The Time & Place for Criticism

February 21, 2008

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.

6 Responses to “The Time & Place for Criticism”

  1. Brennan Says:

    Word. I am planning on taking a bit more time with this one, as I definitely caught hell on Mortal Coil (after it was printed, of course).

    Also, you obviously like games with really long names.

  2. Jmstar Says:

    Glad to hear it Brennan, but what you are working with is really good.


  3. Brennan: I (Kazekami Kyoko Kills Kublai Khan) don’t (Severance of Heaven-Earth Confederation) know (The Untimely Demise of Christopher Marlowe) what (When The Forms Exhaust Their Variety) you (The 108 Bravos of Mount Liang) mean.


  4. Brennan: I (Kazekami Kyoko Kills Kublai Khan) don’t (Severance of Heaven-Earth Confederation) know (The Untimely Demise of Christopher Marlowe) what (When The Forms Exhaust Their Variety) you (The 108 Bravos of Mount Liang) mean.

  5. Anna Kreider Says:

    If I were writing a game from scratch, I probably would delay publishing due to lack of playtesting. But I’m hacking a finished system, which means that I have the luxury of having super-focused playtesting – that is when I do get playtests done. I’m probably going to go ahead and publish at GenCon this year, because I really doubt that another year in playtesting would improve the situation any. *shrug*


  6. Sure, I think that’s a fair response. Earlier, I was weighing making more changes to In A Wicked Age for this Water Margin hack I’m working on, because it would require more playtesting than if I stuck with Vincent’s already-polished system. So I definitely feel you.


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