Friday, January 11, 2008

Writer RPG

WARNING: Really long, geeky post!

I enjoy playing all kinds of games: card games, board games, video games, MMORPGs. Writing requires choices and I have sacrificed time spent on games.* Which is too bad because they're fun.

Any type of work should have the potential for fun as well. Aspects of writing can be enjoyable, but also frustrating, heartbreaking, and misery inducing. Last December I wondered how I could make writing more fun like a game.

Why not a Writer Role Playing Game?

Any decent RPG needs levels for the players to climb, with appropriate titles and point ranges of course.

Level 1 - Dilettante (0 - 999)
Level 2 - Hack (1,000 - 4,999)
Level 3 - Neo-Pro (5,000 - 9,999)
Level 4 - Pro (10,000 - 24,999)
Level 5 - Serious Artist (25,000 - 49,999)
Level 6 - Literary Giant (50,000 - 99,999)
Level 7 - Writer (100,000+)

How do I earn points? Various writing related activities. I took inspiration from the six points in J.A. Konrath's Get Off Your Ass and Do Something.

Word Count +5 points per 100 words.

Submissions +10 pts/submission

Published Stories +5 pts/100 words.

Blog/Web Updates,
Event Attendance +5 pts/each instance

Online Participation,
Business Activities,
Research +1 pt/each instance

So while all kinds of activity can earn points, words on the page will really drive the leveling.

In addition, there is credit for random acts of kindness and generosity, such as making a cash donation to a library, buying a debut novel, subscribing to a fiction magazine, and so on. 1 pt/each instance.

Of course, as the game giveth, it taketh away. If I don't do anything for my writing career in a given day, that is a Bad Karma day for which negative points are awarded.

Now, we all know some days are better than others. We have to make some allowances for illness, vacation, holidays, etc. There is a sliding scale depending on the number of Bad Karma days. However, go over the threshold and all the days are assessed the higher penalty.

Days 1 - 10: -1 points per day.
Days 1 - 20: -10 points per day.
Days 1 - 30: -100 points per day.
Days 1 - 31+: -1,000 points per day.

Four weeks of vacation (20 business days) won't cause much guilt. Another two weeks, the pain starts. And if I go over a month of Sundays, we're talking serious trouble.

Sounds rather complicated, doesn't it? I already track most of the raw data in Excel. I added a couple worksheets, coded a macro to add things up, and had me an automated RPG tally sheet.

At the moment I'm at Level 1 - Dilettante. At least there is no Bad Karma so far. Maybe I can find a magic +4 keyboard to boost my statistics.

*The one exception is playing games with my daughter, who is very competitive and, ahem, kicks my butt on a regular basis.


Blogger Camille Alexa said...

You need a name for your game.

January 12, 2008 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

I suppose 'Writer RPG' is a bit too generic. I'm open to suggestions.

January 14, 2008 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

Hmm, I think I'm still a half hit dice character. thank the Gods that blog posts count for something or I would be hosed from this fall. :)

How about Muses and Monsters? Slaying the Word Beast? Word Swords? Umm, Science and Similes? Call of Chaucher?

January 14, 2008 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

umm, Call of Chaucer.

January 14, 2008 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger L.A. Mitchell said...

I like how level 7-"Writer" comes after we think we are serious artists and literary geniuses. Much more creative than my Excel tracking sheet. Oh, and to be at Dilettante, you must have taken some serious vacation given your writing successes so far.

January 14, 2008 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Oooh, Call of Chaucer. I like it.

My mistake, L.A., on not being clear. The game takes place in one calendar year. If only other aspects of life had a reset button.

January 14, 2008 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Matt Mitchell said...

heh, this sounds fun. I like Call of Chaucer.

But now I think of it, though it would be played in RPG style, it's not really, since the game points would be factored on real-world statistics. You'd have to call it RWG or WLG. Which, changing the game class isn't really a problem, there are MMORPGs now, MRPGs, and I don't know how many other forms.

Just a thought.

January 17, 2008 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Matt Mitchell said...

Hm. Also, based on your model, you would gain 500,000 exp if you had a 100k novel published, which is a standard word count. Based on that, I think your exp for publication is a little off. I know there are a lot of people out there who have had 100k word books published, and some successful, who definitely shouldn't be considered "writers" and reach the ultimate level of the game. By that rationale, someone could start playing the day they gained acceptance of their book and be a writer right out of the gate.

January 17, 2008 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Hi Matt,

The point system may not be as clear as I could have made it. Perhaps examples as you noted would have helped.

At five points per hundred words, that would be 5k for writing a 100K novel, another 5k for having it published, so only 10k points or 'Pro' status for that book.

Then again, at that rate, no one would have a chance at winning within a year. Except maybe if you had a trilogy come out, at 300k per book, carry the one ....

January 17, 2008 at 7:01 PM  

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