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Author Topic: Help me Ron Edwards, You're My Only Hope  (Read 3161 times)
Grimcleaver
Member

Posts: 23


« on: February 15, 2011, 09:24:55 AM »

Okay so I've dabbled twice with contributing here. Really I'm a pretty likable, knowledgable and experienced gamer with tons of theory and help I can provide, and I'm eager to do so. But twice I've gotten the door slammed on me. So here's the thing. From what I've gleaned from the top note on the forums the moderator's ruling is law, so I can't talk about why my posts have gotten kicked--even though I was fairly passionate about both and they seemed both needed and well recieved. There seems to be an ettiquete to posting where and about what and I wasn't given the manual. This is frustrating the heck out of me and my entire game group who have been reading over my shoulder as it were--and can't understand it either.

Now I can just go and bother you guys no more, but I'd much rather understand your rubrick for torpedoing all my posts.

Ron Edwards, please explain to me what goes where.

First I tried to arrange a playtest thread to take for a spin game concepts in development--as part of the Game Development page. I wanted it to feel a bit like a gamestore, that people who wanted a chance to get playtested (like one in ten posts on the page are "Please Playtest Me" or "My Playtest Group Makes Me Want To Die" anyway) would give me a blurb on their game with a link, and we'd peruse them periodically, pick one and offer our playtest experiences on Actual Play. Sure I could go post by post through the whole Game Development page looking for games that were what I was looking for, but that's a huge "push" endeavor rather than setting up a method to "pull" interested parties to my thread. In fact I had tried it for the next few days. Now I really didn't intend to insult anyone who had "worked their butts off" on a pitch. In fact if they had cut and pasted the same pitch it would have been fine. But apparently these forums aren't for that. But apparently also you genuinely wish me well, and that you're interested in seeing what my group comes up with. So how do I proceed? Oh by the way I did try to check the Ronnies. I read a couple of them, but honestly the problem is that people seem to be making these entries as submissions for a contest and just don't have the same commitment or level of work put into them as they do on projects they are actually trying to develop for public use.
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Grimcleaver
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2011, 09:29:44 AM »

Sorry, the message box hit the bottom and started stuttering and giving me a headache...

So post two. I'm not even sure what's wrong here. There seem to be plenty of entries on rules tinkering and game philosophy zipping around on Actual Play. So I figured I'd make a second attempt with something nice and safe which I'm pretty passionate about and would like to share (basically keeping the different editions of D&D alive as separate and distinct settings) in order to give people a taste of who I am and where I'm coming from in a game design angle. But I apparently did something wrong here too.

Anyway I guess the thing is this. I don't know what I can and can't talk about on here or where to do it, enough so that my posts keep getting booted. Be glad to conform and keep my head down, I just don't know what I'm doing wrong and it's getting really aggrivating.

Grimcleaver.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 09:49:15 AM »

Hey,

I posted to that thread to clarify a couple of things. I'll repeat them here.

1. Being moderated does not mean "shut up." None of your threads had the door slammed on them, as you have perceived them to be. I am very clear about that; when I say, "It's closed," then it is, and if I don't, then it's not.

2. I ask that you consider that the Forge is not like other places, where you build up social cred and approval, or have to keep your head down until you're allowed to talk. It merely includes very easy requirements for threads in each forum, and being moderated, 90% of the time, is only being reminded of those requirements. I provide such reminders to help the thread, not to stop it.

3. You're absolutely right that rules tinkering and game philosophy are premium topics here. The more the better. The more of yours the better. All you need to do is say, "Hey, this one time, I rolled X and then it went like this," when such a moment of play would illustrate a point you're making.

You've also done exactly the right thing by posting here in this forum. My moderation is not fixed, full stop, no appeal, no discussion. You can appeal or discuss privately by private message or publicly right here.

So far, I'm only seeing the ordinary and understandable adjustment period for arriving at a very distinct and very demanding environment. I sympathize with your aggravation, but a lot of it seems to be due to feeling slapped - and you're not being slapped at all.

