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Title: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 28, 2005, 11:16:46 AM
Hello,

I am over a month behind schedule for the November round of the Ronnies feedback. Everyone has been very patient with me, which I appreciate.

The real problems with being so late don't concern convenience and attention, however. What I've done is screw up the Ronnies plan. The plan was to have three rapid rounds to establish a standard of thinking, feedback, and awards. Then I wanted to scale back the efffort to every other month, but in hopes of fostering an ongoing Ronnies-like culture of game design and play which would persist between them, and with any luck, eventually, without them.

However, I broke the rhythm, at the worst point - creating a gap between the effort/enthusiasm, which at the start of the third round was extremely high, and the feedback/attention, which as I say wasn't ever supposed to be the real point, but it is the necessary primer. It's a big problem.

The point of the Ronnies was never to establish myself as a high judge of the quality of game design (and fortunately folks have not looked at them that way), but rather to inform people in the most practical way possible that they, too, could write games that they wanted to play. I also intended the awards to foster a community of mutual interest in one another's games, as well as to be plain fun.

So I have a request for you. It is to try to recall the interest and enthusiasm that brought your attention to the November Ronnies, whether as an author or an observer/reader. Let's see if we can keep this going despite my delay. Without further ado ...

THE RESULTS

HIGH RONNY - No need to explain what this category means.

General Mud

LOW RONNY - These are games that fulfill the conditions for a Ronny award, but presented minor points of confusion or points of frustration for me.

apocalypse girl, White Dragon, Holodomor, Krasnoarmeets, October's Shadows

RUNNERS-UP - These games are playable and generally good, but include a deal-breaker of one kind or another for me. I hate this category; every one of the games has merit and putting them here always wracks me with guilt.

The Long Patrol, Mud Dragon, Bylina & Bogatyr, A Song Without End, The Dragon vs. the Gun

BAKE IT, BETTY - These games score very high on my enthusiasm to play, but present fundamental design issues that require some correcting or adjustment across the board, i.e., throughout their systems. Playing them would require me, at least, to do some interpretative re-writing.

On the Ecology of the Mud Dragon, Dragons of Blood and Water, Defenders of the Union

GREAT NON-RPGS - As with both of the previous rounds, some of the entries ring my personal "not an RPG" bell, but I also think they are great starting designs for fun games - perhaps along the Cheapass model, or any other sort of cool non-standard board or card game. If the Ronnies were about "games" rather than "RPGs," these would be winners or near-winners.

Here Be Dragons!, Serpentine Thunder, The Saint's Golem and the Devil's Dragon, Stand Off!, Soviet Politics

GAME NOTION UNDER WAY - These entries all present excellent ideas for play and design, but at present, don't hold together as playable packages, at least not for me. However, I want to identify their strong features for the next stage of design.

Infinity, Delete, Stalin's Story, Dirty Virgins, Firestarter

Some observations
great spread across combinations
notice winners were mainly among newcomers!
14 out of 24 were new; in October round, 20 out of 26 were new
much higher bar this time; people are learning

Difficulties
For this batch in particular, it was incredibly hard to keep the games straight in my head, as they shared many similarities among techniques, terms, and meanings - yet not in the same combinations. So I'd be thinking, "OK, Dogs/dice mechanic, was this the one with the Soviet spies or the one with the politics?" Or, "OK, mud as slander, was this the one with the hidden cards to turn over, or is it the one with slander but not mud?" 

Some of the things which flew back and forth among these 24 games like bats include the finking/slander issue, Connections, Endgame, Escalation, Fact Tokens, and above all within-game, make-or-break judgments upon one another's characters and sometimes upon players.

The terms were far more evenly distributed across entries than in previous rounds, too.

soviet + dragon, 3 games
soviet + mud, 4 games
soviet + gun, 4 games
dragon + mud, 6 games
dragon + gun, 4 games
gun + mud, 3 games

Dragon + mud only pulled ahead in the last few days of the submission period, too.

