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Teens in Space Wins Best RPG Origins Award

The 2020 Origins Awards have been announced, and in the role-playing game category, the winning game was Renegade Game Studios' Teens in Space.

Teens in Space uses the same system as Kids on Bikes. Renegade Game Studios has a partnership with WotC owner Hasbro, and recently announced an official Power Rangers RPG (and hinted at GI Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony).

The Origins Awards cover a range of tabletop gaming categories, including board games, card games, and more. You can see all of this year's winners here.

TeensInSpace_PaperbackSkew_Transparent.png
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I don't have to answer it, that's the great thing. You're the one who intimated that it was copy-paste pap, so either back that opinion up or leave it,. It doesn't actually matter to me which. I have read them btw, KoB in some depth and TiS in a more cursory way, but that's really not what's at issue here. Why not just admit that you don't know either game and have nothing pertinent to say about how innovative or not they might be?
You don’t have to answer it, but all this suggests is that you can’t. Hence the default position is sustained. You have literally provided the backing to that opinion by your own response.

Why don’t you just admit that you don’t know the game enough to be able to produce a single valid counter point?
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
OK, no worries, you don't want to backstop your hot take, that's fine, but lets not pretend its on someone else to prove your empty opinion wrong. You didn't read the games, you don't know the games, you have nothing to say about the games, we get it. I'm moving on...
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
No again - there is no argument here. No defense; nothing to actually counter the point - so it still stands.
We're all just shouting our opinions into the void, so in the balance of things none of this matters. But if one wanted to start quibbling about on whom the burden of proof lies in making this point, well...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the defense is an award-winning RPG, and the prosecution is... well... you. The answer seems kind of obvious at this point?
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
OK, no worries, you don't want to backstop your hot take, that's fine, but lets not pretend its on someone else to prove your empty opinion wrong. You didn't read the games, you don't know the games, you have nothing to say about the games, we get it. I'm moving on...
I’m not entirely sure what you are even trying to say here, now.

Firstly, the 'hot take' was actually stated by another poster. I simply agreed with the notion based on my current experience - so, indeed, this was ‘backstopping’ (?) it. Secondly, I have already stated that I have played, read and know the games I was referring to. Thirdly, you were asked repeatedly to elaborate on the reasons why you thought these games were innovative - you failed.

I guess that is a good time to move on.
 
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TrippyHippy

Adventurer
We're all just shouting our opinions into the void, so in the balance of things none of this matters. But if one wanted to start quibbling about on whom the burden of proof lies in making this point, well...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the defense is an award-winning RPG, and the prosecution is... well... you. The answer seems kind of obvious at this point?
OK, well I’ll say again what the charge is - not stated by me initially, by the way - that the game is merely taking a system established in a previous game (Kids on Bikes) and applying it to a similar premise in space. So, the question is: what is innovative about it?

Happy to be given a counter argument.

However, saying it 'won an award' is merely avoiding the question with an appeal to authority. I recall Traveller: A New Era won an Origins award in 1993, with a house system. It really wasn’t that good - and yes, I read it, played it and owned it. The awards can be questioned.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
This goes back to the question of adaptation vs innovation, and whether these are mutually exclusive or not. The answer, by the way, is no, an adaptation can be incredibly innovative. Innovative doesn't always mean good or popular, mind you; 4e is easily the most innovative version of D&D, as an example.

PbtA was one example, but the idea that all PbtA hacks are the same game with a new coat of paint is provably false; almost laughably so. The amount of innovation going on in the PbtA hacking sphere is incredible, especially at the highest level. Masks is one of the most innovative hands I've ever played. To say nothing of Blades in the Dark, which is itself a highly innovative system inspired from PbtA that has itself spawned plenty of its own hacks.

I can't speak to the Kids on Bikes oeuvre specifically, but then neither can you, so the point is moot.

If the claim is that an adaptation of a game with the same underlying system cannot be innovative, then the claim is false.

E: If the claim is that Kids in Space is itself not very innovative, that is where we would require evidence of the claim
 


TrippyHippy

Adventurer
This goes back to the question of adaptation vs innovation, and whether these are mutually exclusive or not. The answer, by the way, is no, an adaptation can be incredibly innovative. Innovative doesn't always mean good or popular, mind you; 4e is easily the most innovative version of D&D, as an example.

PbtA was one example, but the idea that all PbtA hacks are the same game with a new coat of paint is provably false; almost laughably so. The amount of innovation going on in the PbtA hacking sphere is incredible, especially at the highest level. Masks is one of the most innovative hands I've ever played. To say nothing of Blades in the Dark, which is itself a highly innovative system inspired from PbtA that has itself spawned plenty of its own hacks.

