28 September, 2018

Getting Everyone Else to Flesh out the Details

There seems to be a common thread among a lot of the popular games at the moment, whether they are indie story games, OSR, Powered by the Apocalypse, Cortex, Fate, D&D... in each case the originators of the product have developed a great framework, and they've detailed a few bits and pieces, but in a lot of cases they only really become interesting when other people get hold of them and start adding in their own flavour to the mix. This isn't true in all cases... As an example, Into The Odd from Chris McDowell certainly has some quirky flavour and interest from the outset. But generally I find a lot of the well played and over-hyped games are either blank canvases, or canvases where the starting elements can be easily stripped out so that other designers and gamers can add their own nuance to the experience.

It's one of the things that I've been trying to do in my designs, but the trick seems to be developing enough interest to lure people's attention, but not enough flavour that people are 100% satisfied with the product. You need to create a welcoming path that lures people in, but allow that path to become more wild as people follow it, forcing them to choose their own destinations and trail-blaze on their own, or maybe offer a single destination but show how the path can diverge and how unique trails can still be taken from those same starting steps.

This current game about spirits has a range of stories that help define the development and the narrative of the characters as they progress from lowly denizens of the shadowlands to veritable gods of their own realities. But I'm feeling a drain when it comes to writing up the detailed descriptions of the narrative path fragments. I could easily see dozens of people writing their own stories for spirits, stories that reflect the cultural sensibilities of the Norse or Olympian pantheons, tales that echo the Vedic narratives of ancient India, legends of the Chinese celestial bureacracy, and numerous others... but as a cis-het white guy from Australia, I don't feel like the story fragments I'd be writing would have an authenticity to them. I'd love to see other people write these tales, but I need to find a way to ignite an interest in them.



I guess it's one of those issues that many independent game designers encounter. Some are lucky enough to catch the zeitgeist, others continue screaming into the void. 

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