Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Dime a Dozen

I have come up with another idea for yet another board game ( yet again ). Like my previous ventures, I find myself frequently wondering and day dreaming about the production schedule and other things that usually happen only when a project is nearing completion.

Keeping that in mind, it is strange for me to realize that this time when I day dream about the day this particular project will be completed, I have a few reasons to continue to day dream.

Before I go into those reasons, I would like to tell you about my experiences in the world of board gaming as it pertains to open - sourcing,  crowd sourcing and grass-roots efforts.

With the widely known features of the internet available to mostly all,  sharing files ( and therefore ideas and information ) as well as commenting on those files ( discussion ) are being done on digital hubs, and not necessarily physical ones. Though in-person communication would seem mandatory ( you would think so, the topic being board gaming ) replacements for that physical interaction are quickly arising. This could be a topic by itself, from embedded digital systems ( such as digital apps in games like XCOM: The Board Game, and Golem Arcana ) to simulators, to community driven websites and dedicated gaming sites. However, it is enough for this article if readers keep this in mind as I move on to the next point: players taking issues into their own hands.

I remember very well my dedication to the Warhammer: Fantasy, 8th edition, as well my obsession with it driving my family crazy. Later,  with the company that makes this game moving to a different fantasy system,  I sensed a lot of hate, anger and frustration from players who liked the previous game system. I am not sure if this is related, but I also came across a community of players who wanted to make the 8th edition great again. In fact, I think they went a step further and added their own content.

This community was not alone. I came across an 'open source board game project' by the name of 'Sovereign'. The idea of open-source gaming is interesting, especially when applied to board games. This way, any game could be tailored to any body's interests, while still staying true to the heart of the particular genre and game.

My impression is that open source models, especially in the context of role playing games, seem to be the norm now; whether it's more popular systems like Pathfinder or cult favorites. 

This applies to miniature war gaming as well. For example, while I don't think Kings of War is open source, the rules are free and proxies are allowed ( that is you don't have to buy miniatures from them to play their games; any miniatures will do as long as the proper format is followed )

Now, back to my idea.

Usually, when I start thinking about the  fame and riches pouring in from the latest board game I am working on, I realize what I am doing is pretty useless; in fact, I already said that this is not the case for the current one I am working on. The reason this board game is different is that decisions of when to go public about it may matter in the long run with regards to the game's content and quality.

My idea is unique, as they tend to be, and as they say, ideas are a dime a dozen. But how do I know when I should go public? If I go public soon, my idea might get copied or stolen, without attribution to me. At the same time, if I go public much later, and it works out I would feel stupid for not doing so earlier if that would have made my work easier and more accessible to different sub-audiences.

If I want to go the route of profit, then the obvious path would be to start my own company and sell my product, or go with an existing publisher. However, given the few and cheap components required for my current project, I feel the best path is to make it open source. Once I do that though, going back to a normal copyrighted commercial model with be a pain, if not impossible.

Maybe a pseudo - non profit / business model would be best, where the work I do is free for anyone to use as long as the work is again redistributed freely and attributed to me and my colleagues, but a little business-sy with people who use my work with the intention to sell it, having to give me and my colleagues a percentage of potential profits. I can distribute the game freely ( through print and play prototypes ) and charge for sets that I manufacture.

Or maybe I should go open source first, and without worrying about copyright and legal issues,  see if a natural non - profit  and / or business model arises from my / our work that hits the sweet spot between profit, community outreach and collaboration, individual customization, use by other projects as well as personal validation and attribution for / to me.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dancing with a Phantom

The music was heavenly, and though we were the only ones who heard it, our dance was not any less pleasant.

Eventually the music stopped, or changed its meaning. If I did notice, I do not recall, and if I do recall, I will be in denial.

I do not know when she left, or if she was even there.

I moved on, nevertheless, dancing a dance meant for two. I never made a wrong move, for a phantom cannot complain.

And when she did complain, before I realized that in dancing with the phantom, I stepped on her toes, she was gone: leaving me wondering who I was dancing with. The phantom too left, as the silence was heard, and my feet ached.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Hard Work & Tools

I think I might have been prejudiced against forms of writing / expression other than novels for a long time. This prejudice might have taken the form or way "civilized" people refer to "primitive' societies. I think I also used to feel guilty writing novels, and not sticking strictly to poetry; it's very well known in the publishing and writing world that most chapbooks don't sell as well as novels.

