Not naturally being a game designer (Late Night Weirdness)

edited April 2008 in Story Games
Tonight is my third night of hacking the SotC SRD for use with d20. I decided to start doing this as a learning exercise, and, yeah, I'm learning stuff. A good 90% of what I'm doing so far is just formatting and swapping out mechanical bits, though there are a few touches that are really all mine, things I'm hoping to develop out of the text that I really dig. Three days, and I'm on page 26.

While I do this, I'm listening to the Theory From The Closet thing with Clinton and others.

And it keeps biting at me.

My easiest work, my smoothest, fastest stuff, and the stuff of mine that people enjoy and play the most? All conversions. Taking things others wrote and splitting them down, streamlining parts of them, giving them a new spin; Perfect 20 is a good example of this. I've written games that I think are pretty damn good, but they took forever to grind out, and were work; rebuilding stuff is an unqualified pleasure - and comes with the added joy of knowing that more people will play those games.

And, really, most of the time, I'm not entirely cool with that fact. It's kind of uncomfortable.

Now, it would be convenient for me to put that on the community. That thinking it's somehow a lesser thing to convert than it is to create is the fault of other people.

But it's not really true. At least for me, it's not some outside pressure to get status. It's an internal pressure to make something I can hold up and say "That all me, baby" - even though, really, that's patently bullshit even when I do say it.

I look over at the idea of what how easy things would be if I could just let go a little bit, do the thing I really am best at, and take as much pride in it as I do when I make something of my own.

Gah.

Anyway. I felt the urge to drop this here because I'm wondering if anyone else here has something like this, lurking in their head somewhere. And if they had any thoughts on it.
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Comments

  • Hello Levi,

    I'm working on my game unWritten, right now, in fact. It started out as a game that was completely my own thing, but after a few years of not being able to get what I wanted out of it I discovered Otherkind by the big V. Baker. And I immediately fell in love with its potential. Don't get me wrong, OK is a great game, but I saw what it could do for my game so I started ripping it apart. Eventually, I got what is now unWritten. I'm SO happy with it. OK is still in there, but unWritten is totally it's own thing now. For example, I only have 3 conflict squares instead of 4. That may seem different, but it really changes the flow of the game.

    Anyway, all that to say, I've hacked someone else's game. It is now my game, and I'm totally happy with the results. I have no compunctions for using the OK. In fact, I appreciate Vincent creating so that I could hack it. I truly believe that deep down, Vincent made OK just for me... Well maybe not.

    I get your hang up, but really, I don't think you're any less of a designer if you hack rather then design from the bottom up.

    Alex
  • Posted By: alejandroI don't think you're any less of a designer if you hack rather then design from the bottom up.
    Odd as it may sound, I don't think that anyone else is less of a designer when they do so, either. It's totally this internal thing, where I don't want to convert, because I don't value my conversions.

    Which is where it ties into the whole overall thing that has been around Indie circles a bit in the last while - the idea that there's an pressure to create rather than play or really get deep into a game.

    The real source of that pressure? I'm not at all sure it's the culture.
  • I often freeze in fear while writing Van Dread when the thought hits me: Are you even good at this? Why are you writing a game at all? You like games, but why do you think you should make them too?

    It's a scary thought. But then again the community is so nice and cozy, I hear someone's voice in the back of my head going ''Stop beeing such a pussy man, just write the game already. It's fine.''*

    *Voice probably belongs to Jarrod or Tad.
  • Hey Levi, guess what? I don't value my original work. You've got it easy. :)

    As for the conversion/original thing - conversions require a lot of original thinking in order to get the round peg to fit into the square hole. I think that 'original ideas' are very much overrated. I can come up with 10 new game ideas that no one's ever thought of before - but taking a system and making it work with another game takes very careful, watchmaker kind of skill.
  • Levi, Alex, George, Kuma,

    Yeah, I understand where you're coming from.

    I used to find showing my projects to other people to be embarrassing and painful. Now it I merely find it stomach-churning.

    Finishing a project? That hurts. These days I've given it a name: Perfection Paralysis. The project can always be better. Right?

    Doing conversions: It's something I've always done since I was introduced to gaming. I see it as the basic job of a gamemaster and, therefore, everyone does it. Which means everyone probably does it better. Right?

    --Jason
  • I think its totally natural to feel that moment of paralysing dread when you suddenly doubt your ability to do anything, its like performance anxiety. Even if you've been successful before you suddenly get worried about *this* time.

