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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 58 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: What games do you think are borderline Indy games?  (Read 1830 times)
Ace
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« on: March 20, 2002, 04:39:57 PM »

My guesses on the matter would be

Over the edge. It was published by a big (for this dinky industry) company and had a card game. But it was quite different in play and focus

Also from the same company, Ars Magica and Unknown Armies.

Are there others folks think would qualify?
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2002, 04:58:43 PM »

Ace,

I see what you're getting at - they're out there sorts of games. An indie game doesn't have to be out there, though - it has to be owned and published by its creator. That's the only requirement, and is the definition.

So - I wouldn't put any of those as borderline-indie games. I'm not even sure a borderline indie game exists (as the creator either owns it or doesn't), but if I had to make a conjecture, I'd say Underworld in its first edition - Gareth-Michael Skarka was part of the company that published it, but it was never completely clear if he or the company owned the product. (Now that he's got his own company, it's quite clear - he owns it, and it's independent.)
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jason L Blair
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2002, 05:23:24 PM »

As far as UnderWorld, the credits page clearly stated that GMS and Laura Hanson owned the copyright and that it was under license to Synister. Thus, an indie game it always has been. ;)
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Jason L Blair
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2002, 11:00:34 AM »

Hello,

My general comment is to reinforce Clinton's point, that creator ownership is the definition for "indie" at the Forge. Not all indie games are innovative. Many non-indie games are innovative.

Jason, I think UnderWorld 1st edition fell into a distinctive gray area. This gray area is exactly the same as occupied by the titles published by Image Comics or Sirius Comics - the property is owned by the creator, but the print costs are being paid by someone else.

Owning includes three things: (1) who gets to warn others to "cease and desist" when they infringe on the material, including paying legal fees to back it up; (2) who makes all policy decisions about what to do next with the material; and (3) who has final authority over the finances (what is spent; what is taken).

The gray area may lead to problems because #1-3 are not often well divided up, and given different authorities among them, cross-policies start to occur. You will note, for instance, that UnderWorld is no longer published by Synister, and although many different things were involved with that, I think it's clear that #1-3 do not mix well among multiple authorities.

Without getting into details, I think things with Gareth and Synister worked out very amicably, but also that this was fortuitous and by far in the minority.

I tend to be a hard-liner. I think there is no such thing as "semi" ownership, or "owned by this guy but published by that guy." In practice, they tend to favor one side as the real owner in the #1-3 terms, no matter what the print says in the pages. If the person being favored is the creative end, the gray area only makes me a little nervous; when the person being favored is not the creative end, then I think that the situation is the same-old work-for-hire that it always was, fine point or not.

I do understand that there can be multiple creators (e.g. Apophis Consortium, or XIG to name a new player in the biz) involved. I also understand that freelance contributions can be involved (e.g. Robin Laws' design work on Hero Wars, or hell, any artwork at all). However, as these proliferate, things get grayer, and when anyone involved in #1-3 isn't directly involved in the creative end, that's when I start to draw the line.

Best,
Ron
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Matt Gwinn
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2002, 11:44:37 AM »

Quote
I see what you're getting at - they're out there sorts of games. An indie game doesn't have to be out there, though - it has to be owned and published by its creator. That's the only requirement, and is the definition.


So, at what point does a game become disasociated with the indie name?

Let's say my game really takes off and I make a lot of money - Wizards of the Coast kind of money.  I am now the head of this huge company that can put out games left and right.  I still own the rights to my game.  Am I still an idie game designer at that point?

At soem point in time Gary Gygax owned the rights to D&D.  At what point did he leave the indie scene?  Sounds to me like it's all a matter of money.  Or is it a matter of corporatizing?

,Matt G.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2002, 12:00:54 PM »

[quote="MattGwinn"Sounds to me like it's all a matter of money.  Or is it a matter of corporatizing?[/quote]

Then - and please don't take offense to this - you're reading it wrong.

Ron summed it up greatly when he mentioned that "indie" is defined by who makes policy decisions about what to do with the material, and who has final authority over the finances.

You asked about some pretty specific examples - here's some relevant example answers:

1) You make a game and it sells like mad. You make tons of money, and start a corporation and what not. You still wrote the game, and you still own and control it. Even if it's the biggest game on the market, it's independent.

2) For your next game, you hire a friend of yours to write it. You own and control the game. It is not independent.

3) You sell shares in your company, and end up having a board of directors and what-not. You own 49% of your company, and the remaining 51% tells you to re-print your original game. This is not an independent game - you have no real ownership of it or control over it.

You brought up Gygax and D&D - I'd say it quit being independent about the time he lost controlling ownership in TSR.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2002, 12:10:08 PM »

Hi Matt,

THE SHORT POINT
Regarding "Gary Gygax owned the rights to D&D," you ought to check out the history closely. There are a lot of events between 1974 and 1979 that illustrate all my points well, in terms of setting up what happened in the 80s - namely, Gary owning nothing and being, effectively, barred even from publishing his own material.

One of the key issues, though, is the term "rights." You'll notice that I don't even bother to use that term. I'm talking about ownership, which includes but is not limited to control over what is done with the property. Owning the "rights" but not having control is as much to say the "rights," whatever they are, are worthless. And ipso facto, whether he owned the "rights" or not, Gary did not have control.

[None of this is to say that he should have, or he got screwed, or he deserved it anyway, or any of the other irrelevancies that come up when this individual is mentioned. I am not talking about anything except ownership.]

ANOTHER SHORT POINT
Your post seems to use "game" as the main issue to start, but then seems to shift to be about the person. If we're talking about the game, it's pretty easy. Does the person who created it also own it? In terms of my #1-3? Barring some shades of that gray area I discussed above, the game either is or isn't. If it starts one way and shifts to the other, the situation remains similarly easy to classify.

THE MAIN POINT
"Indie game designer" is not some ineffable quality. It is shorthand for "person who owns the game he has created."  

So, right now, I own (hell, I am) Adept Press, which puts Sorcerer on the market and reaps the rewards. It is indie, hence I am an indie game guy. If I were to sell my services, such as they are, to any other company, that act would not be an indie act, but I am still an indie game guy relative to Sorcerer.

To take it to the videotape, Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein*Hagen were indie game designers when they put out Ars Magica under Lion Rampant. When the former worked on Talislanta and wrote Everway for WotC, and when the latter relied on extensive work-for-hire to publish Vampire, they were not indie game designers. If they had retained ownership (in my sense) over Ars Magica / Lion Rampant, then they would have remained indie game guys relative to it, I suppose. Such situations are rare to vanishing; in reality, Lion Rampant essentially evaporated and Ars Magica shifted ownership elsewhere (a very complicated story).

When Greg Stafford provided and contributed to the setting and design for RuneQuest, he was not an indie game designer. When he put together Hero Wars (and yes, with extensive system design by Robin Laws, but I submit the final product is inimitably Greg's), he was.

Best,
Ron
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Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2002, 12:28:02 PM »

No offense taken Clinton.  For once I'm right on top of what you guys are saying.  

I think the word indie is too often confused with low budget simply because they go hand in hand most of the time.  I just wanted to put the money issue on the table.

,Matt G.
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Valamir
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2002, 02:51:54 PM »

Quote from: Clinton R Nixon
[quote="MattGwinn"Sounds to me like it's all a matter of money.  Or is it a matter of corporatizing?



Anyone else find this particularly ironic...;-)

Sorry, couldn't resist.
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