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General Forge Forums => Site Discussion => Topic started by: Paul Czege on June 04, 2002, 01:33:52 PM



Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Paul Czege on June 04, 2002, 01:33:52 PM
I need a conversation about this...

I don't think anyone will deny that The Forge is a steambath of design effort, a hothouse of creativity. But I can't help but think we're doing something wrong. We shed blood for our designs. We cast them, still smouldering, upon draped tables before our colleagues. And we hope...that someone plays them.

I could name names, easily, twenty or more playable games that have never actually been played. But I won't.

I can't help but think we need to think about this, but personally I've got more questions than answers.

If the goal of game design is to see the game played, and enjoyed, then what aren't we doing that we should be to achieve that goal? Is it something inherent in the games we're designing? Is an unconscious motivation that a game design be impressive to other designers somehow poisonous to actual play of the game? How so? Is the ratio of designs to Forge regulars too high for us to have reasonable expectations that our games will provoke play? Is there some kind of follow-through we ought to be doing to take our game design beyond the Forge, to a larger community of potential players? What's holding us back? Are we saturating or mis-using each other's attention for new designs...do we clamor to our own detriment...and if so, how do we avoid that? And if the answer is, "most/all of the above," then what do we start with from among them, and what do we prioritize?

Paul


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 04, 2002, 01:47:07 PM
Huh?

Who is it that you think has a problem?

Mike


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 04, 2002, 01:54:00 PM
Paul,

Fucking excellent questions. Here's my thoughts:

 - I'll start with the controversial: a major reason many of these games don't see play is because of the apathy/laziness of the average gamer/Internet person. Of course all these games could get played: there's over 530 members of the Forge here, and at least 200 of those are pretty active. I can go look on the memberlist and find clumps of them, too - people that could drive to play once a week. Why aren't these people playing? I'll tell you - it's fucking hard. I didn't play for quite a while because I just couldn't bring forth the effort to meet people, get them together in a group, beat them over the head when necessary, and prepare a game. That's not a good enough excuse, though.

 - Ok. Second most controversial point: we're making games that no one will play. I really think this is true. For example (and Christ, I hope I don't offend you, Paul), I can't see myself playing Nicotine Girls. I think it's fabulous, and a piece of art. I loved girls like these for years, and still do - your honest depiction of them with their flaws and all warmed me up inside. I don't think I'm getting my group to play them anytime soon, though. This isn't the worst thing ever, though - art for art's sake is cool. Fuck, I write short stories that I know aren't going to get published because - well, it feels good to have that burst of creative energy.

 - Third, we do need to get the word out. The Forge can be insular - a lot of times, we create a game, show it off around here, and then shelve it. We should be going to RPG.net, and RPGnews, and all that other stuff that I hardly even know about, and bashing them in the head with our design-fu.

I have a partial solution. I'm going to put forth a challenge to the members of the Forge. Every other Sunday, I'm going to go into Actual Play and post a Featured Game. During that two weeks, as many people as can should play that game and come back and post about their experiences. I think asking people if they can have a pick-up game every two weeks isn't a whole lot, and if I hear a few people say they'll do this in this thread, I'll start the program this Sunday. (And I'll get Paul to help me pick the games.)


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 04, 2002, 02:06:40 PM
Clinton,

I think you'll get better results if you scale up that time-unit to one month or six weeks.

Paul,

1) I do think that designing games out of some misguided attempt to impress people (namely me, based on what I've heard from the horses' mouths) is a very bad idea. It means that only others' approval drives the creative ambition, and hence the likelihood of getting the thing through playtest and redesign is very low.

2) Speaking for myself, I can only shrug, regarding Actual Play. I play like a fiend, as evidenced by my posts and my reviews. I don't play each and every thing; the choice driven by my interests and by the interests of the others in my groups. I wish more people played as much and as variously as I did, simply so that we'd get a wider treatment of all the games that are posted.

However, let's compare the actual depth and breadth of play here to any other venue by which games are produced and played - and in that comparison I think that the Forge represents not only an increase, but a quantum leap over any other around, possibly over any other in the history of the hobby.

Therefore I think you perceive games to be "under-played" only in relation to your ideals, not to actual comparative units of role-playing communities outside the Forge.

Best,
Ron


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 04, 2002, 02:17:53 PM
Ron - A month sounds like a good time period.

A point Ron made to me the other day privately just popped into my head: games don't get played until several months after they're written. He's seeing new waves of Sorcerer players as they start or finish their first game 10 months after the book was released. I think this ties in - we think of these games not being played because they go off the New Links page in the Resource Library or off the first page in Indie Game Design without any players. In reality - these games are getting played around six months later. I think we can do a lot to make sure that happens by keeping these games in mind, though, and remembering to talk about them.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Zak Arntson on June 04, 2002, 04:52:23 PM
I've been promoting my monthly releases. I keep all my game links on one of two pages, to promote exploration. And, incidentally, I just got a super-enthusiastic response from someone who's been playing Fungeon. So yeah, there is a delay from release to play (that I've seen, too).

- My goal isn't "everyone should play my games" or even "this game should be played at least once." I design as a learning experience, a testing ground, and something I love to do. I get no response for Divine Right and I figure, heck, this isn't something I'll promote. I'll take what I've learned and move on. The positive notes about Shadows and Metal Opera tell me I'm getting better (and I'm now working on a commercial version of Shadows). My goal: People like my games, and maybe, just maybe they'll play one and drop me a line. Not to be confused with a long-term goal: Get the skills and knowhow to actually sell something.

- It is true we're making games nobody will play. Who'd play i am a sports hero? or the Jon Morris Sketchbuk Roleplaying Game? They're more fun to read and steal thoughts/inspiration from.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Paul Czege on June 04, 2002, 05:43:51 PM
The 100th refugee in line doesn't care that you gave out 99 bags of rice. Because he didn't get any damn rice. He also doesn't care that you and your colleagues gave out more rice than any other group.

Is he going to take ownership of the problem? He damn well better, or he's going to starve. If the limited resource isn't rice, but actual play, then the question is, what does a designer taking ownership of the problem look like?

Is there an undercurrent of competition among designers on The Forge? I think so. What do we gain by it? Competition is only necessary when a resource is scarce. What are we competing for? The Japanese terraced the hillsides so they could plant more rice. They took ownership of the landscape, and the community was better supported. If the limited resource isn't rice, but actual play, what does the community of designers on The Forge taking ownership of the landscape look like? Can we better support our community if we reinvent the way we think?

Are we being served by the competition we have, or hindered?

I still have more questions than answers. Why don't we confront our sociology and transcend it? Why don't we entertain the notion that we might be mis-using the land?

