Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Thing I Noticed

Recently I've been interested in how players make decisions during play - how they decide what to say next. I made a diagram of it, and posted in in some places. Here it is again:

The things around the outside are what influence the things on the inside, if you see what I mean. Maybe it's interesting to some people? There's no space for "What would my character do?" I'm not sure if that's a mistake, or the whole point of the thing.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Abandoned Games

Vincent was saying on a podcast somewhere about how folks could talk more about abandoned games - that it's dangerous to think you've gotta publish every idea you have.

Since apparently I do everything Vincent says, let's talk about that!

I'm a really productive writer. Or at least, recently I have been. I can crank out pages and pages of notes for games, polished game-text, layouts, designs and such. I think part of what fuels this is that I absolutely do not edit myself in terms of what I produce. I work on whatever I'm excited about, for as long as I'm excited about it, and then I stop. Recently I've been pushing myself a bit more with On Mighty Thews, but what I find is that I actually do more work on difficult projects like that when I give myself the time to also work on fun, exciting ideas that may never see the light of day.

I used to be worried about being a chronic non-finisher, always starting new projects and never bringing anything to completion. I think what I decided was that this is my hobby, not my job, so there's no reason I shouldn't work on stuff that's fun, even if it might not become something one day. It's valuable for practice and for the joy of it.

Where I do make more of a commitment to finish things is as soon as other people have commited their time to a project. I find it much harder to abandon playtested games, especially when they've been externally playtested. Other people's enthusiasm is a valuable resource, and I'm loath to waste it. It's a conundrum though, because often it's only after playtesting that you really realise that a game isn't going anywhere.

So, with the above in mind, here are two games I wrote just for the fun of it, and for practice. They've never been played, and they maybe never will be:

Beneath the Honeysuckle

Beneath the Honeysuckle is a game I'd been thinking over and stewing in my mind for a couple of years, and then Ben Lehman had a contest to write a game about love, so I banged it all out in a week (the first game contest I've ever entered). It's about Arthurian Knights and Ladies in love, jousting, going on quests, casting spells and doing embroidery. Ben described it as "surprisingly gay", and still owes me a review. I hereby let him off the hook for it though.

There are things I like about the game, and definitely some fun ideas in there. I think the main thing holding me back from finishing it is that I'd never be able to playtest it enough with the players around my town, and the game would need a lot of playtesting to get right. It's got a kind of economy, which I know would need careful balancing and I can't really see myself doing all that work. I'm still kind of in love with the concept though and the art makes me think it would make a really pretty object.

Shadow of the Ninja: Everything you've ever heard about ninjas is true

Shadow of the Ninja I actually kind of sweated over. It took me a few months. It's a game about Ninjas sneaking into fortresses, and the horrible life they lead between missions. It's kind of "My Life with the Master Ninja". I wrote it mostly to get to grips with some of the stuff Vincent was talking about with judgements of the fiction and such. I still like how in the game mostly all the mechanical information you need about a thing is embedded in the description of it.

I guess I think the world doesn't need another game about ninjas? I don't have much insight into the genre, I suppose. There's some stuff in the game about bullying and power, but it's mostly the same stuff that My Life with Master did with more subtlety and power, so I don't feel a pressing need for it to be in he world.

Of course, I'm working on a bunch of other things at the same time. A thing about medieval fantasy war stories, a thing about what if David Cronenberg wrote D&D, and of course On Mighty Thews, which is actually going pretty well at the moment!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The distant future... ...the year 2000

I thought the world would be better if more people saw this: