CARL SKUTSCH
United States
New York
New York
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Agricola, Sekigahara, Concordia, Innovation, COOKIE!!! (and Guinness)
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The problem in the equation is people. Eliminate that, everything works.
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So I glanced at a recent Kickstarter and I noticed they had one of those promotions where, for a cash fee, you could name an important in-game element.

This bugs me.

I am turned off by a game which has names given by some random geek. Sorry peeps, but some of you have just awful taste. I'd rather some designer, maybe with a focus group or 3, name the dern things. It still might turn out bad but I think it has a better chance of being thematic and interesting than if some random dope like me gets to name stuff. I am less likely to back a game that has this element in its fundraising campaign.

Thoughts?

Oh, sure, a poll:
Poll
How do you feel about in-game elements being named by players?
I think it's a good thing!
I guess it's ok, generally.
I don't care.
Meh, it's a ding for me.
I really don't like it.
      249 answers
Poll created by skutsch

 
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BG.EXE
United States
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I really don't care. I'm sure I own games where some schmuck paid hundreds to thousands of dollars to include their likeness in the game, or name some part of it and guess what?

I have NO idea which part they contributed to. People can waste their money as they please. I guess in my case, someone spent a ton of money to not affect me while simultaneously helping developers I like. Seems like an approximate win.
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Jethro
New Zealand
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Beyond the box and the rule book I don't like any reference to the designers at all, as it breaks immersion for me.

I'm pretty sure the expansion to Merchants and Marauders included a bunch of designers as the 'captains':



Are you fucking kidding me? I avoid playing those captains at all costs.

Here are some better ones for contrast:




So no, I don't want any risk of my immersion being broken by some wild card design decision breaking theme.
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Lady Inquisitor
Ireland
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Providing a name could be ok but photographs or in-game abilities is probably a step too far.
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Trevor Taylor
United Kingdom
FARINGDON
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I don't care who chose the names. However, I do care if they break the theme.

If all the other places sound French/Elvish/robotic I don't want a place be called 'Nigel the Boardgamer'.

Obviously a ridiculous example, but I've seen stuff almost as bad (like the M&M cards above).
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Mihnea Cateanu
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Normally, I don't care. Like BG.EXE said, who cares on what people waste their money.

I do care if, when I'm delving into a dungeon, I find some NPC called ihatetrumplolz.
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JT Schiavo
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I'm fine with it when executed well. A portrait in the style of the rest of the game, a thematic sounding name, a new character with a play-tested ability. The name of a ship or shop or whatever.

It can be done well.
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BG.EXE
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Perhaps I've just been very lucky and haven't seen any awful examples yet. Like that Merchants & Marauders one.
 
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Stuart Long
Canada
Whitby
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its part of a grand tradition of profiting off of people's desire to be included and to be "known." No different than when Lays chips did their flavours of Canada campaign.
 
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Chris Tannhauser
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San Diego
California
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"On Earth, I'm nobody, but here, I'm Den."
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maf man
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+1 to it depends on the quality of the implementation
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Count Ringworm
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crinaya wrote:
I'm fine with it when executed well. A portrait in the style of the rest of the game, a thematic sounding name, a new character with a play-tested ability. The name of a ship or shop or whatever.

It can be done well.


This is where I stand too. Those captain cards up above are a perfect example of something not done well. Those look like hot garbage.
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United States
Texas
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"that's a smith and wesson, and you've had your six"
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skutsch wrote:


This bugs me.

I am turned off by a game which has names given by some random geek.


All names in all games ever made were made by some random geek.
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Count Ringworm
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MWChapel wrote:
skutsch wrote:


This bugs me.

I am turned off by a game which has names given by some random geek.


All names in all games ever made were made by some random geek.


No- those are specific geeks, not random geeks.
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Sithrak - The god who hates you unconditionally
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Just knowing that there's a character or two somewhere in the game that were named by big spenders (or have an adjusted picture provided by them) doesn't affect me, obviously.

