Soup of Ages (Square One)

Per my first post on Page 4 of this thread, I've done a little bit more thinking on this. First, some random thoughts:

1. People need to be willing to give something like this a go. If they aren't, the idea can die right here.

2. Some people need to be willing to make an upfront commitment to either participate or handle the various service aspects that such an event (promotion?) would require. For my part, I'd be willing to pay to register a domain name if and when this comes together (provided that my day job hasn't gone the way of the dodo by that time*). We'd need somebody to handle hosting, site maintenance (beyond my time contraints or abilities, I'm afraid), etc.

3. I really think that such an event should be officially associated with a known indie RPG retail outlet. Currently, this means IPR, RPGNow, or Your Games Now. That said, I really think that association with IPR would have the biggest and most beneficial impact on consumers as it seems to be a beacon for some of the negative perception voiced in the other discussion by way of perceived official association with the Forge (I use the word "perceived" here as I'm aware that such affiliation does not exist, though I also know that in the minds of many, the two entities may as well be Siamese twins).

4. When it comes to whom collaborates with whom, things get a bit sticky. Initially, I thought that assigning teams seemed like a good idea. In retrospect, this seems counter-productive as collaboration would essentially be forced, which undermines the whole concept. I think a pool of willing participant would be a better place to start. That said, choosing who one collaborates with by fiat presents its own issues, as somebody will ostensibly be "picked last" which also seems to undermine the concept (and will likely leave somebody feeling kind of shitty). Ideas?

5. One possible method of circumventing the above issues which occured to me, is allowing teams to be organized independently of event structure and then join after already formed. Kind of like local sports teams. A few guys and gals get together or rocket off some emails, decide to work together as The Odd Bedfellows (choosing a team name sounds like fun, no?) and signs up for event participation.

6. Regarding event structure, a specific start date and finish date seem necessary. And I'd hate to limit it to something that can only conceivably produce something half-assed. While something like 9 months or a year sounds excessive, I think that it might produce results that will really blow some people's socks off (i.e., sit up and take notice).

7. Completed projects absolutely need to published for commercial release in some form, with members of a given collaborative group splitting the proceeds amongst themselves or, perhaps more appropriately, pooling a percentage of the proceeds to support subsequent Soup of Ages competitions, making the event a self-supporting endeavor (and dividing the remaining proceeds amongst themselves).

8. There should probably be some kind of "big reveal" to make the finished products public. Ostensibly a web site announcement would suffice, though a con event or organized promotion on other hobby-related sites would do the event and the underlying goal of burying negative public perceptions much more justice, I think.

9. I realized that this is ostensibly an outreach operation for "Indie", despite the hallmarks of a more traditional design competition. Some people will always have negative perceptions of the community, of course. That's their problem. That said, I think something like this would break down many of the negative perceptions that more reasonable people have and make them "feel a part" rather than "feel apart". In that sense, I think that only good will come of such an effort.

So. . . what are your thoughts?

*I work in the mortgage industry which, I'm certain you're aware, is suffering in the current economy.

Comments

  • I'm still thinking. It's in the brainstem, rattling around.
  • Posted By: AndyI'm still thinking. It's in the brainstem, rattling around.
    Well, then, it looks like it's you and me versus the world, Kitowski! ;)
  • Maybe the participants should actually have the desire to create a specific game, instead of any game at all. Is there really any point in creating a game for no other reason than to play with the means of production?

    People create games for all kinds of reasons, but at least, for the most part, they aim for a certain kind of content. If anything, the idea of making any old game for ideological purposes seems to me to be antithetical to the kind of sincere creative effort people talk about. It reminds me of the WotC book Dragon Magic, actually. It got written because books with "dragon" and "magic" in the title sell, and not from the basis that it would actually have interesting content.

    So I'd suggest that people pull back until one or more people has an actual, cool idea for a game that can be best created by a team.
  • Perhaps what you need is a matchmaking service to bridge people in various communities with similar design interests.

    "I want to write a game about dragons ... and magic!"

    "Me too!"
  • Why not? Once there are a critical number of ideas floating around, then take it to some production process.
  • Oooh! I like dragons and magic! :)
  • Getting people talking (and playing) is always a good thing. Playing with Clint Krause at Gen Con really opened my eyes not only to a different design philosophy but also to my own bias. I have no doubt that it could be a very positive thing for everyone involved.
  • edited August 2007
    Posted By: Malcolm SheppardMaybe the participants should actually have the desire to create a specific game, instead of any game at all. Is there really any point in creating a game for no other reason than to play with the means of production?
    Good point.
    So I'd suggest that people pull back until one or more people has an actual, cool idea for a game that can be best created by a team.
    This is what I was getting at in #5, above. That is, I think that teams and projects should be probably be decided upon independently of the actual event, as it seems to be more sincere and, thus, in keeping with the purpose of such an event. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes.
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarPerhaps what you need is a matchmaking service to bridge people in various communities with similar design interests.

    "I want to write a game about dragons ...and magic!"

    "Me too!"
    A dedicated 'coming together' forum where creators can specifically discuss project proposals and 'grow' teams for such an event sounds like a good idea. I could host something like that over at Miscellaneous Debris (it's a theory-neutral site, which affiliates itself with no one school of thought in regard to game design). Alternately, given James's blessing, I could wield my awesome Admin powers at RPGHost to create such a sub-forum (perhaps getting OBS to act as a 'name only' sponsor for the actual event). Things to think about.
  • Stickying this, for no other reason than to think about another group project for a little while.

    We've had great successes with projects run by folks from all walks of life. The Names project, frex. Kevin Allen Jr's game contest, etc.

    I think that, in time, we'll see people take up this challenge. But as James alluded to, it will take a long time to complete a project once started... and probably some time (given GenCon just ended) for people to think on it and throw their hat in.

    Let's think about it for a bit and see where it takes us. It might, as James alluded, require its own forum or whatever, but let's just think on it for a little while. At least those that are interested.

    I want to see a Stone Soup where some passerby reaches into her pocket and tosses into the pot some Awesome.

    -Andy
  • edited September 2007
    Best way, in my mind, is to just collect a list of interested people, have them contact each other, and then set up group blogs to work on them. But I also think that "requiring" the final product to be published commercially is a mistake. Let the people involve decide what they want to do with the thing they've created. They own it.

    I totally want to design something d20. I have this ancient game concept called We Regret to Inform You the Gamemaster is Dead that I'd love to go back to.
  • Well, I'm interested. But am I a d20 guy or an indie guy? I'd love to work on something wtih a real died-in-the-wool indie designer.
  • Well that's all that matters, then, Justin, who you want to work with.

    Now, what sort of project are you interested in doing?

    I want to do a project of melodramatic fantasy with a D20 mod that involves character durability being all about their passions (as opposed to HP). I have some mechanical ideas with regard to how to do this. Any takers?

    I have an urge to call it "The Trees" and have the setting be a monumental sylvan environment, always a little dimly lit...

    Mike
  • I have about 90,000 words of a game with a similar concept done, though it has more to do with how passions interact with the HP-equivalent and it's fantasy alt-history vaguely based on anarchronistic Shakespeare productions. This was for a project I originally projected about 160,000 words for, so it's also outlined. I just don't have the time to finish it . . .

    I'd be happy to take on a collaborator under certain conditions.
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesWell that's all that matters, then, Justin, who you want to work with.

    Now, what sort of project are you interested in doing?

    I want to do a project of melodramatic fantasy with a D20 mod that involves character durability being all about their passions (as opposed to HP). I have some mechanical ideas with regard to how to do this. Any takers?

    I have an urge to call it "The Trees" and have the setting be a monumental sylvan environment, always a little dimly lit...

    Mike
    I want to work with a real hippie. I want to do a tightly focused game to tell a very specific kind of story, e.g., Grey Ranks, Roach, MLWM, Polaris, etc. And I will bring the no-nonsense "corporate sensibility" to the product. I want someone to show me how to let me freak flag fly, and I want to show that hippie that it's okay to take a shower every once in awhile.

    I speak metaphorically, of course.

    As for your mentioned project, that's very similar to what I've been working on with Bullseye. It's a multi-genre system that lets the players choose the "depletable resource" for the particular game. So, instead of hit points, the players might lose faith or sanity or time. (See also my Game Chef entry from this year "Home Sweet Home".)
  • Justin, if Mike isn't hippie enough for you (ha!), I'm totally interested as well. I am totally hippier-than-thou when it comes to design. Oh, and I've never played D&D (though I did grow up playing Rifts, so...).
  • The level of ambivalence I feel about Justin making me out (intentionally or not) to be non-hippy, is quite massive. I'm not sure whether or not to rejoice or despair...


