Louisville Area Crowd Funding Campaigns

Louisville Area Crowd Funding Campaigns

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are crowd funding websites that help creators find the resources and support they need to bring their ideas to life. This week, we’re taking a look at several Louisville area crowd-funded campaigns that deserve your attention.

We encourage you to check these crowd funding campaigns out and support local nerds trying to make their dreams a reality.

Bagged & Bored

Link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/bagged-bored-season-2-film#/

Platform: Inddiegogo

Goal: $12,000

Bagged & Borded

Bagged & Bored is a comedy web series that follows the retail misadventures of comic shop owner Kent Carney and his offbeat gang of employees! The show has its own unique style in the form of comic book parodies and pop culture references, all while focusing on a fun story with original characters.

Season one of the web series resonated with many people in the Louisville arts community, and season two looks to expand on that and create something bigger and better.

Affordable Dice Towers and Trays

Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2002202304/affordable-dice-towers-and-trays?ref=discovery

Platform: Kickstarter

Goal: $100

Dice Tower“We started A&G Wood Working to fill a need of affordable dice towers to the gamer’s that are just like us. We would see dice towers for hundreds of dollars and feel that it wasn’t fair to a gamer who would rather spend that money on games. We started making them one at a time and selling them and we personally saw that its possible to provide towers at an affordable cost. This project has a low funding rate to help us grow our shop to do more kick starters in the future, but at the same time giving people affordable dice towers. This is our second Kick starter; already having one successfully funded and delivered on under our belt, this Kick starter is to expand, and be able to host a web site.”

 

8 Bit Coffee

Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1902983667/8-bit-coffee?ref=discovery

Platform: Kickstarter

Goal: $10,000

8Bit Coffee

 

“Are you a gamer, cosplayer, geek/nerd, or do you just love good coffee? If so, you’re one of us!

Walk into any café in the United States and you will find someone sitting at their laptop sipping coffee and almost no one talking or enjoying themselves. Cafes overseas can be quite different; some feature costumed characters serving up delicious drinks while others have colorful atmospheres that inspires their visitors to create amazing works of art. It’s time to ditch the library-style café and open a coffee shop where customers enjoy their unique experience.

This is why 8-Bit Coffee was started. Nerds, geeks, gamers, and cosplayers are a growing crowd of creative minds. At 8-Bit Coffee, cosplayers can meet up and show off their hard work as well as attend workshops to help perfect their craft. Lovers of board games will be able to take advantage of an inventory of games or bring their own to play with their friends (without cleaning up the house.)

Once the cafe is up and running, 8-Bit Coffee will begin to schedule gatherings and skill workshops. Workshops will be set up on community feedback and instructor availability. Topics may include streaming, video editing, costume design, sewing, and more!

The $10,000 goal will provide 8-Bit Coffee the minimum capital it needs to receive a small business loan. Any additional amount will allow the company to provide additional services such as extended hours, special guests, additional workshops, meeting spaces, a photography studio, and more!

Owned and operated by a proud Louisville native and veteran.”

 

 

Louisville Educators Use Games for Learning

Power Grid

Louisville Educators Use Games for Learning

Written by Squire Greene

When we hear about gaming in mainstream media, most often it is either being pitched as a commodity or used as scapegoat to explain larger, more complex societal problems. Games have been stigmatized by many people over the last few decades as a corrupting influence on young people, whether it be the fictional link between Dungeons &Dragons and demonic worship or the explicit content of video games like Grand Theft Auto. Gaming is rarely treated in popular culture as more than a waste of time, a leisure activity for children, or the obsession of a basement-dwelling momma’s boy. However, that is beginning to change. Both video and tabletop games are increasingly being accepted socially as evidenced by a growing number of gaming events and game-centric entertainment, but even more interestingly games are finding their way into other parts of our modern society as well, including education. Surprisingly using games for learning is not a new idea.

