Why do I design games?

In the past people have asked me, why I bother to write games? There a already hundreds of roleplaying games out there and since I don’t intent to sell them and make some money, why bother? The reason is pretty simple: it’s fun!

There is actually a bit more to it. I am sure every GM worth his salt has already thought about writing his own game. And sometimes you just want to challenge yourself, see if you can really pull it off and design and write a game that works. If someone else enjoys the work you’ve done, great, but usually it’s sufficient to know that you actually pulled it off.

That was what motivated me to write Warrior, Rogue & Mage in the first place. When I was under the shower I had an idea about using the basic fantasy RPG classes as the attributes of a character directly. And so I started writing down my ideas. The initial idea was to write a game similar to one of the Microlite games. But soon I realized that I wouldn’t fit all my ideas to just a single sheet of paper. And when I have a burst of creativity I try to put it to good use. So I challenged myself to release the game the next day!

Its a bit different with my other project, Gears. With Gears I want to create a free game system that I can release together with the campaign settings I’ve written. I want that people can download Ad Astra and start playing because everything is already included.

But the most important part is that it’s fun to throw some ideas around, mix and match elements from games you love and to create something new. It might be far from perfect or perhaps not work at all, but you made something yourself!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

7 thoughts on “Why do I design games?”

  1. Absolutely. I wrote my first RPG while in college, a fairly crunchy generic system that I used to run two short horror campaigns (one set in the 1920's, one set in the modern era) and two long fantasy campaigns. It worked well enough, but it taught me a lot about what I did right and what I did wrong.

    Over the last eight years or so I've been pecking away at a replacement for that old system. It's mostly finished now, and I'm happy with the results. I might one day have a PDF for people to download and use if they wish, and I hope to write a few campaign settings for it, but I've created the RPG for me and my own gaming, not as a "product".

    In the end, if the game you're writing isn't "for you" in some aspect, the fire just won't be there. It's got to be fun and it's got to reflect something you like in order for you to put the right kind of creative energy into the project.
    .-= Badelaire´s last blog ..TnB RPG: Carousing, Brawling, and Feasting =-.

  2. I did the "48 hour RPG design challenge" that someone had on their blog a while back, and it was a lot of fun. I don't think I want to do anything more than that, though – I'm a perfectionist, and I don't need another endless project eating away at my time.

    We need to do that "5 RPGs in 25 minutes" challenge in the chat some time.

  3. When I sit down to write a game, I do it to try something different. I find a hook–something that I can't easily find in other games–and then try to design a game around it.

    I suppose most of my games fall into the indie crowd, because they end up being lean systems that a (in my opinion) really good at doing one or two things.

    As a side-effect, most of my games don't see campaign play. I fall back on more robust systems for my long term games.
    .-= DeadGod´s last blog ..Game Mechanics for Personality (for any edition of D&D) =-.

  4. I think one of the best pieces of advice I heard/read was to write stories that you want to read. The same can be applied to game design. Every game I've written a design document for has been from a desire to play the game, and my muse was generally a game I enjoyed, but wanted to tweak a few mechanics. Whether you decide to publish commercially is just icing on the cake.
    .-= Kameron´s last blog ..Juggling spiders and coddling shrews =-.

  5. Ooh – free RPGs 😉

    On a serious note, I couldn't have said it better myself.

    I'm always on the lookout for new systems – and new ideas for my own systems! – so thanks, and keep up the good work!

    .-= deltamonk´s last blog ..Thoughts on 4e =-.

  6. For me, the answer to the question in the title is simple and serious: Because I have to.

    I consider myself a fairly creative person, but I have no artistic skills to speak of. When the urge to create hits (as it does quite frequently), it's down to my meagre programming skills or writing a "board" game of some sort. (I find it illustrative that my first experience with RPGs, twenty-odd years back, was through designing my own!)

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