Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Those who do and the Old School Renaissance

Several years ago I created and developed through several version add-ons for the Orbiter Space Simulator. I specialized in recreating historical spacecraft so accurate you can use the original flight plans and toggle every switch.

The Orbiter Space Simulator community attracted a diverse crowd of fans and developers. Orbiter attracted space fans like a magnet because unlike just about every space simulator out there it is highly customizable.

Every so often flames wars would erupt among the participants in the various Orbiter forums. There were numerous reasons why most of them unimportant in retrospect. Those whose views shaped the community in the long run are those who DO. Not talk but DO by creating add-ons.

From about 2002 to 2005 my voice was a powerful influence in Orbiter Community. Because I released a half-dozen addons and consistently updated them. Today my opinion may be read but it doesn't carry as much weight. Why? Because since 2006 there are those in the Orbiter Community that DO far more than I in the past 3 years.

And you know what? It is OK. Various things happened that to cause my hobby time to shift away from Orbiter development, mostly because now I am writing stuff for you guys.

What does any of this has to do with the Old School Renaissance?

Simply if you want to shape the OSR you can't just write about it you have to DO. You have to make stuff for people to use. The experience of Orbiter taught me that those do the work shape the community far more than those who just talk about the community.

This is not a criticism of those who like to talk about the community. Many do it very well. Like James Maliszewski of Grognardia. or Jeff Rients of Jeff's Gameblog. As people it is natural we like to talk about what we do with others who share our interests. It also important because for those of us that DO it gives us feedback.

If you are a fan and feeling frustrated of not being heard then the best course is to make the product you want. Whether it is commerical or not, write it up and get it out there. Don't be concerned about what is the current fad or orthodoxy. Write it the way you want it written and make it your best work.

The definition of the Old School Renaissance will be created by those who DO.


MTN said...

well said :) Theoryguys spawn everywhere !

Melan said...

This is a very good point, and one I have been advocating for a while. While discussions are fruitful and flames entertaining, it is playing, and play-relevant materials that matter the most to the scene. That's why, while I've got ideas on theory, I prefer to focus on what is directly applicable to a game - or inspiring enough to get people started. That's what I consider worthwhile at the moment (granted, I finished a massive, massive RPG project last Autumn, which included a 60+ page work on GMing, but still).

Timeshadows said...


Pulp Herb said...

The only argument I might make is that some who "just talk" are doing, in terms of research and creating intellectual framework to help both those who DO and those of us who consume to understand the products of those who DO.

I'd also say I can could those on three fingers tops: James M. certainly (and his influence reflects that) and maybe one or two others.

However, in broad terms, damn right. It also explains why those who bitch about T$R and 2nd Edition can't explain all those 2nd Ed games still in progress.

Rich said...

I'd also support your comment that James Maliszewski(through his contributions to FightOn? and the adventure he is working on) and Jeff Rients(through his crazy old-school random tables) are both DO'ers also.

I'd also say that your position is one I could apply positively to many areas of my life (actions vs. words) currently lost in thought.


Joe G Kushner said...

While I'm not an old schooler by any means, I think that doing bit very true for every system.

Akrasia said...

Excellent point, Rob.

However, I agree with Rich that James Maliszewski and Jeff Rients are both 'DO-ers' as well. James has contributed a fair amount to both Fight On! and Knockspell. Jeff has contributed many fine things to Fight On!, and regularly posts useful ideas on his blog. Plus there is Jeff's excellent Cinder Miscellanea.

It was my own self-loathing at being a mere 'commentator' that prompted me to finally submit my house rules and other ideas to Knockspell and Fight On!

Robert Conley said...

I apologize if I left the impression that James Mal and Jeff don't DO. Their contributions are substantial.

But the paragraph I mention them was about me saying I am NOT criticizing people who talk about the OSR. I wanted to stress this point because I think it OK to talk. It just not as important to the wider community as actually making stuff.

It seems that it didn't do the job. But as James Mal pointed out several times on his blog sometimes there is no way of writing something to avoid all misinterpretations or criticism.

Akrasia said...

For what it's worth, Rob, I didn't think that you were criticizing James or Jeff, or commentators in general. I simply wanted to point out that they were also 'Do-ers'.