Archive for February 21st, 2008

The Time & Place for Criticism

2008 Feb 21

Crossposted from this monster thread on Story Games.

I think one of the prominent issues in the awkward adolescence of indie roleplaying is “when and where is the best place for criticism to happen?” In my mind, if criticism happens after the game has already had several hundred copies printed, that’s far too late. Revisions and addendum and the like are all great, but not as good as having the criticism happen before games get commercially released. However, when people are not writing or designing their games in public, or when open playtests have only moderate participation, it’s really hard for that to happen, yeah? I can think of a couple of really cool games in playtest right now, Anna’s Thou Art But A Warrior and Brennan’s How We Came To Live Here, and it seems like they’ve only got a few folks actively involved in playing and offering criticism before the games get declared “done” and go to layout and commercial release.

Honestly, that’s where the tragedy is for me, not that criticism doesn’t happen after games released (because then it’s almost too late), but that people aren’t taking it upon themselves to offer criticism before mistakes or oversights become harder to fix. For my money, I’d rather be involved in and see more criticism at that stage in the game.

The Face of Angels

2008 Feb 21

Story Games Boston played Clinton’s The Face of Angels last night. It was fucking boss. Definitely what Rising Stars promised it would be and then failed to deliver: a small community of everyday people growing up with super-powers, slowly shifting from small-town problems to world-altering problems. And the system feels relatively unique and refreshing. Characters have no traits at all, hardly, and play is structured around “doing” stuff rather than “being” stuff, which is a design tactic that I’m a big fan of.

Face of Angels is now on the top of my list of “great games not available in print.” Everyone should go play it right now. The only confusing bits were some relatively minor issues of “who gets to narrate what when,” but I’m not sure if that was us being confused, the text being unclear, or Clinton doing that thing where he’s intentionally vague about less important stuff so that player groups can do whatever feels best. I’ll have to read the game myself later (Adam Flynn was running it) to get a better grasp of things.