The Winter of the Forge looms near

Started by Ron Edwards, November 01, 2010, 05:39:39 PM

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Ron Edwards

Hi everybody,

I aim to move the Forge into its winter stage by the end of the year. For those of you who don't know this, I announced quite a while ago that the Forge was never intended to be a permanent site. Especially since, well, bluntly, I (and Clinton, and Ed Healy, and a lot of other people active at the founding) have unequivocally won the battle we wanted to win. "The Big Bang has Bung," I like to say.

That's the main reason besides time and effort that I have never tried to update the Forge into a physical format more suited to 2010 rather than 1999.

However, it's been a slow process to downsize, and sometimes stalled. That's a time and effort thing too, but it's also a matter of deciding exactly how. You see, I want the site to be good throughout the whole process - it may surprise some of you, but I do not think downsizing and closure are a bad thing and necessarily about disuse, stagnation, and failure. I'm kind of hoping the final phase, "winter," will be a really good thing.

Vincent and I came up with a partial plan, which we'll iron out in terms of software and policy details for a little while before implementing. Comments are welcome, but bear in mind, this is not a democracy and your input may well be ignored. The main reason I'm posting it is policy transparency, so you can decide whether the winter-Forge is somewhere you care about and think you can make use of.

1. Most publisher forums will be moved to the Archives. I am hoping that we can either continue to host or to transfer forums to the publishers' ownership, if desired, but they will no longer be an active feature via the Forge page itself. (Please do not post with helpful software advice. Vincent will make his own decisions about that, and I frankly know nothing about it, so it won't help me.)

1'. For purposes of blunt self-interest, the Lumpley and Adept forums will remain, at least for a while. Or maybe they'll go with the others if the whole transfer-technology proves to be easy.

2. The Conventions and Connections forums will go to the Archives. Those services can be picked up by anyone who wants to start them elsewhere.

3. Some of the First Thoughts functions and the Playtesting function will be combined into "Development," which is intended to be a very practical forum about games in design. First Thoughts will go the Archives and Actual Play will go back to where it once was, the top of the page, with an introduction encouraging first users to post there (and how).

4. The current Endeavor forum(s) will go into the Archives, but temporary versions will be implemented on request for a given project. So you know, I'm thinking of resurrecting the Ronnies in early December, in somewhat more practical form.

Well, that was pretty much what Vincent and I talked about. To summarize, the forums are to become (in order), Actual Play, Development, Publishing, and sometimes a specific Endeavor; plus perhaps the Adept and Lumpley forums until they find their new homes.

Let Vincent know if you want your Publisher forum to stay active and you can work out the details of how and all that in that computer talk.

Best, Ron

Jonathan Walton

Congratulations on the Forge being successful enough that you can shut parts of it down.  That's a serious accomplishment, Ron, no question, and a testament to how important it has been as an instrument of change.

As a sidenote, if we can keep the special Game Chef 2010 Endeavor forum going through early December, when the playoffs will wrap up this year's activities, that would be great.  The Forge has been a great co-host this year and I'd definitely be interested in coming back here for 2011 if Game Chef is the kind of periodic, productive endeavor that you and Vincent are still interested in supporting.  But if not, we'll make something else work.



This is really cool.

The Forge unlocked so many ideas and design processes for me. And for the roleplaying game world, I think.
I think that you're right: it's achieved so many of its goals and helped realize so many diverse potentials.
And it's right and just that it come to a close.

So: props. cheers. good choice.
I am a game chef.

Buried Without Ceremony

Frank Tarcikowski

Huh. Seems like I've been preaching to the choir. So, winter is coming? I'm looking forward to it.

- Frank
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English


Congratulations to all the people who created & maintained the Forge! Well done. You've done an amazing thing for a lot of people, and I'm personally very grateful for it.

Jim D.

I'm glad to see we're still keeping Dev and AP -- those are the most useful places for my purposes.

