Q&A with Colin McComb

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:26 pm

Colin McComb wrote:The item I created with the most exposure was the Helm of Valor, from the Complete Book of Elves. This item allowed the wearer to take minimal damage from missile fire, assuming that he or she doesn't fail a Wisdom check and flinch. The Helm was based on a fencing mask I'd brought from college. Bill Connors discovered that plastic-tipped darts stuck nicely in the wire mesh, about an inch and a half away from the eye, and so we started putting it on people and throwing darts at their heads. This was especially fun for the new people - it became a rite of passage for any new editor or designer, in fact - and it gave us a quick sense of their personalities.
Another question if I may (and if you are not overwhelmed by the ubergeekdom over in the SJ forum ;) ): I just read the credits for PHBR8 The Complete Book of Elves and you dedicate this helm to "TSR's Siberia Six". But who were the Siberia Six? I'm guessing that Bill Connors is in there, but who else? And why "Siberia"? :?:

I get the impression there is a really funny story behind this (aside from having plastic darts thrown at your head). :lol:
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Colin McComb » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:21 am

Big Mac wrote: Another question if I may (and if you are not overwhelmed by the ubergeekdom over in the SJ forum ;) ): I just read the credits for PHBR8 The Complete Book of Elves and you dedicate this helm to "TSR's Siberia Six". But who were the Siberia Six? I'm guessing that Bill Connors is in there, but who else? And why "Siberia"? :?:

I get the impression there is a really funny story behind this (aside from having plastic darts thrown at your head). :lol:
Oh, there's a story, all right.

When I first arrived at TSR, they showed me around the various areas: R&D, the art area, graphic design, cartography, the warehouse, the mail order hobby shop... and in a remote corner of the building, in a hard-to-find place, was my office. Bill Connors was there, as were Bruce Heard and Jon Pickens. It was the four of us for a bit, and then we were joined by (if I'm not mistaken, and I may well be) Rich Baker and Tim Beach or Thomas Reid.

We called this remote outpost of R&D "Siberia", since it was a long and arduous trek to reach the place, and one had to pass the art room or the cartographers to reach us; the latter passage took us through the reflective hall, and visitors were invariably disoriented by the trip. Also, in the winter, wolves came. And thus, the six of us became the Siberia Six - primarily because it was better alliteration. We didn't stay there long, though - eventually we moved upstairs and the book department took over our old haunts.
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Hugin » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:22 pm

Haha, I love these old little stories! Thanks for sharing your memories and experiences with us.

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Colin McComb » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:30 pm

My pleasure! If you haven't seen Monte's 30-year interviews, I recommend them for a fuller picture:

They're right here!
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by AuldDragon » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:41 pm

I thought of another question about On Hallowed Ground. Do you recall if the information related to the Drow demigoddess Zinzerena was mostly your invention (beyond what was in Monster Mythology), or did it come from another source? I'm specifically wondering about her portfolio and current whereabouts (Toril/Menzoberranzan). I hadn't seen that info anywhere else, and I'm wondering if I just missed it. Thanks!

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Colin McComb » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:28 pm

I seem to recall that I hit some FR sources, but I'll be damned if I can remember what they were right now. It's extremely possible that I used Menzoberranzan, other Planescape sources, and... hmm. I know at least a part of it simply arose from kicking ideas around with the other PS designers.
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:22 am

Colin McComb wrote:
Big Mac wrote: Another question if I may (and if you are not overwhelmed by the ubergeekdom over in the SJ forum ;) ): I just read the credits for PHBR8 The Complete Book of Elves and you dedicate this helm to "TSR's Siberia Six". But who were the Siberia Six? I'm guessing that Bill Connors is in there, but who else? And why "Siberia"? :?:

I get the impression there is a really funny story behind this (aside from having plastic darts thrown at your head). :lol:
Oh, there's a story, all right.

