Here's the thing: I've got a LOT on my mind lately, and I'm not just talking about my daily life stuff (that's all crazy-nutty, too). No, I mean a lot when it comes to game design and game publishing. This happens when I've had too much time to stew/think about "stuff." Each of these is probably worthy of its own post, but I'm going to do a few bullet-points right now, just so I can empty my brain a bit:
- Numero Uno: I'm probably not doing as much as I could to make an actual damn business out of this self-publishing thing. Yeah, yeah, I'm not talking about getting rich and famous; I'm talking about making more than beer money. Part of this is a lack of business acumen, part of it is a lack of organization, part of it is a fear of really putting myself out there, and part of it is sheer laziness/inertia. I really need to do something about ALL this.
- Numero Dos (related to Numero Uno): If I really want to do anything with this, I'm about 85% certain I need to step-up and start collaborating with folks, something I'm loathe to do. For a variety of reasons (most of which boil down to 1) being disappointed in the past, and 2) personal insecurity), I've historically preferred to "go it alone" rather than work in a team. But that attitude is extremely limiting; you can always accomplish more working with others. I know that, I just don't like it. At least if I rely on myself for EVERYTHING I feel I have 100% control...and I'm pretty control freakish. Problem is, I can't do everything (decent artwork for example). It's shooting myself in the foot (or the head) to operate the way I do.
- Number Three (related to Numero Dos): I don't think I'm ever going to "not pay" for art again. Clip art is mostly shitty. Finding public domain print art that is good worked one time (with Five Ancient Kingdoms) but that's it. And I think my writing is good enough that it deserves some better illustration. And I just can't accept any more "freebies" from volunteer illustrators...being a for-profit biz means paying one's contractors. So there.
- Knock-Off, Innovative, or Subversive: For me, these are the three levels of game design. "Knock-Off" doesn't just mean retroclones. There's nothing very original about systems based on the D6, or D20, or D%, or dice pools, and there have been plenty of RPGs with both class/level chargen and "defined-by-selection" or some combo of the two. Even so, just getting a game written (knock-off or not) is hard enough for the average person. Being "innovative" means injecting something new into the existing RPG paradigm, but it's hard (if not impossible) to do this wholesale. Do you want characters? Do you want systems that resolve processes? We are talking about a game here, not freeform play. Finally, there's level three ("subversive") design, aimed at having real world impact (educating or changing persons thinking or perception)...hopefully for the good...based on the play at the table. Level 1 design is a grind. Level 2 design is a challenge. Level 3 design is...well, it's something else entirely.
- Numero Cinco: I'd like to do more subversive designs. I've got a couple-three on the shelf, but they're so tough to do...and do well (I'd say "do right," but I'm not sure that can be 100% accurate. Subversion is in the mind of the beholder, you know?). And by "well" I mean accomplishing one's (design) objective while not upsetting the participants, except as is required to meet the needs of the objective. It's so daunting at times that...well, the proof is in the fact that those games haven't been completed, nor even play-tested at this point. When you try to do something that's "socially interesting" or "relevant," you're really super-conscious of the possibility of totally flubbing things. Well, I am, at least. But then, see point Numero Dos...if I was a little more willing to collaborate (i.e. "work with others") I might be able to assuage some of those self-doubts.
One big circle of thoughts, spinning back into each other.
And perhaps none of these thoughts are especially constructive to what I actually need to do (i.e. "write," "finish writing," etc.). But the more I put words on paper, the more I can't help but think of the Bigger Picture...the What Exactly Are You Up To question. What AM I up to? Not just from a writing sense but an overall How Do I Fit In This Niche Market Industry sense.
More on all this later (maybe). Oh, and I really, really plan on giving people the whole run-down on my new B/X project (I know there's some curiosity)...maybe tomorrow. Right now, I've got to go buy groceries.