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Author Topic: The Forge and the ENnies  (Read 8649 times)
Denise
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« on: August 22, 2006, 04:06:24 AM »

Please be advised that the following post is mostly conjecture and opinion-finding, and does not constitute any sort of binding agreement from the ENnies Board of Directors.

There's talk of trying to increase the Forge's participation in the ENnies, perhaps going as far as creating a seat on the panel of (5) judges designated for a Forgite/Indie seat.

However, we've had a few potential issues arise:
-lack of qualified (ie. not professionals/publishers) nominees for judgehood
-general lack of interest from The Forge in the ENnies (it's improving, thank you, but still there's a ways to go)
-The Forge's fierce independance

So I would like to see some discussion from The Forge members and ownership about
A. Whether we should even try and if yes
B. How to implement it.  The ENnies judges have always been selected in a democratic manner, so if we were to have a Forge seat, we would want to see it filled in a similar way rather than by appointment,

There is also a suggestion that we leave things "as is" this year, and simply continune with our efforts to get Forgers to submit more product, vote for their choice of judges (this year you don't have to be an EN World member to vote for your choice of judge, and we're using a different scoring system that better-represents voter realities- the STV), perhaps even submit themselves for consideration as judges in the current set-up (which would mean registering as an EN World member), and get increasing numbers of Forgites to vote for nominated product, and of course, attend the ceremony in Indy.

So what do you think?
Do you think we can play well together and create a designated seat for a Forge member? 
And/or perhaps should we create an Indie category, and/or perhaps combine forces with the Indie Awards?  (Let's face it, the ENnies are the most respected RPG award out there, and have a very high profile- we could do a world of good to raise awareness of Indie games out there)
Do you think any of these measures would serve to garner increased participation from the independant gaming community?
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2006, 04:42:41 AM »

Hi Denise,

I can forestall all opinion and conjecture by making very clear the only way any such thing could happen.

Which is that you guys decide upon judges completely irrespective of "the Forge" as an entity. As you know, it's not a company, a corporation, or even an agreed-upon body of policymakers. It's just a website with social/intellectual rules that are mandated by me and Clinton.

So, could someone who participates a lot at the Forge be an ENnies judge? Sure!! and I hope they will

Could their participation here alert the ENnies folks to the possibility that they'd be a good ENnies judge? Sure!! and I hope they want to

Could the ENnies board even call the seat that person (or persons) fills the "Forge" seat? Sure!! although I kind of hope they don't

But all the picking and choosing of persons has to be on your end, not this one. The Forge as a site will not and cannot elect or present potential judges for the ENnies. Individuals at the Forge who are interested, or in whom you guys are interested, can approach or be approached by you - no problem.

Don't get me wrong about the relationship between the two sites/activities. I'm a big ENnies booster and I think your awards have rightly eclipsed the Origins awards (with the possibility of a couple of categories in the latter). I want there to be a strong connection between the Forge and the ENnies, and I want to acknowledge your current proposal as a great compliment.

It will work out really well, I think, if you think of the Forge not as an entity or "party" of any kind, but rather as a website, from which you can find ENnies judge candidates from a particular economic sector of the hobby. I totally endorse that, as content moderator here.

I also think it might be worth my and Clinton's time to consider an explicit link or other connection to the ENnies, to acknowledge a positive relationship between the sites. He and I will have to talk about that in a smoke-filled room.

Best, Ron
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iago
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2006, 07:38:57 AM »

To reply without addressing the semantic appropriateness of referencing the Forge as a coherent entity...

Allow me to say that, yes, I'm dead certain there are a ton of people who participate at the Forge, at Story Games, and who list their games with folks like Key 20 Direct and Indie Press Revolution, who would be entirely on board with bringing a stronger indie presence to the Ennies.  It warmed my heart to see Chad Underkoffler get some recognition this year for Truth and Justice, and the Innovation award that the judges gave out was, IMO, a really good move. 

Thanks for asking if there would be interest.  On that basis, though, and taking Ron's concerns into consideration, how would you most prefer that people get into touch with y'all about that interest?

