I’ve occasionally thought about what else I might do that requires 100s of hours of effort for uncertain payoff.
Actually the answer is quite simple: write games.
Specifically isometric turn-based RPGs, preferably ones with a lot of text dialog and 100s of hours of gameplay, in the fantasy or science-fiction genres.
Now you may think this is just a coincidence, given that most of what I spent last weekend doing was playing one such game (Avadon: The Black Fortress), but I’ve liked this particular format for a while, and have thought it would be interesting to take the time designing one of my own.
Think about the writing challenge. If you want a good RPG, you don’t want to funnel people into a linear narrative so you have to be able to give them bits of the story that can be rearranged in any order. And you have to allow for the possibility that whole sections of the game will go unplayed, but still have a story that makes sense and is satisfying to the player. And if you’re really ambitious, the story changes based the player’s actions, and grows and evolves into many possible stories.
Writing a game is like combining all the possible iterations of a novel into a single art form. That would be a fascinating challenge.
And I think I could write the game engine for an isometric game, and do it in a way that others could create content for it when I’m done. It would probably run on older machines, and be casual enough for the beginner player, but deep enough for the experienced as well.
The problem is a lack of any particular artistic ability for pixel drawing, but maybe I could hire somebody. Certainly a team would be helpful. And somebody to do the music or write additional dialog. And test the sucker.
Oh yeah and time, ridiculous amounts of it.
Ultimately the purpose of these ideas is to just get my brain running in a different direction for a while. Thinking about designing a game is what gave me the idea for one of my books, DM, and has some relation to how I think about others. And if nothing else, the thought experiment gives me a better appreciation of the work others do.
Still it might be an interesting side project…
I have too many ideas for one lifetime. Ah, well 🙂
What other things have you thought about doing that you decided against?