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what makes me saturated?

Started by Paul Czege, June 06, 2002, 01:47:08 PM

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Paul Czege


On the">island of misfit games thread, as a way of voting in favor of Clinton's game(s)-of-the-month idea, Laurel wrote:

...would probably help diminish the "spread too thin" feeling we sometimes encounter.

And I'm not going to put Laurel on the spot. I don't have to. I know exactly what she's talking about. And I bet it's not just me and Laurel that sometimes feel "saturated" by Indie Game Design. My question is, what causes that? What causes me to push myself so hard to read so many of the new games people post, and so many of the discussions? What causes me to push myself so hard to form meaningful opinions on each of them? Is it competitiveness? I want to be the first to post something substantial? Is it not wanting to be left behind should a substantive discussion emerge? Is it wanting to be prepared, just in case I have a phone conversation with Ron or Scott or someone else from the Forge? Is it some kind of aggressive learning thing, where I'm trying to stretch my ability to be analytical and creative in the context of roleplaying games? I can tell you, it doesn't feel entirely healthy. I'm reading games at a pace that exceeds my ability to process them in a meaningful way. I can't hardly even post substantively about the games I'm reading. Are a lot of us doing the same thing? Are we somehow promoting the behavior in each other? Is it a problem? Should we discuss solutions?

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans


Hey Paul,

I have no idea if what I'm about to say is even related to what you're talking about.  But for some reason this experience I had came to mind.  

I was walking around the dealers room at my local con and I was poking through stuff and looking around and well, something felt different.  It used to be that I had to RESTRAIN myself in the dealers' room.  That there was too much that I wanted and I had to hold back so that I wouldn't bankrupt myself.  But this time around, eh, there really wasn't anything I wanted.  At first I thought this was odd and then I went through a series of realizes and weird emotions.

I realized that the reason I wasn't having fun in the dealers' room was all The Forge's fault.  The education, and it has been an education, I've recieved here has made me a more discerning customer.  The results are sadly, a mixed bag.  On the one had my enjoyment of actual play has increased.  I've become a better GM.  My appreciation for quality design that doesn't necessarily appeal to my personal tastes has increased.  The world of RPGs as a whole has taken on a much sharper, more defined and meaningful existence for me.  But the side effect of this, is that it has completely killed the 'collecting' side of the hobby.  I no longer really care if I have a complete Deadlands or 7th Sea collection.  I wasn't even trying for a complete White Wolf collection but I did, at one time, want the core book from each of their games.  Not so much anymore.  I look at my collection and I realize that Jared Sorensen's 42 page Inspectres has given me more enjoyment then ALL those books put together.

And this has created a hole in my gaming life.  I play every Monday night and every other Saturday but I'm such a gaming addict that I used to fill up all the inbetween time by browsing and reading RPG material.  But once you've read Sorcerer & Sword or Sorcerer's Soul, how can you ever go back to reading a 'normal' supplement?

I wonder if you're experiencing the "void" I'm talking about and you're response is to simply voraciously read and poor over whatever comes across the indie-design forum.  I don't know.  Just a thought.


joshua neff


Man, I know exactly what you mean! I use to go to one of my local gaming stores every week, looking at what came out, flipping through the pretty (& sometimes not-so-pretty) books, trying to restrain myself from buying such-n-such game or such-n-such supplement. Now I go to the store maybe once a month at most. I look around & think, "Why the hell would I spend money on any of this crap?" Even Nobilis--I bought, I like it a whole hell of a lot. But all this talk about how gorgeous the book is & how it raises the bar for game book design? That's bullshit. Who cares if it looks pretty & has a gold bookmark & is bound with strands of Janeane Garofalo's hair & the pictures actually move as you look at them? If there's no quality (& in Nobilis' case, there is a substantial amount of quality), who cares about the physical aspect? That stuff just infuriates me now. I'd rather have a quality game written in single-spaced Times New Roman with no illustrations than yet another lackluster same-old same-old with masturbatory deluxe packaging.

