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Friday, November 14, 2014

What being "Done" means in RPG design?

Being Done?
When is a thing done?
How does a great artist know that one more brush stroke is not going to add anything to the piece they are currently working on? How does an author know one more chapter would be too much?
Is in an inherent sense?
What is something is well and truly undone. I see it at my job when an employee tells me at noon that they are “done “ and I can easily find another days worth of work for them to do. The employee is not lazy; they just don’t look, or don’t see the undone.

What about in games?

I can go back to Phase abandon (a pdf of our house rules) that has been codified and done for about three years, and find enough things to change that I would have to start a rewrite. I don’t Phase Abandon is done. 
 I look at AAIE, that game desperately needs a rewrite, but whatever, it’s done.

Neither of these things is done in the truest sense of the word.
As a designer I am no better than the employees which I instruct on a daily basis. I know I’m not done; I just refuse to see it because I don’t have the level of interest to find the things that are still, undone.

Is this where the line between done and finished blurs?
Finished has a much more positive slant. Throughout this post I use "done" purposely.


What about a campaign? My long running Aleria game is not done. There are plenty of loose ends sitting there waiting for players to tie them up. There will always be loose ends, always another hill to climb; no I don’t think a campaign is ever really done.  It’s one of the things I love about the form, one of the things that makes a campaign. You never have to be done if you don’t want to be. 
What happens when you are done but the game isn’t? What is a gm’s or player’s responsibility to each other and to the game it’s self?

Sometimes I think it’s important to step back and look at where we are as game designers, players, and GM’s .  If this is a hobby in which by definition we are never actually done and given that “Done” is conceptually subjective, how does knowing that effect someone looking to write Role Playing Games?  Is being done why a lot of current games look to create certain experiences and styles of play mechanically?  Is it at the point that any given group of players will have a good chance to have desired experience the point when a designer can raise their hands and say DONE?   If someone plays (insert this week’s game du jour here) and gets freaked out just like the author intended is that a done deal? Is a desire to be done intrinsically counter to this hobby?



I’m not offering any answers to these questions.  What I am doing is posing them as someone who is looking for the next spark of inspiration, but who also has the bad habit of never getting anything done.

Thank you for reading.