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Brian Stanfield

What makes a complete game "complete"?

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I know there are a crap ton of things being tossed about in this thread, design-wise, that are way, way, _way_ over my head, so I'm probably missing something, but my big take away from the last several pages is that "modern gamers prefer colorful picture books."

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

I know there are a crap ton of things being tossed about in this thread, design-wise, that are way, way, _way_ over my head, so I'm probably missing something, but my big take away from the last several pages is that "modern gamers prefer colorful picture books."

 

Pretty much.

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

I know there are a crap ton of things being tossed about in this thread, design-wise, that are way, way, _way_ over my head, so I'm probably missing something, but my big take away from the last several pages is that "modern gamers prefer colorful picture books."

 

 

 

They also want it all to be easy to learn, short while still being detailed, and free to download. 
 

Simple, really. 

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4 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

They also want it all to be easy to learn, short while still being detailed, and free to download. 
 

Simple, really. 

 

Those are just the mooches.  There are just more of them since they can be anonymous and have multiple accounts to whine with.   We think there were less of them back in the day, but that is just because they had to be idiots in person and would usually find themselves banned from the FLGS after enough warnings.  But today they can just make another account. 

 

Anyway, yes there are no loads that want everything for free.  But most real gamers understand the concept that it takes time and resources to create gaming products and that they will cost $. 

 

As for the whiners always wanting free whatever, I never consider them "real gamers" and usually not "real people" either. 

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On 3/26/2020 at 5:34 AM, sinanju said:

 

Nope. No subscriptions. It's nothing but a money grab.

 

If I buy Software 1.0, and it serves my purposes, I don't need or want anything more. IF and when I find it lacking, I can *choose* to pay for an upgrade (Software 1.1 now with flavor!) or a whole new iteration (Software 2.0). But I'm NOT going to pay a monthly or annual subscription just to maintain access to a product I bought.

This is why I never got into MMOs...

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7 hours ago, Tywyll said:

This is why I never got into MMOs...

 

Well, see, I'm not opposed to paying for access to an ongoing game like that. Sometimes. I've done so in the past, though I so seldom play computer games (especially online games) anymore that it wouldn't be worth the money now.

 

It's discrete software packages (Office, Excel, publishing software, and so forth) that I refuse to pay for on an ongoing basis. Either I own it or I don't.

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9 hours ago, sinanju said:

 

Well, see, I'm not opposed to paying for access to an ongoing game like that. Sometimes. I've done so in the past, though I so seldom play computer games (especially online games) anymore that it wouldn't be worth the money now.

 

It's discrete software packages (Office, Excel, publishing software, and so forth) that I refuse to pay for on an ongoing basis. Either I own it or I don't.

 

See I just feel that way about a game. I either buy a game and own it and use however I want, including deciding to buy DLC if I want, or I don't. I don't want to pay $50 for something and then pay $10-$20 a month to keep playing it. But when I play games I'm really more about narrative than grinding levels and resources, which most MMO's are based around, so that's another reason I'm not into them.

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A picture book format is actually what I would prefer.

 

The tricky part is that you need the actual text to fit in the equivalent of 24 pages or so. Double that with art. On the other hand, you could have a couple of different volumes. A lot of early RPGs had three volumes...

 

The funny thing is that you could actually do something like that with HERO, if you had the rights to muck about with the rules. Unfortunately, the best genre to do it with would be superheroes, which doesn't need to be done yet again.

 

Fantasy might work, but most other genres would be unsuitable for the format.

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47 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Why the 24-page limit? Is there a standard I’m not aware of? Or is that comic book length?

 

I've been looking at various picture books. 48 pages seems to be fairly common.

 

Deduct half the page count for art, and you get the equivalent of 24 pages of text.

 

Actually it's worse than that, since there are title pages, tables of contents and so on. If you include an index, a good 8 pages of the original 48 can be sucked up by that. That only leaves 20 pages...

 

Of course you can go longer than 48 pages. 64 would be fine, but 96 would be pushing it. At that point you might be better off splitting it into two books.

 

My train of thought here started from the observation that words are cheap and art is expensive. It might be worth putting the art first, and fitting in the words around them.

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1 hour ago, assault said:

I've been looking at various picture books. 48 pages seems to be fairly common.

 

Got it. It makes sense, except that picture books expect a younger audience and HERO System, as a game, is probably way beyond that attention span.

 

Be that as it may, I totally grok your point. When I first learned D&D (first Basic, then Expert, then Advanced), I remember vividly the pictures even to this day. When I pop open old game books, I immediately see the pictures that I remember seeing as if it's the first time again. Something about the art always drew me in and locked me in sync with the text. That alone is such an important part of gaming, and it should be respected more as a useful tool. 

 

I love the full-color layout of the 6e rulebooks, and especially the 6e Fantasy HERO. But the problem with all those books is that the art appears as random clip-art rather than as images that are integral to reading and understanding the rules. This was a missed opportunity. I'd have to say, the New Millenium books at least got this point, and did a good job of integrating everything into a single reinforced experience. I don't like the rules, but that's a different issue. 

 

I'm tired of DOJ rebooting or re-releasing stuff with no effort to update it. New art, new sketches, new anything would help immensely. There is so much competition out there right now, and they're getting left behind. I mean, Kids On Bikes is as simple as it gets, with only a smattering of artwork, but it's so incredibly effective that the book is irresistible. And their array of supplemental adventure books have great comic-themed covers that draw the eye. All the PBTA games are popular as well, and Fate games, and the list goes on. Champions Now is another example of this trend: unfortunately Ron isn't doing HERO System any favors by re-writing the rules in his own image. Compare any of those to Champions Complete or Fantasy HERO Complete, and I'm pretty sure an unbiased audience will never even pick up the HERO books. 

