Kill Your Darlings

Creating something is a fraught process, because the more of your time and effort you spend on something, the more prone you are to falling into a trap in which you become blind to flaws that might have accreted naturally in the process. Case in point: I’ve been working for a month or two on a system for a sci-fi offering with an approach that I’ve tagged “strategic roleplaying.” What that ostensibly means is that it concerns itself not with the blow-by-blow of what a given character does on a micro-temporal level, but instead takes a top-down approach focused on statecraft and social engineering over long spans. It’s kinda hard to explain without delving too deeply, and that’s not the point.

What IS the point is that, as I was crafting this, I found that the mechanical design was heading one direction, but that what I was intending to communicate with it – the theme, or at least a major theme – was getting further and further away. I wanted to make a statement in the game’s construction, and the game play reinforced the exact opposite of that lesson.

The solution is one that I first heard when I was a wee and precocious lad, taking an extra-curricular journalism course at the local community college: kill your darlings. I would hear it repeated in different iterations throughout creative writing classes and even academic instruction. Kill your darlings. If you’re attached to a piece of writing, you’ll find yourself attached to its weaknesses and faults, which will keep you from making it better, assuming you see them at all.

File deleted. Starting over from scratch. It’s a hard thing to do, but the sunk-cost fallacy is just that: a fallacy. If the work was really good, and I’m just imagining the problems, then I can do good work again and produce a worthwhile game.

I will take the opportunity to tease the project, since it’s still going ahead, though.

Corona: Strategic Sci-Fi Roleplaying

Millennia from now, humanity stands astride a thousand thousand solar fiefdoms, ruled by psychic god-kings able to tap the burning power of the suns themselves to subjugate their realm. These autarchs ply their might and their minions to quell threats from without, but the greater danger to their unchallenged rule might come from within their own court. Three or more players collaborate to unfold the story of this time of turmoil as they see fit, from the intimate intrigues of a single star-kingdom to an epic panoply sprawling across a galaxy.