Creators and Recognition

edited April 2009 in Story Games
Over here, Moreno asks the quote below. So, I started this thread to avoid thread-jacking there.
Posted By: Moreno R.But... how much of this depends on the changes on the feedback circle? From "the players" to "the people on storygames"?

People who design for themselves and their play group don't make what they do public on the net. Whose who do, search for feedback, for encouragement, for something from other people.

But what people? For a while it seemed like the objective was a kind of outreach, to people even outside the "gamers" circle. Lately, it seems like the gauge of "success" isn't the sales, the money, and not even the fun of people playing the game: it's the lenght of the threads about the game on story-games.

[edit: I was answering to Matt's postTHERE]
Moreno's asking fair and interesting questions.

First, I agree that the "what people?" question hasn't always been the same over time, generally. It hasn't even been the same for me, specifically, as a publisher or as a hobbyist.

Second, people who design for themselves and don't share it? We don't know about them. We can't really have anything to say about them at all. They're irrelevant for this thread, probably for this forum entirely.

The much tougher question is whether we're perceiving some kind of false popularity or success based largely on reaction on specific forums, like this one. That's a potentially thorny question.

Let me first say, I think John considers Lady Blackbird a homerun at this point already. And, I think he's got good reason to say as much. I don't speak for John. But, the several replies of praise coupled with the multiple reports of fun actual play are probably enough to make him smile all year long.

So, with that in mind, I think it's a bit snarky to say that the popularity of things is less genuine because it's "just" posts on Story Games.

HOWEVER! I do think you have a valuable point.

What is the purpose of publishing something (by which I mean making it available to others, usually online)?

Well, in the indie scene, there have traditionally been several goals. Some said it was to change the way the hobby was. Some said it was pure creative release. Some said they wanted to make a professional go of it by publishing. Some said they wanted other people to actually play the games. Etc.

When I published my games -- that is, sold them -- I would have agreed with a couple of those. I wanted other people to enjoy actual play of my games, and I wanted to change in some small contribution the way the hobby works.

Here's the thing I realized more recently. I realized very recently that I sought attention from others.

Now, that sounds very selfish and childish to many. I have no doubt that had someone suggested this was what I was after a couple years ago, I would have argued angrily with them. I would have claimed I was seeking something more "pure."

Bullshit. I wanted people to think I made cool stuff, and I wanted them to communicate that to me.

I actually don't think it's childish or selfish or "unpure." I probably could still say I wanted actual play to happen. But, if I didn't know about it, I still felt bad about my publishing.

It is among the handful of major reasons I ceased publishing. I'm not ashamed of that. I realized that the way in which I created cool stuff to share with others for recognition wasn't worth the effort for me. I think I simply worked way to hard for too little recognition.

I'll go out on a limb and say damn near everyone who publishes wants recognition like this. Might there be some pure soul out there seekign truly to "change things" or whatever? Maybe. But, I don't know anyone who doesn't love the idea of someone commenting on their games, or handing over $20 to say it's cool, or whatever other recognition.

So, honestly? Yep. Long posts on Story Games thrill creators. I see no problem. If someone seeks out recognition on SG (or somewhere else), especially by making something that's cool and playable, great! More power to them. I think the benefits for everyone outweigh any worries about doing something more sincere or whatever.

The problem I see is whether the social reward that creators receive actually leads them do something "wrong" FOR THEM AS CREATORS. That's possible. Maybe those SG threads encourage someone to sell games on Lulu and it turns out that's a disaster for them (for whatever reason -- doing taxes next year, let's say). But, I'm not willing to leap to the notion that it's somehow false praise or some such.
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Comments

  • Posted By: Matt SnyderHere's the thing I realized more recently. I realized very recently that I sought attention from others.
    Just a short "me, too" here.
  • Attention from others?

    Mark me down, as if anyone had to ask this writing, RSS feed scanning, AP posting, podcasting, blogging, facebooking, twittering fool named Judd.
  • Matt, I agree with everything you've posted here and, yeah, this kind of thing also had a big effect on why I stopped commercial publishing.
    Posted By: Matt SnyderSecond, people who design for themselves and don't share it? We don't know about them. We can't really have anything to say about them at all. They're irrelevant for this thread, probably for this forum entirely.
    But I also think that plenty of people who visit and post on this forum design stuff and don't share it. I know I do. I know Brand does (he's even sent me some of it, on request). And I imagine that's also true for a ton of other people. I'm also not sure it's not relevant to this forum, because it surely affects the way we approach games. I mean, "traditionally," GMs would all do minor and major design work and, before the internet, only share it with their local groups. And that kind of thing still goes on all over the place and, even with the internet, a lot of it isn't shared. In many ways, Ghost/Echo, Lady Blackbird, and other stuff simply represents the indie community beginning to share this kind of design work with each other (as several folks have said, "module design" instead of fully stand-alone games).

    So, rather than this "secret design" work being irrelevant to this forum, I think what we're seeing is that it's suddenly becoming relevant because it's suddenly being shared, whereas, before, other forms of design work (stand-alone games in various states of completion, contest games, etc.) were predominant or even the norm (what was appreciated the most and expected for people to share).
  • edited April 2009
    I like praise and recognition (like the rest of you filthy humans). When people say nice things about my work, it makes me smile, usually a lot. When something I make catches fire and gets lots of attention, I feel pride.

    But, as someone who makes his living being creative, I learned long ago that doing creative work for the purpose of getting praise and recognition is a terrible, terrible thing. Because what if you don't get it? Where does that leave you? Creating something to "get noticed" or (the worst) "so people will like you" is a very bad idea.

    The only person I create for is me. I make stuff because I want to make it, I enjoy making it, and I have the means to make it. Full stop. Everything that comes after that is nice and happy-making, but that's all. If other people don't like it, that's okay. Because I made it for me and I enjoyed making it -- or, in the case of professional work, I got paid for it. Like it, don't like it, whatever. That's all tangential to the work.

    And there's another component to this, which is: why am I here, sharing creative work in the form of RPG stuff, instead of on some other forum sharing with other people? Because I love this hobby and I want to support it however I can. The best tools I have are words, pictures, layout, and game design, so I do that.

    What I care about most in this hobby is playing games and talking about what happens when we play. By making game stuff that inspires other people to play games and talk about it, I can fulfill my own wish for that aspect of the hobby. It sure beats standing on a corner and whining about it. "C'mon everyone! Play more! And post about it! Please?" There's a whole lot of whining about how things "should be" in this hobby (especially on the Internet). I decided a while back to try not to add to that noise but to turn that energy to making stuff instead.
  • I agree with John entirely and want to add to it.

    Before anyone sees or hears something I contribute to, be it a book or a podcast or a post on a forum, I'm pretty excited about it and proud of how it turned out. So, I love that people dig things I make but if they didn't, I'd just figure out another way to express it that wasn't public because dammit, its-a-comin' out somehow, some way. It has to.
  • I've been thinking about this thing for years. Which means, of course, that I have the answer to everything for everyone, in case you were wondering.

    Anyway, for me it seems to be a sort of hero quest thing. I like to go out into the unknown, find nuggets of gold and bring them back to my tribe. Then I want my tribe to go "whooo, that's incredibly cool and useful" and applaud me as a hero. This is pretty much what happened when I wrote my first game, "Draug". The very best experience from that whole process was, without a doubt, when I was standing in front of a room full of gamers at Arcon, telling them about my game, and receiving a long and heartfelt applause afterwards.

    There were other forms of reward; in descending order of importance: Hearing that people played/ran the scenarios and liked them; my mom and uncles and aunts finally starting to understand that this was something serious and worthwhile; getting my face in the papers; money. (And, later, the understanding that having one book published opens a lot of doors, mentally and writing-career-wise). However, nothing beats coming back to my tribe - the gamers at Arcon - and receiving their acknowledgment that I had done a Good Thing.

    So, for me, it depends who my tribe is for a given project. And I think that the internet is a substitute tribe, a poor substitute that I go to when I think it can give me more instant recognition. Making a game accessible and useful and interesting to my tribe of gamers takes a lot of time. Putting a file up on the internet is a hit-and-miss thing, but if you're lucky, you get threads at SG where cool people say stuff about your game. But the warm, fuzzy feeling I get when my friends actually want to play my game and enjoy it is unbeatable.

    (Which is, in fact, hurtful for my game design in the early stages of the process. For some reason, early recognition often means no finished game. Especially if I haven't tried the game yet myself. I'm not entirely sure why that is. I think it has something to do with unformed ideas having to gel in a safe, dark place, either in the designer's head or in a closed team of designers; creating things in a dialogue with the world doesn't seem to work well for me. Vonnegut's rules for short stories, #7: "Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.")
  • My take:

    Part of my goal in making a game is producing a functional thing. I don't just want it to look pretty or sound cool, I want it to work. I'm willing to put effort into that, and I enjoy it, but it's harder to enjoy when I can't tell if it works, because no one's playing it. So, a certain amount of attention is really essential.

    Once I'm sure the game works, however much attention and praise I get after that point is a pure bonus. (A hoped-for bonus to be sure! Just not as important as making a game that works.)

    Hypothetically, I guess if I got a ton of attention for ashcans, finished the game, and then no one bought or played it, I'd be let down.

    Finally, there's the place of attention and praise in the quest for sales, which is its own project. Obviously fun for some, not for others. Not sure yet where I'll fall. "How much money can I make off this thing I made?" sounds kind of bland but holds some challenge appeal, while, "How well can I communicate what my game offers?" is more compelling.

    One thing that seems clear to me is that this corner of the internet is too saturated with designers/publishers/smart folks who talk a good game/players who've played ten billion RPGs/etc. to really be dazzled by anything I churn out. Simple friendly congrats from the people I know, in the vein of, "Kudos for finishing your project!" will suffice just fine. Although I will probably cringe a bit when someone calls it garbage.
  • First, Matt Snyder has nailed an aspect of my desires with this whole publishing thing.

    I've always looked at it on the negative side, though. It's always felt like a weakness that I crave the approval of people on my creative endeavors. My personal life, not so much. If you don't approve of me, who I am or the choices I make, t'hell with you. But I create because I want to share. Attention to and response to my creations validates that what I want to share has value to someone other than me. This by itself isn't a weakness. The fact that I let the frequently resounding silence discourage me is.

    I've been a member of the indie and small-press roleplaying games community for about 8 years. The entire time, I've styled myself a designer. I do not yet name myself published, because while my work may meet some definitions of published, it does not meet mine. I frequently doubt whether anyone takes me seriously as a designer because it's been the better part of a decade of talk without results.

    John has another aspect on the nose, as well.

    I create because I can't not. I am an amateur programmer, digital artist, writer, layout guy, rpg designer, board game designer and poet. I've toyed with leather-working in the past, I've even done some sewing. Other than playing video games and reading, I don't think I have a single hobby that doesn't involve creating.. Even then, I tend to prefer video games that allow for creation of things, (one reason why Spore was so fascinating to me).

    If I languish away in obscurity for the rest of my days, I will still continue to create. I will still continue to share. While I may let ReCoil and Rats in the Walls and Mage Blade languish for months or years at a time, I will always return to them eventually.. Because I can't not.

    I create for me, but I want you to like what I create.

  • Posted By: Matt SnyderSecond, people who design for themselves and don't share it? We don't know about them. We can't really have anything to say about them at all. They're irrelevant for this thread, probably for this forum entirely.
    I'm not sure that's true. These people may not be sharing the products of their design, but if they still participate in discussions that relate to the kinds of games they design and play, then they certainly contribute and are relevant to the forum.
    Posted By: Matt SnyderHere's the thing I realized more recently. I realized very recently that I sought attention from others.

    Now, that sounds very selfish and childish to many. I have no doubt that had someone suggested this was what I was after a couple years ago, I would have argued angrily with them. I would have claimed I was seeking something more "pure."

    Bullshit. I wanted people to think I made cool stuff, and I wanted them to communicate that to me.
    There's nothing really wrong with that, but I think that Recognition fails to motivate some people in the long run. As you seem to say above, the rewards that come with Recognition are scant compared to the effort involved.
    Posted By: Matt SnyderI'll go out on a limb and say damn near everyone who publishes wants recognition like this. Might there be some pure soul out there seekign truly to "change things" or whatever? Maybe. But, I don't know anyone who doesn't love the idea of someone commenting on their games, or handing over $20 to say it's cool, or whatever other recognition.
    Well, I don't really relate to this.

    Just about all of the RPG stuff that I design or write is based on my desire to run that kind of game or setting. I get value out of actually running the game; out of seeing that it works in play as well or better than it did in my head; and from the enjoyment of people who are playing the game (even at conventions, these people are often old friends or acquaintances of mine). When I was younger I went through a phase of wanting recognition from strangers out there in the world, so I'd throw things on GeoCities or put huge amounts of work into projects that I never actually used myself. But I got over that pretty fast, because being highly regarded on a mailing list, or even getting complimentary emails from designers like Steve Kenson or Tracy Hickman, simply isn't as rewarding as my friend Rhi saying "I always play your games".

    I'm currently toying with the idea of PDF or POD publishing Radiance, which is a SF RPG that I put together so there would be at least one SF game in the world that matches my preferences and I would be happy to run. Currently I use it at conventions, and some of my players have asked "Do you plan to make this available sometime?" Right now my feeling is that if getting Radiance to a publishable form would be a natural extension of what I'm already doing, and not detract from my other gaming activities, then I'd put in the extra effort. But not if this would jeopardise my real gaming in any way.

    The money alone is certainly not worth it. :p I could just ask to take a four-hour Saturday shift twice a month and make scads of cash compared to what PDF publishing is likely to net me.
  • Posted By: Wolfe Attention to and response to my creations validates that what I want to share has value to someone other than me. This by itself isn't a weakness. The fact that I let the frequently resounding silence discourage me is.
    This. I think we all share because we want recognition. If we don't want recognition, we may create and not share (though it's something of an issue with RPGs, is a game a game if it's not played?). I think we all want, and perhaps need the recognition, the question is what happens when we don't get it.

    I apply different standards to different venues. When I create a facebook status, I usually don't care one whit if others see it. I publish it for myself, and that others see it is accidental. Some things which I create, I now know I need the feedback - but Matt has it right in a different way, when I set out to do it I didn't think I did it for that, but later when I tried to see what was stopping me from moving forward, what led to the burn-out feeling, that's what I've uncovered.

    My (personal) blog is a happy medium - I really needed some posts to get looked at, but I created even when it didn't happen, and reading old posts I didn't remember writing was worth it all, in retrospect. It's like getting messages from the me in the past. The need to share is temporary, but the smile I get from seeing what I've made before can happen a long time after the recognition yearning stops. But these aren't games.

    Even now, if I work on something game-related the recognition is not what I do it for, but it's something I recognize as necessary for me to keep my work on something sustained. Feeding into the new playsets - you don't need to keep work on it sustained. You put work into it, and it's done.
  • I do a fair amount of design work that people never see. I can't help it. I am a designer. I make stuff.

    When I make something cool, I need validation. Not just "yay, Adam, you made something cool" validation, but validation that the thing works. I am designing role-playing games, which are by definition social, shared things, so the second kind of validation requires social feedback.

    There's another component, too: sharing of craft. I feel there's a community of designers that shares their ideas. I benefit from it. Part of the social contract of that group is that you give as well as take. Giving means sharing what I have done and accepting feedback (positive or negative). If I want to continue to be a member of this very useful design community, I have to continue sharing.
  • There was some writer when asked why he was a writer said, "like I have a fucking choice" or along those lines. Probably he didn't swear. The swearing is my version.

    It's pretty awesome to get validation through the acceptance of others, but you know, I made my game figuring I might sell a hundred copies, ever. I just really wanted to make something. Maybe "had to."

    Sometimes I really want to make games, sometimes music, sometimes other stuff. It's awesome and sometimes it sucks, that urge.

    The thing about getting recognition is that other people are much kinder on what I do than I am. I simultaneously love and hate everything I make, and it's nice sometimes to drown out one of the two.
  • Posted By: Jonathan WaltonI mean, "traditionally," GMs would all do minor and major design work and, before the internet, only share it with their local groups. And that kind of thing still goes on all over the place and, even with the internet, a lot of it isn't shared.
    Exactly my position! I share all kinds of stuff I cook up while still not considering myself a "game designer" and certainly have no commercial aspirations due to having better sewers to throw my money down.

    As for attention, well, I kind of gleefully hoard the appalled responses to my material more than the praise. Perhaps I am just a griefer at heart. (Do griefers have hearts?)
  • edited April 2009
    I think the thread's veering off a tad. Points here are well and good, but perhaps a bit misleading in context with my original post.


    First off, I agree with John Harper that creating stuff strictly and exclusively for the point of seeking praise is weird. That's not my point.

    Secondly, I also agree with multiple people that many people have an urge to create stuff, and that we'll do it shared or otherwise. I do that all the time! But, it's distinct in my experience from also seeking recognition for things created. Sometimes we share creations, sometimes we don't. It doesn't "disprove" the need for recognition like I'm talking about.

    Third, I think it's pretty clear that at least among my pals of the indie scene (Forge pals, etc.), the notion that you do things to seek social recognition is Bad. You should create games for their own sake, or seek to improve gaming, and so on. Many noble intentions.

    I'm not saying those things don't exist. They do. I earnestly did want people to actually play functional, innovative games and have fun, no recognition needed.

    However, despite those things existing, I certainly perceived (and I think others did too) that "seeking validation" or whatever we call it was taboo. It was phony and impure and so on. I see this as a mistake, looking back.

    Finally, to be totally clear -- I did not appreciate how true this was of me until I ceased publishing and receiving recognition. I sensed recognition waning prior to me ceasing publication. But, once I really did cease and the chatter went away completely, it truly sunk it. I'll be damned, I thought! I never realized how important that social recognition was to me, and important it was to my life that friends and colleagues shared their respect with me, until it was gone! Wow, who knew!?!
  • Yep, I'm with you 100% on that, Matt.
  • I have a big problem writing for myself. I need to think that there is someone who really wants to see it before I can make myself do the work. Not quite the same thing but very important for me. It is easier for me to work on something someone else has started than start something for myself because of this.
  • Again, me too. ;)
  • I'm going to go out on a limb and say on some level ALL artistry is part of the quest for self-validation. I have this stuff INSIDE, and it needs to get OUTSIDE and the last step in that is having someone acknowledge and "get it" therefore validating what was inside all along. Nothing wrong with that.
  • I used to write reviews for RPGNet. Really detailed, solid ones, too. They had this schema where reviews would be updated twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, and would stay "On the Front Page" for the next three updates.

