Writing an RPG is hard work. Well, designing in general is hard work. I don’t say that to gather sympathy, I say it to encourage those who are lighting their own torch.
Over the last few years I have recorded many ideas in Google Drive. Some for tabletop games and some for video games. Some ideas are impossible, some terrible, while others are potentially useful. It wasn’t until my design classes that I realized that ideas, the sparks, were the easy part. Hacking at them, adapting them and making them work was the hard part. Referring back to the metaphor at hand, it is difficult to actually get the torch lit and sustained.
The hardest part for me was just how dark the design process seemed. With so little information available on the process of game design, it was the forbidden unknown. As I’ve gone through some of these trials in designing a Tabletop Role Playing Game I wished that I had a benchmark.
I really enjoy games and believe that I can contribute to exposing some areas that don’t get enough torchlight (alright, spotlight). I looked for someone who went before me, made mistakes and reflected on their process. I devoted mindless driving time and chore time to listening to podcasts, looking for more than inspiration. I still worked plenty on trying out mechanics as well as reading and playing other games (not just TRPG’s).
Two years later I feel like I’m simply more comfortable with not being an expert. Early on when I was searching I assumed that the people designing games had it down, that they knew what they were doing. As I’m still hammering out things in the first TRPG design that I will finish I want to chronicle some of that process. Perhaps this will simply be a benchmark of what not to do. It could be the thing that helps someone’s torch become more than a spark. I’m hoping it’s the latter but I suppose it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.
What is the hardest part of game design for you? What strategies do you use to build on an idea? What resources have helped you develop as a game designer?