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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 83 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Forum re-construction under way  (Read 25384 times)
Sydney Freedberg
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Posts: 1293


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« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2006, 06:39:30 AM »

The key issue seems to be, what I'm not new to the Forge, and I do have a "new idea" to toss up? My current thinking is that keeping these posts in the "new here" forum will act as a model for new people - they can see that you are basing your ideas on actual play of some kind ('cause you will be, won't you - right? snarl).

In other words, "hey, I have this idea, but it's not clear enough in my mind or rigorously enough expressed to qualify as a game-in-the-making yet, somebody give me some thoughtful responses"? I'm thinking of the kind of thing that people sometimes put in RPG Theory as "notional mechanic" or "notional game design" -- which is how both Capes and Scarlet Wake started.
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Green
Member

Posts: 247


« Reply #31 on: January 27, 2006, 06:49:11 AM »

Everything I say below may be a little off-base.  I'm just going to be up front and state that I am working from the assumption that the Forge's primary function is to assist the design and publishing of independent games.  Let me say now that I like the idea, but my main concern is implementation.

There seems to be no middle ground between neophyte game designers and people who have been published once (or more than once) already. So, as I'm examining these changes, I'm left wondering exactly how this is going to make things different for me and other people in my situation.  I hate to sound selfish about this, but in more concrete terms, how will these changes help me get Dramatikos playtested and published?  What can we do with these new forums to ensure that a greater percentage of the games being designed on the Forge are being playtested and published?  What can individual members of the Forge do in light of these changes to encourage indie game designers to go through the entire process of design, playtesting, and publishing?

Being rid of the Theory and GNS boards helped to shift attention back to Design and Actual Play, but it's difficult to be noticed if the thread to your game is just one amongst dozens and if you are not a recognized regular at the Forge.  But, I think there is a solution that the Forge community can pursue.  Mainly I think lies in threads like this.  What made this thread neat was not the demographic it was reaching, but the way it exposed the posters and readers to games that can easily be overlooked during a casual glance at the Design forum.  I believe encouraging and participating in threads like these are great for giving exposure to various games.  Instead of being about a specific theme, the threads can be specifically for pitching games that have not entered the playtesting stage.  The only caveat is to make sure that the threads don't get too bulky.  Perhaps starting a new thread after a certain interval can help keep things digestible.

Another option is to get non-designers to participate by being more vocal about the games they want.  This is not in the sense of "The Forge needs more games like this," but more like, "Are there any games in the works that _____ ?"  Matching the right game to the right audience would be invaluable throughout the design and publication process.  Creating or encouraging one or more groups (whether live or online) dedicated to playtesting would be pretty neat too, though I'm not sure if it's feasible.  However, if the interest is there, I'm sure that it can be done.

In general, I would say that in order to make this continue to work and to grow, finding ways to involve the entire Forge community and encourage proactive participation in the design process would be the way to go.

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Bryan Hansel
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Posts: 111


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« Reply #32 on: January 27, 2006, 06:04:14 PM »

I'm not sure how much I can add, because I'm so new, but what struck me as unusual about this forum was that there wasn't, or I couldn't find, a FAQ page.  I read the stickies in all the forums, read many of the articles, but I still felt that I wasn't pointed in how to first post or what to first post.  The main questions I was left with before I posted were:

1. Do I introduce myself, what games I've played, if I've published games, etc...?  Didn't seem like other new posters were doing such.
2. Do I post in a forum other than design before I post in design?  I wasn't sure what I could add elsewhere being so new.
3. How do I present my game or idea?  I ran across the big three and then the Power 19, but when I posted mine it didn't seem other new posters were doing this.
4. What questions do I even ask or how should I evaluate my game before presenting it so as to not waste forum space and members time?  I still don't know if I got that right.

There were many other questions, but those are the main ones that I recall.  Also, maybe because of the questions that I couldn't find answers for (maybe I didn't know where to look) or maybe because of the high level conversation written in these forums or maybe a little of both, it was pretty darn intimidating to post here.  Much more so than in any other forums I participate in.  For example, at a photography forum I've been active in since 2002, it was easy to start there, I had a question about some equipment purchases, so I posted in equipment, and I got a ton of responses, which in turn kept me as a user, who now gives advice.  Or in a canoe building forum, I needed to know how to do some woodworking, and I got a ton of answers, and now I'm someone who gives advice there after four or five years of participating.  These were easy questions to post, because I knew where I was going, and I just wanted more advice.  Here, it seem much harder to figure out what questions to ask.  (Maybe my inexperience.)

So, now that I've rambled a little, I'd suggest a static html FAQ page, maybe call it "New to the Forge?"  In it cover what kind of conversations go on in each forum, how to introduce yourself, where to post first, how to present new game ideas, how to take the game from idea to manuscript, then where to post as the game progresses and the way to publishing.  Basically, a FAQ that spells it all out.