    Then they changed to a schema of "Mondays and Fridays for RPGs, Wednesdays for Board Games and other media", and changed the 3-updates to 2-updates (so on Monday, you'd see the RPG reviews from Monday, Friday, and the Wednesday board-game reviews). Still, with 2 days in between each set of reviews, that's not a lot of face-time before they're tossed into the history.

    My interest in writing reviews dried up. I did it not to just stuff the RPG Net review database just in case someone checked it in a year or two, I mostly did it in the form of an editorial/"newspaper article"-style review: To have folks look at my work, the fun little review-articles I spent some of my free time on. When the audience visibility was forcibly shortened, so was my interest in contributing. Just haven't been interested in picking it up again since.

    -Andy
  • Posted By: majcherimage
    I think of the third "panel" as the true third panel - "Look. Look at me. Look, now my creation is on a T-shirt."
    And I LOLed. Everything's better with a funny.
  • Posted By: Matt SnyderI certainly perceived (and I think others did too) that "seeking validation" or whatever we call it was taboo. It was phony and impure and so on.
    Was it seen as bad for the audience, or bad for some community, or just probably unhealthy for the creator?
  • Posted By: David BergWas it seen as bad for the audience, or bad for some community, or just probably unhealthy for the creator?
    It think was seen as unhealthy for the creator, and also therefore unhealthy for their audience because it was likelier to make games that were poorly designed because they were motivated by this kind of phony praise rather than more genuine values (whatever that means). It was seen as sort of immature. That the creator was just an attention hound and not "real." And, also, therefore not contributing like he or she "should" to make the scene/hobby better.

    Make no mistake. I'm not casting stones lightly. I participated in this. I sneered at young whippersnappers barking for attention. That was pretty stupid of me in retrospect.
  • Posted By: Matt Snyderit was likelier to make games that were poorly designed because they were motivated by this kind of phony praise
    Huh. I wonder if there's any truth in that.

    In theory, if I was making a game to impress people and get praise, I'd probably try to tap into whatever was popular at the moment among the most vocal members of the community. If that happened to be something I wasn't particularly good at, I could see a bad game resulting... and if someone were to say to me, "Dave, your time would be better spent on something you have a real affinity and passion for," that might make some sense.

    But that still doesn't get us all the way to "bad for an audience". To achieve that, I guess the creator would have to be tricking people into buying and playing their game with false advertising or some such. Was that ever a major concern?

    Or maybe the complaints originated from folks who didn't want to lose part of the spotlight they already had, thus the fewer games tossed out into the collective consciousness the better? I could see some resentment... "Dammit, all your clamoring for attention is distracting the crowd from my brilliant innovations!"
  • My primary intention in gaming is to make massively huge piles of money. And I mean piles of the nature that my family wouldn't have to work for generations. That said, a couple things of note.

    1) I might be able to make those scads of money in some other industry more easily. Maybe, but I doubt it. This industry is ripe full of potential for the ambitious and determined.

    2) Its an awful lot easier to put in 10-14 hour work days all the time when the thing you are doing, you enjoy doing. Its awfully impossible to keep up that sort of work commitment long term unless you really enjoy the work.

    3) Recieving lots of attention and recognition for your work is NOT a bad thing. As long as you can avoid acting like a utter fool in the work/creative/publishing process undertaken to get that recognition. Heck, that recognition can help open doors and create opportunities and can tie back into that attempting to make scads of money. Failing the making of scads of money, that recognition can let you meet lots of folks you might not otherwise get the opportunity to meet and lots of good can come from said meetings, both personally and professioanlly.

    4) Recognition upon itself is not a path to anywhere or anything. Might give you a few worm tingling feelings when you are new to it all, but that wears thin after time. Hopefully there is something else for an individual to obtain from that process or achieving it will begin to feel fairly hollow in the end.

    5) Yes, besides the want to make scads of money, it is possible for folks to _also_ be operating out of a desire to "change things". I could have certainly just kept on pushing GOB Publishing forward if I had wanted, but the operations of GOB Publishing alone only had me on a path towards those scads of money. But I also want to affect change and realized I needed a different vehicle with a totally different business plan to get started at that. Hence why we started GOB Retail.


    Making scads of money is not bad
    Making changes to the industry is usually not bad.
    Recieving recognition from other for your accomplishments also not bad.
    Parlaying that recognition back into scads of money or the power to enact change is kind of cool
    Letting the social interactions enabled by the recieving of recognition within a community kind of cool tool.

    Mixing any and all of the above in any combination = not bad.
    Having fun along the way though = important too.

    Recognition purely and solely for the sake of recognition...Likely a bit empty. But hey, for some folks, that might be leading to social engagement not found elsewhere in their lives. So probably not our place to judge.

    Ryan S. Johnson
    Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.gobretail.com
    Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
    1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com
  • Here's the thing for me. Let's assume for the moment that there is some truth to it. That creating stuff so that the creator can gather praise actually does lead to some kind of worse design. That might actually be the case, although I'm sorta torn about it.

    So what? Gasp! An indie RPG designer creates a game that isn't terribly well designed? Gee whiz, that's never happened before!

    I think the argument was hubristic of us. First, it assumed that these instances were So Important They Mattered. That's silly. Second, it also assumed the community wasn't durable enough or smart enough to deal with it ok. Even more silly.

    I take a more easy going stance these days. Sure, yes, I want excellence in my hobby, because I like cool games and cool people. But, complaining about the awfulness of things other people are creating is fucking stupid. Now, I have two approaches: 1) I should actually go out and help that person if I think I can. They're extremely unlikely to turn me down. To that extent, I'm still interested in mutualism. 2) I just keep on keepin' on, doing my thing. Why the hell should I even bother if someone isn't living up to my standards something? If I want excellence, I'll create myself or with pals because it's about all I can truly affect. I'm done evangelizing and crusading. I got tired. I don't think it much worked. Besides, I sounded like an obnoxious ass.