    I have similar problems with my games, not with designing them, that's fine, but when it comes to showing them to other people. All of a sudden I am nervous, appologising for my own design decisions and the like. I didn't use to have that problem, oddly, I did lots of homebrewed systems when I was at University (Termite, Warhammer 40k : Galaxy of Night, Atlantis, Spaceman Spiff the RPG and so on) and I had no hesitation playing them with people. But as soon as I discovered the existence of the Indie design community *then* got nervous and started doubting my work.
  • Honestly, I've gotten more joy out of hacking games so that they are MORE BETTER FUN for SGBoston and other local play groups that I have creating games from scratch. On the Forge, the default response used to often be "Follow your passion and do whatever really gets you going," but my passions can be really weird and uninteresting or nigh-unplayable for other people sometimes. Creating hacks of existing games with specific playgroups in mind allows me to 1) ensure they get played and 2) make awesome gaming experiences for other people. If they turn into publishable products, like Geiger Counter did, fine. If not, well, like Billy said, the play's the thing, yeah? Honestly, I often feel like this community would be healthier if people designed for play first and publication was optional and much, much further down the line, instead of the default for any design work worth a damn.
  • Levi, I'm totally with you, I feel exactly the same vibe of "man, conversions / tweaks were the most fun to write, but I'm not a REAL designer because I haven't made one from scratch."

    And it's me more than something external...
  • Here's the default response, just for Walton: Do what you love. Stop doing things you don't love.

    OK, one thing that occurs to me is that a hack is not likely to pique the interest of fellow game designer people the same way that something new is. For me this is because novelty and innovation are likely to be correlated, and I'm very interested in innovation. So you get a sort of negative feedback loop where your good work goes unnoticed by your peers because it does not promise something ostensibly new and noteworthy. I'm not suggesting this is healthy; it is in fact both inaccurate and unfair. But I know it is happening (I do it, sorry), and if you give a shit what designers think, which you shouldn't, it is problematic.
  • Toss my hat in this fat fucking ring as well. It's not desperate anxiety or anything like that, but:

    1) I have a twonky game idea or two that I hope to make into their own games. I've been stalled at 80% of a complete rulesystem on one for about a year (apathy has held me back).

    2) But I find taking things that others have done (be it Big Mainstream Game or Little Indie Game) and doing my own rules hacks, supplemental info, etc very satisfying.

    -Andy
  • A completely original game is essentially just an uninformed design. Thankfully, we have few of these.

    A rip-off is a rip-off, and easy to detect.

    A conversion, or a mash-up, or a house-rule-stuffed system, is a labour of love for the explicit purpose of improving someone else's experience.

    The best games I've played have clearly been games refined over many iterations from an original idea, and then often customized by a GM to suit a certain group.

    Good design all comes down to good ideas about how to mash together existing ideas to serve a specific purpose.

    Levi, do you want to be a good designer, who writes good games that are fun to play, and give credit where credit is due? Or do you want to be a completely unique free thinker who writes games that aren't fun to play, but yields you status as some kind of misunderstood genius? If neither extreme, where on the continuum do you want to be?
  • edited April 2008
    Posted By: Levi KornelsenOdd as it may sound, I don't think thatanyone elseis less of a designer when they do so, either. It's totally this internal thing, where I don't want to convert, because I don'tvaluemy conversions.
    Which is where it ties into the whole overall thing that has been around Indie circles a bit in the last while - the idea that there's an pressure to create rather than play or really get deep into a game.
    Posted By: Ryan StoughtonLevi, I'm totally with you, I feel exactly the same vibe of "man, conversions / tweaks were the most fun to write, but I'm not a REAL designer because I haven't made one from scratch."
    And it's me more than something external...
    Let me join the effing club, then. Up until not long ago I had this internal hangup as well (and perhaps I still have a bit of it somewhere, though I know it's a lot less now) that I was not doing "real" design work or that I was a "real" designer because my passion is more for system hacking than for wholecloth creation. I'm a child of d20, that's where I cut my designer teeth, and while I do more than that now, my design experience has always been more of the 'hack something that's done and proven' than the 'create something new.' And I totally felt the pressure (regardless of where it came from, or if it was real or not) as I started to become a part of this community that I had to do something new and original to be held as an equal. Until I started to realize logically that Judd Karlman (to pick a name) was held at the same level and he had done a system hack for Sorcerer, and that his upcoming game is a system hack for TSoY, so why not me?

