What Are My Goals?
Posted by Nathan P. on December 20, 2005
Warning: long post full of self-reflective wankery, and probably whining.
Something strange is going on. Maybe it’s just that I’m becoming more aware of it, but it seems that there’s been many recents bursts of anti-Forge sentiment, in addition to the usual suspects. Many of which bring up good critical points, though, I think, oftentimes made in a generalized and over-perjorative manner.
There’s also the stirring of post-Forge movement, which I don’t know how I feel about.
Of course, this is all coming at a time when I am the absolute happiest with the activity, clarity and general awesomeness on the Forge Publishing and Actual Play forums, as well as when I’m in the middle of getting my first title some traction, and getting ready for the playtest cycle on my next one.
So I feel pulled in many directions, and having to take stock of
- My motivations for design.
- My motivations for theorizing (or at least for theoretical wankery).
- My goals for my games as creative product.
- My goals for my games as something profitable.
- My goals as a gamer.
Which seem to be conflicting, in some ways.
On the creative level, I’m perfectely happy making something I like and think works, putting it out there, and revisiting it every so often. But I also take it seriously, as (ideally) a craft – and that means I think it’s worth charging for. I don’t see why I shouldn’t make beer money off of the amount of effort and time I put into design and play (because, really, they need each other), especially when I feel like I’m fulfilling needs that I don’t see filled in the marketplace.
However, do I have the will to really make a business effort out of this? I don’t know. So far it’s been hard, and I hope that payoff is coming down the road, because it sure as hell isn’t immediate. I fear that at some point I’m just going to not be able to sustain the effort any more, say hell with it, take the losses and leave everything as a free download.
All in addition to a time when I’m unsure of my place in the community, as well as the future of that community. Unless the three-tier system implodes under its own weight (which wouldn’t be horribly surprising, but I don’t think is a certain thing either), we’re never going to be a significant market presence. One reaction to this is “fuck the market, I’m doing my shit, and it’s different anyway.” Which is totally cool. But that’s not me. I don’t want to identify what I do as something other than roleplaying. I don’t want to sidestep all the “mainstream” players. I was one, and I still play those games, and have fun. If the indie community moves towards becoming a seperate community with a seperate market, thats cool. Will I be part of it? I don’t know.
Another reaction is to focus on our strengths, in a thoughtful manner. Focused games with a specific play experience in mind, honesty in design goals, availability to the community and willingness to consider critiques and evaluations in a forthright manner, support for each other (both by playing each others games and hiring each other as editors, artists, etc) in addition to a low-risk, low-audience business model. Now, doing this while maintaining positive links to the larger role-playing community, is that a challenge? Probably. But it resonates with me.
I don’t know where I’m really going with this. I fear that the Indie community is going to fragment into individual voices in the wilderness. I hope that there will be cohesion and progressive development, even if it means dropping a lot of Forge baggage in order to be more inclusive/welcoming. I see both as possibilities.