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Author Topic: Looking for collaboration advice  (Read 840 times)

VBWyrde

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« on: July 15, 2007, 07:58:50 pm »
Hi,

This is my first post here, and I'm not sure I'm asking in the right place, or even if my question makes sense for theRPGsite, but it was recommended that I try here, so here it goes...

I have a game system that I created based on the original three D&D books way back in 1978 when I started GMing.   It is definitely a derivative of D&D.  However, I made modifications according to my lights, and simplified what I foresaw would become a more complex game over time (as that was, it seemed to me, inevitable given the TSR business model).   Therefore I have what I think can be termed Traditional D&D-type RPG that I've been using for years and years to great effect, and to the enjoyment of my many players (though at present I am not GMing, but instead working on putting this system together into a publishable form).  

What I could really use at this point is collaborative feedback.   I'm not sure what I need to know about collaboration, though.   I would like to find out what the 'rules of the road' might be in terms of NDAs, and/or any other considerations I should be aware of for a collaborative effort.  

Ultimately, I would like to publish my system for sale as a pdf, and have a supporting website and Internet application that crunches numbers and provides a variety of GMing services related to the use of my system.   That's the basic setup.  

The programming is finished for the Phase I application which I consider to be in an Alpha state now.   I understand that there are some other applications out there that do what mine purports to do, but like cars, tv's and toasters, I think there's room (plenty of room) for variations on the theme (unless someone has patented the entire concept in which case they should be exiled to Pluto).  

What I'd really like is to be able to get a small group of people together to help me review the system, the rules, the application and the various bits and pieces in a kind of wiki format.   What I do not want to do is give away the farm in the process.  

Can anyone offer advice on this?  

Thanks in advance!

Sincerely,
VBWyrde
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RockViper

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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 12:11:10 am »
You may want to re-post this in the Game Design and Theory Sub-Forum
"Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness."

Terry Pratchett (Men at Arms)

brettmb2

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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2007, 11:32:11 am »
Moved to Game Design and Theory Forum.
Brett Bernstein
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GoOrange

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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2007, 06:48:13 pm »
Quote from: VBWyrde
What I'd really like is to be able to get a small group of people together to help me review the system, the rules, the application and the various bits and pieces in a kind of wiki format.   What I do not want to do is give away the farm in the process.  

Can anyone offer advice on this?


Well, how complete is the system? If you are still working on the basic mechanics, you could just start a thread asking for opinions on a specific part of the game.

If the game is largely finished, then just put up a post asking for playtesters. Pimp your ideas and if it sounds interesting someone will take a look at it.

Don't worry about giving away the farm. The fact is, at this stage, there is no farm.
 

VBWyrde

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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2007, 07:02:14 pm »
Quote from: GoOrange
Well, how complete is the system? If you are still working on the basic mechanics, you could just start a thread asking for opinions on a specific part of the game.

If the game is largely finished, then just put up a post asking for playtesters. Pimp your ideas and if it sounds interesting someone will take a look at it.

Don't worry about giving away the farm. The fact is, at this stage, there is no farm.


Ok, far out.  That's what I wanted to get advice on, thanks.  

My game system is in its finishing stages for phase I of my project, and I want to get play testing and feedback and corrections before I put it out to the public.  

As for the farm, yeah, my sense of things is that the entire Self-Publishing RPG thing is a collaborative effort overall with everyone kind of pitching in and giving feedback and helping out, and pretty much only expecting the same courtesy in return.  What could be cooler than that?   I am wondering if people do NDA's or anything along those lines?  Or is that faux pas territory?  Honestly, I would like to do this the right way, whatever way that is.  :)

I'll prepare a work up for the post.  Thanks!

- Mark
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flyingmice

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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2007, 09:57:25 pm »
Quote from: VBWyrde
Ok, far out.  That's what I wanted to get advice on, thanks.  

My game system is in its finishing stages for phase I of my project, and I want to get play testing and feedback and corrections before I put it out to the public.  

