Even though I rarely make an appereance here I keep up with the Master Mines feed, so I’m aware of how you’re all doing, and even more aware of how much I am not participating, either with posts or comments. This (and some other stuff) has led me to ponder why I have not been participating, why I haven’t really been working on the designs I said I would work on, which in turn led me to ponder about the type of designer that I am.
The truth is that I don’t know that I’m the kind of designer that would really have a place here at Master Mines, at least not most of the time, certainly not now. Why? Because as a general rule, I’m not the kind of designer setting out to create a whole game, whether original or patched/hacked from an existing ruleset. It’s not that I wouldn’t mind doing it, it’s just that it’s not my natural inclination. I am a system hacker: I love adding fidly bits to D&D/d20, creating quick scenarios, coming up with alternate rules for one subsystem. For example, I wouldn’t necessarily create 1st Quest as Judd Karlman did, but I would totally put together an article-type product with a whole bunch of new keys and secrets for The Shadow of Yesterday, or grab a bunch of keys and secrets and translate them to d20, whether as feats or as a whole new subsystem for story goals and rewards. That is the designer that I am.
Another example: recently, my attention has been grabbed by three big projects I have going. One is a d20 Modern/Spirit of the Century setting that I am contributing to/lead developing along with a freelancer, the second is the official True20 versions of the ancient world Mythic Vistas settings (Testament, Trojan War, Eternal Rome) for Green Ronin, and the third is the 4C system. My attention shifts between these three during the day, and some days I am totally all about one of them to the exclusion of the others for a short while (thus why I have freelancers working on two of the projects). Right now I am enjoying immensely playing around with the 4C System, the open emulator of the Marvel Super Heroes/FASERIP system; the system was released last year, everyone apparently forgot about it, and now my friend/co-developer Mark Gedak and I are making support for it and finding out there indeed is a market for it.
Now, there is obvious design work going on here all over the place. Story is being crafted and revised on all projects, and mechanics are being converted, created, brainstormed all the time. But these stages happen haphazardly, in the sense that while we work on one main part, things are thrown back and forth for later use. I could come here and talk to you about the issues of meshing Anime, Pulp and Horror in order to create a slightly campy/slightly action-packed/slightly horrific setting that can support all three aspects in varying levels of concentration, but not exclusively, because I might be working on that today, and tomorrow I might be writing about how to effectively model a system of Piety in True20, or laundry-listing a group of cool villains for the next 3000-word-max 4C product we put out.
It may be that one day I will be able to put aside everything else to focus on one game, but the thing is that more than a designer, I am a publisher and a developer. I enjoy the process of taking an idea and directing its evolution as a conductor directs an orchestra. I love designing my own stuff, but just as well I love taking a manuscript submitted and tightening it, fleshing it out, slimming it down, rounding it out to a level where I can say, “I would/can publish this.” I enjoy discussing an idea on Monday, having Mark work on it on Tuesday, getting a manuscript on Wednesday, editing/finalizing/laying it out on Thursday, and publishing it on Friday. Even more, I enjoy the idea that I could be of help to any and all of you to get your games in front of a bunch of people using the connections, deals and lessons I have learned after 4+ years of self-publishing.
Satisfaying as this all is, it leaves me with the same question: do I, then, belong in Master Mines, a place created to support fellow game designers during the process of creating a game? As a commenter, yeah, sure. But as one of the main members of the group? I don’t think so. Not because I don’t like it, or like being a part of it, but because I’m not doing what the site, what the group, was created to support.
I will one day get back to work on Grand Tour, and I will quite likely create that generational mechanic to plug it into the True20 Ancients line, but the truth is I don’t know when. Whenever I do I’ll be happy to share it with all of you, but I can’t promise that it will happen in a way that meshes with the rules of this group, mainly because my design is scattered and based in great part on what I find awesome at the moment and/or what I can get ready for publication to start making money for the next project.
So as of now I am withdrawing from Master Mines, hopefully to make space for someone who will make the most out of this fantastic group we have here. I won’t be a stranger, at all, and I am rooting for every single one of you and your games.