Third round - soon

Started by Ron Edwards, February 28, 2011, 02:15:04 AM

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Ron Edwards

Hi everyone,

I find myself quite torn between two things:

1. Encouraging and providing a personal example of enthusiastic, critical play and feedback for many of the games generated so far. We really ought to be doing this, and bugging our friends to do it, and handing out copies of the games to people who might like them.

I would not mind helping build a better playtesting-discussion standard this year; as Ben has rightly pointed out in Playtesting: Stop, a lot of what goes by that name is heedless, joyless, maundering noise. It didn't use to be. Games like what we've seen in the past two rounds of Ronnies are the right sort of material for recovering the good old days when we'd play games, talk about it, and see them blossom, as well as finding new and better ground for conducting and discussing playtests at all.

2. Running the next round! Fuck yes! Are you kidding me, this is so fun I cannot believe it. I could even see starting this coming Thursday, or, in the interest of sanity, a week from Thursday.

So: convince me that both are possible at once. Please.

Best, Ron

Devon Oratz

QuoteSo: convince me that both are possible at once. Please.

I wish I could, but, man...

The "award" for winning a Ronny, besides $50.00 USD is "whatever commitment, consulting, and playtesting I can provide and that you want." Because you don't limit each round to only one winner, that commitment, consulting, and playtesting can get spread pretty thin if the next round starts a couple weeks after the first round results are in. (Goes without saying that not only the winners are deserving of these things.)

I'm the last person who wants to see you take another break of five years before running the next round of Ronnies, or worse, even longer. I think the Ronnies and the grim harvest they produce are great. But I don't think that a less-than-one-month gap between rounds allows for the kind of playtesting and feedback you're trying to encourage to develop. Of all the games that Round 2 produced, I only saw a playtesting thread for one or two of them appear in Actual Play or Game Development. So I was surprised to see that Round 3 was coming so soon.

I am probably oversimplifying the issues when I recommend a happy medium for a period between Ronnies rounds that lies somewhere between 20-30 days and 1500-2000 days.

And this is, obviously, just my opinion.
~"Quiet desperation, it ain't my goddamn scene!"~
My Blog: tarotAmerican

Phil K.


Certainly playing the games and exploring the entries further is something that should be done. The biggest thing I drew from Ben's post is that play testing should tell us whether or not a game is fun. Development, refinement, editing, etc. after that is all up to designer. I can't say how difficult the effort on your end for the already posted Ronnies entries is, but if you think you can handle it go ahead.

The Ronnies are your projects, so it's ultimately up to you. The two things I would take into consideration if I were you are:
1) will it be hard enough that the Ronnies/work/life/Forge balance suffer (and if so, is it worth it)?
2) Do you need to maintain inertia?

I have really enjoyed the Ronnies so far and look forward to the coming round when it hits.

David Berg

Devon makes a lot of sense to me.

Ron, I have no idea what you or anyone can do to facilitate more and better playtesting and playtest discussion, but if you have an idea, I'd sure like to see you try it.
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development


Forget about Uncle Louis, its on the backburner.


I know that if I was to enter a round this week or next the resulting game would be put on the back burner right away, as Air Patrol still needs extensive work. I suppose my own suggestion would be to start it two weeks from this Thursday, for a little extra time. That's just me looking at my own workload, though. I can certainly understand the desire to get into the fun of the next design period sooner than that. :)


Ron Edwards

You guys are helping me settle down and think.

At the moment, it seems most reasonable to look over the 31 games generated in the past two months (and a lot more if you count the Solitaire challenge, which we should) and to say, "Hey, let's play some of these." Not just me, anyone who spots a game that seems fun. Then we can see posting in the Game Development forum about play-experiences. Or even just discussion about the rules there, for any game.

There's been some of this, but I'd like to see a lot more.

The terms for round 3, 2011, are bursting at the seams of my mind and I can barely stand to wait, but reality and sanity plead for a pause. I'm thinking of letting March be a "rest" month in terms of new rounds, so we can focus on reading, playing, and revising in a mutualistic fashion, and picking up the new round in the first week of April.

Best, Ron


Perhaps this goes without saying. But hey, I'm going to make it go with saying, too...

There are silent watchers waiting on tenterhooks for Round 3 to begin! Having read the old material a couple of years ago, I only discovered that you had restarted the Ronnies when the Feb results were being discussed. I'd absolutely love to take part, and happen to have a lot of free time right now. That's liable to change with relatively little notice, so for my part, I'd vote for the next round to start asap!

