Friends, I hope this New Year finds you safe and well. 2020 has been trying and tragic for many of us, and in 2021, we’re all eager for renewed energy and the potential for positive change.

In this time of transition, I’m ready for something new. I determined some time ago that I’d step down from the IGDA NYC board when my term finished in 2020. As it turns out, we didn’t have enough candidates to hold an election in December, so the two open seats will be filled by appointment. …


Back in 2017, as IGDA NYC co-chair, I wrote this case study describing how we adopted a new format for social events, passing over the traditional game dev bar mixer in favor of an all-ages, alcohol-free alternative.

I repost it here for posterity, and in anticipation of the day when advice about hosting indoor gatherings is relevant again.

CASE STUDY: Coffee and Ice Cream Socials

Event Description

There are plenty of game industry networking events, bar mixers, and drink nights out there, but we wanted to do something a little different — so instead, we started up the IGDA NYC Coffee and Ice Cream Socials.

Held every third Monday…


This is a series of spoiler-free (or -lite) transcripts from my portion of the Lamplight City developer commentary, which includes behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about the story writing and editing process. Start with Part 1.

His line of work takes him all places.

One of the things that sets Miles apart is what you might call his rather bohemian attitudes. He’s much more tolerant and open-minded than his police colleagues, certainly, and probably most of his fellow citizens as well.

All of the people we see him cultivate relationships with — Connie, Bill, his wife Addy — have some kind of marginalized or diminished status in society, whether…


This is a series of spoiler-free (or -lite) transcripts from my portion of the Lamplight City developer commentary, which includes behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about the story writing and editing process. Start with Part 1.

Airships, check. Top hats and goggles, when appropriate. Decorative gears…no.

Steampunk played an important role in the worldbuilding and tone of our alternate Vespuccia. But not too important a role.

We took to referring to it as “steampunkish,” not quite committing to the genre fully. We were and remain skeptical of the top hat and goggles, brass everything, just stick gears on it approach to steampunk. So we used it tactically, in small doses.

I…


This is a series of spoiler-free (or -lite) transcripts from my portion of the Lamplight City developer commentary, which includes behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about the story writing and editing process. Start with Part 1.

Getting under the skin. Get it?

One of my constant refrains while working on this script was “don’t put the subtext in the text.” Or alternatively, “You said the quiet part out loud.” We had kind of a crash course in subtext and how to use it effectively, especially in dialogue.

While working on this project I happened to read Story, the renowned how-to guide by master scriptwriter Robert McKee, and…


This is a series of spoiler-free (or -lite) transcripts from my portion of the Lamplight City developer commentary, which includes behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about the story writing and editing process. Start with Part 1.

I’m no historical expert, but I do try to keep an eye out for anachronisms that inevitably crop up in period pieces and excise them whenever I can. In A Golden Wake, for instance, I once spotted a newspaper vending machine, invented in 1947, sitting on a 1920s street corner where it had no business existing, and got it swapped out for a human vendor.


This is a series of spoiler-free (or -lite) transcripts from my portion of the Lamplight City developer commentary, which includes behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about the story writing and editing process. Start with Part 1.

There are some moments where Miles witnesses racist comments and attitudes directed at his wife Addy, and these scenes went through a few changes in the script.

In early versions, the player would be offered a few options to respond — either to defend Addy, or to let it pass unchallenged, with consequences for the relationship. …


This is a series of spoiler-free (or -lite) transcripts from my portion of the Lamplight City developer commentary, which includes behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about the story writing and editing process. Start with Part 1.

Early drafts of the script made a bigger deal of the status of slavery and former slaves in the world of New Bretagne, which for various reasons we dialed back in revisions.

We established in the worldbuilding that the emancipation of slaves had happened quite recently in the history of this country. However, it happened much earlier than in the real world. No Revolution, and…


This is a series of spoiler-free (or -lite) transcripts from my portion of the Lamplight City developer commentary, which includes behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about the story writing and editing process. Start with Part 1.

Upton O’Goode herself.

I. Gender-swapping Connie

The character of Connie Upton — perhaps my favorite in the whole game — was originally conceived as a man, named Edward Upton.

One of the first things I do when I start working on a game is take a look at the gender balance of the cast. Basically I want to see that at least half of the characters are women…


This is a series of spoiler-free (or -lite) transcripts from my portion of the Lamplight City developer commentary, which includes behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about the story writing and editing process. Start with Part 1.

The proprietor of the flower shop, Cecilia Hanbrook, went through some significant character changes in the early drafts of the script.

Originally she was a much more comical character, a caricature of a stiff old lady, and her dialogue was full of humorous innuendoes. Never mind that this felt tonally off for the very first NPC that you encounter — I didn’t like the way…

Jess Haskins

Narrative designer & editor. Founder, Paperback Studio. http://jesshaskins.com | http://paperback-studio.com

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