I just read a little bit about the game Godbound, and I think it’s where I was headed with my Born Heroes game. I guess that means I’ll need to put it on hold again and think if reskinning it to preserve the mechanics is worth it. We’ll see.
While somewhat frustrating to be put off a project, the process of creation itself is an enjoyable and worthwhile use of my time. If you’re in the midst of creating something, don’t be discouraged when these road bumps happen. Just keep creating!
To help with that endeavor, let me talk about the two main types of creation. Perhaps analyzing how best you create will help you to be a better creator.
Creating Something New
This is typically what we’re striving for when we create: something brand new. It’s like when God created a strawberry and then said, “How about an apple?” It’s something brand new and never before seen.
I think we see these types of creations in the grand themes of RPGs being made. For example, the first time we had social combat rules or sanity checks was surely an eye-opening experience for gamers. Or the game Satanic Panic where we find out that all the 80’s hype about RPGs being satanic is true, and you play FBI-types who are trying to stop the dastardly role-players!
I believe these sorts of breakthroughs are few and far between but are totally worthwhile to pursue. If this is where you thrive, you might spend more of your focus looking at what is unique in your creation (a mechanic, play method, or world view), and bring in others to help build a new game around that uniqueness.
Variation on a Theme
This type of creation is far more prevalent, and while frowned upon, I believe we need to embrace it. This is like when God created an apple, it happened to be a Red Delicious. Then He decided, “You know what? How about a Granny Smith?” It’s still an apple, but it’s new way to put apple pieces and flavors together.
Putting aside the discussion of “There’s nothing new under the sun,” I think the RPG community has been growing in our ability to embrace variation of basic themes in games. That’s great! That coupled with new avenues of distribution (Kickstarter, indie releases, etc.) have allowed niche variations that really work for a smaller group of people rather than something that kind of works for most people. There doesn’t have to be one big generic RPG to rule them all. We can embrace D&D, Pathfinder, and 13th Age even though they are very similar.
I’m definitely best at variation on a theme. As soon as I read through a set of rules, I have a thousand ideas of how I would tweak it to make it more enjoyable for me. (Note that those tweaks don’t make the game any better or worse, just different!)
As such, my latest project, the Solo Sandbox, is really starting to take shape more and more. It’s not anything drastically new, but I do think it’s compelling for me. Even if it’s never fully realized or used by many other people, the pure act of flexing my creativity muscles is always a worthwhile exercise!