Storium Theory: Happy Birthday, Storium

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on March 2nd, 2017.

Bit of a different post today.

March 1st, 2017, marked the one year anniversary of Storium‘s public launch. So for today, I thought I’d take a look back at what has happened over the course of the last year, since the public launch, both personally and in terms of the Storium system changes and updates.

Let’s start with Storium itself. I’m not going to list off every improvement, as that’s what the “What’s New” page is for – and there’s a lot on there, believe you me – but I’d like to go over what I’ve found most exciting or useful over the course of the year since launch.

First off, I have to mention Storium‘s free accounts. Free, limited access to Storium was one of the first things added with launch, and judging from the demand for beginner games, it has been quite a success. We frequently have new users coming on and popping in to beginner games (the “Games for Beginners” concept was made official during the year since launch too) to try the Storium system out, and I’m sure there are other users who will come on just to run games themselves or play with their friends (that’s how I started, too!). With a concept like Storium, which exists as a combination of system and website, linked together, it was very important to provide a “demo” experience of sorts so that players could experience what Storium had to offer before they decided to jump in. I hope that this will help Storium spread and help new players and narrators find this very interesting system – it’s a great experience, but it’s something that’s hard to explain until you really try it out yourself. Openness, I think, was pretty vital.

On the same note, Storium had a couple tutorials released which serve as effective and quick examples of the main concepts of narrating and playing. These are also very important with a system like Storium, and I think they’re executed quite well. They teach the basics and get players and narrators started. If you play one of the tutorials, I don’t think you’ll know everything there is to know about Storium…but you’ll be in a stronger position starting out than any of us were in the earlier days! It’s another thing that I think will make Storium more welcoming to new players, and hopefully will help them attract new users and really grow.

Third, I have to highlight the card settings customization that was added late in 2016 – the ability to modify the count of cards to be played each scene, the counts of Strength and Weakness cards players held, and things like that. While I think Storium‘s base rules work well, any good roleplaying system designer understands that people love to make house rules, both to tweak the system to suit their preferences and to create alternate takes on a system to suit a particular story idea or setting. I wrote about this in more detail a while back, so I’ll leave off there for now…but suffice to say, I look forward to exploring these settings more in the future.

I’m also thrilled at Storium‘s efforts to just make it easier to play. They’ve improved the interface in little and big ways, most notably for me being the ability to easily see every card you’ve played so far in the game when writing a new Wild card. I was always going back and checking my card plays in earlier scenes when I did that so that I could see what themes I’d brought up so far with my character, and now, I don’t have to go browsing – it’s all right there. Very handy.

But wait, there’s more! Achievements became a thing, as did word counts. Being able to get an at-a-glance look at just what you’ve accomplished on Storium – how much you’ve written, how many games you’ve finished, how many times you played with those wonderful, wonderful Subplot cards…it just feels good as you see those come up. It is a little thing, but something that I think can encourage people to keep going – to keep writing, to keep having fun, to keep striving for more.

And last but not least is the Art Library. Available to paid members only, the Art Library was released late in 2016 and provides a good selection of character and location images for use with a variety of settings. While I do hope that the number of pieces in it ultimately expands, I think it already provides a very useful resource for players and narrators – particularly if you are the sort who likes to seek out inspiration for your characters or stories in images, writing the story based on what you find. There’s a lot of nice, evocative art there that could end up quite useful for inspiration purposes.

Speaking personally, it really was quite a year! Soon after Storium‘s public launch, the Storium crew started up a Resources page with user-created helpful guides and tips, and I was honored that this blog here was chosen as one of the items listed on that page. It felt very good to know that the creators of Storium thought that I was providing a helpful service to the community, and I really hope that this blog has been of aid to those who were trying to figure out how best to use Storium or who were looking for some different techniques or concepts.

When I started out writing about Storium here, I had no idea that I would find as much to write on as I have! The system is mechanically simple – I thought I would be putting up a few little notes on how I ran my games, and calling it a day. I actually originally started out putting up a few notes on a web page that was going to be more about the games I’d run and characters I’d played, with 3 or 4 articles on Storium concepts. But as soon as I wrote the initial few articles, I found more and more topic ideas springing to mind.

At this time, counting this one, I’ve written 104 separate Storium Theory articles (108 articles on Storium overall, counting the few I’ve done that weren’t technically Storium Theory articles). I’ve never gone back to finish the web page idea that started it all – the theory, the philosophy, the concepts that I found to explore about Storium ended up so much more interesting. Storium is by far the topic I’ve written about most on this blog, and honestly, maybe the topic I’ve written about most in my life. Every time I think I’ve clearly explored things from every angle, I find something else I haven’t written about yet here. Admittedly, many of the topics I discuss end up being more about writing and roleplaying in general than things absolutely specific to Storium, but…I think it’s still amazing to think of the fact that a system, a concept that seems so simple on its surface, can result over a hundred different articles here.

There are still things I want to do with this blog that I haven’t yet explored. I want to highlight games on Storium that I don’t play in, for one thing – to go and start reading some and calling out some neat games here. I want to highlight more narration styles other than my own (I do have one interview up already, and I am in the process of getting a couple more completed). I’ve also long been thinking about providing audio versions of some or all of the articles, but haven’t managed to kick that into gear. And…while I certainly do talk about them already in tidbits in my articles, I’d honestly like to take the time to more properly highlight some of my favorite games that I’ve been in as a player. Finally, I know I want to pull together more Storium Starter concepts – going to make a real effort at that soon.

Outside the blog, I was interviewed by the Storium Arc podcast shortly before the public launch…and shortly after the public launch, I became a member of the podcast myself. I’ve since been on quite a number of episodes and I’ve found it a lot of fun. We have some great discussions on quite a wide spread of topics, and I’ve met some excellent Storium players and narrators through the podcast. The podcast’s 42nd episode was just released as of the time of writing (sadly, it was not about life, the universe, and everything). Here’s hoping for many more!

On the gaming front, I just recently completed my 20th game as a player or narrator…and 12 of those games were completed after the public launch of Storium. I’ve been pretty busy! I’m still engaged in a number of different games on Storium, and aside from regular gaming, I’ve been a part of the “Games for Beginners” mentoring program to welcome new players to Storium and help them learn the ropes. I’m trying to think of how to properly put up some “beginner”-oriented content on the blog here as well – I have a tendency to start spinning off into deeper-than-necessary topics every time I try to write those articles, but hopefully I’ll get there one day.

Storium, so far, has been a wonderful experience. It is a labor of love for the crew, and I appreciate the hard work that they’ve put in to making it as good an experience as can be. I’m looking forward to see what else comes of Storium in the future, and how far it can go.

All my best, and here’s wishing for your great success and many more happy years of writing and roleplaying on Storium!

Note: There will be no Storium Theory post next week as I will be on vacation – happy Storiuming, everyone!

Yes, that’s a verb now.