    Look, another reason I stopped publishing was because despite significant progress the indie RPG community gained in 8 years or so, it remains a speck on the arse of a niche hobby. I love it dearly, but this is damn near buggy whip territory. Given that perspective, the amount of time and energy we spent beating each other up intellectually is now totally bizarre to me. My god, we actually had fights about this crap? We did. All while the world was changing in a million directions? What the fuck did all this arguing do to get, say, 2% growth among teen agers or college kids participating in role-playing, and help perpetuate the hobby? Nothing, as far as I can tell. Even if it did, the whole undertaking's so stunted and backwards such data literally doesn't even exist for anyone, anywhere. The amount of resources and expertise are non-existent! And, worse, we've got another current thread right now showing anecdotal evidence that the hardest of the hard core in this niche hobby view its biggest game (D&D) as little more than a board game! JESUS CHRIST! What a joke!

    And, so, all I can do is laugh and enjoy myself anymore. Why so serious? Indeed.

    Finally, on your last paragraph, I have no idea if others were resenting newer voices that stole spotlight. Not much evidence of that, and I'm certainly not saying people did that. I think there were times I was resentful of publishers, but it was fleeting and not really related to the concept we're talking about here. It was, say, GenCon shelf space stuff. Not who got the longer SG thread or whatever.
  • An aside, I don't think it's a joke.

    Also, the way I saw it, it wasn't about "Bad for customers", perhaps not even "Bad for the creator", that they did something for recognition. It's simply against the "Artist Ethos", which we keep hearing in almost the exact same way everywhere - "I don't create because I want to, I create because I can't not to."

    So those who create for recognition are not "Real Artists". And I'll let you sneer at that as much as you want.
  • Posted By: Thunder_GodAn aside, I don't think it's a joke.
    Me neither, really. I think we're actually agreeing that it's too bad, and not very funny, really. That's me, acting like an American -- getting all loud and sarcastic, dealing with things through humor.
  • "And, worse, we've got another current thread right now showing anecdotal evidence that the hardest of the hard core in this niche hobby view its biggest game (D&D) as little more than a board game!"

    You mind unpacking what this means? I'll admit I haven't read the thread, as D&D in its various incarnations has never been high on my list of choices when it comes to gaming. I understand the content of the phrase, that people are talking about D&D 4 as though it's a tactical boardgame, rather than an RPG. What I'm missing is first, how the "hardest of the hardcore" are saying this, and second how this is actually a bad thing. D&D has always been little more than a squad-level fantasy tactical wargame mechanically, with little in the rules focused on creating a story. Creating a story has always been covered in optional advice to the DM rather than rules, and the DM and players ignore it or follow it to the level that meets their needs.

    Sorry, started to ramble a moment. I'd like you to explain the statement, because I don't see how it relates to your greater point. I'll go read the thread in question so I can have the context for your answer.

  • Posted By: WolfeD&D has always been little more than a squad-level fantasy tactical wargame mechanically, with little in the rules focused on creating a story. Creating a story has always been covered in optional advice to the DM rather than rules, and the DM and players ignore it or follow it to the level that meets their needs.
    Have you played squad-level skirmisher games? DnD was never that until the recent incarnation. In DnD in the past you walked into a room and killed the orc with the pie.
  • Sure, Lance. But, it's mostly me being hyperbolic. I think the evidence is VERY anecdotal on this specific topic. It's not really enough to assume much of anything at all.

    My point was like this: Given how much political gnashing and intellectual navel gazing we've done and seen in the indie world in 8 years, we have remarkably little to show for it. Yes, the movement identified itself and grew. But, even after its growth, it's still absurdly small and insignificant in the grand scheme of all things AND even in the grand scheme of Dungeons and Dragons as a market, for a closer-to-home example.

    So, it seems to me wildly strange that even among people here on Story Games -- peole who are the probably the most hard core about role-playing as a unique act (imagining up narratives together as a group) -- view the Number 1 selling RPG as a board game! It's not even a RPG to us! Which means that, if that were true (again, I'm skeptical -- this is for the sake of argument for now), it's not even the #1 RPG . It's a boardgame instead. So, we don't even have a Big Man On Our Campus.

    If anything is likely to expand the hobby, it's the firepower of WotC and D&D. Yet, here we are saying that it's not even really much of an RPG. That seems to crazy!

    Let's imagine for the moment that it's correct -- that by and large D&D 4E is mostly a tabletop board game, and that it's role-playing aspects are very fleeting. So, when 14-year-old joe comes along and plays it, what's he likelier to move to later on? Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft, or Burning Wheel? I think Burning Wheel loses to both the others, and not just because it's much smaller in presence and marketing than the other two. I'm saying that 14-year-old who enjoys 4E is likelier to enjoy Magic than he is Burning Wheel or PTA or whatever. Which means we haven't really "recruited" him into role-playing, which sucks.

    Also, of course there is nothing definitional about 14-year-olds and college kids as the thing to recruit. Others still argue it's more like 30-year-old geek girlfriends. Fine. I don't see that happening enough either. We're still just a speck.

    In short, I'm saying all this arguing and self-policing our community has done hasn't done much to help us overall. I'd rather spend my leisure time and energy NOT arguing about all this silliness, and NOT recruiting folks, and just enjoying my hobby as best I can.
  • Matt, I went through a very similar series of revelations, just a bit earlier I think, because I wasn't ever super-involved in publishing and had much less success at it (compared to, say, Dust Devils). I think, in some ways, it's easier to see the bullshit from the outside, which is partially what people meant when they talked about the Forge or the indie design scene in general being hostile to outsiders. It wasn't anything intentional, but more the negative sense of inter-designer competition and intellectual positioning and such that surrounded the scene (and still does, to some extent). Folks are still often hostile to new or different ideas about design or play (frex: the debacle over Mo's "Push/Pull" terminology (which I helped perpetuate), Sage's fear that 2-page games will "take over" and become the entirety of the indie scene). Honestly, I think many folks have now turned their design/theory swords to plowshares, so to speak, and have begun channeling their frustration into productive, creative stuff, instead of fighting over minor differences in perspectives. This is only going to be better for us in the long run, I think.

