I have a problem. When I GM, I’d love to have rich detailed notes that breath life into my game. The problem is that every time I set out to really prep for a game, we never finish it. The game seems to go reasonably well. The players may even appreciate the maps or interesting NPCs that I came up with. They may even be really happy about the game. We just never pick that game up again.
I used to put it off as a fluke. After all, there are a few off the cuff games that we didn’t continue with. Maybe it’s just the odds that these games were the ones we didn’t continue.
As I intensified my efforts to prep more, I got more games that stalled. What is causing this? Does my presentation change? Do my players think they’re being railroaded because of the extra material? Do I over think puzzles and make them too hard? To all of those, I don’t really think so. I haven’t seen any evidence that says so. So what’s the deal?
I’m always trying to chip away at what I don’t know. One of the things I have a difficult time with is understanding things that are ascetically pleasing. I know it when I see it but I’m not terribly good at producing pleasing reliably. Another thing is trying to connect with people emotionally through a story or a game.
To improve on this, I’m looking into product design. I’m taking some tutorials that I hope will prove useful. Unfortunately so far, design is a collection of vague ideas that may or may not adequately guide me. It’s possible that these ideas are just building up a vocabulary to get me thinking in a different way. So far I don’t see a clear path to enlightenment.
So far the clearest information I’ve seen on design, is the book Made to Stick. There’s also a really useful document The Fundamental Templates of Quality Ads that reaches the fascinating conclusion that the most creative ads are based off six templates. Almost saying that by limiting an ad designer’s options to ones that are already effective, the designer is more free to explore more interesting options than the ones that don’t work.
The part that worries me is that knowledge can limit the designer’s ability to communicate. I listen to conversations between designers or talks by them and they seem to be talking about intangibles that they can’t fully define. It worries me that I might gain a language about design but not the ability to design. In the mean time, the new language cuts me off from the average person.
I’m unlikely to know if I don’t try learning. I hope that by keeping the worry in mind, I remember what it was like to lack the knowledge. That way I’d retain the ability to communicate the problem to non-experts.
For the longest time, the store32.net url and theartifact.net url have pointed to the same place. Over time, we’ve been working on projects other than The Artifact but haven’t moved the focus off The Artifact. Now that’s changing.
Although we’ll continue to work on The Artifact and Steampunkfitters, we’ve also created two board games with game crafter, Bubs The Robot children’s book about non-verbal learning disabilities and we’re looking at several more projects.
Clearly Store32 is getting bigger than just The Artifact and RPGs. In the future there will be even more diversification and that’s okay. Maybe one day it’ll be mobile games. Maybe one day it’ll be short stories. We’ll have to find out and it’ll be fun!
So check back periodically and find out where we’re headed.