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Author Topic: What's the best way to present a mechanic for discussion?  (Read 18881 times)
Christoffer Lernö
Member

Posts: 822


« on: November 10, 2002, 08:52:18 PM »

Hi All,

I know this is a little late for me to ask (doh!), but what is really the best way to present a system one has written? I'm talking about the core mechanics of a system and not setting - you know what would fit in a rule synopsis or something...

I usually see people either dumping all they have (and get little response) or send a link (and get little response). The times I have done the former I've gotten... you guessed it... little response. I've gotten the most comments (and aroused the most bad feelings) posting isolated parts of mechanics.

Now let's say you arrive to the Forge with a rule system you want people to take a look at. What's the best way of presenting it? (If there's a good answer that one it ought to be put at the top of indie design with a sticky)

I'm currently leaning towards presenting a brief summary of the mechanics that carefully points out any unusual mechanics. At the end of the posting one would include a link to the full rule set (with or without setting) so that people can play around with the numbers a little.

But that's just an idea. Any others having an opinion?
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formerly Pale Fire
[Yggdrasil (in progress) | The Evil (v1.2)]
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Gordon C. Landis
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Posts: 1024

I am Custom-Built Games


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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2002, 09:46:18 PM »

I've been meaning to post a thought about the Indie Game Design forum for a while now - thanks for providing the thread, PF.  Seems to me, the folks who get the most value out of that forum have specific, focused questions about their game that they ask people to help answer.  Anything to give responders something to focus on - a jargon-laden "this may be too Sim for the Nar approach I want overall, but I really want this Color element - how can I make it work?"  Or a simple "is anyone even interested in a game like this?"

Many Forge posters are very generous, and will try and provide feedback to anything that gets posted.  But the truth (it seems to me) is that those who do the best job of making CLEAR what they want will get the most numerous/useful/best responses.

Any other good ideas about "How to get the most out of this [Indie Game Design] forum" from folks?  If we get enough, a sticky post with that title that summarizes what results would be good . . .

Gordon
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Valamir
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Posts: 5574


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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2002, 11:11:31 PM »

Rule #1:  "What do you think", "any thoughts", or "feedback wanted please" are next to useless both for the reader and the poster.  Useless for the poster because much of what response they will get will be all over the place and won't address the issue at hand.

Rule #2:  1 thread 1 idea.  Threads will drift, that is all but inevitable...but putting several ideas into 1 thread will either overwhelm the reader or result in a confused mass of cross threaded posts that just gets ugly fast.  If the ideas have little direct relationship use different threads.

Rule #3:  More of a recommendation than a rule, 1 active thread (or perhaps 2 if they are gathering alot of interest) on any given game or system at a time.  Following Rule #2 by starting 3 or more threads at the same time can be equally overwhelming.  Best bet, spread 'em out.  Focus on 1 idea at a time, and when that thread reaches some conclusion introduce the next one.

Rule #4:  Focused questions.  The next step after Rule #1 above.  Ask something.  End your post with a specific question.  Not "what do you think" but "I'm looking for effect Y, do you think X will get me there".  Ask yes / no type questions.  The Forge is the kind of place where posters will tell you yes or no AND give you the reasoning behind their answer.  That leads to productive discussions on specific topics.

Rule #5:  Avoid stream of conciousness brain dumps.  Brain dumping is an important part of the creative process.  Its amazing how useful it is to collect those stray ideas and finally get them down in some format.  Just don't use a Forge post for that topic.  Do your brain dumping in a WP file.  Then go through and organize it, clean it up, and come up with some focused questions from it...post those...not the brain dump.

I don't make policy here, but if I did the above 5 would definitely be part of it.

Good topic.  Next we could probably do with a "what's the best way to respond to someones presentation" discussion.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2002, 06:41:47 AM »

Hi there,

I agree with much of Ralph's post, but I think it's a second step rather than the first. One of the hardest things to do in a post is to present the entirety of the idea that you want feedback on ... without getting wrapped up in a particular detail.