    Malcolm, I'm somewhat ambivalent, too, about the design that you're put out there, and the potential for collaboration that it represents. It sounds pretty well developed. What are the missing 70,000 words? What is it that you'd want a collaborator to finish up here? Is there room to play with the system? Or are the mechanics largely done.

    I'm finding myself, having posted to this thread, in the position of feeling pressure to do a collaboration with somebody... even if I'm not interested. Just to prove that I'm not some exclusionary jerk. I like collaborating. But I don't want to do it just to prove a point. My decision will have to be predicated on my honest level of interest in the idea in question. I'm not sure that I'm interested in finishing up a design like this... I'd really like to dig in with the mechanics, and see what I can do with D20, or whatever emerges. Mechanics being my thing, and all.

    That said, the game sounds interesting, Malcolm, so I am interested in hearing more about the project. Either here or in private, as you prefer.

    Justin, same deal.

    The mechanical ideas I have are just ideas... if I start working with somebody I won't be married to them at all. But I would want to have substantial input in this area in the end. I'm really mostly interested in designing from the ground up, as opposed to finishing up a mostly done project.

    Mike
  • Malcolm, I'm somewhat ambivalent, too, about the design that you're put out there, and the potential for collaboration that it represents. It sounds pretty well developed. What are the missing 70,000 words? What is it that you'd want a collaborator to finish up here? Is there room to play with the system? Or are the mechanics largely done.

    The system could do with changes. I'm very receptive to them. It was ahead of its time in 2004, but is slightly behind the curve with the publication of Star Wars Saga. I also think that with 4e looming the viability of a game with an OGL base has to be predicated on more than novelty ("This time your BAB is a skill!" and all that.) So I would be looking for someone to inject some vitality into the system. There are a few things that need to be at the heart of things, but the exact expression of it all within a system could go in many directions.

    Otherwise, I need a few setting details taken care of as well as a campaign setting and starting adventure.

    The caveat I have about this, though, is that it's a *full scale* project -- not the kind of thin that typically gets turned around for publication in 96 small format pages. Plus, experience with Aeternal Legends has shown me that for comprehensive development 3 full drafts is not out of the question.

    I'll see about finding upload space for what I have. Conversely, I would like to see a writing sample from anyone interested.
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesI'm finding myself, having posted to this thread, in the position of feeling pressure to do a collaboration with somebody... even if I'm not interested. Just to prove that I'm not some exclusionary jerk. I like collaborating. But I don't want to do it just to prove a point.
    I definitely feel this too. And yet, there is absolutely no rush here. A week, a few months, a year later if the inspiration strikes and does not strike earlier, then go for it. Otherwise, do not be too worried.

    I made it a sticky to keep it in the collective conscious for now. I don't imagine (and neither did James) that people would all jump on this right away and start collaborating right away. However, this is one of those things where you keep it in your mind, and later on if conditions line up (someone says "Here's an idea for a game I had" that you like, or someone else drops a mechanic that blows your mind, etc) then engage in it.

    No rush, and let the pressure of "Collaborate... NOW!" be more like a "I'm aware that there's this collaboration thing going on, and I'm interested... I'll keep my eyes open to interesting people, ideas, and data." Hope that helps.

    -Andy
  • As for writing samples, check out the articles on this page for a sense of my writing style: http://www.glorantha.com/support/narrator_advice.html

    If you need something more directly game-text, let me know.

    Mike
  • I have been thinking about Arthurian Mythos / WWII / Anime. Arthur's knights Battle the German Blitz from Giant Robot suits to protect England in its darkest hour.

    I want the game to be about the challenge to be pure in a Lancelot way when faced with having to do horrible things to keep your loved ones safe.

    I have no hippie/non-hippy bias, some measure of time, and no desire to write alone.
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesThe level of ambivalence I feel about Justin making me out (intentionally or not) to be non-hippy, is quite massive. I'm not sure whether or not to rejoice or despair...
    I think there has been a misapprehension of my response that (being out of town) I was unable to correct until now. I.e., I do consider you to be more than hippie enough.

