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Author Topic: Ronnies 2011, Round One results  (Read 3658 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: January 05, 2011, 02:27:00 PM »

Hi everyone,

I'd chosen to use this set of four terms for the first round in part because they seemed straightforward. However, fortunately, they turned out to be also extremely punchy, perhaps partly because they didn't require exotic, demanding, or tortuous connections. Given that punchiness, which easily rivaled or exceeded that found back in the day with "rat," "hatred," and "girlfriend," I was sorta bummed that more authors didn't take a little time to find fonts or pictures to spice up the documents a little. I know that I said format didn't count, which is true, but some of the work just cried out for a little spice to make the physical act of looking at them all that much more fun.

Without further ado ... (order of titles within categories is not meaningful) ...

Ronnies

Cold Soldier by Bret Gillan, Death's Head by Rudy Johnson, Danse Macabre by William Durea

Runners-Up

Diary of a Skull Soldier by Callan Sweet, Sword of the Skull by Willow Palecek, Skull Full of Bong Hits by Nick Aubergine, Demilich by Noam Rosen

All of the above, Ronnies and Runners-Up alike, "had me at hello" for various reasons. All but one displayed excellent use of the two terms. The cut-off almost always concerns distinct holes or confusions very obviously found in what's otherwise wonderful. For what it's worth, two of the Runners-Up are probably the ones I would most personally like to see developed into published games, over and above the actual Ronnies recipients.

To clarify what follows, the two groupings below are equivalent in quality; they differ in type but one is not worse than the other.

Baking - the issue here is that the components of the game are sound, but don't quite work together or are missing some particular connection that would make them "jump" much better

Keen Edge of History by Cliff Horowitz, Knights of Twilight by Davide Losito, untitled jeepform by Ben Lehman, Facing the End by Lee Hammons

Mixing - the issue here is that the components themselves need to be traded out or around in some way, although the "baking" may well be in good shape

Veterans by Rush Wright, The War of the Sheaves by Zac Dettwyler, The Sword and the Skull by Troy Costisick, Swords of the Skull-Takers by Joe Prince, The Eye in the Pyramid by David Berg

Unlike previous Ronnies, there are no genuinely poor or inadequate entries in the whole batch.

Some patterns concerning the terms combinations are definitely evident! I'll post about that later in this thread, in the interest of getting these, the results, out there without further delay.

For those of you unfamiliar with the previous Ronnies, I will begin a thread in this forum regarding each and every game, in detail. Feel free to start discussions of your own as well, here or in Game Development, as Cliff has already done. I am composing the opening posts for all the threads simultaneously and will post each as they get finished, so there is no planned or emergent order for when they appear.

Best, Ron
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2011, 02:52:31 PM »

Congrats to Bret, Rudy, and William!  Great work, guys! :)

Peace,

-Troy
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whduryea
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2011, 02:55:18 PM »

I was sorta bummed that more authors didn't take a little time to find fonts or pictures to spice up the documents a little. I know that I said format didn't count, which is true, but some of the work just cried out for a little spice to make the physical act of looking at them all that much more fun.

This was absolutely true of my entry. I had hoped to do a lot more with it visually--or at least add a title page--but I procrastinated and ended up having to seriously prune my ambitions in order to submit the game within the time limit.

One small, meaningless nitpick: My last name is Duryea. The "y" has no real justification for being there, but it is none-the-less.

I was also really impressed by the quality of the games that were submitted. I'm hoping to get a group together to playtest a few of them in the near future.
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terrible games about terrible people in terrible situations/
terrible games about terrible people in terrible situations
FetusCommander
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also Rudy


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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2011, 03:02:32 PM »

Wow.  I'm absolutely in shock!

Good games to be had all around.  I'm also looking forward to playtesting several of the entries.

-Rudy
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Rudy Johnson
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2011, 03:20:50 PM »

Congrats to the winners!

I have been working to tie things all together in my game, and I have put in a lot more work since the initial draft. It is the same game, with better implementation of some things. I hope to see everyone's game get polished and refined.