Tabletop games have always been used as educational tools. Arguably, their primary purpose in our culture is not only leisure activity, but a tool for socialization and education. Children in the ancient Middle East and Africa played a game we now call Mancala. This game, originally played on the ground instead of a board taught children to plant parallel rows of crops and to avoid placing too many competing seeds in the same hole. Likewise, the game Morabaraba taught children of ancient pastoral communities how to herd sheep. However, we don’t need to look to the past for examples of how games are being used in education. Gaming clubs and after school groups are growing in popularity in our community, and some local teachers have even begun to integrate board games into their lesson plans.

Patch Con at the Cabbage Patch Settlement House
Children play games on a field trip to a local game store during Patch Con.

Recently, I was privileged to take part in a Spring Break Game Camp at the historic Cabbage Patch Settlement House in Old Louisville. This program, the brainchild of Patch employee, CJ Duffett, took CJ’s love for gaming and integrated it into a camp where the kids were exposed to all types of tabletop games. Ten kids, from ages 8-12, were taught a wide variety of games, exposed to industry professionals, and instructed on how to build their own games.

“From it all, they learned good sportsmanship,and the difference between cooperative and competitive play,” said CJ. “It reinforced their math and reading skills, and challenged their logical and strategic thinking. All under the guise of fun.”

Cabbage Patch’s Spring Break Camp was such a success that they are planning a larger, expanded Summer Camp in July where the kids may even be challenged to design a game of their own. 

Don Bacon
Don Bacon, a teacher at Iroquois High School, in the art room with the closest thing to a D&D monster he could find.

However, Cabbage Patch is far from the only place using gaming to connect and educate children in our community. Don Bacon, a Social Studies teacher at Iroquois High School, has a rotating group of 15-20 students that stay after school on Fridays to play in his 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons game. He has had so much success and connected so well with these students, he even occasionally has graduates come back for a session or two. Don  stresses the positive socialization that takes place in his D&D group. He noticed when he started his campaign his students thought that “they were all individual characters that were doing their own things,” but they quickly had to learn to work cooperatively as difficulty ramped up deeper into the game. He said veteran members of his group now take new students aside, help them build their characters, and learn the rules. These students have become “social ambassadors” and integrate new members into the group.

Greg Korchnak
Greg Korchnak, a science teacher at KCD, uses Power Grid in the classroom to teach students about energy, consumption, and supply and demand.

After school gaming programs are also available at other local schools as well. Greg Korchnak, an eighth grade teacher at Kentucky Country Day, also runs a Tuesday afternoon gaming club. His game club consists of 3-9 students between fifth and eighth grade and focuses mainly on board and card games. Greg said the students in his club have learned a whole variety of vocabulary and agrees with Don that gaming provides a safe environment for children to experiment socially. Greg’s passion for games as a teaching tool is evident; he seems unable to contain his excitement for the topic. He is even taking gaming education one step further and bringing it into his classroom. He has designed a unit for his students around the game Power Grid. In this game players are in charge of running a power company, which opens the door for many educational opportunities about the nature of fossil fuels, economics, and planning infrastructure.

Power Grid
A setup for Power Grid in the classroom.

These educators all have one thing in common: they understand the opportunity games can provide for both social and academic development. Tabletop games reach a different crowd of kids, maybe not talented in sports or music, but with the exception of chess, rarely get serious consideration. Gaming clubs, like the ones Don, Greg, and CJ run, allow students to build a positive bond with their institutions. This is important. Young people who have positive experiences at school tend to show up more often and get better grades. They also remember the positive experiences they’ve had and take them into adulthood. Personally, my vocabulary would be much smaller without the games, like D&D and Magic: the Gathering, that filled my youth. I learned a lot about percentages from a 20-sided die, and tabletop gaming helped this shy kid connect with his friends. Games do not deserve the stigma they often receive in some media, but instead a place in our culture as tools for both socialization and education.

Nerd Louisville spoke with Don and Greg during Episode 12 of our podcast. You can hear them talk about gaming & education directly by using the player below. 

