Welcome to the Wet Ink Games Publisher Spotlight! Wet Ink Games publishes highly creative games and supplements intended to spur your imagination and aid you in telling interesting tales. Their games and supplements include:
Into the Cess and Citadel
An Ennie Award nominated TTRPG supplement that describes a strange and dangerous city. This book gives tools and tables to help construct the city, her inhabitants, and the encounters that you will find there.
Into the Wyrd and Wild
A wilderness supplement providing tools for creating forest dungeons, weird and terrifying monsters, and wilderness factions and encounters.
Never Going Home
A party-focused role-playing game set in horror haunted trenches during the First World War.
Heckin’ Good Doggos
An all ages role-playing game where the players take on the roles of humankind’s best friends: The dog! It is a game of “Dogs doin’ Dog Stuff.”
A complete roleplaying game for older kids and folks who remember the ‘90s. Your group plays a group of psychic kids that have escaped from the Facility and now you must stay ahead of Agents, adventure across the country together, and find your memory of safety.
The Two Running the Show
I got the chance to speak with Matthew Orr and Brandon Aten, the two running the Wet Ink Games shop, and ask them a few questions. They were kind enough to give us some insight into their background and what it’s like working in the game publishing business.
P&D: Could you please tell me a little bit of your backstory? What drew you to making games?
“Making games is really about storytelling. Storytelling comes from my parents, really. I called the family recliner ‘The Big Brown Reading Chair’. Learning to read along with kids’ books, led to library trips, and many afternoons spent in the long hallway looking at the many science fiction and fantasy paperbacks on my parents’ shelves. There were two sets of the Lord of the Rings, because my mom and dad each had one before they met. I think that’s really the start of it for me. I was going to make stories in some form. Making roleplaying games is creating many of the same elements you need for a novel. You set up character motivations, setting information, possible threats and potential rewards, and genre expectations play a part. Rather than making one story, I enjoy crafting the toolkit for people to make many different stories.”
“I’ve always loved games and have been creating games ever since I was a kid. Everything from making my own card games or board games with construction paper and markers, to putting rules in play when playing pretend games outside with friends, games have been a part of me since childhood. When I was first exposed to RPGs in the early 90s I was thrilled to see games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Robotech and immediately dove right in. I played RPGs all through highschool and found a regular gaming group in college where I was able to test out and play a lot of the things I created as house rules or optional mechanics, and was eventually able to leverage this into freelance writing gigs for established companies and a lot of indie games. Wet Ink Games really grew out of our industry experience when we identified that we could potentially take some of our setting material and develop our own rulesets, and it’s been a ton of fun working with so many awesome people in bringing our games to life.”
Working in RPG Publishing
P&D: What are you favorite and least favorite parts of making your products?
“I love being able to work with artists and writers to bring a collaboration to life in a way they hadn’t expected. Just being able to see the excitement on someones has when holding a book they’ve been involved in really makes it all worthwhile. Being able to bring talented people together and make something that is greater than the whole of its parts while building relationships is extremely rewarding too.
The biggest struggle I have is being able to convey to backers/customers the difficulties small independent companies occasionally run into that aren’t often problems with larger companies. Wet Ink Games is really a two person shop with a constellation of others who assist and provide support, and we do our very best to have things run as smoothly as possible, but when dealing with such a narrow band of resources, even small roadblocks can cause a cascade of setbacks and we do our very best to be transparent with our fans and supporters. “
“The best part is the creative collaboration. Working alone can be nice, but even for a project with one other person, there is still a lot of bouncing ideas back and forth. Great idea! Okay, but what about… Give me more of this. This part doesn’t fit into the rest of what you’ve written. Most of the games we have done at this point have had big creative teams so seeing all that creativity get going to wonderful. Other people have great ideas and I love to see them.
As Creative Director for Wet Ink, the hardest part of the work to do is all the little details to make a great manuscript into a finished product. Unifying terms and capitalization usage and whether colons are bolded or now is such detail work – that I know has to be done to make the finished product look professional – but it is a world away from the brainstorming sessions where everything is possible.”
P&D: Do you have a favorite product?
“Obviously, we are proud of all our products. Into the Cess and Citadel has been nominated for a few industry awards, so it’s great to be part of bringing Alex and Charlie’s creativity to the forefront. Personally, though, I have been working on a lot of manuscripts this year. Not everything is out yet, but Someone’s Last Day at the Track – a quickstart for Heckin Good Doggos we did for Free RPG Day – came out really well. That was mostly my writing, building on the work of the original team of creators, so that’s something that I’m still riding high on.”
“We’ve made a lot of deliberate decisions to create products we’re proud of. Among my personal favorites are the recent Heckin’ Good Doggos and Psychic Kids which are the newest games in our +One System line of games. They’ve allowed us to stretch our creative legs, using the system in fun new ways, and have even helped us define how were using the system with our upcoming game Garbage & Glory.”
On Being Creative
P&D: Is there anything else in particular that you would like to share?
“The best piece of advice I’ve ever received as a game designer and developer is this: “Ideas are easy. Execution is hard.” That’s to say, people have good ideas all the time, but it takes hard work and dedication to take those ideas and refine them into a finished deliverable product. If you are interested in diving into this space, don’t be afraid to take some of your ideas and polish them into a finished product. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be sellable (this doesn’t and shouldn’t have to always be the goal), but it does show you can complete something, and then you have something you can point to and be proud of. You can even use those as potential refinement opportunities for future development.”
“I get asked a lot how to get started in gaming. I don’t think there is one exact way that works for everybody. But with anything creative, you have to start things and you have to finish things. So my advice is to start with some small projects and finish them. I was a judge for a weekend game jam earlier this month. Folks had 40 hours or so to make a game – no more than 4 pages long. It was great to see the creativity of the participants. Different settings and dice systems. They each made a game! You can too!”
I want to thank Brandon Aten and Matthew Orr for talking with us and both of them as well as the rest of the team at Wet Ink Games for their wonderful work. If you would like to check out all of their offerings, you can find the PDF’s and Print-on-Demand offerings at DriveThru. You can also find print versions of their books at Indie Press Revolution.
The folks at Wet Ink Games also have a Kickstarter going on until August 19th 2023 for their new game Garbage and Glory! Check out this smelly and wild raccoon adventure by clicking the banner below: