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Behind the Lines: Alpha and Omega (#38) - The White Wolf LiveJournal Community
Much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Behind the Lines: Alpha and Omega (#38)
John's on vacation, and can't do "Chambers of Love" this week. Ethan's neck-deep in Geist. I haven't done a non-Monday Meeting blog in forever. There are all sorts of reasons, but the reality of it is that we spun the chamber, and the bullet that came up had my name on it.

That's actually an appropriate analogy, since John asked me to talk about Scion (or, more specifically, the upcoming Scion Companion). This entire book from beginning to end has been an amazing experiment, and the experience working on it has been so utterly weird that I ended up writing an introduction about it. Chunks of it got cut for space, so I'll post the entire, unedited introduction here.

Alpha and Omega: The Scion Curse

This book was cursed. Hell, this line was cursed.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that. It even had a name around the office: “the Scion Curse.” It seemed that every single Scion book was plagued with bizarre and unusual delays, complications and obstacles that no other projects seemed to encounter in terms of frequency or originality. I’ve seen or heard of everything from contracts completely disappearing to strange technical problems that don’t show up again and couldn’t be duplicated to children being born at inconvenient times to an artist’s house getting struck by lightning and losing weeks of work (even sending a picture from his cell phone of the damage the storm caused).

So when it was decided to make the Scion Companion an even more complicated book to produce, I admit I was nervous about the prospect. The idea was to make the Companion into six small sourcebooks (which I ended up calling “parts” instead of “chapters”), and four parts would be released individually as electronic books prior to this book’s release. Fans could either buy the parts they wanted for their own games, or purchase a subscription to all four parts, which would be conveniently delivered to them in their email when each part was released. Not only would this mean that we could get new material out to Scion fans faster, but it was also a chance to get some of the material reviewed by the fans and possibly revised before the final book was released.

It was a really intriguing idea, and as the newly minted Alternative Publishing Developer at the time, the book was passed off to me to develop. I had some initial conversations with Creative Director Rich Thomas and Scion Line Developer John Chambers, and then proceeded to start work on the book. In retrospect, trying to develop and produce each part one after the other instead of all at once was a mistake; it added a lot of needless complexity to a line that was already cursed with logistical problems. I tried to defy the Gods, and boy did they punish me for my hubris. But I was blessed with a stunningly talented collection of writers, artists and art directors, and the book you’re holding is the result of all of that hard work in the face of astonishing odds. Go back to the credits page; every single person there helped make this book happen, and I have a huge debt of gratitude to them.

This is the second final book for the Scion line. Originally, Scion was intended only as a three-book line (to be concluded with Scion: God), but response to the game was so incredible that it was decided to do two more books: Scion: Ragnarök and the Scion Companion. Between its unusual production history and its place as the fifth book of a trilogy, the Companion is a unique book at the conclusion of a unique line. Like all companions in myth and legend, they might sometimes feel like they’re more trouble than they’re worth, but in the end you’re always glad to have them by your side.

To add to that, and to give you a sense of how long a project can take, I started initial brainstorming and development right before our office Christmas party in 2007, a couple of months after I was hired. 15 months later, the book is slated to show up in March to stores (assuming the Gods don't throw one last monkey wrench into the works). Even when I was waiting for drafts, edits, proofs or what have you, it seemed that once a week I was doing something related to the Scion Companion. This book took even more of my life than Mind's Eye Theatre: The Awakening (which was a nine month process), so I look to the final release of the book with a mixture of relief, pride, dread and resolution.

Part of that resolution has been shutting down the remaining Scion AP proposals sitting on my desk. I've said before that Scion is such a great line that we ended it twice, but I have at least one (and possibly two) Scion SASs to wrap up, and then we're moving on. There are lots of complex reasons for this, some of which I can't go into, but I can certainly say that it's not due to a lack of love for the material. (In fact, I'm starting up a Scion cycle with my friends -- if people are interested, they can follow along in my LiveJournal.) Working with John on the Companion has shown me just how much passion he has for the game, and while he's better known for his work on Exalted, I can flip through just about any of the core Scion books and see his inspiration on every page.

The moral of the story? While there's often a sense of relief when a product is done and out the door, there's also a lot of times a sense of loss, of the ending of a unique experience. That's part of the reason, I think, you find writers and developers often talking about the next big project. Like sharks, we have to keep swimming, or we die. Well, maybe not die, but it is hard sometimes to look back. Better to look forward, and see what new and exciting challenges lie ahead.

