Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

New Moderators

Master Miners,

This is the official announcement of a “changing of the guards”. Chris Perrin and I have volunteered to help moderate the site. Our term of office will be three months. After that, we pass it on. This is a self-imposed term of office completely of our own design. I have a drive to get far into the Playtesting phase by GenCon ’08, and hopefully can move to Reserve status after that (more on Reserves later).

We think the core of Master Mines is great: “we’re fledgling designers designing our games together”. Most of our efforts will be back to basics, resuming the Ping, keeping people posting, creating new buzz. That being said, I think in trying to be autocratic, some of the drive was lost. I want Master Mines to be synonymous with Mutualism, in that as a community we will push you towards your project goals and love you when you take each step. I myself look forward to getting the kick in the butt I need on my design, so feel free to Mutual away on me. Lastly, our default assumption for your project is that you plan on publishing it for people to buy. If this isn’t the case, please explicitly and openly say so.

Based on feedback from Miners, we have revised the status set-up: moving recharging, publishing and dormant Miners to the Reserves to keep focus on those of early in the design phase. This is in no way a demotion, it frees the Reservists to post and comment as they have time, but still be a contributing part of the community.

Here are a few things each Active member should contribute to their Projects page.

1. A draft. No mater if it is a bunch of bullets or something slightly out of date, we need something to read through in a single, focused sitting. This should be a living, breathing document. A Google doc might be a good idea for this, but for now, let’s keep that as is.

2. The Big Three. This is something everyone should do for their game at any state. I personally will be pushing for this from each Active member.

3. The Power 19. This is not a requirement, but a suggestion.  The Power 19 should be completed soon after Big Three or after you’ve completed a draft.  It will help you more than you’d expect and will challenge you on some of the assumptions you’ve made in your head about your game.

These changes aren’t set in stone. We are open to feedback. But ultimately, we hope these changes will benefit the group.


April 7, 2008 Posted by | News & Updates, The Rules | 5 Comments

Reality Strikes Back

So, both in post & comments on this design group and in talking to folks privately, a lot of folks find the new posting guidelines to be pretty intimidating.  That tells me that what Paul and I worked up — based on how the group worked in the very beginning — doesn’t work for us as a group right now.  So, for those of you who are still in, I’m open to suggestions & comments about them.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | 14 Comments

New Modes

Paul & I were talking about how our current modes doesn’t quite reflect what we’ve been doing in the last few months. He drafted up some new ones, which Mike & I like. I’d appreciate all the Master Miners reading through this and telling me where you fall — consider this a group-wide ping.

Continue reading

October 10, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | 4 Comments

Defining Goals

So, on my last post, I said that rather than having a draft ready immediately or being silent about it, I would declare a goal of having the draft done by Saturday. This seems like a good idea to put in the Rules category, so that folks checking this out can see this idea as well.

While it’s not required, publicly declaring a goal with a time frame — such as “I’ll have another draft done by Saturday” — is a good motivator for me (and hopefully you) as well as a good indicator for others about where you’re at. I think short-term goals, in the “two weeks or less” range, are helpful for us.

There isn’t much to this post other than to let ya’ll know that there’s now a “Goals” category, and to put the idea in your head that this might help keep the motivation going and better support the slow-burning, long-haul form of collaboration that I think will be awesome.

(As an aside: Some of us have goals that are currently a bit longer, like those of us who will be at the Ashcan Front, but that’s a bit too distant and too all-encompassing to serve the purpose I think these smaller goals will. I’m not saying those goals aren’t still good to have, but there’s something to be said for breaking up a task.)

June 25, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | Leave a comment

Idea Venting

So, Mike’s brought up a good point with his last post. How do we want to handle little idea vent posts like this? Maybe tag them with some other category, so they aren’t mixed in with our game-specific development posts? Or would they be too distracting for us?

If we’re going to keep them, how should we comment? I know that (for me, anyway) I want to stick with posts that I either want comments on or want to alert ya’ll to (like my post about the playtest & why I won’t have another substantial comment for a few days). I didn’t do the best job of declaring what I wanted out of my Power 19 post when I posted it up, and Paul called me on that because he needed to know how to comment.

I don’t want to say “Dude, you can’t post up about that,” because we’re ideally a support network, but at the same time I don’t want anyone confused about which game we’re talking about or muddy the waters with lots of side-talk. That’s just me, though. What do you want out of Master Mines regarding these sorts of posts? You all have an equal stake in our success as a group. Speak up and be heard!

June 20, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | 3 Comments

Monthly Check-ups

Paul, Mike & I were talking about how awesome things are going with this group, and we hit upon an idea: every month (start next month), we’ll evaluate how the group is working.  Someone will post up and we’ll seriously invite comments about how the group is working for them.  This isn’t a “how is your game” but “how is Master Mines working as a group?”

I thought I would throw that out now, since some folks are looking at our group as a potential model for their own design groups.

June 17, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | 3 Comments

You are your introduction.

For those who are brought on board, know this:  we’re pretty big in the Do-It-Yourself aesthetic, and nothing says that more than introducing yourself.  Once you’re on & talking about your game, we’ll set up the category, project page, all that jazz.  (Ideally, I’d just see everyone get Editor rights & not bother with it myself, but giving that to half a dozen or so folks sounds like an invitation for some unrecoverable accidents, and I don’t want anyone’s game derailed by forum screw-ups.)  Don’t wait for us to do anything, because we’re waiting for you to make the first move.

