Monday, July 8, 2013

Achieve Mediocrity Today!

Apparently there is filthy lucre to be made not only in the RPG industry, but in the meta-RPG-industry.  Pursuant to this discovery, I hereby offer my own secrets to RPG writing success (cost reduced from $77 to abso-freaking-lutely free).

in just a few simple steps!

1) Learn to embrace the "NFA" principle - Never Finish Anything!  Come up with several good ideas every few weeks.  Blog about one-third of them, and studiously fail to write the rest of them down.  It is imperative that only the ideas you have while sitting in front of the laptop are actually developed or shared - that half-a-kernel of an adventure you somehow manifested while on the crapper at work should never see the light of day, even though it's far superior to your last dozen blogposts.  Bounce from one campaign idea to the next, while you're at it.

2) Neglect to write for weeks at a time.  Ignore your blog completely if possible, and definitely don't write a little bit each day like you're building some kind of skill.  Ridiculous.  Ten thousand hours to become good at something?  Who has that kind of time.  Not this guy.

3) Don't read anything.  Stop reading evocative fiction and inspirational nonfiction.  Definitely do not invest twenty minutes of your precious time to transfer things from a dying RSS reader to a new one; in this manner, you will almost completely stop reading other people's rpg blogs.  Rediscover your ability to watch entire seasons of television shows in one go (thanks, Netflix!).

4) When you're spending time with your family, daydream about writing; when alone with the laptop, make excuses about being tired or needing to spend more time with your family.  At no point should you actually be writing anything on a regular schedule or dedicating time to the task.

5) Market yourself by ignoring rpg forums and limiting your public interaction to leaving snarky comments on other people's G+ posts.  In this way you're sure to build a reputation as a knowledgeable gamer.

6)  Start huge.  Learning skills on a small project first is for sissies.

"You may refer to me as an author, although I prefer the title 'game designer' - or, when I'm feeling cheeky, 'creative'. "

Okay, now the serious stuff - besides the complete opposite of the above, of course.  I do all of those things - sometimes occasionally, often habitually.  And they are horrible habits for someone who wants to be a writer, or wants to pretend to want to be a writer.

Here's the one thing I'm maybe good at when it comes to pursuing rpg fame and fortune.  It's a well-kept secret.  Ready for some wisdom?

Run your damn game, and play in games other people run.

Play, play, play.  Run, run, run.  Fight the excuses you make and run your damn game.  I can't tell you how many Fridays I've stumbled home from work and said to Mrs. Wampus, "I dunno, sweetie, I'm pretty tired.  I wonder if I should cancel game tonight."  And every time she replies, "You don't have game for another five hours.  Eat, relax, and wait for the second wind."  If you don't have a top-notch spouse like I do, learn to give yourself similar good advice.  You will gain more insight from actually running your game than you will from poring over blogposts and old forum navel-gazing.

The thing is, you can talk all you want about being a gamer and loving games, and how you want to design games and maybe publish them and this and that.  But if you aren't actually playing games, it's all meaningless.

Of course I want to get something out the door, in print.  It'll come.  But worrying about it and making excuses isn't going to bring that day any closer.  It's like when I was a kid and used to enjoy fantasizing about running a restaurant.  Then you come to find out "cooking takes real practice and art and incredible discipline" and "running a business is a huge damn deal that involves math".  I no longer want to run a restaurant after coming to realize I just really liked eating.  So I'll never have any Michelin stars or own a restaurant, but you know what?  I like to mess around in the kitchen, and I get a kick out of seeing people's faces when they're enjoying food I made.

Same thing with gaming, I guess.  Now, I'm going to keep screwing around in the kitchen, and some of this stuff may come out weird, or burnt, or underdone.  But one of these days I hope I serve up something that makes some people smile, because that's the whole point.

Bon appetit!


  1. I'm doing almost every one of those!


    Was that--sarcasm?

  2. I dunno man, ignoring forums might be bad for your gaming career but it is good for your soul.
    I kinda feel the same way about G+.

  3. I thought maybe I wrote this until I checked the URL...