Best, Ron
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2011, 09:55:04 AM »

For what it's worth, I'd like to say that I appreciate Grim's patience with us. The average pilgrim isn't nearly this willing to work with an unusual discussion environment. I also rather like that D&D topic, it's an interesting one and I'd like to see it get somewhere; I'd write a bit about it myself if I'd ever actually played D&D in its own setting.
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Grimcleaver
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2011, 10:44:03 AM »

Okay fair enough. So then let's talk.

What's the problem with my first post? It seems like having playtesters come on and advertise their desire for products to test only helps the design process--and that thread actually did get shut down. It seemed like your position was something akin to "these developers worked their butts off to promote their products on their own posts and this thread won't be about them trying to pitch their ideas to you here." That felt not only like a bit of a slap, yeah, but also a doorslam on the whole discussion. Then when other folks began answering my call for people wanting playtests you told them that you were indeed closing down the thread and not to post there.

So can I have a thread offering to help people by offering the services of my playing group to playtest them? Is it okay that they ask for help on my thread? I guess what line got crossed and where is it? Is it that they can't give me a brief writeup on their product? I guess I don't know where I conflicted with any rules explicit or implicit. It just seemed like a good faith offer that so far about six different folks either on the thread or by PM have responded to with enthusiasm. Was it just that there was a misunderstanding of what my thread was about or did it really do something wrong?

I guess let's start there.
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Grimcleaver
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2011, 10:49:34 AM »

Okay, really we're still talking about post one. Really. But looking at your numbered bullet list #3 seemed really weird.

3. You're absolutely right that rules tinkering and game philosophy are premium topics here. The more the better. The more of yours the better. All you need to do is say, "Hey, this one time, I rolled X and then it went like this," when such a moment of play would illustrate a point you're making.

Okay...so I need to say "one time I rolled X and it went like this" to illustrate points? Is this like a works cited thing? I mean if you're talking theory or setting flavor and there's no particular tie in back to a particular game, do I need to manufacture one in order to use the forum? It just seems like having to harken back to gaming stories of yore every so often, term paper style, would just slow down the expression of idea. I mean I'm happy to do it--it just feels a little strange.

Anyway thanks for your help!

Grimcleaver
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Devon Oratz
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Posts: 75


« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2011, 11:23:29 AM »

I'm a n00b and don't expect my opinion to be of any value. That aside:

Grimcleaver's first post was providing a resource that it seems about half of the posters I've seen to The Forge are seeking: actual playtesters, willing to do actual playtesting. Regardless of the particulars of Forge etiquette, a post that provides a resource that everyone is seeking seems like a good thing, full stop. Certainly I think so, but then again my complete RPG has been sitting unplayed for nearly a month. (This brings me to another point, which I may mention in another thread at another time. I don't want this to get split off, but that point is: The Forge seems to assume that any game worth making or marketing is worth playtesting yourself. As a result, asking for someone else to playtest your game seems to be frowned upon. The truth is, though, this assumption is simply not true for everyone's circumstances. I have much more access to solitary game development time than I do access to other gamers who can help playtest my game(s) with me.)

On the flip-side, I think I understand Ron's reasons for discouraging Grim's first thread. Ron, correct me if I'm substantively wrong on these:
A) Almost every thread in the Game Development forum links to a game that needs playtesting. Hence, Grimcleaver could just have looked around and picked one.
B) The threads themselves provide a better menu of the games available for you to play. All your thread would have determined is who was paying the most attention when you posted it and who could shout the loudest.
C) Having a thread where creators clamor for actual testers to play their games is indecorous and/or "un-Forgelike". I come from a rather large community devoted to making and playing homebrew RPGs (the video-game kind) and there, these kinds of "I will play your game" threads are pretty common. But then again, their ways are not Forge ways.

I can especially understand Grimcleaver's dissapointment since his first post was a request for games to actually play and his second post told him that he couldn't discuss something without an example of actual play.

Quote
Okay...so I need to say "one time I rolled X and it went like this" to illustrate points? Is this like a works cited thing? I mean if you're talking theory or setting flavor and there's no particular tie in back to a particular game, do I need to manufacture one in order to use the forum? It just seems like having to harken back to gaming stories of yore every so often, term paper style, would just slow down the expression of idea. I mean I'm happy to do it--it just feels a little strange.

