Last year, I stood in a circle with friends and celebrated the turning of the year, ritually looking to the future and divesting myself of those things that I’d prefer to leave behind.
Funny how things turn out.
The things I wished to leave behind are still here. I made no progress at all towards finishing a novel or getting it sold. (Of course, the period from my diagnosis in January until my all-clear in July did have something to do with why the year was pretty much a wash in that regard. My mind was elsewhere.)
Instead, I was divested of friends. Some in the big, dramatic fashion — where lines are crossed and never mended. Others, perhaps even more depressingly, just never bother to make the effort. If we see them, we’re the ones who have to make the plans, or we’re the ones who have to travel, or we’re the ones who have to think of calling. At what point do you just give up, and say “these aren’t friends, these are acquaintences of convenience?”
The past year, frankly, has sucked ass. I’m tired.
I’m not planning on any ritual tonight. The last one didn’t work out so well.
Sorry for the lack of updates. Things have been…. interesting. (In the Chinese proverbial sense.)
Long story short — the playtest sessions for FAR WEST demonstrated critical areas that need a lot of work:
- The whole thing just wasn’t coming together. I was having a very hard time translating “cool in my head” to “cool in play experience.” The mix of genres needs to be more seamless. At times, it felt too much like standard Western + kung fu.
- The FATE system was the biggest part of the problem, to be honest. There are many things about it that I like quite a bit (The Aspects, for example). However, there were also things about it that just didn’t work for us (the FUDGE core — especially the dice mechanic, the level of abstraction, etc.)
The main issue was that the way the rules are set up tends to pull the players out of immersive character-identification mode and has them existing in a sort of not-quite Players/not-quite GMs space where they’re equally crafting the tale. Which is fine, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into (a big selling point for the Indie crowd, for example). The problem is, that for a game revolving around action, there needs to be a certain amount of immersion (which is one of the only ways in which the thrill is translated from the abstract to the player’s experience), which just can’t happen if you’re looking at the Big Picture of “Story.”
So, the end result of all of this: We’re back to the drawing board.
If the game progresses, it will most likely take the form of a new rules system, which contains the open-source elements of FATE that I really do like, but wedded to an overall system which better suits my needs. There’s also the chance that I may just end up dropping the idea of the game entirely, and concentrate on the setting as a novel.
I felt that you deserved an update, since folks seemed interested in what was developing. But this point, to be completely honest, I have yet to make up my mind.
Your comments and questions are welcome.
Maybe I’m just an unfeeling asshole…..but can someone explain to me how a house fire that kills 7 college students in South Carolina is National news…. much less news that merits national coverage on it’s third day?