[powerpress url=”www.nerdlouisville.org/podcast/episode-12-education-with-gaming.mp3″]

Jeff Dehut & Pocket Dungeon Quest

eff points at PDQ at Powell's City of Books

Written by Brandon Stettenbenz

Jeff Dehut is a creative professional living in Louisville who has spent the last four years focusing on game development. His largest project to date has been “Pocket Dungeon Quest” (PDQ) and its first expansion “Don’t Go Alone”. He enjoys games because he believes they’re great for learning life and work skills including communication, social skills, team work, and healthy competition. Despite his success since moving here, Jeff is new to our local community:

“I haven’t been in Louisville for too awful long, so I am still relatively new to this particular scene. [But] gamers who I have met here in Louisville are always eager to talk about games and willing to include anyone who wants to play.”

It was Dehut’s love of games and their impact on people’s lives and friendships that drove him to make his tabletop concept a reality. Jeff had the idea to translate video game concepts to tabletop for a long time, and when he was let go from a job, he seized the opportunity. Beginning with paper and pencil sketches, Jeff translated his idea to a prototype that went through many iterations as the illustrated concepts from his brain became puzzle pieces of a then untitled game.

Pocket Dungeon Quest tiles
Early prototype designs for Pocket Dungeon Quest tiles.

Having just moved to Louisville before starting PDQ, Jeff didn’t have many connections in the local community, but he did meet some people at LVL1 Hackerspace who helped play test early versions of the game. After many revisions of both rules and art, the pieces of his concept eventually formed PDQ:

“I went through many prototypes using a printer, glue and foam core. Play tests included [myself], print & play copies sent to friends, and early prototype group plays. Feedback was collected and modifications were made until everything worked smoothly. The most important thing to me was to make sure Pocket Dungeon Quest was fun to play!”

When he was satisfied with the art and gameplay, Jeff made a final prototype using chipboard and mod podge, which he shipped to reviewers. Having seen the success that other independent tabletop developers had with Kickstarter, Jeff focused on that campaign first:

“Much of the community I interacted with was online. The greatest thing that I noticed about gamers and game developers in general is that everyone is very willing to help and wants to see you succeed. “

Jeff took to Kickstarter where he raised $27,000+ from 839 backers, the majority of which pledged enough to get the physical game. Others were able to download and print their own edition. Completed in 2015, the PDQ campaign met all its original stretch goals (above and beyond the core project), but did not reach an additional goal of $35,000 for development of a mobile app version. During the campaign, Jeff hit the convention circuit with his prototype to generate interest and get the word out about PDQ.

PDQ played on custom mat
PDQ played on custom mat (mat coming soon)

Since the first campaign was such a success, Jeff returned to Kickstarter for Don’t Go Alone, an expansion to PDQ. Don’t Go Alone recently finished its campaign with funds 200% over its original goal totaling $22,000+ and showing that there’s a substantial market for independent games. Now in production with Breaking Games, Jeff says Don’t Go Alone will be available to buy this Fall, 2016.

In addition to sending copies out to campaign pledgers, Jeff has distributed PDQ locally. Squire Greene at Book and Music Exchange in the Highlands said that he’s carried the game for about eight months, and it has sold moderately well. Jeff has plans to distribute both games on a broader scale in the future:

“I am so grateful for the small shops that took the chance to carry a couple copies of my game—[some] quickly found that they needed to come back for reorders. There are more [development and distribution] plans in the works, but those will remain a surprise for the time being!”

Don't Go Alone cover art
Don’t Go Alone cover art

Kickstarter has been a great platform for independent tabletop creators, sporting a healthy community of gamers willing to pledge money to make games. Other locals, including Wet Ink Games who we featured previously, have also succeeded in funding their games through Kickstarter. Jeff said that found great support and good feedback on Kickstarter, and he also learned a lot about marketing games during both campaigns. But he cautions that creators with big dreams should begin small:

“I have spoken with too many indie developers who believe they have created the next Magic: The Gathering. There is nothing wrong with aiming high, but at some point you have to bring your ideas back down to the real world. Games like Magic: The Gathering have had decades to improve, expand and perfect. Your first game will never be the next Magic. Start small, start simple. If that succeeds, then expand it. A good test is to hand your game with instructions to complete strangers. If they can figure it out without you guiding them, then you might be on to something!”