I think some kind of *partnership* between the Ennies and the Indie RPG Awards would be a solid first move.  And that gives you some solid initial contact points to move on: Mr. Kim (currently running it) and Mr. Kitkowski (who originated them).
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2006, 10:12:33 AM »

My thoughts, distilled: the Ennies core audience is very, very different from the Forge's core audience and you may have negative reactions mixing the two. I would be very cautious and judge the interest from both sides by seeing how many Forge-affliliated authors submit their games for awards and how they do in those awards.

Outside of that, I agree wholeheartedly with Ron and nearly wrote the same thing this morning myself.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Denise
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2006, 10:25:09 AM »

Great comments, gentlemen, thank you!

I definitely want to nurture the bond between the Forge and the ENnies, and think we're well on our way!  I would like to think that the ENnies types and Forgers aren't that different- we're all gamers looking to have fun, and who appreciate good game.  Indie games have been fairly represented in the nominations (and sometimes even in the wins) in recent years for the ENnies, especially considering how few were submitted!  Heck, last year I had the great pleasure of hanging out with Greg Stoltze as a direct result of the ENnies.  Anyhoo, with increasing submissions, more votes from indie game publishers and their fans, I'm sure we'll meet somewhere in the middle!

BTW, I tried using the comments form on the Indie Awards page, but got a broken code error, so if someone could please pretty please forward me contact information for them, that would be great.

So on a philosophical note, everyone, do you think the creation of an Indie category for the ENnies would be a good idea?  It certainly could highlight some excellent product, but I would hate to overshadow the Indie Awards with the behemoth ENnies, y'know? Or perhaps the Indie Awards and the ENnies could share the evening- have the Indie Awards as an "opening act" (or even be later on in the evening, forcing all the indie publishers to sit through the mainstream awards, hanging out with the Big Boys)  for the ENnies and take advantage of the big hall & production values, big audience/greater exposure?
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
iago
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2006, 10:28:27 AM »

So on a philosophical note, everyone, do you think the creation of an Indie category for the ENnies would be a good idea?  It certainly could highlight some excellent product, but I would hate to overshadow the Indie Awards with the behemoth ENnies, y'know? Or perhaps the Indie Awards and the ENnies could share the evening- have the Indie Awards as an "opening act" (or even be later on in the evening, forcing all the indie publishers to sit through the mainstream awards, hanging out with the Big Boys)  for the ENnies and take advantage of the big hall & production values, big audience/greater exposure?

Honestly, I don't think that overshadowing is a risk.  The Indie RPG awards are very much in sync with the community's DIY attitude, but getting some increased indie exposure at the Ennies in addition would, I think, be welcome.  Plus, to counteract Clinton's hypothesis of "backlash", putting the indies in their own separate box at the Ennies might make some folks more comfortable. ;)

I can't speak as to actually merging the ceremonies -- though I suspect the official answer to that would be "no thanks".

If you're having trouble getting in touch with the dudes at the indies, drop me a line at iago AT iago DOT net and I'll get you the hook-up.
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Luke
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2006, 02:06:22 PM »

Hi Denise,

Glad you decided to wade into the fray over here again. Could you answer a few questions so we (I?) can get a grip on what you're proposing:

Who were the ENnies judges this year? What were the criteria for their selection?

Judging is, apparently, quite a big commitment. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Also, this year you had a couple of new award categories, but specifically a "Judges Award." What prompted this new category and what was the criteria for the selection of the winner?

Thanks,
-Luke
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2006, 04:13:23 PM »

Hello Denise,

It's great that you would reach out to the Forge in this way.  I too think it would be awesome for a relationship between the Forge's participants and the EN World to bloom.  I also think an "Indie" award would rock.  If I may be so bold as to proffer a suggestion for criteria, I would say to use the one Ron and Clinton have used almost from the begining, "An indie game at the Forge is a game that is written and published by the author."  IE, the game is creator owned and opperated.

The ENnies have really become one of the premier awards in the gaming industry.  Expanding them in this direction, I think, would make them only better.