Incidentally, having done a modicum of archive reading, I can safely say you guys did some amazing work, and I'm glad to have found this resource; it opened up my eyes to the things that RPGs can do, and the things major RPGs don't.  I personally have about five times more fun gaming now than I ever did before.

Thank you, Vince, Ron, and everyone who fought the good fight to make this happen.


I just wanted to say that I applaud this decision. (particularly the new Development merger)
Gregor Vuga

Ron Edwards

Thanks for the kind words.

Jonathan, the current Game Chef Endeavor is certainly going to stay up through its whole course. That's exactly the sort of thing I hope to see running throughout the final phase, one or two at a time.

My current thinking on the Development forum is that the Forge will no longer be a place for initial musings on game designs. Playtested or not, the project in question should be a project with some kind of real material basis - a website, a document, anything like that. The whole point is to be more of a literal forge, a workshop where things are being made. I expect traffic to drop somewhat but I hope the existing traffic will be very productive.

Best, Ron

Moreno R.

I just returned from 5 days at the Lucca Comics and RPGs fair, and people called me saying "the Forse is closing"

Well, the eventual "coming of the winter" is public knowledge from something like 2005, so my initial reaction was "already? It's too soon!" (but with the tone of voice one usually use for "the sky is falling! The sky is falling!")

Reading this thread I realize that the reports of the Forge death have been greatly exaggerated, and I like many of these changes (putting the actual play forum to the top again, for example). But at the same time, I am worried about any change that would give the impression to people that the Forge is not THE place to talk about actual play and design anymore. Not because of forum rivalry or something stupid like that, but because..  well, there is still not any other forum that could take the Forge's place on that aspect (not even the one I am moderator of, I have no illusion about that). And after 5 years from the Forge Diaspora, this is not improving (rather the other way around)


(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)

Jonathan Walton

That sounds great, Ron.  Just like in Mouse Guard, it seems like the winter phase is going to be pretty awesome!


Quote from: Moreno R. on November 02, 2010, 07:54:58 PM
But at the same time, I am worried about any change that would give the impression to people that the Forge is not THE place to talk about actual play and design anymore. Not because of forum rivalry or something stupid like that, but because..  well, there is still not any other forum that could take the Forge's place on that aspect (not even the one I am moderator of, I have no illusion about that). And after 5 years from the Forge Diaspora, this is not improving (rather the other way around)

If the war is over and "we" won, we no longer have the need for a citadel, don't you think? The time has come for all of the harbors and marketplaces of the world to become a little more like the Forge, instead of the Forge being a singular "special place".
Raffaele Manzo, or "Rafu" for short. From (and in) Italy. Here's where I blog about games (English posts). Here's where I micro-blog about everything.


QuoteNot because of forum rivalry or something stupid like that, but because..  well, there is still not any other forum that could take the Forge's place on that aspect (not even the one I am moderator of, I have no illusion about that). And after 5 years from the Forge Diaspora, this is not improving (rather the other way around)

Keeping discussion on focus is a difficult and very labor intensive thing- and so far, no one has come up with an alternative.   

Secondarily, it's also a lot easier to get social reward by forming social forums around "We're excited about this thing!" than it is to build forums, educate people in treating it in a goal-oriented manner, and then having to be the moderator who constantly has to remind everyone to stay focused.

While a lot of people developed great networks of folks to design -with-, carrying over the lessons from the Forge for their own work, there hasn't been a lot of good passing along of that information to newcomers or to the public at large.

When the Forge finally does close, the real question is whether this understanding can be passed along or if it'll be a wheel folks will have to re-invent.  (Several lessons, in terms of play, design, and publishing have been well absorbed already, so those will be fine, at least).


Christoph Boeckle


Looking forward to the winter phase too! Ron, what do you mean by the "physical format more suited to 2010 rather than 1999" (my emphasis)?

Moreno R.

