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General Forge Forums => Site Discussion => Topic started by: Christoffer Lernö on April 13, 2003, 05:56:42 PM



Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Christoffer Lernö on April 13, 2003, 05:56:42 PM
Mark wrote this in the "Request for a [sic] Indie Design sticky"-thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=61765):

Quote from: Mark Johnson
There seems to be a gradual shift in the Indie Design forum:
 
 1)  The Intended Usage:  to receive input on particular problems on a serious game project.
 
 2)  The Trial Balloon:  I had a cool mechanic/setting idea... here it is.  Anyone interested in a game based on this?
 
 3)  The Gauntlet:  Create Your Own Fantasy Heartbreaker, Iron Game Chef, 24 Hour Game.
 
 Perhaps these last two uses deserve their own forum, perhaps not.  As it is, many of the more interesting discussions have shifted to RPG Theory.

I'm aware I might be partly responsible to the shift towards 2) at one time (because of Ygg). Sorry about that. Still, the shift towards 2) is now seemingly mainly due to newcomers. Are they outnumbering the others with the pure flow of ideas so that it's shifting this way?

I myself would like to post about 1) but I think people are in general very very tired hearing about my game :) so unless I really really have to I don't post but take it by e-mail. I don't know if this "trend" is good or bad.

Finally the 3). Those threads are very very popular, but I'm (in minority obviously) finding them disturbingly off-topic. To paraphrase Valamir: every word written on a "do this as a challenge"-rpg is one less word on your own rpg. Not totally true of course since the experience you get can be used later.
That said, to me it clearly is not about supporting people to finish their indie-rpgs they intend for widespread use. So I think it is more appropriate in some other forum (RPG Theory comes to mind actually!)

Maybe it's just me, but I'd like some nice hard-core design analysis in indie-rpg. Something to learn from and somewhere you can actually feel you're helping out.


Title: Re: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on April 14, 2003, 06:59:53 AM
Quote from:

I'm aware I might be partly responsible to the shift towards 2) at one time (because of Ygg). Sorry about that. Still, the shift towards 2) is now seemingly mainly due to newcomers. Are they outnumbering the others with the pure flow of ideas so that it's shifting this way?

I myself would like to post about 1) but I think people are in general very very tired hearing about my game :) so unless I really really have to I don't post but take it by e-mail. I don't know if this "trend" is good or bad.

Finally the 3). Those threads are very very popular, but I'm (in minority obviously) finding them disturbingly off-topic. To paraphrase Valamir: every word written on a "do this as a challenge"-rpg is one less word on your own rpg. Not totally true of course since the experience you get can be used later. That said, to me it clearly is not about supporting people to finish their indie-rpgs they intend for widespread use. So I think it is more appropriate in some other forum (RPG Theory comes to mind actually!)


Christoffer,

Thanks for bringing this up. I've noticed a change in the Indie RPG Design forum as well, and one I'm not particularly happy with. You mentioned above that you felt a little responsible for a move towards the "I got an idea... whatcha think?" mode. I wouldn't, if I were you. You did do a little of that, and then actually started working on your game. The problem these days is people who show up, say "hey! I got dis!," get few responses, and then leave, with no work done. As I mentioned in the "Social forum request" thread, this is a working community. When work's not getting done, I'm unhappy.

What to do about the change? Well, I'm with you on all the "24 Hour Game," "Iron Game Fistula Challenge," and "Design a Game While Tied in Paul Czege's Basement" threads. (Well, the last one sounds fun.) At the same time, they keep people productive, and so I can't complain. What I think would help is this: when writing a reply, think to yourself, "Am I playing, GMing, or designing a game on a regular basis and do lessons I learned from that apply here?" If the answer is no, quit typing.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: SrGrvsaLot on April 14, 2003, 07:18:31 AM
Actually, I liked the 24-hour game challenge. Actually finishing a game was just the inspiration I needed to get off my lazy ass and finish all those other projects I have lying around. Then again, maybe that's just me.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on April 14, 2003, 07:57:00 AM
I too have commited the idea balloon. I suggest a forum etiquette policy be drafted where all responses to such threads be directed towards email or PM.

The problem with this sort of thing is that it's still at the idea stage. Ideas are cheap. I have lots and lots of ideas. I get several a day. The Indie Design forum is not for ideas. It's for something much more solid. Writers are needy bastards, RPG designers are just a type of writer. This idea ballon thing is just looking for some kind of feedback before investing any work into the idea. Understandable, but not something very useful to discuss here on the Forge.

So if we all learn to identify such threads and respond to such threads if we decide to respond to them via email or PM, this will cut down on the traffic because of such things. I hope.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: szilard on April 14, 2003, 08:13:35 AM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
I too have commited the idea balloon. I suggest a forum etiquette policy be drafted where all responses to such threads be directed towards email or PM.

The problem with this sort of thing is that it's still at the idea stage. Ideas are cheap. I have lots and lots of ideas. I get several a day. The Indie Design forum is not for ideas. It's for something much more solid. Writers are needy bastards, RPG designers are just a type of writer. This idea ballon thing is just looking for some kind of feedback before investing any work into the idea. Understandable, but not something very useful to discuss here on the Forge.

So if we all learn to identify such threads and respond to such threads if we decide to respond to them via email or PM, this will cut down on the traffic because of such things. I hope.


Huh.

I think that I agree with this rather wholeheartedly.

My concern is that while looking for feedback on ideas may not be productive for the community as a whole, it might be crucial for the individual designer (which is largely what the community as a whole exists for). If we don't put a stop to the posts, but do put a stop to public replies to the posts (except for, maybe, a moderator reminder to reply privately), this would solve some problems.

The questions in my mind are:

1) would any private replies be forthcoming?

2) would people actually stop replying publicly without a blatant moderator reply?


Stuart


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on April 14, 2003, 08:34:27 AM
Quote from: szilard
[1) would any private replies be forthcoming?

That would depend on the merits of said idea. One thing is clear, ego-stroking responses of "This is the greatest game idea evah. Please writing it. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Puh-leeeeezzzzzz" are not appropriate for the Forge, or anywhere else IMO, but what do I know. Fishing for such will earn you the responses you deserve.
Quote
2) would people actually stop replying publicly without a blatant moderator reply?

There's the rub. This will be a continuing educational process and a matter of judgement call. I would like to see the moderators make more use of PM instruction for appropriateness on the forums than posting a direct instruction in a public forum. It can make things socially awkward for the poster, be it the original poster or a replier. This will just make the embarassed person leave and then tell people about how rotten it is on the Forge, how the moderators like to pants you and then point and laugh...
That kind of thing. It's a matter of how we wish to be perceived and what actions and responses we should take to gain such a perception in other's eyes.

So to answer your question, it can if the Forge regulars exercise this kind of judgement, if newer members are properly instructed about why this behavior is encouraged, and hopefully it will become less of an issue when idea balloons receive less public responses and thus new people will be less encouraged to post such things.

Such is my hope.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: szilard on April 14, 2003, 08:42:22 AM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
Quote from: szilard
[1) would any private replies be forthcoming?

That would depend on the merits of said idea. One thing is clear, ego-stroking responses of "This is the greatest game idea evah. Please writing it. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Puh-leeeeezzzzzz" are not appropriate for the Forge, or anywhere else IMO, but what do I know. Fishing for such will earn you the responses you deserve.


Well, sure.

My concern is with somewhat more legitimate inquiries. For instance, say I have an idea for a game, but it is pretty narrowly defined and would, thus, probably have a relatively small target audience. I'm not really sure if anyone besides me would even want to play it. I'm also not sure if something similar to it has been done before (which might potentially cut into my already-small audience). Before I write the game, it would be reasonable for me to want to know if I'd potentially have an audience for it. This isn't necessarily ego-stroking, and it is certainly relevant to the game design process.


Stuart


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Valamir on April 14, 2003, 08:57:47 AM
I think at some point it comes down to "earning ones stripes".

Much as we may like to be one big egalatarian family, fact is, some folks (and I don't mean the old timers) participate in threads, ask good questions, give good feedback on existing game ideas and generally display a willingness to self educate and become a part of the community.

If such a person sends up an Idea Balloon, I think it should (and does) get more and better responses from the community, because this is someone we can give the benefit of the doubt to because they've demonstrated they're serious.

On the other hand, someone whose first post to the Forge is "Check out my cool game idea and give me feedback please", is much less likely to get my attention.  They MAY be totally awesome game designers.  Their game MAY be totally great.  But there is no way for me to know that, and I don't have the time to give every Tom, Dick and Harry who shows up the same benefit of the doubt...because too often it IS just a waste of time.

So a piece of advice that I'd add to the top of the Indie Design Sticky, is that new members of the Forge should avoid posting to the Indie Design forum at all until they've got a few posts under their belt (IMO at least a dozen) from discussions in RPG Theory or comments on other games in Indie Design, or at the very least comments on existing games in the Indie game forums.  THAT way, when they post their request for feedback we at least have some way of judging whether the party in question is a serious game designer whose already made some good contributions to the community...or...not.  And choose to reply or not accordingly.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on April 14, 2003, 10:06:17 AM
Guten Tag,

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
I too have commited the idea balloon. I suggest a forum etiquette policy be drafted where all responses to such threads be directed towards email or PM.

The problem with this sort of thing is that it's still at the idea stage. Ideas are cheap. I have lots and lots of ideas. I get several a day. The Indie Design forum is not for ideas. It's for something much more solid. Writers are needy bastards, RPG designers are just a type of writer. This idea ballon thing is just looking for some kind of feedback before investing any work into the idea. Understandable, but not something very useful to discuss here on the Forge.


1.  I disagree.  Discussion of ideas can be very helpful.  (And useful.)

2.  The Forge is, if nothing else, for the discussion of ideas and how to
     best implement them.

3.  You have given me an idea!   :)

4.  What about a new forum titled:  "I have this idea. . ." (or something similar)

5.  It was just a thought, please do not shoot the messenger.

6.  Thanks much.


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius

edit:  Hmm..  Or: What about re-organising the forums into more definitive categories like: "General", "Game Design", and "Independant Games"?  Hmm... dunno though, that may be too much.  Opinions?


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Paul Czege on April 14, 2003, 10:32:02 AM
I've noticed a change in the Indie RPG Design forum as well, and one I'm not particularly happy with.

Y'know...I'm way, way conflicted on this issue. On one hand, I think Scott McCloud's 24 hour "Dare" is a notion that's eminently worth porting over to RPG design in some fashion. I think it shows a keen awareness of how and why people get and stay creatively blocked...and that it has the potential, on some level, to be an effective counter-agent. You get blocked when you can't keep your brain from focusing on needing to be brilliant/perfect/impressive in your creative efforts, for whatever reason. The "Dare" attaches a different objective to the creative endeavor, one of completion and effort, and in so doing works to melt away at the paralysis mode.

