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Subject: Interesting Segment on Dice Tower about Videogame creating narrative rss

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David Griffin
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Not THAT relevant to Myth except that the game was trying to provide relatively little information about the NPCs and then get the players to "provide their own" narrative about them -- to spin their own story. The method was to talk about only their health (wounds, scars, etc.) and their relationships to other NPCs (wives, girlfriend, boyfriends, friendships, etc.).

Another aspect of this particular game was that they tried to mechanize something that happens in RPGs but which doesn't usually work -- reaction rolls of NPCs to decide whether they like you or not. The interesting part was that when the roll happened under the surface and all you got was NPC A didn't want to be in the same room with NPC B, it encouraged the players to build stories about the event in ways that usually failed in paper and pencil games (because the artificialness of the roll was on full display in the latter).

It made me wonder what you would have to do in Myth to make the heroes (or the monsters for that matter) seem more like real people/creatures? It's not a RPG but feeling more real would maybe make the heroes feel less like tactical game pieces and more like "real" heroes you felt you had a stake in. Some games like Star Trek Attack Wing get that for free since we tend to invest those little plastic ships with what we know about the characters on TV and the movies but for Myth they're starting from scratch.

I think most people *think* that this *might* be something worthwhile for Myth (making the heros and the world a little more real) and that the path toward this is to have a bunch of lore and background for the game and the world. But it's interesting to speculate that there might be other, more subtle methods to cause people to "buy in" to the Myth world.
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Marcus Taylor
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I admire your persistence, David, but to be honest, this sort of play isn't a great fit for this game.

It's really a tactical minis puzzle game, with an RPG skin. It's not really a dungeon crawl, and it's definitely not an RPG. MCG don't seem to have much interest in making it one either. Supposedly the modules will add more backstory, but I think that's just a case of having a better story behind the minis battles, rather than allowing for in-game choices or anything like that. Similar to Warhammer 40K fluff and the like.

Despite the back of the box burbling about 'stories', the game doesn't fit a narrative well. The characters are deliberately generic, and the game rules and lack of persistent elements don't help - you can't keep your items and almost everything resets between games. I suppose you could name the characters, but I'm not sure there's a point when there's so little progression.

Likewise, the quests can be played over and over, so there's not a lot of stake in saving Lucy or whatever. Didn't save Lucy? There's always a next time. Sir Archeron chopped my arm off? It will have grown back by next game.

Maybe the only narrative you could have with something like that is like 'Undertale', where the characters know they are pieces in a boardgame and that everything is endlessly reset.

Then you'll have all the people saying that 'you're trying to make the game into something it isn't'. I'm ambivalent about that. On the one hand, the game's unfinished, Beta playtesting nature seems to make it perfect for house-rules. On the other hand, I'm not sure how long you can keep trying to turn a minis game into an RPG without jacking it in and playing something else. Descent has a stronger story with branching quests and choices. Brimstone is open-world, but has detailed persistent characters who keep the same progression and story from one game to the next. Maybe a game like that would scratch your RPG-lite itch better?

Also, isn't Dice Tower the dishonest shill who insisted that the Myth 1.0 rulebook was 'great'? I think I'll take a proven liar's opinions with a pinch of salt...
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David Griffin
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Marcus the Ready wrote:
I admire your persistence, David, but to be honest, this sort of play isn't a great fit for this game.

It's really a tactical minis puzzle game, with an RPG skin. It's not really a dungeon crawl, and it's definitely not an RPG. MCG don't seem to have much interest in making it one either. Supposedly the modules will add more backstory, but I think that's just a case of having a better story behind the minis battles, rather than allowing for in-game choices or anything like that. Similar to Warhammer 40K fluff and the like.

Despite the back of the box burbling about 'stories', the game doesn't fit a narrative well. The characters are deliberately generic, and the game rules and lack of persistent elements don't help - you can't keep your items and almost everything resets between games. I suppose you could name the characters, but I'm not sure there's a point when there's so little progression.

Likewise, the quests can be played over and over, so there's not a lot of stake in saving Lucy or whatever. Didn't save Lucy? There's always a next time. Sir Archeron chopped my arm off? It will have grown back by next game.

Maybe the only narrative you could have with something like that is like 'Undertale', where the characters know they are pieces in a boardgame and that everything is endlessly reset.

Then you'll have all the people saying that 'you're trying to make the game into something it isn't'. I'm ambivalent about that. On the one hand, the game's unfinished, Beta playtesting nature seems to make it perfect for house-rules. On the other hand, I'm not sure how long you can keep trying to turn a minis game into an RPG without jacking it in and playing something else. Descent has a stronger story with branching quests and choices. Brimstone is open-world, but has detailed persistent characters who keep the same progression and story from one game to the next. Maybe a game like that would scratch your RPG-lite itch better?

Also, isn't Dice Tower the dishonest shill who insisted that the Myth 1.0 rulebook was 'great'? I think I'll take a proven liar's opinions with a pinch of salt...


Yes I agree it's a tactical minis game and the attempt to make it something else probably is probably tilting at windmills.

