Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My projects suck - your opinion on rules?

Where to start... let's start from where I got this idea. Blogs. I read blogs whenever I have got time. I like to read about projects or homebrew extra material (new monsters, rules, locations, powers and magic etc.). For a Gamemaster experiencing roleplaying in my opinion is also creating something new.

These blogs are full of material. OSR stuff particularly (or that is easiest to find). People have these rules they like to use. Maybe houseruled but they have this basis what they use. So as the rules are pre-made by someone else they can focus on writing the extra material.

Me, I wanted to create these rules to create material for. But there is these problems:

- My time is limited. I don't have got that much time in my hand always so my creation and advancement can be slow even though I get speed bursts every now and then.
- Creating rules and core for a game is wholesome project. Creating other things you can do in bits but still finish something (ie. finishing combat rules is not same thing as finishing lvl 7 mage spells list or finish an crystal-ogre stats).
- My focus is bad. I jump from projects to projects. Today I write 20 pages of YDIN rules but tomorrow I am thinking how to make console J-RPG syled mechanics and day after that I do random table for orc encounters (everything in this blog). Focus wouldn't be that bad if I just could do different things always... like a portfolio for different games and genres. Today I want to create this vampire family with powers, history and plots for adventure but today I want to create full set magical armor and weapons for high level paladin.
- Because I have stress in finishing something relatively long instead of small short projects, my effort and creativity is wasted. I would enjoy more doing these little things than wasting my time creating this big thing.

Problem with my main project YDIN is that I don't have time to finish it. I have waited for the day I can make these little bits of material for it. But before I can do it, I have to finish the system. Naturally I planned that I just make very basics of the system and with these little bits I can grow it with details. But I need that core done.

I also am looking too high. Somehow even though I just need this YDIN core done, I want it to cover everything and it makes it never ending project. I must write down what I want it to do. Create characters, task and combat resolution, character advancement, wounding, death, healing, enviromental hazards (electrocution, falling etc. basic stuff).
In combat how much I need detail? How to hit. How damage is dealt. Special conditions (crippled, dust in eyes etc., shooting partially covered target etc.) but do those actually need rules? I mean when I think about it there are thousands of special conditions in combat. Can a Gamemaster adapt this:

"There are two difficulty levels for positive and negative enviroments and situations. It is Gamemasters job to determine if there is modifier needed, or is the situation:

  • Remarkably harder/easier than normally (1 positive or negative modifier)
  • Extremely harder/easier than normally (2 positive or negative modifier)
Negative and positive modifiers can overrule each other."

Then examples about normal modifier and overruling modifiers. I like examples because in my opinion they are like pictures worth of 1000 words (I have learned many rules from examples).

Problem is, I do want to share my game. And I'd like to have a printed version of it. But focusing on making it printed eats you inside. Art, layout etc. take focus from the actual product.

Problem is, I remember old times some of these really amateurish products. They were dirt cheap also. But today when everything is fancy, shining and full of glittery 4 color pages who wants to buy this 50 pages print copy for 4€ or few bucks? Those who already know:

  • Those who already know what the product is about so they A) buy it because they will like it or B) support it
  • Those know who you are so they A) buy it because they know what kind of stuff you do or B) support you
What about PDF? World is full of PDF's. Countless free also. Who is going to pay 1€ to get my YDIN basic rules what work with things I create?

But why do I want money? Reason is, that I have got kazillion of free PDF products. I never read them. I see something free, I get it and forget.
If I pay for something even a small price it is more meaningful because I actually chose to get it and payed it. So it is more important for me. It was interesting enough to toss away that few EUR (what is not much) and go through all the hassle ordering it (what usually is more painful than loosing few coins).

So, I'd like to have that nominal benefit so I would know people might appreciate it. Why I want money:

  • To show I am in earnest making these things (I have seen awesome products what are free though but )
  • To see that someone actually appreciate what I am doing
  • Get more accurate readings (I can see how many downloads files, but I could see how many actually ordered)
Maybe those are stupid reasons, I don't know. But I would do it this way:

  1. More simple version you can download for free
  2. For small price you will get cooler version or additional material (more time spent)
That way I could spread my gaming material for everyone (what is main purpose) but those who really like the product(s) could "donate" some money. To show they like what I do.

