Author Topic: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?  (Read 11415 times)

Offline wotmaniac

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2012, 10:46:59 PM »
One thing I've noticed in my casual experience with indie games is that a lot of them are a bit more focused and gimmicky. 
THIS RIGHT HERE!!!
Thanks, Unbeliever.
At least with "mainstream" games, you can usually ignore the crap while still playing the game the way it was intended.

Well, let's see ..... I mentioned 3 by name, plus the entire body of work by another guy (which is at least 4 from him) ....
Does Savage Worlds count as "indie"?  or are they a little to "formal" in their structure -- I mean, yeah they're small, but Pinnacle actually hands out licenses to 3rd-parties and stuff.  Anyway -- their RNG is broken (i.e., doesn't work the way they think it does), and the use of playing cards for initiative (and every round, no less) I find to be rather intrusive.

Offline savagehominid

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2012, 11:24:43 PM »
One thing I've noticed in my casual experience with indie games is that a lot of them are a bit more focused and gimmicky. 
THIS RIGHT HERE!!!
Thanks, Unbeliever.
At least with "mainstream" games, you can usually ignore the crap while still playing the game the way it was intended.

Well, let's see ..... I mentioned 3 by name, plus the entire body of work by another guy (which is at least 4 from him) ....
Does Savage Worlds count as "indie"?  or are they a little to "formal" in their structure -- I mean, yeah they're small, but Pinnacle actually hands out licenses to 3rd-parties and stuff.  Anyway -- their RNG is broken (i.e., doesn't work the way they think it does), and the use of playing cards for initiative (and every round, no less) I find to be rather intrusive.

Indie is means independently published, I think Pinnacle counts. It really is two or three guys, with a bunch of freelancers on a per project basis. There isn't a huge publishing house controlling the company, and Pinnacle isn't a a giant corporate game company. I think of it, as I do Indie Comics.

But as a whole, I totally get what your saying. Lots of those games are very focused, and have mechanics specifically designed around that, which of course are gimmicks. Its what makes certain games stand out from others. Woo!

Personally, I find any game that uses Minatures gimmicky. *SARCASM*

Now Savage Worlds is a traditional Roleplaying game. You got a GM, you got a team of adventurers. Rules are primarly focused on overcoming challenges with the use of skills, powers, and player ingenuity. One or two wrinkles gives the game its indenity. I mean, hell if it was just GURPS-lite with different dice...then, why the fuck wouldn't you play GURPS-lite.

 (For the record, I don't like Savage World or GURPS, but thats because I dislike generic games. I want the game to have an identity, and inspire me. I can just wank off and do my own thing without rules, if I so desire. However, I am interested in playing The Savage World of Solomon Kane, because they flavored the rules towards Solomon Kane a little more...and I'm a mark for any Robert E Howard property.)
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Offline veekie

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2012, 05:26:25 AM »
Indie games also have a bigger barrier to pass to establish themselves. Established lines have the strengths of more powerful marketing, existing player base(that you'd have to work at to lose), experience, and volume.

For example, when WotC or Paizo publishes one shitty book, they have dozens of OK books to fall back on, and the one book is the exception to the rule. An indie game has it all in one bag, they generally have to get everything dealt with in ONE book, and unless riding on the coats of existing design, they need to get the core mechanics right in one stroke.

The player base is another factor. The market for RPGs have a limited amount of money they're willing to spend on each genre. Some games come with their own player groups, so its easier to get started(get the new player the basic rulebook and the other players likely have their own copies), and you have people to teach the rules and do peer pressure attraction(e.g. when everyone in your area plays 4E, you are more likely to play 4E even if its maybe 4th or 5th in your personal preferences). Indie games must be niche to succeed, if they are trying to capture a broad audience you're directly contesting with the market strength of the big players, and that is unlikely to work out easily("I got this game thats like D&D but better!"*describe the rule system, gets tuned out*"Why not play D&D, everyone knows that already"). Player inertia is hard to shift.

That in turn gives you either simplistic rule systems or mods to one of the mainstream games. A simple resolution with minimal subsystems is MUCH easier to sell as they have no learning curve to climb, a mod to an extant game works because people know the rules already, they just need to tweak in places.
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Offline 10d10

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2012, 07:33:53 AM »
The only problem I have with some indie games is the fact that some of them seems, imo, to put a small role for the DM/GM/Narrator/Whatever you want to call him.

