As I sit here waiting for laundry to dry, I've begun thinking about my gaming history and how I've changed within that span on time.
When I was new (a whopping 8 years old), I had been introduced to this whole new gateway for my creativity. While I was not well versed in Tolkien and other fantasy literature (and I'm still not), I had an active imagination, and with pencils, hex/graph paper, and crayons in hand, I began to make WORLDS. All sorts of worlds, spun whole cloth out of my head. Very few of these places made sense, and in fact, all are forgotten, but I do remember creating outdoor regions, and the dungeons and ruins that populated them. Timeless places of adventure that my friends and I could explore for days...
As I got older, I grew out of the "fantasy" bug. I still liked to roleplay, but, by the time I was sixteen, I was looking for different flavors like Top Secret or Paranoia. I eventually hit my stride with superhero games like Champions, but still dabbled in other things, just to keep the creative muscles limber.
In my twenties, I began to experiment with game mechanics and homebrew game systems. How things worked intrigued me, and after dissecting numerous different systems, I came to the conclusion that I could do as well as anyone else. Systems, themselves, though, are boring as dirt. Without the meat hanging from the skeleton, all games look like the same thing... ...just bones. As a result, I became good at placing drapes in the window, making games with just enough background to make characters, but not enough to withstand true scrutiny. In my development of design, that's where I've stayed for the last fifteen or so years...
I've come up with many cool settings, but have never fleshed any of them out to be truly workable... Settings like...
Ones & Zeroes -- A take on the 80s-esque cyberpunk of Gibson, Sterling, and Williams. Elements include the stratified sections of New Madrid (Lowtown, Midtown, and Hightown), the Steel Ceiling, the Crystal Tower, as well as typical cyberpunk body modifications.
Commuters -- Time-traveling criminals who work for a futuristic government agency whose mission is to fix anomalies to history, or die trying.
Nightcrawlers -- A world much like our own, where the things that go bump in the night really do go bump in the night.
Tai'eres -- A human-centric fantasy world (think Conan) that's been invaded by crystalline aliens. The invasion has been beaten back, but in its wake Tai'eres was left with the keys to unlock the full potential of the land.
There are about half a dozen others on the hard drive (Division 6, Slidesteps, Surreality, Thump-AIIIEEEE!!!!, just to name a few), but none of them have much more than notes sketching out what they are supposed. With those notes *I* personally can run adventures, but anyone else will draw a complete blank.
I'm forty-four now, and somewhere I've lost the ability to create worlds. I can still run things with my few notes, and have a great time doing so, but I want more. I want what I was once able to do on command. Create worlds without my intellect getting in the way and bogging things down in details.
How do other people deal with that?