Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Lessons learned from 22 years of making indie RPGs

Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 19, 2015

GF5Jeff Vogel is something of a personal hero of mine. Nope, I’ve never met him (just know a lot of people who have), though we’ve exchanged a couple of emails and forum posts over the years. I can’t even say I’m a giant fan of his games, although they are quite good. But the guy is a poster dude for indie persistence. He’s been at this since the early 90s – longer than I have been in the industry, even – doing it his own way. He’s been an indie since before that was a term, and managing to do okay for himself.

And making RPGs. That’s what he does. Little niche RPGs. Nothing that would ever overwhelm a fan of Bioware or Bethesda for their graphical awesomeness or anything. But deep, fun RPGs nonetheless.

He’s a practical, working-man’s indie.

And he has some practical, down-to-earth advice (and, in his usual style, it’s not particularly encouraging) about being an indie and making RPGs, learned from over two decades in the trenches. Very very much worth reading:

The original indie dev: How one man made 22 games in 22 years, mostly from his basement

An excerpt I am finding to be more & more true as I go forward:

“It’s not good design, from a contemporary game design perspective, which is why I think that contemporary game design is actually kind of bad. I think a lot of game designers are so tight-assed and want everything to be so balanced and so super under control — I think that’s a bad instinct. We’re making games. We should allow them to go crazy sometimes.”

I’m gonna count that as my indie game dev quote of the week, too. Because it’s totally awesome.

This is something I’m actively trying to reconcile in my brain while working on the Frayed Knights series. I’m trying to embrace some of the ethos of the true “old school” role-playing from the pre-1st edition AD&D days – which was actually before my time (at least before I was old enough to play) – which was simultaneously far more ‘simulationist’ and yet also more off-the-wall and arbitrary. But dang it, it’s cool. Sometimes bizarre, but cool, and fun.

Filed Under: Design, Interviews, Quote of the Week - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • Cuthalion said,

    Most of my favorite memories with my homebrew tabletop are of players combining spells and other shenanigans in ways they were not meant to be combined and doing something ridiculously overpowered with it. That’s what I loved about Morrowind as well. But then, after an exploit happened, we’d laugh, have our fun, and then I’d change the rules to prevent it.


  • Rampant Coyote said,

    So what you are seeing are the collective years of rules-changes to prevent exploits… 😉