The Spark RPG is a “generic” game, flexible of setting while still encouraging a certain style of play. The challenge is that generic games often come across as flavourless, dull and derivative. It’s hard to design a good generic and almost impossible to market them in my experience. This made it the perfect challenge.
I chose to design generic games games like these not because they are easy, but because they are hard. The only way to learn quality RPG design is through practice. Rather than release a series of smaller titles, I wanted to throw myself into the deep end and tackle a large and difficult project. For my first major commercially-published product, I needed to be exposed to every step in the development process. I needed to teach myself the design philosophies, writing tricks, editing skills, layout, production and marketing. I view this ambitious project as a self-funded undergraduate degree in roleplaying game design.
I have made almost every mistake in the textbook. I have tried publishing a fan supplement for a White Wolf game without a license. I have discovered the folly of commissioning art assets prematurely. I have written a draft text for my game before bringing it to playtesting. I have spent hours fiddling with formatting when I could have better spent that time cleaning up the writing. Right now, the beginners mistake I am making is focusing on marketing. It is so very tempting to market myself and network over social media instead of putting in the hard work of writing. Paradoxically, the infrequent updates on my website are a sign that I am actually writing the game.
I am designing games to learn and I think that generics are the best teachers. What are your thoughts?