Friday, July 29, 2016

Boldly Going!

I am almost never entirely serious about anything.

I am, as the song says, the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral.

I bring this up because most of my games and a lot of my stories start out as goofy parodies of things. Some of them got all the way to the end of their design cycle with the ridiculousness still intact (Fishing for Terrorists, Tiki Mountain), while others had most of it either pruned out or toned back to more reasonable, thematically appropriate levels (Kung Fu Fighting, En Garde: Honorable Combat for a More Civilized Age*).

And so it was for my Star Trek-inspired role-playing game.

My first notes for the game were, predictably, about silly things about the original series that I noticed.  Kirk tears his shirt open a lot!  Janice Rand has that weird basket thing on her head!  The special effects are a little dated and cheesy!  Those uniforms look like pajamas!

These observations weren't anything that millions of people hadn't already noticed in the fifty years since Star Trek first aired, but they were still amusing to me.  Because of this, the initial draft of the game was more of a loving parody of Star Trek (possibly in the vein of Galaxy Quest). Because of that, I decided on a snappy title for the game that conveyed its inherent ridiculousness: Velour and Go-Go Boots.

As mentioned above, a thing that happens with a lot of my projects happened with this game.  The longer I worked on it, the more I started to take it seriously.  The more I took it seriously, the more I began to rewrite the parody aspects of the game. Yes, there's still a rule about how you can tear open your uniform to reduce the damage of an attack, but that's because it's thematically appropriate to the setting, not because it's lol Star Track, amirite?

In addition, the more I watched the shows for inspiration for the game, the more I got into the mindset of Roddenberry and company.  Yes, there are plenty of goofy things in Star Trek, but it's also about fundamental optimism for the future of humanity.  We'll figure it all out eventually, says the show (and its attendant tie-in products).  We're basically good at our core.  Ever little thing is gonna be all right.

Wait.  That was someone else.

After a while, I got to the point where I became hesitant to continue referring to the game as Velour and Go-Go Boots.  Sure, it's a catchy title, and if you know anything about Star Trek, you know what the game is about before I describe it to you, but it's also a little too silly.  Quite a few people have thought that the game was a straight parody or just silly adventures in space.  That's not to say that it can't be, and that's not to say that I'll be staring disapprovingly over my glasses at people who want to play the game that way, but the game is no longer specifically designed to be for that.  So it needed a new name that reflected that new direction.

Unfortunately, I couldn't think of a name that wasn't painfully generic and would make it get lost on store or virtual shelves.  I think part of this has to do with the fact that I'm terrible at coming up with titles (see the workmanlike names I've given all of my books and stories for limitless examples). Space Patrol?  Already at least one game with that name.  Guardians of the Galaxy?  That sounds...really familiar? Oh, what if I just busted out my thesaurus and found alternate words for Star and Trek.  Like maybe Galaxy and Que...oh goddamnit!

It was about this time that several friends of mine started suggesting names to me (some out of the blue, some because I questioned them on it).  A number of them hit upon calling the game Boldly Go.  I really liked this idea.  It's obviously Star Trek (it's right there in the opening narration!), and it conveys that epic, exploratory feel that's a key component of all the shows.  Any time I think about the name, I imagine a vast starscape in my head and hear classical music start to play.

But then I got nervous. What if Paramount sues the pants off of me? Maybe I should go back to the drawing board.

It was at that point that Jonathan, my very wise friend, told me not to worry about it, for a host of reasons that are both obvious and too numerous to go into here. Suffice it to say that the game that was Velour and Go-Go Boots is now Boldly Go. There's 50% less Go in the title, but 100% more gravitas!

And this is probably the longest post to describe a product name change ever made. Hello, verbosity!  

*It's intellectually distinct from the En Garde role-playing game, which is why I'm contractually obligated to say the whole thing.

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