"Keep track of what you are doing or making. A couple of years ago, after I had made over a hundred generators. I started work on one and got 2/3 of the way though it when something made me think.."Hang on...haven't I done this...I have!". Wasted almost a week working on something I had already done...doh!"
Chris Kenlea of Ennead Games is our latest creator
Q&A with Chris Kentlea of Ennead Games
How did you get into creating random generators?
I've been playing RPGs, both the tabletop version and PC/consoles, for many years. I can remember seeing in an old copy of Dragon magazine many years ago an article about a program that would help you to run your games, by generating plot hooks, events and so on.
Whilst my programing knowledge is basic at best, the concept fascinated me. Using lists and combining them in random ways to provide content and prompt ideas seemed like a genius idea. The more base items you had, the more possible combinations you could create. I started of doing it as a way to relax/calm myself during panic attacks and found that not only did I enjoy it, but was reasonably good at it.
When I was made redundant a few years ago, someone suggested to me I should try and sell a few of them, for extra money. I did and they sold better than expected. So I continued on doing so.
What generators are you most proud of creating and why?
I had quite a shock when Eric Campbell from Shield of Tomorrow / Geek and Sundry said that he used MY product for naming stuff in his games.
What is the most fun thing about creating generators?
Seeing the possible combinations that crop up as I'm making them.
I use a spreadsheet, such as Google sheets, to brainstorm the content ideas. and occasionally you can see where various entries line up naturally, sometimes in a brilliant way, sometimes odd. But for me that's the biggest draw, seeing what semi-random chance can create.
What are the most painful lessons you've learnt from creating generators?
First, back up your data regularly. Last year I lost my entire hard-drive due to a boot error loop. Luckily I had done backups but had lost the last few pdfs I was working on.
Second - Keep track of what you are doing or making. A couple of years ago, after I had made over a hundred generators. I started work on one and got 2/3 of the way though it when something made me think.."Hang on...haven't I done this...I have!". Wasted almost a week working on something I had already done...doh!
So now I have a system where I list everything I have done, and what I am planning on doing in the future. It's now a long list, but makes it less likely I'll waste time duplicating work.
How do you use random generators yourself?
I play regularly two rpgs, Star Trek Adventures and D&D. I use them to help me come up with plots concepts, items, ships, basically anything I am stuck on.
Playing the games help me decide what I am going to work on next.
What are your next big projects (generators or otherwise) that you can talk about?
I think my next biggest project is one I am due to start on in the next week or so. A thieves guild generator. Just finished a gen to create a name for a thieves guild, so it seemed natural to make that one follow it up.
Where can people find you on social media?
Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Speaking of streaming, I think the rise in RPGs being streamed is a good thing, folks like Critical Roll, High Rollers and others are really helping to bring the hobby mainstream and I truly believe that the best is yet to come. Exciting times :)