At first glance, it seems like an insoluble problem. No RPG component exists in isolation. So how can you present Feature X without presenting Features A-Z?

However, when people have presented full-game material in a particular way, response has usually been powerful and substantive (Le Mon Mouri, Torchbearer). That particular way is as follows:

1) State the Premise in plain language. You might not even know or care what a Premise is, in the terms of my essay, but that doesn't matter. Any statement regarding what makes the game engaging at the group level, to the real people will do. Do not get wrapped up in describing the imagined Situations during play.

2) Mention (do not explain) the Setting and Character concepts. Saying "eight non-human species to choose from" is all we need, rather than describing them in gruesome cultural detail. Also, if there isn't an immediate relationship between #1 and #2, you'll be sure to hear about it.

3) State the basic concept of character creation - what is chosen first? What is done with points, if any? What is rolled? And so on. Also, state what basic resolution system is involved - how are talking, randomized methods, etc, all utilized?

4) State what reward mechanic is involved - is it character improvement? Player privilege? What? And furthermore, state how a character is reduced in effectiveness or otherwise

5) Just about all other features of role-playing arise from these things and their interactions, so anything else can be shelved.

Now, few people will have all of these nailed down enough to explain in an initial post. However, what matters is getting them all into existence in some form, rather than delving deeply into any one of them to get it "done" before addressing the others. (You can always tell when two creators do this separately, eh Jake?)

Therefore, a shallow but broad presentation, with an emphasis on connecting these disparate elements rather than dissecting any one of them, is most useful. That's what permits the specific questions that Ralph is talking about to be articulated.

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2002, 06:55:44 AM »

Hey Ron,

And furthermore, state how a character is reduced in effectiveness or otherwise

Missing end of sentence?

Paul
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2002, 07:07:26 AM »

Right.

"... reduced in effectiveness or otherwise ..." inhibited from further action, temporarily or permanently. (The key assumption to break in this case is that Punishment mechanics necessarily make a character less interesting or entertaining to play.)

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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Posts: 5574


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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2002, 09:30:48 AM »

Quote
Therefore, a shallow but broad presentation, with an emphasis on connecting these disparate elements rather than dissecting any one of them, is most useful. That's what permits the specific questions that Ralph is talking about to be articulated.


Good point...that should be Rule #2...the broad introduction.
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Christoffer Lernö
Member

Posts: 822


« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2002, 05:56:35 PM »

I made a posting recently in Indie Design. Is this a step in the right direction or just as bad as usual? Any hint on how to improve such a posting?

Or should I have followed the outlines already discussed above?
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formerly Pale Fire
[Yggdrasil (in progress) | The Evil (v1.2)]
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talysman
Member

Posts: 675


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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2002, 11:26:06 PM »

Quote from: Pale Fire
I made a posting recently in Indie Design. Is this a step in the right direction or just as bad as usual? Any hint on how to improve such a posting?

Or should I have followed the outlines already discussed above?


hi... I haven't really commented on Ygg before, Pale Fire, since there were so many threads and they tended to be esoteric (the kind that would require extensive background reading on the system in order to even think about commenting...)

your most recent post is much clearer and doesn't require hunting down all the Ygg threads, so I think you did a good job in it.

I still haven't added a comment, but this time it's because I can't think of anything useful to say. but at least now I have an idea of how Ygg works.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Christoffer Lernö
Member

Posts: 822


« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2002, 09:22:07 AM »

I guess writing some clear "yes or no" questions didn't help so much... but then again I might be too pessimistic assuming no-one will reply on it. There is still hope while it's on the first page, right? :D
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formerly Pale Fire
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Ranked #1005 in meaningful posts
Indie-Netgaming member
Jeph
Member

Posts: 338

Jeff Schecter


« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2003, 01:25:08 PM »

I've posted the full text of the game with both Pagoda and Spin System, and they've gotten plenty of response. ::shrugs:: However, when I'm pressed for time, I can usually sum up a 10-20 page game in a short paragraph.

