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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 183 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [It Was a Mutual Decision] Case study for discussion  (Read 38138 times)
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #45 on: May 02, 2006, 05:01:51 PM »

Well, I don't have those problems writing straight into the layout. I usually write a layout unit (page or sidebar, whatever) at a time and only revise for layout sporadically, when mulling over the text anyway. Can't say I've ever had to stop to trim a paragraph. And I don't flow the text from one page to another; one of the main reasons I chose to write straight to layout was that the book is inherently composed of independent pages or small clusters, so it's pretty important to write an appropriate amount of text for each page. But, it's stupid to say here that this or that way of writing will confuse you or whatever. There's a great number of writing projects and writers, so what one finds blocking his flow might be perfectly natural for another. So there's not much basis for saying that some particular method for writing doesn't work.

As for outlines, I have a difficulty imagining somebody'd have something against them. They're an established, powerful writing tool, one of the few such.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #46 on: May 03, 2006, 04:03:41 AM »

A general related observation and question - it seems like the production cycle for self-published games is shrinking, or is becoming increasingly easy to shrink if that is the designer's goal.  Is this the result of a maturing POD marketplace, better software tools in the hands of designers, a growing body of design and production knowledge, all of these, or something else entirely?

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Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
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« Reply #47 on: May 03, 2006, 04:50:53 AM »

Good call, Raven.

Eero, you're just weird.

Jason, before I answer this question, I want to encourage you to buy this first print run of It Was a Mutual Decision so you can revel in the minor errors, compared to the Roach.

So, shorter cycle? Perhaps - for some authors and for some games. Three things seem implicated: (1) more experience in actually doing the work, so fewer false starts or dead-times are involved for some projects (this applies to writing, revising, layout, print-bidding, etc); (2) much, much faster printing technology and much easier setup for commercial release (just send it to Brennan! beats the shit out of negotiating for pre-orders, etc); and (3) shorter-text games with shorter play-time and minimal to no text matching the standard organization and content of a mid-1990s RPG.

But I emphasize, for some authors, and for some games. Nor is that faster-cycle necessarily a good thing. In my case, the ease of #1-3 above is also a wicked pit of carelessness. So one lesson I learned from this game was where I need to slow down - specifically, late-stage proofing.

Best, Ron
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Thunder_God
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Posts: 486

Still Here.


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« Reply #48 on: May 03, 2006, 04:55:59 AM »

I believe it may also have to do with "Name recognition".

It's actually an answer in a way, "How much more attention and playtesters do you get once you're a published author?".

It's hard to revise with a limited proofing/playtersters pool, and it seems to me once people get "noticed" so do their projects, which in turn lead to more playtesting, more opinions, And in a shorter amount of time.

How do you people see this?
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #49 on: May 03, 2006, 06:03:17 AM »

Ron,

Speaking of minor errors, you mentioned there was a cost to fixing typos after the proof. This surprised me a little for POD publishing. It's not like they have to throw out a plate or anything, just twiddle with the computer. Is this just "them's the breaks," or what?
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #50 on: May 03, 2006, 07:29:34 AM »

Larry, with RPI at least if you want to amend the proof they generate another proof, which they will either send to you or, for really minor things, review internally if you agree.  With The Roach we had a single line of italicized text laid out oddly in InDesign that was chewed up in the first proof (the result of .pdf versioning incompatibility).  We fixed this (and half a dozen other things) and they ran a second proof, which cost something like $50.  They don't change a single thing and they certainly don't edit your manuscript for you.

It turns out we completely forgot to correct this .pdf error in our second printing, and a second proof was again required - but we let them check it in house this time, since we all knew what the problem was. 
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 2341


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« Reply #51 on: May 03, 2006, 01:11:31 PM »

Three things seem implicated: (1) more experience in actually doing the work, so fewer false starts or dead-times are involved for some projects (this applies to writing, revising, layout, print-bidding, etc); (2) much, much faster printing technology and much easier setup for commercial release (just send it to Brennan! beats the shit out of negotiating for pre-orders, etc); and (3) shorter-text games with shorter play-time and minimal to no text matching the standard organization and content of a mid-1990s RPG.