    It's all internal bullshit for the most part, but it is there, unsaid, unspoken, but undeniable. The truth is that there is no effing difference between creating Perfect20, creating E6, creating a new prestige class, and creating a whole new game: it's all design. Yes, the level of complexity vary, the challenges are different, the rewards are very particular, but it's all design, and no one, absolutely no one, should feel they are less because they do one over the other. I admire people who can come up with a whole new system on their own, but I equally admire someone who can grab d20 and make it dance the fandango.

    If there is one thing this designer community should improve on is being receptive and understanding and frankly supporting of other game designers, regardless of where their design passions lie. You don't have to be a cheerleader or follow every single design project. Some people are more attracted to original designs, others to hacks, and you should pay attention to what interests you more, yes. But it doesn't take much to make sure that in paying attention to what you like most you also give some sort of prop to the others. In the end we are all designers to some extent, and peerage will only be achieved when we treat all as such. You want to end the toxicity of status? Start by behaving as if there is no status to be had, start by behaving as if we are all the same: gamers and designers and people who enjoy the process of creation and the rewards of play.
  • Levi, you inspired me to self-reflect on this subject and how to get what I want out of design and play.
  • edited April 2008
    Posted By: Jason Morningstar For me this is because novelty and innovation are likely to be correlated, and I'm very interested in innovation.
    Jason Morningstar: I'm a little confused by what you said. Are you suggesting that hacking a system can't be innovative? If you are, then I implore you to look at unWritten, because, though it does come from Otherkind, it also is completely its own thing.

    But then you said...
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarSo you get a sort of negative feedback loop where your good work goes unnoticed by your peers because it does not promise something ostensibly new and noteworthy. I'm not suggesting this is healthy; it is in fact both inaccurate and unfair.
    ... Which seems to imply that are you saying hacks can be innovative, but that they are not getting credit for being because they are hacked?

    If it is the latter, then that's shameful, because there doesn't need to be anything less design-y from a hacked game. Though I recognize that many hacked games in the past haven't all been all that good.

    alex
  • edited April 2008
    Hey Alex, every game is, to whatever degree, a hack, right? Of course innovation is happening there. My very self-deprecating point was that people who are obsessed with making games are looking for the latest interesting thing, and are likely to overlook something quite explicitly tied to its source material regardless of its quality. That's just how it seems to go. I have nothing but love and respect for people making cool new things out of cool old things, but I'm not the guy you all should care about.
  • edited April 2008
    Thanks for the clarification.
  • Posted By: lachekAcompletely originalLevi, do you want to be a good designer, who writes good games that are fun to play, and give credit where credit is due? Or do you want to be a completely unique free thinker who writes games that aren't fun to play, but yields you status as some kind of misunderstood genius? If neither extreme, where on the continuum do you want to be?
    I want to sit back, having finished something I enjoyed making, light a smoke, and say to myself "Shit, If I had kids, I'd hand them hardcovers of this and tell them that I MADE THIS."
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenI want to sit back, having finished something I enjoyed making, light a smoke, and say to myself "Shit, If I had kids, I'd hand them hardcovers of this and tell them thatI MADE THIS."
    I don't know much about psychology, but I know a bit about kids.

    If Carl Jung showed his kids "The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious", do you think any one of them would say, "Shit dad, 90% of that stuff is just reinterpretations of Freud"?

    I don't know if Fred or Rob or Leonard has kids, but if they do, do you think any one of them would say, "Shit dad, that's just reworked FUDGE with some pulp tropes tossed in"?

    Redesigning, mashing up, hacking is hard to do well. You're going to do it well, right? It's going to yield good play, right? Well, then let me put on my magic fairy cap and wave my magic wand over your head, because that's at least as good as writing something supposedly 'original'.
  • Heh.

    Miikael;

    That's cool to hear. Always is, and I do appreciate the thought.

    But, in order not to waste your time with what I see as a side discussion (I don't want to be the frustrating bastard that can't get to the point!), not what I was originally aiming for here in this discussion. This is my own hang-up, and I'll get past it or not in time.

    I put this discussion here to kind of open the floor, if I could, for people to talk about their own thoughts in this area. Ryan and Daniel, "joining the club", Jason talking about the effects that has on us, and others throwing down their thoughts on how they internally, and how we socially, come at this same part of, well, what we do?

