“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”- George Santayana
As I sit here pondering how I’m going to spend the next 360+ days, I can’t but help consider how I’ve spent the last. Some highlights for me:
What can I learn from these being my highlights?
I thrived on completing things – but I needed an audience for which to complete them. The projects I haven’t finished are the ones without encouragement or deadlines. This isn’t really new news, but continues to be interesting upon introspection.
Narrative is also very important to me. I was dedicated to Zombies, Run – I got out 3-4 times a week – until I finished the story. The radio option was passable, but didn’t keep me walking. There is a new “Race Mission” option that I haven’t tried yet – and report is that Season Two is on the way. I hope to get back to exercising the Zombies soon – though it will be interesting walking in the cold and the snow.
I’ve also had some real success in the day job due to an embrace of narrative. I’ve put real effort into telling better stories about the underlying truths in our data and I think it has been good for me on both a personal and a professional level. I still want to get better at ending stories, but that’s a set of thoughts to explore at another time.
The gratitude I have to Skinner Co. and the Flash Pulp Mob cannot be expressed in words. They have not only allowed me to share my stories with them, but they regularly encourage me. I have an emotional connection to the Flash Cast and am looking forward to getting back to writing the Doc Azrael chronicles.
Which leads me to my first real challenge of 2013: my PC needs a lot of love. It is still *wrong* from the formatting fiasco early last year and while I was able to make it workable through much of 2012, the lifespan of the misconfiguration is about done. I’ve gotten by for the last few weeks on a combination of portable devices, but I really need to figure out what to do with the desktop. I suspect that means a back-up, re-format and re-build, but I don’t have the confidence to do it myself and I’m feeling “once bitten, twice shy” about paying someone else. I suppose I just need to bite the bullet one way or the other. Until I do, audio work for the Flash Cast or anyone else is going to be complicated.
If you’ve been attention elsewhere, you know I’ve also been working on designing a game with my son. That’s been… interesting. I’m learning a lot about how he thinks, about collaboration, and about… myself. I want to do this with him, but he doesn’t want to do… well… much. He doesn’t want to write, just brainstorm. Which is fine, as far it goes, I suppose. But game writing is just that… writing. And a lot of it. So I need to take a different tact.
Part of that new direction is a new type of game, a game represented by The Cry of the Oppopanax. A mechanic not inspired by other people – using non-standard ‘dice’. I think I need to write up some rules and some setting and start running it for the boy, maybe others. I think CotO may be something like this blog. Something I’m doing for me and but something I’m doing in public.
One final note. During the end of 2012 and early into 2013, I did several crafting projects. The kids’ costumes for Con on the Cob (I’m particularly proud of the hammers of Kid Thunder). Props for the Sunday school Christmas Pageant (the gifts of the magi). Bottles of miracle dice. And most recently, a wall plaque for the Olivanders wands the family picked up on vacation.
I realized, I really like what I’m calling crafting. It tends to be small scale and relatively inexpensive – which means I can do it more often than room re-designs. It gives me a physical something to look at when it’s done – my focus on crafting story-decks at work scratches that itch somewhat, but physical artifacts are more satisfying. And it’s somehow timeless. If the interwebz crash, if digital technology goes away, I can still make something. Something that might even be values by others. Something with an audience.
Which makes me realize something, something potentially very important. Cry of the Oppoponax essentially came out of a craft project. The challenge was to design a game that fit in a very specific size container – one that you can get at craft stores. The ‘dice’, the letter beads, that I choose for the mechanic, likewise from a craft store. There is something about physical artifacts. I know other game designers have explored this space – games built around specific artifacts, games that create artifacts – see Risk Legacy.
This may be something critical for me to explore in 2013. The fusion of game design, story-telling, and crafting. Many years ago, I postulated small boutique game studios analogous to custom surfboard shops. Maybe I need to dust this idea off, a bit more literally. Games about creating physical artifacts – games that are (unique) physical artifacts.
After all, the world ended in 2012 – maybe it’s time to make something new.