Immersive Story Methods is Live

March 29, 2008

John Kim’s terrific article from Push 1, Immersive Story Methods for Tabletop Play, is now nicely formatted and available on Bleeding Play. John lays out a solid set of guidelines for running a style of tabletop campaign in which one of the central goals is for the characters to explore their imaginary environment physically, socially, and emotionally.

Hopefully I can get the rest of these up this weekend, now that I’m less focused on other projects. Three more to go.


Push 1 Up, Needs Formatting

February 8, 2008

Getting closer. All the text from Push 1 is up and I’ve started formatting the introduction and Emily’s article, which are looking pretty sweet actually. Hopefully, by the weekend, I’ll have all the articles formatted properly, with tables and graphics included. Good luck understanding Mridangam without the gestures to go with it 🙂

In the formatted articles, I’ve stuck in links at the top to the PDF version of the entire book and the last few print copies available through IPR. Once those are gone, the book will only be available through Lulu and I probably won’t even bring copies to conventions. So if you’ve been planning on getting a print copy of Push 1 and don’t normally make Lulu orders, this could be your last chance.

Sami on Push 1

May 30, 2007

Sami Koponen was nice enough to send us his thoughts on Push 1, which I’m reposting here:

Sorry that my answer is a bit unstructualized. I’ve been hoping to write comments for a long time now, and I’m afraid that the only way to get it done is to just do it. No fancy tricks, no deep analysis. Just some pointers.

First of all, about the idea of Push: I absolutely love it. It seems to be the best chance for inter-cultural discussion, to find out new ways of role-playing. I just realized how utterly fragmented the role-playing scene is here in Finland: no-one knows what the others do, and cares maybe even less. I myself am very excited about the possible combinations, which can be made out of traditional role-playing, board games, Forgean movement, Nordic immersionism, larping, hermeneutics, psychology, theatre, JeepForm and a dozen of other things I haven’t even heard of yet. I have to admit that so far I have no idea why this is so exciting – that is, why should we mix everything we have. Push seems to be aiming more or less for the same target and, what’s more important, creating a community around this innovative and experimental brainstorm. All I need after this is play more.

Then about the articles. Collaborative Roleplaying and Immersive Story Methods felt oddly out-dated. Boss is like celebrating things I’ve been playing here in the cold North for the last three years and Kim is writing against party protagonism, which is a blast from the past. Sure, both writers gather information into a whole and present some new ideas while at it, but surely you can do better than that. Instead of saying “that is bad, but this is cool” I’d recommend to make the old things smoother (how to get the best of GMing) and/or pointing out where they fit (what is the proper use of party protagonism). Or, if this is not possible / uninteresting / whatever, the leave them to rot and embrace the new wave. This of course depends to who you are writing to: if the audience is Forge-ignorant folks, then some foundation might be justified. Though even then I’d say that actually playing a couple of these games is going to be an eye-opening experience: I still remember how I thought that the lack of the GM would lead into an incoherent story and illogic events, no matter what people told me. On the other hand it’s not a bad idea to collect and present some things that have been in fashion in the Forge, for I at least have no time nor patience to read the forum (I’m not the only one, how considers Forge to be a bit hard to approach). Somehow I just tend to think that Push and Forge are pretty well connected in the readers’ heads: if you don’t know the other, you don’t know the another either. Furthermore, Push seems to be a publication for (wanna-be) game designers, who are more interested in going forward than looking back.

I’m not in the right position to judge Against the Geek, Choice, since it’s about my native roleplaying history. It also expresses the call for cultural activity, which is no news to me. Reading about different roleplaying histories is interesting only in the sense that they can learn me to see how big part of roleplaing culture is merely a historical consequence. That covers all kinds of things like the idea that there are only certain characters, which you keep on following and controlling, and the marriage with the speculative fiction. The end result is therefore finding out more things somehow connected to roleplaying (Universalis is a great example of this; it’s not really a roleplaying game, not according to the tradition at least). On the other hand, there are a lots of things that these kinds of contemporary scene presentations could contribute, especially about the social status (publicity, rpg organisations), position (the relations to the mainstream) and execution (how are the games played) of roleplaying. Go for the unique features.

The games, Mridangam and Waiting for the Queen/Tea at Midnight, were clearly the most interesting part of the journal. Both hold huge amounts of ideas, like “hidden” conflict resolution system; the lack of conflict resoltion system; emphasizing the characters’ thoughts and emotions; pulling players to cooperate and participate in the same story; a clear, board game-like narrative structure; adapting to new instant media, just to name a few. It may not be the first time I run across them, but it seems to take a couple of instances before I recognize them and their meaning for the game. Very thought-provoking material especially in the sense that they make me take a hard look at all games, both those I play and those I design, and try to understand what they do, how and why. Analysizing practice, I suppose, and a lot more cheaper than buying a single whole game (which sometimes aren’t even ready yet).

