Subscene that assumes GMs will hack but that strongly values design

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  • Ah, thanks a lot Sandra, I'm getting it little by little now. Hmm you wrote before that you use markdown to write your posts here on SG, would that mean that we could post bit rules in markdown here and pm either you or Rob a pull request?
  • I'd be perfectly happy with Google Docs, myself, but I'm not really sure what kind of publishing model y'all are thinking about. I think Git is strictly for people with programming background, and not everyone has that.
  • WM: I write in Markdown but convert to HTML before posting (and fix the blockquotes).

    But yeah, good idea. Rob, we can just as easily import things from posts, if the license is kosher.

    Upstart: well, Google Docs excludes me. But, maybe that's a feature.
    I just don't want to deal with Google as a central authority + it is too slow on my old computer.
  • Obviously it's not a feature. :) But does the publishing platform matter, if you have a license to take a text and edit that?
  • People just putting text up w/ license is something we can work with. But repos are still a good idea.

    There's an affordance to hacking there, that's psychological more than practical but there is a practical aspect as well.
  • edited July 2017
    I totally see why somebody might not want to bother with git for their own work, because the learning cliff curve can be steep and the value added when mostly working alone often negligible.

    Here are my personal idea of how to support/be a part of this design scene without necessarily using git:

    1. Explicit permissive license.

    If you write something you want to make easy for other people to use, slap a permissive license on it and make that explicit when publishing it wherever you do.

    2. Easily importable/resusable publishing format.

    As (1), but additionally to the pdf/website/130 foot mural painted on the side of a bulding somewhere as a publishing venue, you also have a file to download linked that allows to get at your work easily and makes importing it into other work fast and as hassle-free as possible. For text, this probably means a plain text file instead of/in addition to a pdf or website. (For images some losslessly compressed high-DPI format, etc.)

    3. Added Markup.

    As (2), but additionally the text has markup added to detail layout, seperate text passages from headlines, and so on. This could be Markup (Which is really easy to use.) but it could also be some other kinds, as long as it's somewhat widely used and/or easily converted to whatever markup a potential recipient might need. (The formats pandoc understands are probably fine.)

    (Roughly ordered by work necessary and value added.)

    Work published under a permissive licence and in an easily reusable format would IMO be a great step to do, without ever needing to touch anything like git or Markdown.

    And if somebody later-on decides to try their hand at those things, these steps would make it that much easier for themselves. :)

  • Work published under a permissive licence and in an easily reusable format would IMO be a great step to do, without ever needing to touch anything like git or Markdown.
    Yes. Once you've done that, it's easy for others to take it from there.

  • Do you guys have any idea of why a git sort of thing hasn't been enacted yet? Is it just that the time hasn't been ripe yet, or is there a dearth of relevant game material? Are all the good games under restrictive licencing, leaving game hackers impotent to express themselves?

    Approaching from a different direction: what game would one prefer to subject to the git treatment, such that people would find it an useful and inspiring thing to do? Presumably you'll want a game with enough meat to it for there to be something to hack. It also needs to be something with some popularity, I presume.
  • edited July 2017
    Do you guys have any idea of why a git sort of thing hasn't been enacted yet? Is it just that the time hasn't been ripe yet, or is there a dearth of relevant game material? Are all the good games under restrictive licencing, leaving game hackers impotent to express themselves?
    I think the Venn diagram overlap of "people who are kinda into git", "people who dig open licenses", "people who like rpgs", "people who like to design games", "people who want to reuse other peoples stuff" and "people who want others to reuse their stuff" is just kinda small-ish, probably.

    Removing the git stuff probably makes it a bit bigger, but it's probably just a niche thing. At least now. Who knows, maybe it will grow. (After all, at some point publishing games as pdfs was new and weird. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
    Approaching from a different direction: what game would one prefer to subject to the git treatment, such that people would find it an useful and inspiring thing to do? Presumably you'll want a game with enough meat to it for there to be something to hack. It also needs to be something with some popularity, I presume.
    I'd love to see the PbtA-ecosystem adopt it, actually.

    Mostly it's that it's the thing I'm currently most interested in, but it also makes sense to me in that PbtA is almost a meta-engine which powers a wide and quite diverse range of games. So we have some people using it for old-school dungeon crawling, others for highly emotional story-gaming, there are diceless variants, etc. but they are all speaking this semi-consistent metalanguage of PbtA, which often comes in almost self-contained chunks that can be recombined to new effect.

