Project Parsec is a new web-based game that I’ve been working on recently. It will get a new name when it’s complete and launches, of course. The first reaction that I assume anyone would have is “What the hell does this have to do with writing fantasy novels?” I realize that it may come across as something completely different from my other projects, like the Supers & Sorcery fiction, or The Web of the Shepherds stories. I get that. Hell, it’s not even fiction.
In past blog posts and tweets, I’ve mentioned my history with roleplaying games and their connection with storytelling. I still find roleplaying to be an amazing way to experience storytelling in a collaborative and innovative environment. And the characters in your novel will never surprise you like the gamers around your table, that’s for sure.
Project Parsec is a roleplaying web app, allowing GMs and players to get together virtually and play their story-based RPGs, anytime and anywhere. This type of concept already exists in several popular and successful products, admittedly. However, they all rely heavily on desktop computers, webcams, headsets, virtual tabletops and extensive coordination of everyone’s availability. There is another niche of online roleplaying apps which throw these problems out the window and focus on asynchronous, chat-based interactions. You can use your desktop, sure, but the killer feature is being able to use your phone and participate on your own schedule. It’s a bit of an evolution on the play-by-post and play-by-mail game structures from the past, but more streamlined and convenient.
There aren’t a lot of options out there that provide this experience, but there seems to be significant interest by the gaming community. The way that Project Parsec ties into who I am as an author is as an extension of my brand of storytelling, which is the high-adventure pulp stories that often happen in roleplaying games. I want to create something that I would like to use myself so I get that interactive storytelling experience in a convenient form factor which accomodates my hectic daily routines.
At the core, it will simply be a chat application that is compartmentalized by gaming group where they can have player characters talking and acting in a world that is refereed by a Game Master. Players will need in-app character sheets and dice rolling, of course, so that will be there. But that’s the minimum of what a gaming group needs to play their D&D session, for example. Some might prefer having a battle map and miniatures (physical or virtual), but a lot of us are perfectly happy with the theater of the mind approach.
Beyond the core of this platform is where I think I can do a lot of innovating, including subsystems which perform some functions of the GM, or incorporating player-designed adventure modules for sharing, or living world campaigns based on the Supers & Sorcery property. Stay tuned as to how I integrate this with my future fiction!