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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Loose ends: Game design waffles.


Every project large or small has a tipping point, a moment when the end is truly in sight. As a person who likes to write games this stage is always the most difficult for me. I am quite good at getting fired up about an idea, but quite bad at tying up all the loose ends.

So it is with the “Amazing Adventurers and Incredible Exploits,” project.  I want it to be done, as soon as possible would be nice, now I just have to motivate myself to do it.

I have read on other sights by people who are working  designers and authors and such That the end game is always  hardest. By the time a project is near completion you don't even want to look at it any more. I don't feel that strongly, I wrote a game , and a joke of a game at that, I'm certainly not as invested in time, emotion, or aspiration as an author of say a novel wold be. Still I'm ready to move along.

Still there is this lingering thing about the game, a something I can't put my finger on. A something I need to nail down and I can not figure it out. Our group is having fun with it, the characters are moving along nicely the mechanics work, in fact it has my favorite leveling mechanic I have ever played and still I'm not  particularly satisfied. As I described it to Otto on Saturday it's starting to feel like an albatross around my neck, because I can't shake the feeling that it's somehow missing the mark.



See I started this blog to write games and share ideas and be transparent about the  process, and that's exactly what I'm doing. 
When some one designs a game at some point they have to step back and look at it as a game on it's own merit. This is hard to do when you're working on the damn thing, but it is possible. Mentally step back and say what kind of play is this  game creating?  How is the game shaping what happens at the table? Is this fun? (Yes, "is this fun?" is a valid question.) In the name of transparency I have to admit that I think I might have designed a game that I never intended, which  is not really an act of design at all.

This leaves me with a choice. 
  1. I can pack it in finish the PDF as quickly as humanly possible, plop it on the net for any one who wants it, and run. Drop the  albatross, move on. Before any of the guys in my group get worried I'm not talking about not playing the game I'm talking about not actively working on it anymore. After all things need to be done at some point.
  2. Embrace it and start quick re-write that really puts the emphasis more clearly the nature of the game.  Which for the record is  a suicidal quest for riches by  second rate heroes that are ill equipped and inexperienced against a world of random monsters that don't give a shit about the protagonists bodily health. (You know like giants that fling ax's, stone fall traps on doors, and  winged statues that get all stabby.)
As a designer  option two sounds like the most interesting. In effect to take the game I never would have built and build it out even farther.

As a person Option one has a ton of appeal because it allows me to just say, this is done now, lets play it and do what ever were going to do with it, but it is what it's going to be. I could move on from it. To go with option one though I would have to  live with that niggling little feeling in the back of my mind that keeps telling me there are loose ends to tie, and I never took the time to find them.

Thanks for reading.
Comments welcome.
Shenanigans suggested.