But I appreciate that there are other considerations - time spent discussing, playtesting, developing - that you have to take into account. Perhaps I should instead be using my creative energy to contribute to the discussions of the last round's submissions >.>


I realize you've likely already made up your mind, which is good, but there's something I feel compelled to add.

I think what you're grappling with here is really the question:  What does it mean for The Ronnies to be successful?

It's such a personal thing that I don't really have any other advice than that.  But I hope it helps a bit.


Ron Edwards

That's true, Roger. I do have a very clear idea of the answer, and always have, but have only stated it rarely. From [Ronnies] November results at last!:

Quote1. In the world of ideas, it might surprise people to know that my key concerns in RPG design are Color, reward systems, and Currency - all very techniques/ephemera oriented. In other words, brutally practical. I originally wrote "System Does Matter" as an orienter toward the eventual goal of discussing these things and applying them in new ways.

In other words, I considered, and still consider, GNS to be a no-brainer - obvious, clear, and simple. However, it took almost six years and the construction of the Big Model in order to explain it to the Body Internet. As far as I'm concerned, all that effort was a detour. I wanted to discuss Color, reward systems, and Currency. It is extremely frustrating to me to be labeled the "theory guy" and for a bevy of self-perceived young turks to congratulate themselves for getting "practical" as a form of rebellion. Inevitable, socially speaking, I suppose, but aggravating, especially for the author of such practical designs as Sorcerer and Elfs, and especially since I dug deep into the mechanics to help out many young turks with their games when they were pretty crappy drafts.

Now, the Ronnies permit me to get my hands dirty, at last, very publicly. I can illustrate the questions that need to be asked, and especially - especially! - illustrate that game design can begin from nearly any starting point (level, detail, etc) of what will eventually be the finished product. There is no "start here" on the board, in terms of techniques or procedures. The only really reliable one (and it's not universal) is Color.

2. In the world of enjoyment as a role-player, Paul Czege and I shared a major frustration by 2004. We missed the time about five years ago when we'd cruise through the internet and find cool little RPGs sitting there like islands, play them, and blow the author's mind by giving feedback. "Wow! Someone played my game? I didn't put it up there for nothing?" And for us, it was the best way to discover and consider what did and didn't work in given systems, and also to consider what issues needed to be addressed for a given game-in-draft. It was amazing what system innovations you might find sitting in some little crappy HTML Geocities webpage, as well to identify the crust of previous assumptions that were now so obviously mismatched and unnecessary. Does anyone here remember Ghost Light, by Doug Bolden? You should.

So the Ronnies are a way to get back there, and to remove the whole bullshit notion that the hobby is divided into Piddly Players and Noble Designers. Inspiration + Guts + Thought = a game to play, and Paul and I, and then Clinton when he joined the conversation, agreed that in early 2005, we'd had a bellyful of design that was based on solely on a debased form of Thought alone. It was time to get the Forge back to discovering the Inspiration simmering out there.

3. In the social/creative world, the current hobby is a cottage industry, and in such industries, mutualism is the key. People talk about the "Forge community," and the biggest internal steps to getting there so far were (a) the publication of the big essay ("GNS and other matters of role-playing theory"), (b) establishing the GenCon booth, (c) the Infamous Five essays,and (d) the Iron Game Chef contests. The trouble with all of those is that they facilitated people playing insider-ego status games on each other, and facilitated newcomers to exclude themselves unnecessarily ("Oh, I'm just a newbie," etc).

So we needed a new step. Clinton and I have annual powwows about what to do with the Forge, and every time, we've implemented our ideas successfully. 2005 was the year of stripping-down the forums, encouraging the Diaspora, recovering our original sense of snarling determination, getting a little clearer about ourselves at the personal level to all of you, and emphasizing our expectation of mutualism. You can review our posts throughout this last year in that light, and you'll see it.

That mutualism was the toughest one; no one can make anyone else want to help others. The Ronnies are a kind of reversed way of fostering it - people see me being mutualistic, and join in. It looks like a me-centered thing, but ultimately, it's clear that one man cannot, alone, review and play and help with all these games, even if we did restrict ourselves to the winners (which we shouldn't). People can see that they simply have to help, or they won't themselves get the real feedback they need.

4. I have been tremendously impressed by the Iron Game Chef and the 24-Hour RPG endeavors. Mike Holmes' work on the first was stellar, and the first round of the latter produced great stuff. However, by 2005, I was a little dissatisfied with both. The power was still there, but not the quantity and simple clarity that I'd hoped for.

