A couple months ago, I was nearing burnout in terms of writing and publishing game materials – and I didn’t even know it. I was working at my normal pace, and although there were a few indications I was hitting the wall, I was still getting things done. When I started goofing around with Star Trek, though, I was soon to diagnose my coming burnout.
It started with my daughter wanting to watch all the Star Trek that had been made in the order in which it was set (more or less). She started with Enterprise, which I watched with her (still frustrated at the close-but-no-cigar aspect of the show), and then we watched Star Trek. Yeah – I just call it Star Trek, because that’s what it is. When you’re the “original series”, you don’t need an amendment to your title. We followed up with the animated Star Trek, the Star Trek Continues (because I like it and think it was worthy of inclusion), then the movies and now on to Next Generation – we’re on season 3 I think.
In the midst of this, I started getting the Star Trek bug, and found a copy of the first Star Trek RPG, which I reviewed on this blog a while back. This got me to designing a Star Trek campaign (hence, My Trek) that I knew I would probably never play, but wanted to do anyways. And here’s where I discovered my potential burnout. I started having so much fun goofing around with Trek, that I just plain stopped working on my writing. I have an issue of NOD that is written, edited and ready to go … and I’ve just let it sit there for a couple weeks. I could publish it today … but I don’t think I feel like it. The writing and publishing, as much as I enjoyed it, was becoming work, and so messing with Star Trek became not just a vacation, but really more like playing hooky. When writing game materials for myself feels like playing hooky for writing game materials for others, you know you’re heading for burnout.
To avoid that burnout, I’ve indulged myself with good old Star Trek. I followed up my Star Trek RPG purchase (and I do love that little game dearly) with an old Star Fleet Battles rulebook (which I found overly complicated – so I wrote my own version, which will appear in future posts), and then the Spaceflight Chronology, Star Trek Concordance, the book about Star Trek Phase II and a bunch of the novelizations of the animated series (though if I’m honest, I prefer Blish’s novelizations of the old episodes to Alan Dean Foster’s animated episode novelizations). I have created massive databases of star systems and starships for my probably never-to-be-played campaign, created my own map of the Star Trek universe, made a nice little time line graphic of Starfleet, Klingon and Romulan vessels (at least, the one’s I think are cool) and have written a handy little campaign guide for prospective players.
The lesson here: Watch for a burnout (of any kind), and deal with it before you suffer it. That way, you don’t lose a thing you really love and value, plus maybe you pick up a new thing to enjoy along the way. That next issue of NOD will be published, and next year I’ll do my Deities book and maybe my Nodian Cosmos book and some issues of Nod, and I’ll do them because I gave myself a well-deserved break.
Next Week on My Trek: I’ll discuss some challenges and solutions to turning Trek into a playable campaign – specifically how you deal with tons of material that contradicts and conflicts (and, honestly, just doesn’t always fit into the same milieu despite being called Star Trek).
Good advice if we’ll only take it
9 thoughts on “My Trek I”
Glad to hear you’re on the mend. Did you ever play the Star Trek game for Commodore 64? Every game, it would randomly and procedurally generate a 10×10 grid of sectors (which were each made up of a 10×10 grid of spaces). Within each sector, there were always several stars, sometimes a Klingon or Romulan vessel, and occasionally a starport. Every game, you’d try to map as many sectors as you could, while trying to make sure to stop at starports to refuel, and fighting or avoiding the Klingons/Romulans. I don’t think there was really a way to “win” per say, certainly I always got killed by aliens, accidentally warped into the heart of a star, or just ran out of fuel and drifted away – but the open-ended exploration was always kind of cool.
Alas – I did not own a Commodore 64, just a Vic-20. Sounds like a fun game though.
I think this happens to anyone who does this stuff for a hobby. I know my megadungeon sat on the backburner for dang near 4 months before I got back to it. Sometimes you just need to smell the roses…or the tribbles in your case! Enjoy your break and come back to us when your ready to and not a moment before!
Only do this if you enjoy it. You have no duty to create cool RPG stuff. But is really cool and I enjoy what you do put out. I’m looking forward to seeing what you did with Trek!
I’m glad you’re feeling up to picking up NOD again – I was fearimg we’d seen the last one! You owe us fans absolutely nothing but every issue that fills in another part of your world is welcome and I’ll certainly keep buying them.
I have a few days off from work, so I might get NOD 35 published in the next couple days.
Hi Matt, this question is not Star Trek-related, but I was just curious if you were still kicking around the 1800 American Empire idea? Sounds incredible, and in line with the campaign I am starting. Unfortunately I’m nowhere near as creative as you, and I would definitely purchase that product if you ever make it available. Thanks, and keep up the awesome work!
I’d sure like to follow up on, probably as a supplement for Grit & Vigor. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get to it, unfortunately – could be 2019 or 2020.
You’ve produced an amazing amount of good material – feel free to take a vacation and try something else for a while!
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