But on the other hand, I'm not reading every single thread in Indie Game Design the way I used to, and I haven't read a single one of the "24 Hour" games. The Forge has grown and the forum is a lot more active than it used to be. But since I haven't figured out how to comparably upgrade my personal bandwith, of necessity the bar for my attention has raised. To be completely direct, if I've seen you posting about your ambitious actual play endeavors in Actual Play, you almost guaranteed will get my attention in Indie Game Design. If I'm entirely unfamiliar with who you are, you may get my attention in Indie Game Design, but it's based entirely on how well the subject and maybe the first few sentences of your post convinces me you've got something innovative or unconventional on the burner. Finally, if I've come to recognize you as a serial poster of design ideas who never plays or playtests, I almost certainly do not read your threads in Indie Game Design. Sure, there's a chance, but bluntly, the likelihood that you're doing anything that'll impress me design-wise, absent ambitious actual play, is so small that I'm comfortable waiting on you producing a completed game.

Another issue, I think, that has dropped my engagement with Indie Game Design is the trend of skilled designers taking their best design work private. Ron designed Trollbabe in private. Jared is designing Decay in private. And I'm an offender here too. When I had a very successful playtest of My Life with Master at GenCon last year, and realized it was such a good game that it should be my first commercial design, I took subsequent playtesting and design private. When you're totally confident you know what you're doing, there's no reason for designing in public. And so the forum becomes characterized by discussions of less confident efforts, and there's no modeling of ongoing, effective design effort by experienced practitioners.

Paul


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: SrGrvsaLot on April 14, 2003, 10:48:18 AM
I agree with Kester Pelagius. Seeing other people's ideas developed and critiqued, even from the most basic stage, can often give insight into other areas, so maybe there should some place for tossing out ideas and seeing if they fly, even if it isn't the indie design forum.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Valamir on April 14, 2003, 10:59:58 AM
This is not directed at you SrGrvs, but I'm not sure I WANT to encourage either types of posts OR people who come here looking for those types of posts.

This may seem a little harsh (and again not at you specifically) but The Forge and the Indie Design forum are for game designers who actually wish to complete, playtest, perfect and then publish (for free or pay) games.

It isn't...and truthfully I don't want it to be...a place for brainstorming ideas about homebrews in various stages of incomplete-and-never-to-be-finished-ness.

IMO, if the game one is designing is primarily intended for one own enjoyment and the play of ones own group...great...but it doesn't really belong here.  The Forge is really, IMO, targeted at games designed with the intention of actual publication

Not all make it that far...but that should be the eventual goal.  And by goal, I don't mean "yeah, maybe one day".

At the point where it becomes difficult to seperate the wheat from the chaff such that wheat is being neglected because too much time is being spent wading through chaff...its time to jettison the chaff...whether its ostensibly "on topic" chaff or not.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: C. Edwards on April 14, 2003, 11:08:05 AM
Quote from: SrGrvsaLot
Seeing other people's ideas developed and critiqued, even from the most basic stage, can often give insight into other areas, so maybe there should some place for tossing out ideas and seeing if they fly, even if it isn't the indie design forum.


There's the rub.  The only way to tell if an idea can fly is to give it wings.  Petting it and cooing at it tend to be very unproductive, in my experience.  Ideas are malleable and slippery things and I would much rather see solid feedback on actual projects as opposed to commentary on seed ideas.
That's not easy for me to say either, as I am definitely an 'idea bubble' guy if I don't keep myself reigned in.

-Chris


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Sidhain on April 14, 2003, 01:24:15 PM
Quote from: Valamir
This may seem a little harsh (and again not at you specifically) but The Forge and the Indie Design forum are for game designers who actually wish to complete, playtest, perfect and then publish (for free or pay) games.
.



Sadly, I've not seen this. I've come needing help on two serious projects and found little real support, help, or aid forthcoming for things I have in the works.  I shifted to trying various "hey I've got an Idea for a mechanic" mode--because this place hasn't really produced anything of merit for me. Those posts at the time were getting more regular response, than the others and so I was under the impression that was what the Forge really was for "just musing"---not for real game design support.

I had hoped that people elsewhere were wrong when called the Forge cliquish. I've not seen any serious evidence to counteract that, and plenty to support it. I find it a shame really. I would like to find a place that is what you say...maybe someday I will.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2003, 01:36:23 PM
Quote from: Paul Czege
Another issue, I think, that has dropped my engagement with Indie Game Design is the trend of skilled designers taking their best design work private.


This, I think, is important enough to deserve re-emphasis.  I very seriously considering NOT doing anymore threads about Storypunk or its ongoing design, partially because the amount of detailed attention and help I've been recieving lately (no offense to the people who've responded, but the amout of pickings has been slim) is much less than it was 3 months ago when the project was still in the early stages.

When I first came to the Forge (just a short while ago), I was reading a ton of Indie Design threads, but I don't do that anymore.  Why?  BECAUSE MANY OF THE DESIGNERS I RESPECT AND ADMIRE AREN'T RESPONDING TO THINGS OVER THERE ANYMORE!  The help I want for my game, from the people with the most experience, I can't get.

Some of you are bemoaning the quality of Game Design when you haven't posting much there in the past couple of months.  This seems to be complaining about the problem with out doing anything to help out.  Sure, the Forge is a working community.  Some of you are working, but NOT ON THE FORGE.  If we had many experienced designers working out their ideas in the Indie Design forum, we would have more of a working atmosphere.  What do we have now?  A bunch of greenhorn designers (myself included) with no real examples set for us.

I'm not blaming you guys for the deterioration of the Game Design forum, but your departure is certainly not helping things.  It's a little like "white flight," where the affluent move the the suburbs and leave the inner cities to the destitute, and then complain about the rise of crime and how they don't feel safe anymore.

Just my 0.02...


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on April 14, 2003, 01:46:34 PM
Greetings,

I hope this doesn't come across as sounding too harsh.

Quote from: C. Edwards
There's the rub.  The only way to tell if an idea can fly is to give it wings.  Petting it and cooing at it tend to be very unproductive, in my experience.  Ideas are malleable and slippery things and I would much rather see solid feedback on actual projects as opposed to commentary on seed ideas.


That's the problem though, isn't it?  Getting actual feedback on an actual work in progress.  Not easy, unless you're willing to post (at least in paraphrase) what you have.

Me, personally, when I need help on something I really am not looking to have to post the bulk of my material for comment.  I want to ask a general question pertinent to what I am working on and see what grist for the mill the thought processes of others returns.  Of course being too general isn't necessarily a good thing, either, as it tends to generate a knee jerk reaction in some of "put up or shut up".  Which, again, leads us back to the willingness to innundate the forums with reams of information about your material.  Which, to me, is pointless.

Why?

Because it takes time to paraphrase.  Time that, IMO, would be better spent working on the actual material.

So why not just post what you have?

Well, for me, that is problematic.  To see what I have for Crystal Spheres would require posting what, in 10 point, comes to about... oh let's call it... 10,000+ words in 40 some odd pages.  And that's just in my alpha work document, not all the little 'note' files of ideas, potential rules, things, and other stuff spread hither and yon in my work folder for CS.

Besides what is a game premise really but a collection of ideas?

The very first *original* thing I posted, way back when, was about a idea I gleaned from reading these very types of posts.  If not for them the germ of my idea never would have borne the fruit of "Pixies: The Gleaning".   Which, going by what you've described, would be thought of as vaporware and clutter to the forums.

But was it, really?

If memory serves in my fumbling around for ideas a third party was inspired out of something posted in one of those threads to generate material for Universalis.  Or was it Multiverser?  Hmm.  My imp of memory is strangely silent.  Evil critter!  ;)

ANYway, the point is that something of value came of this brainstorming.  And brainstorming, I thought, was part of what The Forge was all about?

So, I humbly ask, are such posts really worthless and not suited to The Forge?  Or, perhaps, is it just that the quality of the posts of late have seemed to not meet the standards that they once did?



Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Andy Kitkowski on April 14, 2003, 01:52:35 PM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton
I'm not blaming you guys for the deterioration of the Game Design forum, but your departure is certainly not helping things.  It's a little like "white flight," where the affluent move the the suburbs and leave the inner cities to the destitute, and then complain about the rise of crime and how they don't feel safe anymore.


I can see where you're coming from.

I can also see where Clinton and all are coming from, too: I've seen far too many posts where known designers chime in to help someone with their nascent ideas, only to have them fall off the face of the earth, and all that feedback left like water on the sand.

Perhaps, with the refocusing that Clinton is showing in the Indie Design forum, it will bring these folks back to that forum. I'm looking at what he's doing now with that forum, and I can totally see it happening: Creating an environment that dedicated folks, eveyone actually committed to following through on their projects, will post to.

I know that I've stopped posting blatherings about stuff "I'm working on", because, honestly, I'm not working hard on it. I was running my mouth, gathering feedback to "eventually" follow up on later.  I realized that I was fooling myself, so I committed to Shutting the Hell Up until I had something substantial to show people.

Look at the "rpg-create" list on Yahoogroups for an example of what a thousand would-be designers - Who never, ever end up creating anything - is like. I sometimes find the design forum on RPGNet to be like that, too. Ron and Clinton are focusing on making sure that we don't even take two steps in that direction.

Hopefully in the coming weeks and months, as people follow Clinton's lead, we'll see more real feedback from real designers, offered to real would-be designers who are really going to follow through with their game.

I think we'll just have to wait and see.

But it doesn't hurt to make your complaints heard- Maybe it will help guide folks back to that forum...

Just a few yen.
-Andy


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Valamir on April 14, 2003, 02:14:42 PM
Quote from: Sidhain
Quote from: Valamir
This may seem a little harsh (and again not at you specifically) but The Forge and the Indie Design forum are for game designers who actually wish to complete, playtest, perfect and then publish (for free or pay) games.
.



Sadly, I've not seen this. I've come needing help on two serious projects and found little real support, help, or aid forthcoming for things I have in the works.  I shifted to trying various "hey I've got an Idea for a mechanic" mode--because this place hasn't really produced anything of merit for me. Those posts at the time were getting more regular response, than the others and so I was under the impression that was what the Forge really was for "just musing"---not for real game design support.

I had hoped that people elsewhere were wrong when called the Forge cliquish. I've not seen any serious evidence to counteract that, and plenty to support it. I find it a shame really. I would like to find a place that is what you say...maybe someday I will.


Ok, see posts like this concern me.  If this is an accurate assessment it is not a good one and one we should be concerned about.  So I did some digging:

I found Super Hero Game (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=1682&highlight=)  Where you mention a game you have that "Right now it's only in the most initial stages--me getting my ideas on paper so to speak.  But it's forming up rather nicely"  This was March of 2002.  You posted nothing further about the game in this thread.  We just spent a whole thread discussing why Idea Ballons are not effective topics.

Then we have GunKnight (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4292&highlight=) from November of 2002.  Where you say "while I'm just in the tinkering stages this is one of the few that is sticking and going into production"  Given the committment expressed the thread drew quite a few comments including encouragement from people who really liked the sounds of it.  You then stopped posting about it, and it has not been heard from since.

You returned to the superhero game here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4374&highlight=) in November 2002.  You asked a specific question about an issue and got two good suggestions regarding it.  You acknowledged those suggestions as being good ones, but reported nothing further on how it worked, or if it made things easier for the player in question.

That was the last thread started by you in Indie Design.  Having just reread all of these threads in their entirety, I don't think your assessment is at all accurate.  Is Hearts & Souls finished?  Its 5 months since your last design post on it...is it ready for prime time?  What about GunKnight, a game that was mentioned and never again returned to?

