I’ve been neglectful of my game, of Dirty Princesses. I’ll admit it. I made all sorts of goals and plans and set time limits and then just sat back and tried to ignore them as they whizzed on by. I cannot keep doing that if I wish to ever get this game into print. I also cannot wait around for Inspiration!!! to strike. I need to actively work on this game and to facilitate that, I need to break it all down into steps and goals. Simple steps, so I know what I have to do next.
Step One: The Rules
I can’t expect to get people to play this game if the game isn’t playable, can I? Obviously not. So first of all, before anything else I need to sit down and figure out how this game works. Collate all the different ideas, make some decisions, and put it down on paper. But there are two sub-parts to this.
What is the game about? I need to figure out the goals and themes, what I’m trying to do with this, what kind of feeling I’m trying to evoke and what I see the game being like in play. I need to visualise the complete thing in some vague way to give my brain a path to follow.
How does I enable that? Once I know what the game is about, I need to figure out how to build a skeleton around those ideas, how to give it the strength and flexibility to achieve those goals without flying too far off the rails (I’m mixing metaphors, I know). I have some things in mind already, such as using cards, the Straight that is built throughout the game and the campaign, but they’re floating in the abyss. There’s no structure, and I need that.
Step Two: Playing
Once the rules have taken form and once the game is playable to an acceptable degree, I need to find ways to play it. This will be tricky, as my current gaming situation doesn’t really leave me with a group. But there are always options. I can find people who are willing to play it for me, I can run games via skype, I can rope the people around me into playing whether they like it or not. There are ways of getting it played, even if it won’t be as robust a playtest as perhaps I would like. I can’t let this step stall me. At the very least, get as many people as possible to read it and point out all the flaws they can find, tell me what they like and don’t like, pull it to pieces.
Step Three: The Revision and more playtesting
Once I’ve played it, ironed out the kinks, figured out what works and what doesn’t work, I go back over it again. Anything that didn’t work I fix. The things that did work, I polish. I rewrite, reconsider, rethink and redesign if necessary. Look at where it went in directions that I didn’t expect and see what interesting things I can pull out of that. I playtest more, I revise more, until I run out of things to fix.
Step Four: The Document
At this point, I have a game ready to play. But I need to write it up so that it’s the final document, make sure that I explain how to play the game in clear terms without any ambiguity. I want to go beyond the very basics of showing the game.
Step Five: The Product
At this point I’m trying to think of the fact that my game will be a product. I intend to print and sell it and at least break even when I sell it. I have some ideas about the style and design that I would like to explore, which are taking me in different directions than the ones I previously looked at. Previously, I imagined it as a somewhat generic game, supporting many different setting concepts. I stripped away my original idea, of the kingdom and the queen and the princesses. Now I’m reclaiming that, stronger than ever. The book will look the part, it will include maps and setting information, it will be dripping with flavour. I want it to be a pretty book as well as a practical one. I want it to be beautiful, themed and to evoke the feelings I want it to evoke. There’s no reason for me not to do this.
So that’s it, that’s my game plan laid out there. It all seems so simple sitting here looking at it. It’s like making bear soup. The soup itself is easy to make, but first I have to kill the bear.