I became interested in how the meanings of the term played out, especially because they were so divergent yet also fell into distinct categories. Here's my tally:

dragon = chaos principle 1, big magic lizard 8, dangerous unknown 1, satan/hell 2, psychic powers 1
gun = reason principle 1, literal weapon 7, mystic weapon 3
mud = knee-deep landscape 5, dissolution/confusion/death 3, slander 3, honest naturalness 2
soviet = grim society 3, spy game 2, Stalin 3, comedic 2, war/history 1

I was pretty impressed at how diverse and interesting "mud" turned out to be, much like "rat" in the September round. Not too surprising, I guess, given the idiomatic diversity the words simply have in English, but it's nice to see it expressed across the designs.

I'll begin posting about individual games in Indie Game Design tomorrow. I hope to hit a pretty good pace for that.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Frank T on December 28, 2005, 12:18:47 PM
Does, by any chance, the mentioning of "Mud Dragon" refer to my entry, "Mud Planet"?

- Frank


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 28, 2005, 01:40:43 PM
Oops.

Yes, that is Mud Planet.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ben Lehman on December 28, 2005, 02:14:27 PM
Yay!  Congrats to the winners and I look forward to the feedback.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: hix on December 28, 2005, 04:08:33 PM
Well done to everyone who entered! Can't wait to read more about the games and - hopefully - contribute something to the feedback.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Troy_Costisick on December 28, 2005, 05:04:06 PM
Heya,

No prob on the delay, I'm just glad to see the results.  Big congrats to all the winners!  Can't wait to read the reviews.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Iskander on December 28, 2005, 05:30:06 PM
Yay! How very exciting and surprising. Congrats to all (not least Ron for working through all the submissions while travelling to Berlin, during the holiday season. Oy.)

I hope to fulfill the rest of the deal and contribute meaningful feedback on all the submissions just as soon as I stop doing a mental Snoopy happy dance. I'm most happy because I think it means I've internalised some of the great and good theory I've been ready avidly for the last year or so. Huzzah!


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Tobias on December 29, 2005, 12:12:24 AM
Thanks for that, Ron.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: TonyPace on December 29, 2005, 01:49:56 AM
I know 'me toos' are frowned on, but I must also do the little dance of joy and agree that I've got to step up and make sure I give good feedback for all the entrants.

As for the delay - well there's been a lot of fire and motion on the Forge, in my life and even in my game design. Yes, the delay robs us of a little bit of momentum, but I think that the delay past the holidays makes it credible for us to begin serious work on publishing.

And a personal goal for the next round - convince one of my friends to make an entry.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Malcolm Craig on December 29, 2005, 03:32:26 AM
Great stuff. Well done as always to the winners and I'm looking forward to seeing how the feedback turns out for my own effort.

Cheers
Malcolm


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 29, 2005, 05:46:29 AM
All right, all right, thank you for your enthusiasm, but let's see it expressed by reading one another's games, responding to the feedback threads, and starting your own threads. Maybe even some actual play, eh?

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Troy_Costisick on January 02, 2006, 09:37:24 AM
Heya Ron,

Here's the question I always ask ya, because I find it all so interesting that one person would take it upon himself to help an entire comunity like you do.  I'd like to hear your feelings about the Ronnies so far and about what it means to you personally to have so many people participate, respond, and applaud your efforts.  Certainly it must be exhausting to read 20+ entries, but I detect an increase in enthusiasm and optimism in your feedback posts for this batch over October's.  Of course that could just be my own perception of things, but I'd like to hear your side.  Do you feel this contest is accomplishing what you wanted?  Is it helping the Indie scene in a way that you hoped, or is it still too early to tell?

