For the writer types out there, have you ever pulled out, found, or been given something you wrote over five years ago? If you were, did you read it? What did you think?
Big Man sent me two old game system files to me. At first I wasn’t going to look over them. In my head, my game design days are behind me and I did not want to get started on another project. Yet, there was a nagging, you just finished college see what the pre-college you wrote. Plus, Big Man indicated he thought there was good stuff in each file.
A day later I was flipping through the older system. The writing is good, but not as good as I can craft now. The mechanics of the system covered anything I could think of and it appears that I thought of a lot. Honestly, how often does weather play a role in a game where die rolling mechanics are necessary. Trust me, if the characters are in the desert there is no rolling now, they are hot, sweaty, and praying for an oasis. No die rolling. Yet, there was that and more.
The second system was much smaller, clocking in at 80ish pages verses over 150. The writing was much better. The mechanics of the system more sound and less mathy. The older system is very math heavy, which surprised me because I was not as confident with math as I am now. Less emphasis on having a mechanic for every situation and more on generating a flow of action for everyone playing.
Most interesting to me, I am interested in taking the writing of the second system and seeing what I can do with it. I know I can improve the writing. I can even improve the layout and page design, although what I did does look good. So, I have a new project or another project. Like writing fiction, I am looking forward to this one as well, but for different reasons.
Fiction writing is happening now using the skills I earned through college. Thus, while I love what writing I am producing there is something different about taking an old project and making it “new.” I printed off the first 10-pages of each, roughly two chapters or sections of mechanics.
I did this for comparison sake. Comparing writing and looking to see how much work would be required if I chose to make the revisions. Immediately, the differences stood out; five pages of instructions which repeated themselves often in the first system. With a few…dozen…swipes of my pen the first five pages were reduced to a single set of instruction that covered everything the previous five pages had. Off to a good start, mostly cringing over extra words, repetitive sentences, and just bad writing. Then came the math.
What possessed me to think A + B + or – varies A thru E with special modifiers for X was a good system? I do not know. I checked the math and the numbers do add up, but the amount of math for simple things such as opening a stuck door made my head spin. I know there was a time when I thought lots of words and lots of math equaled complex…but this…this was over the top.
Shelve the first system first ten pages. The first ten pages of the second system were a joy to read. Sure plenty of poorly written sentences, but they were easy to edit or remove. The math? What math. Very simple: A + B = C. And that is how I got myself a new project. 🙂