I can't speak to the Kids on Bikes oeuvre specifically, but then neither can you, so the point is moot.

If the claim is that an adaptation of a game with the same underlying system cannot be innovative, then the claim is false.
My experience is different, currently about PbtA games. And to be sure, Masks is one PbtA game that I have specifically played in a lot during the last year. Ditto Blades in the Dark.

This is not because of criticism of the game approach per se, which I’ve actually enjoyed, but more to do with over-enthusiasm from certain fans that have suggested it for everything in recent times. Of course, this isn’t a trait restricted to just PbtA fans!

However, I am finding that a number of the PbtA games are quite literally the same in feel and game play, regardless of the genre. It doesn’t feel any different to generic systems like GURPS or D20 in that respect. Indeed, the old D20/OGL was heavily criticized but it too could cite innovations for individual games within the same broad system. The claim is, therefore not that a game with the same underlying system cannot be innovative, but that there actually does need to be some identifiable innovation to make that claim.

So, back to Teens in Space: What is it that is identifiable as an innovation, beyond the system already established in Kids on Bikes, that makes it worthy of an award?
 
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Aldarc

Legend
So, back to Teens in Space: What is it that is identifiable as an innovation, beyond the system already established in Kids on Bikes, that makes it worthy of an award?
But in your post, you didn't just make a claim about Teens in Space, did you? You also made an assertion about a lack of innovation on games built on Gumshoe, and you have yet to actually back that up either.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
But in your post, you didn't just make a claim about Teens in Space, did you? You also made an assertion about a lack of innovation on games built on Gumshoe, and you have yet to actually back that up either.
Yes that is right. In fact, it wasn’t myself who made any claims against Teens in Space directly, as I don’t know that game system so well. However, I do relate to the poster that initially stated this notion through my own personal experience. I do feel that we are in a stagnant period of game design - and we are seeing a handful of systems starting to dominate game design at the expense of tailor made and original systems for newly designed games.

While some of these game systems are fine enough, there is a lot of reliance on building games on the same chassis of previous games’ design. Gumshoe was originally sold as a very specialist system for a particular mode of investigative play. In reality though, these days, it is basically a house system now.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
Yes that is right. In fact, it wasn’t myself who made any claims against Teens in Space directly, as I don’t know that game system so well. However, I do relate to the poster that initially stated this notion through my own personal experience. I do feel that we are in a stagnant period of game design - and we are seeing a handful of systems starting to dominate game design at the expense of tailor made and original systems for newly designed games.

While some of these game systems are fine enough, there is a lot of reliance on building games on the same chassis of previous games’ design. Gumshoe was originally sold as a very specialist system for a particular mode of investigative play. In reality though, these days, it is basically a house system now.
There are some pretty significant reasons for the phenomenon that you are observing, though it is definitely contentious how stagnant or uninnovative it is as counter-examples are aplenty, but I think that the reasons are a little more complicated than simply declaring that indie game designs have become stagnant or that its somehow their fault.

TL;DR: the market landscape has changed and people are still building and expanding on that initial wave of game design innovation.

A lot of the indie innovation happened around the time of 4e D&D (2008-2012) and its dropped support (2012-2014)* and shortly after the release of 5e D&D. No joke. I have even seen several indie games designers saying that 4e D&D did more for indie TTRPGs than 5e D&D ever did. It was also around this time that the OSR movement was really kicking into high gear and formulating its game principles. But after a time, B/X basically became the gold standard for OSR (and games like OSE and SWN/WWN have become its standard-bearers), though this is not to discount all the non-B/X-based OSR out there.

* Gumshoe (2007), Fiasco (2009), Apocalypse World (2010), Cortex Plus (2010), Dragon Age RPG/AGE System by Green Ronin (2010), The One Ring Roleplaying Game (2011), Star Wars: Edge of the Empire/Genesys System (2012), Hillfolk (2012), 13th Age (2013), Fate Core (2013), Numenera/Cypher (2013), Torchbearer (2013), Mutant Chronicles 3e/2d20 System by Modiphius Games (2013), Mutant Year Zero by Fria Ligan (2014), Tiny Dungeon 1e (2014), Symbaroum (2014), Shadow of the Demon Lord (2015)

What changed? 5e D&D happened. This is not to say that innovation died. It didn't. However, 5e D&D definitely changed (and dominated) the TTRPG landscape. The people and money are there. There was a better chance to break out with your game design in that 4e D&D era.

