Wednesday, April 18, 2012

End of One Era, Dawn of Another

Life certainly has been interesting around these parts, lately. We can plot and scheme and dream, but the universe usually has other plans for us. Sometimes its designs are for the worse, but every now and then, life surprises you and puts you in places and facing directions you never saw coming.

When this blog began more than three years ago, I certainly didn’t expect that it would be the key to my becoming a professional game designer and writer. It began as a lark, a way to blow off steam and indulge in creativity during a trying time in my life. Then the Dungeon Alphabet took off and there’s been no looking back since.

Unfortunately, as many of you know, making a living as a full-time designer is not an easy task. I’ve spent the last couple of years living a hand-to-mouth existence on what should be supplementary income, but due to other factors had become my primary one. The creative benefits, the modicum of fame, and the occasional fan email, greeting at a convention, or supportive comment on this here blog were all priceless rewards, but not quite so pecuniary. While my design work was going well, my professional career as an archivist has been going nowhere for the past two years.

About six months ago, I sat down and took a long, hard look at my future. After much soul-searching, I decided that drastic steps were necessary to ensure my professional and personal development in the decades I (hopefully) have left on the third stone from the sun. The cost of living on Long Island is getting higher and higher with each passing year, and being situated in a place that is not only close to Manhattan, but home to two universities offering Library Science degrees, competition for employment is tough—especially given the state of the economy. It became very clear that I’d have to relocate if I wanted any chance at jump-starting my archival career and returning to the profession that I love just as much as game design (and is far more lucrative).

Having made up my mind, I gave myself a three-month timeline to locate a job, find a new place, and get myself re-established in another portion of New York State. I anticipated doing a lot of grunt labor and volunteer work to make ends meet and build a reputation within the library and archival community in the area for my first year, but was hopeful to reap the benefits of those labors after 12 months. Seems like a pretty sound plan, neh?

That’s when life decided to step in and accelerate my timeline…rather abruptly.

Yesterday, I interviewed for and was offered a three-month consulting archivist position in Peekskill, NY. Totally unexpectedly, I found myself back in my chosen profession and with some income promised me in the months ahead. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the position starts on Monday, requiring me to completely uproot my life and relocate 150 miles from home, all while knowing that if everything goes completely wrong, I’ll be unemployed again in twelve weeks. I don’t even have an apartment lined up yet. Stressful and completely unforeseen? Yes, very much so, thanks for asking. Nevertheless, I’m excited and hopeful for the future, more so than I’ve been in awhile.

“That’s great news, Mike,” you may be asking, “but what about me, your loyal reader and fan?”

Obviously, my main focus is going to be getting my career back on track and my future stabilized. That means that this blog is largely going to be neglected in the weeks and months ahead (I’m not even sure when I’ll have internet access again). This doesn’t mean, however, that I’m leaving the field of game design behind for good. With my daylight hours occupied by the new job, my design time will be restricted to the evenings before bed and on the weekends (provided a part-time job doesn’t appear swiftly). Despite this reduction in hours, I intend to keep working on the Stonehell sequel until it is finished and released. My lack of acquaintances in the area and no cable largely guarantees that project will see more progress in the weeks ahead.

Also, I’ve built up quite a backlog of projects that are completed and just vying for a position on various release schedules. I suspect that between this year and the next, some of you may become quite sick of seeing my name on various gaming supplements. There’s no danger of me fading off the design radar for good despite my new responsibilities. I’ll also still be attending NTRPGCon and expect to re-new my friendships with those of you I’ve already met and make some new ones as well.

My change of location also means that I’m going to have to say goodbye to the two or three gaming groups I participate in here on Long Island, but their loss may be another’s gain. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be looking to join or form a group in Ulster County, NY. If you’re currently playing there and would like to add some new blood to your group, you can contact me via the email listed there to the right. I’m really looking to get out of the sword-and-sorcery fantasy scene for awhile (I get enough of that doing design work). It’s my intention to get a Call of Cthulhu campaign running (which ties in nicely with my new job) and to continue playtesting my October Country material, which is going to be my next big design project once Stonehell 2 is done and out.

You’ll also notice that I’ve added a “Donate” button on this blog over there on the right. Money’s going to be tight in the months ahead while I’m rebuilding my entire life upstate and every little bit helps. If life is treating you well and you’ve ever gotten some use or entertainment out of this blog or anything else I’ve had a hand in, please consider throwing a dollar or two into the kitty. I’ll be taking down that button in a few months once I’ve got me feet back firmly on the ground and the future is more clear, but in the meantime, a little extra cash for gas, tolls, and moving expenses really helps a lot. Contributors will be named (if they so wish) in a special "Thank You" section of Stonehell Dungeon 2.

The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope will rise again at some point, so don’t kick it off your blog rolls just yet. This isn’t goodbye, just so long for now. Thank you all for your steady support and readership, and may your 2012 be just as interesting as mine is turning out to be (I mean that in a good way).

15 comments:

James Smith said...

Good luck Mike!

James Maliszewski said...

Good luck! We'll be here waiting for you when you get back.

Rob said...

Sounds exciting! Good luck!

Johnathan Bingham said...

Good luck!

Andreas Davour said...

Sounds like a great opportunity. Have fun, and like James said we will be around.

Drance said...

Good luck on this next phase of your life! I think you've secured a solid place in the OSR pantheon, so no worries there. I doubt you will fade from our collective consciousness anytime soon. If anything the OSR is mostly composed of "gamers of a certain age," (not that we're all old farts ;-), so your audience is nothing if not sympathetic and understanding. Heck, I'm pretty sure that most of us are also going through similar "adult life" events of our own, so we can relate when it comes to "responsibility coming before hobby time." So, take the time you need, and we'll catch you on the proverbial flip-side. Peace and happy gaming from one of your many satisfied customers!

jaerdaph said...

Good luck and safe travels to you!

Rob Conley said...

Good luck and certainly you are moving to a beautiful area of the state.

Michael Curtis said...

Thank you everyone for your well-wishes and support. An especially big "Thank You" to those of you who've given a little of your hard-earned money to get me out of suburbia and back into the wilderness where madmen like me belong!

Peter D said...

Good luck!

JoetheLawyer said...

Good luck!

Ragnardbard said...

All the best Mike! First secure a bridgehead, and then move inexorably into the hinterlands from there when the time is right. :) Bold new endeavours are the stuff of life. If I could help out more, I would. Cheers.

d7 said...

Good luck! It certainly sounds like a worthy adventure.

richard said...

Good luck!
Who needs an archivist for just 3 months? Now I'm curious - and expect that you'll be very busy for that time. Courage.

Badmike said...

Glad to see you'll still be attending NTRPG Con, Michael, we would understand if circumstances dictate you would have to cancel. Hope this job leads to other opportunities in your field.