I’ve had a couple of experiences recently that a tie into the same theme. Just when is the writing of a game or supplement “finished” and ready for release?
1) I have a collaborator who’s working on tying ALL the old Golden Heroes scenarios into one magnum opus for Squadron UK. Brilliant work so far. He recently asked me when I stop writing and start preparing a product for printing. I didn’t have an answer for him.
2) I’ve been struggling to finish a product for years. Squadron: X, my X files to Avengers campaign pack. (I actually wrote the first draft years before the Avengers movie came out but now if feels like my product is a rip off. Superheroes vs. alien invasion? At least I’ve got zombies in mine.)
Anyway, month after month I just couldn’t finish it. It was basically the slog of statting up all the various ghoulies and extraterrestrials that bogged me down. So, eventually, I cut a couple of corners and put it out. It isn’t the product I was expecting or hoping it would be – but the only other choice would have been to shelve it.
3) I recently swapped games with another designer and we ran each others at a convention. His game had far more “stuff” in it than mine but mine’s in print and his isn’t – yet.
4) There are several designers on here who are “working on” games and have been for some time…..
5) There was a fascinating thread on UK Roleplayers recently – in the RPG discussion section – about how important it was to purchasers that a game was complete or whether it came with lots of supplements. I realised that I could have easily padded out my Basic Game to be the core rulebook and kept back some of my optional rules for a supplement.
So how DO you decide when to stop writing and publish your game? I realise now that my method is to mentally produce an outline or series of chapter headings and stop when I’ve written all those bits.
I think most if us just keep fiddling – trying to get it perfect. Like artists. “A work of art is never completed. It is only abandoned.”
Professional companies set deadlines that have to be met – the product is released on schedule even if it isn’t perfect. In fact, if it isn’t perfect it gives them an excuse to release a “second edition” and reviews/debates about the flaws and innovations of a game are all good, free publicity.
Perhaps we should take a page from THEIR book?