Looking Back and Moving Forward Pt. 1 of 3

I thought over the next few posts, I’d give you some insights about myself. Since I’m designing this big, blended-genre RPG and am putting together the RPG Design Alliance, you might as well know more about who I am as I’m not going anywhere. You can ignore me, but I’m here for the long haul.

This blog post is personal. If you want shallow, you’ll have to head over to some blog where they are talking about reality TV or something. This is where the rubber meets the road, and I’m being transparent here …

I’m a very driven, positive person. Want to be encouraged? Read my facebook page (either my personal one or the QT Games page) or follow me on twitter … or just keep reading (but you might have to wait for part 2 or 3 as they get more cheery).

Why after 34 years of working on the Cosmothea setting and system have I not just given up? Wait a minute! 34 years? I quit already! Er … I mean, well, let me think about that for a moment, in all seriousness.

Cosmothea is now on its 5th major revamp. It’s been a long haul already and there’s still plenty of road ahead. It’s older than most of the people who have played it thus far and I’ve never pursued it commercially until recently. It wasn’t ready. It isn’t now, but it’s getting there. Sure, Cosmothea 1.0 had issues. It was very rough around the edges. Now we’re on 5.0 (with a couple rules lite versions along the way that I never really showed around much). But age alone says nothing of its potential.

I’m just giving a bit of background to help you see where I’ve come from. Maybe it never will get published. Who knows. If that’s what happens, I will be bummed, but not crushed. I have more irons in the fire than years left in my life to pursue them all. But I’ve chosen to spend a great many years pursuing Cosmothea for what I believed are good reasons. I happen to still agree.

Looking at the situation now and looking back, I could have moved on to a different game. I still can. Few of you probably know that I’ve designed over 2 dozen board and card games and have had ideas for other roleplaying games over the years – ideas and creativity are not an issue. If anything I have too many ideas. I’m chomping at the bit to pursue some of the novels I’ve worked on and have many more planned. I’d love to pursue some of my board games.

As I look back on my life, I’ve had some wonderful things happen, and I’ve also had a number of hard times pop up. I have also seen others in the industry fall down and never get back up. I’ve seen a lot of others get back up, shelve their dreams and spend years online trying to discourage others from pursuing their dreams.

Back in the early 90’s, when I was at GEN CON demoing one of my board games, I ran into a gentleman that was hauling around an RPG he designed. I got to talking with him. It was the last day of the CON and he was crushed. He said that he and his wife had invested so many years and so much money into his game, that his wife was at her wits end.

He said that she told him when he was leaving for the airport, that if he didn’t get a contract with a company to publish his game, he might as well not come home at all. I’m serious. I felt heartbroken for the man. I asked him to show me his game and he did. I didn’t know what to say. I could tell he put a lot of time and effort into the game, but there were many mistakes that could easily have been caught had he not been working alone.

The game was lacking in so many ways, and obviously his life and his marriage was on the line. He was a mess. Not that I’m so awesome, but if he had come to me or teamed up with another enthusiastic game designer, together they might have spotted the mistakes and been able to make a better game. It had some neat concepts after all, but it wasn’t ready to go the next step and seemed likely he would never get it there on his own.

If he had found a group to review his game more thoroughly, helped him massage it …. well it was too late for all that, and he was miserable. With all that weighing on him, even if his game had been great, I think he would have had a hard time selling it to the companies.

And make no mistake, you will need to bring to the table a lot more than merely designing a great game if you hope for even a chance at going the distance. Note I said “merely.” That’s the bad news. Designing a great game isn’t nearly enough. It really isn’t. If one game designer can make a good game, 2 creative game designers who are working toward the same goal can make it even better as long as they keep heading toward the same goal, drawing on industry proven concepts of teamwork, which I’ve discussed on many sites over the years. And if you bring on board an artist or two that you can work regularly with, they’ll have a stronger sense of what you are going for, and the art will show it.

Next up, Pt 2: New opportunities and a new game company is born!

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About Bob Whitely/QT Games

Welcome to QT Games! Mission Never publish junk or waste people's time. Publish only high-quality fiction and games. 'Nuff said. Company Overview QT Games LLC was created to publish blended-genre (fantasy blended with sci-fi, etc.) fiction, board, card and roleplaying games for a discerning gaming community. Unlike most small press, we have very strict standards: Only pro writing, pro editing and pro art. That means that if we can't get it right, we find someone who can. We pay well for what we don't do in-house. We don't cut corners on quality. This means we stand to make less money than other small publishers, but that's okay with us. We value your time and money, so we're willing to take the bullet. We've designed a large number of games and written a pile of stories. Now we're polishing some of them and getting them out the door. 'Bout time, we know. Good stuff ahead!
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