The Making of a Game Designer

GDW staff photo, circa 1986
Getting published starts out small. (Ask Stephen King.)

My career started as a hobby, with a four-paragraph “capsule review” in Space Gamer magazine, of the Wizards’ Realm RPG. Emboldened, I submitted a modest board game, Mind Duel, for their center spread and was accepted.

Those two publications landed me some proofreading work at Game Designers’ Workshop, which led in turn to a freelance opportunity to write a 64-page adventure for their Traveller: 2300 RPG. With that finished I dropped a memo on the president’s desk with some suggestions for the RPG’s next printing and was hired on the spot to revise it. Hence 2300 AD.

That’s the foot-in-the-door story. For the next dozen years I designed and edited full time.

First for GDW: designing 2300 AD adventures, the Dark Conspiracy horror RPG and supplements; Space: 1889 adventures; board games—Minion Hunter, Temple of the Beastmen, Test of Arms—and as editor of Gary Gygax’s Dangerous Dimensions Journeys fantasy RPG.

Next freelance for FASA, West End, and Flying Buffalo—including the 2nd ed. Mechwarrior RPG. Then full-time for TSR—Planes of Chaos (with Colin McComb), Bughunters, and Dragon Dice. More freelance—such as the Chaos Progenitus dice game (now Daemon Dice at SFR, Inc.), the Zero RPG, the core rules of Larry Elmore’s Sovereign Stone RPG, and an unpublished Star Wars dice game for Topps. Along the way I’ve won some awards, was GOH at not a few conventions here in the US and in Germany, met hundreds of people, and generally had a good time.

I won’t lie to you; writing, editing, and publishing are hard work. And once you get started, you can never really stop.

Which is why now—in retirement—I’m still doing it, via DriveThruRPG and DriveThruCards.

All the best wishes with your own publishing endeavors!