Saturday, January 5, 2013

About game writing...

...because I can't describe it as a game design. At least not in my case.

Why? It's simple - during the last eight or nine years I've created TONS of "rpg design stuff". Hundreds of pages full of notes, loose thoughts, partially-filled random tables, lists and so on. And I thought "cool, I'm great at this!"

But I wasn't.

During all these years I started shitloads of projects. Complete games, campaign settings, supplements great and small. Really, really lots of them - I think that over twenty. And how many I managed to finish? Three. Fucking three. Terminal Space, Towers of Krshal and Bandits & Battlecruisers (I don't count Bandits & Basilisks because it took me about five hours to complete it). And you must know that they weren't complilation of my previous notes. I just sat down and wrote them. From scratch (or almost from scratch). And what is even more funny - all these hundreds of pages of notes were almost useless.

Quick summary:
  • Towers of Krshal - three days of work, from beginning to end. Nothing more, nothing less. Released, one negative review, two ultra-positive (or maybe more? I don't remember).
  • My Big Hard SF (not OSR-related) - six years of work. Status - about 0% of rulebook is done.
  • Underworld Kingdom - I don't know - three years? Four? Status - 80% of rulebook is done but it took me about one month to write it*!
  • Bandits & Battlecruisers - one year or more. Status - complete but it took me about one month to write it*!
  • Terminal Space - three months of work? I sat down and wrote it within seven days (with two month-long gap between them :D). Status? Ask the guy behind the Stars Without Number :D
So, it's not about the game design. Apparently I suck at game design. But I'm not that bad about game writing. I guess I should sit down and fucking write rest of my stuff. Space Alphabet, mapbook, Charon Prime - but now I'm working on Project P. Instead of fucking around, I'm just writing the rulebook. That's what I can do.

*) excluding very long gaps between given time - I count only days of active work.


  1. Execution is the hard part for any creative work. I've had reams of clever ideas, but actually bringing them into the world involves being awake at 2AM tweaking the kerning on a layout and trying to decide the line weights on my tables.

    It does get easier with practice, though. It took me six months to make SWN, but only two months to write Spears of the Dawn, and SotD is a much better-produced work. Moreover, it builds up a sense of momentum- you've done X and Y so now you know you can do Z if you just get to it. Every execution gets easier than the one before. Of course, I'm writing in my native language, which tends to make things a wee bit simpler for a writer.

    1. Yes, writing in English is quite painful for me, especially because I was lazy in school and didn't paid attention to grammar and shit :D Still, it's way faster than writing in Polish and translating it later (or worse - waiting to be translated by someone else!).