When I first arrived at TSR, they showed me around the various areas: R&D, the art area, graphic design, cartography, the warehouse, the mail order hobby shop... and in a remote corner of the building, in a hard-to-find place, was my office. Bill Connors was there, as were Bruce Heard and Jon Pickens. It was the four of us for a bit, and then we were joined by (if I'm not mistaken, and I may well be) Rich Baker and Tim Beach or Thomas Reid.
That is a great story. Shame you can't quite recall the later two members of the Six. I wonder if someone else could confirm if Tim Beach or Thomas Reid was in there. (Maybe Tim, himself could recall.)
Colin McComb wrote:We called this remote outpost of R&D "Siberia", since it was a long and arduous trek to reach the place, and one had to pass the art room or the cartographers to reach us; the latter passage took us through the reflective hall, and visitors were invariably disoriented by the trip. Also, in the winter, wolves came. And thus, the six of us became the Siberia Six - primarily because it was better alliteration. We didn't stay there long, though - eventually we moved upstairs and the book department took over our old haunts.
Hmm. Siberia sounds like something that should be stuck into a RPG adventure. 8-) I might stick a country called Siberia onto one of my Celenaresspace planets and give it a building called The Reflective Hall! :lol:

I didn't quite catch the "wolves" reference. Do you mean they came to Lake Geneva in general? Or was there some sort of wolf-like object that got brought into your office area?
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Knightfall » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:52 pm

Colin McComb wrote:
DuBeers wrote:I haven't tried it, but here is a page with instructions for opening WordPerfect files in MSWord.

http://www.columbia.edu/~em36/wpdos/wptoword.html
I'll take a look at this. Thanks!
Colin, if you haven't tried it, OpenOffice has the ability to open files in WordPerfect format (*.wpd).
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Havard » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:17 pm

New revelations about Colin here: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4173

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:20 pm

Havard wrote:New revelations about Colin here: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4173
Hi Colin. I loved your story about being a TSR Spy. A couple of us are curious about the April Fools joke, that was related to you being worried about loosing your job. Is that something you can tell us about?
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Colin McComb » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:27 pm

The April Fool's story is up in the other thread!
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:41 pm

Colin McComb wrote:The April Fool's story is up in the other thread!
...and it is brilliant! :cool:
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Havard » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:47 am

Happy New Year Colin :)

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:36 pm

Hi Colin.

I stared up a thread about Dragon Mountain (back in 2009) and wonder if you could spare a couple of minutes to comment on how you would recommend that people use the world-hopping nature of the mountain to join campaign worlds together.

The thread is called: Dragon Mountain? Is this a campaign setting?
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:38 pm

I see from one of my Faceborg contacts that you have a new novel out called: Oathbreaker, Book 1: The Knight's Tale. I've got a few questions:

1) Is this likely to come out in a dead tree (or Print on Demand) version at some point?

2) Is Oathbreaker your own campaign setting or are you writing novels set in someone else's world?

3) If Oathbreaker is your own world, are you likely to be doing a RPG version of it, at some point?
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Colin McComb » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:04 pm

Big Mac wrote:I see from one of my Faceborg contacts that you have a new novel out called: Oathbreaker, Book 1: The Knight's Tale. I've got a few questions:

1) Is this likely to come out in a dead tree (or Print on Demand) version at some point?

2) Is Oathbreaker your own campaign setting or are you writing novels set in someone else's world?

3) If Oathbreaker is your own world, are you likely to be doing a RPG version of it, at some point?
Why, thank you for bringing up that subject, sir (and thus saving me the inevitable shame that comes with self-promotion) (though come to think of it, I *am* proud of this book)!

1. It will come out in dead tree, probably via CreateSpace, and hopefully before the end of the year. I've got the files off with a graphic designer right now to make the book worth the price for the buyer - paper versions cost like 7.50, and that's without shipping. I've promised hard copies for some of my Kickstarter backers, and will probably have a few left over. I will probably wait until book 2 or book 3 comes out for a larger print run, so that I can combine them into an overall less-expensive omnibus, since each section is about 40,000 words - novella sized, rather than novel.

2. It is entirely my own world. I've had the seeds of the world kicking around in my head for years, but didn't start actively developing it until about 2000.

3. At some point, assuming enough sales, it is entirely possible that I will develop an RPG version of it. In the meantime, if someone wants to do one on the side, I'd be happy to work with them. (was that too obvious a hint?)

Oh, wait, before I sign this, I need to change my signature.

Thanks again for asking. Once (or *if*, perhaps) you read it, I'd like to know what you think.
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:48 pm

How is the Oathbreaker thing going, Colin?

Is part two or part three out yet?
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Colin McComb » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:16 am

Big Mac wrote:How is the Oathbreaker thing going, Colin?

Is part two or part three out yet?
It's going very well, and thanks for asking! The third book has been slightly delayed due to Wasteland 2 taking over my time, and I still need to find a way not to hate the main character of Book 3 (probably by erasing the one I have now and replacing her with someone much more suitable), but it continues apace!