Jeff’s success while living in Louisville has made a positive impression on him. While we weren’t able to reach any local gamers who’ve played PDQ to get their impressions, speaking with Jeff about the game definitely piqued our interest. Although no community that I know of is ultimately large enough to fully support game making, Jeff’s journey with PDQ shows that having the support and feedback of local players is essential. In his words:

“I see the local gaming community embracing more indie games, and welcoming the new developers. I for one certainly appreciate that!”

Check out some additional concept art for Pocket Dungeon Quest and Don’t Go Alone in the gallery below:

All of the photos and graphics above are by Jeff Dehut. He has also published three video games games for iOS, Android and Steam–Draw a Stickman: Epic; Draw a Stickman: Epic 2; and Battlepillars. You can find more about PDQ and Jeff on his personal website.

Featured Nerd: Doug Davison on Fantasy Grounds

Fantasy Grounds

Featured Nerd: Doug Davison on Fantasy Grounds

If you aren’t able to go to ConGlomeration this weekend, there’s another convention you can attend. Even better, you can attend from the comfort of your home and it’s free.

The folks behind Fantasy Grounds will be hosting a worldwide, online gaming convention using their software from April 8 to April 10. The convention, dubbed FG Con, runs pretty much 24-7 and a wide variety of game events are being held (check out the full listing here). Gamemasters with an Ultimate License can host players who are using the free Demo License. Furthermore, if you want to try out a Standard or Ultimate license, you can sign up for the 30-day trial and cancel after the convention. Nerd Louisville is also giving away an Ultimate license on Facebook. 

Want to learn more about Fantasy Grounds and its Master Architect? Read on.

Written by Mike Pfaff; photograph of Doug by Mike Pfaff; screenshots provided by Smiteworks

The faint, wretched chortle of goblins can be heard behind the door. A grizzled warrior positions herself to thrust open the thick, wooden door and surprise the sinister beings beyond so that the crackling, eldritch energy held between the fingertips of the party’s wizard can be thrown into the room. With a nod, the warrior leaps to action, slamming her armor-plated shoulder against the door and splintering it open with a crash. But the goblins seem to be aware and ready to attack. And, to make matters worse, one of them seems to be wearing a crown of dizzying, enchanted jewels––one jewel starts to spark with lightning that almost yearns to leap toward the intruders.

Roll for initiative!

Fantasy Grounds Player View

Most players of Dungeons & Dragons know what happens next: it’s time to snatch up some dice and see whether steel and magic are enough to take out the goblins. Only, this game is happening with players from all over the world and snatching up dice is done with the click of a mouse. The game is happening on Fantasy Grounds, a virtual tabletop designed to replicate all the nuance of playing roleplaying games, like D&D, in person. For nerds who have moved to a new town and want to keep their old gaming group together or just can’t find anyone nearby to play with, Fantasy Grounds is the solution.

Doug Davison, co-owner of Smiteworks USA, the company behind Fantasy Grounds, said he combined his entrepreneurial spirit and gaming at an early age, well before he bought Smiteworks. As a kid, both his uncle and father had vast libraries filled with fantasy tomes that he’d borrow and read. Doug said he knew when both of them would recommend something that it had to be good. Later, it was White Dwarf magazine and its images of beautifully painted armies and battle reports written from the perspective of the combatants that lured him into collecting figurines.

“All my money as a kid went to that kind of stuff,” Doug said. “I’d go cut grass, get some money, and then go up to Something 2 Do and spend it all.”

