Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Feedback: Is this working?

So, I’ve been questioning this model for a few months now. This worked early on, but it’s not something that can be sustained. I haven’t posted up my monthly bits because, well, I don’t feel like I’m much of a participant anymore.If you look at the three people who first started this: Mike, Paul & I — look at how much we post. Really, none of us are doing what the site was created to support. Paul’s really beyond the scope of this. Mike doesn’t really post much and is having problems getting started. I have found personal conversations with some friends to be more gratifying about Mythender than here — and that’s after I changed my project on here more than once. (Hell, I just realized that what I should be working on with Mythender isn’t Mythender the RPG, but Mythender the narrative war game — and grow the RPG out of that.  And maybe here isn’t the place for that.)

Jeff Himmelman has found an audience for his book, and (I assume) is engaging with them. Jeff Lower hasn’t posted much here, but I didn’t want to seem uninviting by taking him off. Daniel has just bowed out, and Ben before him. Clyde posted recently, but hasn’t posted in some time. And, frankly, is anyone actually doing the Ping anymore? I got a little burned in pinging people only to hear them say they’ll post and not, so I just stopped in the interest of letting those with drive get the time they put into the site.

Right now, this site is the Chris Perrin & Rob Bohl show, with some of us watching on occasion or making our own posts. And that’s totally cool — but, some people have moved on. Overall, this group needs something new to happen to it — I just don’t quite know what that is, and in the spirit of being autocratic I shouldn’t be the only one making that decision. The only decision I feel like I can make without consulting ya’ll (including those who aren’t on the list but have an interest, like Rich Rogers & Matt Gandy), is to bow out, but as the accidentally-official head of this thing that’s more complicated.

Consider this the “monthly group feedback” post that I haven’t done in some time.

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April 3, 2008 - Posted by | Group Feedback

19 Comments »

  1. My two cents’ worth, as an outsider: who “owns” Master Mines? Ryan, I know you’ve kinda organized it and run it, but you don’t seem to feel it’s your decision to make. Whose is it? Does everyone need to vote?

    Regardless, my advice is: pass it on. Step back and let Chris or Rob administrate for a bit, if they’re the active ones. If folks wanna leave, they’re gonna leave. If folks want to step back, for whatever reason, let them. If motivation isn’t what people want or need right now, don’t push it. If folks like Mike or Clyde *do* need focused attention, give it to them, and encourage others to do so.

    Again, just an outsider’s opinion.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  2. #1 Where the heck is the ping? Where is the part of Master Mines where members agreee to post regularly and keep each other motivated and working towards completion? I’m not an official member and I post more than many of the people listed in the About piece. This site lost the Eye of the Tiger.
    #2 The site started dropping off as people got closer to publishing. Perhaps Master Mines can’t function as well once a designer gets to a certain point in the pipeline? Perhaps Master Mines works best in early phases.
    #3 If new blood is what it will take, I’ve been thinking about jumping in. But of late, the lack of activitity has kept me working outside of the site. Really, if Master Mines is a dead horse, why would I want to saddle up?

    This response is blunt, but joining MAster Mines was one of my Gamer Resolutions for ’08. By the time I felt comfortable enough with some of my own design questions to consider joining, the site became quiet. So, I’m frustrated. I don’t want autocracy, somebody get in and kick this in gear. Why not me? Well, look at my comments, I don’t think critically enough to drive people forward with their designs.

    Comment by orklord | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  3. I was telling Ryan that the problem I see is that most games here are either close to done/done, or in really early stages, where you want to be writing the game and not posts necessarily. I already stated why the site doesn’t work for me right now, but I find value in having a place to vent off design stuff (because frankly, the established forum communities are not always the place, but that’s something else altogether).

    The beauty of this format is that it is self-sustaining, so Ryan could take a step back to work on Mythender while Chris, Clyde and Rob work on their games and the rest of us chime in.

    I think we do need new members that can bring in new projects to replenish those that are done and take the place of those of us bowing out. This is the only thing where I see some sort of moderator being of use, so that the addition of “members” can be monitored.

    I think each member listed in the About section needs to reestablish what is their status, and if they are done, then bow out until they have a new project for which Master Mines will be the optimal design help forum. I always got the idea that Master Mines was to be like the Avengers or the JLA: it started with a lineup, but then members leave and others arrive, with all being reservists for when the whole team is needed to defeat Galactus or Darkseid.