Book 2 is out - only on Amazon right now, and only as an ebook because I haven't had time to put the files together for a hard copy (see: Wasteland 2). You can find it right here - and if you happen to like it, reviews are always welcome.

I should probably also note that I've made Book 1 free on my site as a pdf, free on Goodreads, and now it's also free on iTunes (details all right here if you're so inclined)... so really, all you have to lose is your time. Which, I guess, makes the promise of a refund not quite such a bargain.

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:17 pm

Colin McComb wrote:
Big Mac wrote:How is the Oathbreaker thing going, Colin?

Is part two or part three out yet?
It's going very well, and thanks for asking! The third book has been slightly delayed due to Wasteland 2 taking over my time, and I still need to find a way not to hate the main character of Book 3 (probably by erasing the one I have now and replacing her with someone much more suitable), but it continues apace!
Wasteland 2? You mean this Wasteland 2, right? I'm amazed at the cash they have managed to raise on Kickstarter. If you could raise that sort of cash for a tabletop setting, I'm sure you could get Oathbreaker or any thing else out there.

Computer games seem to have it a lot easier, than tabletop games, these days.

Talking of computer games, I followed a link from your blog and saw that you did a Planescape Tourment podcast interview. I'm sure that will interest some of the people at The Piazza.
Colin McComb wrote:Book 2 is out - only on Amazon right now, and only as an ebook because I haven't had time to put the files together for a hard copy (see: Wasteland 2). You can find it right here - and if you happen to like it, reviews are always welcome.
I was actually looking at Book 1: The Knight's Tale on Amazon.co.uk last night. I've been waiting for the dead-tree version to come out and I saw it for the first time last night. I was thinking of checking the dimensions with you as 22x15 cm wouldn't fit with my D&D novel collection. Are those dimensions a mistake or have you made a novel the size of a graphic novel?

I'd love to write tons of reviews, but I've only ever had the time to do nine of them (and four of those have been "do not buy this" warnings). I'm quite happy with the review format I used for SJA1 Wildspace and Endless Quest: A Wild Ride. I was hoping to get through all the SJ books and move onto secondary sources of Spelljammer (like The Complete Book of Elves :cool: ). I don't really get much feedback on my reviews...

...apart from the review I did of a really really awful DVD called Dragon. I've had quite a few replies to that. :lol:
Colin McComb wrote:I should probably also note that I've made Book 1 free on my site as a pdf, free on Goodreads, and now it's also free on iTunes (details all right here if you're so inclined)... so really, all you have to lose is your time. Which, I guess, makes the promise of a refund not quite such a bargain.
Holy cow, Colin! That is an awesome freebie! :cool:

If you are going to do cool stuff like that (and your Planescape Tourment podcast) you should come over and tell us about it. ;)

I've downloaded book one and (although I struggle a bit with electronic stuff) I'll find some way to read it. (Maybe I can get my Palm PDA up and running again. I've read a few eBooks on that.) I think I'll still buy the dead tree version, if I like it.

I did notice that the page count in the download is way lower than the page count on the page for the dead tree paperback. That is another thing that has confused me. Is the free PDF a different format to the one you have for sale on Amazon?
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Colin McComb » Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:39 am

Big Mac wrote: Wasteland 2? You mean this Wasteland 2, right? I'm amazed at the cash they have managed to raise on Kickstarter. If you could raise that sort of cash for a tabletop setting, I'm sure you could get Oathbreaker or any thing else out there.

Computer games seem to have it a lot easier, than tabletop games, these days.
Computer games have the perceived advantage of coming with a pre-established team, whereas a tabletop game will generally look like a solo/very small group. That said, a lot of the successes I've seen on Kickstarter stem from nostalgia or established brands in the business--Wasteland, Shadowrun, Double Fine, and now Obsidian's Project Eternity. Likewise, Monte Cook's Numenera did so well because he was able to leverage his well-earned reputation in the industry, and because he carefully planned his stretch goals and made each of them more excellent.

