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Author Topic: Forge vision  (Read 6753 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: September 16, 2006, 04:14:51 PM »

Hey everyone,

Recently, I engaged in a discussion at Story Games in which I was asked by Kuma why "the Forge" is not being leveraged as an actual commercial brand (by which he meant imprint). I explained what the Forge is about. I figured it belongs here too. I've edited a little to fit better into its role as a statement rather than a reply; you can see the original at The Forge as a brand.

-----
I'm a fanatic. I have the vision of what I want to accomplish, and that's shared very greatly with Clinton's vision about the same stuff. The Forge has not only stuck by that vision, but brought about incredible things way beyond what we imagined.

So given the last six years, is there room for a new vision? Sure! Let someone else have their own and bring it into existence. Andy K is obviously the key figure here with all the contests and sites and stuff, but lots of others are moving and shaking too. Fine.

But the Forge isn't their vision. It's ours, just Clinton and me. And not only that, Clinton and I (I keep saying both of us because we talk about this stuff, and I'm representing those talks right now) want to keep the Forge's function right where it started - finding people in the canebrake, struggling with their designs, or having produced an amazing design but not knowing what to do with it. We like it working best and most for the guys with a crappy Geocities website and a neat game idea, who aren't quite sure how the internet can help them further.

As long as the Forge lasts, it serves those guys first, and that same spirit/attitude of theirs which both Clinton and I individually try to preserve in ourselves. That's why it is not, and will never be, an imprint of the kind that would force membership or identity of any sort on someone just considering or along-the-way of developing their own game and perhaps company.

The Game Publishers Association exists for that. You can pay to join, to benefit from the accumulated experience there, and to have their logo on the back of your game. The Forge is run by a different vision in which the organized activity at the site, and associated spin-offs, is what matters. The product (labels on games, imprints, everything) is wholly personally the creator's, and in terms of the Forge, it represents what that game creator wants to take out of the Forge, if anything.

The fact that a cultural-brand exists that helps and serves a number of people is great. Yes, there's a banner at the booth which exploits or at least expresses that reality.

But the booth isn't about that banner as a representation of Sorcerer or the Burning Wheel, at least not primarily. It's about Kevin Allen Jr. being at all able to sell his awesome game Primitive at the premier hobby-games convention in the world (possible exception of Spiel Essen). I'd far rather keep working to make the Forge useful to folks about two years behind where Kevin is now, than to develop the brand to benefit, say, Vincent Baker, further. It already benefits him immensely, and as far as I'm concerned, that's way way in the black, huge gravy, relative to anything we ever expected.

It's hard enough as it is for me to preserve my focus on that vision I'm talking about. As far as I'm concerned, the Forge is actually a bit in the red in that regard, relative to its first couple years of existence. Clinton and I do have work to do with what the Forge "is," culturally. We've discussed it. It doesn't prioritize actively building the cultural brand into an institutional one to benefit established companies further. That work has to turn more grass-roots, more punky, and more toward those folks like Doug Bolden, James V. West, Jeff Diamond, and others, as they were back then. (I name these guys because the Forge ultimately failed them, unforgivably on my part, which I see as a far greater indictment of it than Vincent Baker's success is a vindication. Clinton has his own list of casualties. We remember them even if others don't.)

That's why the First Thoughts forum is key. I wish more of you guys would spend time there, and use your pride and success in getting your companies off the ground as a fuel for outreach to these guys as they appear or are invited ... and rediscover the chance to learn from them. 'Cause that's where the great ideas really are, out among the wacky little guys who think they're alone in the brush. Not in the modern blogspace and not in the (thank th'Lord defunct) theory forums.

That's way more important to me than saying, "OK everyone, you can now purchase shares in Forge Corp and gain the privilege of putting the little cartoon logo on the back of your game." Would that help sell more copies of Perfect, Dogs in the Vineyard, Universalis, and so on? Probably so. Would it help the game-store retailers to grab a clue and order these games and market them in a coherent, unified fashion? Absolutely yes. Would Clinton and I make big bucks off monetizing it in some way? You betcha.