How does this tie into Paul's post? Well, I guess I have reached a saturation point of sorts. I don't read a lot of the Roleplaying Design posts, because I don't have time to follow all the game ideas, mechanics don't do much for me unless I actually play them & see how they work, & I don't have time to play but a fraction of the games presented. I have a list a mile long, of indie & not-so-indie, games that I want to play, & it'll take me a while to get to them. (So, again, why would I shell out cash for the latest piece of RPG eye candy?) There are too many ideas being shot out for me to follow them all.

That being said, I'm not sure I see where things need to change at all. It doesn't bother me that half the ideas presented don't get played. This is, to me, a big jam session, a think tank, a playground. Stuff gets suggested. Ideas are presented. Dreams are verbalized. Some of them get developed, some of them don't, & some come back to haunt us at irregular times. Not only does that not bother me, I think it's brilliant. There's an energy here that I love. An enthusiasm, a verve. Everytime I log on here & read posts, it makes me want to play more & more & more. I don't actually get to the playing as much as I'd like, but I'll take what I can get.

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes

Blake Hutchins


I wonder if you're not simply pushing yourself to be fair.  The Forge community bends over backwards to give feedback and encouragement for indie games.  As an indie designer yourself, perhaps you're experiencing a self-imposed obligation to read everything in Indie Game Design out of a sorta guilty desire to do unto others as you'd blah blah you know.  Commendable but ultimately hard on yourself.  If you're consistently doing something you're not enjoying, it sounds a wee bit compulsive -- and I say that as someone who definitely needs his daily Forge fix.

As a reader on Indie Game Design, I am far less principled.  I drift in and out, dawdling in only those threads concerning games that interest me.  To me, The Forge represents a marketplace of ideas, and what doesn't grab me doesn't get my psychological dollar.  But then, I am not a designer.



Gordon C. Landis

Paul - what feels unhealthy?  There's a veritable overflow of cool ideas around the Forge of late.  Certain issues are coming to a head, and the cross-fertilization of various areas is starting to produce intriguing results.  Folks are *constantly* saying things like "hey, that's a lot like what I'm working on!" and "I was thinking along those lines just last night!"  If things were trully unhealty, I think we'd be seeing stuff like "you're stealing my idea!" and "I came up with that FIRST!"

So I'm inclined to think that most of the "spread too thin" *is* about an "aggressive learning thing", and the only question is "why are you doing that?"  Beacuse it's cool stuff, you enjoy learning it, you might want to use it?  Or is there some kinda "oh no I'm gonna miss the cutting edge and not be cool anymore and I won't get anyone to respect me" fear at work?

I think we mostly have the former here, but sure, a bit of the latter can creep into my thoughts.  I try to be wary of it, and posts like yours help me keep that wariness.  I'm a failure at actually playing a lot of these games - so I'm hardly going to throw stones at folks for not being up on everything Forge-realted.

Hope that's useful,

Gordon (under construction)


Prsonally I think the Forge is beating the hell out of us all of us.

Hammer and Anvil and all that...

My impression is that a lot of us spent the last *mumble* gaming years half asleep. Its like we were just going  through the motions of gaming and then suddenly something like Sorcerer hit us


And then we wake up or grow up I am not sure yet

For me it was "Suddenly all the "stuff gamers do" seemed to mean a lot less, All of the Collecting, Gaming (as versus playing) and System Quibbling seemed to dry up.

What do I want now? I don't know yet.

I was experiencing a general disatisfaction with gaming to begin with and, no lack of gratitude to Ron intended, The Forge has made it worse.

Ah well No Pain no Gain.

Zak Arntson

I've had to forcibly stop myself from reading the most recent games and get sleep/go to work. Until I finally got time to read 'em. And even then, it was one game at a time. I suppose sometimes you've got to put your foot down and pace yourself.

And don't worry about being the first to read/post. I don't know what to say. Try just not checking the Forge for half a day or something? Read a book instead of post on the Forge? Exercises like that to keep you from burning out. I'd hate to see anyone burn out.

Lastly, you'll never be fully prepared. Just look at that stupid thread I started on "Pure Sim." I've read Ron's essays many times over, designed a handful of games with GNS in mind, and I still had forgotten the meat of GNS. Now I'll never forget, but it took that final embarrassing post of mine.

Eric J.