    Also, quite a large part of it (The Dungeon World scene.) is already using open licenses.

  • Some barebones PbtA could inspire folks. I would personally like that all published components are smallish and dependent only on the base game to discourage closed systems and encourage hacking. But that's just me, and may feel too restrictive for some.

    I think a scene hasn't been born yet because the "cult" of designer/publisher/entrepreneur has been so strong in RPGs, especially in Post-Forge circles. We might be moving away from that a bit.

    Also, I must acknowledge Git is not a bad tool for this IF you know how to use it.
  • One thing I might use this for is fixing Dungeon World. By "fixing", unsurprisingly, I mean changing almost everything about it to fit my idiosyncratic desires. How much useful-for-the-commons would be left is not clear.

    NB DW has been in GitHub for several years, originally as in some kind of HTML-as-XML designed for InDesign import - not quite what we want - but also as markdown. Not sure if the markdown one is 100% up-to-date, but it sounds like the conversion from XML was straightforward using automated tools.
  • I think a scene hasn't been born yet because the "cult" of designer/publisher/entrepreneur has been so strong in RPGs, especially in Post-Forge circles.
    Yeah. The Forge was "indie-rpgs.com" and "indie rpg" meant "creator owned".
  • That's interesting; I do not see any reticence in this scene (much like the OSR scene) by people hacking games. If anything, there is almost too much hacking going on - it seems sometimes like hardly anyone plays a game "as written".

    My impression has been, rather, that people's tendency to stay away from things like SRDs in the "indie" world has been for a different reason:

    A strong line of thought which says that "Design Matters".

    This implies all kinds of things, but a big one is:

    * You can't just arbitrarily change rules within a game. Good game design has focus, and every part which doesn't support its themes should simply be excised.

    For example, in theory PbtA games should be able to swap moves and cross-pollinate playbooks and mechanical subsystems. In practice, though, well-designed PbtA games are so carefully put together that just cutting out a move and replacing it with another doesn't "gel" with the rest of the game.

    (In fact, I've heard many say that the "heartbreakers" [weak designs] of the PbtA design trend are those who don't hack deeply enough, instead just collecting a few bits here and there and throwing them together. Whether that's true or not, it's definitely an opinion I hear often, and pervades the 'scene'. Instead, people are encouraged to hack "deeply", essentially rebuilding games from the ground up.)
  • edited July 2017
    I think people know pretty well what rules they can comfortably use. My hacks have been more successful with players than my attempts to run games RAW. If I'm not inspired by a rule while reading it, I'm probably not able to channel its function at the table.

    While I think many games have elements that support each other, I still view game design as glorified "throwing things (or subsystems) together". Stuff like "focus", "purpose" and "vision" seem incredibly subjective to me. How do we measure if something is "carefully put together", when it comes to the sort of details people tend to hack?
  • Eero, it has been, and is being, done. See examples in thread.
    Heck there are examples from the nineties and ofc D&D 3e and the SRD being a grand success.

    I remember a GFDL game that used a weird tan-based curve, you needed a calculator. The Diminishing Returns Formula. Don't remember the name of the game though.
  • Yep, that's it. You could see it as an SRD under a OGL that encourages people to add their houserules, mechanics, hacks, variants, etc to the document, which now is something that the technology makes possible.
  • I do like the idea of a "living document" approach to a rulebook, which would allow the user to effortlessly mark which rules are being used, which aren't, and which house rules are in effect - that kind of thing. If it was easier than creating a whole new book/ruleset, that would be pretty cool. With software technology it wouldn't be hard to have a "select the rules you're using; add any extra rules; click 'export' to create your rulebook" kind of setup.

    It would be especially useful for games which have lots of "crunchy bits", like classes, random tables, Keys, feats, etc.
  • FYI, I'm part of the team doing a revised Dungeon World on Discord - you don't actually need to "get" Discord to contribute! Just checkout our Trello here:

    https://trello.com/b/rAnwtKJJ/dungeon-world-15
  • Discord, Trello and Google are barriers
  • edited July 2017
    Discord, Trello and Google are barriers
    Not to me.

    I suspect that Google isn't a barrier to many people, althought the other two are more obscure.

  • For this kind of collaboration, I get how they become barriers. I believe Google docs can manage versions, but finding which exact version or document you're looking for is a mess. Trello is great for coordinating collaboration, but in this case we don't need to coordinate too much, actually, everyone can work alone and say "hi, I've got this, plz upload to the repository" when done. Trello can't hold big chunks of information; certainly, you can introduce them as links, but that's not the idea here nor solves the format problem, which writing in Markdown does.