    Rich, by all means come in, man, and bring that fire to the table. Maybe you start taking care of the pings for a while. In my experience, a new face with new energy sometimes does wonders for the rest of the group.

    Comment by Daniel M. Perez | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  4. Daniel,

    Be careful calling upon the thunder. This is one of the few gaming sites I can visit whilst at work.

    I think revising people who are not early in the development phase into reserve status is a good idea. Let’s keep those in development front and center. I don’t think MM should be all things to all people.

    And the ping needs a comeback.

    Comment by orklord | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  5. Perhaps we should all take a step back and consider if there are times when designers, on average, are more likely to post.

    For me, I needed a lot of help/encouragement/butt kicking in the initial phase right after I said “I want to write a mecha game” up until the point when I first started putting finger to keyboard (pen to paper is such an antiquated expression ;))

    Then I wrote the game and ended up with a 100 page document that needed playtesting. So as I am playtesting, my playtesters are engaged enough in the game that as we spot problems, we correct problems and go on. So I don’t need the Master Mines’ help in that aspect. Hence even if this is the Chris Perrin show, I’m more of the warm up act. For now.

    Because I know there is going to come a time when I stump my playtest group and I need to tap your all’s awesome reserves to figure out how to address a problem. Then I’ll need beta playtesters. Then I’ll need feedback on production of the book.

    Then I probably won’t need the group’s help as I copyedit, lay the book out, etc. etc. Perhaps a question here and there.

    Then I’ll have a book. Then I’ll have my next project and I’ll be back at the conceptualization stage where I again need awesome by osmosis from Master Mines again…

    So… for me, the utility of Master Mines boils down to things. 1) Those who are getting set to publish, will you do you next game on Master Mines? 2) Ryan, did MM fail you by not giving you good ideas or were those conversations you had with friends like the conversations I have with my playtesters where they are closer to the game and therefore can help me solve it?

    Comment by commondialog | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  6. I’m with Rich: bring folks in, rejigger the system, and let ‘er rip. I’m also ready to jump in now, whereas I haven’t been for the past six months, and this is also one of the few gaming sites I can access at work.

    How about a more specific process, where folks use MM to touch base only at certain stages of the process? For example, some folks might want to use it heavily to settle on a solid concept for their design, then work on a playtest draft on their own, come back when playtesting or comment is needed, and leave again when it’s time for final draft/editing/publishing.

    Pings should be for folks who need external stimulus to stay focused – folks like me. I like helping others with concepts and initial problems, but I don’t think this is the venue for editing or publishing.

    Revise the status to reflect some of this – anyone who is Designing or Playtesting should be pinged, and every other status is interstitial. Also, a status for the very beginning of the process might be appropriate, as you settle on the concept for your game and try and answer the Big 3.

    Again, just my two cents’ worth, but MM does still have value, maybe just not to the same people in the same ways.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  7. However, “alumni” should still try to visit and comment, or the system fails as old blood leaves and new blood is left to support itself.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  8. My two cents’ worth, as an outsider: who “owns” Master Mines? Ryan, I know you’ve kinda organized it and run it, but you don’t seem to feel it’s your decision to make. Whose is it? Does everyone need to vote?

    To answer your question: Mike Sugarbaker, Paul Tevis & I, I believe, have full admin access to this thing. All that really means is that we (though, in practice I) add new members and approve or delete comments that are flagged as pending. Oh, and I can create the categories on the side.

    How I to handle decisions is asking a couple members what they think of an idea privately — a holdover from where this was the Sugarbaker-Macklin-Tevis show.

    Really, if Master Mines is a dead horse, why would I want to saddle up?

    Rich, you’re already a member on this site — have been since the early days. So stop thinking about saddling up and just do it. Even if MM dies off, the work you do in posting up your ideas here will have some benefit.

    And for those who want the ping to come back: be the change you want. Ping people. Just don’t say “The ping needs a comeback” and wait for someone else to do it. You don’t have to be a member to send someone an email. Now, I don’t think any of the scheduling ideas work, and with all the freelance editing I’m doing right now, I would actually quit MM myself if that was brought back as a requirement.

    Ryan, did MM fail you by not giving you good ideas or were those conversations you had with friends like the conversations I have with my playtesters where they are closer to the game and therefore can help me solve it?

    Actually, that’s not it. Part of this comes from understanding that one of MM’s issues is that we all come from rather different play cultures. Look at the games we’re making — they come from so many different places. Now, that’s cool, but I wonder if that’s a good environment for starting this process. (I believe it is later, when you need to kick the crap out of your game, but maybe less in the ‘nurturing an idea’ phase.)

