So I've got a new contract for my RPG History book. It's got a scheduled completion date of February 28, 2011--which means that it'll hopefully be out somewhere between GenCon and Christmas next year. That's way, way in the future, because I didn't want to run myself into the ground this time around (and you can witness the fact that I did last time by the fact that it took me years
to even want to contemplate the book again).
As a result, I've been more actively glomming on to stuff that I think might be useful for the book and reading it. The first such major work is Dungeons & Desktops
, a history of computer roleplaying games by Matt Barton. I was alerted to its existence by RPG Examiner
, Michael Tresca. (Go forth and give him clicks; he looks at a variety of interesting RPG things on a regular basis.)
The book does a very good job of extensively crawling through every major computer roleplaying game ever, with brief stops with MUDs and MMORPGs. It does a little less of a good job of actually being interesting. The dig-through-every-game bit tends to occasionally result in page after page of dross, which might have been useful in an encyclopedia, but not a historical book. The methodology also sometimes manages to obscure the first-movers by talking so much about everything else.
And I think those are all good lessons for my own book too, though as I recall in my drafts I manage to talk more about the whys, hows, and wherefors than the whats.
(And I didn't really care about the sometimes boringness of Dungeons & Desktops
, because if dull stuff was about non-RPG-industry games, I just skipped it.)Dungeons & Desktops
did suggest to me a variety of useful topics. I hadn't know, for example, that Paragon Software was pretty deep in bed with GDW, publishing games for Space: 1889
and Twilight: 2000
, not just Traveller
. I also now have a really nice and extensive list of D&D games and some of their stories dovetail nicely into the story of TSR's own fall.
So I've got about a week until the book is due back to the library to write about computer topics while I have a good reference on hand. I plan to get started with a revision and update of TSR tonight (or rather a start of that, as the TSR article is novella sized as I recall). It'll be the first active writing I've done on the book in years (minus a revision I did to two of the articles when I pitched it to the new publisher).