When I posted the full game text, I didn't ask any questions, sum anything up at the beginning, or whatever . . . but the "little response" problem was definitely not there. I just said, "hey, this is a game," and then posted the text. However, both were pretty short games, less than 10 pages at the time. Is this a method I should avoid in the future? Continue to use?
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Jeffrey S. Schecter: Pagoda / Other
SrGrvsaLot
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2003, 04:06:56 PM »

Being concise might help. It can be difficult to slough through a really long post and give it the attention it deserves, especially if you have other things going on in your life.
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John Frazer, Cancer
Andy Kitkowski
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Posts: 827

I LIKE GAMES


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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2003, 08:27:40 PM »

Here's my 2 yen to people who would post on this board. In fact, I wish I could have given this advice to myself (I'm taking it now) when I first became active at The Forge.

Hey everyone. I'm a nobody, so take my comments with a grain of salt:

* Show enthusiasm for your game.

* Make definite steps to publish your idea (a solid game/attack plan), and have signs or proof of those steps (ex: "Hey all, I plan on publishing this in X months"), before you post. One of the most disturbing trends is for people to post their nascent, good ideas here, get loads of great feedback and enthusiasm, and then give up on (or indefinitely postpone) their project and leave it, never to be heard from again.

To continue: If you post here without the full intention and, more importantly, solid, realistic plan to go through with completing the project, you are lying to yourself and perhaps doing the other designers a disservice by asking for their time and feedback. No one wants to spill their water in the sand and watch as it evaporates.

You can certainly post here without meeting this guideline, but don't be surprised if you don't get huge amounts of feedback. Water. Sand.

Thanks!

-Andy

ps: Hey everyone above: Is my sentiment above misguided? If so, PM me- I don't mind cleaning up or rewording the above. I'm just looking at the direct, honest and pragmatic.
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permacultureguerilla
Guest
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2003, 12:16:01 PM »

They may seem a little off topic, but I find forums are best when there are few rules. Now, there is a -place- for everything. But you can generally do anything . . . except spam! lol. One place might be for flamers, one might be for uneducated trivial things. One might be completely off topic but just for the sake of like-minded individuals. One might be for just the pros.

I don't see why it should be different for the forge. I realize we all want to make a game and market it, have fun with it as well. But a forum is the mix of the whole thing. It's more of an all-encompassing "smithery" rather than a single "hammer" tool.

You need a melting pot of fiery unguided debate, and sometimes a pounding of point-by-point instruction. (you can see I'm really used to analogies, lol. I really like the "forge" concept).

Anyways, I'm hoping I can get some agreement, unless I've just repeated something or stopped at an argument already made.

I am quite stoic about this, though. Rules are meant to have places, not a universal barrier (which . . . means that rule shouldn't be universal either, lol). Any thoughts on that?
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permacultureguerilla
Guest
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2003, 12:29:07 PM »

"No one wants to spill their water in the sand and watch as it evaporates."

The nice thing about a forum, though, is that it stays there almost indefinetely. How many other people will be able to consider this new concept? Even though the original designer may have jumped off the face of the earth. I'd say it's still the designers copyright. But we may as well fire new patterns of neurons every chance we get.

---------------

I like seeing tangled, messy work. Finding "diamonds in the rough" and "Hey! Try putting this with that!" When a game is done, a forum helps for finishing touches. But the application for the concepts may have been overlooked, and now it's too late. I rather have "legos" sometimes, rather than have a huge "masterpiece" that I have to take apart to find the real concepts behind.

Are we saying the forge is strictly editorial? I realize one argument:

Copyrights may be more vulnerable with a single concept than they are with a whole universe. (If I'm wrong about this, then nevermind that argument). A universe isn't as vulnerable this way, even though it had to get slapped together and sold so that you can capitalize on that concept in your lifetime. But then, I'm surprised that people are willing to put whole rulebooks online as well.

Perhaps my only rule would be to define exactly what aspect of the concept you feel is "your" idea, rather than simply spouting it and crossing your fingers.
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