As a fellow newcomer, I strongly agree with this. If I was limited to discussing my actual play, then I couldn't participate in any discussions except about my ongoing Shadowrun campaign, since that is all I get to play with any regularity. I certainly wouldn't be able to comment on my own or anyone else's homebrew games, because I don't have the time to play them.

The Forge just seems different than other forums. So far, the differences I've noticed:

* It's not really cool to say what you mean here. I mean, everyone is civil all the time. I have a real love-hate relationship with this policy. On the one hand, it's an incredibly nice reprieve from some of the mean-spirited shitholes I've posted at. On the other hand, the civility of certain posters seems to be, as Ron has mentioned himself, an incredibly byzantine and obfuscated way of saying "fuck you". Sometimes I feel like if I were to respond with a staunch, good-old-fashioned "Fuck you" in as many words, I would suddenly be the bad guy for not couching it in Forge-speak. Ron has (again) imho acknowledged this problem.
 
* You can't edit posts. That means if you do something dumb, immediately realize you did something dumb, and want to change it, you can't. For instance, I referred to Ron as "Ronnie" in one of my posts. I know he's not called that. It was just a minor brain fart. And I could not edit it. He then came in to the thread and corrected me. Internally, I was like: "Dude, if you are going to correct silly errors, why not let me edit posts?".

* Weird moderation. Threads don't get locked, you get "discouraged" from posting in them. Now again (see bullet point #1) this is certainly a more friendly way of doing things. But there is something kind of creepily doublespeak about it. It reminds me of the "Pieces of Flair" from Office Space. If I am not allowed to post in a topic, then why not lock it. If a topic is not locked, than I should be able to post in it. This in-between twilight state takes a lot of getting used to.

I hope no one is going to be all "if you don't like the Forge, don't post here". I'm not saying I don't like the Forge. All I'm really saying is: The Forge is not like other places. It really takes a lot of adjustment.
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2011, 11:36:17 AM »

Quote
Okay...so I need to say "one time I rolled X and it went like this" to illustrate points? Is this like a works cited thing? I mean if you're talking theory or setting flavor and there's no particular tie in back to a particular game, do I need to manufacture one in order to use the forum? It just seems like having to harken back to gaming stories of yore every so often, term paper style, would just slow down the expression of idea. I mean I'm happy to do it--it just feels a little strange.

It actually is sort of a parallel thing to academic citation, Grim. In fact, let me try to paint the overall picture here, Ron's subforum rules threads don't give much in the way of historical perspective on why we're so tight-assed here. The Forge has been going on for a while, and Ron's been on the look-out for ways to actively shape the forum standards to support the mandate of the site. This process has gone through many iterations, and thus there's been all sorts of different flavours of discussion environment here through the years. For example, in 2004 your D&D thread would have been on the "Game Theory" subforum perhaps, which had different tenets for discussion than any of the subforums in the current line-up.

One of the most radical shifts in the Forge discussion environment was when Ron decided to start actively moderating against abstract theory in... 2005, was it? At that point we had quite a bit of high-flying game theory going on here, the sort that builds upon earlier discussion and has less and less touchpoints on actual gaming. Ron chose at that point to reorient the theory discussions here by closing the theory forums altogether (closing them for discussion, that is - everything posted to the Forge is still available for reference in the archives) and requiring any further theory discussion to move to the "Actual Play" forum, which had always been sort of the practical wing of the theory discussions. From then on, we've been everybody slowly adapting to the new idea that all theory discussion needs to be based on strident practical standards; if you're going to theoretize, you do it by first laying out a baseline of experience by telling about some of your own gaming experience that is reflected in your theoretical position. The hope is that this practice helps people understand each other by giving us concrete examples of what others are even talking about. Looking at some of the postmodern literary theory discussions we had on the theory forums at the late stages of that particular development, I can't really complain.