I have the feeling that this message needs some sort of final word. I suppose it’s clear and simple: you now know how to make a journal. Don’t make me wait another couple of years for the next volume.

More Reviews of Vol 1

February 13, 2007

Over at Story Games, Matthijs Holter wrote:

I just read John & Emily’s articles. They both gave me a lot to think about, and a lot of very good ideas for my current campaign.John’s article is full of the sort of stuff that easily slips by you if you don’t pay attention – like a comment that “players need to be proactive for this to work”, which deserves to be – and is – a whole article in itself. His laid-back, non-edgy writing style often fools me into thinking he doesn’t really have anything important he wants to say, but he does.Emily’s article starts a bit slow – a lot of facts I think many people already know – but does a good job of categorizing different techniques, providing clear and concise examples, both from game texts and personal experience. Almost every page, I had to stop and jot down an idea for my campaign, or for a whole new game.If I’d read the articles when the book came out, I’m not sure they would have had the same impact at all. I read them the morning after a session when I had a lot of ideas and things to work out, and the articles addressed several issues I was thinking about. Yay!

And then Ryan Macklin wrote:

I just got my copy of Push Vol. 1 a couple weeks ago. I’ve been reading it piecemeal, digesting bits and thinking about the material as I go along.I enjoy reading games and then reading designer’s notes. So reading Jonathan Walton talk about how “Waiting for the Queen/Tea at Midnight” came into being alongside the game was very cool.Shreyas Sampat’s game was fascinating, and something I was able to use as a talking point with a friend who is into cultural anthropology but has also been burned on RPGs (thanks to some bad roleplaying experiences). I don’t know if I’ll ever play the game, but it is an eye-opening bit of interesting. I partly wish that there were some designers notes on it, but at the same time the lead does enough to set up the actual idea — what if RPGs grew out of something other than wargaming — so it doesn’t really need the added info.The contrast I’ll make here is that in how each, to me, handles “New Thinking About Roleplaying.” Jonathan talks about the idea itself some before going to the actual application whereas Shreyas jumps right out of the game with application. Both are awesome and rather complimentary. Shreya’s piece seems to follow the “show me, don’t tell me” model, whereas Jonathan does half-and-half. I like both, but I don’t think I would enjoy an issue that was more focused on showing at the determent of telling.I can’t say I found Emily Care Boss’s article particularly insightful, but then I’ve been dining from the plate of new gaming idea for some time now so the topic isn’t new to me. That being said, I think it’s well-organized and interesting. And there are plenty of folks for whom these topics are new — there are a couple people in my gaming groups who are going to be handed my copy when I’m done and told to read this article specifically.

Eero Tuovinen has some interesting things to say, but unfortunately I don’t. It was a neat look into a different gaming culture and the effects of globalization, and I’d be interesting in reading more such things, but I don’t have any particular comments.

I am a bit ashamed to admit that I haven’t finished John Kim’s article yet. Rather, I haven’t finished it a second time. It’s interesting, but I need to digest it a bit longer before I’d have more to say.

As far as the commentary goes, I’m a fan. I particularly like it when the commentary offers an alternative point of view or some other reference point for the discussion.

Yay for IPR!

February 13, 2007

Brennan tells me that we’ve recently sold out of the first 50 copies of Push vol 1 that Indie Press Revolution was distributing for us. I just sent them another 50 copies. According to Lulu, that means total print sales are now at around 175 copies, after little more than six months. That’s pretty exciting.

I keep meaning to run the finances on the first six months of Push sales (which ended in mid-January). But things have been busy here, since my housemate just left for Iraq. I’ll try to post those figures soon.

Outies for Us!

February 1, 2007

Shreyas Sampat’s Push 1 game Mridangam just earned a second runner-up Outie Award for Best Sui Generis RPG 2006 from (potential Push 2 commentator) Ken Hite! Congratulations, Shreyas!

A bunch of terrific games were mentioned this year. Check out the list compiled by (Push 1 contributor) John Kim for links to all of them.

Push Comments on RPGnet

November 25, 2006

Push Vol 1 got a nice mention in two recent RPGnet threads: a potential buyer asking for additional info and Phil Reed talking about how great Lulu is. Yay for us!

And check this out: I’m blogging here again! Guess that means Volume 2 is about to get underway…