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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:53 pm
by kleenestar
Posting very briefly from the road:

What? No! Of course they can launch conflicts, otherwise the last person to take a Final Turn wouldn't have anyone to launch their conflicts. What did I say to make you think that?


You say that the non-Active player with the fullest glass gets to launch a conflict. Once someone empties their glass, that can't be them. Or am I reading the rule interaction wrong?

--Jess

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:01 pm
by Graham Walmsley
You say that the non-Active player with the fullest glass gets to launch a conflict. Once someone empties their glass, that can't be them. Or am I reading the rule interaction wrong?


Oh shit.

Graham

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:10 pm
by spaceanddeath
Now I feel like the brute. :(

1) CREATIVE AND EFFECTIVE INCORPORATION OF RULES (1-10): 7

Feedback: Emotion, Glass and Committee are all well integrated at a mechanical level in some pretty innovative ways. There's less of a tight fit with the 10 sessions of 1 hour. I think it would be difficult to get everything done that is suggested in any of the one hour sessions, except perhaps the set-up in the first hour. The game could be more or less sessions or contain longer or shorter sessions without changing the dynamics of the game.

2) CLARITY (1-10): 5

Feedback:

The writing style starts off very clearly. The instructions for the first hour are crystal clear, but after this, things start to get a little more confusing. Examples. You need dialogued examples of play.

Is there expected to be narration during the card playing scene like, say, in With Great Power? If so, this is not clear.

How does not refilling your own glass on your turn encourage you keep your turn short? Just the prospect of getting more wine, or is there something I am missing? If you can call a conflict for yourself regardless of the level of your glass, and you can not participate in the card bidding, what does it matter how much liquid you have?

3) COMPLETENESS (1-10): 6

Feedback:

This game is desperately in need of both examples of play and system support for the players to create narrative structures in the game.

(Most of) the first hour works so well, and is so clear, because it gives tools to the players to build the ideal citizen with. The tropes that it draws on (picking a sub/culture or group, using it to create an ideal citizen, creating characters that contrast with that citizen) help to support players by generating ideas and providing a process to create. The examples included makes that process very tangible to the players. Creating Euthymia is less supported, framing scenes even less so.

4) ESTIMATED EFFECTIVENESS IN PLAY (1-10): 5

Feedback:

If the point of the game is to regain your humanity but not lose control, than an Active Player who's aspects are getting too high may want to initiate a conflict that he aims to fail (and so lower his humanity which is getting out of control). Can he do this? Your text seems to imply that no one would want to, but considering that others may push me to regain my humanity through card play and I will be out of the game if I go to 10, I'd say this would be a pretty common occurrence.

It would be really easy to gang up on a single player in a conflict. I assumed stats of 4 4 4 3 I dealt out four hands and mocked out a conflict round. I could, just by the random card deal that I made, push a single character to a nine in "feels". Had there been five players in my game, or one player who drank strategically to hit the active player more often in one round, I could kill someone off in the first round of the game. (This abusability is especially important in a game that draws on Paranoia-esque tropes.)

Why would anybody, beside the Active Player (unless a believe, love or speak aspect is particularly evocative or interesting) engage a conflict on anything other than the feel aspect?

This rule: "If a player spends a full turn narrating how the Committee subdues and humiliates his character, he may discard the cards he holds..." is very cool. This is the kind of support for narration and roleplay that the game's system should strive for. Most of the rest of the system is completely indifferent to the nature or quality of the play product that the players produce.

Overall, I think: freeformish RPGers might be OK with this game (because they do not require system support to produce narration, world creation or roleplay interaction (but that they would not manage to give each player a turn in the hour of play), while non freeformish folks will likely have a great amount of difficulty getting anywhere near the conflict.

5) SWING VOTE (1-10): 6

Final Feedback:

Is there a design goal in mind in denying the player any input or control over their own character? As it stands, player intent does not count for anything significant here, nor does any narrative that might arise through (but does not seem mandated by) play. Everything hinges on the whims of the other players. While I can see that there could be a tit for tat intent here, the game does not present itself as a character collaboration game. In fact it seems quite the opposite: the presence of the committee member underscores a level of competition in play.