Difficult Question #1: A corporate team leader might have one staff member who's so skilled he can deal with any crisis that might come up. If the team leader assigns every crisis that comes up to the one staff member, he's doing a piss poor job for the company. He'll burn his goto guy out. If the guy leaves the company, the team leader is up shit creek because no one else knows how to do what the guy does. The team leader is better served by putting his goto guy in mentoring positions with other team members. What I mean by mis-using the landscape is, how about Ron mentoring a few others on doing game reviews? How about Mike Holmes mentoring a few others on doing dice probability analysis? In a corporate environment, there's always pressure to protect your skills. You don't want to work yourself out of a job. So people cultivate themselves as islands of expertise. But you can't get fired from "amateur game designer."

Difficult Question #2: Playing someone's game isn't exactly like giving them rice, because the game itself gives enjoyment back to the person playing. It's the glowing sweat of the designer's brow. So why the apathy? When I post about actual play, is it encouraging? Don't be so quick to answer. Is it encouraging in the long term? Or does it create ephemeral enthusiasm, immediate lust for play, followed by discouragement? And if so, what should I be doing differently?

Difficult Question #3: If you give a guy rice, he'll survive for as long as you continue to feed him. If The Forge disappeared tomorrow, how many of us could grow actual play of our games elsewhere?

Paul


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: C. Edwards on June 04, 2002, 07:27:41 PM
Paul Czege wrote:
Quote
I still have more questions than answers. Why don't we confront our sociology and transcend it? Why don't we entertain the notion that we might be mis-using the land?


Regardless of the various reasons why we (humankind) don't do these things, if we ever do manage it life just might resemble a fairy tale.

It seems to me Paul that most of the answers to your questions are grounded in basic human psychology.  I'm all for trying to wake people up, get them to take a look around and maybe take ownership of a situation.  Its certainly not an easy thing to do though as many people seem to go though life in a relatively bovine state of awareness.

Hell, maybe I'm just a cynic.

-Chris


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Tim C Koppang on June 04, 2002, 08:30:45 PM
Quote from: Chris
"We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams." -Willy Wonka

I found this quote eerily approriate considering the topic we are discussing.

On to business.  I agree with most of what has been said, and I think that Clinton's suggestion is moving in the right direction.  Role-playing is about actual play.  There is a rumor going around on other (here to remain unnamed) web sites that Forgites are all for talking theory and game design, but never get to the actual play.  If you ask me, the Acutal Play forum should be blazing with content.  I'm not saying it isn't, but I think we could do more.  As a whole, there have been some innovative mechanics to come out of Forge influenced games, but do we really see people posting innovative methods that are not mechanics to increase the enjoyability of actual play?  Yes, the mechanics should facilitate better role-playing... if they are applied correctly, and all the players understand them and use them enthusiastically.  But are there "other things" besides mechanics that will lead to better role-playing?  Are there yet uninvented "other things" that will lead to better role-playing?  Should we be talking about these things?

The Forge is a powerful tool that brings designers and their ideas together.  It's a place where rpg theory lives and gets applied.  We talk about our play sessions, but are we talking about the right things?  Most rpgs have a section telling you how to role-play and most are useless, but those that aren't are like a rare gem.  More of that kind of advice needs to be discussed in detail, just like the many discussions on rpg theory that got so detailed.  I guess what I'm really suggestioning is some better nuts and bolts type threads.

I think this post has gotten slightly off-topic, so let me try to tie it together.  The question reamains: how do we design games that will get played?  Activism is certainly a great tactic, but I think that if we all played more and developed better ways to play then we would all be open to more games - a sort of expanding you horizons type of philosophy.  I still think that many gamers are stuck with a few genres/gaming styles that they feel comfortable with and don't feel that games outside of their box are playable to them.  I love space opera, how could I ever play a game like Soap?  Well, once I started playing more games, and playing them better I began to see the fun in it.  And yes, conversation here on the Forge got me interested initially, but that conversation didn't give me the tools I needed to play the game.

My argument in a nutshell: More quality play = willingness to play more games, and more games that seem unplayable.  So what we need to do is start talking about how to facilitate quality play and more play... and then go play.

Quick thought: maybe we just have a lot of niche designers here on the Forge and not a lot of people to fill all the different niches.  Just a thought.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Seth L. Blumberg on June 05, 2002, 07:41:10 AM
Clinton, I agree with Ron: "featured games" are a great idea, but increase the time period to at least a month.

Paul, I think you underestimate the effort involved in putting together an actual play session. Look at how challenging the WFD playtest you want to run for me, Vanessa and Mike has become!

In order to Actually Play a new game, I have to (1) get buy-in from other players, (2) create a scenario, (3) schedule time when all of us can play. Any of these steps can become an obstacle.

For me and my usual play group, all three steps are difficult, because we all have Simulationist roots, and we're used to thinking of an RPG in terms of "one night every other week for the next three years" rather than as a casual pick-up kind of experience. I've tried to run pick-up games, but they always fail, partly because explaining the rules and generating characters consumes an entire session (and if the first session has no payoff, player buy-in evaporates and the second session never happens), partly because I am no good at thinking of one-shot scenarios--my GM style is very much about Intuitive Continuity.

Ron, you're the expert at facilitating Actual Play. How do you do it?


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2002, 08:17:37 AM
I still don't get it.

OK, I'll try harder. There are some good games that don't get played? That's the problem? Let's see, we have a limited resource, Actual Play time. So, presumably the games that attract the gamers here the most are the one's being played (or are you suggesting that people ar playing the 'Bad' games). Which means the ones not being played are not quite as good. Competition? Well, of course, we all want to make a better game, else why bother?

Sounds like "survival of the fittest to me", which I think is just fine. What do you suggest, that we make games that do not surpass others in quality so that they all have a fighting chance? Sorry, not buying it. People deserve whatever they get for the effort and quality they put into it. Remember, unlike the rice analogy, a person who's game is not played will not starve to death. There is no moral imperative to engage in more entertainment activities.

Should there be more play by the nebulous "We" here at The Forge? Well, I just drove to Chicago this last weekend to play in what were actually three demo games (including one of my own games). I'm supporting both Sorcerer and InSpectres with supplements. I'm not feeling at all guilty, I'm holding up my end of the bargain. And there are people here who do way more than I do.

Is this just a plea to those who don't play much to play more? I've been through Ypsilanti, Michagan, and it's amazing that Seth hasn't yet been killed in a "deerhunting accident" for playing RPGs. I think that people aren't refraining from play all that much, and if they do, it's their business. Again there's the Quid Pro Quo, and you get what you deserve from that.

I think that we have a very supportive community here. I still must be missing the problem. Which behavior is the destructive part?

Mike


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2002, 08:23:02 AM
Oh, for those who want to know how to do probability calculations, here's where we posted several of the most useful:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=875

I'd be very glad to have others able to do such calculations. But I don't mind anyone asking me, and have only turned down requests when they were over my head.

Mike


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Zak Arntson on June 05, 2002, 08:24:10 AM
Okay, I started a new thread at http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=22948#22948 on post-game design Actual Play issues. Because we, as designers, can't control a lot of factors.

