Before jumping back into history, I want to finish a thought about “making it” from the last post.
If you build a talented team, you’re going to have a better shot at making a great game than if you go it alone and this has been one of my guiding principles. Set out on your own and you might get something on the market, but it will be less than it could be. The big boys use teams and if us little guys want to have a shot at the big times, we need to do that as well.
It’s too easy to overlook something on your own – I don’t care if you are Monte Cook – you need at least one other person helping with number crunching, massaging concepts, fleshing out aspects of the game, not just an Editor. That’s not their job. You need someone with a passion for whatever vision is on the table, and so I knew I needed that if I wanted to put together a truly great game. It just makes sense. It works in other industries, and it works in the game industry.
Oh some have gotten lucky, and the industry used to be easier to break into than it is now. I don’t mean from the digital perspective, of course – that part is easier than ever, but now there are literally hundreds of games that are free, tons on the market, and tons that used to be on the market and that people are still playing. All of those are our competitors. We have to rise above the pile of mediocre games to compete with the good ones (past and present). Sure, there are a number of people going it alone, but most of the remotely successful ones are producing tiny works, nothing on the order of a big RPG.
Wait, but I thought Bob was a positive guy??? I am! But I am also a realist, and I also believe in thinking outside the box.
Long before I helped found the RPG Design Alliance, I held the position that the best way to take a good game and make it great, would be to gather together a team of creative individuals with good hearts and minds and a love for roleplaying games. Gamers who also know a thing our two about game design – but they need not be masters in the field; and with all the talented people out there, I told myself that surely such a thing is possible!
And so back in 2007, I began talking with dozens of artists and designers from all over the world, about teaming up. I interviewed, chatted, Skyped, etc. for about a year, as I was looking for just the right folks who could work well on a team. We didn’t have the RPGDA back then and it’s just getting off the ground now, so I had to do it the hard way). I met a lot of designers who seemed very full of themselves or bitter, having given up on their dreams, and a few here and there that were capable, enthusiastic, but in many cases, were just too busy to team up. It was frustrating. I didn’t have enough money to pay top dollar, but I was paying. Ironically, with so many people on the internet designing for free, I had such a hard time finding designers who were willing to take my money and work on a game!
And it wasn’t because they thought the game was bad (I did, however, meet some who only wanted to work on D&D or supplements for other existing, published games). Most were turning me down before they even heard about Cosmothea. I wasn’t finding many people who were really interested in actually working hard either. Designing RPG’s is fun, but it’s also hard work. It seemed like I was only meeting people who were too busy or were flaky.
I’d already worked on several versions of Cosmothea by myself and frankly, it was taking forever and wasn’t quite turning out the way I wanted it to. I liked it and the early playtesting looked promising, but I knew it could be better. Now, I know many of you aren’t the religious types, but I prayed that God would bring me the team I needed — if he wanted me to work on Cosmothea– for by this point, despite how excited I was about pursuing my vision for it, I was convinced that the way to make a great game like this was with a solid team. Shortly thereafter, it happened.
I began meeting the people who were a good fit. They were creative, talented, had good personalities and hearts. They were just right. I formed an LLC and shouldered the burden of paying for everything, and life was good. I had a decent budget, and everything began falling into place. (See, things are getting cheerier!) Well, now for a roller coaster ride that I think you’ll find interesting.
Last up, Pt 3 of 3 and then I’ll dive back into the game in another blog post!
I’d love to hear feedback on any of these blog posts. Questions? Comments? Let me hear from you. Thanks!