I think you have some good ideas here, Graham, and I strongly encourage you to keep working on it. You state at the end that you want a particular kind of friendly epicurean feel to the game. To make that happen, I think you need to design it more intentionally.Right now, it does not support ease or comfortability, and it does not necessarily encourage the kind of storytelling that I believe you are personally envisioning.

TOTAL SCORE (add items 1 through 5, above): 29

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:10 am
by Graham Walmsley
Now, you see, that's exactly the sort of review I needed. Those are excellent points.

Yes, I need examples, I know.

spaceanddeath wrote:Is there expected to be narration during the card playing scene like, say, in With Great Power? If so, this is not clear.


No, there's not.

How does not refilling your own glass on your turn encourage you keep your turn short? Just the prospect of getting more wine, or is there something I am missing?


Just the prospect of getting more wine. It's not meant as a game mechanic, just a useful quirk of the rules. On a more mechanical level, if the other players feel you've been going too long, they can start a conflict.

The examples included makes that process very tangible to the players. Creating Euthymia is less supported, framing scenes even less so.


Yes, it needs scene framing rules desperately. I can't believe no-one's picked me up on this before. What do you think of these?

1. The Active Player indicates which Aspect he wants the scene to be about.
2. The player with the fullest glass frames a scene about that Aspect
3. The Active Player plays his character, with other players stepping in as needed.

...together with an instruction that, in a Conflict, the card you play should reward the Active Player for narrating his Aspect convincingly or not?

If the point of the game is to regain your humanity but not lose control, than an Active Player who's aspects are getting too high may want to initiate a conflict that he aims to fail (and so lower his humanity which is getting out of control). Can he do this?


Not at the moment, but yes, I realise I need to put this in there.

It would be really easy to gang up on a single player in a conflict. I assumed stats of 4 4 4 3 I dealt out four hands and mocked out a conflict round. I could, just by the random card deal that I made, push a single character to a nine in "feels". Had there been five players in my game, or one player who drank strategically to hit the active player more often in one round, I could kill someone off in the first round of the game. (This abusability is especially important in a game that draws on Paranoia-esque tropes.)


Yes, OK. The scale of it needs changing: I think, actually, that an Aspect should only go up or down by one point each conflict, but that the Aspect should change every conflict.

On the ganging up thing: it's a feature, not a bug. I want them to gang up on each other, be suspicious of each other etc.

Why would anybody, beside the Active Player (unless a believe, love or speak aspect is particularly evocative or interesting) engage a conflict on anything other than the feel aspect?


Ah...oh...that's a good point...bugger. I'll put a safeguard in.

Is there a design goal in mind in denying the player any input or control over their own character? As it stands, player intent does not count for anything significant here, nor does any narrative that might arise through (but does not seem mandated by) play. Everything hinges on the whims of the other players.


I don't understand this. The active player gets to choose which conflicts he enters into and, hence, how he progresses his character. So how is it dependent on the other players' whims? That's a genuine question: I've obviously written something wrongly that gives this impression.

While I can see that there could be a tit for tat intent here, the game does not present itself as a character collaboration game. In fact it seems quite the opposite: the presence of the committee member underscores a level of competition in play.


That's the idea. I want paranoia. Must make that clearer.

I think you have some good ideas here, Graham, and I strongly encourage you to keep working on it. You state at the end that you want a particular kind of friendly epicurean feel to the game.


Epicurean feel my arse. I want a tense, paranoid atmosphere, with the players always suspicious that the person next to them is the Committee Member.

Great review, very useful. Thanks.

Graham

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:50 am
by Destriarch
spaceanddeath wrote:Now I feel like the brute. :(

It's not brutish or unfair to give constructive criticism where it is needed, not if you back up your statements with reasons. That's an important part of games design. I'd say your review was pretty fair-handed in all accounts. There's no point treating a game with kid gloves just because you don't want people to think you're a bully or something. :) So don't be too hard on yourself.

