HinterBlog

July 5, 2010

System on a more positive note.

Filed under: Business,Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 5:22 pm

So, what does all this naval gazing really get us? Not much at the end of the day but it may make for some entertaining reading. Recently Clash over at Flying Mice Games talked about system as a distinct set of components. In those he included things we would all nod our heads in agreement but added a few that we would most likely shrug at. In those, we have things like character generation, initiative, resources and abilities. Sure, we would probably say, you either rolling the dice for those or defining the dice you would roll. This is off course system. This is the toto of system, the alpha and omega. Or is it?

The problem here is we are looking at the trees, we are classifying them, defining the as the forest and not understanding how the moss, the brush, rivers and creeks, hills and vales all figure into it. We are leaving out what fundamentally gives system meaning. In a word, that is system.

System is the glue that binds, this is the elements that gives system meaning. System has no purpose, in and of itself. Setting though, this can exist without a shred of system. Wait! you might say, you have setting-less systems like DND!!!!! Not really. Sorry, but DND has a fantasy setting. Upfront. Very few systems are sold without a shred of setting. D20 Modern?!?! Well, a modern world setting. Palladium Fantasy?!?! Right there in the title. However, lets flip it around. Greyhawk? Sure, it was made for DND but it is not tied to it in the least. The many setting books by Green Ronin and others? You can sell a setting without a system because it is the glue that binds the system. It is the hills, vales, rivers and whatnot outside of the trees and types of trees. A truly setting-less system will fall flat because it boils down to a flat engagement of analytics. It does not engage our imaginations, it does not fill that craving for a story that we find so engaging. I am not saying setting equals story but that a setting engages the same area of our imagination and sparks the ideas for a story.

So, bottom line, how does the tripe above make for a better gaming experience for you, the reader. Going forward, assuming it had not already occurred to you, one could take the understanding of setting over system as a means to:
1. Present a setting to your group and let system work itself out. The group likes Palladium, then adapt it to your setting.
2. When picking a gaming product, look more closely at the setting, less at the system. The system, at the end of the day, can be replaced, setting, not so much.
3. When you are disappointed with a game, think about why that is. Is it really the system? It may well be. Is it the setting? If it is, you may have a much more fundamental problem with the product.

Good luck in finding a game you enjoy and Good Gaming!

April 30, 2010

Hate, Vitriol and Melodrama

Filed under: General — Tags: , — bilbo @ 8:53 pm

Well, if it has not been obvious I have been taking a break from the online community for a bit and I cannot tell you how it has given me perspective. On a personal level, I am just more happy (even though I am working harder than I ever have) and have a much better view on things. It has been a breath of fresh air.

On another level, I have reflected on the online RPG community. First, to call it a “community” is a misnomer. It is a diverse group of people across all manner of communities, countries and cultures tied together by interest in role-playing games. Second, it is a “community” drenched and reveling in vitriol and melodrama. It is a really negative place that it is difficult to see from within. I believe far too many people do not realize just how subtly draining and heartbreaking it is. From forum posts where people belittle others not based on what they have said but what broad type of game they play, making absurd claims that in any other area of interest would be laughed at or scorned as simplistic and inaccurate. Instead, you hear refrains of “You have to listen to WHAT he says, not how he says it” or merely the ba-ba of sheeple overwhelmed with their need to belong to yet another, different hate group. Now, I will most heartily agree that there are positive folks out there. Clash, Alan, Scott, Mike and several others you could possibly name. However, most often, it is like you are four guys at a KKK rally talking about racial tolerance while the several hundred white robed looks burn a cross and beat up a black guy. The RPG “community” is like that clan meeting. Tolerance, true tolerance of different games from what you play (note: if you don’t like it don’t talk about it) is just not the common ground of any forum, blog or community for RPGS.

Finally, I have to stress it again, if you are in it, you probably don’t even know it. You think that all is fine, all is great because you had a thread last month that did not devolve into an endless back and forth about the “right way to play”…well, except for that one guy and he was playing the game wrong.

Now, as far as this goes, it is something of a rant in that it should not be taken too seriously. If you are happy, then great. I have just found a few common threads and practices that leave me wondering, thinking that maybe, in a roundabout way, I might be onto something. It is backed up with having some great gaming over the past couple of weeks, meeting great folks who never logged onto RPG.FORUM.HATE.YOUR.GAME.com. Inevitably, the ones who were bitter, the few, were the ones who were avid members of one online community or several. Give yourself a break, play a game.

Good gaming everyone.

April 9, 2010

Supers Inc and a 10 year old

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 9:40 am

I ran an intro at a neighborhood store the other night and had a range of folks at the table. Amongst them were a 40ish engineer, a 20 something comic fan, a 16 old store attendant and a 10 year old girl. I ran a pretty standard Supers Inc game where they had to do a high profile rescue of a Senator’s son. He was 20 and they were terrorists holding him for the release of a list of prisoners. The team did not know it at the time but their corporate sponsors were broke and were sending them to their deaths to recover the insurance money.

Engineer spent most of the time trying to convince me that my physics were wrong. Comic boy moaned about how this was not silver age and I had it all wrong. Store attendant would rather have been getting a root canal. But this little ten year old girl played it to the friggin hilt. She was playing a 10 year old much the same as here but with intangibility. She barely could grasp the system but it did not bother her, she would do stuff like “I want to go through that car and break the engine” and I would tell her what to roll and she would ask what she needed and get really excited about the outcome.

I want to stress, this is not about “getting Supers Inc” but about getting the game. She was having fun. I think there are just some gamers that don’t get that anymore. I cannot for the life of me understand why you would continue to play if you had lost that joie de vivre that games should give you. This is not work, it should be entertainment.

So, next time you are feeling down about your game, sit down with niece, nephew, son, friends kid, who ever of the appropriate age and get your game on. You may be surprised just how much they get, how much fun they have and how refreshing it is to just play.

April 1, 2010

April Fools

Filed under: General — Tags: — bilbo @ 8:24 am

I really hate practical jokes. It just is not my thing. I mean, if you do, that’s great but I just find the whole thing annoying. I have never found how humiliating or belittling your customers was a good practice. That said, a joke product is fine (heck, one could argue that SA! is all about that) but that is not what I am talking about. It is more misinformation by a company and on a personal level.

Short version, you will not see HinterWelt or me celebrating April Fools. 😉

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