Update Posted by Jonathan Liu, Designer
Well, we've got a bit of coverage today from a familiar site: GeekDad! I've discovered that there are a lot of people who think that I am GeekDad, but it's actually a site with about 50 writers, covering a wide range of topics. I'm the one who writes the most about board game Kickstarter projects usually, but even I'm not so narcissistic that I'll review my own project. My managing editor Matt Blum called Emperor's New Clothes "out of sight." You can read the article here.
We've also got an article that I find, well, childish, but I suppose not everyone took the time to learn about the ROOS. For example, the Examiner called it a "Kickstarter about nothing." My only question is: did they like Seinfeld?
And finally, Byron Campbell on NerdSpan called Emperor's New Clothes "the most refreshingly honest campaign on Kickstarter." The fact that he seems unable to actually see the ROOS himself doesn't bother him at all. Whether you agree with his stance or not, Byron's article is a fascinating look at Kickstarter, one that I wish I'd written myself.
We've now got all four of the extra roles unlocked for stretch goals and still have the "Double the Fun" goal to unlock, but don't worry: we're also working on some others that we'll reveal soon, including a few that have been requested!
Also, congrats to Barry McWilliams for successfully funding Wrylon Robotical Field Guides yesterday! (Now he can get to work wrapping up artwork for Emperor's New Clothes.)
Meet the Artist: Tom Angleberger
Tom Angleberger is the author and illustrator of the Origami Yoda series, which is a fantastic middle-grade series that every Star Wars fan should read. In the book, there's a weird kid named Dwight with an origami Yoda puppet; the books center around the question of whether this origami Yoda is actually real or whether it's entirely Dwight. And although the question at first seems ridiculous, as you read the books you'll discover something deeper. (Another of his books which had my kids in stitches is Fake Mustache, about a seventh-grade kid who's taking over the world with the power of a very realistic mustache. You think the swindlers had a great plan? This seventh-grader has them topped.)
While Tom's drawings tend to be fairly minimal and simple, it's pretty cool what he can convey with just a few little strokes—or with a few quick folds. For instance, when I asked him about joining the Emperor's New Clothes team he responded almost immediately with this custom origami of the Emperor and the two Swindlers:
Tom's latest book, Art2-D2's Guide to Doodling and Folding, comes out March 26, and unlike the previous books this one's an activity book. It teaches some quick ways to draw Star Wars characters and how to fold them, and even the best way to photograph your doodle-gamis. My own kids are particularly taken by the section on drawing 3D letters:
It's an interesting challenge incorporating origami art with the rest of the artwork, but I love a good challenge. You can find out more about Tom at his website.
Designer's Diary: No Spoilers
I'm a firm believer in spoiler alerts. If you're going to give away some plot point or secret before somebody else has had a chance to find out for themselves, then you should always lead with "Spoiler Alert!" so that those who don't want to know can decide for themselves if they want to know.
Here's why: if you've seen movies like The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense, [no spoilers here] you know that a great part of the experience is when you reach that "aha" moment, when the director peels back the curtain and shows you just what's going on—who is Keyser Söze? What is going on with this kid who sees dead people? And then, once you've found out, you want to go back and watch it again, knowing how it turns out, and you see the trail of hints that was there all along. (Well, okay, sometimes the hints are purposely hidden.)
Even better is when you figure it out just before the answer is actually revealed. That sensation of solving it on your own can be addictive—it's why people love crosswords and mysteries and puzzles so much; there's no joy in filling out a Sudoku grid by looking at the answer key.
Or, in the extreme, some people like mystery so much they're willing not to find out how it ends, the way J. J. Abrams has his "mystery box" that he'll never open. I suppose you could do that with Emperor's New Clothes, but I'd much rather you opened it up and played it. There's really no mystery as to what's inside: it's all listed there on the front page.
Once you know the ending of a book, it's hard to ever not know it again. You can't get that "reveal" you had the first time, whether it came as a shocking epiphany or a slowly dawning realization. That doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the movie or the book or the puzzle—certainly The Usual Suspects is still a great watch, even if you know the ending, but that knowledge colors the entire viewing and gives it a different tone. Unless you're one of those people who just forgets the ending by the next time you watch it (lucky you!), you'll never experience the movie the same way again.
So what happens if somebody blurts out the ending before you've gotten there? Or, say, reveals portions of your plans, not knowing that you were building up to the reveal on a particular timetable? Well, there's no way to un-see something, particularly on the Internet. But you can still try to make the story one that is worth reading even when people know how it turns out. After all, people still enjoy watching Empire Strikes Back even though they know that Darth Vader is … well, that'd be a spoiler, right?
But the other example I'd like to give is something I learned from reading Machine of Death. If you haven't heard of it, here's a very quick comic that inspired it that will take you all of 30 seconds to read. In the world of Machine of Death, everyone who uses the machine knows the ultimate spoiler: how they will die, with 100% accuracy. However, the stories that have been written in the MoD universe are fantastic. Each one has the machine's prediction as the title of the story. You know how the death is going to happen from the time you start reading.
But you know what? You don't know how you'll get there. Like the T. Rex says in the comic, if you got a slip that said "old age" you might die because you got killed by an old guy. Knowing the ending doesn't mean you know exactly what that ending means.
I know that it's rather cliched to say that it's all about the journey rather than the destination, or that it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. So I won't. I'll just keep playing my game. Join me if you like!
Some of you may have come across a big spoiler the other day in the Geek-Craft review* of Emperor's New Clothes. I know it's shown up on Reddit and has been a topic of discussion on BGG as well. It really threw me for a loop. I launched a project that was meant to provoke thought and laughter, not ridicule and fury, so I figured I'm better off trying to put out fires rather than adding fuel. So, rather than get entangled in the forums and debates, I took a day off and wrote about humor instead.
I understand that Ken's doing what he felt was right, despite the risk of negative feedback—which he's gotten, along with a lot of agreement—so I respect that. I had shared some information (through Game Salute) which Ken didn't realize included information that was to be released later in the campaign. So—in short, I made an error in not being entirely clear with my letter, which was also phrased poorly; Ken made the mistake of posting excerpts before getting in touch with me.
So today (Wednesday) I wrote a letter to Ken apologizing for being a jerk, and asked if we could actually have a conversation. And we had a conversation this evening over Skype which I actually ended up really enjoying. Ken and I don't see eye to eye on everything, but I think I was able to convince him that I'm not a complete jerk and that there's more to Emperor's New Clothes than even that letter really encapsulated. I came away with a respect for Ken and I'm looking forward to meeting him in person at PAX East, although he still doesn't think Emperor's New Clothes is his sort of game. (And because of this conversation, I've also decided to make some changes to the game itself—but that's for a future update.)
It's so easy to take things out of context and to blow things out of proportion on the Internet, and it was refreshing to have a (virtual) face-to-face conversation and discover that we weren't just civil, but genuinely friendly. Unfortunately, I can't have a personal conversation with every person who feels upset by this project; there simply isn't time. I appreciate all those who have been defending the project on my behalf, but this all works much better if we can laugh a little, even at ourselves.
To that end, here's a video about unconventional art that somebody brought to my attention today. It gave me a much-needed laugh, and reminded me to lighten up a bit myself.
*If you don't mind spoilers, here's a link to the Geek-Craft post, which Ken just posted a follow-up to this morning.. But if you don't want the spoiler, then wait until after the end of the campaign to read it.