When I read a couple indie games (not Savage World or Burning Wheel, but those more story-driven and with light rules) I get the impression that the players got more power and the DM is more of a referee. As a player, I like to only play, sure its nice when the DM listen to ideas and put them in there, but I like to trust someone in that role. And as a DM I like the possibility of directing things (if that makes sense) and being just a referee doesn't sound fun (or doesn't sound as fun as being a player).

But I may be wrong, of course.

Offline steenan

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2012, 08:51:45 AM »
For me, the thematic and playstyle focus of indie games is what makes them valuable. I prefer having several narrowly focused games and being able to choose what fits my fancy to having a single game that does not support any specific style.

Big company games must aim for wide market, so they are slow to innovate and unwilling to take risks. Indie games focus. They, in most cases, describe clearly how they should be played (as opposed to forcing players to guess what they should and shouldn't do for the game to work as designed). They use mechanics that model the important aspects of fiction, instead of detracting from them or wasting time on unimportant things.

There are many that I definitely don't like - and it's natural; their focus is just not in my area of interest. But some are real gems, games close to perfection.

I love Dogs in the Vineyard for forcing me into hard choices and making my choices matter.
I love Mouseguard for truly heroic play - doing what I believe is right in a world where everything is bigger and meaner than me.
I love Nobilis for strange and fascinating setting and for solid framework that makes long-term projects interesting, without relegating them to GM fiat.

As a GM, I'm glad for a system that helps me in making the play interesting, instead of forcing me to compromise or ignore the mechanics.
As a player, I'm happy that I can focus on what is interesting and dramatic, instead of playing two hours through boring minutia before getting there.

Offline wotmaniac

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2012, 09:15:23 AM »
A side question: What do you see as warning signs about the verbage I used?
It was just your whole vibe.  It wasn't derogatory -- it just helped me to better understand your frame of reference.

Wotcmaniac, may I suggest you try... LEGEND?
Bookmarked it -- I'll take a look this weekend.  Thanks.

The only problem I have with some indie games is the fact that some of them seems, imo, to put a small role for the DM/GM/Narrator/Whatever you want to call him.
Yeah, a lot of them seem like their designers have suffered some abusive GMs, or are just generally self-entitled as players (thank you Dr. Spock :ahem).

@ veekie:
here's a kudos for you.
_____________________

Okay, so here's a question:
What's with these vaguely abstracted character features I see so much?  Attributes are the biggest one -- it's like they just took some abstract concepts, slapped them on a character sheet, and said "hey, throw some numbers in their" .... I mean, I guess I see what their going for, but a lot of times its just like "really? WTF?".

Offline savagehominid

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2012, 09:22:28 AM »
The only problem I have with some indie games is the fact that some of them seems, imo, to put a small role for the DM/GM/Narrator/Whatever you want to call him.

When I read a couple indie games (not Savage World or Burning Wheel, but those more story-driven and with light rules) I get the impression that the players got more power and the DM is more of a referee. As a player, I like to only play, sure its nice when the DM listen to ideas and put them in there, but I like to trust someone in that role. And as a DM I like the possibility of directing things (if that makes sense) and being just a referee doesn't sound fun (or doesn't sound as fun as being a player).

But I may be wrong, of course.

A some don't even have GMs...some have multiple GMs and one Player! *gasp*

Actually, it isn't so much the role is made smaller. The role is just far more focused (like the rest of play), the games usually spell out "Hey GM, your job is to do X, here are your rules too". Now in some cases it is fairly small, but any indie game that has a GM, usually hands them a lot of power and responsibility over key areas.


Yeah, a lot of them seem like their designers have suffered some abusive GMs, or are just generally self-entitled as players (thank you Dr. Spock :ahem).

Man, that old hat, again? Whats wrong with games which are different in focus and mechanics, altering the classic GM role a bit. Some games require a different set of skills to run.

Once again, this has to do with expectations. If someone says this RPG is GMless, and about using Science Fiction to explore social issues (Shock: social science fiction). It would be a bit daft to expect tradtional rpg play.
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Offline savagehominid

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2012, 09:31:40 AM »
What's with these vaguely abstracted character features I see so much?  Attributes are the biggest one -- it's like they just took some abstract concepts, slapped them on a character sheet, and said "hey, throw some numbers in their" .... I mean, I guess I see what their going for, but a lot of times its just like "really? WTF?".

