I have written a post about creativity before but I wanted to rewrite it both as an update and with a little more focus.
The point remains that I love creative writing and yet I really struggle to stick with a creative project for very long. This is mainly because I lack the "chuck it out and edit later" attitude that is necessary and because while I love creating worlds and characters, outside of key scenes I find the actual act of writing to be a little tedious. In the last year I haven't had a lot of opportunity to do a lot of writing and I'd really like to rectify that now university has finished.
I love to roleplay, each Dragon Age character has to be planned and sculpted (one of the reasons I hated DA2 with it's premade character) and even though I don't roleplay in World of Warcraft as much as I used to, each of my characters seems to have a distinct personality and aura. I did start writing about two of my WoW characters but they are languishing on the heap of unfinished projects(see: old Nanowrimo projects). At one time I played the pen and paper WoW game with my girlfriend and some friends and really enjoyed it, even if we ignored a lot of the rules, but it didn't last for long and since then I've really wanted to get back into pen and paper gaming.
For the Play event at the Gist Lab last month I decided to write a small D&D campaign, despite having never played D&D before (although WoW is pretty similar). I thought it would be a fun little experiment. The basic scenario was small and fairly generic; group of strangers wake up in a cellar together guarded by silent vacant men, escape and fight a weird mage at the end and eventually go on to find the crazy archmage who's decided mind control sounds like a nice way to pass the time. It was fun to start with, I liked making the main evil character but I'm not all that good at coming up with puzzles and I found the D&D mechanics to be a little restrictive. The main response I've had to that is "only use the rules you want" but that to me seems like defeating the object, if my story doesn't fit the system I should try a new system, and if I find a better system I can build a better story.
After Overlap, I decided to look at story games and much like my D&D experiment I'm making a story game of my own without having played any story games previously. I have two unfinished stories I thought would be good, one is a fantasy based on a world where one side is perpetual night and the other in day. I really love this world but the stories I've written so far are about its royal family, there isn't much information about basic day-to-day life. It's a world I want to explore more but at this stage isn't really ready to be gamed in. So I looked at an abandoned story I had. It's basically the diary of a girl who has been abandoned with her flatmate in a building without power after severe power rationing left her city empty and about how she trades information from a wind-up radio for resources until the radio signal stops and her flatmate grows violent and paranoid. The problem I had with writing it was that the scenario I built seemed a bit too far-fetched and as I wrote I kept thinking "Why doesn't she just do <x>?".
However, as I started thinking of it as a game it started to make a little more sense, instead of thinking about what my character would do I started thinking more about what I would do. It's set in the near-future and energy usage is a relevant topic so a "what-if" isn't too far out of left-field. So the set-up is you're a student in a hall of residence in an abandoned city and you're waiting for the rescue. The aim of the game is to survive for 30 days. You are allowed only 3 electrical appliances, picked at random. Each day you must eat, drink and sleep. Personality traits are determined by the degree you are studying and you must move around other rooms to find resources but you may confront other students, players or NPCs who aren't as keen on sharing as you. Appliances break and may need to be repaired or converted into spare parts. A lot of it is card-based, I did this to keep it random without too much dice rolling and to create a sense of dread and desperation. Each in-game week begins with an "oh fuck" event like a robbery or having to move flat.
I haven't play-tested this yet and I don't think it will be ready for tomorrow. I'm really unsure on how the flow will go, at the moment I'm kinda guessing the number and variety of cards required but this will need balancing. I would also like to implement other buildings so you might want to go rob a shop but thugs are doing the same and you have to fight, avoid or negotiate with them and then I'd like to try a win scenario where all players have to make the walk to the nearest big city themselves.
I have no idea how this will work out, or even if you can count it as a "story game" at all. Personally I see it as a nice way to finish a story I probably wouldn't finish just by writing. I think that world-building is where my creative strength lies as opposed to dialogue or slow buildups. I would love to do Nanowrimo this year, finish of the Christian apocalyptic story I tried last time, only with more research. I just need to sit down and force myself to write and not look back until it's done.