    That's kind of what I'm after. That.. stuff. *Waves hand in that direction*
  • I don't know that it's a side discussion. Anyway, my thoughts are - if you work hard at something that generates good play, who gives a flying fuck if it uses bird watching as a resolution system or if it's based on d20 and FATE? Innovation is cool and it drives mankind ever onwards and all that, but you're not a better designer because you innovated - you're a better designer because you generated better play. For some given definition of "better".
  • Here's another factor, speaking from my own point of view - I'm not going to pay any attention to a d20 hack, because I have less than zero interest in d20 right now. This isn't me being an ass, it's me knowing what I like. OK, I'm also an ass but you get my point, I hope. Substitute random Internet guy's personal pet disinterest for d20.
  • You see, it's cool if you don't like d20 (not picking on you Jason, just picking up after your point), or Fate, or Fudge or even a specific game like PTA, or TSoY, or DitV, etc. I don't think we should all start liking everything and being interested in what everyone is doing; that's boring and will eventually lead to homogenization and the loss of that awesome individuality that drives this community. All I'm suggesting is that (to pick on myself), even if I don't care for all the IAWA hacks going on around right now, I can say, "It's awesome you are hacking this game to death, driving design in new directions, and I totally consider you a peer for that."
  • edited April 2008
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarHere's another factor, speaking from my own point of view - I'm not going to pay any attention to a d20 hack, because I have less than zero interest in d20 right now. This isn't me being an ass, it's me knowing what I like. OK, I'm also an ass but you get my point, I hope. Substitute random Internet guy's personal pet disinterest for d20.
    Yep, I totally do. There's plenty of reasons for the normal individual action, and thus the community, to tend towards paying attention to novel ideas, and to being able to just HEAR about a mash-up and go "Oh, okay, not interesting."

    And that's all to the good.

    I don't think that the community is being bad when it does these things. I don't think that the whole "Oh, hey, so what are you working on now?" bit from the TFTC podcast is anything but a natural outgrowth of genuine enthusiasm. Nor do I think that the status-effect of (mostly) original design work is inherently toxic and bad.

    I think that all of that is the normal "base state", if you will.

    If anything, I think that the frame on the conversation has been placed upside-down. It's not a question of what is wrong with the community that causes these effects. This is not a sign of evilbadwrongness.

    These effects are natural. That we, as cool people that want to support one another, are sort-of sometimes looking for ways to break down the status barriers between designer, havcker, player, all that? That's an attempt to be more than is the basic state, not an attempt to fix something bad we're doing. It is a sign of being really fucking cool and supportive as a crowd, and framing the current thing in terms of "toxic" and "problematic" is silliness. When you want to be totally awesome, starting by saying "everything sucks" doesn't actually help.

    I think that maybe, we could try reframing it that way around?
  • Peer? What's up with that? I don't want peers, I want friends. You're already my peer. Friendship usually happens face to face, when we get the chance to sit down and play some games together and share a meal.

    If it's OK with Levi, let's talk about your perception of me for a second, because that's quantifiable and you can hold me accountable for my concrete actions or lack thereof. Do you hacker guys feel that I don't respect you? Do you feel like I turn my nose up at you and your work? I'm opening myself up for criticism here, so if the answer is "fuck yes!" that's totally fine.

    Once I get some feedback I'll have more comments on this from my perspective, OK?
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarDo you hacker guys feel that I don't respect you? Do you feel like I turn my nose up at you and your work? I'm opening myself up for criticism here, so if the answer is "fuck yes!" that's totally fine.
    Uh, see my big long ramble above? I feel like you're just acting like a friendlier and more interested person than is usual, which is good. And then I see some of you saying "Hey, we should totally bust down this whole (totally standard) barrier!", and I think that's wicked cool.

    And then they say "Because, yeah, that barrier is (somehow) abnormal and wrong! Toxic, even!"... And I'm, like, "Wait, what? You want to be even cooler, and you start by crapping on your already friendlier-than-normal habits? The fuck?"
  • Posted By: northerainI often freeze in fear while writing Van Dread when the thought hits me: Are you even good at this? Why are you writing a game at all? You like games, but why do you think you should make them too?

