Indie Game Reading Club
Indulgent 2016 Retrospective and Looking Forward
This was a pretty good year for the Indie Game Reading Club. Readership is up, engagement has been mostly good. I set up a website – a placeholder, really, for the domain name, for whatever I do with it down the road. Which is possibly, or probably, nothing more than what I’m doing now.
To brainstorm about this post, I went to January 2016 and started going forward. I’ve written a lot this year, good grief.
Edge of the Empire/Force and Destiny mashup. Failed because I forgot once again how much I hate working with FFG’s system.
Mutant Genlab Alpha: Nice game, I looove Mutant: Year Zero but this is not that. Enough stuff bugged me that it wasn’t hard to walk away from. But it was a very amusing one-shot at Rincon, as well.
Burning Wheel: Three times! Ran once, played twice. Played once, when a buddy ran his Mechwarrior hack, played again at BigBadCon with Gary Montgomery and Andi Carrison, and once when I overprepped and then ran a completely meh session at Dreamation for Ralph Mazza, Bret Gillan, Carly Knight, Keith Stetson and a fourth guy whose name I can’t spell so Plus won’t autocomplete it for me. With the release of the BW Codex this year, I’m feeling drawn to it again.
Mutant Year Zero: Ran a table of it at Dreamation. Fun, not awesome but fun. Great, great table of people. Who was there? Uh… Brand Robins, Misha B, Carly Knight, M. P. O’Sullivan and Mikael Andersson. Marvelous table. I feel like I squandered it.
Sagas of the Icelanders: It is good every single fucking time. Ran it twice as a convention one-shot, in fact. It needs/deserves to be a campaign someday.
The One Ring: My biggest and most successful campaign. I love it. I want to return to the Darkening of Mirkwood campaign in 2017. It’ll probably be one of my “17 sessions of two different games” goal.
Urban Shadows: Ran a very short campaign of this for my wife and another couple. Deeply disappointed that we couldn’t keep it moving. Life just keeps on keeping on.
No Thank You, Evil!: Two sessions for my daughter and wife. It’s been fun both times. I got to use the Story Cards supplement the second time and it was terrific. Highest marks.
The Sprawl: Pretty okay. Delivers exactly what it says it will, no more and no less. You want to run a cyberpunk caper? Play The Sprawl. The end.
Seco Creek Vigilance Committee: One-shot freeform by Keith Stetson. One of the few one-shot freeforms I can honestly say I want to play again.
Mars 244: The Liberation of Sisyphus: This is Rachel E.S. Walton’s superhack of Montsegur 1244, and it was such a pleasure and such a great table. My BigBadCon facilitation is probably the best freeform experience of my life so far.
Soth: Really fun session at BigBadCon, but it’s in a weird space in that it’s a…2-shot, maybe? I feel like it needs either two sessions or a 6-hour slot to get through the whole thing. You could maybe kick it in the ass and push through in four hours, but IMO it would feel rushed.
Zombie World: test-run at Rincon with Mark Diaz Truman. It’s promising! It was a good one-shot.
Primetime Adventures: run by the inestimable Jason Corley. Amazingly fun experience. I wish I had more faith that my home group could maintain tone and focus because I’d really like to run it at home at some point.
Headspace: It’s got some problems but fundamentally I do like it and so do my players. Not in a great head space (!) to run it right now but it might come back to the table at some point.
3:16 Fury Road: homebrew hack of 3:16 that’s not as catastrophic as other 3:16 convention games I’ve played (also with MadJay Brown) but just kind of dumb.
Meridian: cold first run of Christian Griffen’s newest freeform storygame. I’d totally bust this out at a convention again.
Undying: not a good game for me or our group. I’m sure it’s marvelous with the right people though.
EDIT I knew I’d forgotten some!
Superhuman is maybe the most compact, yet complete, little freeform I’ve ever experienced. Played at a strong table, could have easily gone on for several more hours. One sheet of paper!
Sorcerer finally, via Judd Karlman’s Dictionary of Mu cryptobarsoomian planetary romance weirdness setting. Put me in the mood to try straight Sorcerer at some point.
I’m sure I’m forgetting other con games as well.
Dreamation 2016, one of the BEEEEG indie gatherings and it was my first time there. I loved it, I wish I could just live at that con all year long. And, alas, I can’t go this year.
RinCon 2016, a local convention which continues to surprise me at how good the indie gaming track is there. I really wish there was something better, something similar here in Phoenix. Short drive, though, and I’m happy to make it.
BigBadCon 2016, another marvelous experience. I think of it kind of as the west coast version of the BEEEEG indie gathering at Dreamation. Smaller, tighter but a very focused and serious place to play games.
#indiegameaday2016 of course. Duh. Might do it again, might not. Diappointed that it caused problems and bad feelings for some folks, thrilled at the positive content. Very mixed experience and I don’t regret it one bit.
Games Put Out For Review
Just one, Robot Park. I’m very close to putting another one out. My real-American-West game, Misfortune, is stalled until I can come up with a better framing. It wasn’t an awesome year for me for design or hacking or whatever you want to call it.
Games I’m Looking Forward to in 2017
Of course there will probably be a dozen new games that come out that I don’t even know about. But as of right now, on the cusp of the new year and assuming nothing else appears on the horizon, this is what I’m looking forward to.
Space Wurm vs Moonicorn, for starters. We start that one on 1/3/17 and I’m super pumped.
The Clay That Woke, once SWvM wraps.
Apocalypse World 2E. I miss it!
Burning Wheel, hopefully as a player. I want someone else to run this and I’ve got a good candidate.
Wrath of the Autarch. Hopefully it’s not a huge time investment. Sure looks interesting though.
Coriolis, because come on. Space adventure from Fria Ligan, yes please.
Soth. I think it’d be a gas. The time factor is making it an iffy proposition.
Godbound. I keep reading it and I like what I see. I don’t have a lot of luck with OSR stuff (well…I didn’t have luck with Stars Without Number, I should say) but there’s enough different here that maybe it’ll be different this time?
Tales from the Loop: probably because I’m going to like what Fria Ligan has done with it a lot more once I actually read the text. Right now it’s a fanboy backing on Kickstarter.
Epyllion seems like it will inevitably get run at some point. It is just so tight and so good.
The One Ring, just to see if you actually can start a campaign again.
Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine. I want to decode it. It’s a creative challenge.
Noirlandia, probably at a convention.
Oh…I really don’t have any. I’m feeling just kind of scattered here at the end of the year.
I want to play longer runs of things. Exploring new systems is kind of wearing me out; I’m ready to explore the fiction more deeply again.
I really want to nudge my newest player into a more compatible creative space with the rest of us. She’s okay for now, and I think she’ll get there.
My appetite for experimenting with new systems is waning but this may be a cyclical thing. For whatever reason, the slog of learning and teaching and fighting with new games is wearing me out lately.
I would love to finish one of my game designs in a way that other people could actually pay me. I don’t think my IGRC essays are ever going to be a Patreon-type subsidized thing, but someday…someday, maybe.
I’m really looking forward to playing more games with my daughter. She’s just turned 5 and everything is new and exciting and confusing and awesome. So inspiring.
See y’all in 2017.