As for the farm, yeah, my sense of things is that the entire Self-Publishing RPG thing is a collaborative effort overall with everyone kind of pitching in and giving feedback and helping out, and pretty much only expecting the same courtesy in return.  What could be cooler than that?   I am wondering if people do NDA's or anything along those lines?  Or is that faux pas territory?  Honestly, I would like to do this the right way, whatever way that is.  :)

I'll prepare a work up for the post.  Thanks!

- Mark


Hi Mark:

In re: NDAs, I come from electronic design, where NDAs flow like snowmelt in April, but in the RPG world, they are an active impediment, which I learned with my first project. Nobody wants to steal your ideas, nobody is getting rich off this, and you are perfectly safe without them.

I usually playtest the heck out of my games to get the ruleset down with my alpha group, then set up a beta group of GMs and allow them to try the game hands off. The alpha group tests the rules, and the beta group tests the expression of the rules. You need not only to have good rules, but you need to describe them in such a way that people will pick them up easily and not find fuzzy areas or gaps when they buy your game.

Take the feedback from the beta groups and use it! Don't defend your baby. It's a natural instinct, but it's wrong. Accept criticism, learn from it, and make a better product. That doesn't mean bow to their every whim, it means make your judgements of what feedback to follow and how to implement the necessary changes dispassionately, with a clear head. The goal is always to make a better game, not prove yourself right.

Layout is vitally important to most people - if your game is a pain to read, people won't read it. If you can't achieve beauty and clarity, go for clarity. Sequencing of chapters is also vital - your book in play becomes a reference document, where people will be looking things up and consulting tables and such. If it's a pain for them to find what they are looking for then they won't want to run it.

No illustration is better than bad illustration. Don't put in questionable illos just because you think it needs something. If possible, match the art to what is being discussed on the page or in the section the illo is on. If you can't afford or can't get good illos, use graphic patterns or devices or clip art you judge suitable. Illos are not art! They illustrate and explain the world of your game. A beautiful piece of art that doesn't illustrate something from your game is not worth putting in.

Keep updating your game with what you learn from customer feedback - pdfs are never frozen in time. Use POD services as well. They cost you nothing and your customers will appreciate it.

I feel like Laertes...

-clash
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VBWyrde

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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2007, 12:19:00 am »
Quote from: flyingmice
Hi Mark:

In re: NDAs, I come from electronic design, where NDAs flow like snowmelt in April, but in the RPG world, they are an active impediment, which I learned with my first project. Nobody wants to steal your ideas, nobody is getting rich off this, and you are perfectly safe without them.

I usually playtest the heck out of my games to get the ruleset down with my alpha group, then set up a beta group of GMs and allow them to try the game hands off. The alpha group tests the rules, and the beta group tests the expression of the rules. You need not only to have good rules, but you need to describe them in such a way that people will pick them up easily and not find fuzzy areas or gaps when they buy your game.

Take the feedback from the beta groups and use it! Don't defend your baby. It's a natural instinct, but it's wrong. Accept criticism, learn from it, and make a better product. That doesn't mean bow to their every whim, it means make your judgements of what feedback to follow and how to implement the necessary changes dispassionately, with a clear head. The goal is always to make a better game, not prove yourself right.

Layout is vitally important to most people - if your game is a pain to read, people won't read it. If you can't achieve beauty and clarity, go for clarity. Sequencing of chapters is also vital - your book in play becomes a reference document, where people will be looking things up and consulting tables and such. If it's a pain for them to find what they are looking for then they won't want to run it.

No illustration is better than bad illustration. Don't put in questionable illos just because you think it needs something. If possible, match the art to what is being discussed on the page or in the section the illo is on. If you can't afford or can't get good illos, use graphic patterns or devices or clip art you judge suitable. Illos are not art! They illustrate and explain the world of your game. A beautiful piece of art that doesn't illustrate something from your game is not worth putting in.

