15 June, 2010

Redesigning

To quote William S. Burroughs, from the Naked Lunch...

"See, you can't rewrite, 'cause to rewrite is to deceive and lie, and you betray your own thoughts. To rethink the flow and the rhythm, the tumbling out of the words, is a betrayal, and it's a sin, Martin, it's a sin. "

Like a juggler, I've always got a dozens things up in the air, sometimes rising, sometimes falling...some of my projects require a bit more attention before they start getting dangerous, like chainsaws being juggled...others I can manipulate instinctively, like soft rubber balls.

My recent project, FUBAR, is a rubber ball. It seems to be doing pretty well, with over 200 downloads so far (in the 10 days since it's release). I'm getting some generally positive feedback about it, as well as some constructive criticism. It's a project I'm happy with. It combines a couple of ideas that I've had floating around my head for a while into a tight little package. A few more tweaks and I think it will be ready for release on one of the major pdf download sites (such as RPGNow)...given that it's a contest entry and the contest still has a fortnight or so before it's deadline, I really can't be happier. A few tweaks after contest feedback, and then I'll leave it alone.

But some of my older projects are getting a bit more troublesome.

I've looked again at "The Eighth Sea", a few people have commented that "there is a lot going on" in the system. It's busy, andf even though my early thoughts were to create a nice streamlined game that focused on story over mechanisms, I've learnt a lot in the two years since I wrote it. I don't play it according to the rules written in the book, there are parts that I neglect entirely, and rules additions that I've made on the fly (which have been absorbed into the standard repertoire). It has needed a solid update for a while, but I've been procrastinating by delving into other projects. It's still generating a slow trickle of sales, but I think that a revision might also make it ready for a more "mainstream" release.

"Rajah Spiny Rat" is another game where I thought I had something good happening, but now I think it's just too confusing and missing too many pieces to be a coherent game. But that one can sit on the back burner for a while. Its sister game "Guerrilla Television" works reasonably well because it's a stripped down version of the rules.

The twin banes of my existence this week are "Quincunx" and "Bunraku Nights". I had great ideas for both of them. Now I'm trying to decide whether to resolve them into the same game, or keep them distinct as entities.

"Quincunx" currently uses the same dice system as "Rajah Spiny Rat" and "Guerrilla Television", but again in its expanded format it just gets unwieldy. It isn't a system for telling stories because there is too much to keep track of, and it doesn't work well as a crunchy collective game mechanism because certain minutiae have been deliberately left out...adding them in later just makes it feel a bit wrong.

It bugs the hell out of me...I've been trying to get a nice system of mechanisms happening for "Quincunx", but every time I expand out the core mechanisms, they just go pear shaped.

So I'm thinking that it's time to just scrap the lot and rebuild it from the ground up.

The domino mechanism of "Bunraku Nights" is really strategic, and borrowed a few concepts from "Quincunx", so it could make a nice transition back to the original source. But I have the feeling that it might be too strategic for an action game about relationships and finding your place in the world.

I've also pondered the idea of switching Quincunx across to Otherkind dice, using "FUBAR" as a core mechanism. But while this series of mechanisms works well for action and taking the fight to your enemies, it doesn't seem to have a good structure for dealing with fame and the other issues that I think are important for Quincunx stories...so I'm running into blocks there as well.

...and that's nothing compared to my Gigabytes of data concerning "Baron Xavier's Legacy", "Games for Goblins" and the other projects I've started.

The only way I'll make progress here is one project at a time.
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