But it's not the vision. I don't think doing that would benefit the incoming folks, and in fact I think it would destroy their single greatest contribution and potential - the new ideas, the unfamiliar angle of attack, the intellectual/cultural mutation (new variants) they represent. I am a fanatic. I know exactly that that is what I want to promote and facilitate, and that's what the Forge is, or should be at its best.

If Jason Valore, Brennan Taylor, Andy Kitkowski, Jonathan Walton, or any other inspired, motivated, constructive people want to form any new method in which established companies share and benefit, more power to'em. If I like the model they propose, I'll join in myself if I'm welcome.

But the Forge ain't that thing.

Best, Ron
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Ricky Donato
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Posts: 156

Just chillin'


« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2006, 09:26:29 PM »

Hi, Ron,

This is great information to have. I have a few questions for you about this.

1) I'm sure that I know the answer to this question, but I'll ask to pre-empt anyone who might not realize it. Is this vision up for debate? Are you interested in someone saying, "Ron, I think the Forge vision should be X"?

2) Regarding this paragraph:
Quote
It's hard enough as it is for me to preserve my focus on that vision I'm talking about. As far as I'm concerned, the Forge is actually a bit in the red in that regard, relative to its first couple years of existence. Clinton and I do have work to do with what the Forge "is," culturally.

Can you elaborate on what needs to be done? You provided some information in the following quote but I'm struggling to wrap my head around it:

Quote
We've discussed it. It doesn't prioritize actively building the cultural brand into an institutional one to benefit established companies further. That work has to turn more grass-roots, more punky, and more toward those folks like Doug Bolden, James V. West, Jeff Diamond, and others, as they were back then. (I name these guys because the Forge ultimately failed them, unforgivably on my part, which I see as a far greater indictment of it than Vincent Baker's success is a vindication. Clinton has his own list of casualties. We remember them even if others don't.)

That's why the First Thoughts forum is key. I wish more of you guys would spend time there, and use your pride and success in getting your companies off the ground as a fuel for outreach to these guys as they appear or are invited ... and rediscover the chance to learn from them. 'Cause that's where the great ideas really are, out among the wacky little guys who think they're alone in the brush. Not in the modern blogspace and not in the (thank th'Lord defunct) theory forums.

3) This question depends on the answer to question #2. Given that "work needs to be done", how can the Forge community help to accomplish that work?
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Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2006, 09:41:56 PM »

I'm not Ron, but I know what "the community needs to do", at least in part:

Post actively and throughtfully* in the forums that interest you.  Pay special attention to Actual Play and First Thoughts - these are at the heart of the forge, and if you aren't participating in them, you need to seriously re-evaluate what you are contributing.  I'm currently in the midst of that process personally.

*by thoughtfully, I don't mean saying "Aaah" and "indeed" a lot while stroking your thick grey beard.  I mean it in the literal sense: apply thought to what you are saying.  Consider your words, review them; make sure you are contributing meaningfully.


thanks,

James
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I write games. My games don't have much in common with each other, except that I wrote them.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2006, 08:04:51 AM »

Hi there,

Those are some good questions, Ricky. James is right in his post, but I think we can get somewhere further, too.

1. No, the vision is not up for debate. I used the term "fanatic" twice for a reason. It's a little bit like saying "you must be this tall to enjoy this ride." If a person is not sufficiently interested in the vision, then all kinds of things about the site will be frustrating or irrelevant to them, including many instances of moderation. It's not bad if a person fails share the vision, but it won't help the Forge be a good place for him or her.

Clinton articulated this point very clearly in his Infamous Five thread, The five percent.

2. I've been thinking a lot about what Ed and I did with Hephaestus' Forge, and what Clinton, Paul, Jared, and I did in the early days of the Forge. This was before Google and before RPG.net had any kind of reference material. We had a single page here with links on it to independent games, and to some of the older sites with similar lists: Eric's Free RPG Page, for instance, which is currently archived at John Kim's website. There were a few others too.

What we did was basically surf, old-school style. You found a site with some links to other games and sites. You followed them. You then found some webring about sex and vampires or something like that, and you went all through it, finding the RPGs. You found links in those to webzines or to other games. You followed them.

