2005-10-17 : Confronting the Reality

So Luke Crane was here hangin' out last weekend. Emily and J came over and we ate some food, talked some game, talked some life. He showed me some tips and tricks in InDesign and Photoshop, we talked a lot about the Burning Wheel and his goals for it and his publication and financial decisions, less about mine for Dogs - mine for Dogs being a lot more modest and less interesting. We were up until 4:30 in the morning, which is a thing I haven't done for a bunch of years.

When all was said and done, I think, we came to one final, fundamental agreement: designing rpgs is hard.

1. On 2005-10-17, Vaxalon said:

Correction: Designing good RPG's is hard.


2. On 2005-10-17, Vincent said:


What's easy is failing to design an rpg.

Designing a crap rpg is just as hard as designing a good one, if you're actually designing the crap.


3. On 2005-10-17, Ninja Monkey J said:

That was a fun evening. I wish I could have stayed longer.

I've taken Luke's recommendation and am spending some time on the RPGnet boards.

I just have to remember that I'm there for publicity, not discussion, because the discussion is... well, it's very very bad most of the time. And to make it worse, the volume of posters makes the volume of Forge-fanbois-cum-hecklers is annnoyingly high.


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JK go "Choose your moments carefully."
NinJ go "No need!"*

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4. On 2005-10-17, Michael S. Miller said:

designing rpgs is hard

Amen! Sing it, brother!

FWIW, I tell a lot of folks that my goal for my games is to be 10% of Luke's game. They laugh and say I'm being modest, but I tell them I'm serious. But, that includes 10% of the WORK. 10% of the writing, 10% of the promotion, 10% of the conventions, as well as 10% of the sales. I've got a family and I can't work any harder at game design—or if I could, I don't want to. That's the path I choose.


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5. On 2005-10-17, Joshua BishopRoby said:

Hard and not very rewarding.  And you can't explain your hard work to 90% of the people you interact with on a daily basis.  This is why the Forge and the gameblogs are such a godsend for me.  Otherwise I think I'd take up spectator sports or something just so I could talk with people.


6. On 2005-10-17, Vincent said:

...I guess I'm not the one to commiserate with you about "not very rewarding." I've found it nothing but rewarding.

Well, and hard too.

But yeah, the Forge and all the blogs make the whole endeavor possible. I remember trying to do rpg theory and design in isolation - that was not rewarding.


7. On 2005-10-17, timfire said:

Well, I hate to just write an "amen" post, but... Amen!

The Mountain Witch was a bit of a fuke, 'cause it was written for the IGC. But now I'm finding my next game, "In a Land Called", to be much more... agonizing. It's been floating around my head for over a year now, and while its almost playable, I'm still not satisfied with certain aspects of it. I have a hard time getting it to match the vision in my head.

PS- I don't want to drift Vincent's thread, but for me personally, publishing my game has been very rewarding. It has for the most part legitimized my hobby to my non-gamer friends. (I hang out the Forge too much, I feel so guilty for that tiny little drift!)


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8. On 2005-10-17, Ninja Monkey J said:

Psh. I was so happy when you were, like, "I wrote a role-playing game too!" and I was, like, "Really?" and you were, like, "I didn't go broke doing it!" and I was like, "You can do that?"

Man, without co-conspirators, it was me, in the living room, writing a twisted up little game where I couldn't figure out how to make it do the stuff I wanted.


9. On 2005-10-17, Blankshield said:

Yeah.  Death's Door is, when all is said and done, a fairly simple game, from a functional sense.  And that thing took me a long long time to get out the door.  Much (much!) longer than the equivalent length of fiction, or functional/instructional text.



10. On 2005-10-17, luke said:

That was a fun night. Much needed for me. It's not often that you get to see a game designer in his natural environment.  I was plainly amazed by how calm and accepting Vincent was of the chaos of family life—how he managed to seemingly glide right through it, while remaining in control of it AND while remaining sane enough to talk with me about whatever the hell was on my mind. Screw game design, THAT is hard.

The hospitality of the Baker pad is humbling. Thanks all—Em, Josh, Vincent, Seb, Eliot and especially Meg for making me an honorary member of the family for the night.

The "designing rpgs is hard" comment should be put in some context. So I'm sitting there at the dinner table. The debris of a delicious dinner strewn out in front of us. We're all warm and satisfied. We've been chewing the fat, talking idly about stuff. And I'm thinking, "I've got Vincent here! When am I going to get another chance for this? We should talk about GAME stuff." So I'm all like, "I've been trying out these little designs for other games here and there for the past year, but I keep going back to Burning Wheel. It's so comfortable and easy to design for BW. It's all done. It works. It's there. Designing other games is HARD."

And suddenly, we had consensus.


PS Of course, across the course of the night Vincent tells me about the many brilliant irons he has in the fire and I'm thinking to myself, "Well, it's definitely harder for some people than it is for others!!"


11. On 2005-10-18, Matt Wilson said:

I want to have game designers over to my place for dinner. That sounds extra cool.

Not Luke, though. Sloppy seconds. Eww.


12. On 2005-10-18, Ben Lehman said:




13. On 2005-10-18, Meguey said:

Fine, we'll take Luke back anytime, and y'all can just find some other gamer friend to have over. Nyah.

It was really cool; my one saddness is that I had to go to bed around 2 A.M., and I missed more good talk.


14. On 2005-10-19, Troy_Costisick said:


It kills me that I live in such a black hole of gamingness.  It's great to have a job that I love, and I'm so thankful that I have met my finace here.  But there are times I long for the comraderie of fellow gamers and designers.

I've got two games now, Cutthroat and Hierarchy to get finsihed.  Bringing them to print will definately be a challenge...but a very rewarding and satisfying challenge! :)

Good luck to all who undertake this venture.  The road is hard, but so worth the journey.




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