Hi folks! It’s been awhile. You can be assured that if you don’t see a blog from me, I’m either sick, or more likely, I’m working like mad on our latest offering (in this case: Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology – our successful Kickstarter project). But in case any of you are reading this blog, I wanted to get Part 2 out to you before anymore time passes. Today, I’ll be talking a bit more about moving forward and also about some of the design decisions I’ve made for the Cosmothea Blended-Genre RPG. Sound good? Great, let’s get started! (If you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out here!)
TAKE IT BACK!
Before you can take your life or your work to another level, you have to take it back. You have to own it, believe in it, commit to it 110%. If you can’t do that, you can’t expect anyone else to invest in it either. But to get to that point without being egotistical and therefore biased, thinking since you came up with it, it must be brilliant, take a hard look at it. Spend some serious time brainstorming, looking at your dream from different angles, talking to friends about it and listening to their advice. i.e. you need to do your homework if you want to succeed.
Let me explain. If you don’t do your homework, you won’t be knowledgeable enough to do it right. If you can’t explain it, you can’t convince someone else it’s worth investing in. If you can’t share it because “it’s not ready” or “someone might steal it”, well then there’s a good chance that a) No one will ever see it so it doesn’t matter anyway, and b) If you wait until you think it’s done before sharing it, chances are fewer people will invest in it (since fewer people will know about it) and it’s likely not as good as it could have been if you shared it, got the feedback you needed and improved upon it.
As for ideas being stolen, I don’t know if any of my ideas have every really been stolen over the years or not, but I can tell you that quite a few have appeared in other games. I could have been the one to get some credit for some cool concepts, but because I didn’t publish them, others got the credit and glory. If you keep writing and rewriting, you’ll never publish or you’ll publish so late that by the time you do, your concepts have likely appeared elsewhere whether you’ve kept it a secret or not, as ideas float around and when the time is right, one or many people come up with them. I believe it’s called Parallel Design.
You think only one guy invented the wheel? It might have been that way, or half a dozen people, but people only ever hear about the one that did something with their invention, their dream. Got it out there. Get over yourself, get over your invention, get it done and get it on the market, or you might very well either never publish anything at all.
Before you can improve something, you must realize it can be improved and then brainstorm the best way to go about it. Sounds simple, right? But creative types can quickly become so wrapped up in their work that they get tunnel vision and not realize there’s a better way of doing something. Before you can take your life or your project to another level, you need to commit to another level and make a battleplan of how you are going to achieve it. For me, that meant hundreds of hours of brainstorming, trying out different mechanics and concepts and also bringing on board other talented folks. Iron sharpens iron and all that! Collaboration can either be a nightmare, or if done right, it can be a very beautiful thing!
A lot of hard decisions need to be made when it comes to putting together a campaign setting or roleplaying game. I already touched on the Why, previously, and on its Blended-Genre nature. This blog post is already getting longish, so I’m going to go over a few decisions I made along the way and what seemed to work (and what didn’t), but I’ll spend most of the next blog post focusing just on this topic. So, if you are tired of my life discussions, you’ll have some more game designer meat in the next blog. I hope you’ll stick around for it!
One of my early decisions was that Cosmothea would be a mainstream game. A mainstream game is one that tackles popular concepts. This doesn’t mean it focuses on tired genres, recycled garbage that everyone thinks they want or should want. But it isn’t a micro genre.
One of my philosophies behind this decision is that a successful game needs to balance between two extremes: being too familiar and being too obscure. If a game is too familiar, then who needs it? We already have D&D. If it is too obscure, who can understand it and how many would really want to play it? This was a big decision, but only one of several.
There are a number of designers only making micro niche games. By that I mean an entire RPG devoted to some cool topic like roleplaying the servant of a god or evil master, running around as a zombie or ghost. I have nothing at all against them. I’m just not doing that.
Another decision I made was that I wanted any products I make to have high production values. So, I want very clean layouts, high-quality graphics, color, quality editing, etc. I could take the road so many other small publishers have (and actually get published way sooner – like decades ago), and I see why so many publishers haven’t gone down the route of high production values (though I’ve seen some nice covers and nice b&w art over the years, so I’m not putting any publishers down). There’s some great lil products out there, but Cosmothea is not a small game, so in order to afford high production values for a big game, it takes longer, more money, and a bigger audience.
Just as Cosmothea covers a lot of cool genres, all blended together in a nice montage (and still leaving some worlds single genre for those that love that sort of thing), I wanted to make sure to keep that trend going when it came to resolution systems. Most games have one resolution system. With Cosmothea, there’s four, plus a 5th micro add-on. I enjoy playing with different mechanics and I wanted to minimize the number of gamers saying things like, “Your game uses X? I hate games that use X to resolve conflict!” or some such. A related decision, I wanted to make sure you could swap between the resolution systems if you so felt inclined, so they are all compatible to boot! Now, my goal isn’t to make a game that is the be-all, end-all, but I felt these decisions and others were a good fit for what I am trying to achieve. So far, so good!
Interested in learning more about the Cosmothea Blended-Genre Roleplaying Game and what we’re up to? Check out our next blog post (I’m officially transitioning out of my life + RPG mode with the next post and will therefore have shorter posts, more often) or head over to our forums or website! As always, feedback is welcome!