    I'd be honored to work with you or Jonathan. Someone step up and let's "consummate" this thing. I'm with Andy. We don't need to drop everything and get something out by the end of the month or anything. As evidenced by my design duel, I'm really into pushing my boundaries these days. So, who's it going to be?
  • Yo, just wanted to give an update and say: Justin and I are beginning to make plans for something crazy. I hope we're not the only pairing to come out of this idea, because I think there's definitely a bunch of potential here.
  • Posted By: AndyHowever, this is one of those things where you keep it in your mind, and later on if conditions line up (someone says "Here's an idea for a game I had" that you like, or someone else drops a mechanic that blows your mind, etc) then engage in it.
    Exactly. T-minus whenever it feels right.
  • edited September 2007
    Well, I've recently been taking notes for a project called "Fight", basically a game system for one-shots with the PCs pitted against incredible odds (e.g., bank employees caught in the middle of a robbery gone bad, college kids being stalked by a seemingly unstoppable psycho in the woods, etc) and the endgame goal being survival.

    The only mechanic that I'm so far satisfied with is the Cruel Fate mechanic -- basically, players get to choose conditions of their death, each of which grants them some more resources to allocate during charcter creation but which also increases the likelihood of said death occurring when the conditions present themselves during actual play.

    Everything else, from basic conflict/action resolution to character creation, would greatly benefit from collaboration.
  • I also find myself also compelled to toss my hat in the ring. Mike, I'd do a deconstructed D20 game with you or Thor I found your idea pretty evocative. Would the game be dark and gritty or lighthearted. Having just come off a playtest/podcast of Sons of Liberty, I think I am looking for a darker game. I still think the Arthurian Legends + Germans + power armor rocks and if you don't want dark, no worries. If that's cool, let's chat?
  • Perhaps dark and gritty wasn't the right term. Sons of Liberty is pretty madcap, zany, wacky. I was thinking about something that looked at either the nobility or tragedy of the Arthurian Legends and I figure with Nazis there's always a darkness.

    But if you were going for wacky, that's cool, too.
  • I am up for any project, but the commercial requirement makes me uneasy given my philosophy.
  • I think the only requirements on this project, Bret, like any project, are the ones the parties involved agree to.
  • Judd and I talked about working on this together, so we're looking to see where this is going. But there is another potential pair in the mix.
  • I have been also kicking around an idea I started here where players play the followers of a Messiah as he ascends towards Messiahhood, the idea being that each player has his/her own agenda that usually involves coopting the religion of the Messiah for their own interests (power, money, a better parking spot, etc.) The core mechanic revolves around how the players gain and maintain their influence over the Messiah and how they trade that influence to further their own ideas.

    I'm also always interested in FF-type games, playing in technology meets magic style worlds where weird things happen. I've been kicking the tires on an idea set in a world of city states that are separated by vast wastelands where characters play elementalists (mages whose powers are controlled by the four elements.) My thought was to have the only attributes be the four elements, but I can't elevate the idea away from Dogs.
  • Hey all, this thread is going into the BEST OF STORY GAMES category, and getting de-stickied for now.

    At any point at any time, if you have a cool idea that you'd love to pair up someone to start, complete, move forward, turn ahead, etc please feel free to post in giant letters in a new thread to attract attention.

    This thread is an awesome thing, and it looks like it lead to some great movement. Thanks James!

    -Andy
  • edited November 2007
    Sorry I became so involved with life offline. I really wanted to follow up on this but between the new job and taking on some other responsibilities (car payments, etc) life has been pretty crazy. Thanks for adding this to the "best of" collection.
  • Okay, it looks like I may have unwittingly partnered up with another IT guy to bring you an as-yet-untitled game of wholly inappropriate bloodshed and unnecessary violence. More news will be forthcoming. . .
  • Posted By: jdrakehOkay, it looks like I may have unwittingly partnered up with another IT guy to bring you an as-yet-untitled game of wholly inappropriate bloodshed and unnecessary violence. More news will be forthcoming. . .
    Awesome dude!

    Hey, I gotta say as we near the end of the year: Thanks James, for pitching this idea. It's one of those things that's going to stay on the periphery, and hopefully will gain some head-turns and thought-wheels rolling. It looks like some things are coming together, and more collaborations are in the works.

    -Andy
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