This was an ongoing task, day after day. For every single game, you sent an email. Downloads were rare to vanishing, at that time; usually the person said "send me an email" to get the game, or in other cases they'd uploaded 800 pages of HTML text against a purple swirly background. But I'd send an email to the latter guys too. The email always invited them to check out the general-list pages and to add their games, and I would read their games if possible and send them feedback.

As the independent-concept caught on at GO (partly because Hephaestus' Forge was becoming an archive of links), people started to show up on their own, as other links back to us (Sorcerer, GO, HF) started to proliferate.

Well, now times have changed. Not only is the internet more centralized-looking via Google and the better-constructed discussions sites like the modern RPG.net, it's also perhaps a bit more Balkanized - people who do X are farmed tightly into the X-space of interaction. I don't really know if that's true, in the sense of real people and real internet use, but that's what it seems like to someone who's interested in casting a wide net across it.

So what I'm looking for is a way to find someone who's got an RPG under way. I'm looking for today's equivalent of Michael T. Desing (Army Ants) and Jeff Diamond (Orbit). I'm not trying to convert or appropriate people, so much as simply offer the services of the Forge and leave it at that.

And then, once found, the point is whether the Forge really can service them. At present, I'm worried that it mainly serves (a) people who are already plugged into the RPG.net/Forge/etc culture who feel like tossing out a game idea; and (b) people who are already launched either via the Forge or on their own, and can benefit but aren't nearly-helpless without it either.

So I'm thinking about that, and asking the same questions you are about how the Forge community might be involved, or whether it should be. After all, my only expectation is that someone can share the vision, not whether they are such a fanatic as me or Clinton. I don't really see that I should be laying some kind of obligation on you guys (current active Forge posters) about the "finding" part in particular. If you are interested, then any ideas or suggestions or thoughts would be helpful.

Oh, except for one - "Hey, why not make the Forge a more welcoming place?!" My response: the guys and gals I'm looking for are tough, squirrelly, intense people. What I've seen again and again is that they tend to appreciate raw work and straight talk, not walk-through interfaces and long etiquette lists. Think of Luke Crane two years before he published Burning Wheel on his own. It's what we're doing here that would have mattered to him.

Best, Ron
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joepub
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2006, 02:16:42 PM »

I am now very, very glad that I started this conversation, with the "The Forge as a Brand" post/inquiry.

It has been really enlightening, to see people's views on the matter of a collective banner, the role of The Forge in the indie games community, and the roles of others and new iniatives.

I am glad, Ron, that you are so steadfast on your vision.
Even though, in ways, it is very frustrating at times. Kuma is right that we have a brand identity we aren't leveraging, and there isn't any other "indie identity" with as much leveraging power. People have mentioned that The Forge's moderation can be stiffling to certain types of productive conversation.
........
But, you have created something. Something powerful and amazing. Something that changed the way I think about RPGs, and the way I think about my hobbies. Without The Forge, I would never have thought, "I can do this sort of stuff."
Not only have you created something wonderful and inviting, but you have PRESERVED IT. Not the frozen-in-time type of preservation... the Lasting Legacy kind of preservation.

It's amazingly unselfish to think that the Founders and the first wave of Movers and Shakers want to preserve The Forge in that way.
It helped them when they started out... and they want that for the next "wave". And the next after that.

That's amazingly humbling. Ron, it's amazing that you can have such an unwavering vision - in wanting to help out both the new rookie (of which I still consider myself), and continue to empower and help the veterans.


But...
I still have one more question regarding The Forge's vision.
I want to ask you, directly, Ron (and Clinton).

Why, after all this work to preserve and keep The Forge the same (and rightly so...) is there talk from you about slowly devolving The Forge and putting it to rest.
Unless I have misread several posts and threads, it sounds like you want to let this community slowly disband.

Am I completely misinterpretting? If not... what's the rationale and reasoning here?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2006, 03:30:00 PM »

Hi Joe,

Let's talk about that brand a little bit, because bluntly, I have no idea what "leveraging brand identity" means beyond its board-room jargon cachet. I want to know what in the world it's supposed to mean in terms of activity, legality, effort, and day-by-day marketing. What's the image in your mind when you type that?

Also, what prompts that desire on your part? The desire actually to see an imprint of some kind on your game? The romantic notion of a whole wall of shelves at the game store so your in-group can say "we're as popular as White Wolf"? In other words, what actual benefit are you anticipating?