This used to happen to me, except on a different web site.  ""  They actaully had a latest post screen that I would go onto and post on absolutelley everything that I had an interest with.  And then I'd go to school, get my work done, and again post compulsivelley.  Now, this place was worse than the forge.  My post count, after a month, was over 400.  They had a badmouth category.  They even had an 180 PAGE thread on "2nd Edition is the worse edition! Paladins and Druids can be assasins!" (Not to mention at least as many posts on threads that matched the topic such as "Who won the Paladin vs. Assasin debat?")  I was smart enought (even at that time) to stay away from that one, but then I started making my game.  I looked on Yahoo for a sight with forums on RPG creation, and some force of reality helped my find the Forge.  It relaxes me.  I have 3 things that I think you should relise:

1.  Many of the same ideas our bounced around in game design, because it's called INDEPENDANT game design.

2. Don't post on the freakin' topics if you don't have something meaningfull to say that some one else won't say.

3. Unlike PADND the Forge's servers rareley go down.  It will be here when you have the time.  People post slowley here (yes I didn't mistype), as to promote meaningful thought.  There IS no post count here.  And if it's ideas you want, you can get them from some where else without the need to respond.

Points to make: Wow.  I actually used my small quantity of experience.  I also believe that this place is discouraging.  This is a good thing.  Now I can start over and do it right.

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Two unrelated issues have cropped up here.

The first is Paul's concern - and bluntly, I think that's a personal concern, and no problem from my perspective. However anyone feels about reading, using, and dealing with the stuff here is his or her business. No one sets a quota for how much you read, how much you do, how much you contribute, or anything. These are all self-imposed issues, and hence any guilt or fatigue about it is also self-imposed, and to my mind, sounds pretty neurotic.

The second is Josh's point - and all I can say is, Hooray. I think the compulsive buy-stuff, follow-stuff, collect-stuff gaming habit is itself abominable. It represents consumerism over practitioning and fanboy-ness over judgment. Now, no one needs to accept my value system, and if you feel the need to own every L5R supplement in order to place them on the shelf next to every Shadowrun supplement, feel free - none of my business. But if anyone, like Josh, has experienced a change from that mode of behavior, then I can only say, Hooray.

Anthony (Ace), based on this and previous posts, I can only shrug. Your relation to role-playing as a hobby is your business. It sounds as if you were already dissatisfied, and frankly, if the Forge contributes to your awareness that you don't want to continue in the hobby, then good. I see its role as a wake-up call to do something else with your life as a good thing.

I don't accept the idea that it "made" you or anyone unhappy with the hobby - by your and other accounts, my ideas and those of others here have only provided a vocabulary for it, and the concrete awareness that no, the dissatisfaction will not magically go away. Again, those are good things, in my view.


Paul Czege


The first is Paul's concern - and bluntly, I think that's a personal concern....self-imposed, and to my mind, sounds pretty neurotic.

It may be neurotic, but Zak's post, Gordon's recognition of the same tendencies in himself, and little comments that I've noticed in private communications from others are what prompted me to question just how personal it is. People in relationships put pressures onto each other. The solution is to talk about them. Communities develop a social fabric, partly an amalgamation of the behavioral excesses of the individuals, and proceed toward decline. The solution is for individuals to pay attention to their reactions, and to boldly enter into discussion of how the society might be made better through collective effort. Obsessiveness may certainly be a personal problem, but if it's pervasive, a cultural phenomenon, then it's in the interests of the community to re-envision itself and re-distribute its energy through collective dialogue. And the only way to know is to talk about it.

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Ron Edwards


A little thought yielded this:

I am not out to dismiss or discredit Paul's concern. My goal is to identify it as a personal problem - and yes, it's worth understanding and knowing what to look out for, as he says. But it is personal in terms of solutions. I can't help folks who feel this way, and I certainly won't endorse "changing the Forge" to accomodate them.

Problem? Valid. Solution? Not my problem. Community discussion about it in terms of individual solutions? Good.

A lot of people are having trouble with this combination; they seem to think that if I think it's a valid problem, then I the Mighty Ron shall fix it for them. Fuck that, especially the mightiness part. Or conversely, that if I am not going to fix it (zap!), then I must not care or must not think that it's a problem at all. Also not the case.



