Episode 145: The Evolution of Indie Games

Hosts: Megan, Rob, Todd

What did we play? (18:20)
The Sword, The Crown, the Unspeakable Power – Todd, Timo, Megan
Pandemic, Tribune – Timo
Borderlands 2 – Todd
Apocalypse World

– Tim

Main Topic: The Evolution of Indie Games (21:50)
Prompted by an email from one of our listeners (Jamil, you can find his blog here), we invite Tim Kleinert on to talk about how what we (probably incorrectly) label “Indie Games” came about, including a brief history of the Forge.

Megan: Cats, stop or I will punch you in the face.
Tim: Cankersores, redux!
Timo: Prime Suspect is pretty damn good.
Todd: The sudden impact of flu leaves me stunned.

Other Links
Fatal Review
The Mountain Witch
Great Ork Gods
The Forge Archives, Wiki
Ron EdwardsSorceror
Clinton R NixonDonjon
Gamers Table
Riddle of Steel
Burning Wheel
Kill Puppies for Satan
Prime Time Adventures
Dogs in the Vineyard
Shadow of Yesterday
Story Games
Dust Devils
Legends of Alyria
Dresden Files
Chicagoland Games
Cat and Mouse Games
Glory to Rome

You have

been listening to The Jank Cast, copyright under the creative commons license. You can find out more about us at jankcast.com. You can send comments and feedback to feedback@jankcast.com We are sponsored by Chicagoland Games, and encourage you to get in touch with us via our Facebook page, Spooky Outhouse Forum (it’s a little quiet, but we’d love to get it going again), Twitter or Google+. You can also listen to us via Stitcher Radio. Now go out and roll some dice!

5 thoughts on “Episode 145: The Evolution of Indie Games

  1. Hi Jank Cast, I’m another European listener from the UK and wanted to ask you a question regarding the playbooks from Apocalypse World and its hack/variants. I’ve played Monster Of The Week and Apocalypse World with my home group and it works well for us so I’ve been looking round for other ‘World’ games. I’ve just downloaded the Hyborian Saga playbooks by Gavinwulf and the character pictures are the front covers from the Conan paperbacks. They’re very evocative but do you think that since the playbook is also the PC’s character sheet that the picture unconsciously affects the character that they create or help to shape the tone of the game? Also are you planning to release The Sword, The Crown, the Unspeakable Power as a pdf at any point? Sounds good and I know my group would like to play it.
    Thank you

  2. Hi James,

    In my opinion, the picture on the splats really can affect your character: I know todd said that his character for Monster of the Week came straight from the picture, and I know the Spooky in that game trends towards small-weird-girl more than anything else due to the picture. Though I must say, that seems to be most true for that hack rather than the others: i can’t say that the pictures from AW or Monsterhearts have really affected me that deeply. Perhaps it’s an aesthetic thing? Both AW and Monsterhearts go for very stark, almost abstract black-and-white while Monster of the Week has the engaging cartoony feel to the art. Dunno, just thinking aloud here…

  3. Chiming in at about 29 minutes.

    1. The original TXT-file Sorcerer was made available in shareware-style fashion in late 1996 for $5. It was first offered for sale-only in PDF form in 1998 for $10.

    2. The spirit of design at the Forge was deliberately retro in certain ways to the mid-late 1970s, when RPG design was being both invented and diversified, and when RPG publishing was crazily independent, more like underground comix and samizdat than anything. Throughout the history of role-playing, this energy did still persist, although often so marginalized by publishing and distribution venues as to seem absent. Don’t forge Erick Wujcik’s Amber, a standout example, from 1989, for instance.

    So as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t invent the independent movement in role-playing at all. I recognized its power, recognized that it was present and viable on the internet, recognized that the internet offered a way to break the back of the current (despicable) distribution practices, and decided to articulate these things up-front, without shame. I have never taken credit for the phenomenon and have tried to acknowledge its true history throughout all my books.

    3. The website history account is borked. There is no “before Ron” in the history of the Forge. Ed Healy and I started a site called Hephaestus’ Forge in 1999 (indierpgs.com). It didn’t have any forums or discussion-based features; it was intended to complement the discussions at the Gaming Outpost at the time, which is where I’d first published System Does Matter and The Nuked Apple-cart, and where I was doing most of my independent-advocacy and Sorcerer promotion by then. Ed and I wanted to scour the internet (remember, this is pre-Google) for independent RPGs, especially little things that would probably never get seen by anyone but were good, and play and review them.

    After some hassles with server fees and a website-shutdown, Clinton (who’d been active in discussions) offered to re-do the site with a new URL, adding the hyphen. Also, as it turned out, the Gaming Outpost had changed a lot, requiring paid registration among other things, and so Clinton and I said, hey, we can do the forum thing ourselves. Ed was still involved at this point. We went live with it in the spring of 2001.

    The book version of Sorcerer was first printed for GenCon 2001, so the horde of people who came and worked at the booth, or hung out there, were fueled by the energy for Sorcerer and also for the Forge.

  4. Thanks for the clarification Ron! I had a feeling I was going to confuse some of that stuff.

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