Interview with Dennis Consorte, Scrapyard Empire Card Game

This week we are talking with Dennis Consorte, Director of Galliant Games, which produces the new Scrapyard Empire card game, and previously produced Steampunk Goggles: The Deck.

 

Airship Ambassador: Hi Dennis, it’s great to catch up with you and talk about your projects.

Dennis Consorte: Thanks for having me – I’m really excited about this interview!

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AA: Before we talk about the game, tell us a bit about Galliant Games. You are the director; who are the people involved on the team, and how did the group and company come about?

DC: In the world of small businesses, we’re a small group. But in the world of tabletop games, we’re actually a pretty big team. Galliant Games started as an offshoot of our steampunk business, where we sell steampunk goggles on our website, SteampunkGoggles.com. We formed Galliant Games as a new company after we had much success with our first entry into crowdfunding, the deck of cards we printed after our Kickstarter campaign where we recruited roughly 700 backers. We realized the need to separate our games and crowdfunding projects from the other companies we run.

Our steampunk company began as an offshoot of my web design and online marketing business, Consorte Marketing aka SHIFT1. I wanted a creative outlet for my team (and myself), where we weren’t limited by project requirements and client budgets. SteampunkGoggles.com was the product of this aspiration and we’ve had a lot of fun with it. With Galliant Games, we’re looking to broaden our reach to both the steampunk and the gamer communities. My team consists of all sorts of people, including fulltime employees here in New Jersey, and freelancers from around the world.

Jonathan Pack and Ben Froiken are responsible for most of the game mechanics for the projects we’re working on right now. Mike Lees did the artwork for our last Kickstarter, as well as most of the artwork for Scrapyard Empire, with support from Joemel Requeza. Vinyas Rao created the 3D renderings and videos of our game miniatures. We were originally planning to 3D print our masters for casting into miniatures, but we are also evaluating two master sculptors for a more analog interpretation of the renderings as an option.

The graphic design team included Andrea Mateus, Kaitlyn Harris, Alex Bradbury Wallad and Luana Taveres. Julia Ann Moore manages much of the marketing and content for our Kickstarter projects with help from Jenelle Sosa, who also happens to be an accomplished actor and my resident expert in all things Victorian. The fantastical inventions we chose for this game came from the creative mind of Mike Patierno, who’s also an actor, and the designer behind some of the goggles I carry on my website.

And of course our awesome video was crafted from the script and pile of images I provided to Pete Romano, Elliot Hawk and the creative minds behind The Joey Creative Agency. There were another 5 or 6 people who helped with this project directly, as well as scores of play-testers, Meet-up groups, cafes, bloggers, reviewers and stores around the US and Canada. And of course, there are the hundreds of Kickstarter backers who are making all of this possible. I’m thankful to everyone involved!

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AA: That sounds like a great group of people with excellent skills. You’re right, too, it sounds like a big group for what you are doing, too. There’s a blog on the Galliant Games site – what kind of information and topics are being covered there?

DC: That blog is a work-in-progress, but the vision is to post articles related to our projects, as well as general thoughts about tabletop games and the industry as a whole. We’ll probably also post some thoughts about our experiences with Kickstarter, in terms of what worked, what didn’t work, what stressed us out, and what put a smile on my face. I love the fact that Kickstarter is such a collaborative community, and I like to know that I’m doing my part to give back however I can, as my way of saying thank you.

 

AA: Hearing more about your experiences with Kickstarter will be helpful to backers and new project campaigns, too. What is the premise of Scrapyard Empire?

DC: Sir Winston Derbyshire, an eccentric estate owner and inventor extraordinaire has met his end. With no heir, his dying wish was to hold a public contest to bring his extraordinary machines to life, with the grand prize being his entire estate, including his scrapyard full of priceless treasures. The contest attracted people from all walks of life who are ready to do whatever it takes to win the prize and the notoriety.

On the surface, this means collecting parts from the scrapyard, and turning those parts into machines, then combining those machines into inventions. But it goes much deeper than that, where negotiating skills, theft, spying on other players, building the right machines to give you special abilities that you can use against other contestants, and just as in real life, a touch of luck all come into play.

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AA: What was the motivation for creating Scrapyard Empire? How did it all come about?