I'll answer the stuff about why shut down the Forge later. For now, if you haven't seen them, check out Diaspora: how I learned 2 stop worrying and love the Forge and End of theory from behind the scenes.

Best, Ron
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joepub
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2006, 06:17:42 PM »

Ron,

There is no desire on my part.
I simply wanted to explore ideas.

By brand identity, what I mean is this:
The Forge is a recognizable thing. The community, the ideas largely associated with it, and the kick ass games associated with it...

People on RPG.net and other such sites... people I talked to at Gencon, etc...
They either love or hate "forge-y" games.

I'm not saying that labelling things "Made by The Forge" is a good idea. In fact, I think it's a wretched idea.
But people, in their own ways, associate certain games with The Forge.
For them... there practically IS an invsible "Made by The Forge" stamp on the book's cover.
Bad thing? Good thing? I dunno.
Maybe I'm totally wrong in this perception, but I've seen it arise both in forums and in person.

So... first of all, that's what I mean by "brand identity".

By "leverage" "brand identity" I mean...
Somehow take that fact that there is this cultural perception surrounding The Forge, and use it.
This is already done by having a "The Forge" booth at Gencon.
This is a way of leveraging (somehow putting to use) the brand identity (perceptions surrounding The Forge and the games that emerge from it.)

(My apologies, because I'm almost SURE I'm misusing these terms horribly.)

All I was wondering is: Hey, there's this thing called The Forge. It is a big towering symbol in the indie design community.
It serves a very specific purpose...
But it also should be noted that it is the biggest frickin' tower in the community.
Maybe that means there are other uses it could be put to.

Again... just to be clear...

Quote
Also, what prompts that desire on your part? The desire actually to see an imprint of some kind on your game? The romantic notion of a whole wall of shelves at the game store so your in-group can say "we're as popular as White Wolf"? In other words, what actual benefit are you anticipating?

I'm not suggesting an imprint. I actually never even mentioned imprint.
I just wanted to explore the POSSIBILITIES surrounding the fact that there is an "identity".
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Ricky Donato
Member

Posts: 156

Just chillin'


« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2006, 11:17:08 PM »

Hi, Ron,

Let me break down my response to you into several parts. Sorry about the length, but these are some topics that have been building in my head for a while.

1) It's funny that you mention being a fanatic, because I recently realized that I've become a bit fanatical about evangelizing about RPGs. Specifically, I know a lot of gamers (at least 20) who are so-called "traditional" role-players. I see them playing a whole lot of games that are superficially different but fundamentally almost identical, and...I feel sorry for them.

Did you ever read the Chronicles of Narnia? At the end of the last book of the series, The Last Battle, there is this group of dwarves who have decided not to believe in Aslan, Tash, or anything other than themselves. They have gotten into this paradise of sunshine and grass and miraculous food, but they are convinced that they are trapped in a tiny smelly log cabin, so they don't see any of the wonderful things around them. That's how I see these gamers. It's not nearly so severe, of course, but it does feel like they simply accept that these games are how things are and must be - and I want to shatter those assumptions.

I recently told a friend of mine that I was really jazzed about this new RPG that I had found, called the Shadow of Yesterday. He asked me, "So what's the resolution mechanic?" And I was stunned. Why wasn't the question "What is the game about? What is the point of play?" And I realized that he was simply carrying around assumptions that he had learned over the course of 2 decades of playing really similar games. The resolution mechanic is the important thing for him to ask, because as far as he is concerned, there is nothing else to distinguish these games. That thought makes me literally weep sometimes. I want to change things.

2) On reflection, what I have gained most from the Forge is the shattering of my own assumptions. I came here last year while working on my own RPG, and I started reading. And I gradually realized, while muddling through all the GNS jargon, that there was a lot more to RPGs than I had ever realized. In my opinion, that is the greatest contribution that role-playing theory has made - the understanding that there are different ways to play, that some of these ways are incompatible, and that some of them are so high-level, so fundamental, that many people don't even realize that they do them. And I am very thankful I learned that for many reasons, not least of which that it made me realize that the RPG I was writing wasn't going to satisfy my needs - but some games that had already been written, like Shadow of Yesterday or Donjon or Capes, might do exactly that.

