I wrote this post after NaGa DeMon 2011. I was pretty down on myself as I had not achieved what I had set out to do. However, as any good roleplaying game will tell you, there is experience to earn when you fail as well as when you succeed. So I am “re-printing” it here, with just a few edits, so that you might learn from my mistakes. – Nathan

Now that it’s mid December, I guess I better get started on talking about my own NaGa DeMon experiences. I don’t think I have been purposely avoiding talking about November (I have been busy, and sick, and stuff), but I have not rushed out to share because, for a while, I felt like a bit of a failure. You may remember that I chopped and changed what I was doing and then switched plans again after November had begun. I should have realised then that with everything going on around me, my head was not in a particularly creative space. Still, I got things done and learnt some lessons.

Verge

So, I planned to update my RPG Verge. I added a fair bit of background / setting detail, which was a process I really enjoyed. I also spent a long while thinking about the mechanisms that drove the game, what I liked out of the original game, and what I wanted in the revised version. My first and overriding desire was for more “crunch”. Most of the games I have written have been relatively “rules light”, with simple action resolutions that got out of the way quickly so players can concentrate on the stories being told. This is something I like, but my previous games have tended to be quite limited in terms of campaign / extended play. They are short, focused games about a very specific situation or group of characters. The “stats” and “skills” and other mechanisms in games like Space Rat and The Beast of Limfjord are not built for months or years of gameplay. The setting I was creating for my new game deserved to be played in for years, so the game needed to be robust enough to allow for this.

What a great and noble idea, right? Well, yes. But, by about week 2 I began to feel like I had bitten off far more than I could chew. There is a lot of work in writing a crunchy game system and to be perfectly frank, I tend to be far more interested in setting and plot than mechanics. This was an important lesson I have learnt this year. It’s surprising, too, because I typically read the “fluff” of a game after the rules. So how much did I get done? A list is in order:

  • Expanded on the description of the city, including details about commerce, politics and day-to-day living
  • Described the “species” of people that live in the City
  • Sketched out an action resolution system, based on one of the many OGL rulesets out there
  • Outlined character generation, though not the specific details such as racial abilities

Cardinal sins and silly decisions

That list isn’t too bad, I suppose. In hindsight. Unfortunately after a couple of weeks of working through this I got it into my head that I would never finish the work before the end of November. Instead of just buckling down and working harder, I decided to switch tacks again! I thought “I’ll just whip up a “Verge hack” for my game FU.

*FOREHEAD SLAP*

What was I thinking? After a few days of fiddling around I realised that I didn’t need to do anything to FU to mod it for Verge, which would mean the hack would consist entirely of the background details and no rules. I had pretty much wasted those few days. I perhaps should have just got on with my work at this point, but I did not. Instead i moped and kicked myself around the house for been so foolish.

It looked like I wasn’t going to finish anything this November.

In the end I cracked out an idea I had filed away a very long time ago. (Yes, I started another project.) A miniature battle game inspired by anime giant robot battles. I wrote it up in  a couple of days and had a couple of run throughs by myself. It seems to work okay, and I will share it with the world when I have had a chance to play it properly. It is based on the Battlefield Evolution rules by Mongoose Publishing, which were released under the OGL (the developer’s pack is hard to find, but you can get it here). While this game is no longer supported, it is one of my favourite sets of rules. My game strips it down to the bare basics, removing anything that does not add to the feel of big robots fighting each other.

Lessons

While I did not succeed in the ways I had set out to, November 2011 has provided me with a number of lessons. For the last couple of weeks I felt like I had “failed” at NaGa DeMon. While I did not complete the game I had wanted to, I did get work done. It took me ages to decide what I wanted to do, and then I changed my plans for almost no reason. In the end, NaGa DeMon 2011 has been a learning experience for me.

Thing I learnt include:

  • Set a goal and drive to it. If you chop and change nothing will get finished!
  • Go in with a plan.
  • The setting originally created for Verge is awesome, and needs to be expanded further.
  • I find writing miniature rules straightforward.
  • I need to work on finding ways to focus.
  • Persevere!

Enough for now. I’ve got things to finish! :)

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