Wow, I’m horrible at updating this thing.
So, lots going on to fill you in on. Though I’m sure all five of you readers already know all that’s ongoing, I figured I should post this for the rest of the intrawebs so that in a 100 years people will know what happened to me along with what other people ate for food, went all emo about and bitched about politically.
Actually, not a whole lot. My work load hasn’t increased all that much, since I’ve really been operating in that capacity for about a year now anyway. Though I do receive a modest bump in my per-word rate and can actually use the title now on my resume portfolio (and my FaceBook information). That’s a good thing, since it does give me some firmer legitimacy in the gaming industry, as small as it is. Considering this is the direction I really want my career to head, it’s another step up the ladder, and one I’m happy and very grateful to take.
Duty-wise, I’m still in ‘charge’ of the Clan portions of the timeline; pretty much everything happening to all of the Clans has been mapped out by me over the last couple of years. (I won’t claim all credit, since Oystein has given me a lot of help with the direction of the Dominion.) I’ve also picked up the load as far as the new ‘e-book’ series are concerned. The first release, Turning Points: Luthien, has done well and can be considered a success, one that we can hope will continue with subsequent editions.
I’m also still the ‘go-to’ person with regards to the new campaign and track system; I am beginning to train other authors in how to do them, as keeping that solely to myself may be a bad decision down the road. Specializing in certain factions, rules or other ‘niches’ in a shared universe may sound great, but it’s not something CGL really encourages. While there’s a special coolness about creating and handling characters and plots within a shared universe as big as the CBT one, the bottom line is that it still is a *SHARED* universe. Being a diversified writer in the game industry is a highly-prized skill, and one that I continue to hone with abandon.
Case in point: consider how many factions I actually plot out, what types of rules I develop and flesh out, and the sheer variety of units I create. I’ve graciously handed off characters of my own creation to other authors to play with, as well as incorporating other ideas and suggestions into my own structuring. You have to do this; if you don’t, you’re just writing yourself into a corner. We have a lot of authors who dabble in the CBT universe and sadly, too many specialize. I’ve seen the pitches that come back for various products and notice the same people pitching along the same comfortable lines; very few step ‘out of the box’ and go for something else. While some of it is a deference to a fellow writer’s “zone,” and that’s appreciated, it’s not necessary.
I’ll say it again: a shared universe is exactly that: SHARED.
So yeah, my duties have expanded a little. I find myself now behind the eight-ball (so to speak) on at least one major project; I’ve been finding it difficult to really dig in because of some underlying concerns. Not about the book, really, but the level of detail that’s being increasingly asked for.
When we release a new book that I helped write / create, I like to scan the forums to see what players are saying. It’s informative – and infuriating. Oh, you get used to people liking or hating what you create – there’s no way around that at all. What drives me up the wall and across the ceiling, however, is the inevitable statements of “oh, I wish they had more detail on this,” or “This is okay, but there should’ve been more told on that, and take that out so there’s more room here.” I’ve seen forum threads from players practically demanding source material covering trivial universe fluff, like uniforms or detailed tables defining miniscule day-to-day support services. (My favorite example is one fan who demanded exacting tables that you could use to determine what you served your fictional troops for meals, in order to determine how much tonnage you needed to set aside for transportation.)
Why? Why do players these days need every single rivet, every single laser blast described out in detail? What happened to players and gamemasters making their own stories, even within the framework of the canon universe?
I’ll give a good example here. Dawn of the Jihad. When it first released, it was a new approach for the game line to convey information. Before then, the major events of the universe were followed and broad-brushed in novels. When ROC canceled the line, that vehicle disappeared. So the ‘as it happens’ sourcebook concept was developed by Randall and Herb (my bosses) in order to preserve the feel of the universe as well as convey information and move the timeline forward.
Well, the ‘old guard’ hated it. Utterly. “There’s no solid information,” was the outcry. No “God’s-eye viewpoint” as the older sourcebook material (always done ‘after the fact’) provided. Change was here, and as many gamers are want, the change was decried as unholy and a “step in the wrong direction” for the game.
I still hear complaints four years later. The campaign I developed for the book and its subsequent follow-ups provides a wealth of information for gamemasters and players to utilize in fleshing out their own games. But the cry is always the same – it’s “not factual info” or “not enough detail” or whatnot.
To which I say, WHY? Why is such excruciating detail necessary to PLAY YOUR OWN GAME? Isn’t that what gaming is all about? Creating your own stories?
I know that from here to eternity, there will be a segment of the player base – regardless of game system or universe – who will be unhappy about products because they lack this or that. Usually its something that they themselves would have rather inserted, regardless of whether it’s in the marketable and profitable interest of the game itself.
Which means that I can safely say that those requesting / demanding a ‘uniform book’ detailing all the uniforms of various military units of the CBT universe will remain disappointed. You’ll never see it happen. Now, if they want to make their own, awesome. Enjoy it. Love the creative process. Share it. But don’t expect it from CBT.
So back to my original point: a lack of motivational impetus to move forward on my current project. Details that need to be presented, but refraining from hard numbers and solid data simply because it eliminates ‘wiggle room’ that is so necessary for this universe to survive. Somehow over the last 25 years the CBT universe turned from a pulp fiction easy-read enjoyable universe to a quasi-hard sci-fi futuristic-but-based-on-21st-century technology universe. Why? Because, in essence, this erroneous demand for detail. The more detail demanded, the more the authors have slowly acquiesced in giving data that has to ‘make sense’ to our 21st century minds, in order to maintain some semblance of ‘real life, just in the future.’
To which I gnash my teeth. What happened to the suspension of disbelief, the essence of every great fictional story? Look at Star Wars: lasers are colored, there’s noise in space, and gravity just ‘works’ in the ships. Why is it popular then, since the laws of the universe as we know it to be are ignored and in many cases, blatantly flaunted?
Because of the story. The story is what engages us. It’s what enamors us. It’s what keeps us coming back.
Sure, there are fans that are uber-geeked and try to explain everything away – even though they can’t. But the authors don’t do it. The creator doesn’t do it. There’s no need to.
Sadly, CBT has swung the opposite way, and that I think is what annoys me and saps my creative spark. Knowing that what I write is going to be scrutinized to the nth degree by factcheckers who apply real-universe laws and whatnot to my writing, robbing it of what makes it a story for the sake of ‘realism.’ Killing the creativity outright, or at the least stripping it of its color and flamboyancy.
Are we telling a story, or are we trying to be realistic? I desperately want the former – and I know I have allies within the CBT circle on this – but I think the harshness of forum denizens (of which represent a very loud vocal minority of the fanbase, but their din is suffocating) who shred and pick apart a body of work before it’s even cooled off the presses has made us less risk-taking, less apt to create a story and forces us to make it more detail-oriented simply to stave off the pitchforks.
Is this the future of gaming? Have we sunk to the point of cravenness to ‘know all’ that we cannot think and imagine for ourselves?
I desperately hope not. For once creativity dies, where then comes our humanity?
You know, that’s probably how Skynet takes over the whole planet. Figures.