3) With regards to finding the people who need help, unfortunately I have no ideas for you.

4) Once people get here, I know how to help. I go to Actual Play and I try to learn, and post my thoughts, in the hopes that I can provide some wisdom that others may also learn from. Unfortunately, I typically feel like I don't really know what I'm doing, and I worry that I may be hurting more than helping by muddying the waters.

I would do the same thing in First Thoughts, but I feel that I would not be helpful at all there right now, because I have so little game design experience. Maybe once I finish my first game... (Go Machiavelli!)

5)
Quote
Also, what prompts that desire on your part? The desire actually to see an imprint of some kind on your game? The romantic notion of a whole wall of shelves at the game store so your in-group can say "we're as popular as White Wolf"? In other words, what actual benefit are you anticipating?

Let me give you an actual example. When I first heard about Agon, I was intrigued. I knew it had been developed by John Harper, who is familiar with Forge principles. So when I saw that it had the Antagonist, a GM-like role, I knew that John hadn't put it in because "all RPGs have GMs". He put it in because he felt that the GM role was appropriate and enhanced the game.

That's the benefit I see of the Forge brand: it acts roughly as a seal of quality. It reassures the potential buyer, "The author probably knows what he's doing, so this game is probably good." Of course it's not a guarantee, but that's OK with me.

I would like to point out that this benefit applies to me. I have no idea whatsoever if it has any meaning to anyone else.
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Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2006, 11:46:02 PM »

Quote
Let me give you an actual example. When I first heard about Agon, I was intrigued. I knew it had been developed by John Harper, who is familiar with Forge principles. So when I saw that it had the Antagonist, a GM-like role, I knew that John hadn't put it in because "all RPGs have GMs". He put it in because he felt that the GM role was appropriate and enhanced the game.

That's the benefit I see of the Forge brand: it acts roughly as a seal of quality. It reassures the potential buyer, "The author probably knows what he's doing, so this game is probably good." Of course it's not a guarantee, but that's OK with me.

I would like to point out that this benefit applies to me. I have no idea whatsoever if it has any meaning to anyone else.

That, Ron, is exactly what I have been trying to explore.
Whether THAT kind of assumption is a good thing or a bad thing?
Something that we should somehow actively try to control? to manipulate? to market? to ignore?
Is there a way that John Harper can better utilize this effect? Is there a way that The Forge can better generate this effect?

Again - note that this isn't me advocating for or against "leveraging this brand identity" (or whatever the hell you want to call it. Let's not debate over terminology!), this is me trying to explore it.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2006, 04:41:00 AM »

Hey guys,

This is the problem with transferring discussions from one forum to another, which I was trying to avoid doing.

Here's an earlier post from that thread:

Quote
For clarity's sake.

1. There is no Forge imprint. That's the actual point Clinton and I have made in the past and we'll continue that course. It goes along with a number of other policies, for instance that no one vetts the games at the GenCon booth. The Forge isn't a publisher, or even an official organization.

2. Some of you guys are using the term "brand" to mean a cultural phenomenon, which is to say an uncontrollable perception "out there" among people, who say X or Y or Z about the Forge, for good or ill. As I've mentioned before, this is uncontrollable. It's also real. My thinking is that for quite a lot of people who've invested time at the Forge, or been mutualistic about activities there & associated, have benefited from that perception. So, on the balance, well and good.

Now, why posts like yours, Kuma, seem to mix up these two notions, I have no idea. They're obviously not the same things. To insist upon and enforce #1 does not limit or damage the benefit of #2. To my thinking, the opposite is the case.

See, Joe and Ricky - you are talking about #2. My response to Kuma, which started this thread, is all about dealing with his and others' interest in #1, which dominated that thread.

The good news for our discussion is that I'm all about #2, in all kinds of personal ways. It runs through all my activity at the Forge, from organizing the campus club and running DemonCon, to the booth at GenCon, to playing with my neighbors, and more. It's what the Infamous Five threads were about. With your current questions, you aren't bringing up anything new with #2, just finding your place with or in it, and that's good.