What a strange adventure. I have had fun and the only cost was a night of sleep.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2011, 03:26:15 PM »

So, here are some trends and groupings that seemed to jump out this time.

Terms

sword & skull: Metallllll! The most extravagant, excessive, röck-dötted stuff you can imagine, although we only get a little taste of it. I almost wish I'd let the submission period run for a month just to see how far this one combination could go. I bet we'd have seen an entry in which everyone was required to make his or her own genuine full-head helmet with horns and rivets and rubies, to wear during play. Somewhat disappointingly, none of the games using this combination employed musical techniques.

old & soldier: This was clearly both the most provocative and most problematic. No one really made it work, speaking as the judge, but it's clear that there's a whole mine of deep, difficult material just waiting for a design community to delve in. Some of the entries were really good starts, but my current speculation is that 24 hours just isn't enough time to bring the conflicting, personal components together well enough for judgment purposes. Girlfriend + hatred was kind of similar in the first round of Ronnies, although with a bit more net success at the time.

soldier & skull: Sweet spot! I don't know why it rated above sword and soldier for this purpose, but somehow, here's where people really dug into the grim relationship between duty, forced obedience, atrocity, and identity. There's more Narrativism in these three entries than in any ten other games usually identified with that CA.

old & skull: This yielded the most diverse set of entries, meaning that it left room open for nearly any sort of personal association. Two "just a skull left" lich games were no surprise. I'm sort of bummed that no one wrote the first Australopithecus RPG for us, though.

old sword and soldier sword were a little under-utilized, perhaps on the basis of time. Maybe not having Jake Norwood around much - or hey, not having his game The Riddle of Steel around any more - is a significant variable. I bet if the TROS forum were still active here, these combinations would have seen a lot of play.

Techniques

On the whole, the games were at the "short" end of design, meaning lower numbers of players, shorter running time, and similar minimalist features. But within that zone (and not jammed at the far end of it either), they show a very broad range of procedures distributed pretty evenly across the terms combinations.

Regarding number of participants, there were two solitaire games and two Twosies. The others allowed for only a few more, with the most total participants maxing out at 5. There weren't any games that presumed "more the merrier" even at standard RPG levels (5-8), let alone anything like Troy's Hierarchy which require whole roomfuls of people. Just over half of them included a GM or something similar (within the numbers I listed), and a couple of those might not need one, actually.

Regarding play time, some of them are intended to run less than an hour, and quite a few are single-evening, once-only events. Even the ones with repeated sessions tend to have ending mechanics. Now, that said, one feature that struck me very positively how was re-playable many of them seem to be. The particular mixes of fixed vs. customizable content were generally quite good toward that end.

As far as rules and resolutions go, the range is just crazy. Dice, cards, organized narration, slips of paper, gettin' up and moving without being an actual LARP, music mixes, and two truly pervy fucking things that included chessboards and God knows what else, fishbowls and concertinas I shouldn't wonder. I suppose we should be grateful that Skull Full of Bong Hits does not require a prop for the title (or, wait a minute ... now I want one ...). One thing that has apparently fallen out of fashion is the single shared sheet that was so popular in the Ronnies five years ago, although the fetishizing of Dogs in the Vineyard style resolution is still with us.

Creative Agenda

This topic is pretty speculative at this point, but anyway, the entries seem to me to present a very satisfying range in terms of "playing with purpose." At least three outright joyous-Gamist, at least three with a solid claim toward Simulationist, and the rest leaning Narrativist. One of my topics for commentary will be trying to clean up Abashedness for many of them, and perhaps that issue can receive some discussion and clarification via those threads.

Best, Ron
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2011, 03:57:32 PM »

Heya Ron,

Quote
sword & skull: Metallllll! The most extravagant, excessive, röck-dötted stuff you can imagine, although we only get a little taste of it. I almost wish I'd let the submission period run for a month just to see how far this one combination could go. I bet we'd have seen an entry in which everyone was required to make his or her own genuine full-head helmet with horns and rivets and rubies, to wear during play. Somewhat disappointingly, none of the games using this combination employed musical techniques.

