I've stated before that I have no interest in being a game designer. I love playing them, not making them!
Today, however, I'm thinking about making my own role-playing game. Not necessarily to sell, or even for anyone to play; I just want to create a roleplaying game for the sake of creating something, because that's what I do.
So I'm inspired to create, but I don't actually have any ideas on what to create. So I'm going to start with a list. If I woke up tomorrow and found out a clone of me (or fork, to use Eclipse Phase's terminology) had made a roleplaying game, it would have the following:
1. A narrative influenced by the mechanics of the system, and vice versa. A cursory understanding of my favorite RPGs...Firefly, Fate Core, Dungeon World...shows that I very much love RPGs where the dice influence the story, and the story influence the dice.
2. An interesting, involved world. Some of my other faves...Shadowrun, Earthdawn, Eclipse Phase...show I love detailed, interesting gameworlds, as fun to read about and discover as they are to play in.
3. Strong use of technique and voice. World of Darkness is exceedingly good at this...parts of the game and the story are expressed through characters, dialogue, and a number of interesting storytelling techniques, such as the story in the intro of The God Machine Chronicle, told entirely through emails between two characters. The boring, dry, "this is the world" chapter is an anachronism in today's hobby, and I want to write something edgy and modern.
4. Rules-speak is present-tense, player facing, and in the second person. This style is great because it's exciting and easy to read. For example, instead of writing "When a player wants to fire their gun in burst mode, you pick up the dice and roll....", you write "When you want to light up a room with a burst from your submachine gun, do THIS...." Apocalypse World and its children are excellent examples of this. Fate Core does it well, too. I am currently in the process of writing an abridged rulebook (or unabridged cheat sheet, depending on how you look at it) version of the Shadowrun Fifth Edition corebook in this style, and just the simple act of writing it is helping me learn the rules better.
5. Directly influenced by stories that I'm passionate about. This one is a little harder, perhaps the hardest of all for me. I have favorite stories across multiple genres and platforms, and integrating some, if not all of them, is going to be difficult. Here is a partial list:
-Six Feet Under
-The Dark Knight
-Game of Thrones
-World of Warcraft
-BioShock (all three games)
-World War Z (the book, NOT the movie)
-Left 4 Dead
It seems like I'm going to have to pare that list down to create something cohesive that'll jive with points 1-4, but how? Where do I start? I'm not sure. I'll write more on this later, as ideas develop...