The only thing I don't do is use the games to promote the Forge, because it's supposed to be the other way around. The Forge is there to promote the games. Therefore, among people who know about internet sites for role-playing, it's a strong #2-type brand for that purpose. So far, so good. How about people who don't know anything about that? Well, you'll find that the phrase "and there's this great website forum!" is not a very strong promoting device. People usually associate forums with chatrooms, wasting time, and not doing the activity in question, which as you know doesn't match the Forge, but they don't know that. For folks who seem like they'd be attracted or interested based on the website, then sure, use the Forge as a means of doing so, but waving the name about like a flag shouldn't be a starting point.

Here's something to consider as well - what target audience are you talking about?

Ricky, you mentioned your gaming friends. I suggest that you re-consider "feeling sorry for them." Why should their fun have to come to resemble yours? Why do you want them to learn about different points of play, and so on? Before you shove "the Forge the Forge the Forge" in their faces, I strongly suggest you discover whether they want to know. More than one eager Forge member has pissed off whole circles of friends by telling them they're playing wrong, and bluntly, my sympathy is and always has been with the friends. The Forge is not Aslan's Heaven.

My success with turning other gamers onto games like The Pool, InSpectres, My Life with Master, The Mountain Witch, The Great Ork Gods, and dozens of others is founded on telling them the truth - this is a fun game, this is not a game which demands infinite-time planning, no one is saying it's a better game than the one you've played for ten years, and let's try today, because if it doesn't fly, then whatever. When they say "oh my God this is fantastic," that's them, not me telling them. And if someone flatly doesn't like it, then that's OK and no reflection on them.

On the other hand, the non-gamer target audience is a different beast in a lot of ways. To examine that issue requires a big re-orientation of thought, of which the Infamous Five threads were a good start. If you haven't read through those, and if you're interested in role-playing with people who aren't subculturally invested in the hobby, then check them out.

Here's my final point: cultural change is not under anyone's control. Sometimes activism requires patience, and particularly a certain skill at choosing one's fights. Saying, oooh, this is happening, so I'm gonna get up and shout about it and make it happen more, is often misplaced effort. It might impress a few people around you who agree with you, but otherwise be either forgotten or counter-productive.

What would have happened, do you think, if in 2002, I had booked three seminar slots at GenCon and used each one of them to promote the Forge as a site, complete with an evangelical "sign up and be saved!" activity? I hope you can see, with me, that such effort would not have helped the site, and more importantly, it would have harmed sales at the booth and probably sales/use of the games for the rest of the year. But in 2003 I was a Guest of Honor at GenCon, and on several panels. What happened? I represented the option of creator ownership and demonstrated that others recognized it as viable. I think I did a good job at that.

The most powerful use of this brand-thing, this recognition of the Forge, relies on the games themselves. And not on a single, particular look or way to play, but rather, on the diversity of the games, who share only one thing - a visible, tangible pride in their reliability of play. When you get a game like this and it says somewhere in the acknowledgments, thanks to so-and-so at the Forge for helping me with such-and-such, that has more power than any Forge-centered promotion. It's subtle power and relies on multiple small points rather than a single huge central point.

So in some ways, I'm saying, "let it happen." That doesn't mean "do nothing," rather, do stuff that matters and that works. Practice mutualism as a publisher, for example; form new game groups which play lots of games with tons of fun; and if you want to represent the Forge in some way, do so without running around defensively, or running around evangelizing.

That's my piece about that stuff.

Best, Ron
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Luke
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2006, 06:56:25 PM »

Let's see, two years before I published BW? That'd be 2000. At that point, I was in the process of deciding that self-publishing was something I wanted to do. I was figuring out how to do it on my own, fumbling blindly through some pretty typical pitfalls. If I had found the Forge then, I probably would have asked all sorts of n00b questions about publishing costs and printers and art -- because those are the things you worry about before you've actually sat down and written a game (that's ready to go to press). Or at least that's how it was for me (and that's seems to be be the majority of questions we get here from the premes).

As for the mission statement, Ron and I have had this discussion before, back when I was putting out the NPA. I was mortally offended that he wouldn't endorse the Forge as brand for books. I had been to numerous conventions and put a little Forge sign out on my table. People recognized the brand. "Oh, Forge games!" And I reinforced their misconception by using that banner* and nodding my head, "Sure! Have you seen this new one..." Customer's always right, right?

