Rog Dolos: “I am an independent game developer taking a hedonistic approach to game development: I make what I am driven to make and that keeps me happy. I have a strong preference for cooperative / collaborative gameplay.”
What’s in a name? Kitbash makes me chuckle in this context: This RPG project started with homebrew mods I’ve made for 5E. In many ways, homebrew rules are a kitbash. They are an inventive hack applied to an RPG, for a variety of reasons. They aren’t necessarily the best designs in the broader sense, typically they are more personal: a change to suit the players at the table; a favorite bit of nostalgia borrowed from an earlier version; an alteration of the pacing for flavor; a complication for complexity’s sake or a simplification for rules clarity.
I’m all for homebrewing / hacking / modding / kitbashing.
That’s not why I chose the name though. I already had an Automata Kitbash name on my mind, with plans to use it for a future PC game set in my Norship universe. Once I came to the realization that I should formalize my homebrews into a full RPG: ding! I had a name that snapped right into place, just a minor tweak to Apparata.
Apparata are a class of robotic characters in The Norship universe. A Kitbasher in that same universe, is a sort of technological Wizard that puts bits together to make something new and “magical”. Sort of. I’m still working on it. There’s another angle that I will post in the Norship lore section soon enough. Either way, the name means what it says in putting parts together: This world is driven (in part) by Apparata Kitbash.
It’s an underestimate to say “I have been working on this game for awhile.”
I don’t feel I have any issues with completing things, making games in particular. I’ve been making games most of my adult life, with a reasonable number of completed + released games. Mostly on my own, sometimes with a collaborator or two, and even rarely as-an-employee-on-a-team-shipping-a-game thing.
So what gives? Why is my first post about rebooting a game project (on this rebooted blog?)?
I’m working two-projects at once, which is something I don’t normally do. I’ve also had a lot of real-life disruptions the past few years (which I have happily recovered from now).
So this is a somewhat defensive post: stating why something isn’t completed, even though most people reading this have never heard of OBSCURON (or likely me). I drive my development vehicles with passion and I’m telling myself that I am in-fact not splitting my attention as I drive. That’s a terrible analogy, because I prefer to walk, but still.
OBSCURON is what I call it now. Yeah, all-caps because somehow it just looks correct that way, to my eyes. I’ve gone through other names: Awareon, COOPeratta, and Obscurland. Maybe I’ll reuse those later.
My next posting on this game will actually be about the game, I promise. =)
Note: This is an archived post fetched from Google+ after it was announced that G+ would be shut down.
In response to some gentle prodding from friends, I’m starting a series of articles (†) about my thoughts regarding game design and game development. If you’ll excuse the difference in tone + topic, this first article is personal: About me and my journey making games; How I got from point A to point B. Writing my own narrative feels narcissistic, so I’ll leave the story about Pong in my childhood for the footnotes (††).
I make Games. I made my first computer game on an Apple IIe in high school: A “Skytrain simulator”. It was terrible. I kept making games on computers, but never once in my teens and twenties did I think of myself as a game developer.
I ran a BBS where I met awesome people who also made games. I hosted Joust tournaments and LAN parties.
The first time I self-published was a game on my own BBS. It was flawed and a user coded a terminal-side pathfinding bot that solved it. After the web arrived I ported some of my BBS games into web-games. Gates Motel had a moderate amount of success as an assassin-themed web-game with a few thousand users, some of them paying a yearly fee. I still felt like an imposter because it was inspired by Murder Motel, a popular BBS game by Sean D. Wagle (or Sheldon Pasciak? BBS “door” games were often re-worked and credit gets fuzzy, my apologies). I say inspired by, but looking back and comparing, it was more within the genre. It really was it’s own game: my game. I should have been more proud of it.
I had a foolish angry-young-man phase. I worked as a semi-angry games journalist at Electric Playground, where Victor Lucas (who is still doing great at what he does, kudos to him) wondered aloud a few times why I wasn’t applying for game-dev positions at EA, Radical, Relic, etc. as my friends were.
I met amazing and notable game-related celebrities. I could drop names but that would be false-pandering. I’m a terrible social animal and I’m sure only a few of them remember me, or worse I may have rubbed them the wrong way. Semi-angry journalist isn’t a good personality trait and it still pops up now and then.
After that, I tried to be a regular joe in regular jobs. I worked in a bank. I did web-design. None of that worked. It wasn’t me.
When I came back to games, the imposter syndrome was gone.
I had absorbed a lot of knowledge about the games industry and the related disciplines: From spending time in so many game studios as a journalist, plus just hanging out with friends in their work-environments. I finally took a AAA game-dev job and shipped a game with my name in the credits as a “mission designer”. I’m comfortable and confident making games. I can dip my hands into each part of game development and not do a disastrous job of it.
I’m 47. Damn I was slow to realize this: I should have been publishing more of my games all along.
I try to share more of my work now, though I’ll admit I still publish far less than I produce. I may be a slow learner, but I’m there. I’m discerning. I know my tastes. When I cook up something appetizing enough, I will share the results.
Update (October 2018): I am currently working on a PC game and a tabletop RPG, both of which are sharing the same universe in different timelines.
My next posting will be less about me and more about games, I promise. ;)
(†) I was posting on G+ at the time I first wrote this, but since then I went through a nearly fatal medical emergency that I have spent the past two years recovering from.
(††) I played Pong when I was 4 years old in the year that it was released, in a grocery store. I migrated from the arcades to consoles to computer games. At 18 during a Dodgeball incident I mashed up my right-hand and I have a slight disability as a result. I find it difficult / painful to use the bumpers on modern game controllers, so I don’t play console games as much anymore.