Peace,

-Troy Costisick
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Denise
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2006, 05:23:53 PM »

The judges for the 2006, as in past years' awards, were selected from amongst EN World members by EN World members in a publicly-viewed poll-style post.

This year we're changing that, so that anyone can throw in their hat, anyone can cast their secret vote (IP addresses will be tracked to reduce cheating), and the tabulation will be via single transferrable vote.  Our brilliant programmers are setting it up to give us a list of the top ten candidates, then the Board of Directors will have to choose the top five that meet all the requirements including ensuring that we have at least one experienced judge on the panel (to ensure some continuity and guidance) and one new face (to avoid stagnation and predictability).

A potential judge can nominate herself (I'm hoping to have nomination threads on EN World, The Forge, and RPG.Net, depending upon the moderatorships of each of the boards), but she needs to receive a second to get on the ballot.

Basic requirements of the judges include:
-no affiliation with an RPG publisher in the past year, nor reasonable expectation of the same over the course of the following year.  This includes writing credits, being a formally-recognized volunteer, etc.  This largely stems from the fact that these are fan awards, not industry awards, so we want the judges to be fans.  Having professional credits in the past is fine, and can be quite handy, but we also don't want any potential for accusations of conflict of interest.
-ability to read and write in English and communicate on a regular basis online
-signing and upholding of a code of conduct and non-disclosure agreement
-ability to pay for any duties on products shipped to them (it has happened, especially for non-US resident judges)
-willingness and ability to sacrifice literally thousands of hours fairly evaluating hundreds of products
-no impairments that would prevent proper evaluation of all submitted products including but not limited to: music CDs, books, PDFs, dice, software, etc.
-participation in intense discussions and the ability to check in on the judges discussions every 48 hours in late June and early July

Judges receive somewhere around 4-8 boxes full of books and other RPG products which they need to evaluate, but then keep or dispose of as they see fit once the nominations have been announced.  They receive a free 4-day pass to Gen Con Indy and a spot in one of the staff hotel rooms (shared with 3 other people) for three nights.  If judges can make it to Gen Con Indy and avail themselves of the free pass and/or room, they are expected to man the ENnies booth for at least one shift and while at Gen Con, if wearing the ENnies badge, to represent the Awards in a professional, dignified and impartial (ie. no wearing publisher merchandise) manner.

Usually judges take at least one week off work to be able to completely evaluate all the products.  Since we are starting the submission period far earlier this year, though, we anticipate there being less of a time-crunch.  I already have one full box of exciting product ready to ship just from the stuff I picked up from Gen Con, so judges would be kept in reading material from that alone until Christmas, I suspect!

The way things will work this year:
After election and the proper paperwork signing is done, we list each judge's address on the ENnies web site.  This is an unfortunately necessary loss of privacy so the publishers can ship product directly to each judge.  Publishers using courriers may requeste a phone number, but I will not post those publicly.  Publishers send product directly to each judge, and submit an entry form to me.  We used to offer a central shipping option, but since one entire box got eaten on its way from the Submission Coordinator's house by the US Postal Disservice, we are reducing our liability (and eliminating the entry/shipping fee).
The judges each evaluate the product received.  This year I'm issuing a 1/3 of a page product tracker that has a score of 1-10 for Cartography, Cover Art, Interiour Art, Writing, Rules, Production values, Type of Book, and Overall, with room for comments.  This will help judges keep track of what they liked and disliked about each product, and be a useful memory jog come nomination time.  Each judge has their own values and criteria by which a product is evaluated, but at least this can help beginner judges get a handle on what we look for.  The numeric scores aren't used for anything other than personal reference.
There is a private, judges-only forum where they can discuss what they liked or didn't like about individual products which you can take or leave.  Judges are expected to check in at least once a week during the submissions period to track what they've received.
The submission period closes in early to mid-June.  A few weeks later, I expect the judge nominations.  These will be emailed to me, and the Board will tabulate the results.  For most categories, judges pick five products which they assign a full point, and one product they give a half point.  We tally the scores and the five highest rankers get nominations, the sixth place an honourable mention.  In the cases of ties, we have a run-off vote. 
Then we announce the nominees, encourage the publishers to put up samples of their work so voters can familiarize themselves with the product, then a week or two later we open the polls for two weeks.  Tabulation is via the alternative/instant runoff vote, which is quite nicely explained on the ENnies web site.
The winners are announced at a gala ceremony on the Friday of Gen Con Indy.