In those days, you could buy molds from the magazines and melt your own figurines on your stove: a nation of 10-year-old alchemists creating armies of vicious orcs and elves riding pegasi to do their bidding on miniature battlefields. Doug decided to start selling the figurines at school. He’d get 10 cents a pop or sell them in a lot, “Hey, here’s a whole group of goblins on wolves!” And, then, he’d reinvest the profit into more figurines. Still, hindsight is 20/20. Doug lamented not investing in actual Games Workshop collectibles, “They might be worth more now!” It wasn’t long before Doug was immersed in D&D and Magic: The Gathering.

Doug Davison
Doug's basement is filled with gaming supplies and decked out with Larry Elmore paintings on the walls.

Roleplaying wasn’t his only interest, though. Doug started programming in the 6th grade, copying code from programming texts. His first instinct was to apply his programming skill toward gaming. He wrote a program that was basically a timing game, where an airplane went across the screen and you hit a button trying to time a parachuting soldier to land correctly. Then, he tried his hand at writing a version of Zork, the text-based adventure game. Doug dotes on Zork like a proud father might dote on his child.

“Zork is actually a pretty sophisticated game,” Doug said. “Whoever wrote Zork was a great programmer.”

Author’s note: it’s about then that Doug gave a lengthy lecture on parsers, but I’ll spare you the details.

Doug kept learning and programming. He worked a job at Brown & Williamson where he had an absurd amount of free time, so he learned Visual Basic. He even learned HTML and designed the first website for Brown & Williamson.

“It had an animated flag,” Doug joked. “My contribution to their demise? Maybe. I don’t know.”

His passion for gaming was always there. At one point Doug wrote a program to create armies for Games Workshop and even tried to sell it to them. They declined with a generic response letter. Doug’s skill at programming matured, and he eventually graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in computer science. Throughout college, Doug’s gaming waned, but when he graduated and moved to Illinois with his wife so she could finish her studies, the itch reappeared.

The Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop.

The 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons had recently been released, and they were living in a college town, so it was easy to meet fellow nerds to game with. Doug became really active in the community and even set up a gaming forum for Champaign Urbana called CUGaming which led him to run some mini-conventions. He continued programming, even forming his own company  called Luster: “Don’t go there now, it’s a porn site or something,” he warned. But Doug never lost that aspiration to combine gaming and programming.

“There’s always been a part of me that really wanted to do game development,” Doug said. “I wanted to write a game. Business stuff paid the bills, but it’s not what I love.”

After his wife finished her degree, his family moved back to Louisville, and his gaming group was left behind. Doug started looking around for options for continuing to play with them online. That was when he stumbled upon a program called Fantasy Grounds and started programming everything for an epic Star Wars SAGA campaign. Doug also had some excess cash from selling his company and was looking for investments. The stock market wasn’t working out for him.

“When I put money in the stock market, it tanks,” Doug said. “If you ever want to make money, just invest in the opposite of what I invested in. I’ve always had better luck when I started my own business.”

The Star Wars campaign never got off the ground, but Doug began doing more with Fantasy Grounds, coding rulesets and other custom content. This seemed like something he was interested in investing in. He reached out to the owners, three fellows from Finland. Initially, they didn’t want to sell. And, some of Doug’s co-investors backed out. But, since his molding figurines for 10 cents a pop days as a kid, Doug was – and still is – a hustler. In 2009, he finally came to an agreement to purchase Smiteworks and Fantasy Grounds. Not long after, one of the investors who backed out decided they wanted back in. Today, they own and operate Smiteworks together.

Since Doug and his partner assumed ownership of Smiteworks, the Fantasy Grounds software has grown by leaps and bounds. One of the first things Doug did was put Fantasy Grounds on Steam. It was a hit and revenue instantly doubled. Then he instituted a monthly subscription model in addition to the lifetime subscription. Fantasy Grounds was taking off, but Doug still worked at his full-time job and wasn’t getting much sleep. Eventually, after some changeover at his day job, he decided to start doing Smiteworks full-time. This allowed him to pursue licensed content and to shore up some third-party content already being sold for Fantasy Grounds. Still, the big haul was getting the Dungeons & Dragons official license.