I've certainly been accused of trying to make this game into something else, but as you say, there are elements of the game that lead you to expect something else in some respects and what I'm really trying to do is to understand what was really intended. I think I've managed to achieve some understanding thanks to these discussions.

I think what happened to Dice Tower is that Tom didn't try to learn the game from the manual by himself. The experience of having it taught competently to you is VERY different. I suspect the MegaCon guys taught him. He got the opportunity to experience how fun the game was without the issues of working like a demon to learn how. Understandable, but a bit misleading which I think he admits at this point.
 
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Marcus Taylor
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Well, as you've likely found, the Myth fans are incredibly protective of it, and it generally it feels like a secret society rather than a game at this point. Some are polite, some are not, but Kickstarter seems to create an incredible 'buy-in' from some people who then consider it 'their' game and the rules are some kind of holy writ that can never be questioned. <shrug>

I think at the end of the day offering alternate approaches to Myth is like trying to get someone to change their religion - they won't do it and you'll just get frustrated trying to convince them.

Personally I think it's essentially a 'board game creation kit' and you can do whatever you want with it. MCG certainly don't care about the rules so I don't see why we should.

I think, because of its fantasy elements and gorgeous components, and confused wittering about 'stories', people come into it thinking its Warhammer Quest 2.0, then get confused when they find out it isn't. It's so beautiful and thematic that people FEEL there must be a great game in there somewhere. Go read the 10/10 scores, almost all of them before the game was delivered. People are so convinced its the Best Game Ever, even before they play it.

What did MCG intend it to be? Their background is in tactical minis games so I think they meant it to be a tactical minis game with a fantasy 'skin'. They hoped it would sell more minis because that's profitable, and more minis makes for more varied gameplay (the game gets really grindy with just crawlers and orcs). The minis and prose have a whimsical, offbeat look and feel that is very different from generic fantasy. So I think people just come into it thinking its something that it's not.

I guess we'll see more when we see the 'modules' they have planned, but I'd be astonished if any of that made it more of an RPG. Nor do MCG really seem bothered about raising its profile. They have a very dedicated, almost fanatical fanbase, and they will probably keep doing smaller kickstarters until their mismanagement finally runs their company into the ground. Which might be never, or it might be next week. Me, I hope they learn and improve, but I'm not holding my breath. I know a few people who are huge Myth fans who now feel disillusioned with them and aren't certain we will ever see the full Journeyman.

As for Vasel, it was like the Mass Effect 3 fiasco, where reviewers gave it all those perfect scores without playing it to the end, and were caught out when the end turned out to be a complete abomination. Vasel's not a reviewer, he's a cheerleader hyping whatever the hot new thing is. I have respect for guys like Rahdo, who actually analyse and review what they are given and try to deliver an honest appraisal, even if its not complimentary. That guy really wanted to love Myth, but he felt that it needed at least another year of playtesting.
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David Griffin
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I don't think Myth is ever going to be a RPG and like you say, I don't think it's intended to be. Then Shadows of Brimstone isn't an RPG either. It could be that Myth grows an integrated progression system that facilitates long continuous campaigns. Or maybe not, don't know.

And again, Rahdo learned it himself I think and Tom did not. I guarantee that my friend Steve that learned it from me has a different impression of the game than I do after spending 3 weeks studying, questioning, watching videos and trying it on the table.

I think it's possible to reconfigure the instructions to make learning the game a lot less traumatic. But that is undoubtedly a hard problem which if it was successful would make it all look easy because you wouldn't even think about the skill that went into it. I have some thoughts but I'm not enough of a writer to really know how to do it. I'm a decent technical writer and I think I can teach it reasonably well, but this job would need a real expert. Perhaps you're right and they don't think the high cost of learning is a bad thing.
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David Griffin
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js379 wrote:
carbon_dragon wrote:
I don't think Myth is ever going to be a RPG and like you say, I don't think it's intended to be. Then Shadows of Brimstone isn't an RPG either. It could be that Myth grows an integrated progression system that facilitates long continuous campaigns. Or maybe not, don't know.

And again, Rahdo learned it himself I think and Tom did not. I guarantee that my friend Steve that learned it from me has a different impression of the game than I do after spending 3 weeks studying, questioning, watching videos and trying it on the table.

I think it's possible to reconfigure the instructions to make learning the game a lot less traumatic. But that is undoubtedly a hard problem which if it was successful would make it all look easy because you wouldn't even think about the skill that went into it. I have some thoughts but I'm not enough of a writer to really know how to do it. I'm a decent technical writer and I think I can teach it reasonably well, but this job would need a real expert. Perhaps you're right and they don't think the high cost of learning is a bad thing.


You are 100 percent correct. He was taught the game directly by the MCG guys but then went on to specifically praise how great the rulebook was... the rulebook he never had to rely on.


Well if so, that was an error. But anyone can make a mistake once in a while. And there's a difference between admiring the look of the manual and even reading it and actually trying to learn from it. Deceptive.
 
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Marcus Taylor
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carbon_dragon wrote:

Well if so, that was an error. But anyone can make a mistake once in a while. And there's a difference between admiring the look of the manual and even reading it and actually trying to learn from it. Deceptive.


