The Lazy Designer


I hate waiting. What I’ve enjoyed best with working on the game prototype is that I’m seeing immediate results. This is important to me.

The problem with the whole writing career thing, is that it involves plenty of waiting. Waiting for editors or agents to reply, waiting for accepted stories to appear (and sometimes, after a few years, finding out the magazine that bought them has folded), waiting for money and contributor copies to be sent to me (and sometimes having to follow up to get these things). Then there are the missed replies — stories/novels rejected without my receiving a reply and time spent waiting and never receiving the reply, until I finally query.

I enjoy writing. I enjoy seeing my work in print, and online. I enjoy receiving letters from readers who enjoyed what I wrote.

But man, I hate the waiting part of it! The only thing worse than the waiting itself, is the time wasted doing non-writing things, like sending out submissions! For example I just spend an hour and a half finding homes for four stories. More and more I’m simply retiring stories that haven’t found a home after a few submissions, because I so dislike wasting my time hunting down homes for them, especially after I’ve exhausted pro-paying markets. (While I’ve been thrilled to have stories included in certain smaller press magazines, the low payment makes me wonder if its worth submitting to them. Hence, many of the stories I’ve written in the past two years have been tossed into my retired folder instead.)

I’d just rather be writing new material than trying to sell my older work.

Along the same lines, I was seriously considering self publishing a couple story collections and a few of my novels recently, but then the idea for the “next book” popped into my head and I’m so excited by it that I don’t want to derail getting around to writing it. I know how much work it has been to publish the Lazy Designer books. I also know that my fiction really needs third-party editing… I’m an error-prone writer. So I scrapped those ideas too.

Anyways this is a bit of a ramble. Overall the game prototype has been a nice distraction (even if I’m starting to think it won’t amount to more than a hobby) when I’ve needed a break from writing, but I have so many writing projects on the go that I think over the next few months those will be my primary focus. I probably won’t do much programming, and most of the stories that come back to me, I think I’m just going to retire. Maybe they’ll be dredged up later for story collections, but for the time being, the writing itself needs to be the focus.

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.


  • James Paten

    Hey Brent! I can’t imagine how easy it is to feel frustrated in this kind of environment. Who knew leaving behind the corporate environment would still wind up resulting in hounding other groups to do their job? LOL

    It all really reflects the amount of effort and work ethic you need (and, from the sounds of it, are) to put in to be a successful professional writer.

    If you don’t mind answering, what platform are you making this prototype in? One of the free game engines like Unity? Flash? Java?

    Keep up the good work!

  • Brent Knowles

    Thanks, James.

    I’m using Unity. I’m fairly proficient with C#, so that’s one of the reasons I’m using it. I’ve had fun with the engine and I’ve been able to create lots of cool functionality but I’m a long way from being satisfied that I can develop worthwhile environments to explore — not technically but creatively, given the boundaries of the “game world” I’m toying with.

    But it has been quite flexible in terms of prototyping various forms of gameplay… very easy to play around with combat and control ideas. There are loads of effects I wanted to play around with at BioWare, that never made it into the games I worked on like Shrinking/Growing/Attaching/Magnetism/Gravity and Unity makes it rather simple to play around with stuff like that.

    Worst case I think I’m going to develop a game sandbox for my kids to play around with… making it easy for them to build simple pseudo-games with different kinds of effects.

  • James Paten

    I’m not sure if you’ve heard anything about Project Spark that debuted at E3, but it actually sounds a little bit like what you are describing – a pretty open game pallette that let’s you create your own game, with object, actor and environmental behaviors. It is pretty nifty looking to a guy like me.

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