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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Practical Things we can individually do to Revitalizing the Forge?  (Read 11636 times)
Andy Kitkowski
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« on: May 01, 2007, 06:45:57 PM »

In the Apt thread over here, Ben started something that got drowned out. It's important enough that I think it should be given another look-through:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=23771.45

Ben has some ideas for things that We Can Do to make things better:
----------------
I can think of a few things:
1) Recruit booth monkeys again.  I have no idea if this is feasible or not, but it would help this problem enormously.
2) Open up our social scene at GenCon more than a little bit.
3) Continue to expand and participate in events like the Double Exposure cons, the Nerdlies, the Go Play Directionals, JiffyCon, and Forge Midwest, while working hard to make these cons opportunities for neophyte game designers to make professional and social connections with experienced designers who can help them through playtesting and publication.
4) Consider the privileges that being a "designer" gives online (and, let's face it, that often means "person who sells at GenCon"), and open those up to more people.
-----------------

Now, the above is mostly Forge-Booth focused (well, 1 and 2 anyway). I'm pulling this out of that other thread to talk about it more.

Thunder_God was right about being unable to regularly meet folks face to face: The Forge is an online community, we should be doing a little more Here, on This Website. I'm taking to heart the ensuing conversation between Ben, Ralph and Ron, but won't relay those points here.

What I want to get at is, What can we do here, at the Forge, our very selves, to make things better?

I'll come right out and say: Personally, I think it was awesome that the GNS/Theory discussion forums were shut down, to turn the Forge into a sleeker machine for providing folks with feedback on their games... However, I see a lot of posting in Actual Play, quite a bit in Playtesting (a bit of me wonders if that forum isn't at least partly a kind of Group Blog for "What's New In the World of My (the author's) Game Design"), and an abortive mess in the First Thoughts forum.

I think, and sorry to equivocate on this, I don't want to write an essay on how I came to this conclusion, that the First Thoughts forum, plus the Playtesting forum are the most important forums on this site for designing a new game. Connections and Publishing is awesome once you have something ready to go. But for the process of coming up with that idea, to writing the game, to playtesting it, that's the realm of First Thoughts and Playtesting.

In short, I think if the Forge is going to remain healthy as Ben pointed to in his thread, more folks have to get involved with those two forums. I tend to see the same folks (Jason, Ron, Eero, xenopulse) posting a majority of the solid feedback, and thinking that it's sad that there's not more folks giving more feedback.

More in a sec...

-Andy
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2007, 06:58:06 PM »

So I guess the question is, "How can we get people more interested in giving feedback in those two areas of the Forge"?  How do we encourage old Forge hats to spend some time every now and then looking through those forums looking to give feedback?  Is there a way to encourage involvement without forcing people to do so? Do we just need more people to set positive examples?

Personally, I totally fall into this category. At my new job I'm incredibly busy (too busy, in fact, to even participate in my own forums for more than a few minutes a day during work hours), and have a ton of projects at night. Personally, I feel like I'm not giving what I should give by helping others in those forums. About once a month, on some random Sunday, I'll go, "Shit! It's been about a month", and scan the first 1-3 pages of the First Thoughts forum for threads that I can review and comment on. I notice every once in a while Judd also posts a "Hey, if it's been a while, let's go see what's going on with new designers!" post to his blog or S-G, and that usually is a good kick-in-the-pants reminder to get involved and help a little.

Locally I'm involved with helping read and playtest the games of four friends. The payoff is immediate: I hang with friend, have fun playing a game, eat some food, etc.

On First Thoughts, though, it's a lot harder to commit the time to reading and critiquing. There's all those old factors, like:
* What this guy is doing is just something that I'm not interested in. Any feedback I give will be to the detriment of his design goals (this one's a valid concern, IMO)
* Crap, that's the fifth guy I gave significant feedback to who just disappeared off the face of the earth.
* Too... many... threads... Who do I prioritize to give help to?

I'm wondering if anyone can give some thoughts or suggestions to people that might get them more involved with the First Thoughts and Playtest forums?

For me, personally, I haven't participated much at all in the Playtest forum: However, after looking through it more, I see that this is the kind of place that I can post to without fear of the designer walking away or disappearing: If they've run at least one playtest, no matter how good or bad they did, it shows that they're at least committed to their idea, so my feedback won't be for naught.

But how should I approach the First Thoughts forum?  How can I encourage others to also participate without twisting arms, coercion, etc?

-Andy
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2007, 02:38:28 AM »

Shouldn't this be in Site Discussion?

