I've been having some random thoughts about indie rpgs lately. Mostly they hit me when I'm at work and can't write them down, so this piece may be a bit disjointed, so I apologize up front. Of course, I'm mostly just rambling, so don't expect any amazing insight, just observations.
I don't need no stinking prep
I'm getting ready to run a game of Primetime Adventures, and I keep having this problem; I want to come up with a plot and go crazy preparing. One of the things with PTA is that the GM, or Producer, doesn't have to prepare. Or perhaps I should say there is very minimal preparation, since the other players are going to come up with a lot of the plot with the Producer. This is not something that I am used to. From my earliest days of designing illogically stocked dungeons, to my more recent plot driven games, I spent a lot of time working on my games beforehand. It could be making NPCs, formulating possible scenes and plot points, whatever; I would go into a game with a few pages of notes for my game.
Granted, I usually did not make a completely linear adventure where the players just walked from plot point to plot point. I'm not big on railroading or making the players feel like puppets, but I feel like I'm slacking by not working on this game ahead of time. Old habits die hard I guess.
On the plus side, it's kind of liberating. In the old days I would agonize over a game, running it over and over in my head, at work or in the shower. Now I'm just waiting for the day of the game, next Friday, and I'm just gonna play. I like that.
There can be only one... player
One thing I've noticed is that a lot of the indie games that I like really are not made to be played with just one player. Dogs in the Vineyard, Primetime Adventures, Nine Worlds -- not really made for the GM/one player dynamic. I guess you can play them that way, but they are not optimized for it. In the past, Ed and I have played a lot of great games with just the two of us. NightLife and Talislanta come to mind.
Of course there are exceptions. To my mind, Trollbabe is ideal for a GM/one player game. The Pool worked pretty well too. I'll have to look around more to see if I can find more indie games that can be played that way. Actually, the game Ed is working on is good for that style of play. What is the current name of that game Ed? Here's a link to a thread of the Forge discussing Ed's game.