Monday, April 16, 2007

Finish it!

For those that care, I used to work in corporate training with the HE sector and one of the models that was constantly flung around was Belbin's theory of key roles in teams. I've done the various tests numerous times and the same answer always comes. Happily, for someone who now works in marketing, I score really highly as a Shaper ( dynamic team-member who loves challenges and thrives on pressure. This member possesses the drive and courage required to overcome obstacles) and as a Plant (A creative, imaginative, unorthodox team-member who solves difficult problems). However, I think if I could score any lower in one category, the trainer would probably suggest I was trying to flunk the test! That category?


I'll have, over the years, readily accepted that my ability to fulfil the role as an 'ideas' man, or to deal with complicated problems in a conceptual nature outstrips my ability to carry things through to their absolute conclusion. At work, it's something I have to really concentrate on and develop those finishing skills and the diligence to apply them.

To the same extent, I have had to work hard in my gaming to develop some finishing skills too. Believe it or not, before I met my current group, I had NEVER taken a campaign to a finite conclusion. This was a combination of running games that simply ran out of steam (as open ended games tend to do) or just losing interest altogether. Crescent Sea (our initial 3e adventure) was the first campaign I have ran with an eye to a definite conclusion, although even that for the first two-thirds of the campaign was pretty much open ended. Slaying Days Seasons 1 & 2 offered something new in that I could say very early on exactly how many episodes each season would have and this allowed for the inclusion of TV tropes such as 'sweeps week' two-parters mid-season.

Pulsars and Privateers sits in my gullet as a campaign that I never saw through to a conclusion. Whilst the campaign saw the end of it's first 'movement' when the crew of the Khanjar defeated One-Eyed Elijah and got their own moonbase. Behind the scenes, hinted at through the episodes, there was something happening in hyperspace and eventually the aliens that lived there would invade and cause the chaos that would make the Khanjar famous. Tales that never happened as work took its toll on the campaign. Its very hard to leave something like that and it annoys me.

Omniverse is currently at a crossroads. I've shelved it for a month or so. One reason is that I wanted to get my head around some of the concepts and judge whether I had honestly just recreated Fate. Another was that I wanted to get the work finished on Duty and Honour in preperation for CottageCon. And if I am honest, another was because after the short formal playtest that we did, I sort of mentally relegated the game to partially done.

Thats bullshit really and deep down, I have known it for a while.

I challenged myself today, in one of my Metro thinking sessions to consider Omniverse as an unfinished work. To think of myself going to GenCon with it unfinished. I was horrified. Thats not something that I am prepared to do. Then I wondered what I really wanted to do with it. Did I really want to present a generic system, with all of the generalities that it brings.

And in the end, I decided I didn't. I need to do something more focused. The generic system that I love can exist within another game (and another and another) but it needs some structure. It needs to be a Crescent Sea or a Buffy and no some adolescent campaign that drags on and on without any purpose.

The best idea I have ever had for a game setting has been MI:666 - it compels me and it enthuses me. So Omniverse will become MI:666 and it will be finished. And then... well, Pulsars and Privateers is unfinished business.



Anonymous said...

"And then... well, Pulsars and Privateers is unfinished business.

You're bloody right it was the role-playing campaign equivalent of cancelling Firefly as far as I'm concerned.

I have a passion that cannot be measured, for resurrecting those characters with something that is just a bit more story enabling, whether it is a tweak to the Buffy system to drive hero point use the right way, Fate 3.0 or Omniverse I don't really care.

I will admit to think of what Talia's aspects might have been, or her destinies...or whatever, they all serve a similar broad purpose in the end even if mechanically different.

But something....


Anonymous said...

Hitching the Omniverse system completely to the MI:666 wagon is entirely your perogative. That said, given that you created the system as tool to facilitate a certain type of storytelling, if you want to leave it at one setting why not throw the system open to people who want to write their own settings?


Vodkashok said...

Naturally, you are completely correct. The fact that the system was created as a generic system does mean that it can easily be used by anyone else to create a setting and use the system. In fact, I would see it has the greatest compliment if someone did that!

However, in the medium term, presenting the 'game' within one setting in the first instance - for focus, if nothing else - seems like a way that I can give it that finish that seems required.

Got a setting in mind Ben?


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to do a five-minute test on our gaming group to see what comes out, maybe not Belkin but something like Myers-Briggs?


Anonymous said...

Not especially. Whilst there's always little ideas I've got floating around there's very little in the way of actual setting. The stuff I wrote for the Liberty supers game was mainly to set up future stories, if you take away the story stuff all that's left is a few paragraphs on Liberty's history and a bunch of NPC's. I'm also currently interested in a BPRD-style, weird tales of the occult-esque game but again, there's very little required in the way of actual setting. As long as everyone's on the same page that's all that's really needed.


Anonymous said...

I still really want to play in that super's game to be honest Ben, the sheer amount of effort you obviously put into that game, and your knowledge of the setting, I just know would make for a great and memorable game.

If anything is more related to a blog post of "finish it" perhaps it is those games we would have like to have tried, but never got around to.

On my list still is Primetime Adventures, another Buffy season and definately that superhero game.

