the Fairgame Archive

2005-11-02: Game for Hire
by Emily

The intrepid Matt Snyder has launched a role-playing game design contest called Game for Hire. (Also announced at the Forge here Contests are popular now with Iron Game Chef, 24-hour rpgs, the Ronnies and the like.  But this one comes with a big twist—we come up with an idea for an rpg, commit to playtesting it if it wins, and Matt picks one to design & publish.

These contests are a hot bed of creative design and, perhaps more importantly, they get people moving from having some vague idea of a game, to producing some version of it that can be viewed & reviewed by peers.  The game that comes out of this is usually just a sketch of a game—but there's a tremendous psychological gain in having written a draft down: It's beginning point for design & it proves to you as a designer that you have it in you. It also creates a group of peers you go through the experience with. It's no surprise that some of the more succuessful new games (Polaris & Mtn Witch) came out of these contests.

With Game for Hire, I can't help but imagine a gunslinger calling out to take on all comers. : ) Matt, if you're out there, I'd love to hear more about what gave you the idea.

2005-11-02 21:56:16 Matt Snyder

Hi, Emily, I'm out here!

Of course, I like that gunslinger imagery. But then, I would like that, wouldn't I?

Game For Hire boiled up from a a few different of things. You hit on one already—contest fever. I'm all for the design contests, and I had a hell of a lot of fun creating my boxing game for the October Ronnies.

Another reason sounds a bit more pathetic, I'm afraid. (Damn! There goes that gunslinger imagery!) I was frustrated with a couple things about my design work. Mainly, that is I have no local outlet for playtesting after I left my gaming group. And, I vowed never to publish a game again without playtesting. Obviously, that put me in a bind. I love to design games; I have no reliable means to test my designs. Poor Matt! So, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and do something about it.

That's a pretty good example of my attitude, really. (Hey, the gunslinger is back!) I haven't had complete grand-slam success as a designer. I haven't struck out, either! But, like a damn fool, I let that get me down. Then I remember that I think feeling sorry for oneself is pathetic. So, I knock it off and do something proactive about it instead. Revising Nine Worlds was like that.

I did Game For Hire for three main reasons. First, it's going to be a hell of lot of fun to design. Second, as a unique idea, it will generate buzz and contacts; part of that is buzz in general for indies, which I think is a good mission! It also makes for a built-in audience.Finally, it should guarantee playtesting, and thus better design.

Actually, I think it would be very cool if other designers did Game For Hire. There are lots of folks with more name recognition than me—Baker, Czege, Nixon, Sorensen, Wick, Wilson, Edwards, Stolze and on and on. They'd get a zillion cool ideas from fans.

2005-11-03 00:03:50 Emily

I hear ya. The hunt for playtest can be a long, arduous journey.  And it's so critical for good results! I like the fact that the game will go under the creative commons license.  I have so much respect for C. for doing TSoY that way. Go you!

This is a very cool idea. What you're doing is soliciting for collaborators to help get a game they like, designed right.  Will you be starting from the ground up, or do you have some ideas in mind you might try to adapt to the winning concept?

2005-11-03 14:53:26 Matt Snyder

My plan is to start from the ground up. I'm hoping for some knock-out ideas that get me going creatively. Of course, I will likely pull out some good ol' tools from my designers mental toolkit, but I think the game will be something new. Much of that depends on the game ideas, of course!

2005-11-18 14:12:22 anon.

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