DC: My Kickstarter strategy has some very long-term goals. When we unleashed our first deck of cards, it was a “simple” project to see if our skills as a design and marketing agency could transfer to the crowdfunding space. The “safe” aspect of that project was that it was also done to promote our goggles, so that in the event it didn’t fund, we’d still gain some exposure for that line of products. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the results and it inspired me to accelerate our plans to delve into tabletop games.

A steampunk theme made perfect sense, because it’s something that we all enjoy and are knowledgeable in. Plus, we felt that at least some of the backers of our previous project would be interested in this one due to the similar theme and artwork. The deck of cards was our training ground for this much more robust tabletop game.

 

AA: Sounds like a reasonable and well-thought out plan. Why a card game for Scrapyard Empire?

DC: Those who know me well understand that I’m a very methodical person. I like to do things incrementally while I improve my knowledge of a particular subject, so that I’m armed with the right information when projects become much larger in scope. We’ve been tinkering with a number of different types of games for the past year. With our experience producing a standard deck of playing cards, it was only natural to expand upon that concept with cards such as these. We’re also big fans of dice and so those naturally made their way into the game.

Our next project is focused on dice games, and we’ve got a worker placement game in the works that is far more robust than anything we’ve ever done before. That game is quite a challenge to produce because it has so many elements that affect gameplay. Our first Kickstarter project was a deck of cards that I am very proud of. That gave us the experience to build the foundation for a unique card game that I am very excited about producing. This card game, and the dice games we’re releasing soon will serve as the foundation for our bigger projects like the worker placement game. It’s all part of my small plan to take over the world!

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AA: Why use steampunk as the game’s aesthetic?

DC: Besides the logistical reasons for steampunk as a theme that matches our other business and previous project, and the fact that I enjoy the aesthetic immensely, there really was no other choice in the matter. A game with an invention theme to it just begs to be steampunk’d. I grew up on Jules Verne and other science fiction authors who were ahead of their times. They imagined devices that have yet to be created, and those devices are at the core of Scrapyard Empire. Inventions, tinkering, and beautiful artwork – those words belong in the dictionary next to the word, Steampunk.

 

 

We’ll take our first break here in this four part interview with Dennis Consorte.

Join us for part two where Dennis talks more about creating the game itself.

In the meantime, keep up to date with the Kickstarter and the blog.

 

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Published in: on June 29, 2014 at 10:20 am  Comments (1)  
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Interview with Jay Noel, part 2

Welcome back to the conclusion of our chat with Jay Noel, talking about his first steampunk book, Dragonfly Warrior.

Read part one here.

 

 

Airship Ambassador: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?

Jay Noel: I’m an artist, so I’d probably be a painter or sculptor. I love creating things, and art is such a great way to express myself.

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AA: What do you do to keep a balance between book, art, and tour life, and the rest of your life?

JN: It’s a constant struggle. My day job is very demanding, and I have to travel all the time. I’m a road warrior, logging 3000 miles in my car per MONTH. But it does allow for lots of quiet time for me to dream up stories. My tour schedule is very limited, as I do want to see my family on the weekends, and I usually write when everyone is asleep. Wow. No wonder I’m exhausted!

 

AA: Wow, that is a really busy schedule and I can see how much effort if would be to keep a balance in paying the bills and feeding your soul. Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

JN: Yes! I’ve been a blogger since 2005, and it’s been great being able to connect with other writers through my blog. I’m also working on a young adult paranormal thriller with another writer that I’ve never met in person. Technology is awesome.

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AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

JN: I used to be a total “panster” with my writing. I pretty much just started typing whatever came to mind and got all my words down. But it just got so darn time consuming. Taking my manuscript apart, putting it back together again, fixing all of the structural issues…there was just so much to fix. So I decided to follow the 7 Point Story Structure System and I use Scrivener (for Mac) to keep things straight. It’s slashed the amount of time it takes me to produce a decent 100K draft by about 18 months.

 

AA: How is your city for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc

JN: I think so. I’m smack dab in the middle of the country, and it seems all the really BIG conventions and writing conferences are on either coast. So I have to make the most of my opportunities to market my work to as many people as I can.

 

AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered begin a published writer?

