The Letters Page: Publisher's Note 11
A Publisher's Note?! What is happening?!
Run Time: 1:11:46
Adam is incapacitated, so Paul stepped in and we talked about a lot of things! Unfortunately, Paul's microphone is very bad, so the audio is not great. We'll do better next time!
Here's the upcoming schedule!
- Tuesday, February 1st: Episode #201 - Return of the Shipping Episode
- Tuesday, February 8th: Episode #202 - Writers' Room: Meredith and Dana Wedding Issue
- Tuesday, February 15th: Editor’s Note #52
- Tuesday, February 22nd: Episode #203 - Writers' Room: Wager Master and Madame Mittermeier’s forbidden romance
We also take a bunch of questions, including many lingering Paul questions, and even a couple of game shows!
Join us next time for — hopefully — Episode 200: a feel-good story, and the return of Adam! Fingers crossed
What’s Going On?
- Paul is here today instead of Adam because Adam is out sick with COVID. Please get vaccinated, everybody.
- Sorry about the poor audio quality for Paul. They’re in the same building, but are still social distancing (see that whole COVID thing) and so Paul’s microphone isn’t that great from his office.
- After going through the upcoming schedule and whatnot, there’s some discussion about another “Publisher’s Note” this year - or at least another recording involving Paul (he mentions two in early August within a few days of one another and at least one is simply a “live” recording of some sort - this makes me thing it’s Gen Con related content as that’s scheduled for August 4-7 this year).
- If Paul had to cast Christopher as a Star Trek character, which one of these would he be (or would he pull a Jeffrey Combs and knock out a few of these): Harcourt Fenton Mudd, General Chang, Mot, Elim Garak, Quark, or Neelix? Paul had two initial thoughts and one is on this list: Quark. Like, if you put Christopher in the story position of Quark, it would work very well. The other one that Paul immediately thought of, though, was Worf. Again, not “Christopher as Worf” - just slot him into that character’s position in the show.
- We knew that Jacqueline Hyde started out as a NightMist foe, but did she ever transition to being more of a general Dark Watch team villain (given the horror story themes, I could see her working with Apex the Wolf-king)? She does show up a few more times, including in some Dark Watch stories, but she’s never a major character. When she shows up she tends to have fairly clever plots, but she simply doesn’t show up often.
- For Paul: do you (or Adam) have suggestions for board/card games for kids to get them more interested in gaming as a hobby? The very popular Euro-style games that you can find in mass-market stores (as opposed to hobby-specific stores) are there for a reason. Stuff like Carcasonne or Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan are popular and easy to pick up. Paul and his 9 year old have played Spirit Island, so even the heavier stuff is accessible but you might have to put in a few attempts so they can get their heads around some of the action (or inaction)/consequence dynamic. Getting to the point where they can read is the main hurdle.
- What is your (Paul’s) opinion on the concept of a Star Trek musical episode (say Q showing up in Picard or something to mess with him)? He thinks that would be delightful. John de Lancie and Patrick Stewart are both capable of pulling that sort of thing off. Plus there’s evidence that Worf and Data can sing too, Captain Sisko as well.
- In past Publishers’ Notes, you’ve mentioned at least two undisclosed projects under development: Project Gold and Project Mithril. Has either of those since been announced? Was one of them DE? Neither has been announced nor were either of them Definitive Edition. Gold has been… if not shelved at least put in a “eh, maybe someday we’ll do this” state. Mithril has never gotten off the ground more than a “maybe once I have the spare time and space to to it”. Both are things that aren’t a “strike while the iron is hot” situation. There’s another project (that they send text messages back and forth trying to think of a metal Project name for it rather than actually talking about it - just great radio - they settle on Project Aluminum) that’s going to come out well before Gold or Mithril get worked on. The two of them and Bailey (and a mystery person they won’t name) are “up to their elbows” in for an expected 2024 release.
- Previous GtG games there have been Unboxing and How To Play videos. Do you expect to make formal ones of those for DE? If so, when would that be released? They expect to do those, and they’ll probably be this year.
- When are you going to tell us who the 6th hero is for the Rook City DE Expansion? And since it is Alpha, when will we get a full back story Letters Page episode like other heroes? Christopher doesn’t remember where he had said that we were getting 6 heroes in the Rook City [Renegades] expansion, but he will confirm that number now. Beyond that, he’s not saying anything. [To the best that I can remember, the 6 heroes thing was either mentioned in an interview outside of the GTG channel or in a Kickstarter comment which may not have been Christopher saying it.]