At this moment, I am trying to explain the "4 seasons" concept to people in the Italian forums who never played Ars Magica and are still in the "the sky is falling, the forge will close at the end of the year" phase (but I have seen that it's a very common misconception even in the American forums). To explain how the concept apply to the Forge, Ron, what do you think was the transition from Spring to Summer?  (I suppose Autumn started with the closing of the theory subforums, the site reorganization and the start of the "two year" policy at the Forge Booth)

@Rafu: the Forge never was a "Citadel", not a fortified and closed one at least. If Ron like the Ars Magica Covenant metaphor, I am not against the coming of the Winter. The problem is that I really don't see any other covenant like it not even in Spring phase. Most of the ones that started at the time of the diaspora become deranged like Calabais.  So the Forge is still "a singular Special Place" by fact, not by my desire.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)

Ron Edwards

Hi everyone,

The interview thread Moreno linked to has some text about this that I'll paraphrase here.

The beginning of Winter doesn't mean the end of the Forge. The end of the Winter is the end of the Forge.

Here's what I want to clarify about the content of Winter, which has only become clear in my own mind over the past few months.

1. The duration of Winter is not pre-set. Autumn lasted for three years, for instance, somewhat longer than I'd informally expected. I have no idea how long the Winter will be.

2. The activities during Winter will be much more directed toward the production of games, rather than merely musing and speculating about them. The bulk of the current function of First Thoughts will become off-topic for the site, so don't think that the new Development forum is merely combining First Thoughts and Playtesting. It's more like Playtesting without the absolutely strict playtesting requirement, instead with a concrete requirement in terms of available documents.

3. I'd like to encourage a focus on discovering and highlighting outstanding intellectual issues about role-playing, especially those which still seem problematic in the context of the Big Model, but not limited to that construction. I'd also like to encourage a more dedicated actual play discussion culture, in terms of discovering existing independent games which aren't well known, and in terms of playing older games with a critical eye. All those are good things as it stands in Actual Play, but I would like to see some great things. I also want to break the uncritical devotion to New Hawtness and Indie Designer Celebrity over my knee like a dry stick.

4. I would like to see some Endeavor forums really be exciting, and for people to learn from what works and what doesn't when organizing an on-line activity for our hobby. Obviously next year's Game Chef will be welcome again if the organizer wants, and we can use the same model perhaps to organize and add value to the Forge Midwest convention. Anyone can ask me and Vincent about setting up such a forum at any time; one of these forums' features is that they will have planned start and stop dates (with some flexibility in practice; things don't always go as planned).

5. I desperately want help in setting up the Forge Wiki we almost got going a few years back. What I have in mind is not a standard multi-user Wiki, but rather a means of understanding the ideas developed here through user-friendly explanations with organized linkage into the whole history of Forge threads. The Winter will be dedicated to making such a thing functional, perhaps including a Forge Forum specifically for bitching about the Wiki's contents once it gets going, not only for corrections purposes, but also so nuances and alternate views can be acknowledged as part of the resources too.

With any luck this will help alleviate the "sky is falling" reactions happening here and there.

Moreno, you asked about which phases are which seasons. I might have to go back and check a few time-periods on the Forge to be sure, but my current thinking is:

Spring: 2000-2004
Summer: 2004-2007
Autumn: 2007-2010
Winter: 2010-?

Very roughly, the conceptual transitional point in 2004, 2007, and 2010 could be placed in August, at GenCon, but that also means that by that point, the old season is showing its limitations and flaws, and the features of the new are becoming evident. As it happens, transitions in topics for intellectual development, waves of new arrivals and departures at the site, and distinct shifts in the culture of design all fall into those same rough transition points.

Also, using the seasonal terms doesn't have anything to do with Ars Magica. It's a pretty standard metaphor when talking about something which is born, delivers something, and passes away. I mean, sure, it's consistent with the Ars Magica usage, so I don't mind the connection, but it's not like I was directly inspired by that game.

Best, Ron