Stories You Play

Home of RPGs by Matt Snyder, including Dust Devils, Nine Worlds, 44: A Game of Automatic Fear, and The Ladykillers

Catching up

Things are pretty quiet for me on the game design front. Don’t count me out just yet.

School’s in session

The main cause is graduate school. I’m getting my MBA at a challenging university, working full time (and then some), and raising two kids with my wife. As you can imagine, things get crazy. And, when class is in session, my leisure time is scarce.

I only take one graduate class at a time, in part because it’s tough to do with the kids. And, I get tuition reimbursement from my day job, but it only covers three classes per year. Hence, the long haul. For me, it’s a five-year program. I’m in my fourth year. Almost there, but not quite. I’ll finish sometime next year, either in summer or even fall 2012.

The house

Oh yeah! If you know me, you may have heard about my nightmare story about selling my old house. Well, that finally happened in October. Canada and I now live in an AMAZING house, and we’re still euphoric. The way things went for us, we pretty much wake up every day thrilled with our situation (and half expecting someone to snatch it away!). It certainly removed a very serious frustration from our lives, and we’re much better off now.

Reading & writing

Last winter, I also took a look at what I was doing with my time and how it could change. I missed reading fiction, in particular. So, I put a lot more effort into that, and resurrected my reading & writing blog, Riverwords.net. It’s been a real pleasure to do that so far.

That change also sparked my interest in writing again. I haven’t accomplished anything on that front, and I realize how much this competes for my time along with everything else. Once class started again this spring, any writing efforts I’d tried fell apart immediately. I’m still sorting out how to balance all this out, to be honest.

What about Indigo?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already familiar with my plans with Indigo, an open design that publishers could use to build a collective audience. I’ve posted about it previously, and I started a Google group about its development last fall. I’ve been silent there for a couple reasons. First, all that busy life stuff I mentioned above. Second, because I realized (Keith warned me!) that the group wasn’t the right way to go about this.

So, I’m sorry to group members for my silence and not explaining more. I hope to keep Indigo on life support long enough to reach better goals. But, I don’t think the group is the right way to proceed.

The funny thing about my hibernation as a game junkie is realizing how much I miss the creative process, and the satisfaction that comes from it. I really miss creating and collaborating. That collaborating part really fell away over the years, and it probably contributed to my frustrations with design and the indie scene as a whole. That’s a whole other topic, though.

Playing again

Things come full circle. The irony of me being away from the indie RPG scene and not doing much design is that I’m now having the most fun playing RPGs I’ve had in the last 7-8 years. I’ve written previously about how my local group and I have enjoyed playing Pathfinder. While the house situation put that on hiatus last summer and fall as I moved, we’re back to regular sessions. My group is having an absolute blast, and it’s the first time in years I’ve seen them so motivated to play. Usually, real life stuff gets in the way, and getting schedules to match is a pain. But, the last few months have been fantastic.

It’s a reminder to me of a couple things I took for granted. First, it’s been an eye-opener to see borders between the indie scene and more traditional gamers and games come into clearer focus. I see a lot of what I think the indie scene as I knew it did “wrong” in terms of not giving some people what they wanted out of games. Second, it’s also a sharp reminder how much actual play must be the foundation of designing fun games.

What now?

I wish I could say confidently where I’ll be in a year regarding my games and Indigo and other things. I just don’t know that, and can’t until my busy life gets a lot less crazy.

I have some ideas about what I’d like to see, but a lot of those take effort and collaborators. I’d like Indigo to get off the ground with an actual game launch and a kind of SRD that others could use to design with. I’m afraid I’ve probably let my relationships among designers atrophy; that’s one of my regrets. I didn’t intend it.

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