FG Con

Doug had been in talks with Wizards of the Coast for years, but Wizards’ plan during the 4th Edition era was to use an internal development team to create their virtual tabletop. Those plans bombed and when the 5th Edition of D&D was announced, Doug jumped on the opportunity. His team began creating mockups of the 5th Edition rules for Fantasy Grounds and sending them to Wizards. Eventually, someone took note.

“The polish of our tabletop is probably what got us the contract,” Doug said. “Wizards of the Coast is really particular about the visuals and the art.”

Smiteworks signed a contract to become the official Dungeons & Dragons virtual tabletop. And, the impact has been huge. Smiteworks now makes in a month what they previously made annually. Big game-related websites, like Polygon, began interviewing Doug about Fantasy Grounds leading to huge visibility for Smiteworks. Now, if you want to play 5th Edition D&D with a virtual tabletop, Fantasy Grounds is the only one that allows you to preload all the rules for seamless integration. Fantasy Grounds is even a popular place to play Adventurer’s League games since it’s technically public, and you can get a lot more experience points for your character than you might at local game stores.

Doug said the success of Fantasy Grounds has been gratifying. He’s finally combining his love of programming and gaming into a career, and Smiteworks continues to grow.

“We’re barely scratching the surface,” Doug said. “We continue to see new DMs buying in. And, as new D&D products are pushed out in print, you can see it immediately digitally in Fantasy Grounds too.”

As Smiteworks grows, the community remains one of the best aspects of Fantasy Grounds. There are even times when the “super users” in the community have already solved customer support issues before Doug wakes up. The community is also the catalyst for the “digital GenCons” being run online using Fantasy Grounds.

“Our community is amazing,” Doug said. “It was one of the reasons why I wanted to buy the company. Everyone is friendly and positive. Our old community members will often help new people who come in, offering people to help setup a router or run a game for people to show them the ropes.”

Smiteworks is working hard on a wide variety of new features for Fantasy Grounds 2.0, and soon Doug may also have his dream of working on a full video game come to fruition. Smiteworks is in the process of forging an MMO-style video game for a unique IP.  

Doug still plays Pathfinder, a D&D style role-playing game, every other week in-person, although he always suggests that the group put up Fantasy Grounds on a 55” screen. He uses Fantasy Grounds to enhance the tabletop experience by being able to resolve battles with speed and keep track of stats digitally. Though, there’s something great about the clatter of real dice on the table.

Find out more about Fantasy Grounds at: www.fantasygrounds.com

Get involved with the FG Conventions at: www.fg-con.com

Featured Nerds will be a regular part of Nerd Louisville news and articles. If you or someone you know would like to be featured, please contact usNerd Louisville‘s mission is to bring together local nerds, empower them to share their passion, and foster community. Please consider donating to our cause using the button below.

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Featured Nerd: Brandon K. Aten & Wet Ink Games

Featured Nerd: Brandon Aten & Wet Ink Games

by Michael Pfaff; photography by Michael Pfaff; illustrations provided by Wet Ink Games

Brandon K. Aten, freelancer writer and co-founder of Wet Ink Games (currently Kickstarting their first game, Wild Skies: Europa Tempest), is likely one of the very few people in the universe who can give credit to Galactus for kick-starting his writing career.

Oh, yes, believe it. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Brandon is a 34-year-old Louisville native, born and raised, who went to Waggener High School and the University of Louisville, where he studied vocal performance, before switching during his senior year to music history and religious studies. Brandon said he was “kind of a nerdy kid” and got into games through his friends and their older brothers. The first game he ever played was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the first game he bought was Robotech, second-hand for $5. But, he really started playing heavily when he entered college.

“Some of my best friends I met through gaming. We would go to the Miller Information Technology Center and stay there till, like, three in the morning, sometimes, three or four nights a week,” he said. “That group really helped springboard my writing.”

