If I may, complicated game mechanics are fine, as long as they aren’t complications the players themselves need to deal with. The loot system is a great way to view this. It is probably a little too uncomplicated in one regard, the random allotment of loot. We have a luck stat and the GMs can probably use that as a dice roll to determine if we get loot. Then the allocation of loot won’t seem as arbitrary and the players won’t have to spend countless posts trying to complete an impossible task allocating the loot to everyone’s liking. It would also give LK a very real and recognizable purpose in the game. I know this represents yet another calculation that the GMs have to run each round for each player, but it streamlines a lot of the more chaotic and arbitrary aspects of our current loot system.
As I’ve said privately, I’ll say publicly. We’re playtesting novel game mechanics publicly, live, for real.
I’m super appreciative that the GMs are brave enough to take this risk, publicly, and also super appreciative that a good number of players are willing to roll with it and still also offer suggestions for improvement mid-stream.
If anyone is aware of prior art in terms of managing a designated but variable number of inventory slots via text-only interface in a multiplayer online interactive game, please cite that reference for the group. Maybe some MUDs did it. I don’t know, this is a sincere ask.
Yeah, that’s another way it could work. The overall point is that we’re not playing a team sport here, otherwise we’d need a captain to make these executive decisions about who goes where and who gets what. @bizmail_public is good at figuring out what would be the ideal allotment and deployment for any given scenario based upon his goal of getting everyone through with the shiny side up, but he too acknowledges that he can only make these suggestions without knowing if any or all of you are gonna sign on to his recommendations.
You guys are all fun and decent people, so nobody’s clamoring to seize the guns & loot for themselves at anyone else’s expense. We don’t wanna turn you all into self-centered turds, so we GMs will distribute loot as we see fit, rather than leaving stuff to be claimed.
All of the complicated mechanics made complete sense to us when we came up with them, but I think we’re thinking about it in terms of an automated computer game type system where the computer is doing all the work for us. As Donald notes above, we’ve been passing some of that off to the players to keep track of (like inventory and repair points) as a distributed computing platform of sorts, and it’s clear that isn’t going to work.
Let me ask something specific and related to some of the other discussion… do you like single-use weapons? Or, the idea of them, anyway - we haven’t required the use of these yet so they’re just sort of sitting in peoples’ inventories. We didn’t come up with that mechanic to purposefully add complexity, it just seemed reasonable based on the types of weapons available in the wasteland, which are limited (like Max’s shotgun only having a few shells in The Road Warrior). Which isn’t really the case with space pirate weapons like in BSD.
Yeah, the whole having everyone decide who to distribute things to was my idea to handle different missions having different quantities of loot, and as a way to ensure that players whose vehicles were destroyed wouldn’t be starting so low on the totem pole that they’d be discouraged. I think it does make a lot more sense to not only just distribute directly as we see fit, but to write the missions such that it’s more clear what the risk/reward situation is. Not every mission will get you equal rewards but it should be more obvious why than what we’ve been offering so far.
Yeah, we gotta fix that. We get plenty of people asking “but why should I pick that mission when it doesn’t pay as well as this other one?” and it doesn’t seem to register that extra unannounced rewards come through. When we explicitly list mission rewards upfront, then there’s an expectation that that’s it; nothing else is forthcoming for that mission. And if we don’t list any rewards upfront, then there’s no real plus side for the balance sheet when people make their calculations about which mission to choose.
My own preference would be to preserve an element of uncertainty, even to the point that Curtain #3 might be concealing a live goat instead of a new car. I do so love a well-placed booby prize. But if we announce all payouts explicitly in advance, risks get reduced to the point where mission choice becomes obvious rather than a gamble.
How about we do that up to a certain point? I mean, we’ll announce the payout as consisting of a known number of LPs, plus potential Loot of specified possible stat departments in a specified range of point-amounts. How’s that sound?
We hatesss them. We hatesss them forever!
I assumed you were intentionally stopping us from just plugging the numbers into a spreadsheet and working out min/max damage etc. I know I did that in BSD, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
Idea = fine. swell. encourages strategic decision-making.
Implementation: unknown. Did anyone use any burnable item yet? (maybe the Stark-fuel was auto-applied). Lucky charms and RPGs have yet to be used.
Well, I don’t mind if someone does that as a preferred tactic. My goal has just been to make choices non-obvious, to allow people the fun of rolling the dice now and then rather than just accounting their way to victory. I don’t want to punish the latter so much as I want to reward the former. That’s my own tastes at work.
What is being tried here is quite ambitious; it’s really going quite well.
However the key to success of any process is iterative design, which means identifying and addressing areas for improvement. So I think it’s good we have our occasional little bitchfests.
I like that, loot and repairs aside, the game mechanics are actually working quite well. Players aren’t spending hours to trying “game” the numerics of the battles. We’re pretty much accepting the descriptions and addressing the issues narratively. That’s great.
The sign up form was much improved in the most recent round. We’re all learning really fast on that one. Keep up the good work.
I think we’re settling on pacing – a round every 3 or 4 days, roughly. That makes it tough to do real-time haggling with the casual players, but I thing it makes the game more inclusive. I’m okay with this, but it does suggest arbirtrary assignment of goodies is better than having players run there own distribution mechanism. (that, or just let me hand out the goodies 8)
Donald clearly has a strong idea where he wants to the plot to go. That’s definitely a good thing. And he’s showing flexibility when players, um,assert their own plot priorities. That is great, and at the heart of what makes this wonderful.
Keep it up, and let’s see where this goes!
That’s fine. Just be consistent.
To me, it seems like
Mission 1: something for the mechanics to do so they don’t die
Mission 2: the high social co-ordination mission, where Jane leads the way. The “safe” place for most players.
Mission 3: the high risk - high return mission. Maybe you’ll get the God Gun. Maybe you get a goat.