    It's a scary thought. But then again the community is so nice and cozy, I hear someone's voice in the back of my head going ''Stop beeing such a pussy man, just write the game already. It's fine.''*

    *Voice probably belongs to Jarrod or Tad.
    Tad won't use the word "pussy" though, heh.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarPeer? What's up with that? I don't want peers, I want friends. You're already my peer. Friendship usually happens face to face, when we get the chance to sit down and play some games together and share a meal.
    Absolutely. Don't read too much into the word peer, it's not meant to imply anythihng beyond the meaning of someone who does the same thing that you do whom you hold at the same level, not higher, not lower. I think of all of you out there in designer land, published or unpublished, as peers. Some of you are friends because we've had the chance to establish that connection, and the rest are potential friends until I get to have that chance.
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarIf it's OK with Levi, let's talk about your perception of me for a second, because that's quantifiable and you can hold me accountable for my concrete actions or lack thereof. Do you hacker guys feel that I don't respect you? Do you feel like I turn my nose up at you and your work? I'm opening myself up for criticism here, so if the answer is "fuck yes!" that's totally fine.
    Not personally, no.
  • edited April 2008
    Oh, man. I wish I had your problems!

    My problem is: I spend lots of time working on something that I think might be cool, and then find out that someone else has already done it better. Then I feel like my sense of ownership and originality self-satisfaction has been undermined. Which is bollocks, obviously. (EDIT: Obviously, because I'm not concerned about having "done it first" credit--I just want something fun to play and knowing I came up with it myself is sort of a bonus.)

    Anyhow, I just wanted to say:

    Some of this discussion has had the opposite effect on me. For instance,

    Alex (alejandro): unWritten is based on Otherkind? Now I want to know more about, not less. (Seriously, whisper me. I want to know more.)

    David: I want to play Spaceman Spiff, the RPG! Is alliteration a requirement?

    "Poised precariously over a pid of putrid pasta, our hero..."
  • JM: Ah, no I don't feel disrespected by you at all. In fact, what I know about you is from your podcast and a few internet videos... So, actually I was a bit "shocked" by what I thought you originally said. You clarified it to my satisfaction. Thanks. So, no, I don't think your a snob.
  • Posted By: Paul T.
    My problem is: I spend lots of time working on something that I think might be cool, and then find out that someone else has already done it better. Then I feel like my sense of ownership and originality self-satisfaction has been undermined. Which is bollocks, obviously.
    This is not just your problem. Totally with you, totally agree that it's bollocks, and totally think that it doesn't matter that it is - it still feels the way it does. Just gotta push through, regardless, I guess.
  • edited April 2008
    Aaah, innovation for innovation's sake, a pet peeve of mine.

    I am not saying that any here is culprit of that, I am just hijacking this thread briefly.

    Yes, it is easier to get people's attention with totally-new-stuff-never-seen-before.

    The problems are :
    • It is rarely really totally new.
    • Totally new stuff is rarely as well tuned as well-known stuff, it needs time and work and genius to catch up, even when it is promising and holds up to its promise(s).
    • “New” does not imply “good”, even less “better”. It does not even imply “different”. Of course it can be any of these things.

    But our minds are often skewed to favor New. Creative people often more than other.

    But I try to value the little adjustement that make it all ticks together over the new showy stuff. It isn't easy.

    Time to end my rant. I think I did not brought anything New here. I hope that you won't hold it against me.
  • I made a hack of Dungeon Squad. I wanted something to play with my friend who was visiting, so I made it, we played it, and it was cool. I emailed Jason about it, and he was like "frikken sweet!", and that made me feel pretty good, so I typed it up nicely and put it on the internet for free. I've played it heaps since then, and had lots of fun. Last weekend I got an email from a guy who downloaded the game and loved it and wanted to talk about it. I felt super cool.

    So I don't know if I'm a real game designer or what, but I feel pretty good about what I've done.
  • Posted By: Paul T.David: I want to play Spaceman Spiff, the RPG! Is alliteration a requirement?

    "Poised precariously over a pid of putrid pasta, our hero..."
    Heh, it wasn't but it should be. Seriously, there wasn't much too it except character sheets with BIG Spaceman Spiff pictures on them, some sort of simple mechanic (it's been so long I don't even remember what) and a lot of silly monsters. I am not sure how I would design it now, but probably not as I did it then.
  • (I'm on vacation and not here)

    OK, so you guys don't see me as a dick apparently. I'm glad! Three observations, helpful or not:

    1. Personally I'm not that interested in hacks. That keeps me at arms reach because right now it just isn't my thing. I probably have that in common with many people. I have a long, long list of things to play and think about and right now none of you are on it. This is not a reflection on any of you or your work. It is a reflection of the 24 hour day.