Acts of Evil has already received more playtesting than My Life with Master did before it was published. And when I publish Acts of Evil it will have taken me more work, maybe three times as much work, over a longer, maybe as much as 50% longer timeframe than My Life with Master. I think as a development community we've gotten good at things like preserving character protagonism, apportioning narration, constraining narration and play options in dramatically interesting ways, and rewarding for creative/interesting/on-premise play. And we've developed an expertise at playtesting and giving truly meaningful playtest feedback to designers. I think fast cycle development has become possible as a result, for games within the tradition of this expertise. Yes, Acts of Evil will be a longer game text, and yes I did recently get married, but I think the extended development time is more because my goals are outside the development tradition than anything else. I'm designing for Acts of Evil player characters as static antagonists, and NPCs that emerge from play as protagonists. And I'm trying to provoke creative and interesting antagonism from the players via competition amongst them, rather than through direct reward mechanics. So while I've benefited greatly from our community's playtesting expertise, and in fact would never have come close to where I am on Acts of Evil without it, I've found I must second-guess my own design instincts, and those of experienced playtesters. Because those instincts would guide me to what we're good at, a game of player character protagonism.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Sydney Freedberg
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Posts: 1293


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« Reply #52 on: May 03, 2006, 01:26:17 PM »

Paul, that's fascinating. (Plus it allows me to console myself, as I labor on the playtest-proven brokeness of the third set of core mechanics for apocalypse girl, that the reason this is so much harder than the two RPGs I designed in college and played with my friends is that I'm trying to do something radically new, even if it is essentially second-generation Capes).

Ron, how would you compare the speed of the inspiration-design-playtest-revise-publish cycle for this game to Sorcerer? (Of course Sorcerer kept evolving after the publication of the initial email version and of each book, so it's a particularly complex example). How about Elfs? Trollbabe? Doctor Chaos and other pending projects?

In particular, I'm interested in whether designing gets progressively faster and faster for you because you've done it so much, even if mechanics and techniques in each game may be radically different, or whether the game you do today may be much, much more laborious than the game you wrote ten years ago because your ambitions and willingness to experiment increase even faster than your experience?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #53 on: May 03, 2006, 01:33:01 PM »

Guys, I think you're totally missing my crucial qualifier, which I said twice: for some designers and for some games. In this case, me, and this particular game. It doesn't apply to other games I'm working on, and it sure doesn't apply necessarily to other designers, although here it there it might - for some games.

Paul, maybe I'm just not understanding. On re-reading, I cannot tell how your post relates to the text I'm quoting. Are you agreeing or disagreeing or what?

Also, bear in mind - all this subtopic is in response to a fairly vaguely-worded, probably intentionally-provocative question of Guy's, which included a dubious imputation ("the publishing process is getting shorter") in order to be asked. It's not surprising that we're kind of flailing at one another now, because the imputation and my attempt to answer the question aren't providing us with a shared intellectual ground. For instance, I only answered relative to myself and this game.

Perhaps it's better to junk this subtopic before more people bring in their guesses, reactions, and probably resentments or whatever into the mix.

Best, Ron
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Thunder_God
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Posts: 486

Still Here.


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« Reply #54 on: May 03, 2006, 01:45:49 PM »

I meant the playtest reports take a shorter time to arrive/happen, not the design process(except for parts relating to Playtesting).

Sure it may have been a bit provocative, but it does refer to published game makers' future games, this being such a game.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2006, 02:03:57 PM »

Thanks for the clarification, Guy. Again, I can only answer for myself and for this game. I think I gave the reasons for why it seems (or is) a little light on playtesting earlier. I can also add that it played so well after the first round of post-playtest revision that I was astounded. Further playtesting showed that the real hump had been surmounted, and resulted only in minor revisions of clarification.

Best, Ron
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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #56 on: May 03, 2006, 04:23:39 PM »

Heya,

Quote
But I emphasize, for some authors, and for some games. Nor is that faster-cycle necessarily a good thing. In my case, the ease of #1-3 above is also a wicked pit of carelessness. So one lesson I learned from this game was where I need to slow down - specifically, late-stage proofing.

-Ugh, no kidding Ron.  Thankfully I have a wife who is a literacy teacher and is willing to read my stuff.  I highly recomend an outside reading to help find gramatical and spelling errors in one's text.  Even then, there will still be some.

Peace,

-Troy
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