Badass Dragon Scavengers of the Void - Player Postmortem


#1

We’ve wrapped up another installment of the Badass series of games here on the forum. I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things and would love to kick them around with players that just completed Badass Dragon Scavengers of the Void for use in further refinement of this style of game as well as other mutants interested in these sorts of hijinks.

To start the gears turning:

What aspects did you enjoy or look forward to in the game?
What aspects did you dislike or dread dealing with in the game?
What do you wish the game had more of? Less of?
What sorts of game aspects would you want to see in future iterations ?
Was Kassandra an asset or a frustration when submitting orders?
…and anything else that comes to mind.

I have a lot of thoughts about all this but for the moment, I’m interested in listening to what y’all have to say. With so many different players bringing so many different playing styles to the table, I really want to dig into how to make the next game better - no matter who winds up running it. Something you really enjoyed may wind up being something another player hated, and that’s OK. It all goes into the stew pot for the next one.


Badass Dragon Scavengers of the Void - Final Standings
Badass Dragon Scavengers of the Void - Final Standings
#2

Well, first off I want to thank you, @messana, for running this crazy hilarious ride. I know what a HUGE amount of time and effort goes into it, and you’re doubly heroic for developing some automation to try and make it easier for future GMs. This was a grand time indeed.

I will have more to say soon, but I just started a new job yesterday and found, to my horror, that the BBS seems to be blocked here on the WB studio network, which has slowed me down tremendously… I’ve had to read, compose, and post from my phone, which is hugely time-consuming for me.

So I’ll be back to comment further, after I get home tonight.


#3

Loved the play, will write up more detailed notes.

Thank you so much for the game!


#4

Initial thoughts…

What aspects did you enjoy or look forward to in the game?

Fun story, fun players, fun NPCs, a game that was easy to get involved in and play, although I wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted to

I really liked the challenge of dealing with broken repair bays etc. I liked having to go in with compromised setups instead of back at max power all the time. I wanted more of that.

All the awesome art and fun stuff everyone else contributed, natch.

Automating the order stuff was good…

What aspects did you dislike or dread dealing with in the game?

except I kept getting the grammar wrong, that was about it.

What do you wish the game had more of? Less of?

I really liked the idea of the specialities, would have liked to see more use of it.

And a longer game! And a brutal endgame, with deaths. Not enough death. I really wanted Tea to bugger off and a war of attrition on Mission 2.

And I know it’s difficult, 'cos we all want to play nice, but I would like to see more opportunities for skullduggery. Stupid meatbags never got what was coming to them.

What sorts of game aspects would you want to see in future iterations ?

More missions, more use of specialization, more hazards, more death. Perhaps a bit more obfuscation of the stats so you have to wing it a bit more.

Was Kassandra an asset or a frustration when submitting orders?

Really good. I liked knowing that what I wanted to do was sorted.


#5

The Good

The player interactions were great.

The missions were good it was all i could do to keep from spending Monday hitting F5.

Keeping track of what was going on, knowing where all of the other players were. Wishing I had more juice.

The Not-So-Good

More missions. Man, that felt like it was over too soon.

Some more PvP … not necessarily combat related, but something.

It seemed like those first couple of missions really were make or break for setting the player up.

Specializations needed more chance to be special.

The Other

Kassandra was fine when I got the syntax down. Maybe having one page that was just for the Rules. I know there was a page, but I think when I went to use Green I had to hunt for it.

Keeping track of what actions a player had actually committed to was tricky, especially as orders changed through out a round. but I suppose bundling those all up would take some of the player’s incentive to be participating.

With that said, maybe it was too open knowing what was going on. It would turn into PM Purgatory, but if we didn’t know everything characters had and what the stats were, less chance of Min Maxing like we did on the last mission. More Uncertainty? Maybe that’s what I’m looking for.

Except with the Moose Math. The certainty did keep Price WaterMoose in business.

An excellent game and I look forward to when all are rested and ready for the next.


#6

I’m gonna go ass-backwards and comment on other people’s comments before I add my own new ones.

And this from a guy who bemoaned the Repair mechanic on Badass Dragons of the Wasteland! :wink: Well, let that be a lesson to us: in the search for added complexity I made the Repair thing unfair toward non-American-made cars for a while, although that was not really my intent (I’d hoped for more Mechanic characters). So yeah, I agree this iteration had a more balanced approach that made that aspect more fun. It might still have been a tad too safe (since we only “killed” one player-character), but Daneel’s praise here is spot-on.