    2. I think you all ought to do a couple of things. First, fucking own it. If you want to be considered a game designer than call yourself a game designer, because you are, so who is going to object? I'd think hard about why you want that, why that is important (answer: status) but if you do, just stop wringing your hands and be the thing.

    3. If you want to interest people in your work, stop calling it a hack. This is cynical and fucked up, but there it is. The Roach is, in many ways, a hack of Polaris and The Mountain Witch. I provide attribution and copious thanks to Tim and Ben in the book, which is only right. But beyond that, it is its own thing and I label it as such. If you have a thing that's diverged significantly (Unwritten, Red Box Hack), stop calling it a hack and I bet people will be more interested in it. To recap: Cynical and fucked up but probably effective. Be a little arrogant. Be a little proud.
  • Posted By: Paul T.My problem is: I spend lots of time working on something that I think might be cool, and then find out that someone else has already done it better. Then I feel like my sense of ownership and originality self-satisfaction has been undermined. Which is bollocks, obviously. (EDIT: Obviously, because I'm not concerned about having "done it first" credit--I just want something fun to play and knowing I came up with it myself is sort of a bonus.)
    I'm going to call you on that one, Paul. How is it bollocks?

    I run into this all the time, and it's a huge disappointment - not for status reasons, commercial viability reasons, or whatever. Think of it this way - you just figured out this awesome way of making a flushing mechanism for a toilet that uses 1/2 of the water most do and is equally cheap, effective and serviceable. You fine-tune it, prototype it, test it, fine-tune it again, and so on, until it's as perfect as you can get it. Sweet! Now all you have to do is manufacture a bowl and a tank and you can sell it, or if you're not looking for commercial success, install it in your own home and enjoy your lower water bill.

    So you go online and check out possible bowl designs, and then you come across a small vendor in Kansas who carry this line of inexpensive toilets which use 1/4 of the water most do. They have a demonstration of their mechanism design and it's almost exactly like yours, but solves a nagging problem you couldn't figure out.

    So you now have three choices.

    You can fix up your own design to match the better one, but it would be a rip-off. If you wanted to install it in your own home, you'd still spend more money and time on manufacturing a bowl and a tank than it would cost to just buy one from Kansas. If you wanted to sell it, you'd be labeled a charlatan.

    You can proceed as planned and manufacture a bowl and a tank at great expense, and end up with a product which will both sell worse than the improved one and function worse in your own home.

    Or you could toss your work, learn from your mistakes, swallow your pride and buy the better model.

    This post could probably have done without the analogy, but it made me happy to think of my games as vessels for my excretions.
  • Posted By: Thunder_God

    Tad won't use the word "pussy" though, heh.
    It's usually Jarrod, but Tad is always so supportive, I had to include him too. But now you ruined that. Well done Guy.
  • Posted By: Jason Morningstar
    If you want to interest people in your work, stop calling it a hack. This is cynical and fucked up, but there it is.The Roachis, in many ways, a hack ofPolarisandThe Mountain Witch.I provide attribution and copious thanks to Tim and Ben in the book, which is only right. But beyond that, it is its own thing and I label it as such. If you have a thing that's diverged significantly (Unwritten,Red Box Hack), stop calling it a hack and I bet people will be more interested in it. To recap: Cynical and fucked up but probably effective. Be a little arrogant. Be a little proud.
    The "hack" label - for me at least - is a way to hand over 90% of all credit to the original designer. Sometimes a credit statement at the back of the book just doesn't feel enough. I agree that titles like RBH have gone waaay beyond their source material, and such potent credit-giving isn't really appropriate anymore.

    But it's also an ad - like "if you like pulp, you've heard good things about SotC, but don't want to learn a new system - check out Levi's d20 SotC hack!".

    "Levi's d20 SotC hack" is a way more interesting title to a d20 and/or SotC aficionado than "Levi's Pulpy Goodness". Similarly, "Red Box Hack" telegraphs pretty damn well what the core gameplay is all about and why people should play it.

