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Author Topic: Database of independent rpgs  (Read 9517 times)
lumpley
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« on: April 16, 2009, 09:42:25 AM »

This is a call for software suggestions. I'm willing and excited to put some time and work into this, as the Forge's tech admin.

I wish there was some feature a bit like Board Game Geek that helped you pick and choose RPGs. 

...For example, what if I wanted a sci-fi RPG that I could play in an evening?  A Fantasy RPG for extended campaigns and character development (I know that one: Burning Wheel).  A game that's suited to 2 players?  With or without a GM?

Quoth I: I would love for the Forge to host a database of indie rpgs, along the same lines as Board Game Geek's database.

Anybody have any suggestions for software? It could be a wiki, or what else?

Wagn might be worth exploring.

It might! It looks interesting. Thanks, Paul.

Any other suggestions?

-Vincent
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Graham W
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2009, 10:16:01 AM »

Perhaps it could be integrated with the Unstore? It might make sense to have descriptions and buying together.

Story Games has something similar to this. The other option would be to update their version.

Graham
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lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2009, 10:37:45 AM »

Perhaps it could be integrated with the Unstore? It might make sense to have descriptions and buying together.

Very much something I'll be considering as I go forward. My thinking too.

-Vincent
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2009, 10:49:20 AM »

My Finnish-language webstore has buying and descriptions and whatnot together. Somewhat logical, but it'd be difficult to get any degree of uniformity in the information in the Unstore, considering how hands-off Vincent is about its contents. Also, information overload would need to be addressed - basically, you can only have two of a) good reference, b) commercial function and c) usable interface. This is why I'd go with a separate database with links to Unstore or wherever; you wouldn't need to clutter the Unstore with the reference material.

I don't know how useful mere short reviews of games would be - I've thought about creating some web resource to introduce people to the design tradition of the Forge, but I've pretty much concluded that a well-written article is the way to go, perhaps supplemented by some categorized lists of important games. Publishers are quite capable of running their own websites, so it might not be that useful to duplicate those marketing materials in yet another database. Besides, what use would an undifferentiated, unanalyzed list of games be? What would the criteria for inclusion be such that listing the games would have value?

Considering a database, though - where BoardGameGeek is used and useful is as a roughly standardized and well-updated reference. It's the place where we link in boardgaming discussions whenever some game is mentioned. The clean site structure with unique numbering for the games assists in making the site a default reference whenever a hardcore boardgamer wants to check out basic statistics about a game. In Internet discussions it's easy to link to BGG instead of searching for the publisher's site, especially as you're usually guaranteed some basic information about any game in BGG whether the publisher has that info in their own site or not. BGG also collects rules updates, translations, links and other basic supplemental material for the games, making it an easy one-stop starting point for researching a game you're interested in.

Running that level of operation is a huge task, though. BGG has a large and active user base with exceptional dedication to cataloguing their own game libraries and a vested interest in caring for the database. I can't imagine duplicating that sort of database activity with anything less than the supposedly forthcoming RPGGeek site. So considering a Forge game database, it'd have to be something different... I could see a primarily designer-updated wiki that focused on games associated with the Forge - basically let anybody add indie games in there who'd care to and see what came in. I'd imagine that we'd get something like 50 games in it... perhaps it'd be worthwhile - I could clean up my own site and provide links to the new database, for example.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2009, 12:47:32 PM »

I would be willing to contribute information / writing to the project. (basically, if someone else gets this thing off the ground, I'd be willing to flesh out an existing structure.)

Wagn looks excellent for this and for a literary project I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm going to spend some time this weekend exploring it.

yrs--
--Ben
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The Magus
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2009, 12:48:45 PM »

Phew - I thought I was going to have to do this after my last post.  I would like to help, possibly as the voice of the new player.  I appreciate all the input you designer types are putting in but I would like a real end-user player perspective also.  I looked at the Story games website and while it is good to have all those names in one place it's not helpful in terms of games selection.  It looks like the sort of stuff you could read on the designer's website, albeit gathered in one place.

I always found this Geeklist on BoardGameGeek a good one.

