It’s been a tough week here in my head. I very nearly shelved Foresworn this week. I debated how much of this struggle to put online, and reminded myself of the three reasons I’m doing these confessions out in front of God and everybody:
- To get me to the keyboard every week. Motivating myself is the biggest reason and that’s been pretty successful so far.
- To raise awareness of the game. That may or may not be successful, but will only happen if I honestly post the design process. No one’s going to be interested in glib, sanitized spiel. Authenticity is the name of the game.
- To encourage other designers. Whenever I hear one of my fellow designers talk about their difficulties with game design, I feel encouraged in my own efforts. The sense of comradery that comes from “Yes, it’s hard for everyone” is important. I can only contribute that if I honestly document my own difficulties.
So, I’m not looking for sympathy myself, but rather to give encouragement to others. Thus:
Forgive me, Foresworn, for I have strayed. It has been eight days since my last confession.
My goals for the previous week were:
- Self-test the die-rolling mechanic with Sir Stone and Sir Will (probably w/ Agnes thrown in for luck)
- Write up at least ten different Oaths, one focusing most heavily on each of the 5 Stats and 5 Resources.
I sat down with the Sir Stone and Sir Will stats, a pile of dice, and absolutely no idea of what to do with them. I mean, I knew what the dice would do when I rolled them, but I could not imagine the characters in action. I completely blanked. Some vague notions of “a game about knights, but not about chivalry” were not enough to get me exicited about playing this game. How could I ever hope to excite others? I was bummed.
Frustrated, I tried to write through the block, but ended up staring at the screen for the better part of an hour. I called it a night and decided to finish watching Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet that I’d started earlier in the week. I loved it, and watched some of the special features. Here’s a paraphrase of something Luhrman said about why he made R+J:
“If you’re going to be getting up every morning for the next two years and working on this project, that takes a tremendous amount of passion. It has to upset you enough, it has to scare you enough, to carry you through.”
In the version I was working on, Foresworn didn’t upset me enough. It didn’t scare me enough. I couldn’t do the self-playtest because I didn’t know quite what was going on. I couldn’t quite see play in my head. Anyone who’s read With Great Power… or Play Right! knows that envisioning play is not one of my shortcomings.
I had to find my way back to the initial spark that had started me on this path. I’ve been jotting down notes on this game for four months. What had gotten me fired up in the first place was my deep and abiding love of Star Wars. I love Star Wars. Love it, love it, love it. Always have. But the Prequels are a blight upon my love’s visage. A stain. They enrage me. I’ve got to do more than just put Foresworn in space. I’ve got to make my Star Wars game. Star Wars the way I see it.
I want laser pistols and space walks and energy swords and lost princesses and oppressive jack-booted thugs and ancient technology and the good fight and massive scale and grand romances that span solar systems and the fate of a million lives hanging on single duel. I want the romance of the past with the zing and excitement of the future, all of it impacting and influencing the mundane present. I want the triumph of the individual over the dehumanizing System, the glory of a fight well-fought, the danger and peril of a harsh wilderness and a zealous, intolerant overlord. I want victory without guilt. I want the aching romance, excitement and adventure of Star Wars, where anything can happen and everything matters and it’s all so big, so fast, and so very, very desperate and personal. Where if you don’t find yourself in time, whole worlds will die. That’s what I want.
So, I will continue to develop Foresworn in this new direction. This is the jolt I need. Some of my work is salvagable. Some of it isn’t. It’s far better to hit this bump now, rather than months down the road. I’m feeling reinvigorated. Plus, any time in the future that I’m feeling lost for direction, I can simply pop in Revenge of the Sith and find myself frothing with passionate outrage.
Which brings me to my goals for the coming week:
- Draft base stats/skills for characters
- Outline basic resolution mechanic (probably still opposed dice pools. I just like ’em.)
- Sketch out ways that Oaths can modify the basic stats/skills when used for resolution.
So, it was a troubling, but ultimately very productive week. I’ll see you in 6!