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Author Topic: How to build a better indie game in 9 easy steps...  (Read 1365 times)
olivertgn
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Posts: 1


« on: July 18, 2011, 01:15:23 PM »

I realize that most, if not all, of the stuff in here is somewhat obvious Ė itís not like Iím the first to have these ideas. However, I believe that a lot of good games could be great ones if some of the following ideas were acted on. Most of these suggestions are either free to implement or require nothing more than an investment of time and energy. This, in itself, is often at a premium, which is why Iíve started the list by discussing community.

Hereís my thoughts. Tell me what you think.

http://www.thegeeklynews.com/2011/07/how-to-build-a-better-indie-game-in-9-easy-step/
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 09:09:01 AM »

I proclaim this thread open for business! I hope it might develop into a worthy sticky post.
Best, Ron
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ADGBoss
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Posts: 415


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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 10:01:45 AM »

I will just mention some of my experience with community building, which is an on-going process. First, some quick background.

I have wanted to be an RPG designer since I was about 10, after playing D&D (basic red book, Elven mage and green dragon version not Bargal the Infamous version) for about a year. I recognized some flaws (or so I thought) and sought to make them right... in my own game Pommels & Paradoxes. (Yeah I still wanna use that game title some day). Leap forward to the beginning of the decade / century / and new millennium. I was very intimately involved in the RPGA Living Greyhawk campaign. Part of my job eventually was community building and I was one of several people who, near the end of LG, dusted off our own game designs and started testing them.

We had a ready made audience of friends and players who were experienced and eager to play something else. So many of the campaigns became structured like the old RPGA living campaigns. We wrote modules that we would run for multiple tables and created a sense of continuity as we tested various elements of the game.  It should also be noted that a good friend of mine had been doing this since the 80s with a long running Marvel Super Heroes campaign and he gave us good examples of building community. He could go to a number of conventions and although some players were the same others were completely different.

The problem came in trying to expand play beyond the personal relationships we had with the players. If a community is too insular and not varied enough then it becomes stale and what you have is a nice home system, not something you can market and sell. Yes I feel the feedback I received was honest but these are people who liked and respected me and did not care as much about the rules as they did they story we were telling. In addition no one wanted to try and run the game because I think they were afraid of losing the magic. I made a game I would love to play but never have gotten the chance to play it and I think that is very important.

So I guess to sum up, some of the Do's and Don'ts I have learned:

Do
-Go to conventions and run your game for friends and strangers
-Let other people run your game.
-Create some continuity among your playtesters with an ongoing shared world - I realize that many of the games here at the Forge lean heavily towards single sessions or a small number of sessions. (There is a thread on campaign season and length in the archives I believe.) However, there is some good feedback from allowing someone to create and recreate the same character as rules change.
-Play your own game and play it with others. Playing a game run by the creator is fun; with the creator is even better.
-Be available for questions before and after sessions. - Yes its tedious and if you have been running your game non-stop for three days another Q&A session might be last on your list. However, again people love to interact with the game developer.
-Frequent many forums, even ones where your opinions or designs are not popular. We have the internet now, put it to work for you.

Don't
-Lose sight of the goal - this is going to be a published game and that means people far and wide will play it. It has to work for as wide an audience as possible. Its great if your friends like it but what about strangers?
-Be afraid to make people build their characters over
-Get too burned out. When going to Cons, sure run your game but play someone elses as well to keep fresh.
-Go long periods without updates. People have short attention spans. Leak info, run one-off online sessions. Anything to keep their interest.
-Think of yourself as too small or too amateur. We can debate games as art til we are blue in the face but if you maintain perspective, approaching the community as a professional artist / designer makes you someone to take seriously.
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Devon Oratz
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 05:33:46 PM »

I do rather wish step 1 talked a bout more about actually getting people posting on your site. I feel like I've got the fostering part down, just not the part that comes before that.
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Larry L.
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Posts: 639

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 08:53:42 PM »

This article appears to be about indie video games, not indie RPGs. Still, some of these points are still relevant.
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ADGBoss
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Posts: 415


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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2011, 05:44:40 AM »

I do rather wish step 1 talked a bout more about actually getting people posting on your site. I feel like I've got the fostering part down, just not the part that comes before that.

Link to the forums or wherever people are posting on your site, not just the site itself when you have a sig. People do check signatures out. Its one way.
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stefoid
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2011, 04:19:30 PM »

Some good advice there.

"make it addictive" ?  Thats likes saying "to make good wine you need to make it taste great"  OK, thanks, but how?

Maybe we can talk about what keeps us coming back to games and look for patterns. 

One is continuous improvement in some form or other.
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mark2v
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2011, 05:09:48 AM »

"Stay focused on your simple, unique idea and implement it well."

This is important.
       I think many of us have had really good initial ideas that have lost their way during development.
If a developer has an idea they love, and really want to run with, the end result will be better if they run with it. Even if it is a niche idea, with less wide appeal than one may like.

      My most recent project is a genre agnostic RPG, based on control of narration as a (the) reward. As much as I love the game, and we have had great games with it; I still feel a focused product, with a setting and strong existing theme to hang the story on always work more efficiently for a larger audience.

My point being a game like DitV has a setting and an idea that lives in that setting the author never lost focus on. And the product as a whole is better for it. A product that is less focused, say any generic or universal system, has less to draw a prospective players curiosity.
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Mark 2 V
Mike Sugarbaker
Member

Posts: 150

|>


« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 10:27:52 PM »

"make it addictive" ?  Thats likes saying "to make good wine you need to make it taste great"  OK, thanks, but how?

Maybe we can talk about what keeps us coming back to games and look for patterns. 

One is continuous improvement in some form or other.

Continuous feedback is another, preferably in a tight loop. Think of the recent platformers and other PC games where the "death penalty," meaning the amount of time you get kicked out of play and how much play you have to do over, has been sharply reduced. You're more likely to keep going if the barriers aren't there, and you're more likely to improve if the information on your performance is tightly and immediately connected.

Angry Birds and FarmVille clones probably have a great deal (more) to teach us.
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Mark Truman
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2011, 08:03:22 AM »

I think the "make it addictive" section is easy to be frustrated with because it feels so obvious.  "Of course I want to create an addictive game!  Duh!"

But Mike is right that some elements push people out of the game by penalizing them for failure in an un-fun manner.  Sitting out in the corner while everyone else gets to play is not usually my idea of a fun session.

At the same time, we should recognize that what makes Angry Birds fun is fundamentally different than what makes an indie game fun.  We want our players to be lost a bit in the game, not ducking in and out of it whenever they have a chance at work.  I'm hesitant to say that Farmville should be a our model. 

Maybe the best way to think about "addictive" for indie RPGs is to think about the return to effort.  If a person puts in lots of effort into your game, do they get a lot out of it?  Or at some level, do you push them out and penalize them for playing?  Do you give a feedback loop that "rewards" them for playing with others and bringing in new people, or are they best served by keeping new people out and away?
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