But if it's on the nose obvious... That's where I'm just going to take a pass. Wasn't there some space marine-y or mercenary game where they actually put some of their backer's faces on the box? Maybe it was in the rule book, but at any rate it looked absolutely ridiculous to see a bunch of pasty middle-aged nerd faces grafted onto the bodies of space marines in the middle of a firefight. (Or look at the... unfortunate looking guys in the M&M expansion posted above)

Now, campaigns that allow backers to "contribute" in a specific and moderated way (that is, work together with the team) are fine, but direct naming or picture rights are always a risk. Having 1000$ to waste on some meaningless vanity is neither proof that your name or face fits the theme, nor evidence of the wisdom to make that call. If you end up with a completely ludicrous "contribution"... Do you just break the contract and give back the money? Include the material to the detriment of all your other customers and at the risk of becoming a laughing stock?

I'd be careful about including backer tiers like that and as a backer I'm *somewhat* wary of it, but I don't really care as long as the wording makes it clear that contributions will be vetted and, more importantly, rejected if necessary.
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DB
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Madison
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There's a certain honesty in this sort of Kickstarter perk. It goes back to the conception of crowdfunding as a platform for people with money to toss at a dream, giving the big spender something to own in lieu of actual equity.

Contrast it with a regular old stretch goal, which is content that either wasn't important enough to budget as part of the core game, or was designed specifically and only for hype.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Florence
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skutsch wrote:
Sorry peeps, but some of you have just awful taste. I'd rather some designer, maybe with a focus group or 3, name the dern things. It still might turn out bad but I think it has a better chance of being thematic and interesting than if some random dope like me gets to name stuff.
This is an example where they are potentially sacrificing quality in an attempt to drum up interest/funding. If the item being named is truly important in the game then I'd rather someone involved with the design named it rather than taking a chance on a random person finding a good name. Some people would probably name it something horrible just to be funny.

Generally the best you can hope for when they include this sort of thing is that it is good enough not to be noticeable, because all too often it is so bad that it sticks out like a sore thumb.

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/|\ Roland /|\
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No thanks. I don't want Boaty McBoatface in my Le Havre.
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C&H Schmidt
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I'm not a huge fan of this, although it can also go well.

If there's a competition where backers get to suggest stuff and the designers pick, that's fine. If it's for a promo which is not integrated into the main game, that's fine, too.

I don't particularly like when people can pay to have their face in the game, at least not when I can tell this is the case. As said above, it breaks the immersion, but mostly because this will frequently mean that the game's characters come out a lot less diverse than they otherwise could be. (Of course they can also not be diverse by the designers' choice; many still don't care about that sort of stuff.)
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Cris Whetstone
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Designers are random geeks too.

I don't give two squats. I would also venture to guess that the type of game incentived to allow backer names to be bought in is probably not going to be something I will be playing much, if at all anyway.
 
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Karl von Laudermann
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Unspecified
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Ringworm wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
skutsch wrote:


This bugs me.

I am turned off by a game which has names given by some random geek.


All names in all games ever made were made by some random geek.


No- those are specific geeks, not random geeks.

Ok, but by the same token, the ones skutsch is complaining about aren't random geeks either. They are specifically the geeks who pledged enough money.
 
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Tony C
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Apex
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I like it, when done well.

I think it can be a neat way to show love of the game (or just that someone has a bunch of money) and I like thinking of the 'crowdsourced' nature of that part of the game.

The designers need to have veto and final approval power, and the name needs to stay "in theme".

We definitely shouldn't see Sir Fartalot in Lords of Waterdeep, or Bobloblaw in Space Attack 3000.

Ideally it should be transparent, except for an acknowledgement in fine print somewhere, or if you know to look for it.

The M&M cards - those are just bad. That's fine as promo cards or backer-only (ie, to the backers who paid to have their visages on the card), but as an integral part of the standard game, no.
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Jordan Booth
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Names are fine; fluff as far as I'm concerned.

Photos or caricatures are a turn off and almost always obvious.
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Cris Whetstone
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dtcarson wrote:
We definitely shouldn't see Sir Fartalot in Lords of Waterdeep,...


While I cannot disagree with most of your points here you are dead wrong. Characters like Sir Fartalot are EXACTLY what LoW needs.
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Pete
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Northbrook
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In theory I have no problem with this practice.

In practice, it sucks.

Pete (thinks too many examples of the suck have tainted his experience)
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