For those who aren't in the know, I launched a layout template a week ago inspired by rules-lite, flavor-heavy rpgs like Into the Odd: Remastered.
When I designed it, I wanted something other than a template. I wanted a teaching tool. By all reports, that's exactly what's happening. Nearly 500 people have downloaded the template and at least three rpg products have been published with it in under 7 days.
Which leads us to the next big step for the template.
The Classic Explorer workshop.
Starting June 12th, everyone's invited to build their own version of "classic fantasy" with the Classic Explorer template (which you can find for free and expanded here on Explorers). The workshop and game jam is being hosted on Itch and ends on July 31st.
If you're interested in joining, you can find the rules, regulations, and everything in between on the jam's page. There's also rumor of some low-level loot if you manage to snag a special spotlight from the judges (which currently includes an elite few—just me.)
The goal is really simple: make stuff with other people and learn design along the way. There's been great feedback and learning moments, for me most of all, the past few weeks. I'm hoping this public workshop will do the same for other people. Conversations will be hosted on the Explorers discord.
It'll also be a nice way to collect feedback for the next template. A hard sci-fi rpg template in the vein of Mothership and Alien. More on that some day.
What's this about prizes?
Yes, it's counter-intuitive to my goals for the workshop, but three submissions will earn titles on my discord and some free gear as well. The three types of winners for this workshop are:
Gold Explorer. Someone who exhibits incredible craft and prowess with design software. This is your classic "best of the best" category.
Perilous Explorer. Someone who pushes the template and its core conceit to its limits. This person's project will be original, experimental, and innovative.
Rising Explorer. New blood. A designer who shows great promise and warrants close attention from the wider community.
That last one is the real reason for the "awards" of this workshop. I want to use this community event to draw our Sauron-like gaze to the smaller, less expected contributors of our industry.
It's one thing to write about them. It's another to say they're "award-winning."
The prizes for this workshop will include (as of right now):
- The next Explorer product release 100% free.
- A design delve spotlight on the winners.
- A special title and role in the Explorers discord.
- Potential other goodies. (I'd like to drag in some fellow designers as judges and offer up their games as part of the winnings.)
Thoughts on game jams.
Game jams usually perform two core conceits. One, they inspire people to make games for specific themes, systems, and communities. Two, they create a trigger for creation without dwelling too long on them.
I'm most interested in that secondary goal. It's much easier to collaborate, give feedback, and brainstorm together under narrow definitions. If I had been hosting just a "classic fantasy" jam, I think the entries would too broad for those designers to interact.
Since this workshop is all about using the same template, we get the rare opportunity to work under the same terms.
I'm excited to see folks troubleshoot the template in real time, realize I probably made the vertical spacing too tall, and collectively agree to squash it down by about 4 or 6 pts. It will be the greatest "playtest" of a design tool an educator could ask for.
Everyone's welcome to join the workshop and make something beautiful.
If you don't think you're ready, feel free to follow along on the discord! The studio has been buzzing with activity lately. Everything from works-in-progress, to design inspiration, to ideas about how to survive on Twitter (it demands a handbook).
Join us. We'll stamp your proverbial card and put your name in the forbidden codexes. Only 10% of the members have been dissolved by oozes, so you have nothing to worry about. I hear being a skeletal designer has its perks, anyway.
Until next time!