But what can we do to encourage Actual Play? Providing a game playable "out of the box" is my opinion. You give a group a mechanic, they have to work hard. You give them a setting, well, where's the system? Instead, you make things as easy as possible for the gamers.

It's like Monopoly or Street Fighter. Everything's in the box. Playable as-is. Why can't RPGs be like this? InSpectres covers everything from PC creation to running the adventure to ending it all. d20 Cthulhu does the same. Too many free RPGs (I'm guilty of this, too) are just "here's a neat idea with an interesting system attached. You've got to do the rest!"


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Paul Czege on June 05, 2002, 08:36:40 AM
Hey Seth,

Ron, you're the expert at facilitating Actual Play. How do you do it?

I think you're on an eminently productive line of inquiry with this question, despite how simple-seeming it might be on the surface. And I'll tell you why. In the past year, I've played Theatrix, Sorcerer, The Pool, Mage, WYRD, Whispering Vault, Chalk Outlines, InSpectres, Nightwatch, SOAP, and OctaNe, and have posted in some fashion about them all in Actual Play. I posted my heart out about Theatrix. Did that effort provoke anyone else to play Theatrix? No. I posted about WYRD. Did it provoke anyone else to play? No. Any of the games I've played in the past year that others have also posted about playing are games that Ron reviewed or discussed playing prior to me having played them. When Ron reviews and posts about The Pool, people play it. When Ron talks up Riddle of Steel, and Dust Devils, people play them. I thought my posts about Theatrix were encouraging and empowering, but upon re-assessment, they're clearly not in the same ballpark of encouraging as Ron's reviews and posts. So how do I get from point A to point B? Is it my presentation? Am I just not picking the right games?

I've been thinking about the game of the month idea since Clinton proposed it. One of the things I think occurs at The Forge is a lot of, for lack of a better phrase, redundant processing. If I spend my lunch break at work reading Paladin, and taking notes, and then when I get back to The Forge with the idea of posting my thoughts I find that Ralph has already pretty much covered what I had to say, then from the standpoint of the community, my effort was wasted.

My concern is that a featured game of the month promotes more of the same redundant processing, with everyone focused on the same task, when I think what we want is to distribute our energy better. But I'm not quite sure how to provoke that. Like I said earlier, I have more questions than answers.

One thing I've noticed about threads on The Forge is that they tend to even themselves out over time, in that if I only have time in between meetings or something to read the thread, but not post my thoughts, that it's pretty damn likely someone else will make sure the important stuff gets covered in my absence. The rate of my posting has decreased over recent months as I've learned to relax my own urge to be significant. It makes me want to propose that any user with more than 300 posts hold off for 24 hours before posting to a newly announced game in Indie Game Design, as a way of making room for newer users to contribute productively to discussions. Even more radical would be a 48 hour moratorium, except during that time if you have more than 300 posts, your role is to private message someone with less than 300 posts to evoke their thoughts about the game, during the time when they can post.

Anyway, that may be an entirely unworkable notion, but it's the kind of stuff I've been thinking, ways without regard for practicality that The Forge might become a higher performing community.

Paul


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Seth L. Blumberg on June 05, 2002, 08:48:55 AM
Quote from: Paul Czege
I thought my posts about Theatrix were encouraging and empowering, but upon re-assessment, they're clearly not in the same ballpark of encouraging as Ron's reviews and posts.

While learning to review games as well as Ron does is a goal worth pursuing, it's not what I had in mind when I was talking about "facilitating Actual Play."

Ron runs a lot of games. He runs a lot of different games, he runs them for short periods of time (one or two sessions, judging by his reviews and Actual Play posts), and he never seems to have trouble with getting player buy-in or coming up with short scenario ideas (at least, if he does have trouble with these things, he does not share his anguish with the rest of us).

Part of the secret of his success probably lies in being faculty adviser for the DePaul U. gaming club, but there may be some more portable techniques for creating a high level of Actual Play of new games.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on June 05, 2002, 08:53:14 AM
Quote from: Paul Czege
It makes me want to propose that any user with more than 300 posts hold off for 24 hours before posting to a newly announced game in Indie Game Design, as a way of making room for newer users to contribute productively to discussions. Even more radical would be a 48 hour moratorium, except during that time if you have more than 300 posts, your role is to private message someone with less than 300 posts to evoke their thoughts about the game, during the time when they can post.


Mike? Ron? You may begin posting again in the year 2005.

That is all. :)

. . .

Actually, no it's not.

What if there was a kind of Forge "Dirty Dozen" - a list of games to be played that month. People "sign up" to play *one* of them (and once a game is signed up for, it's off the list) and it's their duty to post about it in Actual Play?

Uh, general rules? It should be a new game to the majority of players involved. It should be an "indie-game." Stuff like that.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 05, 2002, 08:59:25 AM
Mike,

Do you have an issue with people playing more? Sure, games get played. Could it happen more? Yes. Should it happen more? I can't see why not. I'm not sure where you ever read "destructive part" into Paul's writings - I don't see him saying it. I see him saying "How can we make the Forge even more productive?" I can't imagine anyone having a problem with that idea.

Zak,

Sorry, but I have a "what the fuck?" for you, as well. You said: But what can we do to encourage Actual Play? Providing a game playable "out of the box" is my opinion. ... Instead, you make things as easy as possible for the gamers. I agree with your points that I deleted: a mechanic or a setting does not a game make. But, requiring some work from a group isn't the worst thing I've ever heard. I guess I probably have vested interest in this: my new game requires the group to make up a setting before play. Are people really that lazy, apathetic, and pathetic that they can't do a little work?

I'll tell you where the problem is:
 - 45% (and, yes, I'm making up these numbers, but they ring true) of the people around here don't play at all.
 - 45% of the people around here read and talk about indie games, and then go home and play D&D or d20 Cthulhu or whatever. I don't have a problem with these games, but they aren't getting indie games played.

And that leaves us with 10% of the people that play indie games on a regular basis. That might sound low, but look at who's posting on here. As Ralph Mazza pointed out (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1788), the top 40 posters here (less than 10%) produce 75% of the total posts.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: hardcoremoose on June 05, 2002, 09:32:22 AM
I'm going to say something in regards to facilitating more actual play...

For those of us who have designed games, I suggest we take ownership of those games.  

There was a time when I was posting every hair-brained idea I had.  At some point, Ron jumped in and said (and I paraphrase) 'That's great, but why aren't you playtesting these?'.  So that weekend I got a couple friends together and we played that game (happened to be Human Wreckage).

Of all the games I've designed, I've played WYRD, Appalachia Now!, and the aforementioned HW.  That's less than half, and yet my track record is pretty good when compared to many others.