The latest forum reshaping is even more recent: last year Ron merged a set of design and publishing subforums together to reduce the confusion and bias in discussions - a very good move in my own opinion. Thus we came to the current set-up of forums here, where we basically have three big subfora: one for practical gaming discussion and theory, one for design work and one for publishing discussions. It's a robust system, and Ron's been at us like a cat on catnip for the last several months to further sharpen the nature of the discussion here, working hard to make us take the requirements of the specific subforums seriously. The strict requirement of grounding the Actual Play discussions on actual play experiences is one example of these rules that we've been trying to take more seriously lately; the design forum requirement of creating an off-site design document of your game before starting up a new thread is another, more recent example. These rules might seem a bit strident compared to more relaxed forums, but while it's true that we lose on volume of discussion by this, I have to say that I rather like the signal to noise ratio: both design and theory forums used to have a rather low barrier of entry five years ago, for example, and consequently we've seen quite large peaks of relatively non-committed discussion on those forums: idle speculation, sophistry and arguing for argument's sake on the theory forums, brainfarts pasted out without serious design intent on the design forums and so on. (For the academic interest, my own impression has always been that the publishing subforum is consistently low-maintenance, which is probably why Ron hasn't messed with it much at all over the years. Must be because people don't generally post there just to be social.)

For reference, here's the most recent policy thread for the Actual Play forum. As Ron explains there, the goal for threads on that particular subforum is that when we start a new thread, in addition to whatever abstract point we're discussing, we also provide a practical grounding for it based on our own play. For example, regarding your D&D thread, we would be interested in reading about your own play experiences with D&D in its various editions: which you've played and when, and how the D&D cosmology has practically impacted on your play; were you one of the '90s gaming orphans who bought massive amounts of setting sourcebooks for 2nd edition even while using them less and less in play; did you play Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms by the book; have your campaigns routinely expanded to the Planes; have you ever experienced any practical negative effects from the ambivalent D&D cosmology, or is it more of a theoretical interest for you? All sorts of questions there that really should be answered so we know how to approach your interest in developing the D&D cosmology.

Insofar as the actual style of practical reference on the Actual Play forum goes, it's a pretty freeform thing - no need to feel like there's a particular style that needs to be followed. Most people start the discussion by writing a paragraph or two about their practical experience that inspired them to discuss the topic in question, and that's pretty much that. The actual play experience you discuss does not need to be unitary, and it does not need to be recent. It's really rather freeform, and as long as you make an honest effort, others can ask questions if they need more background. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that Ron's moderation is not interested in status games - it's more like a social experiment thing, and whenever somebody forgets to follow the rules of the day (or year - really, the posting standards change every few years as the social space Forge resides in develops) Ron moderates to remind everybody of the rules. There's no drama to it, and it's not so much a matter of good forum citizenship as it is of posting discipline; being moderated does not mean that your topic is bad, it just means that you should fine-tune the contents of the thread to maintain the level of discourse. It's like being reminded to move your piece in Monopoly, not like being given a parking ticket.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2011, 01:21:20 PM »

All right.

To Devon,

1. Creepy passive versions of "fuck you" are a thousand times worse than the blunt form, which I consider a minor infraction. I hate that nonsense. If you think you're getting it from anyone here, then report the post to me. If you think you're getting it from me, you're not.

2. No one ever said to you, here, that because you are a relatively new poster here that you have no voice in anything. I cannot believe you simply took that helpless hat and stuck it on your own head like that. Can you not do that, please? And whatever website or internet environment you learned it in, fuck that place. With a bomb.

3. As far as I'm concerned, locking threads means I'm treating you like toddlers. Maintaining a social agreement that if it's closed, we don't post, is a grown-up thing. It's not the flair at all, where she's told one thing and expected to do another. I'm totally up-front about the expectation and the action.

4. No one frowns upon having others playtest your game. Don't know where you got that.

5. People use post editing to revise what they said after someone else has addressed some point of theirs in a way that hurts their poor misunderstood genius egos. Maybe not you, Devon, but lots of people do it, and even people who swear they never would. So screw that. Also, over the years, it has become very clear that posting something that you later decide is dumb, then copping to it and adjusting your view in a later post, gains immense social respect. Same goes for typos. I have no idea why anyone thinks - apparently everyone before coming here - that such an act is somehow humiliating or loses intellectual-scoring points.

To Grimcleaver & co.,

1. The first thread simply wasn't a topic we do here any more, which has nothing to do with bad, good, "seems to fit," or anything else. The topics are very circumscribed, especially at this late date in the Forge's history. In the past, we had a Connections forum in which that post would have fit fine. Now, the tasks and topics have been shrunk considerably to focus the activity here. The site's life is finite, and the hope is that little by little, all the stuff that goes on will shunted into satellite places under someone else's oversight besides mine, as so many things have, thank God.