    I'm really, really excited that you feel like you've moved to a more comfortable place on this whole business, even if your earlier publishing model was a casualty of that transition (remember all the shit you got for that? again, such hostility to different perspectives). Whatever you do next is bound to be more personally satisfying and sustainable, which, after all, is probably the most important part.

    I definitely think your approach to stuff that you don't like (or stuff that disappoints you or stuff you really want to like but doesn't quite work for you) is the way to go. Help a fellow designer out or move on with whatever you're interested in doing. Getting in somebody else's business on the internet does nobody much good.
  • Also, I think designing a game with the intention of it being a monster success only hurts your design process. Design something for yourself and for some other people who you think will dig it. If it blows up, it does. But there's a lot of trying to be "the next D&D / Dogs in the Vineyard / BW / etc." that gets in the way of making good games and enjoying playing them. So, in some ways, I think giving up on making a huge difference in the gaming community (or even outside the gaming community) is best. Do what you do, y'know? Let the rest happen on its own.
  • edited May 2009
    Posted By: Matt SnyderI just keep on keepin' on, doing my thing. Why the hell should I even bother if someone isn't living up to my standards something? If I want excellence, I'll create myself or with pals because it's about all I can truly affect. I'm done evangelizing and crusading. I got tired. I don't think it much worked. Besides, I sounded like an obnoxious ass.
    Yes. Another 'me too.' ;)
    Posted By: Matt SnyderI have no idea if others were resenting newer voices that stole spotlight.
    I did. :D When my goals were gaining attention, somebody else waltzing in and getting that attention was profoundly threatening. And maddening, when what they had looked like PTA scene structure plus a dice trick. After all, my scene-structure-plus-dice-trick was way more deserving of attention. =P

    When I stopped chasing the crowd around here, trying to get their attention, I became a much happier person.
  • The take-away point for me personally is this: Be generous with my feedback. It's a good thing to be reminded of occasionally.
  • People should design games to get laid. That's what most rock bands do. Well, rock bands don't actually design games, at least I don't think so, usually, but you know what I mean.
  • Posted By: MatthijsPeople should design games to get laid
    From Greg Stafford's remembrances is some interview, it seems that Glorantha was created for this very reason...

    (Ah, the '60... roleplaying missed the boat, arriving a decade too late... Ah, well, we still have LARPs...)
  • First to tidy up:

    Keith and Jon (who whispered me): I'd like to discuss it, but I find I'm not incredibly motivated to do so. More specifically, I don't want to muddy the waters of this thread, and I don't feel like starting another thread myself. If one or the other of you wishes to do so, I'll gladly join in and share my thoughts, though.

    Matt, I think I understand now.. What you're saying is that the hobby may have lost its biggest draw if D&D is moving away from being about roleplaying, which makes all of the fighting, self-policing, recruiting and such even sillier than it might otherwise have been, even had it been effective in the first place, right?

    So here's where we may disconnect. Y'see, I've never really cared about all of that. I believe there's this thing we call 'the hobby', I self-identify as both a gamer and a geek, and I feel an instantaneous sense of kinship with other gamers, no matter how little we actually have in common... But as far as I'm concerned, what is generally considered 'the hobby' can take care of itself. So long as I can find gamers (preferably those open to non-D&D gaming, but I'll take what comes, usually) and I can get my game on and geek out about the hobby, I'm happy.

    What I care about is gamers I know, or at least know about. The theoretical masses of gamers that are outside my awareness are like your silent game designers, completely irrelevant to me. Before meeting you at GenCon, you were little more than a name I'd heard and a couple games I'd never played, but I was still excited to meet you, and potentially to game with you (completely aside from the fact that meeting you meant I had a place to stay for the Con), simply because you were a gamer that I was aware of. Maybe if we had gamed together, we'd have discovered that our styles and preferences were incompatible, but that's part of the point of discovery. As far as I'm concerned, the community of gamers, 'the hobby, is at best a few hundred people in size, and that's all I care about.

    This links back into recognition and validation. My goals aren't to have my game designs played by the nameless faceless masses. I want the gamers I'm aware of to pay attention to my designs, to play them, to buy them, to enjoy them, nitpick them and critique them. It's not that I don't want complete strangers to play my games.. It's just that I'm not invested in the idea. On the flip side, the idea that some 14-year-old Joe or 30-year-old geek girlfriend may play my game, then talk about it on the Forge, S-G, my personal forums, or any forum that impinges on my awareness is exciting to me.. At that moment, that gamer transforms from a non-entity to a gamer I know, enters 'the hobby', and gains importance to me. When it comes to expanding the hobby or recruiting, that's the only sort I care about.

    Of course, given your latter commentary, maybe we don't disconnect at all.

  • I don't think we disconnect much, Lance. I'm nodding at most, maybe even all, of your post.
  • Posted By: Matt SnyderIf anything is likely to expand the hobby, it's the firepower of WotC and D&D. Yet, here we are saying that it's not even really much of an RPG. That seems to crazy!

    Let's imagine for the moment that it's correct -- that by and large D&D 4E is mostly a tabletop board game, and that it's role-playing aspects are very fleeting. So, when 14-year-old joe comes along and plays it, what's he likelier to move to later on? Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft, or Burning Wheel?
    If I quibble here and wonder if you aren't undercutting your own argument, I hope I am not derailing the thread too badly. Because what would get more attention than creating the thing that will be the Big Man on Campus?

    If D&D doesn't naturally feed any significant number of new people into indie roleplaying games - and while I sneer at the "not an RPG" argument, there is no clear evidence that it does - then there really is no leading RPG... which leaves the door open for someone to create one. I think a substantial faction of us want to make that perfect thing that's gonna be the new genre definer and create a new hobby rather than usurping the old.

    Even if this is not a total pipe dream, it certainly isn't clear that arguing over it and trying to make it all artistically perfect is going to accomplish that. Getting serious about testing things, even flawed things, in a new, wider marketplace would be more productive. But then again, it'd be sporadically productive but mostly wasteful... just like arguing on SG. Evolution is a naturally inefficient process.

