Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Exploring New Worlds

I've been thinking about exploring ideas.

I make roughly one world setting every two months - that is, a fully realized setting for a game or story. Drawings, descriptions, rules if it's a game, the works. It's fun.

One of the reasons I do it is because I'm curious to know how far a given concept can be pushed, and in what directions. This is the sort of thing that an author means when they say "I write SPECULATIVE fiction, not SCIENCE fiction!"

As you create these worlds, you find some things you consider to be real gems. See, designing a world isn't just making a world that holds together. The point of designing a world is to make a world that says things, that shines at people. Anyone can create a world where the politics of the elven kingdoms make sense... it's far more difficult to make a world where anybody gives a shit about the politics of the elven kingdoms.

I guess you could say that the point of a world is to clutch the human mind, not to be rigorous or clever or even interesting, although all of those are often helpful at keeping your grip.

So the more recent of my worldish creations have mostly been about providing a scaffold: clear marks and leads stretch across the world so that players or storytellers can follow (as loosely as they prefer) and see what the world has to offer. All the pretty and ugly things I came up with when I was thinking up things that followed from the basic ideas of the world.

Is there any kind of common understanding of this concept? This idea of worlds as a scaffold, as a guide book? Is there any forum for people who want to trade worlds and fragments and explore and write down what they find? A kind of improv storytelling where the idea isn't to do stand-up, but to explore?

Because there are many worlds, and many concepts. And even within a world of my design, there are things I didn't think of.


Laserbeam said...

Hi Craig,

How hard and long would it be for you to actually describe one of these worlds? I've just recently discovered your blog and I find it fascinating. I hope I'm not asking for too much, but could you show us one of your worlds, and maybe link to some of your previous posts detailing certain elements of that world? Or have you done this before and I've just missed that part?

Thanks for sharing these awesome tools by the way. Finding good literature on game design and story worlds seems hard so far.

Craig Perko said...

I've posted fragments of maybe a dozen worlds over the past five years, but it takes a lot of effort to convert them from "giant stack of notes and sketches" into "coherent post".

However, a few people have said basically the same thing as you have, so maybe I'll put a bit of effort into it this year.