New Year, New Game

It’s always interesting when it comes time to write one of these blog posts, as I get to look back and see what’s changed. The WordPress interface is different. The world is different. My writing style, game design, and publishing skills are different. Fortunately, all charted positive growth after a long production cycle and two release date slips.

Not that I’m complaining. Because I’m not. Being adrift in a seemingly endless sea of creativity and development was a gift that strengthened the game system and product.

My process was painstaking. Extensive rewrites and simple revisions disrupted multiple chapters as I integrated the changes. An analogy I referred to often was a vehicle on a lift rack, suspended above, with many critical components removed to expose the underlying precision mechanisms and supportive frameworks.

Parts were reassembled, only to be taken off again as the design changed and mutated.


My 1st draft was brutal, and there were lots of things to fix. As a development milestone, I think it’s important to have the lights on and water running before popping the cork to celebrate. There are a few things that must be done before a 1st draft can be published. By turning out a high quality 1st draft, with development notes, it was possible to enjoy a deep dive on the 2nd draft and work on content and theme. That’s where hard decisions had to be made as to what kind of experience the game would offer.

The 3rd draft cleaned up the format, added charts and titles, and completed every page. Inside the vastness of the last creative space, time stretched to infinity, and the only way out was beyond the horizon’s edge. And then suddenly, it was done.

In addition to having a maxed out work and personal schedule IRL, I’m short on tick-tocks here, although I’m spending more time playing games, studying games, writing games, and watching All Star Trek on H&I. It all helps to recharge before trying to break my high score again on Super Stayin’ Busy III: Arcade Edition.

My development cycle from concept to product for a game with a new system is about two to three years, give or take. I put a lot of that time toward the multiplayer system and ways to configure the game for different play experiences.

To accomplish that, there are couple of truths I am beholden to:

  • Writing, especially roleplaying game design, requires a consistent measure of time spent writing and uninterrupted deep focus. If either one is missing, productivity will take a significant hit. This means the release date will have to be slipped. Then, slipped again because of some other demand IRL.

  • Subsidies, like funds intended to help reduce or eliminate the costs associated with product development and production, help get the games made. My development is budgeted for two and three years per cycle. with occasional date slips and moderate breaks in productivity.

My big-picture plan is to design and publish a series of action/horror games that keep pressure on the players, who must keep their characters alive. Emulating white-knuckle, heart-thumping action, the game is powered by a fast rpg system that can be modified for many other titles. A system worthy of launching an entire action/horror survival game series. No small task, to be sure.

The House on Orchard Lane is the first entry in the Nightmare Escape series. The Kindle Public Alpha edition supports the development and production of the game.


I’m pleased to announce the release of The House on Orchard Lane: Public Alpha exclusively on Amazon Kindle.

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd drafts of the game were written largely on an Acer N3060 Chromebook using Google Docs on lunchbreak editing days, and a Widows i5 desktop solution on other days I could throw more time at the manuscript. All in Docs.

I’m also developing a Kindle edition made with Scribus, but it’s not ready to show off yet. When it is, I’ll kick off a proper retail edition marketing campaign. In the meantime, it’s available on Amazon Kindle as a Public Alpha edition.

The cover, chapter titles, chapter body text, and accompanying text and charts are separate pdfs that have been recombined using

Get the game here! >>> <<< Get the game here!

The House on Orchard Lane is powered by REACTOR.


The game centers on flawed characters with pasts that have drawn them toward the house where bad things happen. I went back to my favorite films, songs, video games, you name it, and studied what stood out, what was fun. This is an action/horror game that empowers players to build a world and choose what direction the story takes in a world of consequences.

REACTOR is a system that dishes out the death and discomfort by way of three action modes that offer 2-6 players different ways to interact with the story world. Each turn, players can choose from action modes like Eye for an Eye, Go for the Throat, and Beg for Mercy to determine consequences. The characters must fight and survive, or die.

To play this game, you’ll need a few things: a deck of playing cards, five six-sided dice, a few pens, and 2-6 friends. Print out the character sheets and kill for about an hour.


Down an unpaved country road, an old and seemingly abandoned farmhouse sits back among a grove of blighted fruit trees, guarded by a spiked fence and rusted iron gate that forbids entry.

“At long last, you’ve come back.”

Behind gore-streaked walls, you’ll discover a nightmare floorplan of grisly rooms and dead ends, stalked by the Primals, Eternals, and Shadows who only seek to torment and brutalize. In order to escape, you’ll need to fight like hell to survive at the residence of malevolence.

“Carrying deadly weapons that were handed down by the weak and unlucky who came before.”

Take up powerful arms and destroy the enemies who want to carve out your still-beating heart.

“You watched, as the Butcher and the Mastermind danced together in bloodsoaked abandon.”

Once you enter, there’s no turning back. Survive the slaughterhouse. Then, build vile monuments of failure to chronicle the pain and misery you leave in your wake.

“You were there, when the Family defiled and ravaged what remained of their fallen victims.”

Welcome home, we’ve missed you.


My backlog of games, both made and played, runs deep. There are a lot of different projects that could easily take up all of my free time. Games that use existing systems. Games that use systems that have yet to be written.

Not that I have any free time. Because I don’t. A push in one direction takes potential from another direction. Resources are limited, and time is at the top of the list.

I’m focused on the development of The House on Orchard Lane, aka THOOL.

I’d like to launch a THOOL Halloween fundraiser this fall. Then, publish a gameplay survey and a softcover edition made with Scribus. Sigh. Too many games, not enough time.

Whew. It’s going to be a busy year. And that’s okay.

The House on Orchard Lane: Public Alpha game has been released. Go check it out.

Visit me on Twitter for the latest development news, creative musings, and miscellany.

Stay safe out there, folks.

© copyright 2021 James Glover and 1000mg Games. All rights reserved.

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