Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Protracted Process

Thing is, about these tables going on one after another, and the breaks between as I shape up this or that table against the vicissitudes of corporeal existence (the joys of paying attention to things other than D&D), the process is necessarily protracted and exhausting.  Each time that I've tackled the reworking of the system has been a trial, this one more than before since I'm increasing to a greater degree the complexity of the system and I am posting it online at the same time.  This has meant occasionally going back and fixing things that would have remained unfixed except for inside the occasional running when a player complained.

For some of you out there in professional jobs this will reflect the work you're doing for payment.  A technical system has to be rebuilt, a new schedule of events or promotions have to be vetted and brought into the spotlight, a tour has to be planned, upgrades put in place, etcetera.  And this means meetings, and more meetings, and extra work, and long hours, and look - we've been at this for six months already and the thing isn't yet in place.

I've only been at this for two but I feel it.  The present project has been ongoing since 2003 when I finally cracked how the process worked, and since 1988 when I first conceived of how the project might work.  The distance tables the project depends on were advanced first in 2004, and have slowly progressed to a complexity that now means several tables with enough numbers to take up 35 megs on my computer.  And the distance table on the linked page hasn't been upgraded in three years, so it doesn't include the other half of Germany or all of Italy, which together make up another 150 trading cities.  At present I have worked out the distances between 600 cities, which is a total of 360,000 excel cells with pertinent data, with an estimated 1.8 million pieces of calculating cells to support it and let me know if something changes.

I don't do 'small.'  People I hope have seen the 77 maps of my world that show what I've done and what my plans are to do in the immediate few years after today.  At present I haven't actually done any mapmaking at all in about 4 months; I just haven't been motivated.  In fact, I spent a good period not being motivated to doing anything at all, something I put down to letting myself get bolluxed up trying to create a marketable product when I should have been enjoying life.  I am working on a marketable product ... my book, which received another rejection answer on the weekend, thank you very much.

This blog, and to some extent the other one, has been my primary source for inspiration and creation this year.  I'm not sure if I'd be doing the good work I'm doing without it.  Publishing and being pushed to publish is a good thing.  I believe the expectation for good work forces one to produce good work.  O Gentle Reader, I can't say how often I guiltily feel that I should come up with something profound and new to bring new inspiration to the hardworking DM out there.  The Civ Posts were started on account of it, as was the combat simulation I produced this last spring, the wiki of course, and the long lost online campaign.  Which - I confess - I have been considering getting started again, though gawd knows I don't know where I'd find the time.

For the record, unlike a professional job, I like this plodding difficult work because I like the results it gives ... the ability to proudly give the prices to the players and have them know there's a logic to the world that isn't based on my ass.  And I admit that I learn a great deal, which itself gets applied to other trials and campaigns and off-handed runnings.  I am simply happier when I am working.  It doesn't matter that it will take years from here to get to the end.  Yes, accomplishing something is nice, but getting to the next stage brings the endorphins too.

Like finishing this post, for example.  It isn't the end.  There will be another post tomorrow, and another one after that.  Blogs are never finished.  But ah, feel the chemicals.


Arduin said...

I know you're horribly opposed to open sourcing this code, for reasons that are, naturally, perfectly valid.

That said, have you ever considered charging for the data, perhaps creating a "mailing list" of sorts for updates?

I say this, partly because I would simply love to tinker with different aspects of this system and see how it all fits together on so admittedly large a scale, and also because I am filled with the dread that you will either lose interest or die before you can approach a finish/find an apprentice to carry on the work.

I've said it before and will continue to do so ad infinitum, but what you've got here is more than just a little incredible.

Alexis said...

Hello Arduin,

I am in search of a well-funded developer who can see the potential for an MMORG with the material, recognizing that a trade and distribution friendly world would greatly augment the very simple-minded economic systems that reflect present formats. I have had some direct offers from very poor developers who would like to take it in that direction, but at the present I'm not willing to give it up without an income.

If that doesn't happen, I'll open source the system on my deathbed.

As far as it happening that I might "lose interest" ... I wouldn't worry about that. Dying first is much more likely.