2014-04-22 : Enough Dillying! Enough Dallying!

AW:Dark Age

Playtest document in 15.

2014-04-15 : Cultivating Your Audience with Love

Graham Charles came to me in a dream last night and explained to me that while he knew I didn't mean to be rude, I was being, yes, a little unforgivable.

So, my friends, please let me set aside my frustrated and impatient ideology. I've been where you are now! I started from zero too, with big dreams and nobody listening. Let's talk about how to get your games the attention they deserve.

NDP said some good things yesterday, I think:

Think about what you can succeed at doing. Maybe it's a playable draft, maybe it's a complete game, maybe it's going to a convention and running the hell out of your game, maybe it's blog posts about the theory behind your choices. Success breeds success. The only thing that broadens your audience is putting material out there. What material can you generate that is honest, strong and worthwhile? (Hyperbole and marketing-ese gets you nowhere)

I can tell you that the first time I ever put out a call for playtesters, it was for Dogs in the Vineyard in 2004. By then I'd been publishing games and game drafts for free at the Forge for two or three years. Without kill puppies for satan, Before the Flood, Matchmaker, Otherkind, Chalk Outlines, Hungry Desperate and Alone, Toward One, and I forget what maybe else, nobody would have given Dogs in the Vineyard the attention it needed.

Am I being rude again? I can't help it! Somebody help me out. How can you cultivate an audience for your games without being an ass like Vincent?

2014-04-14 : Getting Your Game Played and Talked About

Asks Tim Ralphs, here:

It seems to me that the way you engage the public in your game design is fundamental to their propagation, in that you generate a visible enthusiastic discussion and a pool of geographically disparate people with positive experiences of play.

Let's imagine I had a game that was the easy 90% of the way to feeling finished with the hard 10% still to be done. What advice would you give me specific to getting the game played and talked about? I'm probably going to give it away for free ultimately, but it would be really nice to give it away to more people and have them actually play it.

Great question! I have no earthly idea!

So, your game makes promises, and then it delivers on them.

If you say "hey, check out my game!" and nobody does, that means that either (a) it's not making interesting promises, so nobody legitimately cares, or else (b) you haven't managed to communicate what it's promising yet, so you should keep trying. You'll have to figure out which.

If you say "hey, check out my game!" and people do, but they don't go on to play or talk about it, that means that it's not delivering on its promises. People were interested enough to check it out, but then the game left them cold.

From this point of view, getting your game played and talked about is a design problem. It's not enough to design a game that's technically playable, you have to design a game that provokes people into playing it, and gives them things to talk about afterward. Not just a good experience, but a good experience with a highlight they can't wait to share, or a good experience with a troublesome spot they want help figuring out.

Now, the above is all just my stock answer, and it's not very good advice. As advice, it amounts to "make a game people can't ignore," which, I mean, that was probably your goal all along, wasn't it?

I probably have better advice in me, maybe some practical suggestions and stuff. If anybody has any pointed questions to get it out of me, Tim or anybody else, I'd love to hear them.

2014-04-13 : AW:Dark Age, a quick update

AW:Dark Age

Still no countdown.

A playtest revealed some bad probs, but a quick sit-down with my co-designer Meguey gives us some strong ways forward. I'm excited to get it all together into a playtestable form.

While you're waiting, here's an eye-opening video about fighting with sword & shield, h/t +Keith Senkowski:

2014-04-07 : On Planning to Move Away

Quoth Caitlynn, here:

Oh, also! You've done a lot with permutations of the Apocalypse World rules lately (Murderous Ghosts, Sundered Land, now this) - do you plan to eventually move away from that? Like, are there any ideas kindling around in your head that you feel you'd need something non-AW-ey to work with? Or do you feel you've found something very stable and quality with the Apocalypse World ruleset?

This question is hard for me to answer!

I expect Apocalypse World to be by far the biggest influence on my game design work in this decade, at least. I think that every game I design from 2010-2020, and possibly beyond, you'll be able to look at it and see how Apocalypse World laid the foundation for it. You can look at Spin the Beetle, for instance, and see how it's a development of certain moves from Apocalypse World.

At the same time, I don't expect Apocalypse World to hold back my game design work at all. It's building on Apocalypse World that allows me to make games like Murderous Ghosts and Spin the Beetle, radical departures from the far more conventional rpgs I designed before Apocalypse World.

2014-04-03 : An Example Apocalypse World Battle

2014-03-31 : AW:Dark Age: No Countdown Yet!

2014-03-24 : Ask a Frequent Question...

2014-03-17 : AW:Dark Age: Big Changes Coming

2014-03-11 : Swords & Crowns are in the air...

2014-03-09 : The Dark Ages are in the air...

2014-03-03 : Apocalypse World: Dark Age 1st look

2014-02-26 : Something Terrible is Coming

2014-02-15 : Lies in RPGs

2014-02-07 : Spin the Beetle