Oh, I remembered the question I meant to ask before: Can the committee demand that the PLAYER take a drink from his/her glass? If the committee demands that the player consumes something, and are thus assumed to be administering medication, must the player take at least a small sip?

Ash

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:12 am
by Graham Walmsley
Destriarch wrote:Oh, I remembered the question I meant to ask before: Can the committee demand that the PLAYER take a drink from his/her glass?


I think probably not. It'll lead to things like "The Committee demands that you totally chug that beer!".

If the committee demands that the player consumes something, and are thus assumed to be administering medication, must the player take at least a small sip?


Again, I'd prefer not. I like the general parallel between the wine and medication but I don't want it to be explicit.

But thanks for the continued questions. They're making me think.

Graham

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 6:40 am
by spaceanddeath
Heya,

I'm half asleep and three quarters distracted as I'm starting vacation today, just got up and have to leave in two hours to catch my flight. You deserve a better response than I can give you right now, but when I'm back home next week, I'll have more time and mental space to answer you properly. :)

~Mo

PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:46 pm
by kleenestar
Graham Walmsley wrote:
You say that the non-Active player with the fullest glass gets to launch a conflict. Once someone empties their glass, that can't be them. Or am I reading the rule interaction wrong?


Oh shit.

Graham


What if you reverse the role of the full and empty glasses, so the person with the emptiest glass launches a conflict and the person with the fullest glass goes next? Then bottle control is about who goes after you, and players have some degree of control over whether they get to launch a conflict by drinking up.

I haven't thought this through too hard (as I'm still posting from the road) but it seems like a potentially serious problem, so I wanted to share my thought for how you might try to work it out.

--Jess

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 5:45 pm
by spaceanddeath
Sorry about the delay. Chicago ate my brain.

OK, where were we?

What do you think of these?

1. The Active Player indicates which Aspect he wants the scene to be about.
2. The player with the fullest glass frames a scene about that Aspect
3. The Active Player plays his character, with other players stepping in as needed.


Better. Though you probably had a sense of this all along, reading it, it wasn't clear that the Active Player was essentially scene framing in preparation for the conflict, which is important to understanding the player's involvement in the stakes. It also wasn't always clear (It was clear that it would be possible, but not expected) that the scene is to be framed and played rather than narrated as fact. This part:

...together with an instruction that, in a Conflict, the card you play should reward the Active Player for narrating his Aspect convincingly or not?


Is critical. Or some guiding, explicit structure like it. It should spell out that the "reward" is for the player desire, not the character desire (in that it should raise or lower the Aspect according to the desires of the player, not just raise them to help the character escape Euthymia).

This actually makes me think...

If you are going to limit the Aspects to going up or down by one point each conflict (which I think is much better, btw), then is there a compelling reason why I would, as the non active player play a Jack to hand the resolution to the next player? This would effectively negate the ganging up on that you were looking to create. I think that's OK, and you can introduce paranoia elsewhere... I even have a suggestion.

I was remarking to Brand on the El in Chicago that I had really thought you were going with a different feel for this game, but that if pressure and paranoia were what you wanted, that you should really find a way to optimize the presence of the committee and provide for a stage where death badness and SOMA are beyond every corner.

How about if the players all use their cards to vote about whether you go up or down by playing a card of the same colour (up) or the other colour (down), with an explicit rule that says that non-committee players must place their vote according to roleplay (If they saw you regain humanity, they put you up, if they saw you fall to Euthymia, they put you down) and the committee member is free to vote however he chooses.

I also think that the committee member should switch up randomly every time so that no one ever knows who the committee member really is, and that in the end, the committee should be all non active players against the player, though this might be too far off your original concept.

And now my brain is working on a whole other conflict res mechanic that I'm I want to rewrite your game, when I actually thought it was a nifty game and don't mean to give the impression that I didn't like it.... so I'll zip it now.

