I was listening to the latest Wingin' It podcast from Michael and Evo over at The Dragon Page, and one subject resonated with me on more than one level.
One of their listeners called in and asked for advice on getting published. Having read more than one self-help book on the publishing and film businesses, I already knew what Mike and Evo and Joe and Summer were going to say. And they said it.
Take your first novel, short story, screenplay, what have you, and stick it in a drawer. Take your second effort, and do the same thing. And your third. And your fourth. Then maybe, maybe you can take your next effort and send it to an editor. Not your spouse. Not your friends. Not anyone who likes you. Send it to someone who'll look at it and take it apart and tell you exactly where it sucks and ask you what the heck you were thinking when you wrote scenes 12, through 28, and what were you smoking when you wrote scenes 33 through 41?
You need someone who'll tell you that your dialogue is stupid and that NOBODY TALKS LIKE THAT (hello George Lucas), and where your plotting is full of holes, and where your characters are so paper thin that you can read the newspaper they're holding through the back of their head.
If you give your draft to someone to read, and they don't tell you any of the preceding, then you can discount that person's opinion. They're not helping you.
What's this doing on BoardGameBlog and not Everyday Insight you ask?
It's here because there are so many games out there that need this kind of editing. Sure, a flawed game can have a cult following. You can equate War of the Ring to The Matrix Reloaded - it thinks it's good and smart and has a lot of shiny bits to keep the kiddies interested, but once you look at it from a structure standpoint, it falls apart. You'll never convince the kiddies of that though because The Burly Brawl (all the dice rolling and the theme and action cards) was So Damned Kewl and it Roxxored!
Look at games that I can assume have gone through an editing process, like the stuff published by Hans im Glueck (Bernd Brunhoffer) and alea (Stefan Brueck). They tend to be "tighter" than the indy stuff from, say Friedemann Freise (see Funkenschlag and even Power Grid). That's the additional value that an editing process can give. It doesn't mean that every game they produce is perfect - alea can have Mammoth Hunters, just as JK Rowling can have The Prisoner of Azkaban. Even Reiner has his clunkers and those go through his own stringent editing process along with that of his publisher.
Yes, yes. I know. You write for your audience. People who read Danielle Steele won't likely be reading HP Lovecraft, just as people who enjoy the superficially-themed War of the Ring dicefest won't likely enjoy a luckless, chromeless-themed brainburner like Torres with all 10 Action Cards in hand.
In the end, all is subjective, and Britney Spears (with her legions of fans) is just as valid a recording act as Coldplay.