Link to my original post with the meme: https://thewubbaexperience.wordpress.com/2021/04/04/meme-i-made-about-my-journey-through-making-tapestry/
And here’s a close-up of the part of the meme I’ll be talking about today:
Ever since I was 7 years old, I wanted to be a game designer. But back then, I didn’t even know what a game designer really did. I sometimes thought of it as something done by manipulating a CD? Like how a fantasy blacksmith can hammer a crystal and give it powers. But, I knew that’s what I wanted to be.
I also wanted to a fantasy author, and I wrote my first story from start to finish at the age of 7 as well. And no, I can’t and won’t post it. It was bad. Real, real bad.
But for a long time, I didn’t ever *create* a game. I would write “design docs” of what I wanted to include in a game, what the character progression would look like, what the world would include, what you could do in it. But I had never built anything that could be tested.
In 2015, about three months after my dad died, I started a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I rustled a bunch of friends to meet one Saturday at my house, and we played together.
I will tell you right now that I had no idea what I was doing. But I learned along the way. And eventually I figured it out, from one campaign to the next.
Eventually, stuff happened and I stopped seeing that group. I won’t get into that now, but from 2016 when I stopped hanging out with them, to 2017 when I began TapestrY, I picked up another game as a player. And boy, I loved it!
This other game was made by my mutual friend Paul Kallen, and he had some really great ideas that I had never encountered before.
In the end of 2016, I formed another group of D&D players, and started a new campaign, and built an impromptu setting for it called “The Chronicles of Kythera.” Nevermind that “Kythera” is a real island, I just borrowed the name for the mini-continent that my campaign took place on.
One night, I lay awake thinking to myself, ruminating. And I had the thought: What if your Attribute was represented by a Die?
Now, this isn’t a particularly new idea, but this got my mind working into designing my own RPG. At the time, we called the RPG “TempRA” for “Temporary RPG Acronym.” And so I remade all of our characters into TempRA, which was *very* different from D&D. It was skill-based, not class-based, though you had a little box for “Class” where you could write anything you wanted, from “Martial Artist” to “Badass.” It had a completely different set of races, where instead of Elves and Dwarves, there were Sidhe, Lion-People, Bunny-People, and Turtle-People.
I will say right now that a lot of this didn’t make it into TapestrY as it is today. It’s still not class-based, it’s much, much farther from anything resembling a D&D clone, and the “race” system works way differently than it did in Chronicles of Kythera.
But let us digress for a minute into something that happened parallel to all of this:
I had a lot of self-hate in my life. A lot of self-loathing.
It all developed starting in Grade 6 where I was basically the class pariah. A “new kid” from another neighborhood who had just moved there, I was often treated like a cockroach. A lot of my insecurities that affected me in high school, college, etc. and that I had to overcome through therapy started here.
I was treated pretty poorly.
If someone said a funny joke and I laughed while everyone else was laughing, the joke stopped being funny because I laughed at it.
My classmates would make a big ritual of having to “bless” the things I touched to remove my “filth.”
People would draw some pretty nasty drawings of me, and then pass it around conspicuously enough so that I would see it, but not so much so that the teachers would find out.
I was subjected to belittling names and insults almost every single day. I was made fun of for everything from my weight, my laugh, my hair, my race, my religion, my face, my nerdiness, my taste in videogames, etc.
It got worse and worse from grade 7 into grade 8, got slightly better in grade 9, then became more covert for the rest of high school.
I could go very deeply into detail on what I went through, but I won’t, because I’m not telling you this for you to feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this to give you a perspective of my sense of self-worth as a child, a teenager, and a college student.
It was nonexistent.
Any pride or good feeling in who I was I put into my tastes in music, games, and books, the things my parents got me, the illusion of fitting in, and mostly achievements and being good at things: which of course, besides writing fiction, I had very little of. Oh, I wasn’t an unintelligent kid by any means. But I had no desire to try any harder than I needed to get the grade I wanted or rather, that my family would be accepting of. I often turned to videogames as something to sink my time into that wouldn’t make me feel less than for just existing.
I was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder in Grade 9, and was almost immediately put on medication and therapy. That’s a whole other can of worms to discuss most of my time in therapy, or how my peers viewed me going to therapy, but I won’t get into it.
In this time, I began to attach my sense of self-worth to whether or not I could get a date with a hot girl.
Part of this was that the foundation of the bullying I went through said that I was an unlovable, filthy, disgusting troll of a human being who would be the luckiest person in the world if non-family members ever deigned to give me the time of day.
And so, almost by instinct, I wanted to prove them wrong.
But how could I? I couldn’t. Because deep down, I believed them. Consciously, I was angry about it all. But some part of me grew to accept it.
In high school, I was rejected every single time I asked a girl out.
Ditto in college.
Then, a few months after graduating college, through online dating, I struck gold! I eventually started a romance with a girl I met on OkCupid. She was a lot like me: A huge gaming nerd, a Hindu (though she was a black South African woman, she was a Hindu), she was into spirituality, and she believed in me.
She was complementary to me too: she was short and chubby-thick and I liked that, I was average height and built like a hibernating bear which she liked. She was good at computer science which coincided with my desire to make videogames. And we would spend 6-10 hours a day talking to one another.
Sounded perfect, right?
I thought at that time that everything was going perfectly!
But it wasn’t. And it didn’t.
While the part of my ego that attached my sense of self worth to being romantically loved was stroked, a romantic relationship is a giant boatload of work. And I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to continue the relationship, so eventually I stopped seeing her.
During this time, nothing improved in my own mind. I didn’t feel less bad about myself. I didn’t feel less dipped in s&^*. I didn’t stop feeling less-than to the rest of life around me.
Frankly, if I were her, I would never have picked me. I don’t know what she saw in me at the time. Maybe she thought I was cute? I don’t know. But it was probably the best for both of us that we stopped being together. I have no hate towards her. She was a good person. I was just. Not ready for a romance. I hope she does forgive me one day, but it really was me, not her.
I then began my first job as a life insurance agent. And that lasted for about five months, until I realized I didn’t want to sell life insurance policies to the people I knew, and that wouldn’t be cool with the company I worked for.
I graduated college in 2017, and left the life insurance company in 2018. By the time I had left that job, I was out of work, with no girlfriend, and living at home. I realized at this point that I had no business trying to date people. I was well-put together on the outside, when I put the effort in, sure. But mentally, I was a mess. I hated myself. I hated living. And I realized that I would have to work on that, to let go of these feelings, before I had any business romancing anyone. And I also had to be someone before I could justify romancing someone.
One day after leaving that job, I looked at my Google Drive that contained the information for TempRA. And then, I thought “While I’m working on me and getting employed again, let me work on this, too.”
I met with one of my best friends, Colin. He had been in my D&D group, the RPG group with Paul Kallen, and he had been my first friend I made in college.
I asked Colin “What if we made the setting into like, history, but with monsters and magic in it? A historical RPG with fantasy and mythology being a part of it?”
I asked him if he wanted to help me design this game into something great. He agreed.
That’s when we became serious about making this game, that we now called “Sojourn.”
Stay tuned for more.