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 02, 2006, 11:14:30 AM
Hi Troy,

Before anyone nominates me for the Altruist Sweepstakes, let's remember that Adept Press sales rely on my own presence and efforts toward the community as least as much as they do on word-of-mouth and experience of play. I want to get that front-and-center in addition to saying "thank you" to the compliments I've been receiving about the Ronnies.

Answering your question requires several responses, some of which might seem independent at first.

1. In the world of ideas, it might surprise people to know that my key concerns in RPG design are Color, reward systems, and Currency - all very techniques/ephemera oriented. In other words, brutally practical. I originally wrote "System Does Matter" as an orienter toward the eventual goal of discussing these things and applying them in new ways.

In other words, I considered, and still consider, GNS to be a no-brainer - obvious, clear, and simple. However, it took almost six years and the construction of the Big Model in order to explain it to the Body Internet. As far as I'm concerned, all that effort was a detour. I wanted to discuss Color, reward systems, and Currency. It is extremely frustrating to me to be labeled the "theory guy" and for a bevy of self-perceived young turks to congratulate themselves for getting "practical" as a form of rebellion. Inevitable, socially speaking, I suppose, but aggravating, especially for the author of such practical designs as Sorcerer and Elfs, and especially since I dug deep into the mechanics to help out many young turks with their games when they were pretty crappy drafts.

Now, the Ronnies permit me to get my hands dirty, at last, very publicly. I can illustrate the questions that need to be asked, and especially - especially! - illustrate that game design can begin from nearly any starting point (level, detail, etc) of what will eventually be the finished product. There is no "start here" on the board, in terms of techniques or procedures. The only really reliable one (and it's not universal) is Color.

2. In the world of enjoyment as a role-player, Paul Czege and I shared a major frustration by 2004. We missed the time about five years ago when we'd cruise through the internet and find cool little RPGs sitting there like islands, play them, and blow the author's mind by giving feedback. "Wow! Someone played my game? I didn't put it up there for nothing?" And for us, it was the best way to discover and consider what did and didn't work in given systems, and also to consider what issues needed to be addressed for a given game-in-draft. It was amazing what system innovations you might find sitting in some little crappy HTML Geocities webpage, as well to identify the crust of previous assumptions that were now so obviously mismatched and unnecessary. Does anyone here remember Ghost Light, by Doug Bolden? You should.

So the Ronnies are a way to get back there, and to remove the whole bullshit notion that the hobby is divided into Piddly Players and Noble Designers. Inspiration + Guts + Thought = a game to play, and Paul and I, and then Clinton when he joined the conversation, agreed that in early 2005, we'd had a bellyful of design that was based on solely on a debased form of Thought alone. It was time to get the Forge back to discovering the Inspiration simmering out there.

3. In the social/creative world, the current hobby is a cottage industry, and in such industries, mutualism is the key. People talk about the "Forge community," and the biggest internal steps to getting there so far were (a) the publication of the big essay ("GNS and other matters of role-playing theory"), (b) establishing the GenCon booth, (c) the Infamous Five essays,and (d) the Iron Game Chef contests. The trouble with all of those is that they facilitated people playing insider-ego status games on each other, and facilitated newcomers to exclude themselves unnecessarily ("Oh, I'm just a newbie," etc).

So we needed a new step. Clinton and I have annual powwows about what to do with the Forge, and every time, we've implemented our ideas successfully. 2005 was the year of stripping-down the forums, encouraging the Diaspora, recovering our original sense of snarling determination, getting a little clearer about ourselves at the personal level to all of you, and emphasizing our expectation of mutualism. You can review our posts throughout this last year in that light, and you'll see it.

That mutualism was the toughest one; no one can make anyone else want to help others. The Ronnies are a kind of reversed way of fostering it - people see me being mutualistic, and join in. It looks like a me-centered thing, but ultimately, it's clear that one man cannot, alone, review and play and help with all these games, even if we did restrict ourselves to the winners (which we shouldn't). People can see that they simply have to help, or they won't themselves get the real feedback they need.