The model Ron created with Sorcerer is extremely viable.  Design a game you want to play, and then play the damn thing.  To take the discussion away from Ron, who seems to be the ubiquitous enabler in this thread, I'll cite Kayfabe.  Matt has spent the last year designing one game.  He has played that game (although not nearly as much as he would like, I'm willing to bet).  Other people have played that game (yes, including Ron, but many people were playing it before that).  Matt's gotten tons of free press, he's actively promoted his game in venues outside of The Forge, and he's generated interest in people like Cynthia who help take up the battle cry for him.  He took ownership of the game, and it's getting played (sadly, not by many Forgites, but at least it's getting played).  Furthermore, he's created a community around his game, learned lots in the process, and can now share that information with us here.  That's good stuff.

Am I saying we should design less and take a greater interest in what we already have out there?  Well, maybe.  I certainly don't think people should stop designing games - I haven't.  But we should want people to play our games, and who's gonna' do that if it aint the designers themselves?  It can't be Ron...as prolific as his play is, he can't play everything.

I have more, but I think that'll do for now.  And anyway, I think this thread is about more than just actual play...

- Scott


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 05, 2002, 09:35:32 AM
Ah, geez. Lots of emotions flying around in this thread, and everyone seems to have been poked in the sore spot, me included.

I have a fair amount to say regarding nearly every post so far on this thread. However, I have neither the time nor emotional energy to do it. I will eventually, probably over the next week, pull together some threads about organizing sustained play. They go all the way back to the Sorcerer forum on GO.

For now, I'll restrict myself to a few basic comments.

1) Paul's general point is valid - encouraging people to play, and specifically to play the games being developed this moment, is a big priority at the Forge. The original Hephaestus' Forge had that as its only goal. The more play we have of a given game by as many groups as possible, and the more dialogue we have about it from differing perspectives, the better.

2) I'm a "value-added" kind of person. If the Forge does a lot to serve the above goal, such that more of it happens because the Forge exists, then I'm happy. Paul's 100th refugee problem isn't, bluntly, my problem. It's our problem as a community, yes, and I agree with him that any and all effort should be expended in this direction. However, do not look to me, personally, as the solution. Or even for a solution.

3) I am disgusted, and have been for a long time, with the idea that my personal endorsement is necessary for a game to get recognized, played, and further developed. Clinton's Donjon is an excellent counter-example - one of the most immediately-loved and immediately-played games ever at the Forge, with few if any posts by me and no play or review.

I'm perfectly happy with the idea that my personal attention to a game has a positive effect. Demonstrably, it does so - if it didn't, I'd stop reviewing, etc, tomorrow. But to say that such attention on my part is necessary is bullshit. Using my lack of attention for a particular game as some kind of marginalizing as a justification for abandoning work on it is worse than bullshit, it's reprehensible.

4) I do not play mainly one- or two-session games for most of the games I review. The number of sessions per game begins at three or four, often more (Hero Wars went for over 40). The campus group characterized by one-shots is the "least" of my gaming effort, and the number of indie/homebrew games we play there is necessarily low.

5) Fuck the ongoing nasty insinuations or statements that the Forge is "all theory and no play." They're demonstrably false. People who are saying that are practicing Social Deception, hoping to influence third parties' judgment and behavior by providing false information. Such deception is best combatted simply by saying "That is a lie," and providing a link to Actual Play.

Trying to increase the amount of Actual Play in hopes of decreasing the "misconception" is futile - the guilty individuals are not misconceiving anything; they are simply lying and know that already, and they'll continue to do so even if everyone at the Forge role-played every nght of the week and posted about it every day.

Best,
Ron


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2002, 09:38:23 AM
Quote from: Clinton R Nixon
Do you have an issue with people playing more?
Don't be ridiculous. I just see it as a personal choice, and one that we're not likely to be able to affect here.

Quote
Sure, games get played. Could it happen more? Yes. Should it happen more? I can't see why not.
That would be grand. And I like the featured game, especially Jared's take on it. But I don't see how either would actually get more people to play. What it does do is privilege a certain few games every month. If someone wants to propose that people should try playing a certain game, they are free to do so. It happens now, and people either play or they do not.

There's only so much power to suggesting such things. Perhaps an incentive can be offered?

Quote
I'm not sure where you ever read "destructive part" into Paul's writings - I don't see him saying it. I see him saying "How can we make the Forge even more productive?" I can't imagine anyone having a problem with that idea.
Paul wrote, "I can't help but think we're doing something wrong. " and other various stuff in a post that seemed very negatively to address a "concern" that he has. Maybe I misread him, but he hasn't done anything to change my opinion.

I think the Forge does an excellent job already. Sure we can do more, and if you approach it from a proactive angle, I'm all for it. I just don't see what the "concern" is all about.

BTW, it hasn't seen much support, but Nathan's Indie-Netgaming:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/indie-netgaming

strikes me as an exceptionally proactive way of enabling Actual Play. I recommend that others come over and get some gaming going on on-line.

Mike


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 05, 2002, 10:46:29 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
5) Fuck the ongoing nasty insinuations or statements that the Forge is "all theory and no play." They're demonstrably false. People who are saying that are practicing Social Deception, hoping to influence third parties' judgment and behavior by providing false information. Such deception is best combatted simply by saying "That is a lie," and providing a link to Actual Play.


Ron,

I think the same thing we accuse people of is being committed here. You say it's demonstrably false, but then don't back that up.

In the interest of examining the actual case, let's look at the first page of the Actual Play forum. We have:

 - 6 threads on various d20 games (47 posts in total)
 - 3 threads about DemonCon (28 posts in total)
 - 2 threads on Zak's Indie Gaming Monday (in which he plays Steve Jackson's Munckhin, Hogshead's Pantheon, and Wizards of the Coast's d20 Cthulhu) (13)
 - 2 threads on a World, Flesh, and the Devil game soon to be run by its author (13)
 - 1 thread on actual play of Adventure! (7)
 - 1 thread on profiling (24)
 - 1 thread on how to start and keep a game group (1)
 - 1 thread on actual play of idoru (10)
 - 1 thread on an Inspectres game at a convention (2)
 - 1 thread on play of Riddle of Steel (1)

I see 5 threads dedicated to indie games, 8 if you count the DemonCon ones - one of those is just planning. Out of those, I see three (five, with the two DemonCon play threads) that are actual play of indie roleplaying games, which is our explicit purpose. (Strangely, there's 9 threads on play of non-indie games, which I'm not discouraging people from doing, but the 1:3 indie:non-indie ratio is a bit sad.) Out of those three, there's only one with a significant amount of comments.

Where's the meat? "All theory and no play" is obviously bullshit, but there's not a lot going on there, either.


Title: playtesting your own games
Post by: xiombarg on June 05, 2002, 10:53:56 AM
Quote from: hardcoremoose
There was a time when I was posting every hair-brained idea I had.  At some point, Ron jumped in and said (and I paraphrase) 'That's great, but why aren't you playtesting these?'.  So that weekend I got a couple friends together and we played that game (happened to be Human Wreckage).