For the forums, I'm so new I'd hate to guess what is needed, but the list compiled by Troy seems good.  Instead of "From Play to Initial Design," I'd just call it "Initial Design."  I might add a forum before "Initial Design" called "Game Ideas."  Then require discussions based in "Initial Design" to have some sort of manuscript developed and almost ready for play-testing.  This way you sort of the "Game Ideas" that go no further than that from those that are in the works.

And one last thought: The reason I posted here in the first place and what attracted me to the Forge was that I've always enjoyed writing games and playing them and just plain reading them and about them, and I had a game that I actually wanted to develop.  The Forge seemed to have the smartest conversations out of all the forums I looked at.  But it's just so hard to know where to start.

Hopefully, these thoughts are helpful,
Bryan
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Andy Kitkowski
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Posts: 827

I LIKE GAMES


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« Reply #33 on: January 27, 2006, 10:44:03 PM »

Ack, was in training for the last few days, haven't been paying too close attention, and whammo.

All in all, I like what others are saying. I have nothing to add on the splits.

But what the fuck, let me bang my "Andy Drum" here for a second, getting as gruff and gritty for the others. You've heard this tune again, so feel free to roll eyes and all, cause here it comes again.

Bang, bang bang bang bang bang.  I'm nailing that Taiko drum with these fat wooden bachi sticks. Here we go.

Usability. Form. Function.

There are 16 Open Threads in Indie Game Design on the first page (20 posts per page).  That's ASS. Seriously, who touches shit on page two or three, unless they were heavily vested in it?

I push myself to jump into Indie Design at least once or twice a week (once on the weeks with 2+ gaming sessions in a week, twice on other weeks) and run through as many game threads as possible, leaving feedback when I can. And when I have a few mins at work, I'll skim the first page of Indie Design. Just front page, no matter how many times I later rememder that I should be checking the second or even third pages.

Out of sight IS out of mind. We can argue that it must be our responsibility to scan the next few pages yadda yadda crap. Most of us skim the first page.  Only a few of us skim the second or further pages. How hard is it, really, to make a few forums (or heck, all of them?) list 30 or more (40?) threads per page? When the derth of fucking awesome nascent games that Need Help come rolling through, they may get ignored for a day or two, but as long as they're on that front page by day 3 or 4, someone's gonna get around to throwing them a bone, so that they aren't left to leave the Forge and be at the mercy of fucking Yahoo RPG-CREATE or whatever.

More threads per goddamn page in any forum that involves people posting ideas requesting/requiring feedback. Any less than that and we're BEGGING them to leave the Forge and go somewhere else when their uncommented thread hits page two.

bang bang bang bang bang, Andy bangs on his drum.  Tribal banging over.

Oh, and don't get rid of site discussion, it's a good place to bring up Shit that's Broke. Maybe renaming it to Trouble Tickets or Broken Shit or whatever to kill "Can I talk about soap here?" threads, but still, we need a place to notify you guys when the forums barf.

-Andy
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The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.
talysman
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Posts: 675


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« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2006, 05:54:44 PM »

I've had something to say on this, but I've put it off, figuring it would be more or less taken care of. But a couple comments on this thread have changed my mind, and it seems to me it needs to be said.

It's always been my understanding that the way these forums in general and Indie Design in particular work is: you do not post ideas, you do not ask for opinions on setting or color material, you do not conduct polls. I've always thought that, to post in Indie Design, you had to:

  • have a game design you are working on;
  • have a very specific design problem that arose in that game ("I want X but playtest shows I will get Y instead.")

Bryan, in his post, mentioned it's confusing where and what to post. The 16 open threads on the first page that Andy mentions is a clear indication that other people are confused as well, because if you examine those threads, you'll see that the most common condition is "I have a game idea that I would *like* to turn into a full-fledged design, but I need help getting started." Also, several of the games in development spawn multiple threads, taking up even more space and demanding more attention.

It's kind of a dangerous situation, because we would certainly like to help those who need help, but when you help someone who doesn't know where to start on game design, it usually turns into "I want someone to design my game for me" or "I'll design my game in public and ask for constant feedback." Obviously, the latter is no good for the Forge at all, except in the limited situation of the game design challenges -- and that's because there's a definite beginning and end to it, and a promise that it won't go on forever. And the former case, people wanting their games designed for them, it's just too much to ask. Everyone here has one or more projects of their own to work on. Everyone would like to be helpful, but no one has the energy to provide unlimited help to even one game designer here, let alone hundreds of designers.

(Plus, as an aside, too often I've seen someone say "I need help with X" and have it turn into a game where the one looking for help rejects every single suggestion, and then asks for more suggestions. Again, endlessly.)

