Friday, December 4, 2009

December is Back to Game Design Month

So yeah, I pretty much disappeared in November. However, I knocked my final project out of the ball park - so much so that I was waived from having to take the final exam, which makes me very happy. So now I've got six weeks grad school free. Oddly enough, this coincides with me wrapping up the first draft of the Tankards & Broadswords RPG core rules document, and also with me having a lot of miniatures lined up to be painted, so I hope it's going to be a busy six weeks for me.

One thing that has spurred a lot of work on my gaming agenda is a conversation I had via Google Wave with Rob Lang, who writes the Free RPG Blog. Rob had agreed to review the first draft of the T&B core rules for me, not for his blog but as a general informal friendly read-through so I could get some constructive feedback. While Rob thought that it was conceptually a solidly-designed game, he also felt that it didn't contain anything "catchy"; ultimately, it was Just Another Free Generic Rules-Light (pseudo)-Fantasy RPG. And I write that capitalized because, let's face it, there are probably hundreds of Free Generic Rules-Light Fantasy RPGs out there today, and if mine doesn't have something that will really kick a reader in the teeth and make them take notice, it will just languish in a bland, pablum-esque mediocrity for all time.

So Rob and I discussed this issue at some length, and next week I'll have another post dedicated to how I'll be looking at turning the T&B RPG around into something a little more exciting. In the meantime, I present to you this post from Rob's Blog on Tuesday about just this issue. I'm also re-posting the link to a column I wrote way back when about (ironically enough) my case against generic systems, and Rob's argument against making free rules lite generics holds very true to my own arguments (i.e., the rules-lite generic requires so much work to get to a suitable weight of campaign-specific information that you might as well just find a dedicated rules set that meets your needs). Taking my own advice? What's that?

While at first I will admit that I was a little disheartened, three things made me feel a lot better. First, Rob was able to point this out to me, and legitimize a sneaking suspicion that I didn't want to acknowledge for a long time about what I was working on. Second, while this means I'll have to take the game in a new direction, I'm doing that now, while the game is still in the first draft stages, rather than when I've got it completely written and laid out and have accumulated all the artwork. And third, my plan for breathing a little new life into this project will involve a campaign setting I made some time ago that I have always thought some of my best work, and I can't wait to get back to it and polish it up again.


Timeshadows said...

Looking forward to it all. :D

Darkwing said...

I have an idea I'd like to run by you re: campaign settings. We'll talk.

taichara said...

Sweet news about your final project! :D

And apologies about my own disappearing act; need/needed to sort a few non-net-related things out --

Rob Lang said...

I am glad I could be of help. You've taken the biggest step of all: objective self-criticism. If you can survive that then any less-than-constructive criticism you get after that will be water off a duck's back. With Icar, I climbed over that mountain some years back and since then I have continued to improve and criticise while leaving nothing sacred.

I am currently writing a guide on how to write an entire RPG from scratch and I'll just crib from the Chapter where you are at now: release small and release often. Don't try and release the whole thing finished. Do it in bits.

Of course, I'll be watching this with great interest!