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Author Topic: Shift in Indie Game Design?  (Read 18428 times)
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #30 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.
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #31 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
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #32 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
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #33 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
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #34 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 http://www.mjyoung.net/rpg/gametype.html">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
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Valamir
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« Reply #35 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.  

Quote
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.  

Quote
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.
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Mark Johnson
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« Reply #36 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).
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Valamir
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« Reply #37 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.
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Sidhain
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Posts: 160


« Reply #38 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.
Quote

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.
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szilard
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Posts: 260


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« Reply #39 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
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Mark Johnson
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« Reply #40 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.
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Rich Forest
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Posts: 226


« Reply #41 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?  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 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
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #42 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
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #43 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.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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Posts: 2624


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« Reply #44 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, a much more mature and good game, in my opinion.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
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