- To you and Paul did you watch the Wheel of Time tv adaptation. If so thoughts? No. However, as a result of seeing the ads for it Paul is finally making a push to try to finish reading all of the books (he’d read the first 2/3 of the series twice as a teenager). He’s about a quarter of the way through book 5 at the moment (including the prequel as book 0 this time around). [I’m also in the midst of a full read-through and have just started book 12 (having also started at book 0 this time). After discovering the series when book 8 was new, I’d read them and finished it as they came out, but it had long been a plan to reread the whole thing in one go and I finally got around to it last year.]
- Paul: I forget if you’ve answered this before but have you said what your favorite enterprise design and what is your favorite ship design for Star Trek in general if it is different than the Enterprise? He has not. Aesthetically, he loves the Soverign-class Enterprise (NCC 1701-E the one that followed the design from TNG). He also likes the movie’s original Enterprise (so the “refit” look of the original ship and the design used for the NCC 1701-A that followed).
- Paul: What are your thoughts on what TNG would be like if Pulaski stayed on after S2 (with or without Crusher)? Her character would probably be seen in better light looking back as they probably would have figured out what to do with her. The only plot arc they really had for her was how she treated Data - she started out with a strong “androids aren’t real people” streak that we see soften over time. It was very one-dimensional and then she was gone. There just wasn’t enough time with her around for more to be done with her. Honestly, it took until after season 2 for them to really figure out some of the other main cast as well.
- Iron Curtain is made of metal and is named after a nebulous political concept during the Cold War, but is she also made of a ferrous metal? Would it be possible to defeat her with a sufficiently powerful magnet? Yes - she’s definitely made of a ferrous metal and that would work.
- Legacy has a single-attack negation power and “the destruction of the Multiverse” sounds like a single attack; could Legacy survive the destruction of the Multiverse? Christopher would argue that “reality destruction” is not a single hit in a way that the power would work. The entirety of existence is being unraveled from it’s basic components, including Legacy, including the concept of that power. There is no surviving that.
- If someone were to survive their reality being destroyed, “where” would they end up (and would OblivAeon immediately just kill them himself)? They’d wind up outside of reality and so in Ur-Space. OblivAeon probably wouldn’t bother taking the time to kill them. They’d have to somehow find a way to survive in Ur-Space, though, which is a place where “stuff doesn’t exist”. Characters have managed it in the past, though, so who knows.
- What would happen if either Christopher or Adam were to die (if this hasn’t been asked before)? It has been asked before. Christopher’s answer was along the lines of that he would find a way to continue. Adam’s was simply that he’d stop - without the partnership he wouldn’t keep doing the Sentinel Comics thing.
- There was a bit in one episode about La Comodora and Chrono-Ranger where you talked about podcasts being illegal and that you would go to China to record the next one - given the current situation in China re: freedom of speech not existing [yes, that was the joke] would you still be willing to do it? If yes, would you wait until the political climate cools down and you likely wouldn’t get thrown in jail, or would you retcon time travel out of your stories to not run afoul of the Chinese rules regarding storytelling? It sounds like the letter writer has identified the joke without realizing that it was a joke, but let’s play along. Say the next time Paul goes to China to check a factory or something Christopher goes along with him and they record an episode. What’s that like? Paul figures that it would go better if they went to another country like Venezuela or Myanmar. Somewhere that they’d have better chances of dodging the illegality of podcasts. Christopher points out that Venezuela might be the worst place for Christopher to go as he might have difficulty leaving. Paul figures they can follow whatever it was that happened when Lenin was smuggled into Russia during WWI and find a way for them to smuggle Christopher into Venezuela and in a year or two he’ll be running the place. That’s how that works, right? In reality for the question asked, they could either just avoid talking about certain things while in China or they could record the podcast on their phones in secret and then hide the recordings until they’re out of China.
- When a Citizens of the Sun pair dies, Truth and Dare for example, would they be buried together or more based on their friend group? Depends on the Citizens. Truth and Dare hate each other (thus Truth or Dare as neither wants to be around the other) and so wouldn’t be buried together. You can make an argument for a lot of the pairs to wind up together, though, depending on how jazzed they were about one another.
- What do you call somebody from each of the fictional cities of Sentinel Comics (things like Bostonian, New Yorker, Denverite, and Angelino)?
- Megalopolis: their initial suggestions are Megalopolitan or Megalopolite. Megalopian and Megalopans aren’t great. Chat suggests Megalite.
- Rook City: Paul thinks it feels like it has to be Rook Citian. Chat suggests Rooker, but that has issues. Chat also points out that people in Rook City call people from Megalopolis “marks” which gets a chuckle. Rooks sounds more like a team name than a demonym.
- San Alonso: Alonsolino makes a lot of sense.
- Mordengrad: Paul suggests Mordengradian but Christopher thinks Mordengradi is probably better and Paul then agrees. Paul also notes that he doesn’t know how the local language works and what they’d call themselves. Like, people from Moscow are Muscovites rather than a Moscowian or something, but Mordengradi is really good. Chat suggests Lunarian due to the moon connection.
- Chairman might not be an alchemist, but the lead in to that question made me think of a different scavenger of magic and tech: Is Kleptek an alchemist? No, he’s not. While alchemy is a combination of magic and science, we’re dealing with a squares and rectangles thing. Not everybody who uses both is automatically an alchemist.
- We know that Legacy has a degree in History, Absolute Zero has a degree in Journalism, Wraith has degrees in Math and Engineering, and Tachyon has degrees in Physics, Math, and Chemistry. And then, there’s Bunker. What does Tyler have a degree in? He doesn’t. He went straight into the Army after high school. He got whatever relevant training was necessary for his job, but they don’t know if that would include a formal degree.
- So, question about timing - the prior information we had for the reveal that Nigel was Infinitor was in a Prime Wardens story, but the art we have of it in DE has a facial hairless Cosmic, which means it predates the Wardens. Can we have the new date for the new issue, please? The art on the back of Captain Cosmic’s deck that shows his face is from their stargazing before they got powers, so there’s nothing there to indicate that he’s Infinitor.
- I have a question about the latest episode: I have been going back through the podcast for a 3rd time and I had just listened to the Chokepoint episode and that ended with Chokepoint being on the Celestial Tribunal and her taking over and ejecting the AI which is then converted to Sanction. Which leads me to ask: where is she in Guise #50? She’s not there for the Guise story. That has to happen after Guise #50 which was the last story involving it before it gets turned into a Scion. [Basically, the timeline of events as stated in the Chokepoint episode can’t really work if Christopher’s right here that she wasn’t yet present - she has to have gotten there/found it afterwards somehow rather than stowing away during a Tribunal event on Earth.]
- Despite being a last-minute change from Editor’s Note to Publisher’s Note, we have a few games to play (one banked by a letter-writer just in case one happened on short notice and one written by a chat member in the short period of time between when the people on the Letters Page Discord found out about the change and when the recording started).
- Star Trek/Sentinels Crossover Quiz: Rules are the same as always. Some non-Christopher person will read a bit of Sentinels lore and Christopher will have to identify the closest Star Trek analogue from the answers provided. Correct answers **bolded, Christopher’s guess in italics*.
- In an alternate timeline, Baron Blade killed Pauline Parsons with a bladed weapon which led to the Iron Legacy story: in the mainstream Star Trek universe, which of the following family member was also killed with a sharp object: Captain Kirk’s son by a knife, Captain Picard’s nephews by shrapnel, Captain’s Sisko’s by debris, or Captain Janeway’s adopted daughter killed by a Klingon bat’leth? Christopher thought he remembered something about Picard’s family dying - but they died in a fire off-screen in Star Trek Generations.
- In Sentinel Comics, it was eventually retconned/revealed that Tachyon was gay - which Star Trek character was revealed to be gay as well in the Kelvin timeline (i.e. the more recent film trilogy): Pavel Chekov, Hikaru Sulu, Nyota Uhura, Montgomery Scott. He had no idea, but he knows that George Takei eventually came out as gay. The funny thing is that Paul didn’t know the answer either.
- In Sentinel Comics, there’s a universe known as the Inversiverse where all the bad guys are good and vice versa; Star Trek has a similar universe where the crew of the Enterprise are evil and it is known by the fandom by which term: the Reversiverse, the Dark Universe, the Mirror Universe, or That One Universe Where Vulcans Have Beards.
- La Capitan’s ship La Paradoja Magnifica is a vessel that can regularly, on-purpose time travel; which of the following ships has intentionally time traveled at least twice? The NX-01 Enterprise (a Federation ship), the H.M.S. Bounty (a stolen Klingon ship), the USS Ganges (a Runabout), or the Delta Flyer (an experimental shuttle)? He asks for clarification/states that going through the wormhole by Deep Space Nine doesn’t count and then guesses the experimental shuttle. Paul guesses that too as the Delta Flyer is from Voyager and that’s the only show where they intentionally time travel a bunch. They both miss the fact that the H.M.S. Bounty purposefully time traveled both to the past and back to their present in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in the “save the whales” plot. It’s one round trip, but both legs were initiated on-purpose.