For example, when I worked on a novel, I used to believe that the act of writing was a part of writing as well. I hope this makes sense when I think of what a writer / poet said, about the goal of poetry.
I believe Lewis Turco said ( and I think I am heavily parahrasing here ) that the goal of poetry is the words themselves...I remember that when I wrote poems sometimes, I try not to stop once I start, because I like finishing the poem in one go. I rarely edit later.

When you think of novels, two more things come to mind though. The effect, aesthetic and feel the novel wants to have or project, as well as the narrative element of storytelling. For example, a thriller will have have a different 'feel' to it ( both while reading and upon finishing ) than an epic would have upon the reader.

If I were to categorize the phrase 'effect, aesthetic and feel' as 'function', then I wonder if poetry can be thought of as a genre focusing on the form of words, whereas novels, movies and telepathic entertainment ( if possible ) use words as a tool to achieve a function(s) in a field or subject.

I don't know if what I wrote is true. If it is, it certainly helps dispel some myths I've had about writing.  I used to romanticize about writing as much as people romanticism about 'true love'. Once I realized that if I had grown up on  telepathic entertainment instead of words,  and that then I would prefer telepathy as my weapon of choice,  I've come to question some of my understanding of writing as a profession and vocation.

If written words is my choice of tool when it comes to expression, it is more likely that, one,  I prefer writing because I am good with words ( as a poet, and someone suffering from the lack of the ubiquitous ability to telepathize ), two, that's the easiest way to achieve the function I want ( as opposed to making a movie or art in the genre of fantasy ), and three, without hard work, any tool is useless and cannot achieve it's opposed to being 'born to write', or being a natural.

Also, while the preservation of intent of expression makes sense  while writing poetry, I don't know how much it applies to novels, because the words in a novel are a vehicle, and often nothing more.

This would help me while I'm working on my current fantasy novel, as I now I realize that if writing is a tool, that would mean it would be okay to skimp on certain aspects of writing in favor of the narrative, ideal or virtue ( such as beauty ) I was aiming for. It would also open the different possibilites writing can be used for, such as screenplays and journalism.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why Write Fantasy?

I realize today that as a child, when I used to dream writing about the ultimate series of fantasy novels, I was conflating elements of two different writing styles into one. However, the one thing they both shared in common was the experience of fantasy in the mind.

I understand now that, for people who love to experience fantasy, they can make arrangements so that others can experience it through a medium of the arranger's choice, or the arranger can by him/her/other self experience fantasy by means suitable to him.

Through the first arrangement, the arranger is using his gift of expression in a medium, so that others will benefit. Therefore, he is likely to subscribe to the norms of the medium; for example, a fantastical novelist will likely write a novel with a beginning, middle and end, good grammar/ spelling, and clear, standard expression so that his audience will enjoy his work and be taken away to far away fantastical places. This might entail commercial success and steady employment, unless the arranger/ novelist does this service for free.

The second method involves the expresser / arranger choosing a medium of his liking, and expressing through that medium to enjoy the benefits of his fantastical world. In this method, I don't think the final work done through the chosen medium may be appealing to many outside the expresser, though it is wonderful for the expresser if it is appealing.

A good analogy would be the following: I dream of food, and how much ever I dream of the good food I can eat, my hunger does not go away. So by eating good food, I fulfill the pertinent desire. Even though the act of eating fulfills me, it has no effect on other people, save for perhaps the happiness they might have at seeing me happy.

That would be akin to the second arrangement, i.e. writing a fantastical work for myself because I enjoy the genre.

Expressing in a medium for someone else is like dreaming of good food, and with the desire to show others the taste I dreamed of, I will cook the dreamed food for them, modified to make allowances for allergies and other culinary individual expectations. Here, the fulfillment will come from seeing that the people who eat my food are happy eating what I am talented to dream about.

Coming back to the dreams I used to have as a child, I wanted the experience of fantasy for myself, with the reception from an audience as though I wrote a novel with them in mind.

Therefore, now that I know the distinction between the two writing styles, a lot of questions come to mind. Answering them will help me understand what it is I expect from myself and my writing.