A couple weeks ago–er, yeah, make that months ago–I posted a link to a story Monte Cook wrote about me on his blog five or six years ago. I also mentioned that I had an ulterior motive, something beyond showcasing my own superheroic powers and lionhearted courage. That motive was to foreshadow a guest post from Monte, which was supposed to follow in a week or two. My apologies to Monte for the long delay in getting it posted. Should you ever make another appearance on this site, I promise not to make a transAtlantic move right as it’s scheduled.
Monte’s theme is apropos of my situation (and the cause of the long delay in getting it posted). Anyway, here it is!
From one perspective, my career has remained fairly stable for the last 22 odd years. And I do mean odd. As I’ve always been either self-employed or worked for game companies in that time, I like to tell people that I’ve never had a real job.
From another perspective, however, it’s constantly changed. When I first started in the RPG industry, all the major players were different. Back then it was TSR–of course–FASA, West End Games, ICE, and a few others. White Wolf was barely starting and there was no Wizards of the Coast. Now, most of those companies are gone and the face of the industry has changed entirely.
Back in those days, there was, for all intents and purposes, no Internet. Unless a gamer sent me an actual letter–you know, like with a stamp–or talked to me at a convention, I never got to hear from the people that were reading my books and playing my games. And all those books were paper, of course.
Now, I hear from gamers from all over the world on a daily basis via email, messageboards, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Products come in a variety of formats, some physical, some electronic. In fact, I helped pioneer the idea of PDFs as a viable form for RGP products back in 2001 with the Book of Eldritch Might.
And now, the very idea of the “product” is changing. Take, for example, an initiative I launched about a year and a half ago at Dungeonaday.com. Dungeonaday.com offers adventure material for fantasy roleplaying games just like you’re used to finding in a book, but it’s all in a website. The great thing about it is that it allows me to utilize all the wondrous capabilities of the web to make it like no other adventure product.
For one, a “product” like Dungeonaday.com can use hyperlinks to connect all the material in intuitive ways. When you come upon a reference to another encounter, to an important NPC or item, or what have you, I can give you a direct link to that info. It’s a GM’s dream in that way.
Secondly, the creator can easily edit the material. If a user finds a small error I can just fix it instantly. And trust me, book or ebook, traditional product or website, there are always small errors and other things the designer would love to go back and change. There’s always errata or just something that needs an extra sentence of explanation.
Taking that point further, however, because I build the site as I go, I can incorporate user wishes and preferences. If people tell me they want more puzzle encounters, I can add some in my next daily update. If someone asks a good question that requires a long answer, I can write a blog post about it right there on Dungeonaday.com so that not only he but everyone can see the answer. It’s not just a product, it’s an interactive experience.
These things make Dungeonaday.com very exciting from a designer’s point of view. When it comes to game design, it’s much more rewarding to work with the people running and enjoying your material than it is to sit up in some ivory tower and type away at a manuscript in isolation.
It’s been a long, strange trip of a career, but each new facet has always made things better, more exciting, and more rewarding. I’ve always been one to embrace change. It’s the only way to survive, I think. Because no matter what you do to try to stop it, everything changes.