While I have no problem getting my players to try new games (that's what the "every-other-Wednesday f*ckaround night" is for), I find them very, very reluctant to try my designs. I think they're very, very concerned with my ego, which is nice, but annoying.

Another issue I have with playtesting my own game is I can fill in holes automatically, since I know what I meant. I'm more concerned as to how someone who approaches my game "cold" takes it.

Perhaps this should be split of into another thread, but what about a "designer" exchange? That is, I agree to playtest one of, say, Moose's games, and he agrees to playtest one of mine. And then we report on Actual Play. This gets more games played, and lets people get a more objective opinion of things. I think there are enough designers besides Ron engaged in actual play to make this possible...


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2002, 11:04:37 AM
Quote from: Clinton R Nixon
Where's the meat? "All theory and no play" is obviously bullshit, but there's not a lot going on there, either.


I wouldn't be so quick to criticize that, either. Ron has made it clear that Actual Play is not a place for "Breathless, and then" recountings. As such I think that people have shown considerable restraint in not posting such material. What is there is pretty substantive stuff.

If we were to simply recount every game session we played, I think the forum would fill up very quickly. Instead, though, we pretty much only post about sessions where there is an interesting point to be made, or problem to discuss. So you don't see much about the average session.

My point is that I think that the posted stuff in Actual play is just the tip of the iceberg of what actual play is occuring. Consider what percentage of total posts occur in Actual Play, and I think its geting the attention it deserves.

Would you like us all to try to dig a bit deeper and come up with issues every single time we play? I can do that, I suppose, but I'd prefer not to force it. Is that what you're suggesting?

Mike


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 05, 2002, 11:06:08 AM
Hi Clinton,

Allow me to clarify. There are two issues.

1) Playing role-playing games of any sort. That's the topic that the various whiny-butts are lying about. The entire Actual Play forum is the falsifier of their comments.

Comment: "The Forge is all talk, no play."
Rebuttal: "[Link to Actual Play forum] Get fucked."

Bam, the gavel comes down, all done. It really is that simple.

2) Playing creator-owned games here at the Forge during the course of their development. This is what Paul is talking about. In fairness to him and in some guilt for bringing up the above issue in the first place (when it doesn't really belong), I need to make my point really clear.

I regard the idea of something like a quota or reward system of Indie Actual Play very dubiously. People come to the Forge and stay for lots of reasons, but in large part because whatever RPG they play, they get positive encouragement for doing so and lots of willingness to talk about the details. D20, Vampire, old D&D, GURPS, Space:1889, Star Wars D6, Earthdawn, what-have-you, it's all good Actual Play.

I really, really worry about the notion that person A's actual play posts would be privileged or lionized in any way over person B's, because A played The World the Flesh and the Devil whereas B played Spycraft. That strikes me as a very bad thing. Your breakdown of the numbers of the Actual Play threads in terms of indie/non-indie means very little to me - that's not something we should be trying to control or influence; in fact, doing so strikes me as tremendously disrespectful, cart-before-the-horse, and ultimately counter-productive.

I do like your idea of the Featured Game for a Month (or whatever) because it's exactly that: a special feature, and it promotes the Creator-ownership, and attention to development of a good game, and so on. By putting it into a special box for a unit of time, we avoid that two-tier standard of actual play as a chronic thing.

Best,
Ron


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Zak Arntson on June 05, 2002, 11:13:59 AM
Quote from: Clinton R Nixon
... Are people really that lazy, apathetic, and pathetic that they can't do a little work?


I'd say that's a judgement call. Sure people have to do work. In general, they have to make characters and the GM has to come up with a scenario. I'm not talking about games, which sound like Ron and you play, with multiple, lengthy sessions. So this approach isn't an end-all answer. My current gaming group hasn't displayed the desire (even when asked) to participate a lot in pre/post game stuff beyond casual discussion. I wouldn't call it lazy or pathetic, they just see gaming as a diversion. It's the difference between a video game designer and player. One wants to get into the guts. The other wants to grab the controller and go, often without reading the manual.

In getting our games to more gamers, we should acknowledge that there's big differences on how much people want to spend non-play time on gaming. Paladin requires a particpant-created Setting. There's tons of ways do this, from allowing for massive pre-play setup, to incorporating the Setting creation during play. It just depends on the audience you want to reach.

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon

...
 - 45% of the people around here read and talk about indie games, and then go home and play D&D or d20 Cthulhu or whatever. I don't have a problem with these games, but they aren't getting indie games played.


Exactly. They know the d20 System, so there's a very small learning curve to move to d20 Cthulhu, or 2nd ed. AD&D to D&D. You can buy a module, or the GM does a ton of work, and the Players just show up. One hour of char-generation at the first session and boom. That's why I have started a conscious effort to make my games easy to get ready for play, as well as play. But then, that's a goal on my part. Not the only way to do things, by any stretch.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Valamir on June 05, 2002, 11:22:20 AM
I do like Xiom's idea of designer swapping.  That would have helped Mike and I out immensely when we had reached a point where further playtest by us was of limited value.  It would have been great for us to be able to go and play Wyrd, or WFD, or Questing Beast, or Dust Devils, or or or, and know that on the other end our game was getting similiar treatment.

That, of course, is something we could be doing on our own, but I wonder if there wouldn't be a way to facilitate that.  Perhaps a specific Play Test Forum seperate from Actual Play or Indie Design.  

As another idea, if there is truly a concern about this issue that the Forge community at large wishes to address...what about the Review Columns.  All but one of the reviews are by Ron.  The review policy is pretty clear...requireing Actual Play.  Could the Reviews themselves be a motivator to generate play?  Just thinking out loud a bit here.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Paul Czege on June 05, 2002, 11:28:47 AM
Hey Scott,

Yes!...Kayfabe is a fantastic example of what I'm talking about. You've got me thinking that what I'd like to see beyond posts of "actual play" is "actual beyond design" posts. I'd like to see people writing about how they actually got people playing their designs, how they facilitated that, what obstacles they overcame, how they got their game reviewed in mainstream media, that kind of thing.

What do you think?

Paul


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 05, 2002, 11:45:43 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards

2) Playing creator-owned games here at the Forge during the course of their development. ... I need to make my point really clear.

I regard the idea of something like a quota or reward system of Indie Actual Play very dubiously. People come to the Forge and stay for lots of reasons, but in large part because whatever RPG they play, they get positive encouragement for doing so and lots of willingness to talk about the details. D20, Vampire, old D&D, GURPS, Space:1889, Star Wars D6, Earthdawn, what-have-you, it's all good Actual Play.


I'm going to ask a question, but I need to put serious disclaimers before it. This question is solely for the process of information gathering and discussion, and doesn't reflect any views, policy, or effect on the Forge at all.

That said:

The Forge is here for the creation, promotion, and play of independent games, right? In that case, is the idea that anyone can show up as discuss whatever RPG they play a good idea? Does it help create, promote, or play indie games? (It well might - that's why I ask.)

Or does it water down the content on independent game design and creation? The Forge has grown at a near-exponentional rate. Has that been good for it? Or should the non-indie material be shunted towards communities that have that as their explicit purpose?

I don't know the answer to this question, but I think it's one well worth examining before we move on.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 05, 2002, 11:50:57 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

I wouldn't be so quick to criticize that, either. Ron has made it clear that Actual Play is not a place for "Breathless, and then" recountings. ...

If we were to simply recount every game session we played, I think the forum would fill up very quickly. Instead, though, we pretty much only post about sessions where there is an interesting point to be made, or problem to discuss. So you don't see much about the average session.
...
Would you like us all to try to dig a bit deeper and come up with issues every single time we play? I can do that, I suppose, but I'd prefer not to force it. Is that what you're suggesting?


I don't think we need to force anything, but I do have one question: why aren't there questions to ask or points to make after the average session? It seems to me that a session in which nothing strikes any player as particularly interesting or even problematic is a less-than-average session. I don't always post on my sessions, but that's often because I take about 12-24 hours to think about the session, and one of my players has normally posted by then.

To tell the truth, Ron's right in that creators don't need affirmation or approval to keep creating. Then again, he sees how many copies of Sorcerer are being bought. I have no clue who's played Donjon or Urge, and it's nice to know.

Somewhere in this thread, Private Messaging's come up. It's a great idea to at least let the creator know what you're doing with their game, even if you don't post in Actual Play. The benefit to Actual Play, though, is one person might see your post and think, "Hey - that game sounds awesome. I'll play it," and - boom - another indie game player.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Bailey on June 05, 2002, 12:26:51 PM
Quote from: Clinton R Nixon

In the interest of examining the actual case, let's look at the first page of the Actual Play forum. We have:

 - 6 threads on various d20 games (47 posts in total)
 - 3 threads about DemonCon (28 posts in total)
 - 2 threads on Zak's Indie Gaming Monday (in which he plays Steve Jackson's Munckhin, Hogshead's Pantheon, and Wizards of the Coast's d20 Cthulhu) (13)
 - 2 threads on a World, Flesh, and the Devil game soon to be run by its author (13)
 - 1 thread on actual play of Adventure! (7)
 - 1 thread on profiling (24)
 - 1 thread on how to start and keep a game group (1)
 - 1 thread on actual play of idoru (10)
 - 1 thread on an Inspectres game at a convention (2)
 - 1 thread on play of Riddle of Steel (1)

I see 5 threads dedicated to indie games, 8 if you count the DemonCon ones - one of those is just planning. Out of those, I see three (five, with the two DemonCon play threads) that are actual play of indie roleplaying games, which is our explicit purpose. (Strangely, there's 9 threads on play of non-indie games, which I'm not discouraging people from doing, but the 1:3 indie:non-indie ratio is a bit sad.) Out of those three, there's only one with a significant amount of comments.

Where's the meat? "All theory and no play" is obviously bullshit, but there's not a lot going on there, either.


There's also the matter that posts on Actual Play are supposed to be about learning and exploring and such.  If I wanted to I could just post a message that said
Quote
Played Everway on Thursday.  It lasted about two hours.  It was a small (4 person) group, with two player characters and two gamemasters.  It was a lot of fun.

but what good would that do?


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 05, 2002, 12:33:26 PM
Hi Clinton,

I cast my vote exceptionally strongly in the category that Any Actual Play is valid for discussion at the Forge, regardless of the game. That's been the policy from the beginning, and it has a reason - supporting active and self-reflective play of any kind leads to a more inquiring community; a more inquiring community tries new games more; trying new games more here at the Forge leads to more indie-game play.

The point is to engender more indie-game play than there was previously in absolute value, not to get more indie-game play relative to non-indie-game play. Therefore promotion of all play is the best route to the goal.

I have seen far too many small and large endeavors fail (game publishing, martial arts schools, academic departments) based on exactly the logic you are using: "We aren't seeing the demographic that we want, so we shall exclude everything but, hence we will then see the desired demographic." It's madness. Madness and ultimately failure.

Best,
Ron


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 05, 2002, 12:36:19 PM
Quote from: Bailey
Played Everway on Thursday.  It lasted about two hours.  It was a small (4 person) group, with two player characters and two gamemasters.  It was a lot of fun.


Actually, that would be an excellent post - you played with two gamemasters. Most people play with one, or sometimes none. How did that go? How was the balance of power laid out? Did you decide how the balance of power would be before play or not, and if not, how did that work out?

If you want to answer these questions, please do so in Actual Play. I did, however, want to give an example of just a few questions that could be asked from this short recollection of playing a game.


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 05, 2002, 12:37:07 PM
Hey,

I'm moving all this to Site Discussion. Seems like we've hit policy and site satisfaction issues that belong there.

Best,
Ron


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Zak Arntson on June 05, 2002, 12:38:55 PM
- Posts of Actual Play
  Actual Play posts, whether indie games or not, do help indie game design. They allow for us to analyze the gaming and the game and use the observations add to our design-toolkit.

- Private Messaging
  It would be great to make some super-easy resource to let the designer know. Unfortunately, it's already pretty easy. My email shows up once or twice on every game I release. My PM button is readily available here for all to see.
   Are there other steps we could take to encourage player<->designer discussion? There is the approach where you send a copy through email because of an email request. Unfortunately, for the little games I design, I don't see that as an appropriate method. (Full 30-page Shadows version, yes. Metal Opera 1-pager, no).
  I've toyed with adding a cost for my games in the form of an emailed report of play. It's a volunteer method (since how can they play if they don't get the game?), so it may not get any better results than the email address/PM option.

- Designer Swapping
  That's a great idea! I'd love to see some sort of pairing up. Would this be good for a new Forum? Or something. I would like to offer two different games for designer swapping in the near future. But where to announce it when I'm ready?
  (I see just now that Xiombarg's started a Designer Swap thread. I guess we'll see how much traffic it gets!)


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 05, 2002, 12:39:33 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards

I cast my vote exceptionally strongly in the category that Any Actual Play is valid for discussion at the Forge, regardless of the game. That's been the policy from the beginning, and it has a reason - supporting active and self-reflective play of any kind leads to a more inquiring community; a more inquiring community tries new games more; trying new games more here at the Forge leads to more indie-game play.

The point is to engender more indie-game play than there was previously in absolute value, not to get more indie-game play relative to non-indie-game play. Therefore promotion of all play is the best route to the goal.


Ron,

Awesome. I think that's about settled, and I'm glad the questions were asked. I wanted to have this discussion out in the open so people could see how things work, and why we do the things we do.

I have to say, a 1:3 ratio (indie:non-indie) ain't bad compared to the average gaming demographic. I think I've made it obvious in this thread that "indie gaming" is my big fucking albatross I've chosen to wear, but I also think, after discussion, that we're doing a pretty decent job.

- Clinton


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2002, 01:43:13 PM
Hey Ralph,

You forgot that I swapped a copy of Universalis for a copy of Orbit with Jeff Diamond (I really got the better of the deal, I got a hardcopy in a nice folder). Woulda worked, too, except Jeff wrote and said not to bother playing as he had changed everything and written up a new edition. But the enthusiasm was there. It's definitely a good idea.

Clinton,

You don't really want to hear about my Rolemaster game, and how many goblins my group slayed last time we played. Hell, I'm not sure I want to hear about it. I've thought about posting about it, but then thought that nobody would be interested, an assessment I still stand by. When I play something with an interesting issue, I'll be sure to mention it. Now that Josh is in town, I think you might see more Actual Play posts out of both of us. :-)

Mike


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: RobMuadib on June 05, 2002, 01:44:47 PM
Quote from: Clinton R Nixon


I'm going to ask a question, but I need to put serious disclaimers before it. This question is solely for the process of information gathering and discussion, and doesn't reflect any views, policy, or effect on the Forge at all.

That said:

The Forge is here for the creation, promotion, and play of independent games, right? In that case, is the idea that anyone can show up as discuss whatever RPG they play a good idea? Does it help create, promote, or play indie games? (It well might - that's why I ask.)

Or does it water down the content on independent game design and creation? The Forge has grown at a near-exponentional rate. Has that been good for it? Or should the non-indie material be shunted towards communities that have that as their explicit purpose?

I don't know the answer to this question, but I think it's one well worth examining before we move on.


As I see it, the Forge has 3 main thrusts, Indie Games, GNS Theory/Narrativism, and lastly Actual Play.

Indie Games is the creation, promotion, and play of indie games. Which is accomplished by the Indie game design forum, and the publishing forum, as well as the game/publisher specific forums.

GNS Theory and Narrativism, which is supported by the GNS forum, and RPG theory. I say GNS and Narrativism, as the big N is a major area of interest to many of the "Indie" designers that frequent the Forge.

Lastly there is the Actual Play forum, which is more or less a lab report for experimentation with the Indie design and GNS thinking, IMO.

Since the majority of people who post here are also involved in the design of their own systems, Actual Play thus becomes a place for them to publish their findings, either about their own Indie designs in progress, or about various ideas and aspects of GNS theory.

That is how I see it. So I wouldn't be so concerned about what games they happen to be posting about. For instance, the only group I have available to me is interested in DnD 3rd Edition, however that doesn't prohibit me from trying out various ideas and theories for my own design within the structure of that game.

I have done it before by introducing various rules tweaks to AD&D, which were simple implementations of some of my character design and Hero Points rules.

So I wouldn't judge the subject/system of play so much, as what is discussed considered within that post. Even beyond immediate concerns of GNS/System experimentation within a gaming suggestion is the development of RPG theory on the broader level. For instance, I discussed some of my observations about gamer "types" and gamer expecatations/backgrounds in one of my Actual Play posts.

Understanding the range and experience of gamers extant is extremely useful for being able to shape a game that will appeal to a broad variety of people, players.

so in short, I don't think "non-indie" actual play disucssions are necessarily bad. Rather the content of that discussion/posting. If we get people largely concerned about talking about (insert your own cliched gamer fanboy and then frothing) how cool their dwarf cleric/illusionist is, and how he rolled a 20 to kill that dracolich on the 13th level of the dungeon, and such, then I would consider more selectivity and steering.

As was mentioned in a previous post, despite the great growth in the forge, the largest number of posts are still made by a small core of participants. Participants who presumably approach the forge in terms of Indie game design.

So to summarize, I don't think there is currently any problem or cause for concern in the nature of posts in actual play.


Rob


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 05, 2002, 01:59:20 PM
Hi Rob,

I totally agree.

Best,
Ron


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on June 05, 2002, 02:14:56 PM
Quote from: Clinton wrote
45% of the people around here read and talk about indie games, and then go home and play D&D or d20 Cthulhu or whatever. I don't have a problem with these games, but they aren't getting indie games played.

Guilty.  I mean, I could quibble - I ran a little Orkworld, for e.g. - but essentially, guilty.  I'll list some reasons why, not as excuses, but because I think they tie in with other aspects of this discussion.
1) I'm a pretty busy guy, with a ton o' chaos in life recently.  d20 - in particular, someone else GMing d20 - is easier.  Relevant point - I doubt I'm the only one.  Solution - The usual discussions about managing your life & hobbies apply here - we've seen some good discussion on this in the past - but it is worth remembering that not everyone chooses the same time prioritization's regarding their RP activities.  And that it can change over time.
2) I've been doing the slow, probably-over-ambitious Game Design thing.  Not only does this soak up a bit more time, it also provides satisfaction of the . . . "something different from same-old-same-old RPG" urge.  Relevant point - Again, I doubt I'm the only one.  Actually, we *know* there are a lot of designers here at the Forge.  Not only is time spent designing time unavailable for play, but designing a game may satisfy that "something different" urge by an easier route than organizing actual play can.  Solution - I'd tie this one to the "design is a subset of play" discussion.  Design and play are (or should be, or at least quite productively *can* be) deeply linked.  The Featured Game idea could help here.  If it happens, I'll do my best to participate.  In addition to a one month time frame, how about a 2-3 game choice?  Less likely for people to just go "that ain't my thing" . . .
3) My discussions about running indie games with my current group (10-12 folks who combine in various 4-6 person groups over time) have not sparked much interest at all.  There are of course many possible reasons for this, but I'd like to use one as my Relevant point here, using another quote:
Quote from: Seth L. Blumberg
we're used to thinking of an RPG in terms of "one night every other week for the next three years" rather than as a casual pick-up kind of experience
 I think it is fair to say that what a lot of folks want out of gaming is (to use Forge examples) much more like Ron's Hero Wars game than an evening of InSpectres.  A lot of games designed/discussed here are more like InSpectres.  Solution - There's always the "find some people who *are* interested" option (I'm in San Jose, folks, as you can see in my profile).  There's also designing more games like Hero Wars, or Riddle of Steel, that fit the normal mode better.

In general, I think Paul asked important questions, Clinton and Ron did some important clarifications, and this whole thing is only an issue because most people here really do want to hold themselves and the site to an at-least-slightly more rigorous (note - not "better") standard.  That's always hard, so an occasional kick is a good thing, IMO.  

I'm also thinking that specific public play-test forums (maybe for the featured games?) might help.

Gordon


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: joshua neff on June 05, 2002, 03:04:03 PM
Quote
Now that Josh is in town, I think you might see more Actual Play posts out of both of us. :-)


Man, I hope so! I'm antsy for some gaming.

I agree with Ron--the more Actual Play is open to any & all kinds of RPGs, the less we get saddled with that "pretenious Forge assholes" mislabel. And the more people feel welcomed, the more likely they are to hang around. The more they hang around, the more they're exposed to indie RPGs. Which is great.

And the good thing about this thread is it's made me think about how many indie games I could be playing. On one hand, with my old group in KC, just getting us all together on a mostly-weekly basis was chore enough. Add to that the desire to play longer-term games. Add to THAT the desire to play certain games over other ones, & no matter much enthusiasm I expressed over, say, Sorcerer or The Pool or Le Mon Mouri, I was most often met with a hearty "Whatever you want to run, we'll play" mixed with a "but I really love Mage & want to play that some more". Yeah, I finally got them 'round to playing Sorcerer. Yeah, we played InSpectres. And it was great. But my group just didn't have the drive or interest to do a few weeks of Little Fears followed by a one-or-two session run of Donjon Krawl. They were more of a "I want a lot of sessions to really get into character & play that character's story" type of group. And I have those same desires a lot of the time.

On one hand, I don't really think in terms of "indie" or not, just as I don't with music or movies or magazine or comics. I'll go to see Attack of the Clones & love it, & then I'll go to see Y Tu Mama Tambien & love that, too. I'll play Adventure! & love it. I'll play Sorcerer & love that, too.

On the other hand, I do have a strong indie streak running through me, which is one of the reasons I hang out here. And I do want to play & promote independent RPGs.

Great thread. It's good to get this stuff worked out. And Paul? I love the title. I now have an image of you as a funny-voiced jack-in-the-box.


Title: Haven't Had Time to Chime In
Post by: Nathan on June 05, 2002, 08:48:18 PM
I tried to have a conversation with Clint about this sort of thing -- but he may not have caught my drift. Chalk that up to me for a poor wordsmith -- heh heh!

I've playtested my own creations with my group -- I've got them pumped about playing InSpectres sometime. I haven't really had time to get them to do anything -- heck, I am just enjoying the benefits of a group with up to ten rotating players. It is a challenge, but it is much better than the 3 always-there-dedicated people that I use to have. The games can be really exciting and really strange.

Originally, I thought Indie-RPGs was a toolbox sort of website where game designers could meet, share tips, critique a bit, offer suggestions, and generally check out one another's stuff. Ron, I know, always urged people to play games before any review -- but I'm not positive if everyone who came over here understood that as a complete part of the picture. Indie-rpgs hosts an occasional article, review, and then the indie game library.

But -- people were never asked or encouraged to contribute articles or reviews. It always seemed here that the forum was about the main focus -- everything else was sort of an afterthought. Maybe part of that is -- what happened here is some sort of surprise? Maybe Ron and Clinton didn't expect the Forge to grow so well and house such a great bunch of folks.

Anyway, I may be rambling -- it's late.

My two cents is this -- the Forge would do much better to focus on those designers who are kicking ass as opposed to the sort of free-for-all stuff that goes on right now. Game design and publishing advice is helpful here, but we need to have the guts to hold up our successful rock-n-roll superstars. We need a frontpage that lets active designers talk about their designs and what inspired them and this and that. We need a place to feature successful games and promote the whole concept of indie games. We need a face for the Forge. :)

Therein, I think we would kick some bee-hind. People say, "The Forge is all about Ron..." If we get all of our little brainchilds here writing an occasional update/step-by-step process about their design or game, suddenly, we got a ton of articles by people other than Ron. Hopefully, these articles will feature some other sort of design method that is contrary to GNS. Suddenly, we have variety... and so on....

I think I am rambling, and I know I am tired. My point is -- promoting and encouraging play and talking about play is like sticking your thumb in the hole in the wall or whatever, to prevent the leak... We need to build a new wall.... Maybe. :)

What is the goal of the site? To help indie game designers create and promote? To encourage indie games to be played?

If it is to encourage more play, let's start some forums where we run forum games of indie games. Let's get hooked in with an IRC network and run online games. Let's start some OpenRPG games or something. Let's not simply say, "Hey, let's all play this game." -- let's actually run the game, even if we can only run it online.

I am babbling, and I am trying to edit and clarify my post. Alas, I think I have rolled a critical failure on my attempt.

Thanks,
Nathan

[EDITED FOR YOUR SAFETY]


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: Laurel on June 06, 2002, 08:21:32 AM
I read the entire thread and then went back to Paul's original post and here's my thoughts.  

Anyone who really wants their Indie game (or any game) to be a success in terms of actual play needs to break out of the Forge box.  I consider a "Forge game" successful when I start hearing about it at other sites- Kayfabe and Cartoon Action Hour both immediately come to mind, as well as Sorcerer and Little Fears of course.  

As big as the Forge is these days, its still only a fraction of the RPG community.  We can sure help each other, but we also shouldn't try to bear the entire brunt of one another's success.  

Making games that get played requires more than just making a good game and leaving it in a vaccuum.  It needs to be promoted beyond the Forge.  Reviews, play sessions, and active forum conversations need to happen... beyond the Forge.  

The Forge is a pretty safe place to make a game.  But once you have your game in hand, its time to leave the nest and take a plunge.  I personally think that a lot of Forge games stay "here" and don't get played much because there is an element of security in that.  Sending free copies to outside sources and making arrangements to get played, and played, and played (at conventions, game stores, by friends of friends) is a lot more emotionally risky- but its a necessary risk.

On the other hand, I'm a big fan of Clinton & Ron choosing two games a month for Actual Play and all of us commiting to playing one of the two at least -once- within those four weeks.  Giving the most polished Forge games a little extra attention and seriously addressing actual play and specific design issues relating to reading & playing it sure wouldn't hurt, and would probably help diminish the "spread too thin" feeling we sometimes encounter.

Laurel


Title: the island of misfit games
Post by: greyorm on June 07, 2002, 11:44:59 PM
Just posting on the time issue:
I'm guilty.

I don't play indie games.  I have no group willing to play indie games...or rather, no group with the time available to do so.  We get three -- if we're reasonably lucky, four -- sessions a month, of two-to-three hours each.
That isn't a lot of time for gaming.
Hence we invest alot into what we are currently doing, and what we are currently doing is 3E D&D.
I make no apologies for this.
Yet I get the feeling from some that, perhaps, I should be.
Not an attitude I agree with.

Further, we play on-line.  My nearest player lives three-and-a-half hours from here and is soon to move further away; the others live in other time zones entirely.  This means that to play other games we all must own the material -- there is no book-sharing, no "I'm taking Fading Suns home tonight to look over and create a character."  More gaming books is money some of us don't have to spend on gaming.

Now, I would love to play some indie games.  Find me a group, on-line, who want to play some of these things and I will.  I've signed up for the Yahoo! group Nathan started for exactly this, and what I would like to know is: has anyone played yet?  All you need for a good session is three people, and that includes the GM.

Just something to keep in mind.