I don't mean this to sound harshly critical of you, but you sounded harshly critical of the Forge, and I don't think it was warranted.  You SAY that these are serious projects...I certainly have no reason to not believe you, but where are they?  I've seen no announcement from either of them in months?  Are they done?  Abandoned?  Already published?

You say you got nothing of merit, but in all three of these threads I see examples of helpful commentary.  However, in all three cases, the discussion ended.  Why?  Because YOU stopped posting about it.  We are here to help yes, but you can't seriously expect a queue line of people to form just because you asked for feedback?  It is your responsibility to generate interest in your game.  We are under no obligation to become enthused at every idea presented.  Tell us why we should be enthused.  Give us updates, ask questions (when you asked a question you got a helpful answer).  General requests for "feedback" aren't going to get you jack squat.  Nor should they.  If you can't be bothered to do the work to outline exactly what it is you need help or commentary on, why should we be bothered to do it for you?

The tone of your post above made it sound like you repeatedly came knocking with hard hitting game design issues and were chronically ignored.  At the very least its colossally misleading if not out right false.  It may have "felt" that way to you (I can't help that) but the facts don't support it.  You've only initiated 3 topic in Indie design (4 counting a request for hosting assistance, which you got), all of which generated at least some commentary and all of which petered out due to lack of follow up by you.  It is, after all, up to you to keep the conversation going until you get an answer that's useful.  

Again, I really don't want this to sound like a bash Sidhain post...but you painted the Forge pretty poorly above, and quite frankly...I don't see where any of your accusations stand up to the light of actual scutiny.

At some point...and this is definitely not directed at you individually, would be game designers seeking feed back may occassionally have to come to grips with the idea that their idea just isn't interesting enough to get anyones attention, go back to the drawing board and come back with something else.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jason Lee on April 14, 2003, 03:27:04 PM
I've never started a thread in Indie Design because:

1)  Some of the designers feel the work should be private.
2)  Most anything I get stuck on is an imponderable.  Sure, the thread may generate ideas, but it's likely it'll just be filler to get to:  'Do whatever you think is most appropriate for your game Jason'.
3)  I haven't felt my game is remotely ready for public consumption.  The writing, is...well, crap.

I think these are all perfectly good reasons to not post (well, the last one is a little fuzzy, but if you cannot express your game correctly it'll be pretty hard for anyone to help you).


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on April 14, 2003, 03:27:23 PM
Quote from: Sidhain

Sadly, I've not seen this. I've come needing help on two serious projects and found little real support, help, or aid forthcoming for things I have in the works.  I shifted to trying various "hey I've got an Idea for a mechanic" mode--because this place hasn't really produced anything of merit for me.


Damn straight.

That is, this place hasn't produced anything of merit to you. And it won't. You may produce things of merit here. Don't shift the blame onto Forge posters because you haven't completed projects. I will close down this thread like a clamp if I see any more whining.

That said, a few people have talked about the "big names" evacuating Indie Game Design like rats off a sinking ship. It's a good point, and maybe we should do something about it. I know I avoid it - in the past, my posts there have sunk like depth charges, getting few replies (well, since Donjon) among the high-reply, no-fiber wasteland.

I'll change that in the next few weeks.


Title: What's Going On
Post by: Le Joueur on April 14, 2003, 03:41:49 PM
Okay, let me add a 'long timer' perspective.

On the one hand, I'm hearing a lot of complaints about too little 'experienced designer' input.  On anther, I'm hearing 'there is too much noise.'  Yet another point seems to be appearing; 'the Game Design Forum is deteriorating.'

Well, you know what?  The exact same thing happens every weekend.  Know why?  Access issues.  That's what all these complaints have in common.  First of all, we've seen 'experienced designer drought' before.  Quite frankly this has a lot to do with how random events aggregate; each 'experienced designer' has flush periods and dry periods in terms of posting.  Because these are somewhat random, every now and then they happen all at once.  Like all the times before: give it time, it'll pass.

The second phenomen is a little more what is about to dealt with.  For some unknown reason, the Forge has become rather popular of late; many new posters have shown up (many that don't follow the general internet wisdom of lurking for some time before posting; and I mean more than a week or two).  What this results in is a lot of posts that don't fit 'Forge ettiquette' about focusing subjects and such.  This can't be helped; so goes the internet.

These same people aren't interested in hanging around for substantive input, especially when attached to a primer on ettiquette.  They come; they go.  Now, in exactly the same fashion that 'experienced designer' have streaks randomly, so to do 'superficial newbies.'  They just seem to aggregate into clumps; I've seen that around here too, it'll pass.

What is happening right now?  One of the rarer (but hardly impossible) situations is where both happen at once.  It actually does bias the 'return of experienced designers' slightly; who wants to answer all the 'superficial newbies' in hopes of catching that one 'new Forger?'  This likelihood precludes forcing one's self out of such a slump.  Fortunately both situations are as temporary as they are unstoppable; even this will pass.

I see the effort to clarify the 'policy sticky' at the top of each Forum as a good thing.  It lowers the resistance to the 'return of experienced designers.'  It won't make them post, but it will make them less likely to stay away.

Mostly though, I want to point out that this has happened before (and will again), a little patience and everything will get better.  This is not a matter of permanent deterioration.

Fang Langford


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Valamir on April 14, 2003, 03:45:55 PM
I thought about this thread alot on the drive home today.  Wanted to add one additional thing that came to mind.  I was thinking about which games presented on the Forge got alot of feedback and which games didn't.

It occured to me that the games that generate the longest, deepest, and most thorough analysis are the ones that are complete.  Not complete as ready to be published, but complete as ready to be playtested.  

Donjon, Otherkind, Nicotene Girls, Dust Devils, The Pool, Wyrd (back in the day).  These games generated responses AND continuing interest.  Because when the designer came to the Forge with a "here it is, any feed back?" post...they actually had a game capable of being played, at least in rough form.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: C. Edwards on April 14, 2003, 04:22:19 PM
Quote from: Kester
I hope this doesn't come across as sounding too harsh.


No worries, not harsh at all.

Quote from: Valamir
It occured to me that the games that generate the longest, deepest, and most thorough analysis are the ones that are complete. Not complete as ready to be published, but complete as ready to be playtested.


Is that a viable prerequisite for posting in the design forum? A game complete enough to playtest does show a certain amount of investment on the designer's part.  Should there be a seperate forum for other design queries not involving ready-to-playtest projects or does that defeat the purpose?

-Chris


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2003, 05:26:35 PM
Quote from: C. Edwards
Quote from: Valamir
It occured to me that the games that generate the longest, deepest, and most thorough analysis are the ones that are complete. Not complete as ready to be published, but complete as ready to be playtested.


Is that a viable prerequisite for posting in the design forum?


Okay, I both really like and am somewhat scared by that suggestion.

First, having a game ready to play DOES show a commitment from a designer.  You could have mechanics that you didn't like to much, you could have uninteresting bits that you'd change later, but at least people would have something where they could imagine what the game would play like.  We've had a rash, of late, where people post game "concepts" without any concrete mechanics or real thought put into how the game will actually be played.  This would kick those out the door immediately.  If people say "here's my idea for a game" you say "where're the mechanics?" and if they don't respond with some, you just ignore them until they have some.  Heck, suggest they take 24 hours and write a complete game.  Then, they can build off of that (which, on a related note, is the best use of a 24-hour game, in my opinion).

However, if people already think of the Forge as an elitist, insular, stuck-up clique of Narrativist snobs, this will give them a few more reasons to believe it.  If we don't care about that (I don't know that I do particularly, because I know better, having become a "regular" after just a few months), we can say "screw 'em" and have that be that.  However, if we want to be welcoming and supportive of designers that aren't getting their voices heard elsewhere (esp. female designers, minority designers, gay designers, etc.), that might not be great policy, since it might drive them away along with the less determined designers.

However, I think that some of the anger such a move would cause might be worth it.  If people are angry because they can't have a forum to post their unformed brain-matter on, maybe they should be angry, leave, go somewhere else, and come back when they're ready to do serious game design.  There's a level of maturity and commitment that I feel the Forge encourages (but doesn't yet demand), and I would definitely like to see things continue in that direction.  People are right that fewer high-quality posts would be far more useful and enjoyable than the mass of gunk we get now.  LESS TO READ AND MORE TO THINK ABOUT!  That would save time to actually get game writing done.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Christoffer Lernö on April 14, 2003, 05:31:38 PM
I thought I'd jump in again.

I think Fang brings up a very valid point when it comes to explain the "lack of feedback". Everyone can't always have a lot of time and interest in everything.

I don't read everything in Indie Game Design. I get involved in games I think sound like I want to play them, or if I for some other reason have some particular interest in them. And I only comment if I feel I really can commit myself to keep up with the thread.

Ultimately it comes back to the thing that's been mentioned time and again (to me as well): no-one here is paid to offer feedback and comments. People do it out of charity.

I think the difference between the Forge and other places is that while feedback might sometimes be sparse it's definately committed and well thought-out. Other places have more comments but with trade-offs in commitment and thought.

It's a bit painful because comments are so good here at the Forge that one could almost get to addicted to it (the contrast coming from other forums is great).

Maybe it would be helpful to lay down these rules in the forum-sticky as well.

I feel it's easy to get caught in a feeling of disappointment when postings fail to catch on. Maybe suggestions on "what to do when your idea fails to spark any interest" would be nice too for the sticky.

Most of the above, incidentally, comes from my own experiences. With that I mean I learned the above the hard way, by annoying the shit out of people and having them getting bloody pissed at me. Just sharing that wealth of knowledge ;)


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: ethan_greer on April 14, 2003, 05:49:03 PM
Hey all,

Remember this thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4056&highlight=) from October of last year?  At the time, I got all up in arms about it and acted like an asshole because it really worried me.  Now, in this thread, I'm hearing a lot of echoes, so I'm not going to worry about it this time around.

I think it's good that these things get tossed about every once in a while.  These threads serve as a reminder of just what a damn good community this is.  With a group of people as passionate about games as we all seem to be, I really don't think we have anything to worry about.  And I'll be there six months from now to provide a link to this thread when the subject comes up again.

Rock on.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: greyorm on April 14, 2003, 06:30:36 PM
Quote from: Valamir
These games generated responses AND continuing interest.  Because when the designer came to the Forge with a "here it is, any feed back?" post...they actually had a game capable of being played, at least in rough form.

I don't know if that's necessarily true, Ralph. For example:

Orx was ready for playtesting -- it was finished, though badly in need of some editing and clean-up to cover spots I couldn't personally see as problems: hence posting to the Forge for feedback.

Yet, Orx didn't generate much interest or feedback here. Finally, when we playtested it via the Indie Netgaming group, I got a huge amount of awesome feedback -- from the playtest group. I posted some more on the game to the design forms, and recieved little feedback again -- at least in comparison to other games and from the playtesters.

Another example of this is my adaptation of Immortal posted to the Sorcerer forum: it drew excellent critique and feedback -- from one person. This was another design completed when posted, though obviously I fleshed it out and changed things based on the feedback.

I'm not whining about this (even though it has bothered me): fine, they didn't get anyone's shorts all wet, I can deal with it. What I am saying is that completeness isn't the necessary ingredient because it doesn't fit in all situations.

Now, I don't know what that ingredient is, but something else occurs to me: Apparently something just didn't click with the designers here in regards to Orx, but what that is, I have no idea, because no one said anything about why it wasn't engaging -- but certainly that would have helped the design quite a bit.

So, please think about this: feedback on why a game doesn't interest you as a designer would be a good idea to write up as well. I see too little conversation coming from designers who aren't engaged by the designs posted, detailing what is lacking for them and how it might be altered to appeal to them. Certainly no one has to take that advice, but it is more helpful than silence is.

We can't pride ourselves on being a group of designers who really really design games and really really support indie development and publishing, if we're only doing it when we feel like it. To a fledgling designer, any constructive feeback -- even "negative" feedback -- is preferable to silence, which is ultimately useless and even contrary to the purposes of the Forge.

In fact, in thinking about it more, I guess it sometimes seems certain people seem to recieve more feedback on their designs than do others. Look at the games you mentioned: they're all from a central clique of designers. I doubt this is conscious, but I am noting it and it concerns me somewhat.

I don't know that anyone will agree, and I don't know that anyone knows what "the ingredient" is or if there even is one, but perhaps we should all be a bit more careful and more supportive of new games, even, or perhaps especially those we "don't get" and "have no interest in."

I realize that's a bit like screaming "Stop being so damn selfish and help ME!" and perhaps it even is, given that this is everyone's free time. On the other hand...well, community and purpose require some degree of personal sacrifice, right? Or it becomes instead a lot of people demanding that they be first priority, screw everyone else.

Obviously, I don't expect everyone to agree with my assessment.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2003, 07:00:27 PM
Quote from: greyorm
Another example of this is my adaptation of Immortal posted to the Sorcerer forum: it drew excellent critique and feedback -- from one person.


And sometimes that's all you need: one other person to take a serious and thoughtful interest in your game.  I did this for deadpanbob/Jason when I first came to the Forum, putting my heart into it and really getting involved with the Incarnate design threads, because they sparked my interest.  I starting doing this kind of thing again when Shreyas started posting about Torchbearer.  The synergy that this kind of close, cooperative feedback creates (you comment on my game, I'll comment on yours) is incredible and amazingly supportive.

I would suggest that all designers, as often as you can manage it, pick a Indie Design thread where the designer looks to be struggling with the seed of something beautiful, but is having some troubles.  Then, intentionally check/post to that thread whenever you're on the Forge and see if you can't help them along.  People become part of communities by making personal relationships.  Make a relationship to a newcomer or struggling designer and watch them grow into somebody that inspires you to be a better designer.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Sidhain on April 14, 2003, 07:07:36 PM
quote="Valamir"]This may seem a little harsh (and again not at you specifically) but The Forge and the Indie Design forum are for game designers who actually wish to complete, playtest, perfect and then publish (for free or pay) games.
---
That was the last thread started by you in Indie Design.  Having just reread all of these threads in their entirety, I don't think your assessment is at all accurate.  Is Hearts & Souls finished?  Its 5 months since your last design post on it...is it ready for prime time?  What about GunKnight, a game that was mentioned and never again returned to?
[/quote]

Unlike others here, I produce /long works/ that means considerable development time--H&S is 50 pages long as it stands sans art, and I'm working on getting the last 50 together from notes, and details I needed to add still. Most of what's left is just setting and Art at the moment. (Two fairly detailed settings)

It may be fine for you to turn out a work that is short, but it isn't for me. I want to produce quality and substance.

GunKnight is on hold, simply because Hearts and Souls and my FRPG take more time (I'm also jotting notes for a game which I have an artist interested in, and would much rather be able to produce a complete work with art than have a manuscript idling.


Quote

I don't mean this to sound harshly critical of you, but you sounded harshly critical of the Forge, and I don't think it was warranted.  You SAY that these are serious projects...I certainly have no reason to not believe you, but where are they?  I've seen no announcement from either of them in months?  Are they done?  Abandoned?  Already published?


Why should I come and bring more material here if I'm getting very few comments on them? Why should I repeatedly ask for help when I've been shown that with few exceptions (thanks to a those few btw) I've had little input. Should I post my entire game? I come with issue, I get a ffew suggestions, thats good, I don't produce enough discussion to merit coming back with furthur information.
Quote


You say you got nothing of merit, but in all three of these threads I see examples of helpful commentary.  However, in all three cases, the discussion ended.  Why?  Because YOU stopped posting about it.  We are here to help yes, but you can't seriously expect a queue line of people to form just because you asked for feedback?  It is your responsibility to generate interest in your game.  We are under no obligation to become enthused at every idea presented.  Tell us why we should be enthused.  Give us updates, ask questions (when you asked a question you got a helpful answer).  General requests for "feedback" aren't going to get you jack squat.  Nor should they.  If you can't be bothered to do the work to outline exactly what it is you need help or commentary on, why should we be bothered to do it for you?


Again, without respondants why should I? What is the Forge for if not to draw people who are /willing/ to comment, I don't expect long threads every time, I do expect more than I've gotten. How much enthusiasm am I supposed to put behind a discussion here, when only a few here bother themselves?


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Sidhain on April 14, 2003, 07:14:04 PM
Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
[
Damn straight.

That is, this place hasn't produced anything of merit to you. And it won't. You may produce things of merit here. Don't shift the blame onto Forge posters because you haven't completed projects. I will close down this thread like a clamp if I see any more whining.


 /I/ have never done this before, and I'm doing it /all/ on my own with a few suggestions from game designers I know /personally/.  

So answer me this--in all honesty---Is the Forge really about /indie/ support, or supporting those /already established/ on the scene?


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2003, 07:30:00 PM
Quote from: Sidhain
So answer me this--in all honesty---Is the Forge really about /indie/ support, or supporting those /already established/ on the scene?


I've never published a game, ever.  However, in my experience, the Forge is the best resource I've found for would-be indie publishers/designers.  The amount of knowledge contained on this forum is unbelievable.  But sometimes you have to go looking for it or ask.

I'm preparing, in the next 6 months or so, to publish my first game on my own, something that would have seemed unthinkable last summer.  In a few months, I've become more confident about my own designs and design ability, even more progressive in my approach to design, and much more knowledgable about the indie community/scene.

However, as always, your mileage may vary.  In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.  Still, I consider myself proof (and there are other designers that I could point to) that have discovered the Forge in the past few months and found a place that was both welcoming and supportive.  If you didn't find that, I apologize for my part in not being there to welcome and support you.

The only thing I love more than designing games is helping other people with their games, which is why I hang out almost exclusively on the Game Design forum.  PM  or email me sometime and I'd love to talk about your game.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Andy Kitkowski on April 14, 2003, 07:30:41 PM
Quote from: greyorm
In fact, in thinking about it more, I guess it sometimes seems certain people seem to recieve more feedback on their designs than do others. Look at the games you mentioned: they're all from a central clique of designers. I doubt this is conscious, but I am noting it and it concerns me somewhat.


Hey Grey, interesting point, and it leads to something that I wanted to bring up.

BTW, I'd hate to chime in with "I think this situation is caused by X", as it really sounds like I'm spinning my wheels. Let me put it this way:

I come from a family that's deeply rooted in AA  and counselling in that group. I've noticed similarities with the community there that I see being brought up right here on this very topic. So my observations here aren't so much an "I think", but rather a "This is the Way it Is". :-)


Similarity between The Forge and Substance Abuese Counselling (man, what a thought):

The Regulars

In counselling, you have the regulars, the ones who have been clean, sober, etc for a long time. They tend to understand each other, having a lot of the same experiences. If one regular talks about an experience, other regulars chime in, associating it with their own similar experiences.

In the Forge, you have the folks who have run the gauntlet: Designed, produced, and published their own games. When the regulars talk, other regulars listen and respond.

The Newbies

In counselling, you have ernest newbies, the folks who have recently kicked the habit, have the bug in them to quit, etc. They talk, too. They also listen carefully to the regulars (if they are ernest, mind you), looking for feedback to relate to their own situation.

At the Forge, you have the ernest newbies, meaning here folks that really want to design a game (whether they've really thought it all out or not) but haven't completed or published yet. They too listen to the regulars, the folks who have published, and look for feedback for their own games.

With both groups, though, even though the "newbies" (sorry about this choice of word, it was the first that came to me) are truly ernest in their intentions (staying clean, publishing a game)... they slip.  They give up. Most of them give up, actually, at one time or another, if not for good.

If a drug counselling regular invests a lot of time and effort into babying, holding the hand, etc of an ernest newbie, there's still that high chance that the newbie will give up, making the regular think, "OK, well, that was a lot of time and energy spent that goes right out the window". So counselling regulars (particularly men, mind you. Don't ask- This is based on 25 years of personal observance) tend to be a little wary of treating each ernest newbie like they're a regular: Because more often than not, they slip or quit.

They let the newbie stick around, offer modest advice, and watch the newbie- When the newbie proves themself (staying clean X number of months/years, showing a gross change in behavior, etc), the regulars open up a little more, share a little more feedback, treat them more like a regular, etc.

The same thing happens here. Clinton, Ron, and the rest offer feedback when the newbie has "proved themselves"- Anything less means the HIGH chance that the feedback they spent writing (instead of working on their own projects) goes to utter waste when the newbie quits.

What is the threshold for "proving themselves"? Well, publishing is a given. But people need not go that far: Resources, writings, a Clear Idea of the game and where it's going, a committed release schedule ("Here's my idea, I'm looking to publish in 2 months"), solid proof that the project is in motion (well past the "initial spark" stage), or maybe it could be an idea that's just too good not to comment on (perhaps an idea that the designer entertained themselves). In the cases with the newbies who show some of the above "proof of commitment", they clearly get more feedback from other deisgners. Maybe they even have to PM some designers at first to draw attention to their project (I assume), but again, show the proof, you get the feedback.

In both cases, once the newbies prove themselves, they are almost always welcomed with open arms into the community of regulars. And in both situations, an outsider looking in just sees a clique, perhaps even a snobby one at that.

In the end, it ain't right, it ain't wrong- It's just a human... what... condition? Mode of communiction or conduct?  And instead of decrying it (I think this is where we hear the familiar cries of "The Cult of Ron"), we should be looking at ways of dealing with it, of getting over it.

I think the first step here is exactly what Clinton has already started: Focusing the Indie Design forum to push the newbies who show "proof of commitment" to the front of the crowd. Reworking the way that forum works to encourage more "proof of commitment" projects and does not necisserily encourage "enthusiastic, but no proof of commitment" projects.

I also think this is a necessery step for the Forge to be the focused Indie powerhouse that it is.  It may look like an Indian Gauntlet to others, but the results are proven, over and over.

Addendum: I do not bring 'the hates' upon any group. However, I must bring up the example ot the rpg-create group at yahoogroups (many of you have seen this group, if not joined it temporarily). It's not too heavy now, but when I found it, and joined, there were over a thousand posts a month. People having heated, lively debate.

