There has been a thought that I have been fighting with lately. Instead of coming up with an original gaming system, why don’t I simply use one of the many systems that have an open license? That way, I can skip the work in creating the system. I might also attract fans of that system into my camp. It’s a very tempting thought: Adaption instead of Innovation.
Why would I consider this after making so much noise over the years about innovation in game design? Simply because it’s easier to move with the herd.
The Same Thing, Only Different
Have you ever wondered why Hollywood very rarely makes anything new? Their movies are usually continuations of franchises, reboots of old hits, or adaptations from other media. The reason for this lack of innovation is simply that they want a return on the money invested. Making familiar movies is a safe way to insure there is an audience to see them.
It works the same way in the gaming industry. Why are there so many games where the main activity is fighting monsters in a Tolkienesqe setting? Why do so many of them use dice? Because that is what the first roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons did. Now it is the standard for all other roleplaying games. To wander away from that standard is to risk failure. Even D&D’s 4th Edition, with all the changes it made to the rules, failed because it was too different from what it’s audience expected.
Still don’t believe me? Then check out the protests that go up every time a fresh version of the Star Wars or Star Trek franchise comes out. Just look at the ugliness that arose because they introduced a female Doctor Who.
So, to succeed in my game design, the smart move is to make a game that uses one of the popular roleplaying systems. All I need to do is add a bit of new content to make it appear fresh. It would be so easy.
It would also be wrong. Why should I go to the trouble of making a halfhearted try at writing a game? My job is to deliver a unique and powerful experience to the players. I’ve seen it before. I know it can happen. It’s just not going to be easy.
I have decided to call the path I have been on the Merry-Go-Round. Originally, I had envisioned Dream System using a diceless mechanic that used a token auction to resolve conflicts. I hit a snag, and switched over to one that used six-sided dice. I decided to use cards when I wasn’t happy with the dice mechanics. Then I came up with yet another mechanic that used polyhedral dice. It didn’t meet my original goals for the game. By then I had worked out some of the original problems with the Token Auction. When that line of design collapsed, I worked out a better way for the card mechanic to work…
Do you love Reptilians? In case you haven’t heard, I have started a Patreon account to help fund our work. I have some exciting plans in mind for your gaming entertainment. You can count on enhancing your experience by joining me on Patreon for regular updates on Sock & Buskin’s projects.
Okay, I Thought This Was About Reptilians?
Follow me through the design processes in the Patreon Designer Diary. There, you can find a record of my half-baked ideas, periods of Analysis Paralysis, and how I (hopefully) solve my own problems.
The latest entry involves my latest favorite conspiracy — The Reptilians! This has more Crazy than you can shake a snake at! I’m really looking forward to writing more about them for London by Moonlight.
Is That It? More Reptilians, Please!
Patrons that go for Rook Level access will also get to download PDFs of the Dream System RPG one week before it goes public. I’ve just uploaded the First Alpha of the Conflicts section of the game, and the Third Alpha of Character Generation will be following it later this week. The game is currently in an untested state, so feedback is going to be very helpful. I definitely want to make the game so it entertains the people that are going to play it.
Sorry, that’s all the Reptilians for now. I will be writing more about them soon! I promise!
Excerpt from the first adventure for the modern fantasy setting London by Moonlight.
It’s late evening when the young man comes home to his family’s dingy apartment. He gives a little sigh as he opens and closes the door, glad that he can get finally get little relaxation. As he looks up from locking the door behind him, his eyes meet a scene from out of a nightmare.
Odd symbols and splashes of blood cover walls of the apartment. His mother, father and little sister are bound and gagged, like animals prepared for slaughter. The women are quietly sobbing through their gags. His father’s rage was impotent.
Someone in a Halloween mask placed a knife to his throat.
“Welcome home Billy,” said the man holding the knife to his throat, “We’ve saved a seat for you.”
Two other intruders popped up from behind the chairs with the shout of “Surprise!” Joyfully, they grasped him by his arms and maneuvered him into an easy chair. He knew he should fight this. He knew that if they managed to bind him, he’d be dead. But there was a numbness that fell over him, and he could not find the strength to fight. He meekly allowed them to tie him into that chair.
Once Billy had been secured, the man the had held the knife says, “It’s time to bring out Mother. She’ll want to bathe in this directly.”
The two other intruders scurried into the kitchen and returned carrying an odd case. It looked like it once held an old sewing machine, but had breathing holes cut in the sides. They held it with great reverence and cautiously placed it on the coffee table.
One by one, they snap open the fasteners. The top of the case lifts off with the sucking sound of wet mucous. The camera is angled so the audience cannot see what is in the case, but can see the reactions of the family. Each of the victims begin to scream.
I had to do a lot of thinking about this post. The main reason is that I wanted to make certain that this wasn’t just another Crazy Brain tangent. I’ve been flailing around with the rules for Dream Palace and the Luna System for a long time now. . . too long. While I’ve had some really good ideas and come close to making a complete game, something has been holding me back. So I decided to pull back from both projects and look at them from a distance.
There were elements that worked excellently in both games, but there were also some aspects of both games that simply were not working for me. Then I tried looking past the rules and tried to see what I, as a gamer, was actually after.
I have stated before that I am looking for a game that will keep up with my imagination. I’ve been happiest with freeform roleplaying online. If you say you do something in freeform, Boom! it’s done! The only time you have a conflict is if another player disagrees with what you have played out.
It finally hit me that I have been trying to design for what I think other people will like, and not for myself. I know that sounds foolish, especially since this is a company that makes games for other people to play. However, game design is also an art. If I, the designer, am not making something that I would not want play myself, how can I expect anyone else to want to play it? I want to make something Amazing. Dream Palace and Luna are close to what I want, but they aren’t quite there.
So, I am announcing the creation of the Dream System. I’ll be taking elements of both Dream Palace and Luna and merging them with some new ideas. Wish me luck! Maybe this time I’ll get a game that works At the Speed of Imagination.
Recently, I watched Geek & Sundry’s episode of Tabletop where they played Mice and Mystics. If you have never seen Tabletop before, I would encourage you to watch it. Not only is it informative about the games it covers, but it is also very entertaining.
At the beginning of the video, Wil Wheaton brings up the “RPG in a Box.” Mice & Mystics fits into this category since it is a hybrid of roleplaying and board games. I consider this a good move since the gaming industry needs more entry-level roleplaying games to keep them alive and thriving in the market.
The best bad movie ever made is HERE! Kung Fury finally premiered on May 28th! You can watch it for free on YouTube!
Kung Fury is set in 1980s Miami Florida (quite a feat since filming occurred in Sweden) and renegade cop Kung Fury is there to take down the bad guys! Can he defeat history’s worst criminal, Aldolf Hitler?! Will he overcome his tragic past and take on Triceracop as a partner?!! Am I using enough exclamation points??!!
Congratulations to Laser Unicorns for coming up with this highly entertaining short film. It truly captures the 80s American spirit (in Sweden.)