For four years and counting, Jenn Steen jumped feet first into the world of podcasting. Branching out with her own podcasting a year and a half ago, Jennifer has interviewed, among a number of others, Randall and Anna Walker , Daniel Solis, Ryan Macklin, Amanda Valentine, Sean Nittner, Jason Morningstar, Dave the Game, and David A Hill Jr. Every bit as intelligent and cheerful off the clock as she is during a show, Jenn took time out from the March Madness to answer a few questions about the glories of podcasting.
GDG: How did you decide to get into podcasting?
JS: I started podcasting four years ago with my friends on a show called The Trapcast. A year and a half ago I started my own show called the Jennisodes. I wanted to do interviews with different gamers in the industry. I have gotten to meet a lot of amazing people through the past couple years, and love having them on my show. Podcasting is a great way to keep up to date with everything going on in the community. I started out looking at indie RPGs and have branched out to talk to video game designers and card/board games!
GDG: What caused you to decide to branch out beyond indie RPGs to talk to designers from other types of games?
JS: It seemed like a logical step; I was given opportunities to talk to designers from other types of games. I have some close friends who designed their own video game and I just had to have them on my show. I want people to listen to Jennisodes and find something new they might not have gotten to hear about. I really enjoy finding a variety of guests, as it gets me excited to learn something new and I get to meet new people. There are many indie RPG designers, artists and editors I still haven’t gotten to talk to and I can’t wait to have them on my show. Jennisodes has a little something for everyone, and it’s a great way to find out about a game or project you have next heard of before.
GDG: What keeps you excited about doing the Jennisodes?
JS: There are so many new games being created; I’m always excited learning about them. The role-playing game community is so amazing that it’s hard not to be excited about what everyone is doing. I keep a notebook with my schedule for recording and release dates, which helps keep me on schedule and excited. I wish I had more time in the week to interview more people! I’m looking at wrapping up Season 2 in a couple months and start on Season 3. Getting to learn about new games and interviewing passionate guests makes me excited to do more shows.
GDG: Can you tell us a little more about the organization behind doing the Jennisodes?
JS: Organization is the biggest key to doing Jennisodes. I do everything myself except for the website, so I have to schedule my time between scheduling, prepping, conducting and editing the episodes. Right now I’ve started doing March Insanity, where I’m putting out two episodes a week for a month and a half. I schedule my guests months in advance, so I know who is coming up and what to prep for the interview. By creating an outline beforehand I’m able to keep everything on track and make sure I cover everything awesome my guest is doing. I don’t want to forget about anything!
GDG: Tell us about the March Insanity.
JS: March Insanity was an idea I came up with near the end of February. I was about to put out episode 87, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to put out double weekly episodes until I hit 100. I’ll release episode 100 on April 16th! Granted, this means I have a lot of work to do to keep up with this schedule. I record, edit and produce all the episodes myself, so it can be time consuming. I really enjoy doing the interviews and talking to my guests, so the time investment is well worth it. I love when a fan tells me they learned something new about a game or enjoyed the episode. I’m doing March Insanity for the listeners, so they can hear about twice as many games and projects this month.
GDG: When did you get the idea for Project Ninja Panda Taco?
JS: I got the idea for Project Ninja Panda Taco last February. I had started talking about how I’ve always wanted a minion, which would free up my time to take over the world. As I started to think about it everything seemed to come together with a fun cartoony vibe. Players get to play a mastermind trying to take over the world, and a minion who loves to help the other masterminds in their plans. I pulled a lot of inspiration from Pinky and the Brain, Despicable Me and Megamind, as I love watching these movies. I also wanted it the character creation to be collaborative and the game be competitive as masterminds try to stop each other’s plans. Through playtesting I was able to find the right balance to create an awesome fast paced game that makes everyone at the table laugh out loud—either in diabolical laughter or giggles.
GDG: Where in development is PNPT right now?
JS: Right now Project Ninja Panda Taco is with my awesome editor John Adamus. I’m putting together everything for a Kickstarter, which I hope to start in the close future. I’m looking forward to the next steps in development (art, layout, printing) and can’t wait for everyone to see the game!
GDG: How did you pick John for your editor? Do you have any advice on picking editors for other game writers starting their first game?
JS: I met John at Metatopia last year, where I asked to interview him for Jennisodes. After the interview I checked out his blog, and it was full of amazing insight and knowledge. Soon after that we started working together on Project Ninja Panda Taco. The advice I have for game writers is that you need someone to edit your game. If anything, a game writer needs someone else to read the work and get a fresh set of eyes on it. As a game writer, you have to continually learn new things, and if you want to become a better writer you can take classes or find articles online. John’s blog (writernextdoor.blogspot.com) has all sorts of advice. I think that is a great place to start, as it talks about developing characters and helping with your game pitch, to name a few examples. John has also helped me on the actual mechanics of the game, so editors aren’t just for spell checking and grammar.
The gaming community has so many amazing people, and there are a lot of editors out there who are willing to help. Starting to design your first game may sound scary, but if you start out by just writing everything down you’ll be able to work with that later to create and playtest something awesome. Having an editor or friend to bounce ideas off of has been extremely helpful in creating Project NPT. I’m so glad I met John at Metatopia.