The past 4 months: Visas, Depression and making my Game

Hello everyone!

It has been rather a long time since I last blogged at all. Why is that? Well getting a US Visa isn’t simple, and its been a tough journey for me since March.

I’d tell you all the details, but I am afraid that it might come back to haunt me, I don’t want to mess anything up at this stage. Simply put, its hard living day to day when you are engulfed by uncertainty. This also wasn’t helped by the fact that the visa system for every US Embassy in the world went down last week. So they’re still doing their best to recover from that little calamity.

On Monday I’ll have my interview at the US Embassy in London though, and then one working week after that, I will hopefully have a visa. After several very tense months, I may finally start to calm down soon.

In light of the recent news that Gay marriage is now a constitutional right across the United States, I am little sad that I will miss the greatest weekend San Francisco has ever seen, and probably Independence Day too.

My recent depression though has taken a broader form than just having an uncertain future though. A fantastic development recently was that Multiplay, who run esports events in the UK and who I have been volunteering for, responded super positively to my application to be an esports manager for them. So whatever happens with the US, I should still have that option out there for me.

In fact, I have a lot more going for me than a lot of people do in the world right now. So why the depression?

Well anyone who has been at the bottom of that well will tell you that: “Why are you depressed, you have no good reason to be depressed!” – whether you’re saying it yourself, or others are – really doesn’t help. My brother’s depression problems for instance, have always been more severe, and his prospects are not as promising as mine are right now, so it feels “unfair” for me to express similar feelings.

Still, its been a rough couple of months. After I ran the TBG Cup and got all the post-event content for that up, I kind of collapsed. My body no longer had a reason to hold itself together. The enormity of existence and the possibility of everything going wrong had plenty of time to fester on my unoccupied mind, particularly in the last few weeks. Still, I haven’t woken up screaming in a while, so I guess my subconscious is doing alright.

…Hrmm, this always happens. I want to get all of these emotions off my chest, but the process of writing really helps me, and halfway through the post I already feel way better.

So let me tell you what else I’ve been up to. I’ve been writing up a rulebook for my tabletop roleplaying game Realms!

It was kind of weird, I was spending more and more time on it because I was seeking a distraction. Then I sat back and realised I had done 55 pages.

Realms is a game of Kingship and governance. I know there are some RPGs out there that dabble in this area, like Hillfolk and Pathfinder’s Kingmaker series, but all of them still focus on you playing an individual ‘hero’. In Realms you command a civilisation. Its much closer to a tabeltop re-imagining of games like Total War, Crusader Kings, and Dwarf Fortress.

And finally I’ve gotten somewhere after 3 years!

I originally made it for my friends at Uni, and we played for one and a half years. I’ve known all the rules this whole time, it was just a matter of getting them down and ironing out the kinks. For me, this is the 4th incarnation of the game.

Now I just need to:

  • Finish the full descriptive list of Army units
  • Touch up Siege Units
  • Finish the full descriptive list of Buildings
  • Touch up Fortifications
  • Finish writing up all the Events and how they work
  • Write up Ruler Trait bonuses

And then some more stuff for fluff generation, and I think it’s done!

Although, you won’t see any of it until I finish writing up the lore. I was discussing this with my roleplay friends, (i.e. 85% of all my friends) and they told me that lore really did influence their opinions of games, so I’m going to get that done before you hear anymore about it. They can start play-testing straight away once I’m done though, they already know what Olartek is like.

The lore involves Imperialist golems with muskets, Trolls who are made from vines (making Goblins “Bonsai Trolls”), a race of pious mechanical ex-slaves, and a city of Dragonkin who have a unfathomably powerful Dragon-Lich trapped in their catacombs who was their former emperor until he went mad.

Laser-Pheasants may still be a thing, don’t know if that’s too silly or not.

Its a fun setting.

My plan is to release it ‘a la Dwarf Fortress’ style, and if people actually like it, I’ll keep working on it and maybe work towards a more formal release.

I’m not interested in publishing a physical book though, I think that a lot of what the RP gaming industry does is archaic. If something is imbalanced in Dota 2, it gets patched (hopefully). Why aren’t tabletops like that? If Realms get somewhere, it will regularly update according to feedback from the community, and it will sold as a PDF at an e-book price! None of this $29.99 for a fucking digital download nonsense. Get with the times Marty, this is 2015 now, your games come with a free hoverboard now.

(Note: comments about games coming with free hoverboards is meant entirely as a joke. I do not possess such technology and neither would it be economically feasible to give it away for free)

Oh, I also made a mod for playing it in Tabletop Simulator already.

So what do you think? Any thoughts on tackling depression when you have nothing but free time? Had your own stressful struggles with US visas? Should Laser-Pheasants be cannon for my game? Should I call it Realms or Rulers? Let me know!