I'd like to know things like:
  • Optimum number of players
  • Best with X players
  • Necessity of dice rolls - Burning Wheel = loads, Everway = none
  • Systems of resolution
  • Is a GM necessary?
  • Is the setting GM, player or game generated (e.g the latter being something like the Forgotten Realms supplements)
  • Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror/Greeks in Outer Space
  • Complexity of the system
  • RPG skill level - to play Baron Munchausen I would think you'd have to be a great improvisor

In terms of helping I'm a computer expert in my office but that's because I know how to load the printer tray and change its cartridges.  That's the sort of standard I'm used to.

Thanks for reading
Piers
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Adam Schiller
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2009, 01:27:41 PM »

I think that, beyond the system that will be used to organise the games, we still need information to start-off this project. Even rough definitions based on genre are a good start. For instance, going-down the list of sub-forums here at The Forge...

FANTASY
Sorcerer http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com/
Elfs http://www.adept-press.com/elfs/
Legends of Alyria http://www.darkomengames.com/alyria.html

ADVENTURE (NON-FANTASY)
The Committee For The Exploration of Mysteries http://ericjboyddesigns.com/The_Committee.aspx
Rustbelt http://www.angelfire.com/indie/btw/games/rustbelt.html
Fae Noir http://www.greenfairygames.com/faenoir.html

OFF THE WALL
Obliterati http://www.angelfire.com/indie/btw/games/obliterati.html
A Flower For Mara (drama) http://www.darkomengames.com/mara.html
House of Cards (crime) http://ericjboyddesigns.com/HouseofCards.aspx
Candycreeps http://www.greenfairygames.com/candycreeps.html

WARFARE
Gray Ranks http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/index.php?game=grey_ranks

SOCIAL (SERIOUS)
Break The Ice http://www.blackgreengames.com/bti.html
Shooting The Moon http://www.blackgreengames.com/stm.html
Under My Skin http://www.blackgreengames.com/ums.html
Fiasco http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/index.php?game=fiasco
Drowning and Falling
http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/index.php?game=drowning_and_falling
Dirty Secrets http://www.darkomengames.com/secrets.html

SOCIAL (HUMOUR)
Super Action Now! http://www.angelfire.com/indie/btw/games/san.html
The Shab-al-Hiri Roach http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/index.php?game=roach
Primetime Adventures http://www.dog-eared-designs.com/games.html

SPORTS
Kayfabe (wrestling) http://www.errantknightgames.com/kayfabe/

I know this is just a start, but even if that were it, I think it would satisfy a lot of people's curiosity. Now, especially with indy RPGs, is grouping things into single genre always perfect? No, of course not. But it's a start, as if I, as a gamer, want to find some science fiction game books, at least I know where to start. Hypothetically, each game could have one or two "sub-genre" listed to help further define it. But for quick reference, generalisations kinda need to be made.
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2009, 05:36:22 PM »

I don't think that "genre" is a useful indication for forge games like it is for more "traditional" rpgs that share the same basic experience of play.  With forge games it's the basilar play experience that often changes between games, and it's often very easy to hack a different genre on a game (for example, you can play Breaking The Ice in a superhero genre, playing the first three dates between Superman and Wonder Woman, but it would still play like Breaking the Ice, not like Capes).

It would be more useful to show relationship between games (influences, direct derivation, shared premises, etc.) to get the "if you liked this you probably will like that" effect.
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Wordman
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2009, 06:25:17 PM »

It would be more useful to show relationship between games (influences, direct derivation, shared premises, etc.)
I think this is a totally brilliant idea.

One web-based "content management" app that might do the trick is Drupal, though you'd probably need some very specific plugins to do what you want. In particular there are some that can set up a sort of on-the-fly database structure, where pages have "types" and "types" contain specific fields.

Slightly "closer to the metal" is modx. It has less of a history and is a bit more "raw", but has a dedicated community.

If you want to go with custom code, take a close look at Cake PHP, which does a really good job of teaching you how to use it, better than any other framework I've seen. It's got a number of "rapid prototyping" features as well (things like "automatically build an HTML form based on this database table").