Speaking for myself, my policy for posting support is to simply not even look at most threads. I'll just check to see if the guy's a regular (if so, I'll skip it; he's got it together), if he's got any replies yet (if so, somebody else is already engaging him) and if it's a project with a name I recognize (if it's something that's been going on for a longer while, he's already got a support group). This is separate from curiousity reading; nowadays I don't generally read anything in the design forums out of curiousity, as I have more than enough design work with my own designs. Actually, the only threads I check out because of curiousity are the community gossip things like this one and threads related to specific games I'm interested in.

What the above means in practice is that I don't post much at all. Definitely not in any concerned manner, looking to make the world a better place by filling a quota of support posting. Even when I post, I don't really know if I'm doing anything good and helpful there: most of these folks are not really ready to do game design on any level, and will probably not stick around to learn to do it any better. And the quality of my discussion with them is often awful. I can't recall anybody I've actually helped with my posting, so I guess you can't call it successful participation, even. Mostly it's just a matter of letting the guy be heard about his ideas, instead of leaving him with an empty thread. Just look at the awful magic metal thread we have in First Thoughts right now, I'm making a mess of it as we speak...

But, putting aside the efficacy of posting in the first place, a couple of points about your premise:
- It's not necessarily useful to increase the number of people posting to threads. As you can see above, I right out do not even go into a discussion if there are already people in it. I figure that if those people posted, then they obviously had something useful to say, or can direct attention to the thread from specialists if it needs that. You can confirm this yourself by checking into my posting patterns: I'm usually the second guy into most threads if I'm there at all. The only exceptions I make are for threads that happen to be about a specific specialty of mine (like children's games, say, being that I'm writing one).
- Given the above, do we have too few people posting here? Do we have too few quality people posting? Is the quality of the feedback proffered to posters too low? That's quite possible: for all I know, all those threads I don't read because they seem to be garnering discussion are even worse than my abortive attempts at being useful. Somebody (Ben, perhaps) said that nowadays the Forge is full of newbies advicing each other, because nobody else is doing it. If this is the case, not only need I change my reading patterns, but apparently we also need those "quality" people to help out here.

But, but... your main question, how to approach First Thoughts... Well, the above is my method. Or not a method so much, in that I don't really think about it in an artificial manner ("oh, it's Monday again, have to go post feedback in First Thoughts")... I guess it's habit, really. So I fear that I can't give anybody any useful advice about how to be inspired to do it, when I'm myself doing it out of habit.

--
I don't know, I'm really just pondering aloud here... what is there to revitalize, actually? I feel like these discussions about Forge revitalization originate from folks who have essentially moved on from when they needed the kind of instruction and support Forge offers. And now they're wondering why the Forge doesn't seem so fresh and exciting anymore. That's no wonder, when the only position left for you here is to play the elder sibling to the next generation. I never went through the public design phase at the Forge for various reasons (too busy to design for a long while, and when I had the time, I did it in Finnish), but I think I know what you mean about the change in tone between the heady days of 2004 and now; it was indeed kinda fun to shoot the shit with Jonathan or Tim or Andy about their latest game designs. But I also understand that people and their needs and perspectives change: when the same people come here now, they do not do so out of need for what the Forge has to offer. They have their established game design support webs and experience to work on their designs without the Forge. So from their perspective the Forge has gone duller: they do not any longer see opportunity and ideas lurking in every corner, because they are not looking for that, anymore.

Then again, it's also possible that there has been some shift in the quality of material we get around here. I don't remember when I last got actually excited about a new design, like I used to around when PUNK and Humble Mythologies and such projects were discussed here. But I'm not ready to say anything about the veracity of this impression, precicely because I'm affected by the same shift in perspective: in 2003 I saw the Forge and it's discussions in different light from now, so for all I know the only discernible difference is in my own perspective. Probably Ron or some other oldster will tell us whether there anything has changed, and I'm inclined to believe them over my own perception, for the reasons indicated.

Actually, I lie about not remembering when I last got interested in something: I do kinda like Sebastian Pelletier's (or however you spell the name, I'm too lazy to check.) Avalanche project. Anyway.

