Let me get this straight.
I wrote a silly fantasy game called AAIE which will be available to anyone reading this (and anyone else) at some point in the next few months.
While it is true I wrote it, I would say that My Friends Neal, and Jens D. from the Disoriented Ranger Blog deserve far more credit for it's actual realization than I do.
Neal has done 90% of the play testing, running the game at several cons, giving me feedback and just saying things like, "This is broken, figure it out." Or, 'This chart needs X and Y please make that happen." He has also created some quick reference sheets (Very needed) based on his in game experience, and a quick character generator (helpfull when someone's character dies, as is often the case). He has been great.
For his part Jens has been willing to play the game a couple times with our normal group which avails me to another person's perspective. Beyond that however he has been unwaveringly enthusiastic about the game, has always offered his opinions on sticky system issues, helped figure out procedural hiccups, and fixed issues of layout.
I have to give them credit for letting a game I wrote out into the wild. They have facilitated the work that I'm not skilled or not motivated enough to do myself.
So that leaves me with a game. A digital conglomeration of pictures and pages.
A game that has seen far more attention and tweaking from people beyond our group than anything else I have written. Which is flattering, but also a bit concerning.
Now I want to do something with it, I want to finish it. I feel a degree of gratitude towards the people who have enjoyed the game and that gratitude should be repaid with a finished game. There's the rub. As it turns out I have no idea what that means.
I understand that this thing will never be as professionally edited* as well laid out ** or as full of great art *** as a professional production. I still want it to be the best I (we) can do.
Contrary to popular belief, and possibly empirical evidence, I'm not a shit person.I hate the idea of putting out shit.
So as the time for me to let this into the wild comes closer, as it creeps into my consciousness that I might actually HAVE to follow through for once, it makes me nervous. I know AAIE will fall into the O.S.R. bracket of games whether it should or not. That's a pool of incredibly talented, authors, artists,, and developers. Some of those folks are working with higher than industry average production values. I just can't compete for attention at that level. I don't expect to.
What is the point of this post beyond self deprecation?
At what point do ideas overcome presentation? At what point does presentation overcome ideas?
I have read some game products, of which the presentation, the art, and the quality of the physical product has been by far my favorite aspect. On the other side of the same coin I have read some games that were simply text documents on a free RPG site and found the ideas inside very intriguing. I always tell myself this hobby is and has always been a do it yourself hobby at heart. The originators of the hobby were doing it themselves and on a shoestring to boot. Though I find less and less solace in that thought the more I see how far beyond those DIY roots we have progressed as a creative community.
I'm just not sure a person (me) can get away with the former style anymore. The bar has been raised by some high quality products independently published in the past five years. Regardless of the intent of a project there will be someone reviewing it on the web as if it should have production values on par with latest release from Fantasy Flight Studio. What's worse I think it's totally fair to have those high standards in the modern age of P.O.D, desktop publishing, and nearly limitless talent networking. Creators have set the bar for other creators and that's how things work, that's how thing progress. I'm not sure what that means for actual homespun productions.
As Usual more questions than answers from my corner of the web.
I guess we'll see how things go when the time comes.
Thanks for reading
*Editing: I priced it out a while ago by asking around for going rates to a bit over $3000 for the whole thing. That's a price which isn't that bad considering how shit my writing is. Honestly though, on a project that I wouldn't see a return on I also have to consider using that money replacing the fence in my back yard and doing my driveway.
** Lay Out: I never priced this, but I'm sure it would be a bear to do properly.
*** I do sketches. My art isn't professional level. My art is however, free to me so .... I'll use it. If I were to hire artists it would be far and away the most expensive production cost, if for no other reason than I would want it to be.