While not specifically related to writing (at least not my novel project anyway), this last weekend I attended the Penny Arcade Expo. Which is nerd-fest central. Mostly I go to nerd out with friends and learn all about the shit that is going to take all my money and consume all my writing time in the next year. (Fallout 3 being one star example).
This year, as usual, I went to the “Pitch Your Game” panel. Last year I went and laughed along with everyone else at the people brave enough to try to pitch a game to a panel of experts. In 45 seconds. Good luck.
This year was different. About 30 seconds before they started the thing, I decided to take a shot at it. I had a simple but cool game idea kicking around in my head. So I found myself standing in a long line (over 100 people pitched in the first round), my heart trying to kick its way out of my chest, thinking of how to explain my game idea in only a few seconds. This is where everything I’d been reading over the years about how to pitch a novel to an agent or editor in only a couple sentences finally paid off.
I thought to myself that if this was a novel or story instead of a game, what would I do? One sentence. It’s all I needed. A good hook that explained everything. For a novel, I’d want genre, subject, basic concept. Why would a game pitch be that different, right? So I did. Instead of genre, I’d need what platform I was going to use. Instead of subject, I’d need the idea of the game, and for concept I’d want a rough idea of game play.
“My game idea is a text-based hard-boiled noir adventure game for the Nintendo DS.”
It worked. I was through to the second round in which 30 or so of us got to answer questions about our concept. I spent the time I had in that line drafting up answers to all kinds of potential questions. They quizzed me on font (typewriter, of course), on the potential market (me?), and other things. I brought up my experience with running games of that type (I helped write/run a cyberpunk MUSH years ago that was pretty well populated). All in all, it felt somewhat like what pitching a novel to an agent in person might feel like.
And guess what? I placed third. Which is cool, hell, I’d want to play the games that beat me. (You have just one tank and you have to conquer medieval Europe, for example). I got some cool prizes (giant Cthulhu statue for example) but mostly what I got was a feeling of “holy shit, I did it.”
Not that this means all my ideas are gold and I’ll turn around tomorrow and sell a novel on spec, but hey, I survived a pitch session and stood out among the masses. I managed to take my concept and put it into a good one liner that won me some swag. I’ll cling to this tiny triumph, thank you. And come January when I have to type up that terrifying query letter and start shopping for a home for Casimir Hypogean, I can take out my shiney little nugget of ‘been there, done that’ and use what I’ve learned.
Oh, and I got to meet Wil Wheaton, again. He was exhausted and had broken ribs. I’m really impressed that he was so tolerant, all things considered. I must admit I bought his little chapbook out of support for his awesomeness more than excitement about what might be in it. However, having now read it, damn. I’m really glad he’s writing. His blog is great, but his work is even better. I can’t wait for the compilation of Star Trek TNG stuff to come out in book form.
Whew. Enough fan-girling. (He said my hair was awesome… *grin*). Back to writing.
I’ve got a month until my pseudo-deadline is up. And I’ve got 3 chapters. That only leaves about 25 chapters left to write. So, a chapter a day? Really? I have a feeling this novel isn’t getting rewritten in the next month. I’ll get as far as I can, however. Come January 1st, I’m done with it. It will be sent out. I will start the next one.