As I see it, the greatest change overall has been the diaspora, for good or ill. In the current situation, Forge's message is hyperfocused: established designers communicate and work outside of the Forge, the trendy crowd likewise. Design contests have taken out most of the in-community idea work. Theory work happens nowhere much. So what's left here is exactly what you see: newbie accomodation to basic tools of game design and publishing. Kinda makes sense, and casts a light of suspicion on the whole revitalizing business: the community itself is quite vital, and if the Forge part of it happens to seem dull to you, it might be because you have no interest in what it does anymore. I suspect that this will not change, no matter how much you force yourself to communicate with newbies about their exciting new game ideas. Not everybody is interested nor suited to acting in this "interfacing" and tutoring role, in which case one might argue that their proper place is in the blogosphere (insofar as we have to find everybody some established "role" in the community) or other forums.

Agh, for some reason I'm constantly writing these "nothing is wrong, stop worrying" posts in reaction to these Forge culture introspections. If anybody can tell me why, I'll appreciate it, because I have no idea when I became such a whiny reactionary. Really, if you can and want to do something to improve the level of rpg design and publishing in the world, I'm all for it, just show me where to start pushing.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2007, 02:58:22 AM »

Hiya,

Eero, I'll nab a bit of your phrasing to alter to contribute my take on the subject:

You wrote,

Quote
if you can and want to do something to improve the level of rpg design and publishing in the world, I'm all for it, just show me where to start pushing.

... which I'll alter to:

If you can and want to do something to improve the level of rpg design and publishing in the world, then do it.

The only issue in First Thoughts is the need for more people to be responding and thinking there. Great ideas appear there all the time, and effort spent with New Person X will be read and appreciated by others, even if Person X goes away. So, my goal is to post more - and well - in First Thoughts. Eero, since you're already doing this, I think you're setting the bar for me and others.

Best, Ron
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2007, 03:08:05 AM »

Quote
But I also understand that people and their needs and perspectives change: when the same people come here now, they do not do so out of need for what the Forge has to offer. They have their established game design support webs and experience to work on their designs without the Forge. So from their perspective the Forge has gone duller: they do not any longer see opportunity and ideas lurking in every corner, because they are not looking for that, anymore.

It also utterly fails those new people who come here because it's touted as a design community.
It may give them a network of fellow newbies to later help them with their design, it gives them the technical knowledge of how-to publish a book, but that's it.
The Forge is centered around AP, AP as either giving status to published (printed) games, or as a workshop where you analyze your game-experience.

The Forge, according to what it is supposed to be, is supposed to be focused on Playtesting and First Thoughts.
It is not.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2007, 04:57:42 AM »

Psssh. That's carping bullshit, Guy. Don't waste our time with it.

There is only one way for Playtesting or any other forum to serve the purposes and meet the potential that you'd like for them, and that's for you to post in them, constructively and fairly. Anything else, any reaction or comment whatsoever, is stupid.

Andy, here's my take on your general point. I've been through about five cycles of "Oh no, the Forge is failing!" threads, all of them with titles like this thread's. Revitalizing? What do you mean, revitalize? The place is fine. Every single time, the posts in each cycle come from someone who's just coming to terms with the fact that one's initial welcome must, eventually, become one's platform for personal action. It's not like a lot of other sites, in which you fight for a welcome, and then you get to re-live it endlessly. A few people in the same state of realization post "me too" grievously, and eventually they all get over it, either staying or leaving or taking a break as they see fit.

So Andy, what I'm getting from your post is, you want to post more here in First Thoughts and Playtesting. If so, and if you can find the time, that's fantastic. Great news. But let's not dress it up as revitalizing the Forge, or fixing some problem here, or calling attention to some imagined subcultural crisis, or calling for action for others to do. It's really just about you and whether, and how, you'd like to participate. If you post in those forums, constructively, then that serves as a call for action better than anything else could. It doesn't have to be often, just regular.

Best, Ron
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2007, 05:15:25 AM »

I don't know, I'm really just pondering aloud here... what is there to revitalize, actually? I feel like these discussions about Forge revitalization originate from folks who have essentially moved on from when they needed the kind of instruction and support Forge offers.

Hmmm. This is most likely very true. However, I guess the impression that is coming off to some people is that "Up to 3-5 years ago, folks used the Forge like a ladder, then discarded it". With both implications: 1) That those people don't need it anymore. Awesome. Mission Accomplished.  But 2) That there's new people here that aren't benefiting from the community as people could a few years ago.

It might simply be an inaccurate observation, I dunno. It's just something that I've been thinking about, and seeing that if we take it as a given, what we might be able to do to fix it.

(and even as I write the above, I realize it sounds a little whiny, like those threads at RPGNet where we lament the loss of one member who doesn't post anymore, not looking to see that a dozen other awesome posters have already taken their place: It could be that there are more new people involved in feedback than I'm crediting)

Quote from: Ron
But let's not dress it up as revitalizing the Forge, or fixing some problem here, or calling attention to some imagined subcultural crisis, or calling for action for others to do.

