Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Welcome to the (Creative) Desert of the Real...

From my trip to Australia, 2014

The above picture from the window of The Ghan train, travelling up the middle of Australia, summarises everything going on in my head at the moment. It's one big desert, with little glimpses of life in the distance that look exciting and interesting, but too far away to reach.

I have this problem where I get very excited about a project, and it dominates my thoughts. When the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG was in playtest I was incredibly excited, and devoured the TV series again (I mean, any excuse to rewatch Buffy? Right?), and ended up writing parts of the Slayer's Handbook, and helping to edit that and Monster Smackdown. 

When I thought about Conspiracy X (fantastic game!) and how it didn't have the same system as other Eden games (Unisystem), I became obsessed with the idea of converting ConX to Unisystem, and pitched to Eden to do it. I signed the contract to do the new incarnation of Conspiracy X just a couple of weeks before my father died, and I immersed myself in game. Maybe it was my way of dealing with it all. It took a couple of years of rewriting, updating and editing, but eventually Conspiracy X 2.0 was released with the new system. 

Talking to a Conspiracy X fan online who turned out to be Chris Birch, founder of Modiphius Games (publisher of some awesome titles, and the new Kickstarter for the ultra-cool Thunderbirds co-operative boardgame), we discussed properties that could introduce roleplaying games to a new generation of players. The discussion continued, and it evolved into a crazy pitch to the BBC with Dominic McDowall-Thomas, Angus Abranson and Fred Hicks to do the Doctor Who roleplaying game. None of us thought we'd have a chance, but it lead to producing the award winning Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space RPG for 

Doctor Who became the be-all-end-all of my working existence. Unfortunately, my day-job when I wasn't working on the game was very focused on Doctor Who as well - selling Doctor Who merchandise and DVDs. I think I saturated my head too much in all things Time Lord and burned out. 

Then I made a mistake. Another one, of many...

I thought I'd do something else. I turned my back on the RPG writing, and thought I'd try something completely different. Needless to say it didn't pan out. I was stupid, foolish and deluded.

Thankfully, Conspiracy X came to the rescue again. Kickstarters saw the last of these published which meant I was called back to a game I hadn't looked at for a while, and again I immersed myself in the that world at a time when I needed it again, just as I lost my mother.

I was having a tough time, and after Conspiracy X my head wasn't really in the "game" (so to speak) for anything too depressing, and then...

I made another mistake. Or rather, series of mistakes...

I started turning RPG work down. 

I had WILD starting, an incredibly personal project for me about dreamshare, and the more I thought about it the more "into" it I got. So much so, that when I did NaNoWriMo I started writing the backstory of the game as a novel - or rather a trilogy of novels. 

But I've been working on WILD for over two years now, and I'm floundering. The first novel is in the middle of rewrite, and I'm convinced no one will ever want to read it. The game's system has had some rewrites and may be moving away from the "Rapid Die Movement" I'd planned to being purely card-based. I look at the game and wonder if anyone would ever want to play it. And again, I'm feeling burned out.

I want enthusiasm again.

In the back of my head I have that nagging doubt - imposter syndrome - telling me I shouldn't bother. I'm nothing important, past game development successes were a fluke. Hell, I work 5-6 days a week in a shop.

In the back of my head I have that goading chatter - telling me that after Doctor Who I should be trying something else, like Harry Potter, James Bond, Sherlock, or Star Trek. A couple of those have lead to phonecalls, and emails with property owners, despite it just being me... a little nobody without a publisher...

These voices argue with each other, like past characters from games I've played (one probably has hair). In the middle of it all, I just want to be writing. To continue on WILD. To write something different - I had ideas for a more kid-friendly RPG like Adventure Time called "Awesonomicon" ((c)2015 David F. Chapman - just in case), and for a Twin Peaks-like setting for multiple game systems for a town full of secrets that could be used with anything, inspired by Peaks, Fortitude, Under the Dome, and so on...

But nothing will probably come of it.

I tried doing videos, I saw it as a means of showing off the cool of the gaming world, but when each video only gets about 30 views I have to wonder if I'm wasting my time.

So that's where I am at the moment. The real world is being hard on those I hold dear, making it hard to concentrate. But I wanted to get it all down, to state where I am, and apologise. 

Maybe I should just dig out the cards and try to tell my future...

Thanks for listening.



Fern Kali said...

Sorry to hear :-(

I'm excited by WILD, if that makes any difference.

Imposter syndrome sucks and it's even worse when you're worrying about people you care about.

Hope you regain your impetus soon - in whichever project most appeals.

I love, love, love Buffy ;-)

Nightwolf said...

Con X & Doctor Who are both awesome
Hanging out to check out WILD
Hope things look up soon. I'm sure all us fans of yours will still follow you what ever way you decide to go :D

David F. Chapman said...

Thank you all, it's greatly appreciated.


Marcus said...

Hi Dave,

I know how you feel; I want that enthusiasm back too.

What I hate is when you throw your heart and soul into a project, and then... it just goes. You stare blankly at this have completed 'thing' and you start to double-guess yourself...

Just so you know - you ain't alone :P

David F. Chapman said...

Thank you, it's greatly appreciated to hear the feedback, and I hope we all get inspired and enthused soon.

Thank you all.