Me too. I knew my Iconoclast specialty would sooner or later be useful for something, and sure enough it was, but I hoped to “deploy” it a bit earlier and more often. Like, either it opens up the option to do any mission except with no buffs, or it opens up an occasional (but more than just the one) opportunity to do a unique Iconoclast-specific mission. Or both. Anyway, I guess there’s a reason why character classes have remained a staple in RPGs and MMOs. And it’s fun to expand on the usual Tank/Wizard/Sniper/Cleric/Scout/Mechanic/Paladin etc.

Yeah! Nobody was asking for that from BDW, but so far all the BASD/Charybdis iterations have left the crowd wanting more. How many rounds did we do? It felt like it could have used a couple more, not just because it was fun, but also to get more flavor, a better feel for some of the more mysterious elements, like the shorter and taller humanoids, and the blue/green/gold/red globs and what they actually were. That kind of stuff isn’t strictly necessary, but it is part of what makes this thing fun. I have found that players don’t mind at all expanding on their characters’ mythologies (and that of each other’s characters, for that matter), but they’re hesitant to embroider too richly upon the GM’s specific plot and character creations, for fear of upsetting some future planned dynamic or whatever. So in that instance, it’s up to the GM to enrich those story elements, if anyone’s going to.

Yes indeedy! I remember there was some talk about the value of PvP in an earlier Badass postmortem, and what I gathered at the time was that most players seemed to prefer cooperation over competition, and that if PvP was to enter into it, it would have to be stated up front that the game could (or would definitely) end up including PvP. I, personally, was enjoying the minor elements of PvP that appeared in the first BASD when people started taking sides for and against the ICUP Rangers, and I deliberately tried to encourage (though not force) some similar faction-based PvP in BDW, but nearly all the players resisted that. So I am heartened to learn that I’m not the only one who thinks it would be great fun to include more danger, more death, and more PvP. I love that this platform encourages public exchange of game information, but has a robust PM system baked in for skulduggery and factional conspiracy. We should use it more! We had a fun PM going on (ahem… outside the ship, out back near the afterburners, where the mammals would be unlikely to eavesdrop) wherein certain lizards, cacti, crustaceans, and “synthetics” plotted against the mammals… but to no avail, since there wasn’t much we could actually do to the poor meatbags except talk trash and discourage others from trading with them.

Here’s where a problem rears its head. The Kassandra system is great for inputting orders. Where the system falls down is when players want to check the status of other players at a glance. Since so many players’ actions affect what happens to other players (which is a GOOD thing that we do not want to lose), then we need a one-stop place where we can look at a single page (probably a Google doc unless someone can build a Discourse plug-in for it) and see, at a glance, all of the publicly-submitted orders. Well, I guess we don’t need it as such, but in that last round, I was given so many items to buff my stats and help ensure I was successful in my mission, but scrolling from top to bottom of the thread, making note of every single time some player mentioned me in their orders, including every single time they amended those orders, either to satisfy Kassandra’s syntax requirements or to actually change something for gameplay purposes… it got to be waaaay too cumbersome. (Which is why I gave up and asked for help and eventually just went with it and hoped I was using everything more or less usefully.)

It would be helpful to the players (and for the GMs too, come to think of it) if the Kassandra bot not only collected and parsed the data, but also inserted it into a running spreadsheet that also had a public-facing display so everyone could see how things stand. Of course, in games that permit sneaky secret PM orders, the public display could be absent or just note that the displayed orders may or may not reflect actual reality depending on what PMs may or may not exist, but other than that it’d be a handy place to see what other people are (publicly) planning without endless scrolling and note-taking.

I like a pretty decent-sized dollop of uncertainty. I appreciate the effort that players like @bizmail_public put in to analyzing situations and odds, but I generally don’t take advantage of those analyses myself, and sometimes I play to actively subvert them. I was sorely tempted to take the sneaky escape pod once I realized just how much loot I’d been entrusted with, just to upset the applecart a bit and see how many people would survive the ensuing carnage… and I became even more tempted as I realized that my success was a pretty sure thing. But in my efforts to make Tex a bad-tempered, irascible Archie Bunkeresque asshole, I felt that making him cut and run was too predictable… and somehow I felt that making his character less predictable was slightly more important to me than making the game less predictable. That’s quite a quandary for me; I don’t really play to win, but rather play to make things more interesting for me and for the other players if possible. I dunno, if I had it to over again, I might put him on that escape pod after all… but in my heart I’d breathed a small puff of inner decency into Tex and somehow I didn’t want him to lose that.

Here’s a measure of the game’s success: all their thinly-veiled threats aside, so very many of the scavengers looked at their options, and decided to trust the asshole lizard. Even Dottie. Even Watney. Even the cactus that should know better.