- While Wager Master and Q share some similarities, the former never reaches the levels of psychological torture that Q does; in the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q tricks Captain Picard into almost doing what through temporal manipulation: preventing the Federation from being founded, preventing any life from developing on Earth whatsoever, causing a massive dangerous anomaly that takes up a quarter of the galaxy, or all of the above?
- Time for another Odd One Out!
- Characters who have been married: K.N.Y.F.E., Tachyon, Legacy, Absolute Zero. Paul knew that Legacy and Tachyon had been and thought that AZ hadn’t. That’s correct - he was engaged, but she died as part of his tragic backstory. K.N.Y.F.E. was only recently revealed to be married to a member of the Fae Court - it was part of a complicated arrangement to stop a war between the Court and the mortal world.
- Events in the 1980s: Mother Earth, Invasion of Earth, Wayward Sun, Murder Most Fowl. This was a total guess as he has no conception of the timeline. Christopher gets Murder Most Fowl confused with Night’s Plutonian Shore, but they’re both well after the ’80s.
- Definitive Edition card types: Ongoing, Environment, Equipment, Limited. Kinda-sorta credit here. He said “Environment” because that’s not a keyword and the rest are, but then immediately says that Equipment is no longer a Keyword in DE either.
- Good Lord of the Rings movies: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
- With the current exorbitant prices of shipping board games from China, is it economically viable to manufacture board games in the US? No, because you can’t make (high quality) board games in the US at this time. It’s getting to the point where things like party games or ones where you don’t necessarily need to care about the quality of the components, but if you’re looking for plastic bits or high quality cardboard boxes the manufacturing equipment simply isn’t here. It’s the same answer to whether it’s economically viable to manufacture microchips in the US - no because the manufacturing capability doesn’t exist here.
- What’s your prototyping process for making a game (using a pencil and a stack of note cards is cheap, but tedious)? Christopher does a lot on note cards and the time spent writing things on the cards is useful. He composes most of this stuff in a notebook. Then he will type that up into a Google Doc and there’s revision work that happens in that process. Then when he’s ready for testing he’ll look at that document and write things back out by hand onto cards and more revision happens there. The busywork of moving ideas from one context to another is useful revision time, for him at least. The other really easy thing to do is: buy a bunch of sleeves, find some game that’s on deep discount or something and buy a bunch of cards (if you don’t have some already - you’re just looking for cards to provide the stiffness you want in the sleeves), then use a prototyping template to print out your cards (just the name of the card and what it does it enough, he doesn’t worry about layout at this stage) on regular paper, cut those out and slot them into the sleeves. For tokens he just buys blank white punchboard and writes whatever the token represents on it with a Sharpie.
- How do pre-production copies of board games made (considering it would be weird for a factory to tool up to print a single copy of a game)? How do you ensure that the changes you want are correctly implemented for the final production? That’s a really insightful question! A pre-production copy is necessarily different from the mass-production version because it’s hand-made. What they do is that they print it, but not on the big offset printers they use for the final version. Instead they’re just using something more like a really nice laser printer. Any of the components would then be glued together and whatnot by hand and it will not be as nice as the mass production version. There’s no way around that. The reason have them made is just to see that everything is "basically right. Like, the right image is on the box and it’s sized appropriately, the right number of cards are in there and the fronts are printed on the corresponding backs, that kind of stuff. It’s also for this reason that pre-production copies generally don’t include any plastic or wood pieces. If all of that passes muster, you just have to then hope that the mass produced version will come out looking okay. If it doesn’t* there are two ways to handle it. If it’s something where they messed something up and it’s definitely their fault (say the box art is on crooked or you gave them Pantone color values for everything and the final version doesn’t match those values) they would be on the hook to fix/replace it. If it’s something more like you chose a given card stock, that’s exactly what they printed it on, but then wind up not really liking it once it’s completed then you’re out of luck. However, that sort of thing will generally have representative samples available for you to look at (say, another game that they printed on that stock with that finish a few years ago) so you’re not going in blind. You can see how things actually look/feel before you get your stuff printed that way. If you just don’t like the quality output at that factory, you just move production to another factory for the next one.
- Has GTG considered getting into manufacturing? It sounds fun and Paul would love to, but it’s very expensive. The only thing that’s really in the realm of possibility would be the manufacturing of corrugated cardboard boxes - like shipping boxes that your nice, manufactured-in-China game boxes go in to get mailed to you. Amazon does this in-house, for example. As it is, they buy theirs from a box company just down the street from them. Jodie has looked into it and from what Paul knows if they were shipping out around double what they currently ship out it would be about at the point where they’d start saving money by making their own boxes. So, that’s something that’s hypothetically possible to make sense in the future, but not terribly likely.