I am inspired. But I think I would be more inspired if people actually sent me like email: "I downloaded your free [Insert PDF title] and it was cool. Thanx!" Problem is, that nothing is ready. I am not competing with others but somehow now as I read other blogs I have set my goals too high. I couldn't finish anything to this day and I propably can't in a long time.
And I am afraid that some day when I finish it my thoughts have changed and I need to rewrite some parts... what will basically start again. Instead of just letting people to play version 1 and later doing version 2. Phew.

And heck I want to use my imagination. Enough with writing rules. So, should I just fart out YDIN (lite) finally? Forget all fancy layout and cover but focus on making it as short and easy to adapt as possible? Then share it free. Then start to do what I really want to do: Write material and my random ideas as actual gaming material?

What you say?

And some day after years when I have done lots of print-ready PDF supplements for free I might be ready to charge people that 1€ for better version. That's an idea?


x said...

God, this sounds like the conversation that takes place in my head every day...right down to 'I'm tired of math(rules), I want to get to the fun stuff (adventures, creatures, etc)'.

And this is where people have to ask this question...why am I doing this?

Is it for fun? Then make it fun...if you like bouncing and working on new things that's great if you are having fun.

Are you doing it for money? Then you have to study development, marketing distribution...you know...all the 'fun' parts of business.

Every time I watch a cycle like this in the community it almost always ends up the same way...in frustration.

First, free is free. Anything that can be thought of can be free. If you make a limited free in hopes of selling an unlimited later you lose because someone else will build in the parts you left out and give it away for...wait for it...free.

Free is often viewed the same way you described it. I collect the same way and more. But I also just pick a day at random to go through the digital collection and marvel at things I had forgotten about. It is a 'game' unto itself to collect and read.

I love to 'read' games like other people read books. You really have to present me with something unique to get me interested in a book these days but I will 'read' three adventures no problem.

This community is like a Man o War...most people don't quite understand what this is. I shall quote:

"The Portuguese Man o' War (Physalia physalis), also known as the Portuguese man-of-war, man-of-war, or bluebottle, is a jelly-like marine invertebrate of the family Physaliidae. The name "man-of-war" is taken from the man-of-war, a 16th century English armed sailing ship which was based on an earlier Portuguese vessel.

Despite its outward appearance, the Man o' War is not a true jellyfish but a siphonophore, which differ from jellyfish in that they are not actually a single creature, but a colonial organism made up of many minute individuals called zooids.[1] Each of these zooids is highly-specialized and, although structurally similar to other solitary animals, are attached to each other and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival."

Now I wouldn't say we couldn't survive without each other, but it would be a helluva lot less fun. This model is both our greatest strength and our worst weakness. When we understand how much we think alike and ask ourselves if someone else could finish the project the closer we come to finding our 'unique' voice, the one that lets you be happy while producing things that people like and appreciate. Then you start to see the fruits of your labor.

There is a way to get organized and be productive that can be had for little to no cost (part comes from the internet part comes from an inexpensive book I ran across one day at Amazon). It has helped me already and I'm trying to juggle re-organizing my workspace in order to hire a new full-time employee because I made up my mind from the start I was back in for a reason. I have been a player, game master and shop owner. Now I'm ready to be a publisher.

Take time and a pen and paper and make a 2 column list titled good and bad. List everything you feel about your situation and when you get to the bottom you will have your first clear idea of what place you want to occupy. If you don't like the results of the list then you weren't telling the truth. Do the list again. You will find one you may not completely agree with to start but you will be closer to the path.

And always remember, we have to do a lot of crap in our lives that we don't want to do. This is supposed to be fun. Without that special sauce it's all pointless :)

If any of this makes any sense to you I'm easy to find and can share what I have learned after 2 years of 20 hour days getting this right.

I hope you find the path you wish to walk.

Unknown said...

Thank you a lot ADD Grognard. Your post gave me "hope" on what I am doing. I have to make myself clear what I want to do and focus on that. I'll most definately do a list for myself to make my thoughts clear.

x said...

For the cost of some post-it notes (and a whiteboard if you want to pick one up) and this series of articles you can begin to organize like crazy. Toyota pioneered this method and it has been adopted by many types of developers.

Getting On Track With Kanban



And for me this book is excellent for the type of development system I like to use:


(I tend to use a Top-Down Modular Design - http://www.campaignmastery.com/blog/topdown-plugin-game-design/ )

Unknown said...

Thanks again for tips, ADD Grognard. I'll check those link asap.