Sometimes its not what you fight, but what you fight for!

These serve as a player-to-GM flag, about how the player will accomplish tasks, and also situations they want to face. Also it will telegraph possilbe moves the play will make. Smart GMs will offer difficult choices...for example in Heroquest. A player could be put in a situation where his "Beserker Warrior 9m2" would not be the smartest to use. Say a ritual, duel to first blood. Yes the player could use it, but could go too far (since results are still narrated by the GM) on the attack. So the player has to fall back on a different keyword (say Guardsman .

Its different, some games do it well, others...I scratch my head too. I've never really dug PDQ for instance (though PDQ# is much better), a little loosey goosey even for me. The ones that do it well, usually have a very strong setting or premise, and it is fairly obvious what fits to choose as words (or part of chargen is campaing setup, and figuring out what thematically works best).
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Offline 10d10

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2012, 06:22:49 AM »
A some don't even have GMs...some have multiple GMs and one Player! *gasp*

Le gasp!

Actually, it isn't so much the role is made smaller. The role is just far more focused (like the rest of play), the games usually spell out "Hey GM, your job is to do X, here are your rules too". Now in some cases it is fairly small, but any indie game that has a GM, usually hands them a lot of power and responsibility over key areas.

Can you give examples of indie games who gives a different role for the players? As in "X player helps the DM to come up with problems for the group, Y player is in charge of hitting someone with a chair if they screw with the group and Z player gives the XP he thinks its wise, making W player the only one running around and only playing in the new game Everyone is a DM".

I'm just curious because, like I said, the only games I saw gave me the impression that the DM was more of a small role looking for grave errors just to point them out.

Offline savagehominid

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2012, 11:59:27 AM »
A some don't even have GMs...some have multiple GMs and one Player! *gasp*

Le gasp!

Actually, it isn't so much the role is made smaller. The role is just far more focused (like the rest of play), the games usually spell out "Hey GM, your job is to do X, here are your rules too". Now in some cases it is fairly small, but any indie game that has a GM, usually hands them a lot of power and responsibility over key areas.

Can you give examples of indie games who gives a different role for the players? As in "X player helps the DM to come up with problems for the group, Y player is in charge of hitting someone with a chair if they screw with the group and Z player gives the XP he thinks its wise, making W player the only one running around and only playing in the new game Everyone is a DM".

I'm just curious because, like I said, the only games I saw gave me the impression that the DM was more of a small role looking for grave errors just to point them out.

Hm, I have an interesting example from Polaris.

Polaris requires 4 players...

The Heart, the protagonist of the scene.
The Mistaken, who plays the roll of the antagonist, and plays any demons or mistaken characters.
The New Moon, who plays personal relationships and any minor female characters.
The Full Moon, who plays hierarchical relationships and any minor male characters.

Polaris is about Chilvirc Tragedy in the far north. A Heart, is one knight. Each player creates a Knight, so after each scene play switches. Who takes what roll is chosen by seating arrangement. Example, the player across from the Heart is the Mistaken.

The Mistaken is more or less the DM, in the sense they bring the challenge. They play demons, they make things harder on the heart by complicating their life. The moons act as rules arbiters for the scene, they determine experience rolls, and adjudicate any disagreements over the rules.

Let me think of another...
Shock is similar. One player plays the protagonist for a scene, the player next to him the antagonist. The rest of players (from what I remember), play other NPCs, and also are the judge for conflict resolution. They also assign dice effects like damage and such. Like "oh during the struggle, since you rolled poorly, you totally got shot. So write that down on your character sheet.


And another...
The Drifters Escape! You have one player, the Drifter. The other players play The Man or the Devil. If the Drifter goes somewhere controlled by the Man, the man sets the scene and stuff. If the drifter goes somewhere beholden to the Devil, the devil sets the scene. Whats cool, is that conflict resolution is done by poker...NOW if the Drifter doesn't like his hand, he can ask for a deal from the Devil or the Man. They simply state what they require, and blamo!

The game feels likes a 70's sleazy thriller, like Taxi Driver or Walking Tall, maybe even First Blood with the right mix of ingredients.