I think that we are also in a phase where a game was released and it has taken about 5-10 years for people to understand and expand the system. This is why we are seeing games like Ironsworn (2018) and Blades in the Dark (2017), which take PbtA into a different direction. And likewise, we are still arguably in the early phases of the Forged in the Dark, and we will see how these designers push that design into new directions as well. And I do believe @Fenris-77 in good faith when he says that Swords of the Serpentine innovates on Gumshoe.
 

I dont need to tell you a thing. You havent read the games and want to claim you know something. Sorry my friend, thats not going to fly.
You've gone into erroneous assumptions and overt misconstruction and hostility.

Apparent Misassumption 1: That I think innovation is a positive thing.
Apparent Misassumption 2: That quality and innovation are linked in a positive reinforcement
Apparent Misassumption 3: that I've not read several variants of several of the games.

I really don't like the wave of open source games - too often, they are very minor changes to the formula. Some go too far with innovations, and confuse purchasers, either through complexity (DW), or difference (Sentinel Comics).
Some don't go far enough.

But if you're using an engine from another game, you're clearly NOT trying for Innovative, but for Familiar to Extant Fans. Just like all those d20 flavors from 12 to 20 years ago, or the current crop of 5E variants.

By comparison, neither Pugmire nor the new SG1 are terribly innovative. Both decouple specific feats from the specific level advancements... so you're making a choice every level. That's genuinely not a new thing; it was partially done in the early 1990's in AD&D2e PO:S&P, and partially done before that in Dark Sun, as well as being done in a number of heartbreakers... and also done in T20: Traveller's Handbook ... So, Innovative? no. Good? I like it! Both have a lot going for them. I honestly like Pugmire and SG1 better than D&D 5E... The design teams took or reinvented concepts already known, but mixed them in the right ways for their settings.

Hell, some of the worst games written have been attempts to be innovative. FATAL, for example.
As for Kids on Bikes: I read it once. I found it unmemorable. I remember that I did read it... and that's about it.
And I've read at least a dozen AWE/PBTA games. AW itself was innovative. DW added so much; it's innovative, but also a slog to read. MASHed was the most polished and accessible version I've read, and the theme drips from the typeset... but it adds (AFAICT) no new mechanics, just new setting specific applications. The others? not mechanically innovative, either.

Then again, an Innovative PBTA-derived game does itself a disservice if it labels itself as such, because the mechanical variation outside roles is pretty low across the entire PBTA/AWE ecosphere. The design goal was to put a mechanical laser focus on what's important to the setting. It makes for easy adaptations... but not for true innovation....

In the same way any d20 STL compliant isn't likely to have much mechanical innovation; those that did often suffered.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
There are some pretty significant reasons for the phenomenon that you are observing, though it is definitely contentious how stagnant or uninnovative it is as counter-examples are aplenty, but I think that the reasons are a little more complicated than simply declaring that indie game designs have become stagnant or that its somehow their fault.

TL;DR: the market landscape has changed and people are still building and expanding on that initial wave of game design innovation.

A lot of the indie innovation happened around the time of 4e D&D (2008-2012) and its dropped support (2012-2014)* and shortly after the release of 5e D&D. No joke. I have even seen several indie games designers saying that 4e D&D did more for indie TTRPGs than 5e D&D ever did. It was also around this time that the OSR movement was really kicking into high gear and formulating its game principles. But after a time, B/X basically became the gold standard for OSR (and games like OSE and SWN/WWN have become its standard-bearers), though this is not to discount all the non-B/X-based OSR out there.

* Gumshoe (2007), Fiasco (2009), Apocalypse World (2010), Cortex Plus (2010), Dragon Age RPG/AGE System by Green Ronin (2010), The One Ring Roleplaying Game (2011), Star Wars: Edge of the Empire/Genesys System (2012), Hillfolk (2012), 13th Age (2013), Fate Core (2013), Numenera/Cypher (2013), Torchbearer (2013), Mutant Chronicles 3e/2d20 System by Modiphius Games (2013), Mutant Year Zero by Fria Ligan (2014), Tiny Dungeon 1e (2014), Symbaroum (2014), Shadow of the Demon Lord (2015)

What changed? 5e D&D happened. This is not to say that innovation died. It didn't. However, 5e D&D definitely changed (and dominated) the TTRPG landscape. The people and money are there. There was a better chance to break out with your game design in that 4e D&D era.