When you introduce yourself, be sure to talk about your game.  I like what Daniel just did — he told us about himself and his game.  I brought him on today, and he posted today.  That looks to me like he’s down for the sort of involvement we’re looking for, and I’d like to see that out of those we bring on.

June 13, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | Leave a comment

Participate, Participate, Participate

Okay, I’m going to throw this out here so that folks we bring on board can look at this post know what we (I partly mean me personally, and I’m partly speaking for the group as a whole) are looking for out of everyone in Master Mines. In a word: participation.

The reason we started this is because we found the environment of Game Chef to be very, very amazing for game development. Now, we can’t keep up that “post every few hours and participate like crazy” momentum forever, which is why Mike & I have said that we’d really like more-than-once-a-week participation, but we understand that no one — not even us — will be able to keep up that pace. Life interferes, creativity gets tapped, and GenCon will eat us all. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, nor does it mean we should slide when we do have the time and energy to throw into these projects. Our ideal is something like a longer-term, sustainable Game Chef-esque collaboration.

So, here’s the rub. Say you post up four posts in a week about your awesome design. Sweet! Rock on! That’s what I’ll probably be doing for awhile. But what happens after that? Well, posting can help us sort through our thoughts, but we’re here to collaborate. Otherwise, well, we all have blogs we could just post to, right? I’m preaching to the choir here, but I’m doing it to make sure everyone knows that the biggest thing we have to offer each other is collaboration. I’m going to comment on your posts. I want you to comment on mine. We’re here to discuss our games, not just read them.

A lack of commenting is something we’ll ping people on just a much as a lack of posting. Again, it’s not to be a jerk. Maybe when I talk with you about why you aren’t commenting much, you might tell me that you don’t understand the ideas behind my game. Perfect! That’s what I need to hear. Maybe you’ll tell me that my game turns you off. Awesome! I really want to know why. There isn’t much we can do with silence, but there is something we can do with expressions of confusion or distaste (the latter should, of course, be very civil, but that’s not a problem for any of us). If there’s something else going on, we can talk about it. Master Mines is a design support network, and it’ll only be as good and effective as you and I make it.

I’d like to close with one general request: I’d like every designer to tell us all what sort of comments they’re looking for when posting up a draft or idea, especially if they have something that want the group to focus on. When I asked Paul what sort of comments he wanted for the draft of A Penny For My Thoughts, he told me he was mainly looking for outside playtesting comments. That tells me what sort of value there is in my comments about how I’d like to see more examples — that doesn’t mean I’m going to withhold that comment, but I’m not going to focus as much energy on that as I am on what he’s asked me to check out.

To quote Paul’s comment on this: “Every post and comment should have a purpose behind it, you should know that purpose when you post it, and you should be explicit about it. Know what you want to get out of putting something here, and let us know how to help you get it.”

In short: post, comment, and help us make our posts and comments relevant & helpful to you.

– Ryan

June 13, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | 4 Comments

“…We’ll Call You”

The Master Mines Ping

One of the features of Master Mines that I really dig on is the fact that, as a group, we will follow up with folks who haven’t posted or commented in a bit — a week or so for active participants to two or three weeks for dormant participants who aren’t commenting. Mike Sugarbaker & I will be heading up this, probably mostly with me doing most of the “pinging.”

We aren’t doing this to be jerks, to guilt you into participating or anything like that. Your friends are part of your support network, and when you haven’t been around lately they’ll call and check up on you (at least, in an ideal world). As a Master Miner, we’re part of your game design support network, and we’ll check up on you. We’ll ask how things are going with your project, if you’d had time to do design work lately, to see what you’re up to, etc. We want to help. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have started up Master Mines; Mike & I would just be exchanging emails about design and doing our work behind closed doors.

Things happen — work & family take up time (as well they should), we get creatively tapped or burned out at times, emergencies occur or maybe you just felt like taking the week trip to the Bahamas without telling anyone. When we notice that, we’ll contact you personally. Maybe that’s the kick in the pants you need to get back on the horse. Maybe you need to be dormant for a bit to work out life stuff. Maybe there’s something we can help you our with. In any case, we want to be a part of your design network and help your game kick ass.

This isn’t entirely altruistic. When you participate, you’re helping us out — you’re commenting on our ideas, we’re seeing yours, and we’re thinking about our own reactions to your posts and comments. So when we ping you, it’s not just for your sake. Designing in a vacuum sucks. Let’s work together to not suck.

– Ryan

June 7, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | 3 Comments

The rules

This is a group blog for the purpose of mutual support on the design of crazy new-style tabletop role-playing games. Secret Wars is the model.

First: designers may be in one of four Modes.

  1. You are Active if you are growing your design towards a new testable draft.
  2. You are Testing if you are analyzing a playtest to see how to move forward, or trying to get a test to happen.
  3. You are Polishing if you are actively working on the design but not in a new-growth sort of way.
  4. You are Dormant if you are not active on your design or this site for some documented reason.

Those are the Modes. These are the rules of play:

  1. If you’re Active or Testing, post something substantial twice a week. We will let you get away with once a week, but let a week go by and we’ll ask what’s up.
  2. If you’re Polishing, once a week is good.
  3. Keep an up-to-date reference document of your design in a Page.
  4. Comment on everything. If you’re Dormant this can slide; if not, NOT.
  5. Change your Mode anytime by editing the About page appropriately.

If you aren’t a participating designer, please chip in with comments.

May 30, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | 1 Comment