I haven’t had a chance to do any testing with Halo: The Covenant War, but over at the Fudge Forum a fellow who goes by CmdrCody posted saying that he gave it a spin with his friends and they had a blast. I mostly design games because (1) I wanna play them with my friends, and (2) designing games is fun, but being able to share them is definitely nice. That third one is part of why my next big thing is to get back into working on Thrash 2.0, something that, if my old notes are any indication, I’ve been failing to do since 2002. Of course, I’ve mentioned here and elsewhere that this partly has to do with me getting so much more experience with RPGs, from every angle (designer, player, GM, reader, theory, etc.).
Thrash 2.0 has a lot of major changes, but compared to some of the things I could be doing with it in terms of creating a fighting game system (like going all Narrativist all of a sudden) it’s still true to the earlier versions. And it’s still doing a genre that no one else is really bothering with right now. There are some new martial arts related RPGs (like Weapons of the Gods and Final Stand), but they’ve tended more towards the kung fu movie end of things. Living Room Games had announced their Capcom World Tournament thing a while back (and I was very interested, even if I wasn’t hellbent on playing it), but a few months ago they announced on their forums that it was going on “indefinite haitus.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard that from an RPG publisher before, but I think it’s safe to say that CWT is kaput. The LRG guy was scant on details, and no doubt had to be for contractual reasons, but the combined weight of printing and licensing costs were apparently the main problem. This kind of thing is part of why I don’t particularly aspire to run my own company. The indie approach I think would work much better for me.
While I’ve been a fan of Street Fighter for ages (and of KoF, DarkStalkers, Samurai Shodown, etc.), I’m planning to concentrate primarily if not exclusively on original content for Thrash 2.0. I already have a laundry list of things I want to add to the game (and Weird Powers is at the top), though I’m going to be putting out Thrash 2.0 under a Creative Commons license, so everyone will be free to make whatever they want for it anyway. I also want to try to be more active on the mailing list, and having a version of the game I can stand to look at will help make that happen. ^_^; I’m also thinking of putting together an inexpensive POD version, so that those who are so inclined will be able to order a nice printed book, but that’ll wait until I’ve gotten through plenty of playtesting, feedback, and editing, and added some artwork.
At the moment, I’ve gotten the basic framework of the game all figured out. It was pretty simple overall, and what innovations and changes I’ve made were mostly either logical extensions of what was there before (like the more extensive rules for super bars) or stuff that should’ve been blindingly obvious (like getting rid of styles as a character trait). The bulk of the work I have to do right now is, unfortunately, the annoying grunt work of putting together the stats for all of the character traits, especially the maneuvers. Granted, I need to take care of writing the GM chapter too (which, like everything else, I’m rewriting from the ground up), but it’s the maneuvers and whatnot that will fill the system out to the point where I can run playtests. Just like with writing novels, everything I work on has gotten more time-consuming, but of better quality when it finally does arrive. :P
After so long writing/designing RPG material, I think I’m starting to get tired of writing descriptions of skills and other traits. To a certain extent it’s possible to design an RPG without these, or at least without too many of them, but apart from the annoyance it causes when I have to sit down and write descriptions–which inevitably becomes repetetive and boring–it’s not worth it to try to fit the whole game around that design concept. Risus has only player-defined traits for a specific reason, but other games rely on pre-defined ones for specific reasons. I just wish I could figure out a good way to write them without getting bored, especially considering that if I’m bored writing that part of the game, the reader can’t be all that enthralled either. The only time I ever manage to make that sort of thing remotely interesting is when I get sarcastic, but that only works for certain games (like with Mascot-tan).
Did you notice I’ve been trying to talk in terms of “designing RPGs” instead of “writing RPGs”? There was a blog post (and crap, I can’t remember whose it was) that pointed out that there is a difference, and an important one. I think it’s important to keep in mind that what I’m doing here is making games. There’s a side of it that’s similar to writing stories (but then, I do that separately), but I feel I need to try to give higher priority to the design aspect, and thereby make better games.
And once the beta version of Thrash 2.0 is done, I need to get back into Tokyo Heroes, my sentai/magical girl RPG (the combination makes sense if you read the game). All that one really needs is for me to finish up the rules for bad guys and write up some of the sample characters, and it’ll be ready to playtest. I really do come up with too many projects for myself.