[The Walking Eye] An interview

Started by Ron Edwards, November 23, 2010, 07:20:00 PM

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Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Kevin Weiser wanted to interview me about the Forge Winter dustups on other sites, and although I really don't have much interest in What The Great Big Internet Thinks, I figured it was a chance to talk about other stuff too. It was a little weird because I found myself giving most value to Walking Eye activities like actual-play podcasting and least to the one I was doing, an interview about what others said about what I said, effectively the internet talking about talking about itself. I mean, his questions were fine and all, but I think I may have hit my limit with that level of recursiveness.

Here's the link - all comments are welcome. I'm especially interested in answering or discussing anything you would like to ask, as if you had been a co-interviewer. Please identify the time-signature for when your question would have been interposed.

Best, Ron

Editing this in: I'm listening to it for the first time now. You can get a real earful for my geographic roots if you want, at just about 44 minutes - the way I pronounce "Oh my God" as an expletive ... that isn't an ironic put-on accent. That's home-grown coastal California circa 1977. I had no idea such pure delivery was still possible from my aged brain and speech patterns.


Hey Ron,

I'm interested to hear about the 20-odd games you mention died on the vine in the early 90's.  I remember stuff like Rune & Everway as being pretty unique and dropping out, but not a ton of others?


Ron Edwards

Hi Chris,

Rune wasn't in that batch - it was published a decade later, 2000 or 2001.

The games I had in mind started with Prince Valiant (1989) and Over the Edge (1992, was it?), and then the main period I'm thinking of was the early-mid 90s, with Shattered Dreams, Sun & Storm, Maelstrom (the original and in my view the better version of Story Engine), and The Whispering Vault. Everway counts although I'll thank everyone not to repeat the infuriatingly stupid conventional-wisdom phrase frequently bleated at its mention. I bet I'll remember a few more while my mind riffles through old files. Feng Shui maybe; it's an edge case. A little bit later - maybe my benchmark for the last gasp - were Zero and Extreme Vengeance, in 1997.

I think we could identify the fate of The End as a decisive repudiation of the publishing ideals involved. In retrospect, I now know that a lot of the resistance I received while introducing Sorcerer had its origins in The End being blocked from GenCon in ... 1995? 1996, can't remember which. That also might help explain the dedicated blandness found in a lot of the small press titles of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

A big wave of the fantasy heartbreakers hit at this time too, most of the ones referenced in my first essay: Fifth Cycle the earliest in 1990, Shield Laminating, Hahlmabrea, Of Gods and Men, Darkurthe: Legends, Legendary Lives, Neverworld, Pelicar ... probably a few others I didn't get to. Although it's often forgotten or deliberately clouded, one of my main points about these games is the astonishing design breadth found in their magic systems. So they count as part of what I'm talking about.

It's fair to say that the flow never stopped, though, because the edge/minimalist side of this same scene carried through to Risus, Puppetland, and The Window, for instance; and the fantasy heartbreakers kept arriving at least once a year for a while longer; Obsidian, Orkworld, and Apocrypha are direct heirs to many on the first list, and certainly the development of Hero Wars arose directly from titles in it. But - and this is key - the viability of such publishing through standard distribution of the time, using standard so-called-industry advic,e had been thoroughly demonstrated to be nil.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Oh yeah! Add Morpheus to that first paragraph listing games, from Propaganda Publishing, 1989. A million good ideas. I am determined to play it one day.

Best, Ron

Joel P. Shempert

It's a bit belated, but I blogged about my own experience vis-a-vis Ron's "identity politics based on sunk cost," and how it's a two-edged sword.

That was the most insightful part of the interview for me. The Forge's changing phases is such a non-controversy that it was hard to see the value of giving time to the haters, but this was something valuable that emerged.

Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.