If that is the pattern – which I like – then the write-up for mission three could be ‘edgier’ to make it clear that it’s the ballsier choice.
Just a thought.
Part of the problem is we’re all limited by class. To have a real risk/reward conundrum you’d need multiple options for each class of vehicle. Right now it’s really only Escorts who can choose - scouts and mechanics get the choice of Mission A or certain death; also the risks are wooly and the stated rewards are generally the same across all missions.
ETA : I have been trying to pick missions narratively rather than gaming it. E.g. I said I was in San Diego so I felt I had to pick that mission. Or I felt that De’Ath would be more likely to join the overpass mission, that sort of thing.
I’m trusting the GMs to balance out pay/salvage as required and attempting not to worry about numbers.
Single Use should be limited to dramatic, one-time plot changers.
Say, in round five some gizmo turns up that is required to solve a problem in round 6. That gives one play a lot of leverage — for one round.
One kind of “single use” Gizmo I do like is someting that can be used, for precisely one change amongst several choices, lIke the transmissions in round ?2?. The cyber dog the daneel put down is another nice example of “single use.”. But generally, just let the cars accumulate stuff. Other than LP and Gas, let’s try to avoid too much inventory management. Thanks.
I miss my MUD.
A good thought, too. We haven’t been consistent (certainly not consciously consistent) about forming a pattern with the Mission numbering. But I think it’s an excellent idea.
For the love of The Craftsman! I just want to repair stuff…
@Donald_Petersen it’s your world man I’m just living in it, tell me how to fix em up and I will do my best to fix em up…
(thanks @funruly :D)
So far the concept of single use weapons isn’t working for me, but then neither is inventory space.
I will address each item individually. The single use weapons we have come across so far are relatively rare. That means we have trouble as players figuring out how precious these items are. Is the boost being given something that we will never see again and something that we should save for a big fight or is it something that will seem trivial in a few rounds that is best used now? That is tough to judge because of the rarity so far of single use items and because I know I for one have yet to get a good feel of the scale of how enemies are increasing in difficulty or just how long this game is going to be. Are we on round 4 of 6 or round 4 of 400? Will +25FP blow an enemy away by round 10 or will it be laughed off as our automotive overlords crush us like ants? More traditional RPGs solve this with a leveling system for both the player and enemies, but then we are making things complicated again.
That brings me to the next point. We all have inventory spaces but because we encounter very few single use items we don’t end up really using those inventory spaces. In a game economy the designers have to insure that every potential limiting variable actually acts to force choices on a player. An inventory that is never filled might as well be infinite, players never have to make a decision about what goods to keep and what good to discard or sell. Kind of like currency in some poorly designed RPG video games. If you always have enough gold to buy what you want then why bother even having gold be a part of the game? If on the other hand you never have quite enough to get everything players then need to make tough decisions as to what is most precious to them.
For the purposes of this game you can go one of two ways, either make single use items much more prevalent and much more useful or eliminate them and focus just on permanent upgrades. Personally I would go with eliminating them because making the items more prevalent just complicates the game further and some players are already struggling with the game in its current format. If they now need to keep track of what items that have in their inventory and how many times they can be used and make nebulous decisions as to whether it is a good use of a resource or a foolish waste it just adds another set of variables and increases the number of potential decisions the player can make exponentially. I would also recommend eliminating the inventory system as thus far it hasn’t been a factor in the game and I have a hard time seeing it suddenly become a factor without some major retooling of the game and again, more complication.
All in all you guys have done a great job establishing the game and the rules. None of you are economists though and some of the economics of the game have been funky and that is where a lot of the grief has come from. That is what caused issues with the mechanics early on because they had an unlimited supply of repairs and thus the supply and demand curve basically demanded they give their services away. You have made big steps to fix that by implementing the RP system. You now have an economic problem with the loot but you realize that and are taking steps in future rounds to rectify it. You have also fixed some of the funkier economic issues related to buying repair kits and upgrades. I know it is still a work in progress and I suspect you guys aren’t there yet, but you are actively working on it and that is what counts here. I am excited to see the economic set up at the next round. Simple and balanced is the goal in these kinds of games. LP have to mean something and should be precious but players have to be able to have a little fun and soup up their ride too. That is a difficult balance to find. I wish you folks luck with it and am at your service if you have any questions about some of the more complicated economic set ups.
Being able to properly gauge the risk and reward is important. If we don’t have a clear idea then we are reducing a game of skill like poker where players make calculated risks to a game of roulette where players make their bets and keep their fingers crossed that it all comes out good. I might suggest that the risk/reward be made clearer but that the reward be specifically geared toward certain types of players. Mission 1 requires high SP and MV but rewards high FP
Mission 2 requires high FP and AR but rewards high AR and TQ
Let players make decisions based on what they want to upgrade next on their vehicle. That is the variable we players all want the most control over. We want to pimp our rides. If I am craving FP but end up with a random TQ prize I guess I am happy but I am still hunting for that FP. If I can pick a mission that has a high chance of rewarding FP and I am looking for FP I can specifically control the way my vehicle is developing by the missions I choose.
Thanks for the thoughtful analysis! I think we dropped the single-use ball early by not utilizing them at all. Donald, Jonas, and I will have to discuss just how far to take it but I can see that simplification or elimination of single-use weapons is definitely in order. I did like the silliness in BSD of slapping random weapons onto our ships, and some players here have obviously taken that route.
In addition though, like @bizmail_public notes, I think we can keep single-use weapons if we make it exclusively story-driven stuff where its use is obvious and players don’t have to guess if they need to deploy something. We do actually have something like that already in the portable nuke launchers, but we haven’t seen where those come into play yet obviously (and Jane is holding on to those anyway, I guess I took away some fun there).