Last year, I had planned to change up the focus of Storyboard
a little. The "high and wide" format had been working, but I was worried that the column just wouldn't have legs if I didn't start going for more focused and narrow applications. So I spent several months working on just the right way to do more game-specific columns in here.
You don't remember them, of course, because none of them was ever posted. Those several months of work did not produce a single viable column.
At the capstone of the second year of Storyboard, I'm forced to basically eat crow about one of my major plans for the last year because it turns out that not only did it not work but it didn't need to work in the first place. I managed to fill up another year of columns just fine without going into great detail about one game over another, and as it turns out, I'm a lot happier with this year as a whole anyway.
Where I went right
I believe this was really a banner year for Storyboard, which is kind of an odd comparison to make with only one other year to compare it to. But I'm fundamentally happy with a lot of the columns that I wrote over the past year, and that's a big deal.
When I write, I'm trying to write something that I would be enthusiastic about reading. I'd like every column to be the sort of thing that immediately makes you sit up and want to go back through the whole archive just because the column you just read was that
good. So I measure my most successful columns by the ones that I look at as shining examples of exactly what I'm thinking, the sort of thing that I wouldn't mind re-reading at a later date.
Having explained that philosophy, I might make a lot more sense to say that I'm really satisfied with how this year's columns turned out. And there were some really great pieces in there, at least to my tastes. I'm incredibly proud of the two-part series on drama burnout
as well as the columns on making huge character changes
, smaller endings
and larger endings
, and coming back from a long absence
. From a more meta perspective, I'm proud of the columns on roleplaying as a couple
and why roleplaying is worth the effort
, and of course there was the impassioned plea for properly flagged servers
The columns on guest stars
, physical conflicts
, and humor
all found new ground to cover and did so quite well. And I'd be remiss not to point out the problem players article
, which... well, it made some people angry, but most of that anger was directed toward the suggestion that someone might be
one of these players. Long story short, I'm happy with all of the above.
So there was a lot of strong stuff this year. That makes me happy.
Where I went wrong
Unlike last year, this year I didn't have any long-running meta-series going on in the background, and I think that hurt the column a little bit. One of the things I liked about going back and forth on the archetypes was the fact that it gave some added structure to the column. I didn't ever really find a series that could replace that, and I elected to avoid doing anything if I couldn't come up with a suitable series, which was the right call, but
I'll also freely admit that there are some things that I flubbed this year. Obviously I'm not going to link to those particular columns (since I don't generally encourage people to read things that I think didn't come out well), but I will say there were at least one or two columns in which I thought I had more to cover than I actually did. Lesson learned.
I'm also still
not totally happy with the high-and-wide focus. None of my previous attempts to change that have borne fruit, but that just means I haven't found the right
approach yet. Here's hoping.
Looking to tomorrow
So this year was solid. It worked. I could probably just bottle whatever I did this year, do it again for another year, and come back here next year being reasonably satisfied. Instead, I'm going to say that the third year is the time to start screwing around with stuff.
I do intend to launch another on-and-off series along the lines of the Archetype Discussions from the first year. There are a couple of ideas floating around right now, depending on which one reads better. I've also got a project coming up this summer that will take the form of a month-long experiment with Ms. Lady and me that should be interesting to read about. (It's actually a project we just planned to do anyway, but there's no point in letting good material go to waste, right?)
Beyond that, I also want to know what you guys want to see from here on out. I've been lucky enough to have an amazing set of readers, and even if sometimes we disagree, I'm always happy to see what others have to say about my ramblings. So if you have requests or protests or whatever for the next year, by all means, the comments are right down below. As is my email. Go to town!
On a related note, I have a couple of mails sitting in my inbox that I haven't answered yet because I've been dealing with moving house. But still, send me your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or just leave it down in the comments -- whichever is easier for you. Next week, I'm going to talk about dealing with rejection for either a new character or an old favorite -- and no, I'm not talking about your love interest shooting you down.
Every Friday, Eliot Lefebvre fills a column up with excellent advice on investing money, writing award-winning novels, and being elected to public office. Then he removes all of that, and you're left with Storyboard, which focuses on roleplaying in MMOs. It won't help you get elected, but it will help you pretend you did.