Except one more thing... with the clarity around it being the Active Player that chooses the aspect and with guidelines for the people playing cards that mandate it be intrinsic to how you actually played, you present a dynamic in which a player does have control of their character.... much clearer and stronger than before.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:36 am
by Graham Walmsley
This is really helpful stuff, Mo, thanks.

The latest idea with the scene framing is that the Active Player will pick an Aspect and the player with the fullest glass will frame a scene to challenge that Aspect.

For example, the Active Player picks the Believe Aspect. For this Aspect, the Model Citizen believes "God is everywhere", but the character's Aspect is "God is dead". Then the player with the fullest glass might frame a scene in a ruined cathedral or a scene where the character finds a defaced Bible.

The thing I like about that word "challenge" is that the scene can go either way. The ruined cathedral could lead to a scene where the Active Player believes more strongly in God or less.

spaceanddeath wrote:If you are going to limit the Aspects to going up or down by one point each conflict (which I think is much better, btw), then is there a compelling reason why I would, as the non active player play a Jack to hand the resolution to the next player? This would effectively negate the ganging up on that you were looking to create.


Well, yes, if you don't have a card to reward the player for a good scene, you play a Jack, in the hope that the next player will have an appropriate card. Of course, the next player might be a Committee Member, looking to punish the player. So there's a curious sort of cooperation / paranoia dynamic. You need to cooperate but you need to work out who you can trust.

Kinda.

I was remarking to Brand on the El in Chicago that I had really thought you were going with a different feel for this game, but that if pressure and paranoia were what you wanted, that you should really find a way to optimize the presence of the committee and provide for a stage where death badness and SOMA are beyond every corner.


Yeah. If I had to pick the feel of the game, I'd want a sort of pleasant atmosphere, tinged with mounting paranoia (just like Euthymia itself).

How about if the players all use their cards to vote about whether you go up or down by playing a card of the same colour (up) or the other colour (down), with an explicit rule that says that non-committee players must place their vote according to roleplay (If they saw you regain humanity, they put you up, if they saw you fall to Euthymia, they put you down) and the committee member is free to vote however he chooses.


I like that a lot, but I'd like some randomness in there as well. So that you're likely to be rewarded for roleplay (by winning the Conflict) but not guaranteed. Something like My Life With Master, where roleplay can get you a Sincerity die, which will probably help, but that dice might roll low.

What I'd like to do, I think, is combine your instructions with the present card-playing mechanic. So the instructions for non-Commitee members would be: reward the Active Player by playing the card which you think reflects the way the Active Player was playing the scene.

Then there's a bit of randomness: if the Active Player has played well, it's still possible that the player won't have the right card to reward him.

If you see what I mean.

I also think that the committee member should switch up randomly every time so that no one ever knows who the committee member really is


Oh, yes, that's good, I'll probably do that. Much more interesting.

, and that in the end, the committee should be all non active players against the player, though this might be too far off your original concept.


How do you mean? Do you mean there's just one character being interrogated and all the other players play Committee Members? That might be quite nice.

And now my brain is working on a whole other conflict res mechanic that I'm I want to rewrite your game, when I actually thought it was a nifty game and don't mean to give the impression that I didn't like it.... so I'll zip it now.


No, it's cool, rewrite it.

Oh, yes, there's one more thing I want to change. At the moment, playing a card less than the Strength of the Aspect is a success. Sometimes this success means the Aspect increases and sometimes it decreases.

This means that the higher the Aspect, the easier it is to control. So, if my Aspect has a Strength of 9, I'll win almost every conflict about that Aspect.

This seems wrong. As the Aspect approaches 10, it should actually get harder to control, as the character's behaviour spins out of control. It should be a death spiral.

So what I'd like to do is this: playing a card above the Strength tends to decrease the Strength; and playing a card below the Strength tends to increase it. This will generally force the Strengths to extremes: low Strengths will be driven even lower and high Strengths driven even higher.

I'm not quite sure how exactly that works. Does every card played change the Aspect? Probably not. But, in some way, I want high cards to be associated with decreasing the Strength and low cards with increasing it.

Graham