The former had become "twee," with tons of terms and constraints that seemed messy to me rather than elegant. Yet it still produced a small number of awesome designs ... not enough, in my view, but the awesomeness was there. And it did indeed facilitate the "newcomer from the canebrake" effect, most dramatically Tim Kleinert and The Mountain Witch. And the latter, after an amazing start, trickled into a kind of desultory, low-yield endeavor, especially because people were making it harder than it had to be.

So, I took the elements I liked the best from each. From Iron Game Chef, I hooked the choose-from-terms idea, which I thought was great, but boiled into a more concentrated form; I wanted more thematic/Color unity among the entries rather than less, because interpretation of something like "rat" is what Inspiration is composed of. Four terms in combos of two seemed perfect. I also hooked the whole idea of a contest, because the competitive angle is important ... but as you can see, I muted it by making the Ronnies less about beating others and more about being good. I also decided to own the judging wholly myself, thus accepting that any subjectivity was simply up-front and unavoidable. Oh, and I added the money to give the whole thing bite ... you see, I mean it.

From the 24-Hour RPG, I took the whole basic concept, obviously, similar enough to be able to boost the success of that site through the awards. But I also wanted to emphasize what I saw as the primary opportunity of the idea, which is this: getting the whole vision of one's game into one place, in relatively few pages, is actually not all that hard. The hard part is getting over the mistaken and humpbacked misapprehensions that persist out there, even after six years of the Forge in place, about how to write a game.

Even more importantly, this little document is eminently usable. It may have holes, but you know where the holes are. It may have fucked-up mechanics, but you can see how they need to be fixed because the other parts are in place. I was deadly sick of projects like Fang Langford's Scattershot, in which he wrote and scribbled and re-tooled and refined, yet ignored the big picture because it was somehow too vast or too amazing ever to profane by being written out simply. I was similarly sick of projects like Jonathan Walton's notions, which as I saw it, got tangled up in deconstructive self-reference without ever actually becoming a set of 1-2-3 do-this procedures. My mantra is, fucksake, summarize in ten pages. Who cares if it's not all detailed yet? If I can see the bigger reward system, grasp the Currency, and get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play (think about that one!), then the hard work is over, and it's all playtesting and refinement from here.

And a necessary clarification from a few posts later:

QuoteThe only perpetuation I hope for after the Ronnies are over (as I can't do them indefinitely, obviously) is for an improvement in the culture, the general dialogue, of game design. I said, a Ronnies-like culture, not for people literally to run contests like the Ronnies. In such a culture, what's in it for any given person is exactly the same, for everyone - heightened quality of discourse, heightened attention to one's own works in reciprocal fashion, and heightened awareness of multiple possible connections and comparisons among a far-flung community of experimental (and inspiration-heavy) game design.

In response to a point Ben made in the other thread, I realize that it's not publication that sets the gold standard of success for me. It's design effort and discourse. Publication which emerges from all this, well, that's great too, when a game really comes together for someone. But what I'm hoping for now is a continued knowledge of the Ronnies entries and to see people really dig into what they offered.

Best, Ron


Selfishly, do it this week or not until April. And let me know when, so I can take time off of work. :)

More realistically, I think a month to really let people dig in to what they've done is a fantastic idea. Speaking of taking time off, I'm considering asking for a day or two off this month just to be able to immerse myself in working through They Became Flesh.

Ron Edwards

The third round starts just before the first weekend in April. A look at the calendar reveals that the first is a Friday, so OK, it'll be on April 1. No April Fool's joke involved; I'll simply ignore that particular detail and I hope everyone else does too.

In the intervening weeks, let's be thoughtful, mutualistic, energetic members of a design community together. I finally got around to playing Diary of a Skull Soldier, and I have a few awards winners to get to as well. And again, it's not necessarily about game development and publication; we'll let that be up to the individual authors. It should be about finding what you like about a few of the games, and either pursuing that in discussion here, or applying it to some experience of your own in an Actual Play thread, or anything at all.

And hey, any discussion of the 2005 Ronnies games is welcome too.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Starting one week from today - get yourselves ready & scheduled!

Best, Ron

Ross Cowman

Stoked. Jackson Tegu and I are having a Ronnies work party.

Ben Lehman

So, hey, it's April 1st, I'm chomping at the bit ...