I couldn’t let them down.

Huh. Anyway, all that is more a tribute to the qualities of the other players here, and a bit OT. Sorry about that.

Yeah, I agree. I felt there was a bit too much transparency regarding odds of success, howmany HP of damage to expect, etc. I know some players like having that knowledge, but for me it takes me out of the story a bit. I prefer to goof around with things like that rather than rely too seriously upon them (kinda like how running into too many zombies in BDW might cost you a finger, and the numbers of fingers you lost would adversely affect your maneuverability), and anyway since I had @penguinchris and @JonasEggeater to handle all the number-crunching I don’t really know how it was all calculated. We tried to make outcomes feel predictable and halfway-realistic-feeling based upon gut instincts and three lifetimes of playing videogames and watching postapocalyptic drive-in movies… we wanted the game to be fun and satisfying, not so lethally hard as to be frustrating, not so painlessly easy as to be boring. A difficult-ish line to walk, but not a very fine one. Plenty of room between extremes, in fact, and the players are quite forgiving if they’re having fun and not feeling cheated or sold short. I think it helps the fun if the stats aren’t baldly stated, but that’s really a personal preference. Some people will feel less comfortable if they don’t know the odds to several significant digits.

Anyway, as for this specific iteration of the game, I would have liked more clarity about the goops. As far as I could tell, Blue was only a source of juice, right? You find so much Blue, you get paid so much juice. Was it useful for anything else? I don’t think so, but I may have missed something.

And it took me a while to figure out what Green did, and how transmogrifying was calculated. I didn’t try it until the end because I didn’t really understand it.

One thing that kinda bugged me was the limits placed on interplayer transactions. I personally want such things to be predicated on realistic, rather than arbitrary, limitations. For example, to keep my BDW players closer to a dangerous margin of health, I wanted to limit the amount of Repair that was available round by round, but my Mechanics (the damned Communists!) started giving out their services to all takers, often without even charging. So I laid down the law: they were limited in the number of HP they could repair in any given round (maybe to one or two times the number of HP they themselves possessed or something), and this made sense to me because fixing cars requires time and energy in addition to spare parts, and none of those things are infinite resources in reality, so why should they be infinite in the game?

But in BDSV, there didn’t seem to be a good reality-based reason why we should, for example, be able to accept an item from Dottie and one from Spike and one from Hans and one from Watney, but we’d only be able to give one item to one player. It was a limitation that felt artificial, put there only to serve the balance of the game, without actually feeling like it had any other motivation. It wasn’t an awful thing by any means, but I found myself slightly annoyed by it. Very slightly.

I gotta get to bed now, but if I think of anything else I’ll let you know. More than anything else, messana, this was top-shelf fun, excellently run, and I can’t thank you enough!


#7

Oh, I didn’t do that. You didn’t notice my undeclared switch to be the backup backup?


#8

I did, but quite belatedly.


#9

I’m full of it, really, since here I argue for PvP and obfuscated stats, whereas in BDW I largely took the opposite position.

The bit in BSD where we got stuck on opposite sides of a conflict, couldn’t do anything about it and ended up PvP once or twice was one of my favourite aspects and it’s still something I want to see again.

This time, I did largely try not to crunch the numbers and rather to play like a dumb cactus and stay in character. Which I think confused @bizmail_public once or twice 'cos he was expecting Nixonian shenanigans.

I do think it’s better to hint at what might be useful stats, and use words to suggest levels of risk. I enjoyed the missions where I got my arse kicked more than the ones I knew I was coming out the other side without damage before I started.


#10

I was also glad that @SteampunkBanana and I were able to be so incredibly awful to each other without the vicious animosity ever extending beyond the characters themselves. That was a risk, and I doubt I’ll ever play as such a hateful old bigot ever again, but it was fun to take the RP part of the RPG farther away from The Real Donald than I’ve ever done before.

Funny, though: as long as there’s a Charybdis, I don’t think I’ll ever not be a Space Lizard.


#11

A thousand times YES!!!


#12

Shit man, once you gave me that yes and of “uh, oh, Watney,” I couldn’t let that drop. And there was only one thing that would have really pissed that guy off, leaving him on Mars. For 550 sols.


#13

My wife met Matt Damon a couple years before he started to get famous, through mutual friends in Echo Park. It was soooo fun to virtually tweak his nuts through your characterization!


#14

I don’t know what you mean.


#15

Yeah, he was there too. Apparently quite charming then.


#16

I love the Badass Dragon series for the roleplaying aspect. I don’t personally care much for the min-maxing, but it always seems necessary, so I’m glad that @bizmail_public was providing excellent strategy insight.

