I personally enjoyed the hell out of all of the games, and really appreciated the work you guys put into BDW and all the games, but what I think I really liked about @patrace’s games was that they demanded so little as a base effort. Pick repairs, pick a mission, go.
All the other stuff was awesome but you didn’t need to do it. People could pick their level of involvement. I liked the idea of Delvers, but it seemed we needed to do a lot of cooperating, repeated rolling etc. The base level of involvement was high. Maybe not if you were sitting around a table of an evening, but on here…?
PvP? Needs buy-in from everyone. Did you see this?
I want people to play heels. We sort of need that. But we’re a bunch of Marxists who want to play nice. Incompetent banking aside. And I quit BDW for a bit because I thought it was getting personal, so maybe I don’t want people to play heels really…
I’ve actually played one single brief-ish campaign of D&D, about 15 years ago, but it honestly never occurred to me that there actually wasn’t any PvP. Of course you’re right, but somehow I never realized it. Somehow I always thought there might be the potential for… well, not just betrayals and such (I’m sure that does happen from time to time), but out-and-out PvP combat, even between friends. It is, after all, only a game, and certainly best pals can duke it out in any number of FPS and fighting games with no harm done to the friendship.
Personally, I’d love to play an iteration of Badass that allowed for PvP when the circumstances were right, but of course any such version of Badass would have to make explicitly clear upfront that such a thing would be allowed, if indeed most people are used to collaborative RPGs rather than competitive ones.
That certainly made the whole thing painless to play. What fluff content Pat did inject was always hugely entertaining, but as a player you didn’t have to invest more than five or ten minutes a day to play well, though you could blow hours at a time making goofy MSPaint illustrations and typing up outrageous rants about cloacas if you really wanted to.
I myself lean toward a preference for meaty content, rather than simplicity, but that probably makes me a better player than game designer.
But you’re right: everyone needs to be on-board if PvP is to be included.
I did not. Now that I’ve read it, my first thought is that some editor needs to take a whack at it, since it takes about four times as many words as it needs to say what it has to say. And that’s coming from me, of all people.
But it does reinforce the point. Still and all, there is a market for PvP. I guess it makes sense that most of those games (like Halo and Destiny and such) don’t have anything like permadeath, since it’s a pain to lose something that you’ve invested lots of time and effort in creating.
But remember that Dark Zone section of The Division that @codinghorror mentioned? That’s exactly the vibe I was hoping people would embrace in the darker rounds of BDW. Too bad nobody was into it. I certainly would have indulged my dark side there. I have zero interest in The Division as it’s been described to me, but that Dark Zone bit sounds intriguing, if translated into the context of a more interesting genre.
I wonder if we can increase interest in such a thing for people like you (and me, honestly) with a two-pronged approach: a substantial lowering of the stakes by making the consequences of death and defeat relatively trivial to overcome so the vanquished can easily respawn into the game to begin plotting revenge; and also by more heavily advertising the potential for such shenanigans to be part of the fun?
I wonder. I think we beat up on him a bit too much last time. A couple of moments in the game got a trifle querulous. I surely hope he’ll do another one, but it wouldn’t shock me if it felt like a bit more trouble than it’s worth. I’ve walked a couple of yards in his shoes before, and yet even I have been known to complain about the free ice cream before.
Between you, me, and the lamppost, though… even though I’d never expect or ask anyone to follow suit, I personally would PayPal the guy $50 to run another BSD for a couple of weeks. It’s that much fun, and so worth it!
I didn’t mean to suggest that the BSDs didn’t take a lot of effort, just that I liked that people could put a few minutes in and stay involved, although they could also spend hours digging around in it - heavens knows I put a lot of time in on those games. I love having lots of people in the game.
One thing I really liked in the first one (admittedly, maybe it helped that I ended up on what seemed to be the the ‘better’ side of it) was when we were split into two groups, and offered differing mission/repair/upgrade experiences. I really liked the asymmetry of it - and it led to PvP in a way that worked and was late enough that nobody lost out. Also like the vehicle class thing in BDW - stuff that gives people a different experience and rewards a few different ways of playing.
Especially during BSD 1 I expected some betrayal from somewhere, but then it just didn’t happen.
The Elite article isn’t really that relevant, just I’d read it yesterday and it was about PvP so it was in my head. Not owning a PC, I’ve never played E:D, but I’ve read a fair bit about it and watched some videoes and the main complaint seems to be around the flatness and inability of players to meaningfully affect the game. I think that sort of game probably benefits from PvP - isn’t the danger part of the fun if you’re living out Han Solo-esque adventures? (sounds like it needs a player driven economy too - the Badass games seem to have ended up with those lot ) That said, griefers who go out of their way to ruin the games of people specifically trying to avoid that are just arseholes.
Maybe we should try a game of Subterfuge or Neptune’s Pride?
(although those sound like they can end up quite stressful)
You know that now you’ve revived this thread we’re going to have to start a new game soon.
Precisely this. I almost exclusively favor PvE cooperative experiences (the boardgame Pandemic, anyone?), and although I’m willing to entertain the idea of PvP, I would liked to have had that baked in from the start. The opportunity for PvP in the middle of what had previously felt like a PvE experience created some unfortunate tension. The ‘uniting against a common enemy’ thing was what appealed to me the most.
And in BSD2, I felt that game became most interesting when trading items between ships became an option. Although cautious trust was extended at first, we quickly became a full-fledged interstellar communist banking consortium - all the while preserving the ‘make repairs, add equipment, pick a mission’ simplicity if needed. I know I had any number of weeks in which I spent hours luxuriating in the threads, but the inevitable week or two where I had no more than 20 minutes to offer. Require less, allow more, and let the narrative flourish.
Generally speaking, I’m less interested in participating in the war of all against all of the PvP space and more interested in spirited cooperation. I wondered if a ‘team vs team’ frame might be viable, but player attrition in these sorts of games is too chaotic to ensure reasonably balanced starting conditions.
So, to answer your question: prefer PvE, would consider PvP but under very specific and limited circumstances.
Oh, never fear… I didn’t think for a second you were suggesting that. I wholly agree that the flexibility of time investment in Pat’s games is the ideal approach. As a player, one could invest a scant handful of minutes in each round and do well… or, one could blow hours farting around in Charybdis! It lent itself very well to wildly varying playstyles and time commitments. But since I prefer immersion and a certain healthy dose of complexity, I built BDW to be the game I wanted to play, rather than following Pat’s sterling example. And that turned out to be a mistake.
You’ve seen me bitch about what strikes me as artificial complexity in RPGs like Skyrim and Fallout 4, where all the crafting and cooking and weapon/armor mods and upgrades just feel like unhelpful (and boring) busywork. So there’s certainly a limit to how busy I want a game to be. At the same time, if a game is too simple and straightforward, then I lose interest for lack of anything to think about.
“Death” or “losing” or “Game Over” is a thorny issue, too. BSD1, while not all that difficult to survive especially if one played conservatively, still had permadeath, and so we lost a few players earlier than we would have liked, players whose characters added rich story elements to the game. Following the fate of “Hobar! Hobar! Mighty Hobar! PingPing Pandan’s ship,” there seemed to be some sense that we shouldn’t kill off our potentially entertaining characters, and, for better or worse, it seemed to me that the games since then have been just a shade too nerfed. The stats might not really bear that out, I know. In BSD1, only seven out of the initial thirty Captains survived to the end, and of the 23 dead, only seven were taken by the space eels for being inactive. The other sixteen met rather spectacular ends.
That said, did anyone die in BSD2? I don’t remember… let me look. (clickscrollclick) Ahh. Yeah, looks like only 3 fatalities out of 22 players.
I knew I didn’t want to make BDW with all rounded corners and a pile of pillows under the monkeybars, but neither did I want to kill off fun players, so I kinda liked the way we killed off vehicles but left the player-characters alive to get a new vehicle if they chose. Keeps 'em in the game, while still providing incentive to avoid death (since you’d lose your car and all its hard-won upgrades if your HP fell to zero).
But again, even though I thought the Repair economy would be well-received as an interesting complication that added both verisimilitude and gameification to the experience, I was pretty much the only person who didn’t hate it.
Some day (probably not anytime soon,alas) I’d like to make another game happen in the BDW world, applying the lessons I learned, including a much more open-ended story and streamlining the ruleset. I’m glad to have finally gotten the Ark haul off my chest (that image, of all the cars chained to the Ark and dragging it across the desert while “When The Levee Breaks” plays over a semi-truck made of speakers, came from a dream I had in high school, thirty years ago!), so that particular tale is put to bed for good… but the BDW world fascinates me endlessly. But so does Charybdis.
Yeah, that was perfectly timed, too. I can’t quite figure out if we all managed to catch lightning in a bottle with BSD1, or if Pat’s simply an Evil Genius who knows exactly when to throw every switch!
Well, I can’t say that it hadn’t occurred to me!
Are you sayin’ my illustrations go on too long, too?!
See, that’s when the lustre began to fade for me, a little bit. The Space Jockey element of it kinda faded into the back seat, and it actually did become a finance RPG. Still fun, of course, thanks to the personalities of the players and their characters, but BSD1 and BDW I would have enjoyed playing as single-player campaigns nearly as well as the multiplayer experiences they were. But without you guys, I wouldn’t have stuck with BSD2.
I agree with @daneel that when “teams” were introduced in BSD1 (I.C.U.P. vs. the revolutionary underworld) the game’s excitement popped up a couple notches. Maybe factions would be a good thing to include in the next Badass.
