Back in August (on the 19th to be exact), I posted that I was starting a couple new projects, including a B/X reinterpretation of the old Bard Games' The Compleat Adventurer. Along with the Land of Ash campaign setting for B/X, I figured this would be a relatively simple writing project, seeing as how most of it would collecting various essays, random charts, and "new" B/X class write-ups (my "personal favorites" as commentator DHBoggs astutely noted) that have already been posted to the blog over the last year or so.
And it STILL looks like it would be a simple writing project (especially when I'm figuring it will only come in at 40 pages or so)...I just haven't gotten around to doing it.
Fact of the matter is, "real life" has been plenty crazy the last four months, and free time for writing has been astoundingly limited, often relegated to an even lower priority due to "research" considerations.
What the hell is "research?" Oh, you know...scouring used bookstores for old novels (and reading them), comic book stores for inspiring graphic novels, game shops for various games to review their design aspects, and re-watching films I've already seen a dozen times...not to mention combing blogs, web forums, and such for additional ideas.
The last two days for example, I spent quite a bit of time reviewing the old Forge articles on Narrativism and Simulationism, specifically with regard to game design principles (not so much for creative agenda stuff). Ugh...slow going to say the least; even having read the Forge essays multiple times in the past, it can be hard to wrap one's mind around specific semantics if you haven't been involved in the conversation for awhile (for example, if you've been playing and blogging about old school D&D for the last year and a half).
But it's good to read this stuff again...already it makes me reconsider a lot of the basic design choices I had for my space opera game. For example, how much do I want it to be a game of rip-roaring adventure (a la Flash Gordon or the original Star Wars) and how much do I want it to be able to address Star Wars-esque moral premises like
- Is the life of one's friends worth more than the cause for which those friends fight? (The Empire Strikes Back)
- Does love and marriage override one's loyalty to a political cause? (Revenge of the Sith)
And here's the thing: I can see multiple ways to design a space opera game (either as a rip-roarer or a premise-addresser), but trying to design a game that does both is a sure way to invite design incoherence. Why half-ass it two ways when you can go whole hog towards one?
And then, while I'm having that silly, internal debate (does anyone care besides you, JB?) the real bitch of procrastination rears its ugly head...namely, I'm being out-paced by folks with similar projects that are more focused than myself.
For example, my "simple B/X supplement" project seems to have been preempted somewhat by Joseph's (of Greyhawk Grognard) Adventures Dark & Deep project. Of course, Joseph's is a LOT more ambitious than my proposed stunt...four volumes, a re-imagined Gygax-influenced AD&D 2E...but he is including a lot of the same TCA/TCSC classes that were to be the core of my book. Similar to Goblinoid Games' Advanced Edition Companion (published shortly before my B/X Companion)...it just sometimes feels like I'm "diluting the gene pool" so to speak. Everyone has their own way of playing BX/LL and who am I to stick my nose in others' cash flow?
But aside from that (as I said, GG's project and mine are exceptionally dissimilar in scope), I see JM over at Grognardia is starting to get the mental wheels turning on the idea of a class-based space opera RPG. Again, I realize this probably sounds like me whining (um...because I am?) but I'm certainly not looking to compete with anyone, especially someone with substantially wider experience and "publishing chops" than Yours Truly.
[by the way, funny how minds think alike...I came up with a fairly similar archetypal list of space opera classes, as well as the same number, though I DID leave out the thief-type "rogue/scoundrel" on JM's list...that's just a throwback to WotC's take on West End Game's pastiche interpretation of Han Solo, one that I disagree with in general]
I suppose all I can really do is stop sharpening my axe and start whittling on the tree. Not that I haven't been... I've got 20 pages written in multiple chapters, and substantial notes for the other sections. Since I don't intend this to be more than 64 pages in length, I'm close to a third of the way there.
Ugh...then comes the artwork part. Oh, boy.
I suppose in the end I have the exact same decision to make as when I was in the middle of finishing the B/X Companion and realized Barrataria's reimagined Companion had already been published: either suck it up and finish what I'd started, or pack it up and find a different project. I decided to press on and am proud of the end result.
Huh...when I consider my prior decision, I guess I already know what I'm gonna' do.