    So yeah... not worth getting worked up about how much of it is happening or for what reasons.
  • Matt, all of what you're saying now makes total sense to me. The silly behavior of the past that you describe makes no sense to me, so I was just trying to understand it. Thanks for crossing off some of my "outs" and conveying, "No, really, it was just silly."
  • edited May 2009
    Since Jonathan brought me up earlier as one of those who does game stuff that he doesn't publish... I think I'll just say that Lance's last post covered a lot of my reasons for it. I don't design for the general public, I design for me and the people I play with, and so generally don't see a point in putting my stuff up for the consumption of those who aren't my target.

    Which isn't to say I don't design, in part, for recognition. It's just that the recognition takes a very specific form from a very specific group. If I can get my 68 year old mother in law to play an RPG with me and Mo that we all have fun playing, that's more important to me than any "the hobby" or a long thread on Story Games. (Though I don't mind when people think I'm awesome on Storygames, it just isn't my first priority.)

    Oh, I also publish for money -- but that's a whole different thing and not Indie at all.

    Edit: P.S. I also GM (partly) for recognition.
  • Posted By: Matt SnyderOverhere, Moreno asks the quote below. So, I started this thread to avoid thread-jacking there.
    Hi Matt!

    First, thanks for the long and detailed reply. I did not answer it before because the thread was very interesting, and touched many more things than my initial post, and I didn't want to stop that.

    Now it seems to have run its course, so it's time to try to explain better what I meant.

    When John posted Lady Blackbird, I was impressed as many others from the quality of that simply 8-page document. But then, as post after post was posted in thread after thread about it, I felt a increasing sense of dissatisfaction. Not with Lady Blackbird: with the environment where it was released. At first I didn't understand what caused this, but your post made me realize that it was tied to some on my thoughts on story-game as a GAME DESIGN and ACTUAL PLAY DISCUSSION environment, derived from the usual annual polemic about "half-baked" game and critique (how much time we have left until the next one?)

    Story games is in love with the shiny and new, with the latest fad, with the latest alpha draft of anything that seems "cool". It's in love with anything with Dungeon, Elves and Dragons in it, and with the games we played when we were younger. It's in love with being one of the "cool kids", and a lot of people read it to know "what they should play to be cool" exactly as some other people read Vogue to know that they should wear.
    By the other way, Story-games don't care a bit about anything depressing, difficult to play or to understand. You will not find a lot of love here for Spione, A Flower for Mara, or... Nine Worlds. (now there is a lot of interest for Montsegur, that it would seems to negate this. But there are a lot of "cool kids" now pushing it - and it's good that they do - let's see how much it will be discussed here when it will not be so new and the cool kids will push something different)

    Most of all, Storygames don't care for anything that is "old". Some months ago it seemed like everybody was playing a beta version of "Red Box Hack". When, after some months, the project was shelfed and given, free, to anybody who wanted to continue it, I didn't see a tenth of that interest. "Red Box Hack? Old stuff. Been there, done that. Now the cool kids play Lady Blackbird"

    This is not storygames' fault. It's what it is. Any attempt to make it more "serious", less playful, will ruin it. This _IS_ a cool bar where the cool kids (and their less cool friends) go to relax and talk shit. The success of story-games demonstrate that there was a need for a place like this ("all work and no play make game designers dull boys...")

    And, until some time ago, this was acknowledged. Even when this was not only the "forge lounge bar" anymore, the people who wanted to discuss game design were told that this was not the right place, that they would be better served to going to the Forge or any other game design forum/blog/community online. It was very, very good advice. But it's not given anymore. Now, it seems more and more that this is seen as a good environment for the "cutting edge" game design.

    What this mean is, of course, a lot of alpha draft "published" as pdfs and then never seriously playtested or polished (but with a lot of nice color illustration! And no, I am talking about John's Work, I am talking about what a lot of people will see of his work, only). I am talking about some games that could become great games, if properly tested, prodded, changed, but they will never be. Because when the first draft was posted on story-games, everybody went "awesome!, and the game designer, being human, wanting that praise, don't want to change what other people are telling him is awesome, but after a while he find that he has really no fun playing his "awesome" game and shelf it forever.

    What this mean, is that the social reward for game design, in this forum, is so fucking SHORT, that doesn't reward working a lot of time on anything.

    What this mean is the story-games version of the White Wolf supplement treadmill. What this mean it's a memory so short-range that fucking GAMING MODULES are seen as the latest innovation of cutting edge game design.

    What this mean, is having every year the same groaning, gnashing of teeth, and polemics, about the latest wave of poorly designed, quickly-published unplayable games full of misspellings and errata, in the same place that praise and encourage that kind of design.

    And I am not talking only about game DESIGN. I am talking about game practice, too. When I was a new indie-rpgs novice, having just discovered this land of many worders, afyer playing a lot of Dogs in the Vineyard, I wanted to try anything new: I want to be current, I wanted to know what the new cutting edge was, and I began to play a lot of rpgs. Once. Then I went to another shiny and new rpg, sure that in this way I would quickly become a better player.

    It didn't happen. This really hurt my playing, instead. My gameplay become superficial, board-game-like. I played a lot of games without really understanding them. When I understood this, I stopped and rethought my objectives. And began to search for older designs, the classics (MLWM, Sorcerer, lately trollbabe) or these new games that were worked upon a lot until they were rock-solid (Spione, for example) and began to play them a lot. Discovering their more nuanced game-play and in this way, I think, becoming a better player.

    (continue: the post was too long...)
  • edited May 2009
    (continue from above)

    I have NOTHING against wanting to be liked, to be praised, to be considered: it's human, and I am not convinced it's a bad thing. But if you are going to put a lot of yourself into something to get that praise... you should better search that praise where it will not vanish after some weeks because you are not "new" anymore.

    I looked at the Forge "Actual play" forum just now. Just in the first page there are threads about Shadows, 1001 nights, With Great Power, IAWA, Ninja Burger, Tunnel and Trolls, Liquid, Sorcerer, 7seas, Trollbabe, D&D 1, Agon, Dogs in the Vineyard, Dead of Nights, and Drowning and Falling

    Then I looked at the first page of Story-games: it talks only of Lady Blackbird, D&D4, a new hack of the Mountain Witch... the older game with a specific thread is Panty Explosion, and it's been months from the previous thread about that game.