JN: I’m a medical sales rep, and like I said, I’m on the road a lot. And it’s draining work. My job is highly competitive, so I have to win and “be on” all the time. Often, I just don’t have the energy to write or edit, so I have to make sure to be as efficient as I can.

 

AA: Do people outside the regular reading, steampunk, and convention communities recognize you for Dragonfly Warrior? What kind of reactions have you received?

JN: It’s quite strange, but I’ve had romance writers enjoy my work. I say it’s strange because this first book doesn’t have an ounce of romance in it. Readers will have to wait for my second book for that. I really am pretty green, and I’m relatively new to this whole marketing thing. For me, once the steampunk community embraces me, that will be my biggest achievement.

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AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests and topics fill your time?

JN: With all the stuff I do, there’s really not a whole lot of time leftover for other stuff. I do love playing tennis. I played in high school and did Division I in college. So I’m a competitive person by nature. But these days, if I have even just a few minutes to myself, I try to read as much as I can.

 

AA: What other fandoms are you part of in some way?

JN: I’m a member of the local science fiction group here in St. Louis. I grew up watching Doctor Who on the local public TV station, so of course I love me some Old School Doctor Who. Yes, I love the new stuff too, but you never forget your FIRST Doctor. And for me, that was Jon Pertwee.

I’m also a big fan of Blake’s 7, Voltron, Star Wars, and Firefly. So yeah, I’m a big geek.

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AA: Excellent – gotta love the British science fiction shows. I’m a big Doctor Who fan, myself. How do those interests influence your work?

JN: I think they all quench my thirst for action and adventure in a faraway land. For me, reading and writing is an escape from reality.

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AA: Who are the people you admire, or who have influenced you, possibly even being a role model?

JN: Other than H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, I would say that my other influences include Shakespeare, young adult novelists Robert Cormier and S.E. Hinton, and Stephen King. King’s book On Writing was a HUGE influence on me with the actual craft of writing. It made me really look at writing as a skill, and it was something I had to work on to improve.

 

AA: Three quick random questions – what is your favorite cookie, gem stone, and TV show?

JN: I gave up cookies, but when I ate them, I loved a hot chocolate chip cookie. Although I never met a cookie I didn’t love. Gem stone would have to be amythest. They’re just so pretty. TV show is easily Doctor Who. But I do miss Firefly. Like many fans, I’m still bitter about Firefly being cancelled.

 

AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

JN: Like I said, I’ve been blogging for a long time, going on 9 years this August, so please visit me at jaynoel.com. I’d love to connect with you!

 

Thanks for joining us, Jay!

Get your copy of Dragonfly Warrior today, and keep up to date with Jay on his website.

 

Published in: on June 27, 2014 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Jay Noel

This week we are talking with Jay Noel, author of Dragonfly Warrior.

 

Airship Ambassador: Hi Jay, thanks for joining us for this interview.

Jay Noel: Hi Mr. Ambassador. It’s so fantastical to be here.

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AA: What is your new book, Dragonfly Warrior, about?

JN: It’s about a naïve prince who is sent out into a very dark and dangerous world in order to save his people. Yes, there’s fun steampunk elements in my book, but really, it’s about the loss of innocence in a world where those with the most powerful machines rule.

 

AA: What was the motivation for creating Dragonfly Warrior?

JN: I grew up reading H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and lots and lots of mythology. I wanted to create a world and a story that combined all of the things I love most.

 

AA: Why choose a steampunk world to tell this story?

JN: Honestly, I didn’t know what “steampunk” was until I had finished my very first draft. A fellow blogger had made a steampunk gun to sell on ebay, and I Googled “steampunk.” The whole world opened up to me, and it was incredible to finally put a word to the kind of things I loved so much. Several of my book’s themes aligns very well with the “punk” aspect of steampunk. Questioning the morality of technology, questioning authority, and fighting against oppression…these are some of the deeper aspects of the steampunk genre I explore.

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AA: Authors often talk about how elements of their own lives, the reality and the dreams, make their way into their stories. How did this play into Dragonfly Warrior

JN: The two main characters, Zen and Enapay, sort of represent my own internal struggle between my idealistic self and my realistic self. I’ve wrestled with that whole yin-yang aspect of my personality. I think it’s about finding balance, and these two characters are great foils for each other and represent two completely opposite ends of personal philosophies, but together, it works.

 

AA: What kind of back story is there for Dragonfly Warrior which didn’t make it into the final book?

JN: My initial draft was just WAY to long. It was two-and-a-half novels big. So I broke it up into three books. Originally, my novel began with my main character as a child, so you got to see him grow up to become a renowned soldier and hero. But I had to cut all of that. Maybe I’ll make that into a novella or short story to give to my readers.

 

AA: It’s nice to see that all that material won’t go to waste or be unavailable. Are there any plans for a sequel or spinoff?

JN: The second book, Shadow Warrior, will be released on August 8th (I hope). Iron Warrior, the third and final book in this first trilogy, is planned for a January 2015 release. Many readers have asked me to do a spin off of some other characters, and there is definitely something beyond this first trilogy that I’m planning.

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AA: That’s great to see this world expanding with more stories and perspectives.What would you like readers to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?

JN: I believe that everyone is on some kind of journey, a journey of self discovery and growth. Life is filled with all kinds of tragedy and pain, but I do believe in the end, it’s all for a reason. I hope my readers can see that message in my story.

 

AA: What kind of research, and then balance, went into creating the Dragonfly Warrior world?

JN: I do consider Dragonfly Warrior an alternative history book, so I did lots of research on the technological, sociological, and political struggles of the 19th century. My book also includes a really fun steampunk submarine (my nod to Jules Verne), so I did lots of research on how submarines work. Of course, I also studied steam combustion. But I do take the technology beyond conventional limits. My playground is speculative fiction after all.

 

AA: What elements were included so readers could feel the Dragonfly Warrior history?

JN: Readers who love world history will see tidbits from various time periods. They will see parallels to the Roman Empire, Japanese-Sino conflicts, European wars, and an interesting spin on Native American history. I know, there’s a lot in there, but it’s not as confusing as it sounds. I promise!

 

AA: What kind of attention has Dragonfly Warrior generated?

JN: It’s been a real interesting mix of readership that’s been drawn to Dragonfly Warrior. I’ve had readers that told me straight up that they actually “didn’t get” steampunk at all, but enjoyed my book. I think the story and characters are pretty universal, so I took that to be a big compliment. I would really love to have the steampunk community give my book a chance. It hasn’t happened yet, but I feel like I’m working to gain acceptance by steampunks.

 

Because my characters are very diverse, it’s also been great being featured by several multicultural blogs and websites.

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AA: What are some memorable fan reactions to Dragonfly Warrior which you’ve heard about?

JN: I had one reader applaud my world building and said that my book was Nebula Award caliber stuff. That really took my breath away. Another complimented me on my ability to make the words flow so well, that reading my book was effortless. That’s huge, because I work very hard to make that happen. Mostly, readers want that second book out right now. And that’s a good thing.

 

AA: Being very readable, especially with an involved storyline, is always a huge attractor. Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like?

JN: That was an adventure in and of itself. I was offered a contract by my first publisher after pitching it to them in person. It was an amazing high to finally get that contract. But just as it was about to go to editors, that publisher went out of business. I got my rights back and was able to get another publisher to offer a contract for Dragonfly Warrior and the sequel, and just as it was it the later stages of editing, the publisher announced that it was either going to shut down or be sold to someone else. So I requested my rights back and I resolved to get this book out into the world. I started my own publishing company and hired some great people to help me publish Dragonfly Warrior. It all worked out in the end, but it wasn’t easy.

 

AA: That does sound like quite and an adventure and emotional rollercoaster, getting a book deal but losing it through no fault of your own or the book, twice! For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?

JN: Find editors and beta readers that are willing to tear you to shreds. Nothing is wrong with having a family member or your significant other give you feedback. But objective help is always best. I tore down and built up Dragonfly Warrior four or five times until I felt it was as close to perfect as I can get it. Also, don’t rush the process. These days, self publishing makes it easy to just hit “publish” and get a not-so-clean product out there. Take the time to find professionals that might hurt your feelings, but will help you become a better writer.

 

 

We’ll break here in our chat with Jay Noel.

Check back in the conclusion where Jay talk about his writing process and influences.

Until then, keep up to date with Jay on his website.

 

Published in: on June 22, 2014 at 11:00 am  Comments (3)  
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