So, it’s Wednesday and I’m still exhausted, still have a lot of work ahead of me, and all that jazz — but I’m here to promise that this will be my last day of self-reflective wandering. I wanted to share something I wrote YEARS ago. This would be back in that stage of my development I’d refer to as “pretentious, wanna-be game designer with ego still tied up in the idea of producing an RPG and getting the ‘standard rich and famous’ contract.” And while I’m incredibly relieved that I left that guy behind me… I do miss him sometimes.
And this piece, well, I wrote it back then and I just felt like this really meant something. When I found it on an old drive I was cleaning up, well, I realized that it fit my recent frame of my mind very well… Anyway, enough intro, let’s take a ride…
“It’s a long hard Ride…”
I’m going to get a little personal this time. I’m talking about the “why” of my thoughts on gaming. It is my hope that in light of all the various, why games fail and communications conversations that we have on this board, that I can let people know what makes the game for me. The hope is to encourage all y’all to do the same, talk about what gaming means to you, and why you do it?
Tonight’s little letter to everyone starts with a song. It’s also a ghost story. This song is THE ghost story song of country and western music. It’s by David Allen Coe. Yes, you heard that right. D.A. Coe, No relation to E.A. Poe. (Dammit Rob, you’re from BV, listen to some country once in a while.) Sorry.
The song is “The Ride”, and I encourage all gamer types to give it a try. Just give it a listen, it’s good stuff, even if you don’t like country. I’m listening to it as I write this. Knowing my audience though, I’m going to assume there are not many Coe fans paying attention right now, so I’m gonna explain. Or at least sum up.
Song opens with a young man hitchhiking from Alabama to Nashville, TN. Our young man has but a guitar and a dream. He’s going to Nashville to become a country star. He wants to sing the Opry and be a legend in honky tonks. (Did you know “Crazy”, by Patsy Cline is the most requested song on jukeboxes around the world?) Anyway, this kid is headed out to make it big when he has an encounter with the ghost of a true legend of country music. This song gives me goose bumps, not because it’s creepy, but because of the fact that the young dreamer brushes up against something huge.
I’ll leave you with that much explanation – if you want more, listen to the song. Just go listen, hell, you can even listen to my copy if you want. If you need a country history lesson when it’s over, I can do that for you too… but where does this connect to gaming?
The chorus of the song goes like this here:
“Drifter can you make folks cry when you play and sing?
Have you paid your dues?
Can you moan the blues?
Can you bend those guitar strings?
Boy can you make folks feel what you feel inside?
Cause if you’re big star bound,
Let me tell you it’s a long hard ride.”
Now some of you already see where this is going. Some are still wondering why I ever listened to country music in the first place…
So I’ll explain. Look at the fifth line of that chorus. Read it again and ignore the rest for a minute. That line is why I am writing Ryllia. That line is why I love gaming. In creating this world and the game system to play in the world, I am trying, desperately, to make it what I feel inside. Ryllia is a game about why I love gaming.
All y’all all know Jeff. He and I have spent many an hour agonizing over running games. We’ve talked about what we love. We love heroes, we love being the hero. We love stories, we love pushing characters to their limits and after beating them all to hell, we love seeing what comes out of the fire.
I love telling stories about humanity and sacrifice. I like using gaming to explore parts of the real world I don’t know how I feel about yet.
Sometimes. Sometimes I just wanna kill stormtroopers.
Point is, even when I’m dungeon crawling, it’s about working out my brain and my heart in a social story, with fellow gamers who are exploring with me.
How does this translate into what I’m writing? First of all, Ryllia isn’t geared toward making a character. Ryllia lets you begin a legend. Your very own legend. It’s right in the title of the game, Legends of Ryllia. The game is ABOUT you. I’ll tell you later where this comes from. It’s another reference, and it’s important.
Also, as you grow in Ryllia your character grows how you play. In every gaming session you will get XP. Just show up to play and you get XP. Those XP can only improve your basic skills and stats though, and only to a certain point. There are other things on your hero’s sheet that can only be improved with the second kind of XP, legend points. Guess how you get legend points? By becoming a legend. The game system is designed to encourage heroic thinking by building it directly into the reward system. So, sorry number cruncher power gamer types, but you gotta roleplay to get real power in Ryllia.
“Boy can you make folks feel what you feel inside?”
Well, that’s the burning question right?
It’s what I’m working for. It’s what keeps me up all night, ignoring my homework and writing my fingers to the bone. It’s what I’m looking for in every game I go to. I guess, if I wanna be big star bound I’m gonna have to take the ride.
Comments, questions, testimonials?
I left that intact, with all my old, pretentious flourishes and all. It’s almost embarrassing to read now — I was so earnest. Just ignore the names and the references to where it was originally posted (a webboard for my college geek group). Thing is… for as corny as it seems to me now, as silly as I feel putting it back out in the public eye, I really do miss that guy. Something he had, some passion for this hobby — I’ve lost it.
Thanks for reading…