Well, after wading through legion forum posts about the Evil Forge Cult, and thinking on Ron's insistence that the Forge is just a website, I agree with him wholeheartedly. It can't be anything else. There is simply no support for to be more than what it is -- and there is ample support for it to be what it is. No matter what effort anyone thinks they could put into it, it would never be enough. And, as soon as it became an imprint or a brand or a logo, it'd completely change the very meaning of what goes on here. It'd be tied to money, commerce, branding, whatever, rather than being tied to an unpinnable idea or aesthetic.

After reading Ron's excellent mission statement for the Forge and reflecting on my experiences at and after Gencon, I am reflecting what my role is here. I am no longer part of Ron's target. I am, in fact, on the far far other side of it. I'm no longer scrapping for recognition, cutting my way through the wilderness of internet obscurity.† Successful game and brand of my own and all that, I'm clearly not encompassed in Ron's mission statement. And, in fact, based on the feedback surrounding BE, I wonder if my methods and goals are compatible with it at all.

On the other hand, I suspect that Ron values the participation of Matt Snyder, Michael S Miller, Vincent, Ralph, myself and numerous others. Along with him and Clinton, we're the hands reaching out to help you up and out of the wilderness, right? I certainly try to do my part -- even if I don't wrangle concepts and ideas in First Thoughts and Endeavor. I guess I've become more of a behind the scenes guy.



But Ron, the next question for me -- and don't answer this right away -- is how your reaffirmation of the Forge's mission statement affects your perception of and plans for the Forge at Gencon. I don't think the booth this year was entirely compatible with the vision. Something to think on. I'm sure we'll talk about it.



Also, as a final, apocryphal note, I am a Forge success story. My game was developed in the wilderness, no where near this place. Ron and Clinton did exactly as Ron describes in his mission statement.§ In January and March 2003, they contacted me and ordered my game and gave feedback -- in public, on the forums. They did not coddle me or even praise me. Just the raw affirmation of naked commerce and forum postings. At the same time, before they even knew who I was (that I wrote THAT GAME or whatever), I asked them if I could join them for Gencon. Without batting an eye, Ron agreed -- hand down into the darkness, he yanked me out into this dim twilight in which we all exist.

-Luke

*And anyway, Ron does it, too.
†In a very relative sense.
§Noteworthy: At our first meeting in February 2003, Michael S. Miller had also encouraged me to join the Forge.
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Frank T
Guest
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2006, 09:50:49 AM »

Quote
So I'm thinking about that, and asking the same questions you are about how the Forge community might be involved, or whether it should be.

That last half-sentence is heavy. I for my part can say that I greatly profited from all the fruitful exchanges with Ron himself, Ralph Mazza, Sydney Freedberg and a couple of other “veterans”. However, with the place crowded all over and bursting with new designers (“hey, let’s make a game about my favorite movie”), I don’t see how the vets can help all of them, even if they don’t get bogged down by a rush of well-meant, but derailing comments.

My hope is that a really promising game, once it gets to the Forge, will still draw the attention of the right people. It worked for me and BARBAREN!, if I may be so bold as to imply that BARBAREN! is a “really promising game”. But then again, I first posted about BARBAREN! in February 2005, and a lot has changed since then.

Something to ponder.

- Frank
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Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2006, 10:30:33 AM »

The Game Publishers Association exists for that. You can pay to join, to benefit from the accumulated experience there, and to have their logo on the back of your game. The Forge is run by a different vision in which the organized activity at the site, and associated spin-offs, is what matters. The product (labels on games, imprints, everything) is wholly personally the creator's, and in terms of the Forge, it represents what that game creator wants to take out of the Forge, if anything.

A very mundane addition to this interesting conversation; the link above appears to be empty of information and not pointing to anything.
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* Want to know what your fair share of paying to feed the hungry is? http://www3.sympatico.ca/hans_messersmith/World_Hunger_Fair_Share_Number.htm
* Want to know what games I like? http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/skalchemist
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2006, 03:37:24 PM »

Gah! That's what I get for cutting and pasting.

Game Publishers Association

Thanks Hans,
Ron
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