Listening and Laying Down the Law
Often, while I’m working on layout, I will jam most heartily. I’ll either listen to something appropriate to what I’m working on or something ironically far removed. Okay, or something in between. I’ll listen to most anything.
Lately, though, I’ve been listening to podcasts as well while I’m doing this stuff. Granted, I can’t do this when I’m making edits or corrections, it’s something I can do when I’m throwing in fields of raw text and massaging them into something magical. Or something.
The podcasts I dig the most are Smiling Jack’s Bar & Grill, RoleplayDNA, Jennisodes, and The Indoor Kids. I wasn’t going to link them, but I did. They discuss Savage Worlds, game play and game design, and, the last one discusses video games in a very unique fashion (i.e. not just critiquing them, they also get into the nuts and bolts of theory and roll off on all sorts of wonderful tangents). For me, all these podcasts make the cut as they are both entertaining and educational. They stimulate my mind and my funny bone, often revealing some peculiar little thing I don’t often consider. Lend them an ear. Let them know what you think and tell them Sean sent ya!
Now, on to other things.
Let’s say your some guy who wants to design a game. You have lots of ideas. No shortage of those. Can too many ideas be a bad thing? Sure! Especially when they lead you to procrastination. Do yourself a favor. Especially if this is your first time out. Aim low. Bask in the accomplishment of a smaller thing. Did anyone ever leap into a marathon? Nope. They started out training. You think you can go the distance? Good for you. Maybe you can. Maybe it’ll be slow going. Maybe you’d be more productive if you followed my advice. Why start small? Some reasons.
Any NEW thing is harder than you think. Seriously. I used to wear contacts. A long time ago. I just got some trial ones so I could go glasses free sometimes. For many folks (and the younger me), putting in contacts was no big deal. These I got last Saturday are the size of small hub caps. They are weighted torque lenses. What’s that mean? Well, it took me about twenty-thirty minutes of poking myself in the eyes to get them in. Same thing for getting them out. Today, I got them in in less than five minutes. Each day, they’ve taken a little less time to get in.
Do you think any writer just sat down and pounded out a book? Yes. I’m sure you can name a few. Odds are it took them quite some time and it’s doubtful it was the first thing they ever had written. (Published? Maybe. Written? Again. Doubtful.)
And game design adds another level of complexity on top of that. Once you get it down, it’s no big deal. I remember chatting with Ken Hite about the nuances of Savage Worlds design and he said, “How hard can it be, Sean? Game design isn’t rocket science.” And that’s true, if you’re a Ken Hite who puts a roof over his head in this fashion.
You see a game designer not only has to come up with efficient rules and subsystems (as necessary), he (or she) must also make sure said rules are conveyed in a clear and concise manner. Many folks get overly worded and rambling with their rules. This indicates to me that the rules are one of many things: too complicated, the writer lacks the ability to convey said rules in a clear fashion, or the rules lack the fundamental playtesting, so the writer is doing the best he can with what he’s got. And you know what? That’s a disservice.
I say don’t rush things all the time. I also say don’t sit in one spot. If you do, the world will pass you by. That’s it for laying down the law.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!