Author Topic: The Gold Box Corner: The Four-Day Challenge (by Ben Sanderfer)  (Read 951 times)

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The Gold Box Corner: The Four-Day Challenge (by Ben Sanderfer)
« on: January 29, 2009, 11:25:12 PM »
The Gold-Box Corner
The Four Day Challenge
by Ben Sanderfer

January, 2009

Everyone loves an epic module.  We love to convince ourselves that bigger is better, and with Unlimited Adventures, we don't make much of a distinction.  Why not create a mod that fills all the dungeons?  Why not create a design that has a ton of hacks and new artwork?  Why not work on a storyline that has thirty-six separate sub-plots?

If I had to answer all these questions, I'd point to a single reason.  Most epic designs do not get completed.

Sure, there are designers who have pulled it off.  I'm one of them.  It's not easy, and it takes a whole lot more work than people imagine.  And, more than that, it takes more time than people imagine.

What happens in the end is that new designers sweep in with glorious dreams of creating their epic modules, only to have those same dreams crash down halfway through.  And it hurts, having something you put so much work into get wasted.  Having all that work and time go straight into the garbage.

Nobody pays you to work on your designs.  It's a labor of love.  You have to be willing to put in the work to get it done.  That means sneaking in some designing in your spare time.  Giving up time you could be using to do something else (like play other UA modules).

But you want to get something done.  You want to see your name up there with the big-league designers.  So, how can you do it?

Those of you who follow the forums know that I recently challenged myself to write a module in just four days.  It was supposed to be one area a day for four days, which would equal four areas.  In the end, the module only turned out to need three areas (a fourth area would have padded it unnecessarily) to tell the story to my satisfaction.  But, the point is, I got it done in the time frame that I set for myself...four days.  Just four days.

And you can do it too.

Don't believe the hype.  Your module does not have to be epic in size to get good reviews or to be played by the UA community.  We appreciate small modules that are well thought out more than we appreciate epic modules that are dull (I've seen a few of those too).  Put your efforts toward something small.

In fact, I would say it might be better to release a large storyline in smaller chapters that only require 2-3 hours to play.  If you want to get a following in the community, show us what you can do.  Don't waste time on a large epic without first testing the waters with something much smaller.

I can only use my own experience as a gauge, but my first module wasn't epic.  In fact, my first few modules all garnered some pretty low ratings once they were released (all four of them).  It took a lot of practice to reach the point where I could become both a competent module designer *and* be able to pull it off on an epic scale.

Baby steps. 

Take the four day challenge.  See what you can come up with.

Even if you are an experienced designer (like me), you might take the challenge.  In the same way that UA's text barrier forces us to be creative in our use of areas, a time barrier forces you to make the same creative decisions (there was more I wanted to do with my module, but couldn't due to the I decided to leave it open for a sequel, which I will probably also try to do in a four day span).

Some people won't respond well to deadlines (a statement I suggested in another article of mine, written many years ago).  It's an individual thing.  You won't know until you try.

Take the four day challenge. 

« Last Edit: February 13, 2009, 02:18:35 PM by ProphetSword »

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