2014: The Year In Review

By | December 27, 2014

Hello once again!

In this, our last post of 2014, I’m going to look over the past year for Room 209 Gaming and see where we started, where we’ve ended, and figure out what progress we’ve made over the course of the past 12 months.  So, without further ado, here we go:

This year we renamed our house system from _*Infinite Earths*_ (a name with far too many connections to DC comics and Steve Jackson Games) to _*Forthright Open Roleplay*_.  This change was done mostly to help indicate what the game system was all about: putting the dice on the table to allow for emergent story and roleplay.

Through the early months of the year, we released the Beta 1 materials as I was writing them and Ray was editing them.  We also ran some local games that inspired us to make changes, so before Beta 1 was fully released we shifted into gear for releasing Beta 2 materials, continuing that through October with the release of the Guidance chapter.  These Beta materials together comprised over 150,000 words, and I’m proud to say that one of the challenges I set for myself – avoiding the use of gendered pronouns within the ruleset – was achieved.

While we were writing Beta 2, though, something happened in the industry that changed the landscape of where _*Forthright*_ was going to be: the release of _Dungeons and Dragons_ 5th Edition.  As we reviewed Wizards’ latest offering, we realized that we and they both went in a lot of the same directions – not surprising, given that we were both fixated on trying to correct the same issues.  However, that left us with a significant problem: what does _*Forthright*_ offer that 5e doesn’t?

We were still working on answering that question when, in early November, we attended the Metatopia game design convention.  We learned a huge amount there and got some feedback from some of the biggest names in independent game design.  We were thrilled, but it made us realize we were far from the “almost done” we thought we were.

Using the feedback we got, we’ve since been working on Beta 3.  Beta 3 embraces several core ideas:

  • Minimized fluff text and fiction in order to preserve value as a reference
  • Cleaner, clearer and more streamlined rules
  • Character and game creation that is fun instead of necessary
  • Character advancement that embraces a character’s actions instead of pre-arranged level-and-ability schema
  • A blending of genres to create a universal instead of generic system

This year we also saw the publication of our first product, Wear & Tear: Item Maintenance for Any Roleplaying Game.  This PWYW micro-product fits very well into the vein of OSR supplements, and is well-reviewed on DTRPG.

Overall, 2014 was a productive year for Room 209 Gaming.  We designed, redesigned and began redesigning again our house system.  We now have a better perspective of what it takes to be an independent roleplaying game publisher, and we’ll be carrying those lessons forward into 2015.  Additionally, we’ve learned to be _bolder_ in our design choices and our approach.  This will serve our products well going into 2015, as we will be able to offer items that are less traditional and less like what has come before.  We’re looking forward to the new year!