Riffing off the other players and the game’s circumstances are great. All the flavoured items that buffed us were excellent, and when I got the Analytical_potato I couldn’t not make a callback to Portal 2 :slight_smile:

Bringing Browf and Dakota back for another round in Charybdis was an easy decision, but creating a meaningful character arc like I did in BSD2 was not as easy as I thought it could be.

The pace of the missions and being restricted to The Coleridge, where we only had the ship to explore and tell stories, rather than the local system surrounding Duck’s Pond, felt a little claustrophobic, and left little time for a scavenger to be at ease and enjoy the fruits of his labour.

For the gripe I threw at Kassandra at the end, I felt she was a modern miracle for your GMing the game. It’s easy to want more from her as a player, but really, I’m thankful she made your job easier!

In this game and BSD2, sometimes I felt that bad luck really limited your choices. Taking a loan at those moments when you needed it never feels fair begging for scraps from the other players who are doing well, especially with nothing forcing us to be loyal to one another. But this is probably my personal play style.


#17

I’m still taking notes for the moment. I’ll probably give it another day or two for players to weigh in before joining the discussion. In particular, I’d like to invite our first time players @critter and @sealion to add to the mix if they have time new eyes often have useful insights since they have no implicit or explicit expectations from previous games.

Feel free to continue kicking things back and forth among yourselves in the meantime. The player-to-player discussion is also very enlightening for me.


#18

Yes, of course! Try to get them written up today.


#19

Hard to find mission orders that were posted later after results (like in post #19) and stuff like how to use globs. Maybe a master thread just dedicated to mission orders and how tos that don’t allow any other comments with edited links in the first post so you can jump there quickly or have an easy reference.

I did like the delay between results and new missions as it gave people a chance to flesh things out more.

I kinda fell in a hole early and was never really able to dig myself out. But that was similar to the last round, and those are my choices and I accept them :slight_smile: At least I survived this one.

I liked the NPCs. Kassandra system works for me. When I was looking at who took what mission I filtered the threads by author=Kass and reading from the bottom up and that worked fine. Juice and GLO were nice touches.

Agree that a little more vagueness on odds and results keeps us on our toes.


#20

This was a great iteration, thank you for running it so smoothly! Lots of unexpected turns which added a lot of fun, though I didn’t fully participate in everything. Wish we had a few more rounds, if nothing else for a chance to try everything out (I never had a chance to do anything with the globs I had).

As for feedback… I’ve always had an issue keeping track of what’s going on. This has been discussed already (I started writing this before this thread had many posts) but you have to do a lot of jumping around, sometimes in multiple threads, and it’s very easy to lose track of even the most basic stuff.

A big part of what my BASD 1 character was, and which this character is obviously another version of, is a reaction to finding it hard to keep track of what’s going on. Of course, my characters have always been an exaggerated version of The Real Chris to some extent as well - in real life I can’t keep track of things either :smirk: - which is probably true for everyone, but it does seem that over each subsequent game we’ve all gotten better at actually Role Playing.

Anyway, in Badass Dragons of the Wasteland we tried to help the tracking issue by keeping track of things in publicly-viewable spreadsheets, as Donald has already discussed here, but I do also think it’s advantageous to keep it self-contained. I’ve been trying to think of solutions for that and I’m really not sure what it would be, though I’m just leaning towards going back to a google doc for now, because discourse is somewhat unwieldy for certain things like this - it could be done with multiple dedicated threads, but then that means we all have a whole bunch of tabs left open for a couple months instead of just one or two.

We came up with complicated formulas that really did calculate the mission parameters against the player stats (and dice rolls), but more often than not we were outright fudging the results because it didn’t feel right - in truth most of the players should have died within the first few rounds, because our missions were brutal (on purpose, to fit the setting). That’s part of why I liked the shift to “soft” missions that required the players to figure out our puzzles rather than just roll the dice, though that obviously introduced a host of other problems and we lost a lot of players in part, I think, because we lost any and all predictability (most importantly predictability about when results and new missions would appear, of course, but in the actual game aspects too) - I think a very careful balance needs to be struck if you’re going to obfuscate any of the stats and mission parameters. I’m also not one to whip out a spreadsheet to calculate the mission odds (though I do often rely on @bizmail_public and trust his complex instincts), though I have occasionally joked about doing so (particularly in BASD 1), but I know I would get anxious and participate less if I had too little of an idea about what was going to happen - I want my characters to live. That said, the most fun does come from barely scraping through in a dangerous mission :dizzy_face: