Contemplating Past & Future

Michael O. Varhola

We have reached that time of year when, like double-visaged god Janus, we look toward both past and future and ponder them both relative to each other. In my capacity as head of Skirmisher Publishing LLC and editor-in-chief of d-Infinity Online game magazine and its print supplement there certainly is a lot to contemplate, both in terms of what we accomplished in 2016 and what we hope to achieve in 2017. 

A few highlights from 2016, and corresponding 2017 plans, bear mentioning: 

* As I noted on "d-Infinity Live! Series 5, Episode 37: The Great Unboxing," one of the things I did in 2016 that was I most pleased with was to begin developing and publishing material licensed for the 5th Edition D&D RPG system. Several 5E things I created appear on this website and a number, most notably my "Men & Monsters of Ethiopia," were published by by Skirmisher, as was "Raiders of Pertalo," the first of at least six adventures being developed by Thunderhead Gaming.

* It bears mentioning that the 5E book of mine that I mention in the paragraph above is based on two weeks of first-hand research that I did in Ethiopia in late 2015, and anyone who knows me is already aware that I both enjoy traveling and drawing upon my trips as inspiration in my game development. I had a few trips in 2016, including three one-week cruises in the Caribbean; a train trip from Texas to Detroit for the Conclave/Continuum science fiction convention, which I attended as the Gaming Guest of Honor; and an excursion to North Carolina to participate in my colleague Brendan Cass's wedding (and, to one extent or another, the associated experiences have influenced my work). This year will be even more intense from that point of view, and will be kicking off mid-January with a 12-day cruise from Hong Kong to Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, and then back to Shanghai, for which I will be serving as the Destination-Oriented Special Interest Speaker; a 15-day cruise from Abu Dhabi, UAE, to Rome via the Suez Canal, for which I am also a speaker; and possibly a month-long pilgrimage hike across the Pyrenees from France and across northern Spain in the fall. 

* Anyone who has read d-Infinity Online for any length of time knows that we have generally got between a half dozen and 10 new game-related items going up on the site each week, including everything from personal commentaries by game designers on their creative processes to pieces of game crunch for multiple RPG systems. Part of determining what we should be publishing here is seeing what readers respond most favorably to and then giving them more of that and, since the New Year, our top writers and I have been conferring on what we need adjust to meet reader expectations over the coming year. (To see what our readers most enjoyed during the past year, see our "Top 10 Stories of 2016"). 

* A few months ago game developer and d-Infinity Online creator Brendan Cass began livestreaming his Monday night playtest sessions, and linking back to them from this site for the benefit of our readers. These sessions tend to be a lot of fun and to feature some great collaborative storytelling and I would recommend them to gamers on that basis alone. They also feature sneak previews of scenarios, game systems, and other content in development, especially Brendan's innovative new Swords of Infinity RPG system, Skirmisher's Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting, and independent games like Jesse Roy's Price of Glory tactical RPG system. 

* One of my standing goals each year is for Skirmisher Publishing to release an average of one new item a week on DriveThruRPG and other online retail sites, whether it is a for-pay product, a bundle of titles, or a promotional freebie. Bold and possibly unrealistic as this goal is, we generally fall somewhat short of it, and over the course of 2016 we actually released just 35 new things, about two-thirds of the way toward our mark. That is still not too bad, however, and certainly compares favorably with what companies of comparable size tend to accomplish. 

So, as you can see, 2016 was a busy and productive year and I expect 2017 to be the same and even more so! Keep your eye on this space, and at d-Infinity Online in general, for more.