Thats all the comes to mind at the moment. Most GMfull games are very non traditional, so I am unsure about your exact example. I know a few games support rotating GMs as well
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Offline 10d10

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2012, 10:41:40 AM »
Polaris sounds interesting. I'll check it out but I'm sure it will be (if my group plays it) a "once in a year" (or something like that) kind of game. Sometimes a game too open tends to be... too open, you know?

But the Drifters Escape sounded more like a board game with a bit of roleplaying than a 100% RPG game. Although, it still sounds fun (I'm just analyzing from the RPG's point of view).

Thanks for those examples, I'll search them out :)

Offline savagehominid

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #31 on: February 11, 2012, 03:29:56 PM »
Polaris sounds interesting. I'll check it out but I'm sure it will be (if my group plays it) a "once in a year" (or something like that) kind of game. Sometimes a game too open tends to be... too open, you know?

But the Drifters Escape sounded more like a board game with a bit of roleplaying than a 100% RPG game. Although, it still sounds fun (I'm just analyzing from the RPG's point of view).

Thanks for those examples, I'll search them out :)

Drifter's Escape is a very intense roleplaying game. What is a roleplaying game other than a set of a rules that feedback into an open fiction.

Drifter is a single session game, while Polaris goes on for around 4 to 6 sessions. Both are once in awhile sort of games, but hey they provide hours of entertainment!
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Offline Unbeliever

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2012, 12:53:39 PM »
^ this sort of points out another thing with most Indie games.  They're the opposite of campaign games.  That's not a criticism, the only one I would have is if it doesn't clearly state so on the back of the book or something.

The other complaint along those lines would be like something like Polaris, which sounds pretty interesting, is to clearly signal the kind of game we're going to be getting ourselves into.  Despite my complaints about Burning Wheel, it does this pretty well.  What I mean is telling me "it's a game about chivalric fantasy" doesn't really help -- a D&D campaign could be just as much about that, or nearly so.  There's a lot of new structures out there that I'm going to have to be primed for, if only b/c I'm used to a certain default.  Mouseguard does this pretty spot on.  It clearly announces the kind of game it's going to be, and glancing at the character sheet (which is admittedly simple) you get a sense of what you're getting yourselves into. 

Offline Amechra

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2012, 12:05:59 AM »
Risus doesn't suck... it is love.

I mean, seriously, as soon as you figure out something to deal with the fact that Death Spirals are very easy to get onto (before pumping and the like), it can model nearly any genre.

It is the best non-genre specific game I have read, hands down.
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Offline FlaminCows

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #34 on: August 29, 2012, 09:50:56 PM »
Is there a difference between indie suckatude, and that of more "big names"?  Clearly, there must be a different standard; but do those 2 standards have to be so far apart?

Or am I missing something?
Somebody, please shed some light.
I've only recently been trying to seriously expand the breadth of my RPG repertoire, and I'm really having trouble finding something that isn't repulsive.

The answer to that is pretty simple, really. At the start, all game companies are "independent". Original D&D was made by what, three guys? And let's be honest, it was pretty bad in many ways. Wizards of the Coast, too, started off in a basement making small print runs of RPGs until Richard Garfield made it big with Magic, which wasn't nearly as good then as it is now. Basically, the "indie gaming company" is just the larval form of a big publisher. A big publisher only got big by building upon the work of the previous generations, and a big companies' games are more polished and complete because it takes many, many years of trial and error to figure out how best to go about it.

The indie companies of today are indie because they have not yet found a niche which would sustain them until they can work out the problems with their game or make a new one based on what they've learned from the failure of the first. A lot of the niches they try may look really off-the-wall and stupid, but in truth, so did all new game ideas at some point. That's not to say all their ideas are equal, of course, just that something that looks like a bad idea today might become the bestseller of tomorrow.

In short, all gaming companies are indie companies until they succeed, which gives the illusion that only the big companies are successful. When an indie company makes a good game, it rapidly stops being indie.

Offline wotmaniac

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Re: Why do indie games have to suck so bad?
« Reply #35 on: September 29, 2012, 12:05:49 PM »
Thanks, flamincows.

Yeah, I'm starting to come around on the issue (especially now that I've been trying to design my own game -- I'm definitely developing a greater appreciation)