4. I have been tremendously impressed by the Iron Game Chef and the 24-Hour RPG endeavors. Mike Holmes' work on the first was stellar, and the first round of the latter produced great stuff. However, by 2005, I was a little dissatisfied with both. The power was still there, but not the quantity and simple clarity that I'd hoped for.

The former had become "twee," with tons of terms and constraints that seemed messy to me rather than elegant. Yet it still produced a small number of awesome designs ... not enough, in my view, but the awesomeness was there. And it did indeed facilitate the "newcomer from the canebrake" effect, most dramatically Tim Kleinert and The Mountain Witch. And the latter, after an amazing start, trickled into a kind of desultory, low-yield endeavor, especially because people were making it harder than it had to be.

So, I took the elements I liked the best from each. From Iron Game Chef, I hooked the choose-from-terms idea, which I thought was great, but boiled into a more concentrated form; I wanted more thematic/Color unity among the entries rather than less, because interpretation of something like "rat" is what Inspiration is composed of. Four terms in combos of two seemed perfect. I also hooked the whole idea of a contest, because the competitive angle is important ... but as you can see, I muted it by making the Ronnies less about beating others and more about being good. I also decided to own the judging wholly myself, thus accepting that any subjectivity was simply up-front and unavoidable. Oh, and I added the money to give the whole thing bite ... you see, I mean it.

From the 24-Hour RPG, I took the whole basic concept, obviously, similar enough to be able to boost the success of that site through the awards. But I also wanted to emphasize what I saw as the primary opportunity of the idea, which is this: getting the whole vision of one's game into one place, in relatively few pages, is actually not all that hard. The hard part is getting over the mistaken and humpbacked misapprehensions that persist out there, even after six years of the Forge in place, about how to write a game.

Even more importantly, this little document is eminently usable. It may have holes, but you know where the holes are. It may have fucked-up mechanics, but you can see how they need to be fixed because the other parts are in place. I was deadly sick of projects like Fang Langford's Scattershot, in which he wrote and scribbled and re-tooled and refined, yet ignored the big picture because it was somehow too vast or too amazing ever to profane by being written out simply. I was similarly sick of projects like Jonathan Walton's notions, which as I saw it, got tangled up in deconstructive self-reference without ever actually becoming a set of 1-2-3 do-this procedures. My mantra is, fucksake, summarize in ten pages. Who cares if it's not all detailed yet? If I can see the bigger reward system, grasp the Currency, and get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play (think about that one!), then the hard work is over, and it's all playtesting and refinement from here.

Whew! I didn't write this big fuckin' post for myself, people. I already knew all this. I wrote it for you, so let's see what you think. Post a response about what part of it resonated with you, and why, or what parts you disagree with or think are misapplied in some way.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Judd on January 02, 2006, 11:27:35 AM
Inspiration + Guts + Thought = a game to play

There it is for me.

I haven't entered anything into the Ronnies just yet but it has created the itch.  I want to make a game and play it.



Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Troy_Costisick on January 02, 2006, 12:01:46 PM
Heya,

Quote
which is this: getting the whole vision of one's game into one place, in relatively few pages, is actually not all that hard. The hard part is getting over the mistaken and humpbacked misapprehensions that persist out there, even after six years of the Forge in place, about how to write a game.

-This is what it was for me.  I could only conceptualize HUGE games with tons of needless bullcrap and totally unfocussed play and reward systems.  Writing Cutthroat was the best thing that ever happened to me as a designer.  After that, I realized just how easy it is to come up with all the critical parts of a game and get it down on paper.  I now have to stop myself from coming up with new ones all the time just so can concentrait on the three I do have and get them finished.  The hard part, as I see it, is the revision-playtest-revision-playtest cycle.  Once I get that down, look out!