What about you guys? How do you feel when a creative project (writing a book, painting a picture, finishing up a chronicle, making a website, whatever) comes to an end?
13 comments or Leave a comment
kris_ether From: kris_ether Date: January 28th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I find that the end of something creative is always quite a mixture of feelings.

I just recently finished my PhD and have now moved on to start a postdoc position in a new city and university. The final days at my old uni were a weird mix of things.

First there is the relief and closure that comes from having a 300 page thesis written, edited, bound and submitted. But with it comes some annoyances. Those final calculations I could have done if I had a bit more time, why did I miss that error in the TOC, etc.

Then related to the end of my thesis is the loss of not being involved in the group anymore, watching my pet project of three years get handed over to someone new, though in fact some one I have trained for the last few months. But it's exciting as I can't wait to see his first paper that he writes off the back of my own work there. The group is now going ito new territory that I had ideas and plans for but now I am now longer at the controls of, just a distant observer who might be called up if they need a hand.

And so with that comes the fear and excitement now of being in a new university, a new research group, and having to learn some stuff and introduce them to the tools and methods I have helped developed.

In summary endings are the point of most potential, the very edge of the landscape, and ahead is terra incognito. All that energy has to go somewhere?

(Deleted comment)
eddyfate From: eddyfate Date: January 28th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hard to believe that it was your first assignment, isn't it?

Edited at 2009-01-28 05:42 pm (UTC)
sim_james From: sim_james Date: January 28th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I prefer the word "completing".

Completing a creative activity ios very satisfying. It's the culmination of creativity and technique, work and fun.

A campaign that was completed, not just ended, is much more satisfying and memorable.
emprint From: emprint Date: January 29th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel hung over.
From: nightspear Date: January 29th, 2009 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Really it depends on the project, for me. Wen I finished my Thesis for my History degree, I cheered, had a beer, and that was it.

I've had several game chronicles come and go with a whimper rather than a bang, but right now I'm working on one big one.

As a volunteer Storyteller for the Moderated chats here for several years (once from 2003-2004 and a run that started in 2006 and will end march 1) I'm of mixed feelings. This has been the primary outlet for my creative juices when it comes to games, simply because most of my TT friends are more into Minis and a few still refuse to believe in the Time of Judgement. I love the OWoD, but the NWoD offers me more, and Exalted will always be my baby.

So yeah. It's overwhelming to say the least, but I am glad to know I've helped a lot of people play, and we'll see what the future holds!
digitalraven From: digitalraven Date: January 29th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Depends on the magnitude of the completed project. Most things are just a shrug-and-move-on, but anything that's had real emotional investment—most WW books, for example—leave me hung over. And after a couple of days of feeling weird for not feeling guilt when I play video games rather than writing, they leave me wondering where the next one's coming from.

A big project like finishing my last Hunter book or the rollercoaster that was Æternal Legends always leaves me drained all to fuck for a couple of weeks at least.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 29th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)


darkavengervim From: darkavengervim Date: January 30th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)


Well, sad to see it all end. Honestly, Scion's my favorite thing to come from white-wolf since the book "Ways of The Wolf" was published. (Yeah, that long) And my crew and I were kinda hoping for a monster's book before it was all over. C'est La Vie.

But to answer your question, I've only been able to completely finish one creative project like that... and it made some major acclaim. So it was nice to get the "good job" comments.
From: johnny_redactor Date: February 11th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: dang....

You never know with these things, though. Scion might well pop up again after a short (or a long) hiatus. And if it does, a big book of antagonists seems like a good idea.
baronsamedi From: baronsamedi Date: February 2nd, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am rather hopeful the books will remain in print.

Overall good job everyone involved. I have two chapters yet to see but it looks really good.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Scion got me back into gaming. It rekindled my spirit when games just were not exciting anymore, when MMORPGs threatned to suck me in and keep me. I just happened to come by and notice Scion: Hero being billed on the page...and I am not kidding when I say on a social and fun level, the game changed my life.
eddyfate From: eddyfate Date: February 2nd, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that's very cool. Thanks for sharing that!
baronsamedi From: baronsamedi Date: February 2nd, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, and John, and everyone for doing it.

From: johnny_redactor Date: February 11th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's great to hear you found that level of enjoyment in a project that meant the world to me.
13 comments or Leave a comment