    So, when I talk with friends or playtest, I know I’m getting in conversations with this game’s target audience. And Mythender is still in the very early phases.

    I’m also ready to jump in now, whereas I haven’t been for the past six months, and this is also one of the few gaming sites I can access at work.

    Matt, email me the address you use for your WordPress account.

    —-

    In the end, I think I’m looking for the next MM moderator to take over for a spell, until they’re done. Then someone else takes over. I think that, as a rule, the moderator should be someone who is actively engaging this site — I got more done when I was then afterwards.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  9. Three things:

    1) “In the end, I think I’m looking for the next MM moderator to take over for a spell, until they’re done. Then someone else takes over. I think that, as a rule, the moderator should be someone who is actively engaging this site — I got more done when I was then afterwards.”

    There is truth in this. In my experience dealing with volunteer organizations, it is critical to know when to step aside.

    2) “I think each member listed in the About section needs to reestablish what is their status, and if they are done, then bow out until they have a new project for which Master Mines will be the optimal design help forum. I always got the idea that Master Mines was to be like the Avengers or the JLA: it started with a lineup, but then members leave and others arrive, with all being reservists for when the whole team is needed to defeat Galactus or Darkseid.”

    This is awesome.

    3) My primary hurdle to comment here is that posters aren’t telling me what they want. My request is for everyone to consider what they want from each post they make and ask explicitly for that. Sound good?

    Comment by ptevis | April 4, 2008 | Reply

  10. Chris Perrin and I would like to step in as moderators, Ryan. We’re excited about giving Master Mines some verve.

    Matthew, I see your game listed on the About! Welcome Miner, type us up an Intro Thread. Mine is forthcoming.

    Comment by orklord | April 5, 2008 | Reply

  11. Chris Perrin and I would like to step in as moderators, Ryan. We’re excited about giving Master Mines some verve.

    Done. You’re set up as administrators on the system & you should now get emails when there’s a notification that requires you to see if a new user message is spam or legit.

    You know where to find me if you have questions. I recommend that you make up your own post now about this.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | April 5, 2008 | Reply

  12. I recommend that you make up your own post now about this.

    We’re going to Ping for updates from the Miners, then post to the site. Hopefully we can get responses quickly. I don’t want to drag out the process. Thanks for your faith in us, Ryan!

    Comment by orklord | April 5, 2008 | Reply

  13. “Master Miners Mobilize!”

    I want that on a t-shirt!

    Good to see this has led to a healthy new start for MM.

    Comment by Daniel M. Perez | April 5, 2008 | Reply

  14. One of the main problems, I think, is that all of us are using the site to make posts that are reports and not ask questions. I think this causes a lack of meaningful conversation. Perhaps this is just my perception?

    Comment by iamclyde | April 5, 2008 | Reply

  15. Clyde, I think you are correct. I don’t see a problem with posting reports, but when we do, we should make it clear that we looking for validation or encouragement more than criticism or suggestions.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 6, 2008 | Reply

  16. Here’s an odd idea: what if MM were organized not around members, but around projects? That is, you join, you introduce yourself, but basically there are four active projects at a time. You stop posting about your project, you get pinged. You let your project go idle, someone else’s project steps in.

    Is that weird? That might be weird.

    Comment by misuba | April 7, 2008 | Reply

  17. The report thing is interesting. As it stands now, and I think I’ve said this before, I am posting playtest reports to meet my posting obligations. Right now, I don’t really have a question for the group.

    So I guess I will write out that I am making a report and that’s that.

    Comment by commondialog | April 7, 2008 | Reply

  18. I think the reason I haven’t been using MM lately is that I don’t really have any design questions. The design for Misspent Youth is more-or-less settled. Now it’s just a matter of me getting off my ass and writing, laying out, etc.

    Having this be a place where I can publicly post things that are happening with the game is useful to me, but then I feel like I’m being a leech.

    I’m going to make a concerted effort to comment more on other people’s posts when they ask focused design questions. Part of the problem for me is also that I don’t get notified when there’s a new post for me to look at. Thus, MM can drop off my consciousness-monitor.

    Comment by robertbohl | April 7, 2008 | Reply

  19. Rob, do you use an RSS reader? That’s how I get notified of posts and comments.

    Comment by ptevis | April 7, 2008 | Reply


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