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Frank T on January 02, 2006, 04:03:58 PM
I like that part about just picking games up and playing them. I so wish I had two, just two, freaks like me at hand that would do that with me on a regular basis. Four hours face to face on a Sunday afternoon, and not two hours on a Wednesday evening via Skype while stressed out from work. I can already name the first half-dozen of Ronny games I would love to try out that way. I'm trying to initiate some "hardcore playtesting weekend" event, but that won't happen until march.

- Frank


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Arturo G. on January 02, 2006, 05:52:38 PM

First, I'm with Frank. Many posts in The Forge in general produce me a terrible envy, or at least the feeling that I missed something really relevant to me during so many years before arriving here and re-discovering both, role-playing and my determination to design games. My Tuesday's 3-hours evenings are getting more or less regular, but it is not enough. For example, I'm still trying to find a slot to playtest my own October Ronnies entry for the second time. The paragraph which begins with "2. In the world of enjoyment as a role-player" really touches me deeply.

I should also say that the Ronnies really helped me to do the jump and understand that anyone with a clear idea of what he wants to play can begin a game quickly writting down the main concepts, and that such an effort also helps to fix up the ideas about it.

About the mutualistic effort, I understand it is a basic part of The Forge dynamics. I'm always having the feeling that I'm not finding enough time to really participate and do my little part.

Cheers,
Arturo


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Callan S. on January 03, 2006, 07:53:19 PM
Hi Ron,

Quote
Then I wanted to scale back the efffort to every other month, but in hopes of fostering an ongoing Ronnies-like culture of game design and play which would persist between them, and with any luck, eventually, without them.
In terms of feedback, everything looks good apart from this founding stone. It's doomed. Essentially the Ronnies are like a group forming to play an RPG "Hey, I'm saying I'm really excited about running that thing (ie, game) where we all make games". The enthusiasm is like the rock that starts off other rocks in an avalanche.

I think you described your own motives as not altruism, but as a support for selling your own games. But if the Ronnies is like a game you've designed, what reward have you concoted for other people apart from yourself, to initiate a game/start an avalanche? What's in it for them?

PS: I've written a post in the past which was interpreted to have a 'GOTCHA!' tone. I hope this doesn't. In fact, I'm sadly remembering a fragmenting club from my past as I write - a bit different, of course. But the guy kept expecting it to just run by itself - that others would do as he did to keep it going, even though they didn't share the same motives.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 03, 2006, 08:58:27 PM
Callan,

You've misinterpreted the text you've quoted, I think.

The only perpetuation I hope for after the Ronnies are over (as I can't do them indefinitely, obviously) is for an improvement in the culture, the general dialogue, of game design. I said, a Ronnies-like culture, not for people literally to run contests like the Ronnies. In such a culture, what's in it for any given person is exactly the same, for everyone - heightened quality of discourse, heightened attention to one's own works in reciprocal fashion, and heightened awareness of multiple possible connections and comparisons among a far-flung community of experimental (and inspiration-heavy) game design.

I will mar the dialogue with a moderator point, unfortunately. Despite your disclaimer, your post, when viewed as communication as opposed to whatever internal intent you had, does stink of "gotcha." Remember, I do not care about your intent. I only care about the text as communication. You were aware of this enough to feel the need to post the disclaimer, and actually, that ought to have been your warning to reconsider posting at all.

I do appreciate your effort to see my points clarified, and I do recognize that challenging points is one way to do that. Next time you feel that feeling, a couple hours of downtime and a full rewrite will ensure that you can challenge them in a way that is up-front and effective, without giving off that smell.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: GreatWolf on January 03, 2006, 10:29:35 PM
Quote
If I can see the bigger reward system, grasp the Currency, and get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play (think about that one!), then the hard work is over, and it's all playtesting and refinement from here.