Devon's A-B-C is pretty good. I don't know if you're asking for an explanation beyond that or not.

2. Actual play posting is as straightforward as I can make it, and I think it's so straightforward that people can't see it and invent all manner of insane bullshit that they think is being required. Consider: when someone posts some interesting point all about "game balance," the thread falls into chaos because that term means about 80 things widely spread all around everyone's varying experience. Same for the very game title, "Dungeons & Dragons." Same for 'dice pool." Everyone thinks his personal take on what these things even are is both obvious and shared by everyone.

The fact is that game talk is in total fucking disarray after 40 years of noise. So instead of trying to impose my historical and intuitive associations on such terms, I say, "Fine, we'll talk about that, but to do it, we need to know what you mean. Say what it looks like in play for you." And then we can all talk about that very thing he's talking about, in that thread, without confusion or too many irrelevant, reactive oars in the water. This cannot happen without the in-play references and descriptions.

Here's something you should know about me: I have no "smoothing" social skills at all. I despise nice little phrases that lubricate exchanges of information. So when I say, "I'm interested in what you have to say," like I did in your thread, I fucking well mean it and - you know? - expect you to chill, and receive the genuine respect I just handed you instead of getting all bent out of shape. When I close with "Best," you know what that means? It means I sweated over that post with my best attempt to communicate. It's not some cute little TTFN sign-off.

I'd love for you guys to work with me on the project that is this site. But after all these years, I bloody well know what works and what doesn't. Return me a little respect in judging that, go a little way to try it like I'm sayin', and see how it goes.

Best, Ron
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David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2011, 01:06:59 AM »

Hey Grim,

I am stoked about your offer of playtesting!  If you go to story-games.com and post what you posted here, your thread will quickly fill with excited offers of games.

As for the Forge, I'm interested in the fairest way to connect you to games here.  I kind of feel like a forum full of threads that link playtest documents is a nice way to showcase folks who are really trying to work on design here, whereas anyone with any level of interest in design here or elsewhere can drop a good two-line pitch into a request thread.  I mean, there are times that I've (a) worked hard to make a game playable, and other times that I've (b) just churned out a system in an hour and forgotten about it a week later, and I'd much rather have you playtest my (a) than someone else's (b), you know what I mean?

On that topic, you will reach a narrower but probably more serious audience on story-games.com by posting on the "Praxis" game design subforum rather than the main forum.

Separately, I would really like to hear how you've found the process of looking through posts and linked documents in Game Development.  Is it too slow?  Too vague?  Does a scan of the thread titles discourage you from even trying?  Let us know the problems and maybe we can fix them!
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David Berg
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Posts: 997


« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2011, 01:55:52 AM »

Crap.  Poor reading on my part.  Forgive my long reiteration of what Devon already said in his point (B).  Also forgive my assertion that your difficulties connecting with playtest designers here was a problem to be fixed.  "Not a topic we do here any more" took a while to sink in. 

Ron, that makes me sad.  I think I get the shrinking of the Forge, but why'd you ditch Connections?  If other sites do that just fine, perhaps we ought to make a sticky somewhere with links to them?

Grim, another place to solicit playtest games might be rpgcrossroads, though that's mainly drawing from a sub-pool of the story-games crowd.  I'm afraid I'm not well-versed in the resources at the biggest RPG sites, which I believe are ENworld and RPGnet.
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Grimcleaver
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2011, 10:25:22 AM »

I'd love for you guys to work with me on the project that is this site. But after all these years, I bloody well know what works and what doesn't. Return me a little respect in judging that, go a little way to try it like I'm sayin', and see how it goes.

I actually do have a lot of respect for you and your process. I'm just trying to shake off some of my percieved stings and figure out the hows and whys of posting here so I can hopefully get my posts flagged less (or worry about it less and try to fix them at least). Anyway between your #2 and Eero's post--which was freaking illuminating for which you have tons of thanks, I think I've got what I need to start helping out here. I guess I did get a little bent out of shape, and I appologize for that. I'm just finding my way still, y'know. Anyway things make a heck of a lot more sense now--thanks all. Hope I wasn't too hard to deal with. See you on the boards.

Grimcleaver.
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