Hmmm. I dunno. Isn't the Ashcan front a proposed methodology to fixing a problem with the design community, a call of action for others to join?

I saw Ben's comments (those four suggestions he signified in the other thread, reposted above): They struck a chord with me. Both the "How can we make things better" and "Instead of telling others what to do, things that we could do ourselves". I see a great merit in those suggestions, and had some of my own to share.

I'm not sure if "revitalize" is the right word, and I didn't want to start off the hypochondriac hyperventilation reflex... Perhaps I should have posted "More Solutions and potential methodologies towards fixing the perceived problems with the design community, its methods, and the social structure surrounding it that we could undertake on our own". Unfortunately, all that won't fit in a subject line. :-)

-Andy
« Last Edit: May 02, 2007, 06:35:23 AM by Andy Kitkowski » Logged

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Valamir
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2007, 06:29:56 AM »

I'm hearing you.  First Thoughts is a pain in my ass.  I know I should be in there in more.  I believe in what its trying to accomplish and I believe in "giving some back" as it were.  But its really a pain in the ass.

So, what is a practical approach to make First Thoughts more accessable so that the people who are posting there actually get some attention and feedback.  Here are my musings.

I actually think "First Thoughts" is a pretty poor name for the forum.  We know its SUPPOSED to mean early design musings about a game not ready for play test, but too often (and being the first forum on the page doesn't help) new designers think its supposed to be their first stopping point at the Forge.  The First Thoughts forum has become something like those "Introduction" threads on Blogs, only instead of "tell us a little something about yourself" its "tell us a little something about your game".

IMO, the first stop for new designers on the Forge should be Actual Play.  Not "problem play", not "diagnose my issues" play, not "Is this gamism" play.  But instead "Here are times when it was awesome" play.  "Here's what I really enjoy in a game" play "Here's the lightning in a bottle moment that I'd like to get on a more reliable basis" play.

THEN, the first thing that should be at the top of any new Design thread in First Thoughts should be links to those AP reports along with commentary about elements of those play experiences you're trying to capture in this design.  In other words:  "Here's what I like", "Here's what I'm designing".

Because for me, when I see a design thread by someone with 2 posts at the Forge, I don't know them.  I don't know what they like.  I don't know if they're already indie-punk fanatics who think that Shreyas Sampat's designs are too conservative.  I don't know if they've never played an indie game before and think Savage Worlds is revolutionary.  Sometimes lists of "here are the games I play" can help, but often (when they're just the usual suspects) they don't really tell much and its easy to leap to wrong conclusions.

So I read First Thought threads from time to time and I'm often at a loss.  I don't know how to offer suggestions for a design where I don't understand what the designer is trying to accomplish. 

Power 19 was a great first step in teaching new designers how to provide useful information...but even that often doesn't work because the questions are so far past where many have even considered going that the answers are "you can be any character you want and go on fantastic adventures".

So here's another Practical Idea.  I suggest that all veteran Forge designers (current regulars or diasporized) post a Power 19 for their current and future designs to First Thoughts.  These can then serve as a template, a supply of good examples to help make the Power 19s posted by new designers more useful.


Another idea is First Thought matchmakers.  This perhaps could get tied into having multiple moderators for the forum who would try to identify designs that strike a particular chord and draw the attention of some more veteran designer who would be interested in the thread, but missed it.  You know, a PM like "Hey so and so, this thread sounds like something right up your ally". 


I guess what I'm getting at is ways to make the First Thoughts forum more accessible.  Currently the forum requires carving out a ton of time to plow through what is essentially an ongoing news feed looking for interesting articles.  Most people don't have the time to spare to do that.  So anything that makes the process easier to get into, I think will help increased participation.


To address another topic, could you elaborate on what is meant by "recruiting booth monkeys" and "opening the social scene" at Gen Con in terms of what's envisioned and the benefits there-to.
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2007, 06:55:33 AM »

Hey Ralph, I'll comment in a sec (thanks for your reply). One thing that I forgot to do when I was writing the above at 0-o'clock in the morning was clarify what I would like out of this thread (you read my mind, but I kinda wanted to say this now before more folks post, it was an err on my part to let this go for so long).