Especially as I have Trollbabe perculating in my head right now, this clicked with me.  As you mentioned (somewhere), Trollbabe chargen is essentially all Color.  As I noted to my players, even the selection of your Number is just shifting around Effectiveness.  However, it was an eye-opener to see my players putting a lot of thought into hair color and horn type.  Sure, it had no hard "numbers on the paper" impact, but, in another way entirely, it was the Color details that completely set apart these two characters.  As I type, I'm realizing that there's a lot of this in Legends of Alyria, too, but I hadn't really thought about it that way before now.

Also, in the German boardgaming community, there's this ongoing debate about the importance of "theme".  Given that boardgaming "theme" = RPG Color, I'm taking all my opinions about theme and making all sorts of connections in my head.....

So, anyways, this is the bit that connected for me.  And, for the record, I'd be interested in further discussions of the place of Color in RPG Design.  I'll see if anything turns up in my next AP reports.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 04, 2006, 06:24:52 AM
Hi Seth,

A blast from the past: Need information for my Alyria session (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=1943.0). Can you see that I really needed Color as a means of invoking Setting during play, rather than raw Setting, in the traditional sense?

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: GreatWolf on January 04, 2006, 05:05:17 PM
Yep.  My recent experience with Polaris (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17958.0) really drove this home.  Makes me wonder if the text of our roleplaying games need less Setting and more Color.

But that's probably already an obvious point.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Callan S. on January 04, 2006, 06:27:23 PM
Hi Ron,

I did missinterpret. I think what your aiming for will happen. Are you going to use any benchmarks for judging how effective it is, or sort of see how it goes?

On the moderating note: There's supposed to be this "My brow is furrowed, I'm concentrating hard" passion in the previous post to show I'm invested in it. But there's a failure in the wording I reflexively reach for to convey that passion. Point taken and thinking on it.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 04, 2006, 08:01:11 PM
Hi Callan,

Benchmarks - interesting question. No, I don't think I have anything specific in mind. I'm open to what the Forge can do, given the prompting or seeding or whatever the Ronnies might be called, whatever it might be.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 06, 2006, 08:08:37 AM
Hiya,

Over in [Defenders of the Union] Ronnies feedback (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=18163.0), Rob wrote,

Quote
Ron, you say you were hoping to see some nuances within the Left appear in this round's games - and I remember you saying back while the contest was still on that you wondered if the entries would support some dialogue as it relates to gaming and Left politics. So can I ask, did you see what you expected? Any thoughts on the treatment of Soviet politics in the games of this round in general? (I can take the question elsewhere if this is the wrong place for it.)

Across the submitted texts, I guess I see mainly potential rather than power - a lot like the "girlfriend hate" entries in the first round. Clearly people have stuff to say and stuff to pose as questions, but many stumbling blocks exist. Some are real-world social ("uh oh, if I write a game about how much a guy hates his girlfriend, then I better back it up with a gender-reversed mirror") and some are hampered by RPG design assumptions ("better lighten this up by making it alternate-history").

So I think it's still too early to tell. I'd like to see a lot of the games developed further and played, and for the real dialogue to blossom among the creators, players, and readers. This "real dialogue" wouldn't be a full-on political debate, which is better suited to blogs and other websites, but rather a solid step into RPG design that's about real stuff, and quite likely politically and internationally diverse.

I also don't want to overlook the other excellent potential in this round, specifically the bevy of fascinating "mud dragon" games. The weird thing is that most of them were really strong runners-up, but none of them got the award ... not really what I was expecting even after I'd read them all and taken notes, but when the time came to bite the bullet and slot all the games into groups, that's how it turned out.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on January 06, 2006, 08:43:45 AM
Could you give us a more detailed breakdown of how games "clustered" around certain sets of meanings and/or mechanics, e.g. the potentially intriguing but as-yet overcautious Soviet political games, or the cool but not quite there "mud dragon" games? I'm particularly hoping for you to follow up on this comment from your earlier post:

For this batch in particular, it was incredibly hard to keep the games straight in my head, as they shared many similarities among techniques, terms, and meanings - yet not in the same combinations. So I'd be thinking, "OK, Dogs/dice mechanic, was this the one with the Soviet spies or the one with the politics?" Or, "OK, mud as slander, was this the one with the hidden cards to turn over, or is it the one with slander but not mud?"  Some of the things which flew back and forth among these 24 games like bats include the finking/slander issue, Connections, Endgame, Escalation, Fact Tokens, and above all within-game, make-or-break judgments upon one another's characters and sometimes upon players.