Of course, there has been games we've tried and just haven't worked for our games group in the past, the Werewolf game, which we just didn't really "get" to be honest. My Shadowrun one-shot, which has a surreal and memorable moment or two, but wasn't really for the rest of the group (I'll just blot the D&D one-shot out of my mind, apparently wanting to start a campaign on a funny note occasionally completely kills the campaign..... hehe!)

And, there where many others that we as a group started and dropped in our "wilderness months" as a group, many for good reasons, some for not so good ones. Pulsars and Privateers being one of those ones where the game itself was OK (Indeed, I really liked my character!), but, if the GM loses the time to put into the game due to RL pressures and subsequantly the willingness to run it (as he doesn't want to do a half asses job with no prep time) then unfortunately things don't always work out.

I'll admit, after such a long stint of Pendragon, I'm really looking forward to next month to trying out diffrent games and different gaming styles.

Indeed, I was going to suggest to Nigel, that we could perhaps take a slight Pendragon break for a couple of weeks just before the Arther Years to give him a GM-ing break, as he's been GM-ing for a very long while now and perhaps he'd like to play in a few one-shots or something before we get to the next major arc in the Pendragon HUGE storyline.


Anonymous said...

I think Dave has a good good point about the Pendragon break.

I look at this way.

Pendragon is a very long campaign. Very long. As we've discussed on another stream of comments we tend not to play long campaigns. We play, hit the idea hard and sort of move on. This sort of move on effect may start coming into play when we effectively have to change characters, and come up with all new stuff but still playing the same game. We've never done that yet!

As a result, I think the best strategy for actually finishing the Pendragon campaign is to somehow keep it perculating and moving along, even as the main game, but not the exlclusive game (which is how we've always done it).

If it remains the exclusive game for it's full length I think it may hit problems due to time, or at the key points when transitions happen (such as changing characters).

This isn't negative, it's just the one campaign for years idea hasn't been us historically, so I'm trying to streamline how it can continue and keep moving.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and on the subject of Omniverse....

Indeed; "Finish it!", never have truer words been spoken. MI:666 is a nice enough setting, but the system I think is far more adaptable than this.

I think, to be blunt, and perhaps even unfair, the enthusiasm (or indeed, just the *time* to do stuff, play less WoW and thats sorted though :-) ) has waned from the initial burst of creativity.

I, currently doing my long slog of a PhD can honestly relate to this!

Maybe you're right, maybe it's time to either shelve the idea and once again look at something new...

But.. perhaps it's also good to see something though to completion as well, so that at the very least you can have your little expedition into "Indie" games design, gain a lot of knowledge, and bring that knowledge to the NEXT idea.


Maybe a part of that knowledge you can bring to bear is the self awareness that you work best in bursts of creativity?

Like we talked about a long while back, as an entrepurener you might fire ten ideas at a wall, and only one may stick, but thats part of the process. The point is though, you actually need to get to the throwing it against the wall part :-) I honestly think you should follow through to the next stage if thats what you are really aiming for.

Omniverse could completely fail, the only people who may ever play it could be your test group. But in the end part of trying something like this is taking that risk..

And then, if it doesn't work.. trying again with something else.. the enterprenuial spirit :-) Something will eventually stick against that wall :-)

Enough of a pep talk :-)


Vodkashok said...

I'll pass by the Pendragon comments because this isn't really for forum for that discussion.

Dave, you hit the point dead on - the need to get this finished, in one format or another, is actually more important that it being a success. Its about getting something beyond me and to someone else. Its about getting into the position to give it to someone and say - hey, this is my shit.

And yes, there will be other things that come from this. I've learned an awful lot about the process of design by doing this. #1 Learning Point? ALWAYS be willing to adapt even the most precious core ideas if it will better the game. #2 Learning Point? Kick ass play testers rule!

In some ways, I have to admit that I was shocked by my reaction to the three Omniverse 'sessions' we did. If I had planned out how the game would have been played and received and the ideas that it played with, I couldn't have been more satisfied by what happened. Its moving beyond that and taking that delight, parking it and moving forward. Not resting on one's laurels, so to speak.

And we don't talk about Season Three of Buffy. Ever. It's like gaming heroin for me!


Anonymous said...

I have never played Buffy before and would be interested in doing so.

You could have the first session for free, just as a tester of course to see if you like it...


Vodkashok said...

Ian!!! Make them stop!!!

Come and say something sage about not revisiting old games...



Anonymous said...

You can't revisit old games. It never works. Never I tell you!

Of course, in the case of Buffy and Pulsars and Privateers I think that's bollocks because they are just finishing what we started.

Pulsars and Privateers is obviously not finished.

And I've always felt that Slaying Days needed a season three. I know some people have 'moved beyond the series' and are not sure about it anymore. But I don't see Slaying Days season three as overly Buffy, hell our series was more Angel anyway, but more like some sort of personal quest, scooby gang, global playing field, Hell Boy type shit!

Besides, my character's story wasn't finisued, that Angel of Darkness killed one of us - it needs hunting down!

I don't expect this post to be what you where looking for ;)

Vodkashok said...

I hate you all
I blame Joss Whedon
Goddamit to hell and Sunderland!


Anonymous said...

It's all pointless though, there isn't the time to play all these games.

But I've put my views on that in the mix before over PM's, email and vent.

As you say though, different forum.