What I'd specifically love to see is:

1) In general: From folks who perhaps feel the problems in the design community that Ben, Ron, Matt S, etc touched on: More suggestions from ideas that people may have been sitting on, that they might suggest as ways to personally work with the Forge (this online message board) to improve the design community
And with regards to this point, I don't want to see:
Bitching about the problems in the design community. 
Any post which tears down without making a practical suggestion of its own.
Stuff for "Others To Do", or what "Others Should Do". Like Ben, I don't want to point fingers at what others should do, I want to see suggestions on practical activities where, if I or anyone wanted to, they can engage in themselves.
(think like Recycling: How YOU can improve the environment, not what OTHERS can do to improve the environment)

2) Specifically (and sorry, my top posts mangled this): I, Andy, am having problems jumping into the First Thoughts or Playtesting forums. I'd like to see again solid practical ideas (like a brainstorm, even) that people could use to dive into that forum with renewed energy. Tips, tricks, secret codes, methodologies.
And with regards to this point, I don't want to see:
...uh, actually, anything goes here. I'd rather see some thought out ideas with explanation as to why it may work, rather than one-line posts without an explanation.
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2007, 09:53:25 AM »

Heya,

Quote
So here's another Practical Idea.  I suggest that all veteran Forge designers (current regulars or diasporized) post a Power 19 for their current and future designs to First Thoughts.  These can then serve as a template, a supply of good examples to help make the Power 19s posted by new designers more useful.

Hey, I can get into that!   I'm working on several games at the moment, and I'm getting to the point where I could really use some feedback.  Great idea, Ralph.  If I get time tonight after work, I'll post or two of mine.  Smiley

Peace,

-Troy
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northerain
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2007, 02:01:03 PM »

I'll chime in here. I'm new but I've been lurking for a while. I think The Forge has a lot of traffic/posting for a forum of this kind. It's not a social forum, it's a forum strictly about rpg design. That means every thread and post(90% of them at least)isn't a waste of space. It's well thought out and carefully written. Superimpose this with any other forum and you'll see the threads that actually matter are very few and far between.
And back to the topic at hand, maybe what the Forge needs is a place to blow of steam, bitch and whine about your rpg design troubles and just shoot the breeze. Maybe an IRC chatroom?
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xenopulse
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2007, 02:14:29 PM »

Northerain, that's what I use Story Games for Smiley  There's also an #indierpgs channel on irc.magicstar.net, if you know how to access IRC chatrooms.

Andy, I went ahead and posted a Power 19 thread, per your suggestion. I had actually forgotten how useful that was, so I learned a couple of things just from doing that. Thanks for your efforts.

Regarding your questions, my way of diving into First Thoughts is often to print off something that someone posted, whether it's a thread or PDF, then read it during my train ride home while making notes, and then just type it all up and post it.  That's a good use of commuter time for me, and it allows me to focus on it.
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northerain
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2007, 02:20:10 PM »

Yeah I'm a member there too. But my point is, if you want the Forge to have more traffic/be more alive or whatever, this is definitely something that would help, if you want to go down that road. Otherwise, the Forge is just fine as it is.
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2007, 04:12:33 PM »

So I read First Thought threads from time to time and I'm often at a loss.  I don't know how to offer suggestions for a design where I don't understand what the designer is trying to accomplish. 

Power 19 was a great first step in teaching new designers how to provide useful information...but even that often doesn't work because the questions are so far past where many have even considered going that the answers are "you can be any character you want and go on fantastic adventures".

One thing that I'm picking up out of here is that, maybe after some thought, it might be interesting to explore the concept of an informal template of sorts. The Power 19 is awesome for thinking about one's own game, but it's really hard to respond to, to generate conversation.  Hmmm. I might have to put some effort into thinking of a companion piece to the '19 that aims to broadcast ideas and attract specific feedback more accurately.

Quote
So here's another Practical Idea.  I suggest that all veteran Forge designers (current regulars or diasporized) post a Power 19 for their current and future designs to First Thoughts.  These can then serve as a template, a supply of good examples to help make the Power 19s posted by new designers more useful.

This is awesome. I mean, the point to me and Ben's thing is, "Stuff that you'll do yourself", but the above suggestion aimed at others is just a semantic quibble (a declaration of personal action): *Ralph* will post a power 19. xenopulse will post a power 19. Others are welcome to join. Rock.

Quote
Another idea is First Thought matchmakers.  This perhaps could get tied into having multiple moderators for the forum who would try to identify designs that strike a particular chord and draw the attention of some more veteran designer who would be interested in the thread, but missed it.  You know, a PM like "Hey so and so, this thread sounds like something right up your ally".

