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December 21, 2014 / gameofslaves

Seems I missed a weekly update…

I figured I would post a couple different things this weekend to make up for lost postings.  (This one is bigger than most of my posts, so settle in for a good-size read.  Or jump to the TL;DR.)

I’ve been reviewing my existing projects and trying to work out how I can make my existing work better without adding more features.

One of the things I’ve noticed is how adding one more feature can add a LOT of work later down the line. While very nifty from a player’s perspective, the feature’s value must be weighed against the time and energy applied.

I come from a storytelling / tabletop gaming background.  I really enjoy allowing the players the flexibility to be free with how they want to adventure.  I have always found it fun when the players trod from the established story path and make it their own story. (..and it has made for some interesting evenings!)

I find myself trying to recreate that same freedom with my games, and in most cases it is just not possible.  As a world-creator / referee / GM (Game Master) / DM (Dungeon Master) / StoryTeller / interface-between-the-player-and-my-fictional-world I track an ass-load* of variables.  As things progress, I reference that aforementioned ass-load often. I also have certain rules for ‘reality’ in each fictional world.  While there are some rules which are world-specific, then rest follow reality as I understand it to be.  Just about everyone you encounter has their own story and motivations.  If you sit down next to the homeless guy on the street, drop a few coins into his cup, and chat with him you will discover he has a tale or two of his own.

(* – It’s mighty huge ass, by the way.)

I would LOVE to give that flexibility to my games, but I simply don’t have the resources to allow it.  I simply do not have the time to code the dozens of possible reactions Mary might have when she learns about her parents… differing based on how many times you visited them, whether you were kind or mean to her or them, and whether you paid the professional in coin or service… and whether the cops are nearby enough to hear… and whether she would be inclined to turn you in or demand compensation… or… or… or…

I can (and do) try to emulate a reality but I often feel like I’m coming up short.  I think it comes from the high standards of detail to which I hold myself.  I can play games from other people and have a blast, thinking it was a great old time.  But if I put my name on one of those very same games, then it has to be better than that.  Much better.

I tested this theory, actually.  It proved true.  I can forgive so many things in life, but I have trouble letting go with this.

I’m working with a partner on a writing project. I write “roughs” of scenes and my partner shapes it into a polished work I can be proud of.  (A ‘rough’ is a rough draft, covering all the major points, without touching on minor things such as flavor text and colors and whatnot.)  Tried to do that with a short game in Twine:

Getting Dressed: Six scenes. Twelve pages, all roughs. Three choices. One NPC. Four endings. Logic passed all tests.

It was all roughs. I played through it and found myself disgusted. I played through it four times, and each time I fought the urge to delete it and never speak of it again. It was simple.  It was a TEST.  It was probably pretty “ok” by most standards.  It was complete.  It was a full story.  It had a start, a conflict, and a resolution.  (Four, actually.)

I considered posting it to a forum for such games and proofs-of-concept.

Suddenly, I was embarrassed by it.  I lost self-control.  I panicked.

I uttered a few off-color words to describe it and I erased it and all my notes relating to it.

…and then I realized what I had done.

The thought of releasing a half-done work upset me.  …maybe scared me.

I know that I can release updates and fixes… heck, it’s expected, these days!  It was complete. (Mostly.)

Maybe I found myself in the crossroads of “must be perfect”, “what if they hate it”, and “it can be better”.  Maybe I fear judgement from my peers.

I sat on this for… more than a week now.  I think I have my answer… and I think I’ve come to this conclusion before… but following-through is easier said than done.  …and it’s easy to forget while stuck in a cycle of self-criticism.

Just do it. Just write it. Just post it. Just publish it.

Writing this blog doesn’t bother me, so why did my little proof-of-concept?  I’m still working on this.  But it would explain why I have been working on this blog for over two years and have not published anything notable.

TL;DR: (too long; didn’t read) — Still working on my projects. Did another small game. Nuked it out of fear. Working through my fears. WANT TO CREATE and SHARE. Scared of something. Learning.

– Cameron

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