I fear I sacrificed clarity for the sake of brevity. The anecdote that would have prevented the misunderstanding follows:
I am a regular participant in a table top RPG group. We literally sit around the big table in my dining room. The person who is currently GM goes into vast detail in describing settings and circumstances.
When he starts describing the schedule of rotation for the crops grown by the local peasants (no hyperbole, this has actually happened) I begin to feel free to interrupt him to describe the actions my character will take, relevant to the adventure.
My point when I said “not limited to the written format” and thereby created the misunderstanding was simply that he doesn’t write the descriptions he provides. They are delivered ex tempor purely through the spoken channel.
I’m sorry that my paucity of words came across as a criticism. For the record, I personally find your presentation style to be quite entertaining, even while I understand that others might find it burdensome.
Yeah, me too! After all, it’s a game… so why not go for broke?
I think of it kind of like r/K selection theory. One’s investment in one’s character falls somewhere on a spectrum between seahorses and elephants. Seahorses give birth to a few hundred young at a time and don’t care for them afterward, so the vast majority of them die so that a few might live. Life is cheap to creatures on the r end of the spectrum, like the seahorse, as it is to Halo players. (I have found in certain fairly tough bottleneck locations in the Halo 4 campaign that one can amass a pretty good pile of one’s own corpses before the game despawns them.)
By contrast, you have animals like elephants and humans, who generally only have one baby at a time and invest a lot of time and effort caring for it until it’s old enough to fend for itself. I understand games like Eve Online wherein you spend a lot of time augmenting and leveling your ship, and where death is a permanent loss of those assets, falls on the K end of the spectrum, like the elephants do.
Since the Badass games aren’t designed to last more than a couple of weeks (ahem), but are designed to be custom-rolled RPGs, they fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I think the ideal Badass “Mortal Danger Level” should ramp up, so the first several rounds can’t really get you killed while players familiarize themselves with each other and the environment, and then the late levels should, I believe, allow for fatal decisions. I mean, Vegas isn’t popular for its casinos full of Candyland tables. The game is more interesting when you have something to lose, even if it’s just the time and effort spent in creating and leveling a character.
Three, I believe. Now there was a player’s player!
Yeah, I think you’re right. I’m so used to thinking of the Cobra as a quintessentially American car that just happened to have British skin, but of course they were actually British cars with Ford engines in them. I guess the only real difference was that the Cobras were mated to their engines and finished in Shelby’s shop in California, whereas the Iso Grifos were built with imported American engines in Italy (Lombardy, I think?). I should have allowed it.
Ahh… now it makes sense! I was only teasing anyway; I knew you weren’t criticizing me. If you had been, it would have been for something for which I’d have it coming!
Yeah! When are you gonna start up with Badass Satellites of Love?
Now that you mention it, I really like the idea of factions that can have a set of baked in advantages and disadvantages without the need for balancing the number of players out of the gate.
Which suddenly leads me to a few ways to spice things up:
Have a “villain” faction that can select missions to confound, oppose, or attack players. Villains can be generally weaker than the “good guys” faction, possibly respawning as they are eliminated - perhaps in more powerful forms to scale with the increasing power of the protagonists.
Add a hidden identity mechanic, a la saboteur style games. Either a small number of saboteurs that can be ferreted while trying to remain secret, or something like Shadow Hunters with ‘hero’, ‘monster’, and ‘civilian’ factions each having different goals and victory conditions.
But here I am flappin’ my gums without bringing us any closer to the start of a new game.
Either this trait is more common among GMs than I thought or you’ve been secretly playing in my campaign all this time…
I’m imagining what it might have been like in BDW if characters like Toecutter, Fleetwood, Bruce, and Wez had been actual player characters instead of NPCs. Maybe PvP could work pretty well as team- or faction-based opposition, where people can still collaborate with their teammates to forward their collective aims, and thus minimize the kind of 1v1 combat that can make things seem more personal and unpleasant and isolating.
And the hidden identity thing sounds great too. I used PMs to try and infuse some back-channel wheeling and dealing, hoping to spark a little betrayal, but the BDW players were all good scouts and stayed loyal to each other, with one minor exception. But if this is put in place as an advertised option from the beginning, I suspect many players (definitely including myself) would be on board.
If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possible imagine?
I guess you could set up a game where there’s a mole or two (maybe ask people who were prepared to play that role to PM the DM?) - but I don’t know who you’d fit a sabotage mechanic in - perhaps a chance to apply a modifier to other people’s rolls?
Then have your normal game and this other idea as a sub-game - identify the rat?
I do kinda like the idea of having multiple factions assigned up front (not sure how you’d manage it as people stopped playing) - early battles could allow for limping away, later ones to the death?