    Just sayin', Jason, one person might read "hack" as uninteresting while to someone else it's the Second Coming.
  • To me "hack" says, I see your game and I raise you. Sometimes it's a good bet, sometimes it isn't, but I got nothing to lose, I see your raise.
  • edited April 2008
    Posted By: lachek
    Just sayin', Jason, one person might read "hack" as uninteresting while to someone else it's the Second Coming.
    I'm in the latter camp, mostly.
    * Eric's RBH (which is now its own game, mind) produced two OK games, and two AWESOME games.
    * Eric's Shadowrun Hack has made me actually interested in Shadowrun again. And every session in our LONG, ongoing campaign has been great fun.
    * My L5R Hack not only brings all the boys to the yard, the player's are like, "It's better than yours". Pop lyrics aside, it's working great (mashup of L5R's core rules, TSOY's keys, Fan Mail and Spiritual Attributes). My hack is really hacked.
    * Ryan S's "E6" Hack for D&D 3e basically turned a game that I found frustrating (I worry about my character's eventual 15th level feats when I draw her up at first level), wiped those off my "worry plate" and in their place replace it with an awesome fantasy/tactical gaming experience. *I fell in love with D&D 3e again* because of Ryan's e6 hack. His stunt hack is cool, too, but E6 brought the bacon.

    Hacking old school 90s games into playable (to me) fun has become my recent love. Even more so than following the latest hot new game idea.

    I'm sure that the hack will come out where someone hacks some game I just have no interest in, or hacks a game in a way that I just can't get into (because of different goals, etc). But I haven't found it yet of the ones I've played.

    -Andy
  • edited April 2008
    Most of my games started out as hacks before gradually becoming their own things. For me, hacks are often a way to bang out a draft of an idea by using the core of something else. Sometimes, that's all you want, to use most of an existing system, with some add-ons, to run a neat idea for your local crew. That's Andy's L5R hack right there. It takes L5R and makes it into something that the group is excited about playing. If, later, Andy decides to head further down that road and make the hack into its own thing, something he can share with other groups, then I think it stops being a hack. Like how Red Box Hack isn't really a hack anymore.

    So... in my mind. Hack = alternations for your home play group. If it goes beyond that, if bunches of people are using your hack, congratulations, you just made a free supplement or something. You can still call it a hack, if you like, but it probably needs its own name, like E6. And the next step after that is making it a totally separate game.
  • Hi Levi,

    Have you ever written a game with end game mechanics?

    I'm not sure you can write a game that's all you, unless it has an ending. Once it has an ending, it means you've finished making it. When it doesn't have an ending - well, you haven't made the game. So it can't be all you. As yet.

    Perhaps you've written too much stuff with a beginning, middle and nothing after that?
  • All RPGs are hacks of D&D.

    And that's fine.

    Mike
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesAll RPGs are hacks of D&D.

    And that's fine.
    This should be on a t-shirt.
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesAll RPGs are hacks of D&D.
    Wasn't D&D an hack of Chainmail?
  • Posted By: Moreno R.Posted By: Mike HolmesAll RPGs are hacks of D&D.
    Wasn't D&D a hack of Chainmail?
    Yes, but Chainmail wasn't an RPG but rather a straigh-up minis wargame. So the statement is true.
  • edited April 2008
    Posted By: Daniel
    Yes, but Chainmail wasn't an RPG but rather a straigh-up minis wargame. So the statement is true.
    Mmm... I took that comment like more tongue-in-cheek, and I answered in kind. And I was prepared to say, in the same way, that chainmail was an hack of "craps", and get back and back in history until we say that every game is a hack of "throw the rock"

    But if you are talking seriously... no, I don't buy it. people played going into dungeons to fight monsters before D&D, and I have played rpgs that didn't have anything in common with D&D...
  • Posted By: Moreno R.Mmm... I took that comment like more tongue-in-cheek, and I answered in kind.
    And I totally missed the tone until later. %-)
  • OK, it's settled now: every game is a hack of "throw the rock"!

    (The rules are really simple. Take a rock. Throw it. If you want campaign play, find a lot of rocks)
  • Posted By: Moreno R.OK, it's settled now: every game is a hack of "throw the rock"!

    (The rules are really simple. Take a rock. Throw it. If you want campaign play, find a lot of rocks)
    Remember kids, slingshots are powergaming!
  • edited April 2008
    Try to make a zen statement....

    The point is that anyone who feels that they're being somehow too derivative needs to get over that feeling immediately. The only question is whether or not your version of the game you're making is better for even one group to play. If it is, it's worthwhile.

    Innovations are great, but are only one way to improve RPG play. Small modifications can have great impact, too.

    Mike
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