When I joined, there was a great debate and flamewar going on: "Is it Fire an Arrow, or Shoot an Arrow?". At least 60+ posts on that issue- Again, including firey back-and forth debate including rules, concepts, historical references, etc. Immeditely my thoughts drifted back to my Medieval Philosphy class in college, and reading about those "How many angels can fit at the head of a pin?" debates.

Well, over there ANY newbie can post their ideas. They WILL find criticism, good or bad, from many people there. Even if all they have is that "spark". Regulars, newies, anyone in front of the keyboard over there will send out their response. All levels of criticism, advice, and encouragement are heaped upon newbies there from all members.

There are currently 300+ people on that group. I have never heard of any of them. None of them have apparently produced anything. I'd go as far as to say that if any of them have produced, say, anything more than a web update ("My D&D Homebrew Prestiege Classes") or uncut PDF... I'll eat my wife's homemade natto. If any of them have produced a published game that appeared on the shelf of even their local gaming store... Well, I'll eat my G***mn shoe.

Clinton is keeping us from going down that road, and I cannot thank him enough for seeing it in time. That Path, as they say my friends, Leads to Madness.

-Andy


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: M. J. Young on April 14, 2003, 07:51:01 PM
Specifically regarding the Game Design forum, I always have approached it with some trepidation. I do invest a fair amount of time here--I'm number thirty-one by total posts, despite only being here two-thirds of a year. Yet I find the content of the Game Design forum a bit overwhelming.

Part of that is that I don't wish to open a post and then have to gain a complete understanding of yet another game design. Read four of these in one day, and they all start blurring together; come back tomorrow, and I won't remember which was what.

Thus I try to devote my attention within that forum to threads which are from the title clearly focused on narrow issues. I can handle an overview of a resolution mechanic, a discussion of character creation options, a concern about division of credibility. I can't handle an entire game in one thread, and I'm not going to attempt to do so.

Generally, when I'm learning a new game, I take at least half an hour to go over the rules--and that's board and card games. I'll take a week to consume a role playing game, just because I'll read it slowly and carefully. I won't learn more than one at a time, because I don't want to jumble them--I want to have Alyria clear and distinct in my head before I begin reading Sorcerer, for example, so that I don't cross-pollenate the ideas.

I certainly understand that there's a place for posting an overview of an entire game and asking for feedback, even for posing specific questions based on the full subject; that's not something in which I can participate. If that is the proper form for posts on that forum, it will make my day shorter, because it's a forum I'll cease to frequent.

I don't know how other designers feel about this. My feeling is that I do have time to help with clearly defined problems people are having, but not if I have to learn their entire game system to do so. Yes, sometimes you need to know more about the game than just this; but that doesn't mean you have to know the whole thing.

I don't know what impact that has on the anticipated policies of the forum; but I think it would be a mistake to exclude such threads from game design, as they are in some ways more accessible to those of us with less time and more productive for those trying to get a game finished.

I don't see much use, myself, in the game design challenges and floating ideas and such; but I do recognize that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, different ways of creating and different ways of helping, so it's possible these are also useful to the right people. I'll continue to ignore them, in general. That shouldn't hurt anyone--if they particularly want my input, hopefully they'll let me know (I've been asked to look at threads before) or will post a thread with a narrower thread title.

--M. J. Young


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jake Norwood on April 14, 2003, 07:56:03 PM
I just wanna pop in and say that although it's like pulling teeth trying to get people to help out on my games sometimes, I really truly appreciate the brainstorming that the forum helps me to do. It's the only forum that I read very regularly other than Actual Play, TROS, and Adept Press right now because I see good ideas all the time. La Famiglia isn't finished at all, but thanks to feedback on the forum I've got a really promising re-write. I'll be quiet about my game awhile till I know what's up, but untill then I just want to say that I'm not so sure what we're really all so upset about (on either side of the argument).

I agree that posters should be dedicated to their projects. Perhaps if every thread had a "dedication rating" in the thread title. Something like

La Famiglia: Specific question
or
La Famiglia: See the first "final" draft
or
La Famiglia: Just a thought, not to serious...

This would allow those of us that don't want our time wasted to avoid the threads that annoy us without removing some of the utility to those that really need a sounding board for their ideas, as they've got no one at home to talk to about their crazy game projects. That's what I need.

Jake


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: M. J. Young on April 14, 2003, 08:02:11 PM
Quote from: Andy Kitkowski
I must bring up the example ot the rpg-create group at yahoogroups (many of you have seen this group, if not joined it temporarily). It's not too heavy now, but when I found it, and joined, there were over a thousand poin....There are currently 300+ people on that group. I have never heard of any of them. None of them have apparently produced anything. I'd go as far as to say that if any of them have produced, say, anything more than a web update ("My D&D Homebrew Prestiege Classes") or uncut PDF... I'll eat my wife's homemade natto. If any of them have produced a published game that appeared on the shelf of even their local gaming store... Well, I'll eat my G***mn shoe.

Well, it happens that I'm one of those three hundred plus members; and it happens that I do have a game, in print, and available in at least a couple of real brick-and-mortar game stores as well as quite a few online outlets. However, I'll let you off the hook. First, I was published long before I was aware of that group--I joined because they were discussing my Gamers Preference Quiz, and someone informed me that a self-defined simulationist was slamming it terribly, so I felt the need to respond, or at least to read the critique. Second, I let the digests come for perhaps a month and then shifted it to web access only, and have never been back. So don't eat your shoe--I tend to agree that very little, at least, gets produced there.

--M. J. Young


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Valamir on April 14, 2003, 08:04:36 PM
Quote
Is that a viable prerequisite for posting in the design forum? A game complete enough to playtest does show a certain amount of investment on the designer's part. Should there be a seperate forum for other design queries not involving ready-to-playtest projects or does that defeat the purpose?


That would be a forum addition I think I could get behind.  Indie Design, limited to games at or near playtest level.  An Idea Forum to serve as more of a concept crucible.  It would still need to be moderated to avoid having it become a brain dump fest, but I think the distinction is a pretty good one.  

A side benefit would be to allow good old Invisible Hand selection to occur.  If the ideas in the Idea Forum don't generate any response because people see it primarily as a way to filter out the half baked ideas from the design thread...than it will dwindle away on its own.  If on the other hand the additional organization attracts its own attention and helps increase the attention to the Indie Design Forum it would be a good thing.  Try it and see...can always be inactiveated later.


Jonathan:  That was pretty much my thinking.  I rue the day that Discriminating became a bad word.

Christoffer:  Your comment on disappointment is spot on.  That's a truth that has even affected your truly and a number of other old time regulars too.  Even the best of us can get a little miffed that our "next great thing" doesn't attract any attention.  I think the best response is exactly the one you have here.  To recognize the source of the disappointment, get past it and move on.

A while ago I posted a query about how to reward players for creating color for a western game I've been working on off and on for a year now.  It generated a couple of responses...nothing earthshattering.  I was disappointed.  Natural response.  So I determined the game needed some more time to simmer and put it back on the stove to work on something else.

After all the Forge is not here to be a cheerleading squad.  If someone needs a dozen or more comments to a thread in order to feel good about them selves, or requires a lot of ego stroking in order to get motivated enough to keep working on a project, they'll have to go elsewhere for that.


Ethan:  Yup, I think periodic self analysis is always a good thing.  Not every perceived flaw is really a flaw.  Not every actual flaw should be fixed, but its always a good idea to take a critical look at where things stand.


Raven:  I remember Orx.  I honestly don't remember why it didn't trip my fancy.  Maybe I was too deep in Orkworld at the time and didn't care to revist the subject matter (different as it obviously is).  Couldn't tell you.  Immortal I don't know much about, but I did read that entire discussion and actually I suspect that you got more effective useable commentary from 1 committed respondant than you would have from half a dozen less motivated respondants.  Quality commentary always trumps Quantity in my view.

I'm torn about posting commentary about why I'm NOT interested in a game, though.  On the one hand, it would be nice to differentiate threads I don't care for from threads I simply don't have time for.  But I'm not certain half a dozen posts saying essentially "don't like it" would go over well with any but the most thick skinned believers in constructive criticism.  Worth a discussion topic on its own that.

Quote
I realize that's a bit like screaming "Stop being so damn selfish and help ME!" and perhaps it even is, given that this is everyone's free time. On the other hand...well, community and purpose require some degree of personal sacrifice, right? Or it becomes instead a lot of people demanding that they be first priority, screw everyone else.


I do QUITE agree with this. It is one reason why I suggested that new members shouldn't even try to start a new Indie Design thread until they have a number of posts under their belt commenting elsewhere.  It demonstrates that they're self educating enough to get involved in other threads and committed to making their own degree of personal sacrifices before expecting others to sacrifice for them.

There's a couple threads in indie design right now where the first posts by a new poster amoung to "tell me the right way to do X".  

Sidhain:  your most recent post IMO has crossed the line into simply being petulant.  

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It may be fine for you to turn out a work that is short, but it isn't for me. I want to produce quality and substance.
 This is just insulting.  Did you really intend to equate length with quality and substance and short as being neither?  In point of fact, when my next project is ready to be exposed to the Indie Design Forum I suspect it will clock in at over 100 pages.  Universalis was over 40 in full size.

Games like Otherkind are nice in that they don't require a huge time committment to read.  If they suck, you haven't wasted much time.  Knowing that your work is longer, I would think you'd know to dial down the expectation on how many people are going to have the time to read it thoroughly and comment on it, and then not just stop posting to the thread because the commentary didn't come in fast and furious.  

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Why should I come and bring more material here if I'm getting very few comments on them? Why should I repeatedly ask for help when I've been shown that with few exceptions (thanks to a those few btw) I've had little input. Should I post my entire game? I come with issue, I get a ffew suggestions, thats good, I don't produce enough discussion to merit coming back with furthur information.


Three threads Sid that's all you've tried...on which you posted sparsely yourself.   And because you didn't get a dozen replies it doesn't merit coming back?  Please...spare me the martyr routine.  

Quote
I don't expect long threads every time, I do expect more than I've gotten. How much enthusiasm am I supposed to put behind a discussion here, when only a few here bother themselves?


You expect?  Like you're owed something?  How much enthusiasm are you supposed to put in?  News for you my friend A HELL OF A LOT...that's how much.  If you can't even convince a bunch of fellow game designers to be interested in your design...on a site where people are WANTING to discuss design, then you need to work on a better approach.  I mean really, if you're not enthused and excited about your project how in heck are we supposed to be.

Take a look at Christoffer's game Ygg.  Probably the most discussed, most responded to threads about a game that still isn't finished in the history of the Forge.  Why?  Because he was/is enthusiastic about it...and persistant.  A good idea by itself is unlikely to get noticed without the other two.  

I hope you'll try posting again, Hearts and Souls had some cool ideas in it.  But I'll be damned if I'm going to feel guilty because you didn't get as much response as you "expected"...especially given the minimal effort you put into it.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Mark Johnson on April 14, 2003, 08:21:45 PM
We have identified some possible problems.  Have we identified any solutions?  Some options...

1)  A critique forum where designers with complete PDFs or docs can say their manuscript is open for perusal.   Each thread would offer participants to critique any aspect of the game or its presentation with the designer.  Participants would know the designer was serious because they manage to get a workable game manuscript together and have it open to critique.  It might also identify problems with the game that might get overlooked in Indie Game Design because in that forum response is dictated by the questions posted by the designer.  This could weed out problems before the manuscipt is presented to playtesters and posted in actual play.