The special merit awards, ie. the Grognard Prize and the Innovation Award were two categories desgned to acknowledge two elements that we thought were well-deserving of additional attention.  I said "I want to have two additional categories this year.  Pick your two full pointers and one half pointer product that best exemplify kicking it old school, and challenging or innovative game design."  Judges voted upon the nominees before they knew the general vote outcomes, so these were by far no boobie prize (as some have theorized).  Seeing as how the judges were selected by democratic process by the fans, and are fans themselves, I felt that this was still in the spirit of the fan award concept.

BTW, there's no guarantee wthat we will continue to offer either or both, but we will most likely continue to offer some sort of Special Merit Awards be they for organized play, innvoation, humanitarianism, whatever.  We do want to keep the categories to around 20 though for time, cost, and keeping-the-value-of-an-ENnie-real factors, though.

Hi Denise,

Glad you decided to wade into the fray over here again. Could you answer a few questions so we (I?) can get a grip on what you're proposing:

Who were the ENnies judges this year? What were the criteria for their selection?

Judging is, apparently, quite a big commitment. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Also, this year you had a couple of new award categories, but specifically a "Judges Award." What prompted this new category and what was the criteria for the selection of the winner?

Thanks,
-Luke
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2006, 05:59:18 PM »

Hey Denise,

The ENies are awesome and any ENworld + regular Forge contributors thing would be hot.  But this quote made me chuckle...

Quote
I would hate to overshadow the Indie Awards with the behemoth ENnies, y'know?

I don't think that would happen.  As big as the ENies may be to other communities, I don't think that fans of indie games would give an Indie Game ENie any more respect than an Indie RPG Award and I certainly don't think the IRAs are gonna want to be the pre-game show for an Indie ENie.  Awards generally gain value from their track record in recognizing the games that are actually gosh darn good.  So far, the ENies have that with regards to a lot of different kinds of roleplaying, but not when it comes to indie games (at least, not yet; maybe in the future).  In my experience, the IRAs and the Diana Jones Award are still the primary "seals of awesomeness" that carry a lot of weight with most indie games fans.  If you do decide to have an Indie Game category or, in one manner or another, get more indie games into the voting process, I imagine that, in a few years, the ENies could end up meaning a lot more to the indie games crowd.  But expecting that right from the start may leave you disappointed.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2006, 06:18:54 PM by Jonathan Walton » Logged

Luke
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« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2006, 07:37:58 PM »

Denise,

thank you so much for taking the time to lay that all out. I wish I could volunteer to be a judge (the sadist in me thinks it'd be fun), but I'm out of the running for a few years yet.

I hope some non-publisher people at the Forge step up and take the torch.

-Luke
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iago
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2006, 05:15:05 AM »

Even setting aside the judge thing specifically, I think an Indie ENnie sounds really hot, and you can be certain I'll be sending in Evil Hat games for next year's thang.
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Denise
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2006, 05:47:01 AM »

In the defense of the ENnies, I'd like to point out that they've received very few indie submissions in the past, so it's not fair to judge the Awards based on the lack of participation from indie publishers.  If you look at the number of indie submissions and the number of nominations, some might cry foul that the indies received a disproportionate amount of recognition!

I like to think that indie products can hold their own quite nicely in almost all categories (except, perhaps, production values) against larger companies, so I don't foresee an indie category in the near future.  We've avoided having such categories in the past quite successfully, largely because the smaller and indie publishers tend to prefer winning out over the "Big Boys" in the big playground, rather than being kings of their own, much smaller, sandbox.