 

Agh! I said I wouldn't go down the artwork rabbit hole in this thread, but it's become the elephant in the room, hasn't it? I like that Hall of Champions makes the stock DOJ artwork available for writers to use. It seems like this would be a good opportunity to use this as a sort of guerrilla movement to adapt and reorganize their own art in more thoughtful ways to drive home the point that thoughtful presentation matters. 

 

Ok, so I think it's impossible to condense a HERO book to 24 pages of text (even the 1e photocopies that everyone shared). 48 of text is pushing it. I think 96 pages (it doesn't really need to be multiples of 12 . . .) total is more doable for a "one book game" "powered by the HERO System," with artwork integrated into and around the text, some good plates before each chapter, etc. Hell, I know a lot of college artists who do computer design all the time, and who'd love to buy into a project like this for a modest compensation. That's just me, but this really can't be that hard! Can it?

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For the record, I learned to play chess from a picture book.

 

I don't have it any more. My mother gave it away to one or another of my cousins. I can't therefore give a page count for a book capable of teaching a kid to play chess.

 

But that's the level of complexity that is possible.

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There's also that Champions: New Millennium combat game. I can't remember its name (it's very late here), but apparently it had a significant subset of the rules in quite a small page count.

 

I'd love to see it, to see what it did, and therefore what can be done.

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I don't know about a specific "combat game" (is there one that I don't know about?), but the Champions: New Millennium RPG was something like 200 pages, but with a whole lot of fluff material like a comic book introduction, lots of mocked up newspaper articles about the world and stuff like that. The most striking feature (to me at least, at this particular moment) is that page 1 very explicitly sets all the dials for the game setting, and explains which options are and aren't used. It's very clear and visual, and incredibly relevant to what we've been discussing here in this thread. 

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On 3/29/2020 at 3:17 PM, Duke Bushido said:

I know there are a crap ton of things being tossed about in this thread, design-wise, that are way, way, _way_ over my head, so I'm probably missing something, but my big take away from the last several pages is that "modern gamers prefer colorful picture books."

 

 

 

 Yes, and apparently a very low amount of crunch.  We can at least address the first one. 

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14 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Ok, so I think it's impossible to condense a HERO book to 24 pages of text (even the 1e photocopies that everyone shared). 48 of text is pushing it. I think 96 pages (it doesn't really need to be multiples of 12 . . .) total is more doable for a "one book game" "powered by the HERO System," with artwork integrated into and around the text, some good plates before each chapter, etc. Hell, I know a lot of college artists who do computer design all the time, and who'd love to buy into a project like this for a modest compensation. That's just me, but this really can't be that hard! Can it?

 It needs to be  multiples of 4, for printing purposes, and for longer books they need to bound into groups of signatures and signatures are in multiple of 32 pages (i think). 

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17 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

 Yes, and apparently a very low amount of crunch.  We can at least address the first one. 

 

It's unfortunate that Hero couldn't be streamlined. 

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1 hour ago, Sketchpad said:

 

It's unfortunate that Hero couldn't be streamlined. 

It absolutely can.  HERO is very easy to grok as long as you don't have to touch chargen and you don't touch anything outside your own sheet. 

The thing is that HERO needs to be streamlined at the individual player level instead of at the system level.  Character sheets with rules on them would solve basically everything. 

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There seems to be confusion as to what "HERO" refers to. Does it refer to the system (i.e., the mechanics) or the presentation of the system? I think Scott is saying that you can't meaningfully streamline the HERO mechanics without altering them to a point where they resemble some other game rather than the HERO System, whereas Gnome seems to be focusing on the idea that the presentation of the game can be streamlined without altering the mechanics.

 

I am of the mind that both are right, and that mechanics and presentation are orthogonal elements; radical changes to the latter need not have any impact on the former (nor, IMO, should they).

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6 hours ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

It absolutely can.  HERO is very easy to grok as long as you don't have to touch chargen and you don't touch anything outside your own sheet. 

The thing is that HERO needs to be streamlined at the individual player level instead of at the system level.  Character sheets with rules on them would solve basically everything. 

 

I've been thinking of this too.

 

Basically you create a bunch of, for want of another name, playbooks, containing what you need to know to play a particular character. Add some tactical hints, suggestions on END management and so on. Maybe even some suggestions for tailoring the character to the player's tastes.

 

8 pages would probably cover it. Or maybe 12.

 

They could be freestanding, presented as members of a team, or both.

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On 4/1/2020 at 11:08 AM, assault said:

 

I found it!

 

It was called Wildstrike!

 

Obviously too simple and narrow in focus, but I wish I had it.

 

1 hour ago, Tywyll said:

 

Wow, never heard of that. I would love to see it though!


Me too! I looked it up and only found an entry on BoardGame Geek. NobleKnight couldn’t even scrounge up a copy to overcharge me for! Seems interesting, and I’d love to see it. 

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3 hours ago, assault said:

 

I've been thinking of this too.

 

Basically you create a bunch of, for want of another name, playbooks, containing what you need to know to play a particular character. Add some tactical hints, suggestions on END management and so on. Maybe even some suggestions for tailoring the character to the player's tastes.

 

8 pages would probably cover it. Or maybe 12.

 

They could be freestanding, presented as members of a team, or both.


This has become a standard approach for a lot of the so-called “indie” or “rules lite” games out there, and it has a lot of merits. In my mind, I keep coming back to the “powered by HERO” notion. If DOJ wants to remain relevant, I think they are going to have to at least consider dipping their toes into this market with a similar approach to the PbtA games, or Fate, or whatever. And then hit the convention scene with an assortment of game sessions that would truly teach the system. 

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