Talking of computer games, I followed a link from your blog and saw that you did a Planescape Tourment podcast interview. I'm sure that will interest some of the people at The Piazza.
Big Mac wrote:I've been waiting for the dead-tree version to come out and I saw it for the first time last night. I was thinking of checking the dimensions with you as 22x15 cm wouldn't fit with my D&D novel collection. Are those dimensions a mistake or have you made a novel the size of a graphic novel?
It *is* the size of a graphic novel. When I get into reprints, I'll make it more convenient - but I wanted this one to be able to sit on the shelf next to, say, "A Game of Thrones". ;)
Big Mac wrote: If you are going to do cool stuff like that (and your Planescape Tourment podcast) you should come over and tell us about it. ;)
My problem is that I don't want to be the guy who's all, "Hey, everyone, just in case you're not following my every move, I've put up a collection of finger paints and vacation portraits at my exciting blog!" I do realize that I should be promoting my stuff more for people who have an interest in seeing it (Actual imaginary conversation with myself: "You mean people in a 'Q&A With Colin McComb' thread might want to see it? Weird!") - but... well, I guess there's no but. I resolve to do better with that.
Big Mac wrote: I did notice that the page count in the download is way lower than the page count on the page for the dead tree paperback. That is another thing that has confused me. Is the free PDF a different format to the one you have for sale on Amazon?
The output from my conversion program did change it dramatically - you might need to zoom in for the text size. Ahem. But there are some free e-readers out there that can handle the downloads from Goodreads or iTunes, and those are generally easier to read than a pdf.

Thanks for reminding me to talk about this, Big Mac. I appreciate the opportunity!
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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by agathokles » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:51 am

Colin McComb wrote:
Big Mac wrote: Wasteland 2? You mean this Wasteland 2, right? I'm amazed at the cash they have managed to raise on Kickstarter. If you could raise that sort of cash for a tabletop setting, I'm sure you could get Oathbreaker or any thing else out there.

Computer games seem to have it a lot easier, than tabletop games, these days.
Computer games have the perceived advantage of coming with a pre-established team, whereas a tabletop game will generally look like a solo/very small group. That said, a lot of the successes I've seen on Kickstarter stem from nostalgia or established brands in the business--Wasteland, Shadowrun, Double Fine, and now Obsidian's Project Eternity. Likewise, Monte Cook's Numenera did so well because he was able to leverage his well-earned reputation in the industry, and because he carefully planned his stretch goals and made each of them more excellent.
It seems to me that it is also a matter of potential audience: computer games are simply more popular, whereas RPGs are more niche -- Monte Cook is about as highly reputed an RPG designer as you can get, yet he ended up with somewhat less than 5,000 supporters. Obsidian is also a top studio in the CRPG genre, and they got ten time as many supporters in less than one week. Both are creating brand new settings, so they don't leverage much on existing brands besides their own reputation -- which in crowd funding is essential, since you're essentially investing in a yet-to-be-designed/developed product.

As you say, Monte did very well with his stretch goal planning, so I'd say it would be very difficult for a tabletop RPG kickstarter to outdo Numenera.

GP

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by agathokles » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:59 am

Big Mac wrote:I see from one of my Faceborg contacts that you have a new novel out called: Oathbreaker, Book 1: The Knight's Tale.?
I've read it a couple months ago. Very entertaining -- nice fantasy/steampunk setting, and a good (and not so common) choice of narrative style.

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Havard » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:10 am

agathokles wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I see from one of my Faceborg contacts that you have a new novel out called: Oathbreaker, Book 1: The Knight's Tale.?
I've read it a couple months ago. Very entertaining -- nice fantasy/steampunk setting, and a good (and not so common) choice of narrative style.
Cool,I will check this one out once I get myself a decent ebook reader :)

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by agathokles » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:18 am

Actually, it's easy to read on any device where you can put the Amazon Kindle software (e.g., a smartphone, tablet or PC).

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Re: Q&A with Colin McComb

Post by Big Mac » Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:41 pm

Havard wrote:
agathokles wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I see from one of my Faceborg contacts that you have a new novel out called: Oathbreaker, Book 1: The Knight's Tale.?
I've read it a couple months ago. Very entertaining -- nice fantasy/steampunk setting, and a good (and not so common) choice of narrative style.
Cool,I will check this one out once I get myself a decent ebook reader :)
Colin is now giving the book away for free:
Colin McComb wrote:I should probably also note that I've made Book 1 free on my site as a pdf, free on Goodreads, and now it's also free on iTunes (details all right here if you're so inclined)... so really, all you have to lose is your time. Which, I guess, makes the promise of a refund not quite such a bargain.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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