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Author Topic: Shift in Indie Game Design?  (Read 18475 times)
Christoffer Lernö
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Posts: 822


« on: April 13, 2003, 05:56:42 PM »

Mark wrote this in the "Request for a [sic] Indie Design sticky"-thread:

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.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #1 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.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
SrGrvsaLot
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« Reply #2 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.
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John Frazer, Cancer
Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #3 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.
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szilard
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« Reply #4 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
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #5 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.
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szilard
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« Reply #6 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
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Valamir
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« Reply #7 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.
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Kester Pelagius
Member

Posts: 508


« Reply #8 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?
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #9 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
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SrGrvsaLot
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« Reply #10 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.
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John Frazer, Cancer
Valamir
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« Reply #11 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.
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C. Edwards
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Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #12 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
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Sidhain
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #13 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.
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #14 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...
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