2)  A separate forum for Gauntlet style challenges:  24 Hour Game, Iron Game Chef, Create Yer Own Fantasy Heartbreaker, Chained In The Basement.  There is clearly a great interest in this.  After eight days, 24 Hour Game has not only cracked the top ten threads in terms of views, it has also spawned nine games, including several that are worthy of  long term development.  I would not count on this to simply to disappear.  Challenge is seen as an essential part of developing one's craft.  Game design is a craft.

3)  An idea clearing house...  a place to put your trial balloons and get private responses.  Since in the trial balloon stage all a designer is looking for is basically a "that's cool" or "that sucks" assessment; let them post an overview of the game or mechanic in a forum and allow no responses except via PM.  It would be a way for people to determine the viabilty of the idea, locate fellow collaborators and find future play testers.  The emphasis in this forum would be on building community, but in a way that would not distract from the mission of the Forge since response is private.

These are just possibilities.  There are many other solutions.

(I crossposted with Ralph, since several of his comments were similar to mine, I think they bear at least a cursory examination).


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Valamir on April 14, 2003, 08:40:20 PM
I actually really like those ideas Mark.  I'm not sure about restricting commentary on an idea mine forum to PM...that might rob the archives of some useful posts given that PMs aren't archived...might be worth a thread seperate from this to discuss the merits of such an approach.

But I do like the idea of a seperate forum for the Challenge threads.  Given that Ron has already laid down the law about how frequently those are permitted, it might be doable as a rotating forum which is marked Inactive when not in use (like the Birthday Forum).  The complete game designs could then be discussed in the Indie Design Forum.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Sidhain on April 14, 2003, 08:42:27 PM
Quote from: Valamir


Sidhain:  your most recent post IMO has crossed the line into simply being petulant.  

  This is just insulting.  Did you really intend to equate length with quality and substance and short as being neither?  In point of fact, when my next project is ready to be exposed to the Indie Design Forum I suspect it will clock in at over 100 pages.  Universalis was over 40 in full size.



The fact is it takes longer to write a work that is longer--I said /quality/ and /substance/ to point out that I wasn't aiming at /just/ quality--but providing substance--material--support--heft--thickness. Does a short game mean it can't be quality? Of course not. But any short game lacks /substance/ by sheer definition of being short.
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You expect?  Like you're owed something?  How much enthusiasm are you supposed to put in?  News for you my friend A HELL OF A LOT...that's how much.  If you can't even convince a bunch of fellow game designers to be interested in your design...on a site where people are WANTING to discuss design, then you need to work on a better approach.  I mean really, if you're not enthused and excited about your project how in heck are we supposed to be.


I didn't put up a site whose purpose is to discuss games in production, so yes I expect something from a site that establishes thats is its  purpose and then doesn't live up to the claim (for me, at least)


Quote

I hope you'll try posting again, Hearts and Souls had some cool ideas in it.  But I'll be damned if I'm going to feel guilty because you didn't get as much response as you "expected"...especially given the minimal effort you put into it.


It's not about guilt. If you even think its about guilt your mistaken. It's simply me pointing out how useful the site is /to me/  in a thread focussing on the site and its seeming shift of priorities.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: szilard on April 14, 2003, 08:46:07 PM
Quote from: Mark Johnson
We have identified some possible problems.  Have we identified any solutions?  Some options...

1)  A critique forum where designers with complete PDFs or docs can say their manuscript is open for perusal.   Each thread would offer participants to critique any aspect of the game or its presentation with the designer.  Participants would know the designer was serious because they manage to get a workable game manuscript together and have it open to critique.  It might also identify problems with the game that might get overlooked in Indie Game Design because in that forum response is dictated by the questions posted by the designer.  This could weed out problems before the manuscipt is presented to playtesters and posted in actual play.

2)  A separate forum for Gauntlet style challenges:  24 Hour Game, Iron Game Chef, Create Yer Own Fantasy Heartbreaker, Chained In The Basement.  There is clearly a great interest in this.  After eight days, 24 Hour Game has not only cracked the top ten threads in terms of views, it has also spawned nine games, including several that are worthy of  long term development.  I would not count on this to simply to disappear.  Challenge is seen as an essential part of developing one's craft.  Game design is a craft.

3)  An idea clearing house...  a place to put your trial balloons and get private responses.  Since in the trial balloon stage all a designer is looking for is basically a "that's cool" or "that sucks" assessment; let them post an overview of the game or mechanic in a forum and allow no responses except via PM.  It would be a way for people to determine the viabilty of the idea, locate fellow collaborators and find future play testers.  The emphasis in this forum would be on building community, but in a way that would not distract from the mission of the Forge since response is private.

These are just possibilities.  There are many other solutions.

(I crossposted with Ralph, since several of his comments were similar to mine, I think they bear at least a cursory examination).


I think the big problem with making these divisions is that it leaves out what I see as one of the prime purposes of the forum: allowing designers to ask about a specific game design issue in a game that they are in the process of writing.

If you have a complete game, that's great. It might need some tweaking, editing, playtesting, or whatnot.  What about all those people who are working toward having a complete game and have hit a snag? Isn't that one of the primary targets of this forum?

If there is a change, I sincerely hope it doesn't leave these people out. There seems to be a distressing tendency in this thread to divide people who post in the game design forum into two types (1) "I have a complete (or practically so) game that I'm looking for some feedback on" and (2) "I have a neat idea. Whaddaya think?" - but that division would, I think, be missing a large and important chunk of the target population.


Stuart
who thinks he'd be in that third group


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Mark Johnson on April 14, 2003, 09:02:17 PM
Quote from: szilard
I think the big problem with making these divisions is that it leaves out what I see as one of the prime purposes of the forum: allowing designers to ask about a specific game design issue in a game that they are in the process of writing.

If you have a complete game, that's great. It might need some tweaking, editing, playtesting, or whatnot.  What about all those people who are working toward having a complete game and have hit a snag? Isn't that one of the primary targets of this forum?

If there is a change, I sincerely hope it doesn't leave these people out. There seems to be a distressing tendency in this thread to divide people who post in the game design forum into two types (1) "I have a complete (or practically so) game that I'm looking for some feedback on" and (2) "I have a neat idea. Whaddaya think?" - but that division would, I think, be missing a large and important chunk of the target population.


Exactly.  The Indie Game Design Forum is for people who are past the initial idea stage, but not to completion yet.  That is why I suggested the possibility that additional fora be created for the other types of discussions.  Right now the purpose of the forum seems diluted with ideas, gauntlets, complete games and implementations all vying for attention.   They all deserve the right attention in the right place at the right time.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Rich Forest on April 14, 2003, 09:03:43 PM
I think a couple things are worth repeating:

1) As far as the readers know, a project is only as serious as its presentation.  If I say I'm presenting, well, “just an idea,” then it is only fair to assume that other people will believe it.  It’s likely to only receive as much feedback (and congratulatory ego-stroking) as it is a genuinely interesting idea to the readers.  Also, my own further involvement in a thread is one of the best ways to get more from my designs.

2) Not every game idea is the coolest thing ever, even if I invented it.  This has been mentioned, but I'd like to just "me too" a bit here to emphasize the point.  Regardless of how amazing I think my game ideas are, I can't be guaranteed that they will excite others enough to respond with in-depth feedback.  As many folks have pointed out, this is can be tough.  My cool ideas are personal.  Their mine.  I love them.  When someone else doesn't love them, that can lead to discouragement.  But let's face it--that's life.  If you're seriously interested in getting real feedback from people, you have to be ready to respond to both feeback and lack of feeback with maturity.

Then there's the games that need purely negative feedback.  Now there's a challenge.  "Here's my idea, please respond to it even if you don't like anything about it."  While I like the idea of presenting negative feedback as well as positive, it is awfully hard for people to a) bother to type a response if they aren’t really interested in the game or concept and b) write a good, negative critique in the hopes that the original author doesn't take it personally.  Of course, it's equally hard not take it personally when someone writes you a wholly negative response.  A bit of, “wow, I like this!” is necessary for most people before they are comfortable saying or hearing, “but… this needs work.”  In spite of this, I have seen plenty of people step up and provide the feedback anyway.  Using just the first "old guard" example that springs to mind, I’ve seen Mike Holmes do this many times, and he continues to do this.  

Also, I think the clique accusations may be a bit unfair.  Ralph and Jake have just pointed out that even proven designers and Forge old-timers don't necessarily get responses if their concepts don’t particularly interest people at that time.  The thread Ethan linked to is ultimately the result of just such an event.  Matt Snyder counts as a Forge old-timer, a part of the established clique, if you will, and he didn’t get the kind of response he was looking for when he first posted about Nine Worlds.  Now, I think it’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean Matt’s game was no good.  In fact, he is still working on it and getting plenty of feedback from interested folks these days.  But I think his initial posts are one strong example that the Forge is not simply some clique that only accepts its old timers.  

How about Jake Norwood’s work in progress, La Famiglia (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5901)?  He is a serious designer who’s been around for a while.  The thread has 29 responses since April 05th, and half of them are from Jake himself.  Most are from Jake, Mike, or Brian.  Ok, in contrast, since April 6th Grey Lotus (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5925) has gotten 20 responses, from a greater variety of posters, even though it's author is not part of the clique.  Now, I haven’t even done particularly careful research here, but a cursory look leads me to wonder if the “clique” accusation would really hold up to careful scrutiny.    

People only respond to posts that are interesting enough to them to be worth responding to.  If the old timers aren’t posting to my thread, it doesn’t mean that my idea isn’t any good.  In fact, it doesn’t mean much of anything that I can be sure of.  Maybe they’ve seen stuff like it before.  Maybe they’re just not into the idea.  Maybe the presentation of the game didn’t give off the impression of the designer’s dedication to the project.  Maybe they’re just busy that week.  Maybe a lot of things.  The only thing I know is that they aren't responding.  All of my guesses about what that means are just guesses.  And the easiest guesses lead me to believe either that I'm no good, or they're no good.  Really, that's not fair to me, and it's not fair to them.  

Besides, I think the clique argument is devaluing the involvement of people like Jonathon Walton--the new guard of Indie Design.  Sure, the old pros may not all be posting as much there.  Maybe.  But what about the folks who are responding.  I think their responses are worthwhile as well.  We may be creating this “cult of the old guard” ourselves by insisting that specific people respond to our posts.  Don’t get me wrong—I too like to see long-time posters and published designers respond to posts.  But we can’t really demand the attention of anyone, frankly.  It’s a bit egotistical to assume that my project deserves anyone's attention.  And it’s a bit disrespectful to the other posters who do respond to constantly worry about the old guard.  It implies that responses from the new guard aren’t “as good.”  

As to the overall question about the shift in Indie Design, I’m with Fang and Ethan.  I don't think it's quite as drastic as we might think.  But yes, I admit, I have gotten the same impression myself that there has been a shift.  Personally, I am troubled by “throwaway responses” than by “throwaway game designs.”  I’d rather see a game fade away for lack of interest than generate a lot of two line, “that’s cool” posts in response.  It's too easy, and these kinds of responses are ultimately worthless to the design of anything.  Just as game authors should be expected to produce actual, specific questions when they post their games, the people writing responses should be careful to only post actual, specific questions and suggestions in return.  

