While I’ve always enjoyed photography it became a serious hobby for me after taking a class in college. Taking what I learned from the class I entered the Main State Fair photography contest. Since (like most artist) I am critical of my own work, it was a surprise when I won best in show (B&W) and ribbons in half the categories where I submitted photos.

That gave me the confidence to pursue photography as a parallel career. Since then I’ve worked on-an-off as a portrait photographer for outside companies and independently. My real passion is for landscape photography though, and that is where I concentrate my time currently (as a hobby).

Who do you consider to be the most influential writers?

Ursula K. Le Guin as a writer that has had the most influence on me. A Wizard of Earthsea was my first favorite novel. I still keep a extra “giveaway” copy at all times that I gift to others who show interest in the fantasy genre.

Any novel or comic book recommendations?

There are so many lists out there that I always find it difficult to make recommendations. I’ll try to keep my suggestions somewhat obscure rather than repeating the same books that are on every other list. I’d recommend In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente and Little, Big by John Crowley for novels. For graphic novels I would recommend Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa.

How about the future? What projects can we expect?

Currently I’m working on a graphic novel retelling of a Shakespeare play based on an academic exercise that I was introduced to in college. I’m also working on several tabletop roleplaying supplements that use the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules.

Thanks William for telling us a little bit of your own story.

S.G.

Conflict Games: Combat Description Cards

Conflict Games: Combat Description Cards

Working as a freelance writer often comes with its fair share of peculiar situations. While interviewing for an ongoing contract to write obituaries, I once provided a sample based on a fictional client that I’m fairly confident was MacGyver. Then there was an ill advised dip into the murky waters of the content mills. The story I want to tell today is my personal favorite.

Over the past two years I’ve backed a significant number of Kickstarters, most of them related to tabletop role-playing games. Despite a less than stellar track record for tabletop RPG related Kickstarters, most of these projects were able to deliver on their promises. In April, I came upon a Kickstarter from Conflict Games for Combat Description Cards for Storytellers and GMs. Here is a short excerpt on the product

“You hit for 17 damage.”

What will he say next time?

“You hit for 16 damage.”

Booor-ing!

The rest of the game is so imaginative, so immersed in the world; let’s not let combat be the one thing that breaks the flow. Instead, we propose enhancing your combat narrative with this easy-to-use descriptive card deck.

Is your player using a blunt weapon? Imagine pulling the Blunt card and simply selecting one of the actions description listed right there on the card. Read it aloud, filling in the specifics as you need. And suddenly, you’re breathing life and excitement into your combat (just as you’re taking it away from someone in the form of HP).

Then, if the damage dealt by the player is going to finish the enemy off, there are Death descriptions for that as well, conveniently marked off by a skull-icon. Read off the Death description and give your player a thrilling and vivid description of their combat triumph!

Having a strong affinity for narrative intensive game sessions, this project immediately caught my attention. Wanting to support the project, I signed on as a backer. Then its funding took off, earning $50,000 with an original goal of $5000. Two weeks later I sent the resume to Mark M. Scott in response to an game related job listing. Not realizing at the time that Mark was the owner of Conflict Games and the job was writing stretch-goals Combat Description Cards. I’ve started calling it “That time I was hired to write for a product that I had already purchased.”

For more on Combat Description Cards visit http://www.conflictrpg.com/