Not so much 'deceptive' but totally disingenuous if you're claiming to be a reviewer.

Sure you can teach your friend how to play, but if he then goes out and writes a review saying how easy it was to learn, then he's being duplicitous.

Again, as Mass Effect 3 proved, many 'reviewers' are on the side of the companies - they are no friends of the gamers, and are not helping us make informed decisions. Just hyping the latest cool new thing over and over.
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David Griffin
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On the other hand though, would you rather a game that is murder to learn but a lot of fun, or a game that is easy to learn but not worth playing?
 
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js379 wrote:
carbon_dragon wrote:
js379 wrote:
carbon_dragon wrote:
I don't think Myth is ever going to be a RPG and like you say, I don't think it's intended to be. Then Shadows of Brimstone isn't an RPG either. It could be that Myth grows an integrated progression system that facilitates long continuous campaigns. Or maybe not, don't know.

And again, Rahdo learned it himself I think and Tom did not. I guarantee that my friend Steve that learned it from me has a different impression of the game than I do after spending 3 weeks studying, questioning, watching videos and trying it on the table.

I think it's possible to reconfigure the instructions to make learning the game a lot less traumatic. But that is undoubtedly a hard problem which if it was successful would make it all look easy because you wouldn't even think about the skill that went into it. I have some thoughts but I'm not enough of a writer to really know how to do it. I'm a decent technical writer and I think I can teach it reasonably well, but this job would need a real expert. Perhaps you're right and they don't think the high cost of learning is a bad thing.


You are 100 percent correct. He was taught the game directly by the MCG guys but then went on to specifically praise how great the rulebook was... the rulebook he never had to rely on.


Well if so, that was an error. But anyone can make a mistake once in a while. And there's a difference between admiring the look of the manual and even reading it and actually trying to learn from it. Deceptive.


It wasn't a mistake. He knew the rulebook was flawed and had them come down to teach him specifically because he was having so much trouble learning the game from the rulebook. He admits that around the 24 minute mark of this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Hr4dNGcIY


Jason, thanks for digging that up. I started to look for it and gave up after a short period of time.

I've always though Tom's mea culpa was genuine and I gave him credit for putting it in a video. Yes, there was a huge storm of controversy surrounding this that drove him to responding, but he stepped up and addressed it head on. Compare that to the disaster that Undead Viking perpetuates by staying silent on his current issues and it shows you the kind of stand-up guy Tom is (regardless of how I feel about his style).
 
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David Griffin
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js379 wrote:
carbon_dragon wrote:
On the other hand though, would you rather a game that is murder to learn but a lot of fun, or a game that is easy to learn but not worth playing?


What does that have to do with Tom Vasel's review of the rulebook?


A review that was better than it should have been might convince you to buy a game you might not have otherwise. Result, you buy a game that gives you trouble learning but which you ultimately like.

A review that was worse, emphasizing the bad manual (as Rahdo did, I saw that review) would probably convince you not to buy the game. Result, no game, no issues learning, but you wouldn't get the fun of playing after you learned.

I'm just trying to act out of character (for me) and show the silver lining in having Tom's review be too good, not showing the problems in the manual. Of course he could just say how good the game was and that the manual was not great for learning. I didn't get the from Rahdo's review. If I hadn't seen MegaCon's videos online and only seen that review I probably would have skipped the game entirely. I'm glad I didn't even with the effort I had to put in.
 
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Ivanatom the Humble
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Yet another interesting topic was hit by useless "hate crusade". Off course not without insults towards players and reviewers.
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David Griffin
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js379 wrote:
carbon_dragon wrote:
js379 wrote:
carbon_dragon wrote:
On the other hand though, would you rather a game that is murder to learn but a lot of fun, or a game that is easy to learn but not worth playing?


What does that have to do with Tom Vasel's review of the rulebook?


A review that was better than it should have been might convince you to buy a game you might not have otherwise. Result, you buy a game that gives you trouble learning but which you ultimately like.

A review that was worse, emphasizing the bad manual (as Rahdo did, I saw that review) would probably convince you not to buy the game. Result, no game, no issues learning, but you wouldn't get the fun of playing after you learned.

I'm just trying to act out of character (for me) and show the silver lining in having Tom's review be too good, not showing the problems in the manual. Of course he could just say how good the game was and that the manual was not great for learning. I didn't get the from Rahdo's review. If I hadn't seen MegaCon's videos online and only seen that review I probably would have skipped the game entirely. I'm glad I didn't even with the effort I had to put in.


You're actually going to advocate for reviewers to be more dishonest with their reviews if they like a game? I really can't agree with that position at all.


No I'd prefer a review that says the game is great but the manual isn't good for learning. But if I can't have that, I'd prefer to get a good review on the GAME and a less accurate review on the learning experience.
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Ivanatom wrote:
Yet another interesting topic was hit by useless "hate crusade". Off course not without insults towards players and reviewers.


What can I say? Hard to keep people on the topic you want them to talk about, and maybe we have to just accept that. I'm reminded of the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul quote -- something to the effect of Dirk explaining that his navigation is to just follow a car that seems to know where it's going. He seldom goes where he wanted to, but he usually ends up where he needs to be.
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