Keep updating your game with what you learn from customer feedback - pdfs are never frozen in time. Use POD services as well. They cost you nothing and your customers will appreciate it.

I feel like Laertes...

-clash


Well, you're making me glad I hung around.  Thanks for the ideas and advice here.  This is common sense goodness to be sure!  I appreciate it.   Thanks!

- Mark
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flyingmice

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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2007, 01:00:27 am »
Quote from: VBWyrde
Well, you're making me glad I hung around.  Thanks for the ideas and advice here.  This is common sense goodness to be sure!  I appreciate it.   Thanks!

- Mark


You're very welcome! Any way I can help, let me know. I learned these things rather painfully over a very long time, and I'm happy if I can spare someone else the pain. :D

-clash
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« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2007, 11:56:11 am »
Consult and discuss with absolutely as much people as possible. There are no, I repeat NO "RPG corporate Ninjas" out to steal your precious game. Its riculous and pathetic when RPG companies like Green Ronin act in this way, its just plain ludicrous when someone making their first game acts that way.

So wherever you have doubts about a mechanic or a setting element, take it to a good forum (by "good" I mean one which has the kind of people you'd want playing your game, and who you think your game might appeal to), and hash it out with them.

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VBWyrde

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« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2007, 12:39:31 pm »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Consult and discuss with absolutely as much people as possible. There are no, I repeat NO "RPG corporate Ninjas" out to steal your precious game. Its riculous and pathetic when RPG companies like Green Ronin act in this way, its just plain ludicrous when someone making their first game acts that way.

So wherever you have doubts about a mechanic or a setting element, take it to a good forum (by "good" I mean one which has the kind of people you'd want playing your game, and who you think your game might appeal to), and hash it out with them.

RPGPundit


Thanks Pundit.  Appreciate the feedback.  

OK. Makes a certain amount of horse-sense to me.  The market and industry for P&P / PDF / POD games is just too small and eclectic for there to be the kind of risks that one might be wary of in more mature markets.  I think.  Does that size it up, pretty much?

I'll see what I can do to figure out what forums would be best for my type of game.   Basically, it's a traditional RPG (ala D&D style) writ small.   Real small.  But with a nice, if I say so myself, set of rules and balance (helped by the smallness which makes balancing a bit easier to manage).   Any suggestions for "good" forums for this type of game?  

Note:  The connection I have to the Indie world is exploratory at this point, and not based on any relationship my own game has with the Indie style games.  I am, however, interested in the work they've done and the rational for their modifications to the Traditionalist systems.  That said, I may, depending on my findings, incorporate some of their ideas if I feel it is warrented going forward.

Thanks again.

- Mark
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« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2007, 01:04:51 pm »
Quote from: VBWyrde
Thanks Pundit.  Appreciate the feedback.  

OK. Makes a certain amount of horse-sense to me.  The market and industry for P&P / PDF / POD games is just too small and eclectic for there to be the kind of risks that one might be wary of in more mature markets.  I think.  Does that size it up, pretty much?


That's pretty much spot on. Most of us don't regard other game publishers as competition so much as they are peers.

Quote from: VBWyrde
I'll see what I can do to figure out what forums would be best for my type of game.   Basically, it's a traditional RPG (ala D&D style) writ small.   Real small.  But with a nice, if I say so myself, set of rules and balance (helped by the smallness which makes balancing a bit easier to manage).   Any suggestions for "good" forums for this type of game?  


Here, definitely. There's some huge D&D fans here. I'd also try Levi Kornelson's GameCraft.

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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2007, 01:03:30 am »
Quote from: VBWyrde

I'll see what I can do to figure out what forums would be best for my type of game.   Basically, it's a traditional RPG (ala D&D style) writ small.   Real small.  But with a nice, if I say so myself, set of rules and balance (helped by the smallness which makes balancing a bit easier to manage).   Any suggestions for "good" forums for this type of game?  