But sharing the stage with the Indie Awards might be a viable way to increase the indie products' visibility to consumers who traditionally weren't aware of the calibre of such products.  By holding the awards ceremony at the Forge booth, you're only preaching to the converted, whereas by working with the ENnies, you're exposing the general public to some good stuff.  I know that a lot of people came by the ENnies booth asking where they could find copies of Dread as a direct result of their win at the ENnies, for example, and many others last year who rushed to check out Capes and Burning Wheel as a result of their nominations in 2005- so there's a lot to be said for bringing indie products into the mainstream light.  Who knows, I may be overridden by the Board anyhow on the idea of sharing the stage with the Indies just because the ENnies pride themselves on being a fan award, whereas the Indies are not.

Anyhoo, I'm glad we've captured The Forge's imagination, and hope to encourage greater numbers of publishers to participate, and more fans to consider running and voting for judge seats.

Hey Denise,

The ENies are awesome and any ENworld + regular Forge contributors thing would be hot.  But this quote made me chuckle...

Quote
I would hate to overshadow the Indie Awards with the behemoth ENnies, y'know?

I don't think that would happen.  As big as the ENies may be to other communities, I don't think that fans of indie games would give an Indie Game ENie any more respect than an Indie RPG Award and I certainly don't think the IRAs are gonna want to be the pre-game show for an Indie ENie.  Awards generally gain value from their track record in recognizing the games that are actually gosh darn good.  So far, the ENies have that with regards to a lot of different kinds of roleplaying, but not when it comes to indie games (at least, not yet; maybe in the future).  In my experience, the IRAs and the Diana Jones Award are still the primary "seals of awesomeness" that carry a lot of weight with most indie games fans.  If you do decide to have an Indie Game category or, in one manner or another, get more indie games into the voting process, I imagine that, in a few years, the ENies could end up meaning a lot more to the indie games crowd.  But expecting that right from the start may leave you disappointed.
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
iago
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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2006, 05:51:26 AM »

I like to think that indie products can hold their own quite nicely in almost all categories (except, perhaps, production values)

Tee hee.  Luke, I think she just made it necessary that Burning Empires step into the ring. :)
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Settembrini
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« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2006, 06:20:19 AM »

I'm not a regular to the Forge, but I thought it would only be fair to utter my sentiment here, so there is no back-talk on blogs or wherever else. I know Ron doesn´t like that kind of communication, so here I am and try to make my point:

If you include Thematic Games from "the Forge" or somewhere else into the ENnie considerations, you should also include boardgames and computer games, that deal with Fantasy/SciFi/Adventure themes.
Or you must include all kinds of other roleplaying endeavours, of which most will not be games in a sense of being a pasttime.

The only connection between the Forge and the ENnies is a historical artifact stemming from the overlap in audience. This overlap in audience is, repeat, an artifact of the way the method of rolplaying was spread since the seventies.

I think several Forge "Members" share enough insight and experience to make good judges. But the only unifying thing I can see in "the Forge" is a constant stream of thematic RPGs coming out of it, not taking into account where the author comes from gaming wise.

The ENNies don't concern themselves with a computer game, even though Sandy Petersen designed it (DOOM comes to mind). Sandy Petersen might be a great judge, though. I hope that metaphor does bring home my point.

Aside from that, a quick look at this years categories will show why the ENnies are totally unsuited to cater for Thematic Roleplaying Games. Bringing thematic games into the mix would definitely change the mission and outlook of the ENNies. If that is the mission goal, so be it. But I definitely got the impression a fundamental change wasn't up the road. The only thing I can think of, would be a new category:

Best Thematic Game 200x

That would fit into the ENnies just right, and it would bring up enough publicity. Mixing games from different categories will just result in total ridiculousness: How to copmpare and choose between Shackled City Hardcover and <untitled> for production values? No thematic games need their own categorie(s).

There is a country music hall of fame, and there is a rock'n'roll music hall of fame for a reason. There might be the rare artist, like Johnny Cash, who makes it into both. But seperate they remain.
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