I’ve had this love/hate relationship with creating my own game system since I started writing gaming material; in some ways, I see it as the apex of what a game designer is supposed to do, but I also think that it’s a pursuit that’s over-glorified. If I were a politician, this is the issue in which I would be grilled by the media for flip-flopping throughout the years since sometimes I am all about setting out to create a new system, others I’m perfectly fine using existing systems and calling it a day. The compromise I reached with myself was to design using system hacking, eschewing innovation, just creating something to fit my needs out of someone else’s LEGO blocks.
At this point in my work, and for reasons related to why I’ve come back to blogging, I’ve decided that I want to own my stuff, and have control over my creations, at least up to the point where I put them in front of other people for their use. Using existing systems for my work offers an existing audience, but it also imposes expectations that my work may not be designed to address, or have philosophical assumptions built into them that don’t match what I may want to highlight in my design. I’m all for “inspired by,” just not so much for “powered by.”
The good thing is that, because this is a topic that I’ve been thinking about for such a long time, I have a number of building blocks ready to go, including design goals for the system, and a core resolution mechanic that addresses those goals. I still have some work to do fleshing out the creation and interaction of characters and threats, so I’m not starting from scratch.
I’m not interested in creating the next [Insert Hot Game System Here]; that system already exists, and is cool and awesome on its own terms. I’m interested in creating something that serves my gaming needs, meets my design goals, and is creator-owned.