I'd love to see either
a) your catalogue of the recurring game-mechanical (e.g. "Escalation") or imaginative-content elements (e.g. "Soviet politics"), or combinations of elements, saying what you find cool/significant about this particular pattern showing up so much, and then listing which games include that element (e.g. "Escalation is cool 'cause of this, and it shows up in Game A, Game B, Game C, and sort of in Game D.")
b) your list of the games annotated with which of the recurring features each one manifests (e.g. "Game A has Escalation, Mud-as-Slander, and giant fiery lizards; Game B has Escalation, Mud-as-Slander, Soviet politics, and Fact Tokens").
c) whatever categorization you actually already did in your own notes to help yourself think this through.

My particular personal interest is that so far, my apocalypse girl seems to be out on its lonesome instead of falling clearly into a larger group, especially in terms of mechanics (i.e. no other Capes derivatives), although its content has some slant-rhyme similarities to the apocalyptic clash of iconic figures in Dragon vs. the Gun and Golem vs. Dragon. Obviously the cladistics aren't going to be obvious, natural, and immutable, but seeing the patterns would be really interesting.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 06, 2006, 08:51:10 AM
Hi Sydney,

I have notes that speak to this question in detail, but to write it up as an essay/thread for others, I must say, "I'm not paid enough for that right now." You'll do fine just reading them over yourself and building your own summaries.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Rob MacDougall on January 06, 2006, 09:34:09 AM
Ron wrote:
Quote
Clearly people have stuff to say and stuff to pose as questions, but many stumbling blocks exist. Some are real-world social ("uh oh, if I write a game about how much a guy hates his girlfriend, then I better back it up with a gender-reversed mirror") and some are hampered by RPG design assumptions ("better lighten this up by making it alternate-history").

Moving from Soviet history to alternate history isn't necessarily a case of ducking the question, is it? It could be a way of opening up the range of possible interpretations. In the same way that Dogs in the Vineyard steps back a little from being a game about real-life Mormons. People may have already decided what they think about the real-life USSR and be pretty fixed in their views. With the alternate-USSR in Defenders of the Union, for example, or the farm in General Mud, there's room for players to decide in play whether the place is a worker's paradise, an abbatoir, or something in between. That said, I do also feel the urge to step back from a head-on examination of Stalinist Russia, and maybe that is just using genre as a security blanket. I respect Holomodor for what it takes on, but I'm not in a big hurry to play it on a Saturday night.


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on January 06, 2006, 09:39:52 AM
I have notes that speak to this question in detail, but to write it up as an essay/thread for others, I must say, "I'm not paid enough for that right now."

[annoyingly persistent] "Not right now" = "maybe in a week or two, if I get around to it" or "bloody never" or "somebody else take a stab at it and I'll comment"? [/annoyingly persistent]


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 06, 2006, 02:19:45 PM
How about, "You do it, Sydney." That works perfectly.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: [Ronnies] November results at last
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on January 06, 2006, 03:33:39 PM
To Ron:
I'm very doubtful I can find time to replicate the work you've already done, let alone the experience to analyze it with your insight, but perhaps I can do something good enough to post and flawed enough to provoke you into correcting me....

To Rob:
I'd agree that fictionalizing the setting is not necessarily ducking the issue -- well done, it can be a way of dodging around the defenses of preconception that people have about real historical or political events ("Commies is bad!" "If only Trotsky had prevailed, the Soviet Union would have been a true paradise!" etc.) and hitting the heart of the human issue by surprise.