It’s been a long time, but the new game by Jared Sorenson (octaNe, InSpectres) and Luke Crane (Burning Wheel) is out in public beta. The game, which was referred to as “Project Donut” for some time, is now called FreeMarket. It’s a colorful game of transhumanist life aboard a 80,000+ person space station. It’s a more lighthearted take on the other new game in that genre that’s on my radar, Eclipse Phase (and what came before: Underground, GURPS Transhuman Space…).
Anyway, if you go register you can d/l the beta (if you’re one of the first 1000, they’re at 288 now). It looks interesting – it’s definitely an “indie RPG.” Character generation has a lot of “tagging” (in the Web 2.0/Spirit of the Century sense) and the mechanics are part board game, part RPG.
I’ll post more once I’ve had time to digest the mechanics, but here’s the basics. In general, on the station everyone’s basic needs are taken care of and you’re trying to get “flow” – think of it as in-world “rep” or “karma” like on a forum. Even death is pretty much always reversible in this super high tech world, mainly you kill someone just so they lose some short term memories. Combat is not distinct in the rules from other conflicts (from memetic hacking to agriculture) which are commoditized into “Challenges”; a special card deck and tokens are used to resolve those. Your and your group’s flow is raised or lowered thereby.
Your character is in a group called a MRCZ (pronounced “mercy”) which is a voluntary birds-of-a-feather organization like an online clan or guild. You are good at things like “wetwork,” “ephemera,” and “thin slicing” – yes, there’s a big glossary included. It seems fun and not as complex and heavy as Eclipse Phase or GURPS: Transhuman Space.
If I have one major concern, it’s the same concern shared with a lot of indie games – they come up with an interesting setup, new way to conceive a character, an innovative mechanic – and then leave coming up with scenarios totally up to you. Some of this is in the name of being player driven, but I’ve seen groups have a hard time with just “here’s a cool character and cool setting, go…” More adventure seeds and “things that could happen” are needed – they really only tangentially brush on that in 2 pages of the 150 in the rulebook. I would recommend sitting down and generating at LEAST 5 pages of that kind of thing, and more setting detail too. There’s some basics but for such a complex location it’s quite bare bones. You don’t have to go “full trad” and have a keyed map of the station, but an example street (if that’s what they have there) with interesting locations/people/etc. would be a huge boost to not just reading the game, thinking “clever!” and playing it once, but actually trying to use it for real ongoing gameplay.