2011-09-07 : Trad vs Indie: FIGHT! pt1
Two of the panels I was on, one each at Paxes Dev and Prime, promised to be trad* vs indie knock down drag outs. I'll take 'em in turn. (Spoiler: they didn't turn into fights after all.) At Pax Dev:
The Modern RPG: What Mainstream RPGs Can Learn from Indie, and Vice Versa
The massive growth in indie roleplaying games comes at a time when the powerhouses of game design are reaching out for new fanbases and new ideas. In the creation of RPGs, we're witnessing a meeting of the worlds, where players of D&D and Pathfinder enjoy games like Fiasco and Action Castle. Surely the two styles can learn from each other. So we've put together a convention-ending roundtable of luminaries from both sides of that dynamic divide. Kobold Quarterly kobold-in-chief Wolfgang Baur moderates an epic panel that includes Vincent Baker, author of Dogs in the Vineyard; John Harper, designer of AGON and Lady Blackbird; Sage LaTorra, author of Dungeon Worlds; Mike Mearls, creator of Iron Heroes and lead developer of 4th edition D&D; Erik Mona, publisher of Pathfinder; Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat, designer of Blowback; Jonathan Tweet, designer of 3rd Edition D&D and Everway; and Jonathan Walton, publisher of Push: New Thinking About Roleplaying. Now that's a way to end a convention.
Wolfgang Baur, Vincent Baker, John Harper, Sage LaTorra, Mike Mearls, Erik Mona, Jonathan Walton
(Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat and Jonathan Tweet didn't make it to the con so weren't on the panel after all, alas.)
The panel started with some joking about weapons and to the death, but turned basically at once into a giant session of what we like about each other. On our side, we all grew up playing trad games, of course, and still do play them, and now we're designing and publishing games that are like one or two bare generations from Over the Edge and Everway (too bad Jonathan Tweet didn't show!) On their side, Mike Mearls started indie and Wolfgang Baur launched his magazine from his dining room table. If there's a divide it's thin.
Erik Mona envies the fact that we own our own work and can chase after whatever crazy ideas come into our heads. We envy his audience and access to distribution.
There was a little bit of "you indie guys don't have to care about being profitable" that I got to take exception to, but it turned quickly into "what you care about as a publisher depends on the size of your endeavor," which is of course true. Erik has to worry about PDF piracy in a way that I just don't - the opposite, in fact. I have to worry about selling through retailers in a way that he just doesn't - the opposite, in fact. Who knew, what's a good thing at one scale of publishing is a bad thing at another.
They have more mouths to feed than I do, but profit is sunlight and water to my games and to their games just alike.
We didn't talk about design in any detail, beyond "you guys can experiment, we have to please our core audience." Maybe there would have been some, I dunno, frowning at each other, then, but I kind of doubt it.
There is one thing to notice, though: "trad vs indie" here meant "D&D vs indie." This is exciting to me. I'll come back to it later.
John, Jonathan, Sage, any thoughts? (Or Erik, Mike, Wolfgang, heck, if you happen by, any thoughts from you?)
1. On 2011-09-07, Vincent said:
2. On 2011-09-07, John Harper said:
3. On 2011-09-07, Sage said:
4. On 2011-09-07, Joshua A.C. Newman said:
5. On 2011-09-07, Josh W said:
6. On 2011-09-08, Jonathan said:
7. On 2011-09-08, Jonathan said:
8. On 2011-09-08, Vincent said:
9. On 2011-09-08, Jonathan said:
10. On 2011-09-08, Jonathan said:
11. On 2011-09-08, Alex D said:
12. On 2011-09-08, Josh W said:
13. On 2011-09-08, Joel said:
14. On 2011-09-08, Jonathan said:
15. On 2011-09-08, Joel said:
16. On 2011-09-08, sage said:
17. On 2011-09-09, anon. said:
18. On 2011-09-09, Vincent said:
19. On 2011-09-09, Weeks said:
20. On 2011-09-09, Adams said:
21. On 2011-09-09, Vincent said:
22. On 2011-09-14, Moreno R. said: