Ember Dev Blog, Part 8!

It’s 7:54 AM on Wednesday, July 5th. I’m finally back at my website after a frantic victory lap and rather loud 4th of July. Let’s get into it!

Oh, so much! The Chronicles of Ember Player’s Guide is currently listed as “In Revision”. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I sat through the mind-numbing process of formatting a 408 page text block for print in Adobe InDesign. It wasn’t particularly hard work, but rather a pile of tedium. I sweated every last detail as I should, and caught a couple of literally last-minute errors that required correction – formatting stuff where an image ever-so-slightly overlaid another or a block of text wasn’t where it needed to be. All in all I would say it took around 12 hours to get right before I was ready to run it through Preflight. Fortunately it passed with no errors on the first attempt. I was ecstatic! I then uploaded my files to DriveThruRPG (to be passed on to LightningSource / Ingram for printing. I also made the PDF available immediately because that’s literally fire-and-forget.

Well guess what?!? I wasn’t as thorough as I thought I was. I bought 10 ISBN numbers from Bowker earlier this year for around $300 US, and I thought they’d last me a while. As it turns out, they’re forever, but you go through them super fast. In fact, I think it’s a racket. Once you assign a number to a title, that’s forever. You can never change it, and each version of a title requires its own ISBN.
They’re selling goddamned numbers, man!
Anyhow… I’m playing the game the way it’s set up. Since I’m selling this in hardcover (also called “hardback” where I’m from – this doesn’t work in China… more on that later), and as an e-book, I need to assign TWO of my ISBNs. And remember, once they’re assigned, they can never change. Even if you make a silly mistake and it would be way easier to just swap two almost identical digits, you’ve got to fix your files.
So you know what I did. I got the assigned numbers for the print version and the PDF version mixed up is what I did. I think “don’t work tired” is the lesson here. Anyway, I had to fire up InDesign again and make the change to the legal page and the cover file, which required generating a new barcode as well. It was about two hours of futzing around that I didn’t want to do, but I made it happen over the holiday.
And when I do an ISBN search for “979-8-9867931-0-8”, the number for the Chronicles of Ember Player’s Guide, THE ONE THAT I REGISTERED WITH BOWKER, I get NO RESULTS. I guess I don’t understand what this means:

I guess I’m supposed to register them myself? I don’t know. More headaches.

On the upside, I’ve added Frostwind Grotto to DriveThruRPG as a free download, and I may start including it in the Starter Set as an alternative to “Cookie! (A Horror Story)”. “A Dark and Stormy Knight” is also on the list for books to push onto DTRPG (as well as a free download on THIS VERY WEBSITE!!! *ahem* I just have to get it into the kind of shape I can be proud of.

Oh yeah, I went here.
For those of you who don’t know (and I’m not an expert), the LoC is where you go to get your material protected by copyright. The little “©” symbol that legally protects your work for life plus 70 years. What a bureaucratic swamp.
To get started, you need an account. This section of the website doesn’t work.
You’re expected – nay – required, to come up with a username (simple enough) and a password. This is where the suck starts.
That password has to be 16 characters long, and it cannot use the same character more than three times. And… AND!!! You have to change this beast every 30(?) days whether you want to or not. And what you change it to can’t be the same as your previous 12 passwords.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Again, all this would be tolerable if any of it worked. <heavy sarcasm font> I know, I know, how preposterous to think that a government website wouldn’t function, right? </heavy sarcasm font>
Those “tags” are supposed to render. I’m not an idiot. For this reason, anyway.
Moving on.

This is a whole new ball of wax for me. I’ve never done business with Dr. Evil and Co. (seriously, just look at this man:

I think I’ve made a point of some kind.

Anyway, I’m jumping through those hoops right now and they’re not too bad if I’m being honest. But there are growing pains to be sure. The first is the trim size. DTRPG lets me use 8.5×11. Amazon wants 8.25×11. That may not seem like much. A trifle, really. You are oh, so wrong.
That quarter-inch means that my file that I spent all that time sweating over HAS TO BE DONE AGAIN. I’m sure it will go faster, but I’m not sure how much faster. I can’t take the old *.indd and just shave off a quarter inch. I’ve got to get a brand new template and lay each page out all over again. This will take hours for that slight reduction in trim size. At least it will for me as I don’t know a fast way to do it. And it’s going to be that way for each and every single print file I submit for sale on Amazon. Essentially I’ll be keeping two different branches (at least) of every title to accommodate both storefronts. DOES THE FUN EVER STOP?!?

I can’t complain too loudly. This is the job I wanted. I worked hard to get here, and now I’ve got it. I make games for fun and (some) profit. I play games as part of my job. It’s what I do. I’m just grumping because I’m at the tedious “But I just did that!” part. All in all, it’s not that bad.
You know when you finish a job that was hard and you think you’re done? How proud and relieved you feel? And then some schmuck… some putz… some yo-yo… comes along and tells you that you’ve got to do all of that again a bunch more times? Well god I hope you don’t. But I’m the putz here, because I did this to myself. LOL This is a problem that I’m allowed to just walk away from and forget about. But I won’t. I want this done all the way and done right.
That’s what’s wrong with me. ^_^

Uh, “Mine”? Looking at my To-Do list here (I’ve got a To-Do list), I’ve got to fabri-cobble a map for the mining camp (probably in Dungeondraft), install markers and a legend on the map of the mine/draug crypt itself (again, Dungeondraft), finish writing up the Denouement, and design a back cover which may be fast or glacial depending on how anal-retentive I want to be about it. After this, maybe I can work on something that’s more fun, like “The Canticles of Dawn”, or “Divine Entropy: The Book of Mordain the Stormbringer”. I might even jump into reworking weapon illustrations for the Weapons & Armor guide! Possibilities abound!
Again, NEA Game Fest 2023 is coming up. July 20-23rd I believe, and that’s 4 days of gaming I’ve got to be there for. I hope my books come in for sale by then. If not I’ll give out chits and take down numbers for interested parties. I also have to get registered and prepare 12 or so games. No pressure. I’ll see what ChatGPT can do for an idea factory, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be replaying some classics.

Tonight at 7:00 PM Central time I’ve got an episode of Frozen Tracks to do on Discord. Right now we’re not recording because I haven’t had time to install some hardware (a couple of drives that were removed from my workstation during an upgrade). Then I’d need to get OBS going too and a script of some kind would be awesome. I can’t remember what we were doing last time we played, but it’ll come to me.
This Saturday I’m booked at Eclectic Geekery in Walnut Ridge for a 4-hour session playtest of “Mine”. Everybody’s champing at the bit for it, so that’s good news! My birthday is on Monday, and I hope my friends can help me celebrate on Sunday. That’s what I’ll be calling for anyway. ^_^

I’ve got a full dance card, but I feel like progress has been made. It’s nice to just have things work every once in a while. When I’ve recharged, I’ll be putting more thought into my next moves for the game and the company.


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