Now, there may be times when someone is perfectly willing to literally design a game for someone else. The new game forum may provide just the outlet needed for those situations: one person says "here's an idea I had for a game that I would like to play, but I don't want to design. Anyone willing to design it?" Heck, this could also be done as a challenge in the Endeavor forum. But the other behaviors I'm describing aren't good for the forums, in my opinion, because they eat up resources (designers willing to help) and fill up the first couple pages of Indie Design with clutter.

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but let me put it this way: I would *like* to help, I have *tried* to help, but too often I have to *give up* helping because because most of the requests are just too broad. For example, I don't think anyone should have to read all the rules for a game unless the help they are offering is either playtesting or proofreading, neither of which are valid topics for the Indie Design forum. "Please read my entire game and offer suggestions on what could be improved" is just too vague a request for anyone to seriously fulfill. And with two to three pages of threads asking for that kind of help, people with quick, specific questions that could be answered are likely not going to get much help at all. I know I for one have given up asking questions, because I rarely get answers. I've put more into the Indie Design forum than I get out of it.

I don't think I'm the only one with this kind of criticism. Certainly, the new proposed forums seem to address exactly this situation. It doesn't look like there's any place in the new forums for these kinds of broad, open-ended requests for assistance, only for focused requests. I do worry, though, that this might not be clear to others, the same way it wasn't clear for the original Indie Design forum.

My request, then, is to make it explicit. State right up front, in bold letters, that the Playtesting Hotbed is for games that are finished (at least in first draft,) that the "New Here" forums is for ideas (not entire settings or games,) and Endeavor is for public design in the context of a challenge with a time limit. Or, if I'm completely wrong about all of this, make it explicit that the open-ended requests for help I've been describing are completely acceptable in one of those forums.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Tommi Brander
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Posts: 114


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« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2006, 02:38:39 AM »

Quote
"Intro to the Forge"
"Actual Play"
"From Play to Initial Design"
"Playtesting - Designs at Work"
"Endeavor"
"Publishing and Marketing"
"Conventions"
"Connections"
"Resources"

Seconded.

Add a sticky with a request for a link on the previous forum, when applicable.
So initial design might have a requirement like "post a link to very good or bad AP experience to provide perspective".
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greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #36 on: January 29, 2006, 06:52:11 AM »

Suggestion: design becomes a CMS design repository, one link per game, but numerous threads within that link, possibly the main descriptive text/design purpose/quick background (of design or current progress) or whatever as well. I've always felt word count restrictions are good for focusing details (might be a solution for these snips). Cuts down on thread bloat per design. I don't know if Clinton's tech. wizardry is up to the challenge of creating that sort of system linked-to the current Forge forum design, or even if it is possible.

Second, some folks seem to be concerned that unless you are a known Forger, you won't get much feedback. Not true. I've been here five years, was in the top twenty posters for most of that time, and I still didn't get much feedback on my designs. On the other hand, I have seen newbies get pages and pages of feedback on their design. So I don't think it's particularly true.

In principle, I agree it would be nice if there were some way to "even out" the amount of feedback, but I don't know if that's possible, or even desirable from a social perspective (ie: if your design doesn't catch a person's interest, should they have to post about it?). On the other hand, that same social dynamic can be quite discouraging to the fledgling designer.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #37 on: January 29, 2006, 06:55:34 AM »

Oh, and absolutely getting rid of "Show unread posts since last visit" because it is way too easy to take the easy way out and click only that link, and to get into the habit, as well. I know I'm guilty of it, and I think it is unquestionably detrimental to the Forge's overall design.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Halzebier
Member

Posts: 216


« Reply #38 on: January 29, 2006, 08:25:38 AM »

My request, then, is to make it explicit. State right up front, in bold letters, that the Playtesting Hotbed is for games that are finished (at least in first draft,) that the "New Here" forums is for ideas (not entire settings or games,) and Endeavor is for public design in the context of a challenge with a time limit. Or, if I'm completely wrong about all of this, make it explicit that the open-ended requests for help I've been describing are completely acceptable in one of those forums.

I'd go one step further and cut the 'ideas' option for the "New Here" forum.

If 'Ideas' were only to be posted in the context of either actual play (requires relating an actual experience) or an actual design (requires writing up at least a first draft) that would focus posts because both relating an actual experience and writing up a first draft require serious thought and effort.

Regards,

Hal
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Lance D. Allen
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Posts: 1962


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« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2006, 10:02:59 AM »

Quote from: greyorm
Oh, and absolutely getting rid of "Show unread posts since last visit" because it is way too easy to take the easy way out and click only that link, and to get into the habit, as well. I know I'm guilty of it, and I think it is unquestionably detrimental to the Forge's overall design.

