Trying Something Different

The other day, my buddy, Ron Blessing wrote a sort of wish list of what he’d like to see in his perfect game. If you want the specific details, check out RoleplayDNA.

At any rate, I think what he’s talking about is kind of like the Questing Beast from Camelot. You may have fun looking for it (like physicists and their cold fusion), but the odds are you’re not gonna be the guy to find it. Okay, maybe not quite the Questing Beast, but the Holy Grail. Are you pious enough to get your mitts on it, let alone catch a glimpse of it? Right. I didn’t think so.

So, what’s the point of creating a laundry list of stuff you’d like to see in a perfect game?

The answer is obvious. In a realm of dreaming and roleplaying games are everything about that, the designer’s reach should exceed his grasp. Every great designer (and some of the mere mortals) try to innovate and push beyond the barriers. Does this always succeed? No. Should it always be done? Absolutely not. Just like there are perfectly good books and movies where the crayons never go beyond the lines, there are games that do the same thing.

However, as designers and dreamers, it is our challenge, privilege, and our unholy burden to analyze and break down the good and ill of what we find within the pages of books we read. It’s like seeing a thin crack on the spine of your book or a stain on the pages, once they are seen, they cannot be unseen. Designers delight in playing with mechanics and there are mechanics you may never see in one project which may emerge in another.

Extended Trait Checks first appeared in their most basic expression in Orwell Industries many years ago. Lots of things put through in development are often found released in one of our latest projects. Defining Interests were born in the Iron Dynasty, but first were spotted in Ravaged Earth. The Sanity system you know and love for Realms of Cthulhu was first developed for Agents of Oblivion and so on. It’s the nature of things to evolve and find new twists and turns to keep both our interest and the fan’s interest. And yet..

And yet…what if I took a step away from the conventional releases we’ve been doing and explored something a bit more indy in nature? How many of you would follow me along for the ride, I wonder? Or do you prefer what we currently offer and are happy with us in the particular market in which we reside? It’s not quite a rhetorical question; I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!

5 Notes on, Trying Something Different

  1. I’d follow what you do. Experimentation is something I think should be done in public when it comes to game design, and if an established developer like you wants to try something different and more indy, as you put it, I’d be very interested.

  2. I’ll buy and play every Savage Worlds setting you make but I don’t think I could sell my players on another game engine or core rules purchase.

  3. Honestly, I’d just like to see more materials for Realms of Cthulhu.

  4. I assure you, we have a lot of Savage Worlds material in our upcoming queue, including some delightful things for Realms of Cthulhu.

    Thing is, I have some other ideas for what I consider smaller games in terms of scope and intimacy which would offer up a different sort of experience and others which may turn out to be proofs of concept for certain ideas and mechanics.

    Indy is such a nebulous word nowadays. Isn’t it? When I first began working on Savage Worlds, it would be indy if it had been designed by nearly anybody else, but having Shane’s name attached dispelled such things (as he has long been a known commodity). The best thing is to work on the game and let you all be the judge of whether it holds up to scrutiny.

  5. I think trying new things is the only way to keep things fresh. I’m a huge Savage Worlds fan, but what RB did with AoO helped me rethink the parts of SW that I love and parts that I think needed a change (powers as an example).

    Sean, what I would like to see you do is keep on the path I believe you are on. I’m really not just kissing rear here, I swear. But right now I am really liking having one rule set in Savage Worlds, but have other’s come in with different settings and game adjustments to keep things going in different directions.

    But I would love to see you come up with something different and new just to see what it is.

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