All I can say is, "Wow."  

I feel much the same.  Except instead of compulsively trying to read everything, I've been avoiding reading really anything, sticking to a few discussions here and there because there's just too much; I can't keep up with it all.

I simply don't have the free time, and the free time I do have, I spend on trying to finish my own RPG projects (in fact, I'm envious of folks like Jared who can hash out a new, complete game what seems like every week).

Regardless, I feel guilty, like I should be reading and commenting and so forth, as though it's necessary to do so.  At the same time, I'm aware it isn't remotely so.

Maybe I'm just trying to Be Like Ron, who seems to get a word in on nearly everything here and there (and I have no clue how he does it!).
Or maybe it's because I feel as though if I don't comment on other people's stuff, they won't feel compelled to comment on mine -- or shouldn't feel compelled -- which might explain why I've semi-consciously been avoiding posting stuff about "Orcs" or "Ninja Kitty, Samurai Dog."
I don't feel right asking folks to look at my stuff when I can't honestly reciprocate.

As to being neurotic...sure, I AM being neurotic...but that's how I feel.  That said, there's also something therapeutic about talking about it and getting it off of one's chest.

As to the other subject, "bored and disappointed with gaming."
All I can do is echo Jesse's comments and I say that I was there quite some time ago...wandering aimlessly, searching for something, not finding it amid the stacks of gaming tomes I was devouring.

I used to walk into a game shop and want most of what I saw.  I have a walk-in closet filled to the brim with gaming books, floor-to-cieling.  Now I walk into a game shop and stare critically at everything or think to myself, "I could write that, and I could write it better."  

I don't see the reason to spend money on something I could have come up with myself...a game has to be really interesting, really catching, to make me buy it now.

Heck, I browsed through GenCon last year looking for something, anything, game-related that I actually wanted to spend my money on. I bought "Orkworld" from John Wick...first RPG book I'd bought in a year, in fact. I also picked up "Extreme Vengeance," "Maelstrom," and "Wolves of the Sea" from the auction area.  But that was it.  I wasn't having those typical pangs of gamer "need," the whole (ultimately useless) more-game-material fix.

Unlike Ace, however, I'm not disenchanted with the hobby itself, just the product.

Frex, my 3E game is going very well, much better than my campaigns have ever gone before, and I can thank the Forge for that.  
I'm not completely consciously aware of what I'm doing differently, only that due the ideas presented here I've changed my style and thought-patterns about running a game considerably, and for the better, IMO.  

I enjoy DMing these days, which isn't something I could say as little as two or three years ago.  I'm not all stressed out over KotDT-type players or situations; in fact, I have so much less in common with the general gaming public that I don't even feel like part of the crowd anymore, and I don't get the "insider" jokes anymore -- like KotDT, but only because they just aren't funny anymore.  They just end up sounding like laughing at problems to hide the fact that there are problems, to make the "unsolvable" less threatening.

I also enjoy playing much more as well, and when I don't, I can generally pinpoint the problem and the solution to it and get back to enjoying my hobby.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio

Jared A. Sorensen

Quote from: greyormin fact, I'm envious of folks like Jared who can hash out a new, complete game what seems like every week

I so do not write that much. In fact, if you look at my site you'll see a grand total of three games that I've "done" (one is a throwaway and one I'm not 100% happy with. InSpectres is pretty cool though). The rest are all ideas, or pieces of ideas.

Here's what I am successful at: churning out lots of stuff.

Do I want people to come to my site and read/play these games and like them and like me? Of course...but I don't worry about every detail or problem (uh, obviously...look at The Pitch. I have yet to incorporate Jesse's playtest comments into that broken sucker).

If I have any advice at all to give it's to not worry about things. Just work on stuff and keep everything, even the scraps. Zak has been doing this on his site and some of those ideas are really good (Shadows arose out of a comment he made about this game he played with his niece and nephew and I'm like, "...and this game can be found where?").
jared a. sorensen /


My misconception, then; but I believe you would agree, a fairly common one amongst Forgers (?)  In such a case, it's all about the social dynamic of the Forge: perceptions, preconceptions, design (and designer) myths as they relate to contribution to the group.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio