20 Aralık 2013

I Am Zombie: Bir Kötü İki İyi Haber

I Am Zombie'nin tüm hazırlık aşamalarını Facebook'da gayet aktif şekilde paylaşan Mark Rein-Hagen birkaç hafta önce aniden ortalıktan yok olmuştu. Dün nihayet sosyal medyaya geri dönen yazar, sürpriz açıklamalarda bulundu. Öncelikle oyunu bekleyenler için kötü haber: I Am Zombie çıkmayacak. Mark playtester'lardan ve oyun firmalarından olumlu feedback'ler alamadığını söyleyerek bu setting'i iptal etmiş. İyi haber ise gerçekten çok iyi görünen ve yenilikçi olan Axiom sistemi tamamen çöpe gitmiş değil. Mark Incarnate adında yeni bir fantasy setting'i için Axioms sistemini D20 ile birleştirmiş. Bir iyi haber daha; Mark Incarnate, yeni Axioms ve karakter kartları dosyalarını yılbaşı hediyesi olarak herkesin erişimine açtı. Hepsini ücretsiz olarak indirip yeni setting ve sistemin nasıl olduğuna kendiniz karar verebilirsiniz. Doğrusunu isterseniz şu aşamada işler biraz çorbaya dönmüş gibi görünüyor. Bizler de ilk defa bir oyunun ortaya çıkış sürecine böylesine detaylı şahit olduğumuzdan merakla izliyoruz. Yine de kesin olarak öğrendiğimiz bir şey varsa, o da matbaa'dan çıkmadan hiç bir oyun için fazla heveslenmemek lazım. Mark'ın uzun açıklamasını yazının devamında bulabilirsiniz.

Hi everyone, sorry about the long, long hiatus. It lasted far longer than I ever intended it to be, but it served a purpose, which I will explain in just a bit. But first let me explain why I needed a vacation. 

Facebook is an amazing place, but when you have as many friends as I do it becomes difficult to get serious work done. Before my break I was sometimes getting messaged a 100 times and a day and distracted by this or that the whole day long. I became addicted to the intensity of the constant stimulation and my creative work began to suffer. I knew I needed to switch things out somehow, and find a new way to work. A new way to focus. 

Secondly, I AM ZOMBIE was stalled. I had released a complete rules book, background book and character cards and I was expecting a big surge of activity and interest as different groups began to playtest. But that did not happen... I become more than a bit distraught and depressed (I am a temperamental artist type after all). Day by day I began to slip deeper and deeper into a big black hole. Emotionally I was at all all time low in terms of this project. 

Intellectually, however, I realized that something was wrong with game, not the playtesters. You guys have been great, incredibly involved and VERY supportive. I decided to take a week off and just FIGURE THINGS OUT. In the end it took a bit more than week, but I have indeed figured things out. 

As many of you know I am used to having trouble with my game in playtesting. Infamously my first Vampire playtest group quit the game in disgust, saying it was unplayable. The first Wraith playtest group had to disband because of “paranormal activity”. In any case, I knew something was wrong with the system or the setting and I had to fix it. 

My analysis began with the game system itself. I realized that as much as I like dice pool systems, and I LOVE the elegance of this particular dice pool system with its different colored D6, that it was a major hindrance for people playing the game. 

Secondly I realized that my own playtester were not choosing cards that had no art, they just didn’t “Grok” the blank cards. Yet I knew we were a long ways from getting all the art, and I couldn’t substitute other art from the internet in… Lucid Zombie art just doesn't exist, and anything else would be confusing and distracting. 

Over the next week as we deconstructed the game layer by layer it became obvious that we need a new game system and we needed a way to playtest the game using cards with art on them. At the same time I was getting feelers back from various game companies about the Axiom game system. They were interested in the ideas of character cards, they just didn’t get the idea of a game where “you play a zombie?” (I would be upset about that kind of reaction, but I’m used to it, its exactly the same reaction I got when I come up with Vampire). They wanted a more “approachable” setting, an example of how they worked in a paradigm they could visualize. 

So we began working on a new game, a game through which we could completely, methodically, and intensely playtest a new game system. I decided that fantasy was the archetypical RPG, plus there was a ton of fantasy art online we could borrow for use on a set of playtest cards. 

One night I had a dream about a character who kept getting reincarnated so I called the setting Incarnate. 

Very quickly while working on simplifying the D6 system I realized that the game was TOO innovative. This is a problem I run into often. People who do not work in a creative field are often confused by this concept, they think the more unique something is the better. The truth is however, you can only move people so far in so much time, if you are going to be brilliantly innovative in one way, you need to be familiar and conventional in another. 

So that when I decided too (wait for it) to move to a D20 based game system… Yes, please don’t scream, its true. Its the most familiar way to resolve events in the world of roleplaying, millions of people have already played a game using the system. If you are going to blow peoples minds by having character cards instead of character classes, then you need to give them them something they understand deeply to hang on to as they go for the ride of their life. 

Anyway, we whipped up 30 fantasy cards and wrote up a new system, and it ended up taking a lot long than I thought it would. But then something amazing happened, playtesters went nuts and new gamers started showing up out of nowhere. For the first time in Georgia we were able to playtest a game without having to bribe people with food or wine. 

Bottom line, people loved the new system. It mixed the radically new with the deeply familiar in a way that was very approachable and easy to understand. All the stuff that slows down a 3.5, 4e, or Pathfinder game was eliminated, like charts and looking things up. Everything you need was on the cards. The games system was a still Axiom (in fact it was shocking how easy it was to convert it over) and the cards looks very much the same as with D6 IAZ. Almost immediately I wrote a new D20 set of Axiom rules for IAZ as well and tried a game, however without any card art all but the most sophisticated and experienced players were still completely lost. So we kept working on the Incarnate game and the D2o Axiom System. 

Without ever realizing it a few weeks had gone by without me really noticing. I was so happy to be not be interrupted every five minutes, of being able to focus on ONE project… a new game system and a new setting. 

Then the creative muse just completely took over and we started adding more and more cards and more and more setting to the new game. Its simply what one does when one is designing a game… you focus intently on the project at hand. I think, also, I just really needed a break from the internet… and people. 

Then I threw out my back, but that a whole other story...

I am not naturally a social person. I love people, but in relatively small doses compared to most. From the age of 8 to 17 I grew up in a house in a woods, with no other kids living nearby. I learned to entertain myself, to live in a world of book, thoughts and dreams. In college I managed to become a much more social person, well know to anyone who has bought me a beer, but I am still always that boy who lives in the woods. 

However, I am a grown man now, and now that I have had my vacation I am ready to rejoin the world. Not just willing, looking forward to it. I welcome your input and dialogue with you. I am restored FULLY to my multi-tasking, cloud jumping, frantic and wide thinking self. 

Please accept my full apologies for simply disappearing, I wish I could say it won’t happen again, but in a year or so it probably will. By signing up for this group you wanted a front row seat to the creative process, and this is part of it. Creative people aren't usually vibrant leaders or especially business minded, we tend to be a little strange, and inconsistent and unpredictable. It just goes with the work. But, sincerely, I do apologize. It wasn't fair, it wasn't smart but its just what I had to do. I truly am sorry if it annoyed or made your life difficult in any way. 

That said I do have a Holiday Gift for you all. The Incarnate game is ready for you to play it. Since its a fantasy game there isn’t a whole lot that NEEDS to be explained about the setting, we all know pretty much what it is all about. We’ve got over 70 fully illustrated cards for you to choose from (just pick 7 cards!) and a succinct set of rules. I also have a introduction to the world/game we created as well, which is now called: Of Things Unknown. (A Shakespeare quote.) 

In terms of the cards, just download all the file, load up on a memory stick and bring it to your local print shop. These days almost any shop can do it, they will collate them to whatever format they want and give you a finished set of cards. They charged me about $14 for 72 cards. 

Here are the Character Cards: 
https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BzS1q63x82UGR1ZpWE1QdGx1U1U&usp=sharing 

Here is the Axioms file: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tv557k6ifxUMadOJlCHpXgdbnt675JRnbOkB_8pXO4A/edit?usp=sharing

Here is the Of Things Unknown setting brief: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10ALqQITOI01ubfINPPa5hyefJoohoSNJUaA0xwxCc08/edit?usp=sharing

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