I'd like to cast my vote in opposition to this. This link is the reason I even look at a lot of stuff. I rarely have more than 10-20 minutes at a time to read the Forge, (though I check it frequently.. It's the "at a time" that matters) and this link allows me to find everything new since the last visit so I don't have to look through every forum. I don't post a lot anymore, partly because of my time limitations, but this allows me to keep abreast of things that interest me. I've frequently tracked down threads that stopped popping up in the list of unread posts to re-read them and comment if I felt the need.

It's the stuff in talysman's post that concerns me, though. I want to actively help, partly because I got so much help when I first arrived and I want to pay it back. However, I find it difficult to find the time and the interest to give really thorough help. I've been guilty of posting a link to the entire glut of rules before, and I've noticed that that does seem to discourage feedback; The barrier to assistance is too high.

So, when you start on the re-construction, definitely keep in mind making it explicitly clear how best to post system ideas. I got a lot of useful assistance, but it was in spite of my presentation, not because of it. Mike Holmes, who was the patron saint of IGD for the longest time, probably tore at his hair frequently while trying to help me out. (by-the-by, those old threads are still helping. As I've been quietly reworking Mage Blade and ReCoil, I've been doing a lot of re-reading of old design and actual play threads on those games)

Anyway, that's my input.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Rob Carriere
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2006, 12:50:06 PM »

One quick suggestion: There seems to be a lot of concern about whether or not people will 'get' the intended posting sequence between the forums. I would suggest that's not a forum design issue but a forum-list design issue. That is, change the design of the page listing the forums to clearly show that sequence. For example, by having big arrows pointing from one forum to the next. If you want, add a text at the top stating that the arrows indicate the intended sequence of posting.

There's nothing that catches people's attention like being blazingly obvious.
SR
--
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ffilz
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Posts: 468


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« Reply #41 on: January 29, 2006, 06:32:51 PM »

I'm not sure I'm understanding the latest proposals right, but it sounds to me like some folks don't want to see posts from people who are between the "I was just playing X and had cool idea Y" and "Here's my first draft, what do you think?" I hope I'm misreading because I think the period in between is where the Forge has the most to offer of intentional design instead of "Here's my cool 1000 page clone of D&D, what do you think?"

Frank
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Frank Filz
Doug Ruff
Member

Posts: 445


« Reply #42 on: January 30, 2006, 06:14:57 AM »

"When posting to this forum, realize that it's tantamount to committing to being a game publisher."

I'm quoting this from one of Ron's stickies in Indie Game Design. I still use this a a stick to beat myself up with when I'm not putting enough time in on my own projects.

The reason I mention this, is that I think all the new design forums should have something like this clearly at the top. So that it's clear (for example) that if you are starting an "ideas" thread, the goal isn't just to share what's on your mind, it's to turn that concept into a playtestable draft. Likewise, the purpose of posting in a playtest forum is to inform subsequent design of the game.

Likewise, if you are responding to a thread, your goal should be to help the original poster to get to that next stage. Which should also prevent any of the forums descending into "RPG Theory: the Revenge" - there's a clearly stated goal of moving from the theory to the practice.
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'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'
Tommi Brander
Member

Posts: 114


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« Reply #43 on: January 30, 2006, 10:09:20 AM »

Random ideas should be posted on actual play with the play experience that spawned them, right?
Enter them on Design only if you adding them to a game or building a game around them.

This is tangential. I'll be quiet now.
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Mark Woodhouse
Member

Posts: 121


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« Reply #44 on: January 30, 2006, 10:33:09 AM »

"When posting to this forum, realize that it's tantamount to committing to being a game publisher."

I'm quoting this from one of Ron's stickies in Indie Game Design. I still use this a a stick to beat myself up with when I'm not putting enough time in on my own projects.

The reason I mention this, is that I think all the new design forums should have something like this clearly at the top. So that it's clear (for example) that if you are starting an "ideas" thread, the goal isn't just to share what's on your mind, it's to turn that concept into a playtestable draft.

That's the gap I would really like to see somehow bridged. I lurk in that gap. I think of myself as about 2/3 of a competent beginning designer - I get ideas into that ferment, stack-o-notes, 9 marginally-connected-parts of a 12-part game stage regularly. It's pushing them over the hump into "this is a draft that anyone except me would be able to usefully comment on" that I stumble over.

If there is a possibility of a forum which was the right place for games that are somewhere beyond the "neat idea" but not yet to the "first draft", I would feel much better about talking about my design efforts at The Forge and get more out of it.

That said, I have my doubts whether discussing something that's at that level of incompleteness is really helpful - or rewarding to anyone other than the designer. I would hate to feel like a leech.
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