Of late, I have been having a crisis of conscience. Having my general view of the community, and watching the nonsense surrounding Raggi's latest venture, I am loathe myself to monetize my hobby, even if the concept of my Conflict! interactive system is worth real money. I am experiencing a fairly common artistic emotion at present, that emotion that comes with being uncertain of the value of one's work, or even the interest in one's work. Having conceived of the game system five months ago, I am now unconvinced that it is everything I believed it was when I first conceived of it.
In the first place, it did come together more or less as I imagined it would. I structured the rules, I worked out the cards, I printed the cards and I began play-testing. The play-tests went wonderfully and the few problems were resolved easily by simply eliminating things that were unnecessarily complicated. I sat down to write out the rules and to put together the art for the production.
Unfortunately, I have come across something unforeseen. The system was designed to resolve the mechanical problem of conflicts between players and non-player characters, so that the judgement call that usually fell on the DM's shoulders would be given defined limits. Yes, the DM would still have to make a call on how an opponent responded to a particular argument or proposal by a player, but that call could not have the opponent react negatively when the system clearly dictated that the response would have to be a positive one.
Strangely, however, I am not certain this was ever a problem that I really needed to be solved.
I have been playing the last two months without the cards - a sort of alternative gametesting - and I am not feeling that my game is lacking, now that I have played both with and without. Perhaps it is the players I play with ... they are not the sort who go out of their way to interact with others in my world, despite my attempts to instigate interactions. They will typically ignore anyone who isn't dangerous, and they will typically listen to anyone - respectfully - who is willing to parlay and who clearly is dangerous. It doesn't seem to occur to my party to attempt to bend anyone else's actions to the party's will by discourse, so if we don't play with the Conflict! system, we don't really miss the Conflict! system.
So I am out of sorts. On the one hand, I don't feel I want to spend the next three years organizing games using this system, attending various conventions talking to people I'm not going to like, selling something I don't feel I need to use myself, in order to have myself identified 'til gawd knows when with this system. And on the other hand, I'm not convinced any longer that the game really needs this system in the first place. Perhaps the arguments between DMs and Players don't need a system to define limits - perhaps it's only that DMs have to stop "playing" and Players have to stop trying to get more than they deserve by "DMing."
I don't know. My inclination at the moment is to talk to some people about this, hear some advice and quite probably just lay out the whole system here in the next couple of weeks. This would get the monkey off my back and I could go back to trying to sell my books (hopeless project that that has been) like I ought to. I am thinking I should make a quick edit of my latest novel and go the rounds again with publishers. Right now, that feels like a better career path that selling cards to squawking children who are offended at nasty pictures. Even if the latter is potentially worth a lot of money.
That's where I am at the moment. I suppose if I decide to go forward, I'll have to delete this post and pretend I never wrote it. But at least no one can accuse me of not being straightforward, open, vulnerable and self-explicit about my intentions, my commitment to this game and my life.