February 15, 2011

Better to burn out than fade away!

Filed under: General — bilbo @ 7:47 pm

So, Clash over on I Fly By Night had a commenter talk about the good ole days when games were “very punk rock” and I had to smile. I am not so sure I am nostalgic like that and I was a hard core punk rocker until I was a hard core new waver…yeah, it was like that. Anyway, it brings up an interesting point of commercialism and whether monetization of a market enhances or devlaues the artistic merit held within. Yes, I am channeling my inner thesaurus.

We have to ask then, do better illustrations, higher price points and product lines designed to separate us from our money really a bad and inherently non-artful endeavor. The answer seems to be “Not inherently so”. You can still do all these things, hire artists, editors and professionals to work on a game and still have it be an art worthy game. A fun game.

Here is the news, fresh from satellite V, you can make a crap game whether it has a $50K budget or a $5 budget. Likewise high art or great fun can come out of either. Worse yet, it is a subjective valuation. Just like a piece of art, a game can be a thing of beauty for one person and a total wreck and wast of time to another.

So, what do you loose? In my opinion, when you focus on the business, you loose passion. This, again, can either be good or bad. Passion can lead to incredible flights of inspiration and long hours spent doing something you love. It can also lead to a blindness to critical flaws and a denial of the realities of publishing a book. That is not as serious a lesson as it was even 10 years ago, but can be quite sobering when you are passionate about your work.

Despite what it sounds like above, passion is where my heart is. I have nothing agaist the people out there making fine products but I would rather burn out then fade away.


  1. I play RPG’s to escape reality for a short time, and do things I can’t do in real life. When I pick up a book from the shelf of the local game shop, I am looking for two things. (1)- an interesting setting that has enough meat to flesh out a campaign in, while giving me enough room to fill specific holes I want to fill. (2)- a system that is not so convoluted that players need a math degree to make a character or attack an adversary.
    For a variety of reasons these two simple points seem to get overlooked all too often. I’ll take the $5 game with substance over the $50 game with style every time. The “art”, to me, is providing me with the substance that I need to play an enjoyable campaign.

    Comment by Scott — February 16, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  2. What is very amusing to me is – why in the world did he post on my blog? No one has ever accused my games of being slick and professional. I’m a one-man shop, the very model of a modern punk-rocker-designer. 😀


    Comment by clash bowley — February 16, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

  3. Oh! I was into new wave until I left the music business, but not punk. 😀


    Comment by clash bowley — February 16, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  4. YEah, the early days were kewl (I was there in the eighties believe it or not)

    there was a passion about the games then, they were a labour of love

    the new stuff??? Bleh, why does everything have to be full on hardcore glossy full colour pages??

    there’s no heart there s far as I can see

    Thats what I love about the Nebuleon book, its got a good full colour cover, hardback like the original PHB etc, BUT, all the interior is plain, normal paper and black and white – a PROPER game book in my opinion

    now, if we can only get Neb 2 on the go;.)

    Heavy metal for me by the way, punk sucked (shouldnt say that probably given that I grew up on Thrash)

    Comment by Alan Hume — July 13, 2011 @ 3:51 am

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