I think that we are also in a phase where a game was released and it has taken about 5-10 years for people to understand and expand the system. This is why we are seeing games like Ironsworn (2018) and Blades in the Dark (2017), which take PbtA into a different direction. And likewise, we are still arguably in the early phases of the Forged in the Dark, and we will see how these designers push that design into new directions as well. And I do believe @Fenris-77 in good faith when he says that Swords of the Serpentine innovates on Gumshoe.
My issue with Fenris-77 was not that he wasn’t arguing in good faith, but rather he wasn’t prepared or able to state his case.

My issue with some other games on this list is that, basically, they continue to wear a moniker of being ‘indie’ when they just aren’t anymore. PbtA, regardless of whether you like it or not, is a brand with its own well established market (as Avatar: The Last Airbender is demonstrating to an exponential degree currently). It just isn’t forging out in new directions any more than other established systems and brands are. The why’s and wherefore of that could be to do with 5E, but I would note that we were already seeing games based on Apocalypse World and Gumshoe, etc, before 5E came along.

OSR is no different really - I like Mörk Borg for its black humor and graphic design, but as a game system it’s really not that interesting a design.
 

Aldarc

Legend
My issue with Fenris-77 was not that he wasn’t arguing in good faith, but rather he wasn’t prepared or able to state his case.
FYI, you started by making an assertion about Gumshoe that you still haven't backed up. I agree with @Fenris-77 and @Gradine that the onus is actually on you rather than Fenris here.

My issue with some other games on this list is that, basically, they continue to wear a moniker of being ‘indie’ when they just aren’t anymore. PbtA, regardless of whether you like it or not, is a brand with its own well established market (as Avatar: The Last Airbender is demonstrating to an exponential degree currently). It just isn’t forging out in new directions any more than other established systems and brands are.
PbtA isn't really much of a "brand." It's a pretty loose family of games with some common features and framework.

IMHO, Avatar the Last Airbender is not so much demonstrating the market for PbtA, but, rather, the power of Avatar the Last Airbender as a franchise IP. If the Avatar the Last Airbender game was written Fate, 5e D&D, Cypher System, Cortex Prime, or Fria Ligan's MYZ System, do you not think that we wouldn't likewise be seeing big numbers for AtLA?

The why’s and wherefore of that could be to do with 5E, but I would note that we were already seeing games based on Apocalypse World and Gumshoe, etc, before 5E came along.
I'm not sure why this matters for my argument that a lot of innovation happened during the 4e D&D era and then slowed down in the 5e D&D era.

OSR is no different really - I like Mörk Borg for its black humor and graphic design, but as a game system it’s really not that interesting a design.
Interesting Design =! Innovative Design

You've gone into erroneous assumptions and overt misconstruction and hostility.
Then you should report it to the mods without responding rather than throwing gasoline on the fire like you are clearly doing here.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
FYI, you started by making an assertion about Gumshoe that you still haven't backed up. I agree with @Fenris-77 and @Gradine that the onus is actually on you rather than Fenris here.

What haven’t I backed up? It was a game design that was originally meant to provide a very specific, investigative experience. And now it is a generic house engine. Whether you approve of that statement or not, there hasn’t been a single counter-argument to it presented here, beyond indignation.
PbtA isn't really much of a "brand." It's a pretty loose family of games with some common features and framework.

It is absolutely a brand. The 'loose family of games' even stick that brand on their covers and into their promotional blurb to ensure it communicates with their chosen market. It is no different to D20/OGL in respect to having some common features and framework, and D20/OGL had plenty of variants too.

IMHO, Avatar the Last Airbender is not so much demonstrating the market for PbtA, but, rather, the power of Avatar the Last Airbender as a franchise IP. If the Avatar the Last Airbender game was written Fate, 5e D&D, Cypher System, Cortex Prime, or Fria Ligan's MYZ System, do you not think that we wouldn't likewise be seeing big numbers for AtLA?

Maybe we would, but it is still significant evidence that they chose PbtA as its system as choice and then marketed itself as such. The notion that you can have an ‘indie’ game associated with such an obviously massive IP anyway, seems bizarre to me.

I'm not sure why this matters for my argument that a lot of innovation happened during the 4e D&D era and then slowed down in the 5e D&D era.

Interesting Design =! Innovative Design

Well, I’m not entirely sure it is correct, to be honest. D&D/AD&D has been a dominant market force previously - it doesn’t mean that all other innovation ceased during these times. I don’t think the emergence of 4E was quite the catalyst for innovative design especially as an era, because I see plenty of innovative games that came about before it. The timeline you present in relation to 5E seems a little forced.
 

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