I feel honored that two of my most favorite designers were in this group with me.  I've felt a kinship with Willow and Joe for a long time, though I don't think I've ever told them that.

Quote
old sword and soldier sword were a little under-utilized, perhaps on the basis of time. Maybe not having Jake Norwood around much - or hey, not having his game The Riddle of Steel around any more - is a significant variable. I bet if the TROS forum were still active here, these combinations would have seen a lot of play.

I thought the exact same thing when I read these!  I was like, "Man, I wonder if they've read/played TROS?"  I'm beginning to fear that The Riddle of Steel is passing into folklore as far as indie game design goes.  I would think it's a game David would quite enjoy if he hasn't picked it up already.

Quote
although the fetishizing of Dogs in the Vineyard style resolution is still with us.

I don't know if that'll ever be gone.  I know I'm guilty of it.  It's just so easy, inspriational, and effective.  But I'd also add the Chargen system of TSOY is pretty influential in some of these designs as well although in a more structured, pre-determined sort of way.

Quote
One of my topics for commentary will be trying to clean up Abashedness for many of them

Wouldn't be surprised one bit if mine fell into that catagory.  I kind of got that sense as I was writing it.

edited to fix quote format - RE

Peace,

-Troy
« Last Edit: January 05, 2011, 04:19:59 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged

Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2011, 03:59:31 PM »

Bummer.  Looks like my quote button failed on that first quote.  Sorry for the confusion in that last post :(
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David Berg
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2011, 08:24:01 PM »

I'm fuzzy on the baking/mixing distinction.  I guess a well-baked, poorly-mixed game is one in which the resolution system sucks, but would work well with the reward cycle if it didn't suck?  That sort of thing?  It's funny, I actually would have used those two terms (baking/mixing) oppositely.  But I ain't much of a cook.  Anyway, looking forward to the particulars!

I was like, "Man, I wonder if they've read/played TROS?"  I'm beginning to fear that The Riddle of Steel is passing into folklore as far as indie game design goes.  I would think it's a game David would quite enjoy if he hasn't picked it up already.

Not sure if you're talking about me, but I have played it once.  Interacting combat moves based on weapon types was brilliant!  Not sure what to think of the game overall. 

As for the game's lasting influence, I know one passionate local (New York) fan, and many folks who are vaguely familiar with tRoS (mostly due to that one guy).  I've also recommended it to some pals who are more fans of crunchy combat sims than I am; unsurprisingly, they are not the folks I know from Story Games or the Forge.
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here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2011, 02:43:46 AM »

Not sure if you're talking about me, but I have played it once.  Interacting combat moves based on weapon types was brilliant!  Not sure what to think of the game overall. 

Nope, that was my fault.  I was talking specifically about David Losito.  Forgot there was more than one David in the contest ;)

Peace,

-Troy
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Bret Gillan
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That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2011, 06:01:58 AM »

Thanks Ron! Congrats everyone!
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2011, 06:59:45 AM »

Let's not use this thread for talking about the games in more detail, or even more importantly, for reacting to perceived comments about one's game. All that can wait for clearer and more precise discussion in the individual threads.

Best, Ron
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davide.losito
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2011, 07:53:24 AM »

Not sure if you're talking about me, but I have played it once.  Interacting combat moves based on weapon types was brilliant!  Not sure what to think of the game overall. 

Nope, that was my fault.  I was talking specifically about David Losito.  Forgot there was more than one David in the contest ;)

I didn't have a chance to read or play TROS yet; I know the name of the game thanks to some threads that I read in the Forge archives about GAM/NAR Agendas and the hybrid CA possibility.

Anyway... just to be as meaningless as William, my first name as a "E" at the end... it's the italian version of David, which is Davide. Doesn't really make a difference for me, but it's good to spell it right to be sure other "David" 's don't feel called in ^^
That E is pronounced in italian, so the name sounds like /d^veede/ rather than your standard /dEiveed/ (hmm... I don't have the right symbols for the fonetic alphabet... guess this all make sense)
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