Interview with David Ball about Blue Dwarf, going 13 years strong…
So David, give us a little introduction to Blue Dwarf. I assume it is related to the classic Red Dwarf Television show?
It’s based on a British TV show called Red Dwarf which is a scifi comedy about a small group of characters adventuring in space, trying to survive. When I started Blue Dwarf I wanted a game that had the same feel, but didn’t want to be limited to the few main characters, so used the same universe and set the game on a similar ship, the Red Dwarf’s sister ship. This gave us free reign, and didn’t spoil the story we already knew about the TV show’s main characters. But it also gave us the advantage that fans of the show knew what to expect.
How did Blue Dwarf begin? Been going for many years now hasn’t it?
Yep, we started Blue Dwarf in April 2000, a year after Red Dwarf series 8 aired. Like many Red Dwarf fans I was hungry for more – and didn’t want to wait the next eventual 10 years for a new series. I was at college at the time, and created it with a friend who was also a Red Dwarf fan, and recruited another.
I’m really pleased we’ve managed to keep it going for as long as it has. I’m still really enjoying it!
What came first, Blue Dwarf or Ongoing Worlds?
Blue Dwarf was many years before OngoingWorlds. I launched OngoingWorlds in 2010, after using Yahoo Groups to host Blue Dwarf for 10 years, I was fast realising that Yahoo Groups wasn’t exactly the best experience for roleplaying. They had nowhere to put character information, so I’d already created a system on a separate Blue Dwarf website to allow users to login and add a character profile. After a while I thought it’d be a good idea to create a system not just for Blue Dwarf members to do this, but for people of all games too.
Yahoo also hadn’t updated their groups system in years, and the business didn’t seem to be doing well. They’d started closing down services, and could pull the plug on Yahoo Groups at any moment so in 2011 I moved Blue Dwarf across to OngoingWorlds, which involved an export and import of over 13,000 posts!
Where do you see OngoingWorlds going next?
Well that’s up to the feedback I receive from members. Already it’s got more options to than Yahoo Groups and most forum roleplays, as it gives you control over editing your characters, and it allows GMs to organise player characters into groups, and edit the options they ask new members when they sign up.
As OngoingWorlds is a bespoke system, it can literally go anywhere. If anyone wants to request a feature, send me an email.
As for Blue Dwarf, the story just keeps continuing! With a new series of Red Dwarf, there’s been a resurgence in interest in Red Dwarf, and so we’ve had some new members, and our existing members are constantly improving the quality of their storytelling, which is excellent! Even after 10 years, we’re still producing interesting new types of stories. We’ve also started producing a podcast, where our members read aloud some of the stories we’ve written. Obviously starting from the stories written way back in 2000 when Blue Dwarf began would have given us an enormous amount of work, so we’ve decided to start from March 2011. If you’d like to listen to the podcast, search on iTunes for “Blue Dwarf” or add the feed here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/BlueDwarf
Any regrets? 🙂
I suppose my only regret is that rarely we have a bit of RL drama between members – as all play-by-post games do – when people are passionate about something! And I haven’t always been quick enough to nip the problem in the bud and alleviate tensions. Being a GM of a game is really hard work, you spend a lot of time going back and forth between members, checking everything is ok, getting different people’s opinions, mediating discussions, disciplining people if they’ve done something wrong (tbh I’ve very rarely had to do this, cos my players are usually very open-minded).
So how can people get involved?
As with all games on OngoingWorlds, go to the game’s homepage and click the “Join this game” button. You’ll have to create a profile for your character, which we’ll look at and assess before letting you join.