    I think that, even if it was negated or even looked down at the time, the desire to "look good" in the eyes of the "old forge hands", to be publicy praised by Ron, was a very strong push for quality and innovation and GOOD DESIGN. Rock-solid good design.

    It was that design that, years later, caused me to go here. If, instead of these games, I would have been handed a first draft of something that I could hack if I was a "cool kid"... I would have simply dropped it into the waste basket. I had already enough of games that required me to be an "good enough GM" to last a lifetime.

    If I can ask a personal question, Matt... your perception of not being rewarded enough for the time and work you did put into game design, was born before or after beginning to read story-games? Did you feel not rewarded enough when there was only the Forge?

    P.S.: about the recognition, in general, of Forge innovations... Maybe that would merit a thread of his own. I just returned, last week, from the best gaming convention of my life (Internoscon - there is a thread still on the first page of story-game). 71 persons took over entire hotel for two days, and had all the place and all the cooks and waiters for them while they played a lot of "dirty hippie games". 44 different dirty hippies games (the most traditional one was "Cat" by John Wick. Not a trace of anything from WW or WotC in sight). There were so many people who wanted to go but were left out when the place was crammed full that next year we will go for two hotels and 200 places.

    Do you know a funny things? At least a dozen of these people were forge haters before the convention, and now they talk in their old forums as they were forge evangelists. More than half of the others people were against these game no more than a few months ago. Two years ago, in Italy, I think there were no more than half a dozen of people online in Italy who even did know what these games. It's like a Borg invasion: "resistance is futile, you'll be assimilated": when I meet a italian online who contest that these games are simply better, I don't try to convince him by arguing. I tell him "next time, at that convention, will you play this game with me?", and after the convention he is usually (almost always) a fervent supporter of that game. People online already joke about the pages of the translated manuals having been drenched with some willpower-destroying drug, and some "traditional" forum has closed the area of discussion of "other games" apart from the old ones in a futile try to stop the contagion.

    A lot of this is because, simply, we all go to the same conventions and know each other. Italy is small. But by reading the american forums, I get the impression that a lot of separation is caused by (1) not having the right games at the start of the polemics to hand to people: the first Forge games required already knowing how to play them (exactly as the kind of design praised on story-games: a closed one for a closed group), (2) a much deeper separation in the culture of play: I am shocked to hear some tales from people who have seen some USA conventions about the... total lack of any role-playing in many tables. Even D&D players in Italy have a play-pretend attitude much more strong that any wargaming influence (we are italians, we like to show off) (3) a sort of inferiority complex against D&D in too many players.

    But all this don't really explain to me... why can't you simply make an american gamer play Polaris once, and turn him forever into a "dirty hippie gamer" as we do?
  • Posted By: Moreno R.I am talking about some games that could become great games, if properly tested, prodded, changed, but they will never be.
    One thing to keep in mind is that in any creative medium — any of them — there are always far more "could be greats" than there are "greats." This is also true for story games, and it's difficult, but you eventually have to say, "Yep, that's how it's going to be, and that's all right."

    Also, a lot of old Forgies gild their memories of how well the Forge worked "back then." We remember the games that succeeded, but we don't remember the many, many games that did not flourish, and the Forge had (and has) its own "could be greats" that, as you say, "will never be."
  • Moreno,

    I played Lady B, posted about it, IMed with John about it and the pdf changed for the better as a result. There was criticism in that thread in there among the love; I'd look again.

    Judd
  • It's true that there are fads around here. 3:16 burst onto the scene and lots of people were all over it, for example, and now it's a bit faded out. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, though.

    This is NOT a design forum. Really :) I remember Andy specifically talking about how the Forge was good for that, but what he wanted out of SG was different. The design category here is only a small (and reluctant) part of the site. Even the Actual Play category is named "Vignettes" for a reason: Andy wanted (correct me if I misremember, Andy) to avoid lengthy analytical play reports and instead have some fun social sharing of cool events in our games. This place is much more about socializing with each other, and part of that are definitely certain fads. Social networks get excited about something, things spread, then something else comes along.

    The Forge is still going strong. If I need design or publishing help, or help analyzing actual play, that's where I go (and I try to head over there and help out once in a while, too). Story Games is my Happy Place; I come here to soak up positivity and enthusiasm about our hobby. What exactly the fad for that is at any given time is really secondary for me. :)
  • Moreno, I really don't know how to answer your questions. If you have something more specific you want to talk about, fire away.

    You did ask me a specific question, though. To answer: No, the appearance and growth of Story Games is not the catalyst for me feeling like I didn't get enough recognition. I'm sure that individual events that happened on SG contributed to my perceptions, just like individual events on the Forge or at GenCon or in my home town or that shitty day at work I had also contributed. (shrug) I'm just not seeing the evils of SG in ways you seem to be saying, assuming I'm reading you right.
  • Hi!

    Evils? No. Quoting myself:
    Posted By: Moreno R.This is not storygames' fault. It's what it is. Any attempt to make it more "serious", less playful, will ruin it. This _IS_ a cool bar where the cool kids (and their less cool friends) go to relax and talk shit. The success of story-games demonstrate that there was a need for a place like this ("all work and no play make game designers dull boys...")
    Storygames has a function and fulfill a need, exactly like The Forge, Knife Fight or Cultures of Play. The "danger" is into using it to fulfill ANOTHER need, for example using it as a design forum. It has too short a memory to work well for this.

    If I should find some "evil" I would look into this (dirty hippies gamers) culture newfound love affair with the new and the cool instead of the solid and clear, but I don't know if storygames had anything to do with this or if it's only the mirror that reflect this face.

    P.S.: I started considering D&D as little more than a boardgame in 1992, and it made me a lot of good. I recommend it. It's good for your health.
  • Man oh man, generally speaking SG is a very mediocre-to-terrible place for serious design/theory discussions. I really hope people are looking to scratch those itches in other places. And then maybe come here to talk about the awesome they're throwing down (in either design or play) or shoot the shit about some cool little idea they had about zeppelins full of hyenas that are on fire. That kind of thing is SG's specialty: sharing excitement, direct promotion, quirky ideas, and people bemoaning the current state of the indie scene / roleplaying in general.
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