    I get that the tools used aren't popular for non-programmers, don't "look" intuitive, but the learning curve isn't as step as it looks.

    That said, is there any way that someone could make a thread here in SG to guide people who would like to collaborate and have absolutely no clue about what's Markdown and Github? Maybe guidelines about what to post and not would be great too.


  • That said, is there any way that someone could make a thread here in SG to guide people who would like to collaborate and have absolutely no clue about what's Markdown and Github? Maybe guidelines about what to post and not would be great too.

    I started a thread for this. Only license and markdown so far, but I plan to add some git stuff later on.

  • I am still really confused about what this actually is. Maybe an example workflow would help? I swear, I'm not following you around to harass you, it just really sounds like something I could be enthusiastic about (tools I love and use, design, open licenses) but I'm not sure if I'm "getting it" correctly.

    I would suggest LaTeX, by the way, as a tool for making the markdown attractive. I have plenty of templates to contribute if that sounds interesting.
    For what it's worth, Sandra, I've been talking design for like 15 years now, and I'm happy with simply, guilelessly giving. Ideas and interaction don't need to be a transaction, you can treat it all with generousity rules: the more you give, the greater you are, and you want to be great, because why waste your one life on being petty. I don't begrudge others the opportunity to run with some stray idea, they are a naturally occurring resource. The more I create, the more they flow, and I believe this to be the case for everybody: practice the creativity, and you'll find that you never run out. Trying to commoditize ideas (as opposed to development and productization - those are real work) seems like trying to commoditize love.

    Just my take on license jealousy, that.
    This is probably the most helpful and positive thing I've read on the internet in a while. My desire to use open licenses and to share my random design thoughts has been faltering recently. This really puts things back into perspective, reminds me why I went open in the first place. Thanks.

  • edited August 2017
    I am still really confused about what this actually is. Maybe an example workflow would help? I swear, I'm not following you around to harass you, it just really sounds like something I could be enthusiastic about (tools I love and use, design, open licenses) but I'm not sure if I'm "getting it" correctly.
    Just my 2ct: There is nothing to get correctly because "this" is not yet a thing. Or at least not one thing.

    Like, right now, whatever is happening here and in the other thread and maybe in some git repo here and there is just an idea that some random people found funny and/or interesting enough to punch some letters in theor computers. There isn't much to get because, so far, there's no one idea, no coherent movement, no specific project, really.

    Now, for me personally, I like the idea of spreading knowledge around, whether it's some kind of open game texts or how to use tools like git, etc. I like it when people publish their games in non-pdf format, because sometimes I like extracting stuff from them and it's incredibly painful most of the time.

    So that's why I started the other thread and made that one git repo. As for what other people (want to) get out of "this": You'd have to ask them.

    (At least until somebody writes up a manifesto, but those have fallen out of favor in these PoMO times.)

    I would suggest LaTeX, by the way, as a tool for making the markdown attractive. I have plenty of templates to contribute if that sounds interesting.
    *shudder*

    EDIT: That said, yay for you and others who dig LaTeX, I'm sure somebody out there could use them.

    (My relationship to it is kinda like my relationship to timezones: I'm happy people out there dig it enough to build tools so that I don't have to work with it directly. XD )
  • I'm not so fond of theory discussion as of making stuff and playing with it, so if someone is telling me there's a place just for that I'm definitely in, even if that means that I have to learn to use git, markdown, that I'll never see a dime out of it, that it may or may not last, etc. I'm okay, really. I'm okay if it becomes a game, if it focuses on a game, it it turns out to be game-agnostic or just turns out to be a bunch of loose mechanics we can all play with. That's it so far, I think.
  • So you're fine with basically anything, so long as there's no rpg theory involved [grin]?
  • Sorry, I didn't mean to be presumptuous! I get excited and enthusiastic about stuff and want to push push push do do do. I will chill, wait, and watch.

    This is inspiring me to put the "source" to more of my games up on github; I already have a sort of "blank LaTeX template" for one page micros in my repo.
  • Heh, no Eero, theory would be involved anyway, it's just to discuss about which theory is better and which makes more sense that I'm not so fond of. :P
  • Discord, Trello and Google are barriers
    Not to me.


  • edited August 2017
    :angry:
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