These intense gaming sessions went on for years, playing D&D, Rifts, MechWarrior: Dark Ages, etc. Brandon was running games around town also, at stores like Something 2 Do, and negotiated a gig as a judge and facilitator with WizKids at Origins 2004 in exchange for a badge to the convention.

Stay with me! Galactus is about to make his appearance! 

brandon-aten-palladium-author-nerd-louisville-portrait-final
Brandon K. Aten, freelance writer and co-founder of Wet Ink Games, displays some of his published work.

In addition to his badge for Origins, Brandon also received some con-exclusive swag.

“I got this huge Galactus figure, which was awesome,” Brandon said. “So, I was totally geeked about that. I was at the Palladium booth talking to Wayne Smith about a trade for some MechWarrior pieces when Kevin Siembieda walks over and is like, ‘Oh, Wizkids. Man, I really wanted to get my hands on one of those Galactus figures.’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah! I got one of those. It’s in the car.’ He looked at me and was like, ‘I’ll trade you for it.’”

Kevin Siembieda, the owner of Palladium Books, the company that put out the first game Brandon ever played, offered an unbelievable trade.

“I left that con with two boxes full of books, all autographed by him and all the artists that were with him,” Brandon said. “Kevin was my idol. He was responsible for these games I played growing up.”

Meeting his idol wasn’t the best part. During the exchange, which took several hours, Brandon had an opportunity to chat up Kevin and pitch him some of the ideas for Rifts he had developed over the course of his college gaming experience. Kevin loved the ideas Brandon pitched and told him to write it up as an article and send it to him for The Rifter, a gazette for Rifts. Brandon and his gaming buddy, Taylor White, wrote it up and it was published that October.

Brandon soon graduated and followed a girl (as young men often do) to New Jersey. While living in The Garden State, Brandon didn’t have the opportunity to game like he did in college. Instead, he wrote. A lot. For three years, Brandon continued to write and finished his Master’s of Theological Studies. He kept in contact with Kevin and spent a few weeks in Michigan, where Palladium’s headquarters were, helping with typesetting, editing, development, and anywhere else he could. With his foot in the door at Palladium, he and Taylor began pitching more ideas to Kevin and had several more articles and two books published. Brandon also began writing for other publishers (including Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition by Third Eye Games, as well as Splicers: Blood and Iron and Splicers: Genetic Expressions by Palladium Books, all out soon). 

With all this experience and ambition, it wasn’t long before he started his own games company: Wet Ink Games.

Check out this amazing art from Wild Skies: Europa Tempest!

Wet Ink Games, co-founded with his brother-in-law, Matthew Orr, began the Kickstarter for Wild Skies: Europa Tempest last week. Brandon is leveraging the relationships he has cultivated in working with Palladium (and other companies) to get some incredible art for the game. As for the premise of the game, it’s something that’s been simmering in the background for several years as they continued to write for other companies.

“We started writing our own story and setting, but tabled it until our freelance work started slowing down,” Brandon said. “Once we finished the writing for the Splicers books, we finally had a chance to pick it up again.”

Brandon and Matthew decided to develop their own rules system that would best fit the setting, an alternate history taking place in Europe in the mid-1930s where the Great War never ended and anthropomorphic sky pirates rule the skies. The Kickstarter is already halfway to its goal with plenty of time to reach the various stretch goals Wet Ink Games has planned. Taking advice from his childhood idol, and eventual mentor, Brandon said big ideas are a dime a dozen; it’s the doing that matters.

With Wild Skies: Europa Tempest, Brandon and Matthew have done it. And, we at Nerd Louisville can’t wait to see what’s in the future for these Louisville nerds.

The cover illustration for Wild Skies: Europa Tempest.
The cover illustration for Wild Skies: Europa Tempest, drawn by Charles Walton, painted by Eduardo Dominguez. The cover was inspired by a scene in one of Brandon’s own campaigns.

To find more of Brandon’s work, check out his page on Amazon.

Featured Nerds will be a regular part of Nerd Louisville news and articles. If you or someone you know would like to be featured, please contact us