I'd be willing to help with this kind of stuff, but can't commit huge amounts of time at the moment, unfortunately. I can, however, set up a "playground" of sorts if people want to mess with particular software on my web domain. (I'm not sure I'll have the bandwidth to host the final product, though.)
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David Artman
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2009, 11:05:03 AM »

Not ot get meta with the discussion, but there's a whole wiki about how to do "Wiki as Database":
http://www.jspwiki.org/wiki/WikiAsDatabase

In my own experience as a frequent user of icehousegames.org (a "wiki database" of pyramid games), I would suggest the following:
* Establish a style guide from Day One:
-- How are articles named (Initial Caps, or sentence case)?
-- (How) Do you use sub-articles and sandboxes (of at all)?
-- What are Talk pages used for: game questions or commentary?
-- Do you need InfoBoxes; and if so what kinds, how many templates?
* Develop a STRONG, COMPREHENSIVE categorization scheme, or use Semantic MediaWiki (which seems a tad tricky, but I haven't really researched it). Enforce its use, rather than allow a proliferation of one-article Categories.
* Encourage designers to post articles for their own games, and maintain a Watch on them. If left to the average Joe off the street, you're going to have some pain, as designers check out their games' articles and see all kinds of unprofessional crap. Page locking might be a common admin action.
* Build a strong navigation system, to provide another way to browse games other than with the Categories, and provide it (with Help links) on the Main Page and in the sidebar. We use four major navigation pages:
-- Main page, to point folks to the L2 navigation.
-- Games Under Development, as a L2 page for incomplete games and those in playtest.
-- Comprehensive Game List, as another L2 with just alphabetized games, divided by Published (in print) and Community/online.
-- What Can I Play?, which is an L2 page that sorts games out by the components required, as many folks buy into the Icehouse system a tube or two at a time.
* Anti-spambot measures are mandatory. Your site will VERY quickly be overrun with links to porn and ring tones, if you don't (they even like to destroy pages to make the links--wonder how that works for them?!?).

In the end, it could be simpler to make a purpose-built MS Access database and publish it to the web, with proper forms, and user security, and all that. (Or an open-source solution, like MySQL.) If you're just wanting a basic relational database with an "Enter Game" and "Query Games" form, it's not really a lot of work. I mean, look at online MLS systems and imagine all the shit THEY have to balance and relate (my pop worked on them for years--he's lost all his hair and the rest is nearly white). A games database, even with some extra table fields, is hardly more complex that the "book inventory" sample DB that comes with Access....

HTH;
David
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Wordman
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2009, 01:46:38 PM »

Develop a STRONG, COMPREHENSIVE categorization scheme, or use Semantic MediaWiki (which seems a tad tricky, but I haven't really researched it).
If you go the wiki route, choose the latter. Semantic links are totally worth the slight learning curve. As an example, they would very easily give you the "influenced by" behavior mentioned above, provided people used them. They are not hard to use, but there is sort of a mental "leap" you need to make before you realize that. I've been using them for quite a while in my personal campaign wiki, and am never going back. Using wiki's without them feels really crippling to me now.

I can give a demo or go on at more length about them if people are interested.
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Clyde L. Rhoer
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2009, 09:36:07 AM »

Wagn looks nice. If that's the default setup... it's pretty sweet. Here's a link, that lists it's features, and lists other wiki's features, sort of like distrowatch but for wikis.
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Welkerfan
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« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2009, 12:44:41 PM »

Whatever the forms ends up being, the main functionality that I would want out of this tool as someone who is not well-versed in Forge history, terms, or culture is a content-sortable database.  Frankly, I don't care about reviews.  I can get reviews just about anywhere.  I can read actual play threads.  I can even email the author.  The problem, though, is that I don't know which threads to read or which games to research.

I want to be able to sort games by things like number of players, system type, GM presence, game length, session length, preparation needed, and, yes, intended genre.  Frequently, I find myself saying, "I'd like to play a superhero game," or something similar.  Even though all of the superhero games may be wildly different, I'm not asking about play experience in this question; I'm asking about genre.  I don't have a play experience in mind; I just want to play a superhero and I'd like to know what kinds of experiences are out there in that genre.
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Brenton Wiernik
lumpley
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« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2009, 03:37:17 PM »

No more opinions about what it should be like, please. Thank you all for caring, and for wanting it to be good.

If you want to participate in its development, the thing to do now is suggest web database apps and suchlike for me to look at and weigh against one another. Everything else is premature.

Thanks!

-Vincent
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sirogit
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Posts: 503


« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2009, 09:36:48 PM »

Hello,

I created the framework for something roughly similar awhile ago. You might be interested in looking at it for inspiration.

http://csmsp.awardspace.com/rpgs/rpg_database.php

- Sean Musgrave
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