This would be excellent.  Actually Jason M does this with me a lot, I should also get in there and see what might interest others, and possibly attract their attention to possibly interesting threads.

Quote
To address another topic, could you elaborate on what is meant by "recruiting booth monkeys" and "opening the social scene" at Gen Con in terms of what's envisioned and the benefits there-to.

That, I'm afraid, is Ben's point, so he'll have to elaborate on that (and I think that this or possibly a sister thread would be a good place for that). If I had to guess, I think it's "Recruiting more non-designer booth monkeys", and "advertising/inviting more people to the hotel where we crash the bar/dining area and play games at night".

Quote
Andy, I went ahead and posted a Power 19 thread, per your suggestion.
Rock: But to give credit where it's due, that was Ralph's idea.

Quote
But my point is, if you want the Forge to have more traffic/be more alive or whatever, this is definitely something that would help, if you want to go down that road.

Oh hells no. Generating more noise that distracts from the laser focus of the site is so not the answer, IMO. It would just create more crap to wade through, and knowing me, I'd focus on the crap and not helping people like I want to. :-) 

Also, as Troy indicated, basically that's what I created Story Games for: It's not a design community, it's like an RPGNet style "House of Enthusiasm, Good Spirit and Noise" for small press games and alternative roleplaying.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2007, 01:45:39 PM »

* Too... many... threads... Who do I prioritize to give help to?
Andy, I particularly feel this, and I've felt it for a long time.
Because for me, when I see a design thread by someone with 2 posts at the Forge, I don't know them.  I don't know what they like....

So I read First Thought threads from time to time and I'm often at a loss.  I don't know how to offer suggestions for a design where I don't understand what the designer is trying to accomplish....

Currently the forum requires carving out a ton of time to plow through what is essentially an ongoing news feed looking for interesting articles.  Most people don't have the time to spare to do that.
It was quite a long time ago that I cut the Design forum from my routine, and I never managed to incorporate the Actual Play forum into my visits.  Ron would probably brand me a heretic for that, but I don't have the time, and even if I did, my contributions in those areas would not have significant practical value.

See, I am a theorist, fundamentally and inherently.  My strength in law school was always in theory, and my professors found my insights keen enough that the sometimes asked that I not answer a question until the rest of the class had a shot. My theology is all strong in the realm of theory, and every day I help people come to grips with difficult problems with religion.  My time travel theory site was launched as a sideline to drum up interest among the sci-fi community in my game, and put me on the reading list of college courses and the contact list of interviewers and film writers for help with time travel theory.  Ron does not believe that people can do game theory without the nuts and bolts of actual play, but I strip the practical from the theoretical so quickly I can't always reconstruct what the practical was that brought me there.

When I was reading game design threads, I was constantly boggled.  I could not remember from one day to the next which game this was or what the point of it was.  Give me five games, and I will quickly amalgamate them into common concepts, but I won't easily remember which of them you mean when you want to separate them again.  The only way I could really contribute to those game design threads was every day to read each one over again from the beginning--and even if it had been the only thing I did in a day and I only did a few of them, it still would have been more than I could manage.  I cut game design from my schedule because I could not come back the next day and remember what all these games were.  Theory I could discuss, because I live and breathe theory, and I would identify your name with your ideas about theory.  Your game?  That's something that sits on a shelf on the side of your life, and I'd have to read the rules every day to make sure I knew which game it was.

The closing of the theory threads was, for me, the invitation to reduce my participation the rest of the way.  Ron had long been talking about the Diaspora, about fazing out The Forge as it would be replaced by other media.  Closing Theory was my cue to dissipate.  I have no hard feelings about it, but it was a bit like being asked to retire, put out to pasture--"We appreciate all that you have contributed here, but we don't need those contributions anymore; if you want to contribute in these areas at which you really have little to offer, you are welcome to do so."

Thus ideas about revitalizing the Forge strike me as exactly opposite from what I see Ron and Clinton attempting to do--which is gradually to phase out what is happening here and let other places pick up the slack. I'm still in the top ten posters by post count, so I'm not embarrassed that I'm not still contributing here (and although I benefited greatly from Ron, Ralph, Mike, and others, that was largely back at Gaming Outpost where the discussions began, so I don't really owe the site much for helping with my game designs). The Internet is by its nature temporary.  Already forums themselves are becoming passe as a concept (just as mailing lists did when forums ascended).  Clinging to what they were doesn't really help anything, any more than me trying to be someone I'm not.

--M. J. Young
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