If that's what your game consists of, I'd strongly suggest this site and this forum.  Make another thread telling people more about the game and its mechanics!

Quote

Note:  The connection I have to the Indie world is exploratory at this point, and not based on any relationship my own game has with the Indie style games.  I am, however, interested in the work they've done and the rational for their modifications to the Traditionalist systems.  That said, I may, depending on my findings, incorporate some of their ideas if I feel it is warrented going forward.


The one thing I'd suggest to you on this matter is this: DON'T let your game be modified to fit in with someone's pigeonholed "theory".  It makes no sense, when you think about it, to try to force your game to fit some random theory someone has created about bullshit like "playstyles", and turning away from your original ideas of how to run the game, or doing anything that would actually end up making the game pointlessly "trendy" or more limited in its potential appeal just to satisfy a few people who cling to these Theories like they were religion.

The biggest problem with Forge-style "Theories" is that they're utterly arbitrary, based on either wild assumption or the (usually Negative) deeply anecdotal personal experiences of their creators.  NO evidence has ever been shown that the playstyle categories of GNS or other Forge theories bear any relation to the way 99.99% of roleplayers really play, and the success of all those games Forgies call "incoherent" (their term for a game that "tries to be more than one playstle at once") would strongly indicate that their theory is in fact utterly contrary to the gaming reality.

Base your game on what you like, what you want to make, and how the vast majority of gamers really play.

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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2007, 03:56:56 pm »
Hi!
  Sounds like you have received good advice regarding "protecting" your game idea. So, instead, I'll give you some good advice on the practical matter of collaboration:
 - Know hat you want your game to be like and how it will be played before you ask for feedback. As Pundit mentioned, don't compromise this vision, unless it appeals to you personally. You want to design the game that you would want to play, not the game that you think some faceless demographic would want to play.
 - No matter who it is (Even if through some fluke you get Gary Gygax to check out your game), filter their advice through the lense of how you want your game to be played. for instance, someone may say adding Buffy/Angel style Drama points will make story telling easier for players. But if your game is not about story telling, then this is not good advice, see?
 - Listen to what they have to say, and ask questions if you are not clear what someone's feedback means. You will find that very few people are willing and are able to spend the time to read/play your game, so when someone does take that time, make sure you understand exactly what they are saying.
 - Tell anyone who is helping you with your design exactly what kind of feedback you want. If you want a proofread, be sure to say so, if you need someone to actually play this game with their group, again say so, etc.
 - Set collaborators up to succeed. By this I mean, communicate your vision and goal of the game design. Explain the genre, play format and feel you are going for. Then you are more likely to get feedback that will help you reinforce that vision.
 - Don't criticize the merit of feedback you receive. Obviously, feel free to criticize someone's ability to follow instructions or spelling/grammar/communication errors. But don't give criticism like that is a bad idea or your statement is pointless. People who have been disrespected after giving you assistance are sure to tell their friends, thus reducing the potential pool of playtesters/collaborators. If feedback you are given seems wrong-haded to you, ask what they mean or why they made that advice, try and turn it around if you can.
 - Don't get your hopes up, sometimes it is hard to get feedback. Many people will offer to help, but then not follow up on that offer, many people will ignore your plea for help. Its not personal, its just that many people are working on their own designs or are full up in gaming groups already. don't get discouraged if it takes time to find a good reliable playtest group or two.

  Finally, pod publishing, like with lulu.com, is very inexpensive (free for most services) and the quality is good and the overhead on your part will be minimal.

  Good luck man!
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VBWyrde

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« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2007, 01:33:33 pm »
Quote from: dindenver
Hi!
  Sounds like you have received good advice regarding "protecting" your game idea. So, instead, I'll give you some good advice on the practical matter of collaboration

...

  Good luck man!


Great.  Thanks for the feedback, in particular on setting my own expectations.  That's what I needed to hear... getting feedback can be a challenge and I just need to keep at it, and be patient.  Thanks again!

- Mark
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