Now, as I said, I doubt that the trend is as extreme as it seems.  But I also don’t think it’s fair to give too much responsibility to the old guard for keeping the level of the responses as high as they were in some idealized past.  It’s everybody’s responsibility.  And I think one of the values of a thread like this one is to remind us all of that.

Rich


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 14, 2003, 09:14:50 PM
From one who knows: nothing has changed. All is the same as it was the last time this stupid subject came up. The people here continue to be the best resource for the development of Independent games, and no better work gets done anywhere. Period.

This thread is a collossal waste of time.

Mike


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2003, 09:29:08 PM
Mike,

The fact that we've had this conversation has already made a big difference.  Despite what you seem to be implying, sometimes people need to discuss shared feelings in order to come to consensus and move forward.  This is emphatically not a waste of time.  It doesn't matter if no concrete change comes about (no new forums, no new policy, etc.) because the way people think about it will be slightly different.

Ideas, man.  It's all about ideas.  Speading pro-active, positive memes.  If it's not any help to you, fine.  But raining on everyone else's parade (even a parade that just makes everyone feel better for a little while) is a collossal waste of time.

I also take exception to you calling yourself "one who knows," as if your experience invalidates that of everyone else.  You can't know how a newbie feels because you're Mike Holmes, Forge icon.  Don't be so quick to pass judgement.  Please.

I agree that the conversation has about run its course, but that does not, in anyway, mean that it hasn't been useful and worth having.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on April 14, 2003, 10:06:03 PM
Peoples,

Thanks for sticking with this discussion so long. I think it's helped a lot, and I think its very existence will help the Indie Game Design forum.

Special points:

1) It's helped me in that I'll be checking and responding in the Indie Game Design forum more. I'll also be posting there much more.

2) The "Idea Crucible" might happen. It'll be hard to keep it from becoming The Graveyard of Good Ideas, but I kind of like the idea.

3) The disappointment that comes from good ideas wih no fruition is exactly what drives away the "regulars" from Indie Game Design. For me, it was Mage Blade. Whoever was creating that, please do it. I'll buy it.

4) Sidhain, you did get a bit petulant. At the risk of sounding all moderatory, watch it. And the Forge is definitely for everyone - I certainly didn't "prove myself" until a year or so here, with Donjon, and still personally feel I won't have proved myself until everyone I know is playing The Shadow of Yesterday (http://www.anvilwerks.com/rpg/tsoy/), a much more mature and good game, in my opinion.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Bankuei on April 14, 2003, 10:20:41 PM
Sorry to come late to the party, but its definitely an issue that I wanted to express better than, "I'm not really interested in what's going on with Indie Design anymore...".  It's definitely an issue that I feel strongly about, since it once was a place I'd always check out, if not chime in.

The major change that I see is a lack of communication of Creative Agenda.  

The question that I think comes up the most in the forum is "But what do you do?" for any game, and I think not enough people really look deep enough into that.  Consider Otherkind, its short, its sweet, but basically its "Save the Fae".  The basic idea is quickly communicated, and you either dig it or you don't.

Right now, many of the ideas presented either give you a "Here's a cool setting!" or "Here's a cool mechanic!", neither of which really tells you what the game is supposed to be about.  Really it falls into the classic problem with a lot of game design, which is really just "Look, I've shuffled around the idea of stats and numbers, and the probabilities are different!  How innovative!"

I'm not trying to knock the folks who are trying to design, but ultimately trying to do a Heartbreaker is pretty much uninteresting to me.  Likewise, folks asking for help to do research("How realistic is realistic?")" seems also to be off track as well.  Reinventing the wheel doesn't even seem worth the time to work on, or comment on.  I've seen it on other sites, but there's only so many times I can deal with seeing someone go, "Here's a fantasy game, except(ooo, you're going to love this) everyone's half dragon!!!!"....

The only advice I can give to folks is twofold:
-Have a clear, specific goal in mind when designing, communicate it immediately
-Mike's Standard Rant: Know your hobby...it'll save you the time of reinventing the wheel.  Most of the "innovative" stuff can be had for free or $10, its not that hard....

Chris


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: greyorm on April 14, 2003, 10:27:49 PM
Couple responses to a couple folks:

1) Andy and MJ -- please, for the sake of all our sanity and goodwill relations everywhere, do not -- I repeat -- do NOT engage in "us vs. them" bashing here. Seriously.

I've been a member of RPGCreate since mid-to-late 2000. Nathan Banks was/is a member. Fang Langford was/is a member. Gareth (Contracycle) was/is a member. You should recognize these names, they are some of the top posters here on the Forge.

Honestly, a lot of RPGCreate's most active -- or I should say most productive -- members have moved on over to the Forge. A number haven't. There are a few designers who were regulars on there I personally know who are published, there's a few who have produced excellent material, including complete games (frex, "At Swordpoint" by Dave Harper -- which unfortunately will not be published until the author returns from Japan sometime in a year or two).

2) Andy, your comparison of group social climates is awesome and enlightening...but some of that dealt with the idea of "proof of commitment." More succintly than in my last post, if we're going to say "Indie Design will support committed authors" then we need to stick to that. That's why I brought up Orx: all that work, yet little support, or at least not as much as I would have expected if this pledge of support were in effect and being followed.

So, all I'm doing is cautioning: if we're going to say something, we'd best make sure our actions afterwards support it, and actually GIVE good support for commitment.

3) A couple of you mentioned that even one poster responding with quality commentary is one of the best things you can get -- yes, I agree completely. Please recognize I was only using that situation as an example of the point above (about commitment not necessarily leading to a high volume of feedback), nothing else. I so seriously owe Kirt a debt of gratitude for all his input and help with that project.

4) Rich, your criticisms of my points about the "clique" are well taken. I should, however, blushingly point out that I'm one of the old guard, so any perceived slams I might be doling out are equally applicable to me as well.

5) Mike...what Jonathan said. Don't just stick your fingers in your ears and hop around going "La-la-la-la-la" because you think Newbie Comelately doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground...whether he does or not is irrelevant, and it certainly isn't up to you to pass judgement for everyone or on those who obviously find productive merit in it for the community.

I wasted a good five seconds of my life reading your post, and another five minutes responding to it. Damn you, Mike Holmes! {humor!}


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Christoffer Lernö on April 14, 2003, 11:11:11 PM
Hmm.. I'm starting to get the impression that "the old guard" is as reluctant to post their games as anyone because they fear they will be ignored.

I would really like to see more of the old guard posting their ideas, especially since their postings will help give examples how a nice good presentation should look. Look at it this way: if only newcomers post on indie game design, how will newcomers know what standards they are supposed to hold?

Besides, it could be very educational in its own right.


On the subject of having very little response:

I would like to see people keep trying. No response? Well look at what you wrote, reformulate it and try to narrow down the focus a little. If it's a first post, make sure that the main point is solidly presented. Clarify things and... post again.

Others may disagree with me but I absolutely don't mind having a game presentation or mechanics question presented a second or a third time. Maybe the first post was too long or too unfocused or I don't have anything to contribute. That doesn't mean I'm hating it, nor that I didn't find it interesting. (The only thing that is a big no-no is to say "why don't you reply" "I really want you to answer" etc. Anything that tries to make me answer even though I can't should definately be edited away (aww, I've been so guilty of that in the past).)

I hope that everyone that has been scared away from inde game design can start posting there again. Try it. But be prepared to do solid postings. Don't just write something down and post it. Look through it a few times, make sure it really conveys what you want. Don't force others to wade through your posting looking for the point. (Oh, I'm so guilty of doing this too)

If people are immediately hooked by your idea, maybe they immediately understand it, you can get away with a longer or less clear posting. The more obscure the idea or the setting, the more careful one has to be because it will take a lot more time for people to get into it. It's not always easy to get that right the first time around, so that's why I'm saying that everyone should try a few times.

For example Greyorm, I'd like to see what's happening with Orx even through I only skimmed through it the first time. Go for it man, give us an update! And that goes for everyone else in the same situation. Do it -dare to get a posting with 0 replies!

And to give an example of how things can be quite different in response, I recently posted two threads on Indie Game Design. One saying I ran into a problem doing my effect system and asking about pointers on how to get it right or games that solved it. A second one stating I had this idea on how to do it but I wondered if it would lead to my stated goals. One received 0 replies and I don't expect it to suddenly gain any more, the other is gathering replies as we speak. Did people suddenly go from totally disinterested to the opposite? No. It's just that one question happened to be more accessible to the people who happened to look at it. Maybe some other time it would have been the opposite.

The people at the forge aren't robots who consistently reply using some fixed criterias. We're all human and what catches our attention or what sparks ideas will shift and change. I hope people can dare to post again - that goes for everyone who has been disappointed in feedback on indie game design.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 15, 2003, 05:27:35 AM
If only newbies post to Indie Game Design, Indie Game Design will only have newbies :)

Sorry, just couldn't help myself...


Title: Not What It Seems
Post by: Le Joueur on April 15, 2003, 05:33:43 AM
Quote from:
I'm starting to get the impression that "the old guard" is as reluctant to post their games as anyone because they fear they will be ignored.

Just a quick note to point out a coupla things:
    First, posting a 'complete game' also has another (and I've seen this happen) result; "if it's so done, what advice do you want?"

    Some people are hesitant to offer their 'baby.'  A lot of people have the mistaken feeling, what with enthusiam and all, that their idea is so golden that everyone seeing it will steal it and replace sliced bread.  It's quite humbling to realize that, no matter how good an idea is around here, it'll never make you a fortune (so IP rights should only be a minor concern).

    Third, the 'unposted old-guard games' are pretty much subject to all this and one more thing,
they're done-done.  One thing experience teaches you is how to do something.  If a person can sit down and produce a complete game in the time it takes to post the same, which do you think will happen?  It's a myth that the 'olde guard' aren't sharing.

Fourth, I guess I'm considered one of the 'olde guard,' yet I've published no game to date.  My commitment is a low simmer because of outside issues, but the pan sits upon lava (it won't go cold anytime soon).  My strength is critical thinking, my weakness is communicating my ideas in words.  Where I feel that will help, I pitch in; I can't apply any critical thought to 'unfocused ideas' because the nature of the beast (this might explain other non-responses too).

Fifth, one of the biggest problems I face, as an 'olde' character around here (including abilities at communication), is that when I post an idea, it is perceived as complete and unassailable.  That is far from the truth; I wouldn't post it at all, if I didn't want critical feedback.  That's just one of the hesitations to my responses; often, I won't respond because, when I do, it seems to carry this 'from on high' baggage that can obscure an honest reaction (I frequently hang on, hoping my point will get made by another).[/list:u]Over all, I agree that this thread has been invaluable for 'airing' as much as 'illuminating.'  I might be inclined to agree that a 'for critique' Forum might find a home (providing that there was some way to convince 'idea balloons' and 'ready games' to go there, something I'm not too sure of).  I'm glad this dicsussion has taken place and hope it strongly informs the Game Design Sticky.  (Y'know, I'm beginning to think that there ought to be a 'sticky policy' thread; I'll get back to you.)

Fang Langford


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: szilard on April 15, 2003, 07:36:12 AM
There has been a lot of talk about adding a Sticky to the game design forum.

I'd like to point out that there are already three of them. With four, at a reasonable resolution, you're only going to see one or two actual threads on-screen without scrolling. Personally, I find myself thinking of threads further down the page as "old" - and I'm not likely to read them unless there is a thread that particularly catches my eye.

I'd suggest having one sticky, rather than three or four. That sticky could link to other threads as required (or recommended) reading for the forum. I think that getting to the actual content-filled threads as quickly as possible is visually important.


Stuart


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Thomas Tamblyn on April 15, 2003, 08:23:56 AM
Agreed, in fact, why not, after a sticky has been there a week or so and everyone's read it, delete it and paste the content to the bottom of the rules sticky.  

That way, at any time there's one sticky which is a compilation of the rules/faq and advice for posting in this forum and the only others are topics the moderatots think are vitally important (as happened recently) or a change to the rules/regs.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on April 15, 2003, 10:53:13 AM
Greetings All,

For those who may never have hosted a BBS network, like say FIDOnet or whatever, I am going to briefly outline two adjunct possibility to static stickies IMHO/DSTM.  (I think this might have applied to Usenet groups as well.)

1)  The rules of the forum post.  Posted monthly, with updates where applicable, usually to high volume threads.

2)  The FAQ posting: like #1 above, only there was a designated person who actually compiled the most freqeuently asked questions into a file.  Also posted to the forum monthy, or as updates made necessary.

3)  The link to rules of the forum.  This was more common on small local BBSes without networks of larger than a dozen local nodes.  In essense it takes #1 and #2 and puts them into a G-Files (text) section for those who log into the board to peruse at their leisure.  (Takes time to connect to nodes and transfer data and monthly posting was just a waste of bandwidth and message space, in case you were wondering.)

Either or any of these could be used in relation to The Forge.  Only instead of a monthly posting to the forum it would be a monthy 'update of the sticky' kind of thing.  (IE: Out with the old sticky, in with the new.)

Pros:  The information will always be there for newbies to read.

Cons:  This usually requires someone (ie: a Co-SysOp/moderator type) devoted strictly to the upkeep of said rules/FAQs.  Oh, yeah, and it is usually a thankless job.

Think something like this would be worth doing?


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: xiombarg on April 15, 2003, 02:00:49 PM
Quote from: Valamir
This is not directed at you SrGrvs, but I'm not sure I WANT to encourage either types of posts OR people who come here looking for those types of posts.
Except that if a forum exists for such posts, we can get them out of Indie Design and you can ignore them at will -- and the people who enjoy them or want to participate can do so.

I think part of the problem, which several people after SrGrvs has sort of have pointed to, is that Indie Design is CROWDED. Better defining what Indie Design is is a good start to making reading it managable again, but giving a place for stuff that DOES seem reasonable but arguably DOESN'T belong in the Indie Design forum or anywhere else seems to me not only a good idea for the people who want to see those discussions, but for people who DON'T.

Now, volume is an inevitable result of growth. But that doesn't mean we can't manage it some without actually getting rid of people, or seeming unfriendly to newcomers.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Brian Leybourne on April 15, 2003, 04:50:16 PM
Quote from: xiombarg
Except that if a forum exists for such posts, we can get them out of Indie Design and you can ignore them at will -- and the people who enjoy them or want to participate can do so.

I think part of the problem, which several people after SrGrvs has sort of have pointed to, is that Indie Design is CROWDED. Better defining what Indie Design is is a good start to making reading it managable again, but giving a place for stuff that DOES seem reasonable but arguably DOESN'T belong in the Indie Design forum or anywhere else seems to me not only a good idea for the people who want to see those discussions, but for people who DON'T.

Now, volume is an inevitable result of growth. But that doesn't mean we can't manage it some without actually getting rid of people, or seeming unfriendly to newcomers.


I think that's the best argument I have heard yet.

Brian.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on April 15, 2003, 10:02:25 PM
Quote from:
I'm starting to get the impression that "the old guard" is as reluctant to post their games as anyone because they fear they will be ignored.

Oh, I'm not afraid I'll get ignored. I just don't have anything but more corpses for the idea graveyard, as Clinton so nicely put it. Too many of then end with "...and they fight crime."

Looking at some of Fang's comments, I can see it going two ways, if the game is complete or the post is just long for whatever reason, not everyone can or will take the time to read the whole darn thing. It the post is short, often it's too vague to really answer.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: clehrich on April 16, 2003, 08:05:15 AM
Seems to me that the simplest solution is a single division.  In one forum you'd have things that are approaching completion, in the sense that they are (or are very nearly) play-testable.  In the other you'd have everything else.

When I posted Shadows in the Fog, I got lots of good feedback, much of which I have folded into a revised design.  I continue to draw on these comments.  But I don't think I got great feedback because it's the most wonderful game ever.  The reason is (1) the game is PDF, available, and written up in details; (2) it's ready to playtest; and (3) I had some specific questions.  I did not see any "old guard" effect here, nor cliquishness:  I got feedback from "old guard" and, er, "new guard," so I don't see that issue as a real problem.

But there is one thing that worries me greatly about this discussion.  There is this constant harping on, "Yeah, but you haven't finished the game, so you're not serious."  I, too, have not finished Shadows in the Fog.  Nor do I expect to for a good 6 months or more.  Although it was phrased very poorly, the remark about "substance and quality" was apt: I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I like to tinker and tinker and tinker before I claim my work is done.  Some folks have even PM'd me to ask when the game will be done, and I say, "About 6 months, maybe, for a Beta-test version."  But is this because I'm not serious about the game?  Hell no.

So while I think the Indie Design board should be split into play-testable things and ideas/other, I don't think it's fair to suggest that the former means that the game will soon be done.  Some people work very fast, of course, but Shadows in the Fog for example necessitates two big PDF documents.  In fact, volume 2 is probably going to be a couple of hundred pages long, not including images.  Surely you can see that that's going to take a while!  I like the idea that games ready for playtesting be posted separately -- if nothing else the types of critique are going to be somewhat different -- and I agree that the intent of such games should be to finish them in reasonable time.  But let's stop harping on what "reasonable time" should mean.  (Cf. Scattershot, right?)

Sorry -- that just really annoys me.


Title: Shift in Indie Game Design?
Post by: Blake Hutchins on April 16, 2003, 10:36:49 AM
My two cents.  But first, I'd note that once upon a time I posted a game idea that was half-baked, not well-thought out, and far from clear as far as my own goals.  I received some indications of interest, but most posts candidly pointed to the incomplete and muddy nature of what I'd posted.

Cool.  That was good for me.  I'm baking it slowly on my own time.  I don't feel any pressure to put out something complete or mostly complete.  Each designer will have his/her own design goals - and those should, I think be the one clear beacon one has in place when one posts for feedback.  I'm less impressed with game posts that say "I'm sorta interested in doing something with this (genre/mechanic/color/piffle) as a game.  What do you think?"  Not to be snarky, but that's not too far from what I did, and I got the reality check I deserved.

If you post a game idea and you thereafter let yourself get agitated about no feedback at all, or no or sparse feedback from the "heavy hitters," then I submit that's an indication you might want to rethink and repost your game design with more intention behind it.  It's a marketplace of ideas here, right?  The better ideas and more passionate designers will move their games to the top.  But whining about how Game X got a lot more interest than yours just ain't gonna cut it.  I'm not a big fan of a brainstorming forum, since I think we'll likely get a lot of the unbaked, toe-in-the-water stuff that the poster isn't fully committed to.

I don't see any crisis with Indie Game Design.  As Ron points out, there's an ebb and flow to the forums here.  Increased volume of new submissions makes me more choosy about what I spend my time reading.  I think there's a lot of great feedback to be found, but you've got to work if you want a lot of it.  My ersprungligen game idea got - what? - maybe a half-dozen posts.  And I was happy to have 'em.

Incidentally, I may have my impression of The Forge's mission off-center, but I don't consider myself a game designer.  I find the community's discussions of actual play and RPG theory the most useful parts, along with the discussions of the indie games I'm interested in.  Hence I approach my involvement as a player and a hobby devotee, and that's fine by me.

Best,

Blake


Title: Damn, Late for this one
Post by: RobMuadib on May 06, 2003, 07:58:18 PM
Hi all

Wow, how time flies, seems just like yesterday I was bitching in the same
kind of thread. Anyway, thought i'd add a few minor comments to this
mammoth thread, I will be glossing over attribution, as i can't remember
it all out of the 50 some posts.

RPG-Create:
-----------------
Hey, I'm an RPG-Create loser!! I'm still working on my game, the same
game, my one and only game, which may spark your derision for that
group, but hey they piss me off to, mostly by not responding to my posts
on my ...... THough there is a ton of inane arguments, there have also
been some great crunchy detailed mechanical discussions, plus a couple
of posters on there, the Mogensen's, offer very useful statistical anyalysis
of dice mechanics and such, even having created a program specifically
for that purpose. The group is a empyrical example of sturgeon's law,
unfortunatley there are like 40,000 posts, 90% of 40,000 is 36,0000, so
that's a lot of crap posts:)



Game Challenges & Half assed ideas fishing in Indie design
----------------------------------------------
I am very much down on this, but that could be due to my pure bull-
doggedeness. I have only one project, TMW:COTEC, that I am working
on, and will work on till it's complete. It's big and grand and a magnum
opus, plus due to personal reasons that, were I to reveal them would
make you think I was even more of a loser than the guys on RPG-create,
it often lies fallow for weeks or occasionaly months. So it is nearing
completion at a somewhat glacial pace, but I still like to spout about the
cool meltwater coming from it. So people "flooding' the forum with 50
posts about the 24 page RPG they wrote while underwater basketweaving
with GM Skarka in Paul's basement, or whatever the hell it is does get on
my nerves somewhat. Same with weekly posts about my cool new half-
assed RPG idea. But hey, I'm a single-minded bastard with one burning
desire to follow the mandate of my ancestors to unite all under heaven!!!,
err finish The Million Worlds.  On a related note, i don't follow much in the
other forum's, again because of my single mindedness to work on my
game, even if it occurs at only slightly faster than geological time.


One more possibly different point
TALKING ABOUT TALKING ABOUT YOUR GAME:
-----------------------------------------------------
I got a minor slap from Ron about my posting bits of my game which
talked about my game. He was rightly pointing out that it is more
important to actually generate the real meat of the mss, how to play the
game, rather than just talk about the game. My only point/objection is
that I find it helpful to me "cheerleader" my game a bit, it keeps my
investment and interest in the game, and perhaps it provides grist for
garnering the interest of other posters, who aren't inclined to read 4 or 5
embedded links to previous documents. Any comment on this,
Ron/Clinton?


Best

(P.S. I will complete my game, I will. 2005 is my current I'm a loser finish
date, which coincides with my paying off my student loan. Oh, that's right,
I didn't finish college, sigh.... )


Title: ignore, double post
Post by: RobMuadib on May 06, 2003, 07:58:59 PM
[accidental double post deleted]