Thursday, October 24, 2013

To Slay the Demon Again?

November is just around the corner, and with it comes National Game Design Month (NaGaDeMon). It's also National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). 

Last year, I participated in NaGaDeMon and designed a game that I never did name officially, the Tenaru Project. It was a good time and I got a very small taste of the game design process from conception through play testing (I won't say finished product because, although playable, it isn't exactly where I want it and I haven't gone back to it). It's basically a tabletop version of Space Invaders, with the invaders being the Japanese and you control a 3-man USMC MG crew. Each turn an event enforces the setting. Or so I claim.

In 2008, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first, and thus far, only, time. Unlike NaGaDeMon, it seemed a great deal more harried. A game proto-type doesn't have to be very much, but 50,000 words in 30 days, one of those which, for Americans, is a holiday usually involving obscene amounts of food and family, seems like it's going to take some time. In my case, the whole week of Thanksgiving is pretty much a family event and so I had approximately 25 days to reach the goal. In the end, I hit a little over 35,000 words.Still, it was a lot of fun sharing ideas and such with coworkers who were also participating.

Quality, I should stress, is not the goal of NaNoWriMo,  completion is. I lost track of that and started worrying about this and that and how the plot was going and other things that really aren't relevant to the word count. You might question how much of a novel (or even draft of one) the result is, and that's a valid question, but it misses the point: the worth is in the doing and participating, not the end result. The benefit, too, and of relevance to me this year, is the kick in the pants it is for establishing a daily writing habit.

Recently, I went back and read a small part of  my 2008 attempt, and most of what is contained therein is crap, but there are a few spots that I think, with some revision, have potential - possibly for use in gaming related materials even or submissions to zines. I've also gotten a few comments on this blog about my session summaries for The Ever Expanding Dungeon and some other posts that have given me some confidence to attempt a piece of fiction again.

So, part of me thinks, this year I should attempt NaNoWriMo, and  go in with nothing, save a character or two, just to see what happens - the same way I do with my solo RPG sessions (indeed, I might even use Story Cubes, Mythic, et al. to move things along). Hell, it might even be a swords & sorcery adventure tale - who knows?

Some other part of me thinks that I should create some kind of game,and participate in NaGaDeMon again. I can't help think it'd be nice to take some of the lessons from last year and apply them this year.

One obvious solution, is to combine the two in some way: a solo adventure, a setting, a rule book, something. I still have a few days to make some kind of decision.

In the meantime, I'd encourage anyone with an interest in jump starting their writing or who has said something along the lines of "I'll design a game someday" or "I'll write a novel someday" to just do it - sign up, participate in the online discussions (not to the detriment of your goal!), and when November 1 comes, have a lot of fun trying to reach  your goal. 


  1. John,

    I know that you like the Rory's Story Cubes and I came across the following at Wargame Vault which might interest you as well:

    -- Jeff

  2. Thanks, Jeff! Those look like they might come in handy. - John