By The Stars Confession — Week Twenty-One

Forgive me, By The Stars, for I lack the resources to go on. It has been eleven days since my last confession.

What do you need to make a create a great role-playing game?

What A Designer Needs What I Got
Insiration/Passion It comes and it goes, but it’s usually good.
Time/Thought Some weeks I need to fight for every minute, but I’m in no hurry.
An editor Thor Olavsrud’s all lined up and ready to go.
An artist Keith Senkowski’s doing amazing stuff in color these days and ready to work with me.
A reliable group of regular playtesters Nope.

And like a chain with a single weak link, it’s time I face the reality that I don’t have the resources to further develop By The Stars at this time. Lacking an editor would make for a hard-to-understand game. Lacking an artist would make for a drab game. Lacking playtesters would make for a game that doesn’t play well. And what’s the point of that?

My local circle of gaming friends has atrophied considerably over the last few years. So I find myself without a regular game, able to only scrape together an occasional meet-up. By The Stars needs a different sort of play environment. One doesn’t buy-in to a fantastic far-off galaxy for a day-trip. It’s a long-term voyage and I ain’t got the crew right now. I’m not shoving it out the airlock, but I am putting it into cryo-sleep. One day, when I’ve rebuilt my circle of gamers, By The Stars will return…

Which is not to say that I don’t have anyone to play any games with. A good deal of that atrophy I mentioned is due to the extreme popularity of German and German-style board & card games. They have a lot of advantages over RPGs:

  • So long as one person has already read the rules, time from opening the box to finishing the game is one to two hours.
  • Popular games are easily replayable with no additional prep.
  • You can play with whomever shows up a given week.
  • Folks don’t feel that they need to be “a gamer” to play.

They say that when one door closes, another one opens. Sometimes it’s the same door. What I do have is a group of people who meet bi-weekly to play complex games, often those that they’ve never heard of before. I go to a decent number of conventions, where a single play-group lives for only four hours. I’ve got a number of semi-distant friends that can make the occasional game, but not something regular.

These are the game-players in my life. These are the people I should be designing for, because I’m one of those people, too. I may long for long-term, regular play, but, at the moment, that’s as realistic as galaxies far, far away. One-shot play is the bird in the hand. That’s what I need to shoot for.

And I will. I’ve already got ideas that will capitalize on those strengths of board and card games, infuse them with the creative freedom and drama of role-playing, and make them my own. More about that next week…