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-   -   Has gaming changed? (http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discuss/showthread.php?t=39151)

Blue Ghost June 15th, 2018 12:41 PM

Has gaming changed?
 
At the last few conventions I attended there seemed to be more mainstream yet very fancy looking games that didn't have the degree of complexity like the games we know, knew, or grew up with. To me it seems like now that gaming has gone mainstream that the games that used to be emphasized at gaming conventions have been slimmed down in terms of rules, and given a lot of nicer looking graphics to appeal to a larger mass audience for the purpose of grabbing dollars. That, as opposed to the old zip lock back or microgames that came in those plastic boxes from ages past, which had cardboard counter, a hex map, and strong set of rules to mimic some situation.

Does anyone have an opinion here? Am I wrong on this?

Major B June 15th, 2018 09:17 PM

My experience is a bit different but also limited to just one example so take it for what it is worth.

A college roommate of mine lives in Savannah and has organized an annual wargaming tournament. It is small, with about 20 participants and I have been able to attend twice. He has made contact with some game production companies and they provide new products for him to raffle or offer as prizes at the tournament.

He brought me back into wargaming and from his selection I have found a number of companies producing games as complex and involved as I remember from years. There are some new mechanics that I haven't seen before and many following the old formulas from the days when Avalon Hill and SPI were the only two publishers of note in the business. Some of the new games are truly innovative and others are bogged down in minutiae in an attempt to provide the ultimate in historical accuracy (both purely my opinion). Games of the beer and pretzels level of complexity are also there to be found. Production values in these new companies seem to be almost uniformly better than I remember. Very few ziploc games.

All that said, I wouldn't call these games mainstream. Their market seems to be the grognards, not kids - though my old roommate plays with his sons as do some other participants. Also, prices are far higher than I remember even after allowing for inflation.

I can't draw a meaningful conclusion from that limited pool of data but I think that gaming such as I remember it has not died but it has focused itself on a relatively narrow market that appreciates it enough to pay for it. The games you seem to have encountered are marketed to a wider crowd that wants less complexity.

Spenser TR June 15th, 2018 11:15 PM

I feel like this depends on what games you're looking at. In SciFi, Shadowrun5 and Eclipse Phase both feel to me about as far away from "slimmed down" as I can imagine. I poked through the new Star Trek Adventures and it doesn't seem very slimmed down either. They're all slick, and easy to grok if you put the time in, but that just means they're well-done. As a ( not game ) designer myself, we often say that it takes an awful lot of skill & time to design something that looks easy.

If I go to DnD for any indication, it feels less crunchy but like it's much broader. With the idea that crunchy bits can be added on if you want; the game is designed to be very extensible. But also looks very polished. Shadowrun also isn't exactly skimping on art, for that matter.

Which games were you looking at, that make you feel things are being slimmed down and flashed up for the "modern" players? I guess MgT2 is "slimmed down" from MgT1, but hasn't run as long. Not being a crunch guy, it seems to me like it has less crunch than some other versions of Traveller.

aramis June 16th, 2018 12:07 AM

Boardgames vs RPGs...
 
Board games have changed quite a bit. Don't see many new chit -pushers, and when you do, the chits tend to be 3/4" to 1" in size, rather than the longstanding default of 1/2" ...

... the more popular wargames are either minis on hexes, minis on spaces (think Axis and Allies), blocks of wood with labels, or using small cubes.

Wood bits are also super common now.


RPGs still have the traditional segment, but also have added the storygames, the hybrids (Fate, Cortex Plus), and a wide array of points in between.

What is notable, tho', is overall, complexity is lower than the late 80's peak.

JimMarn June 16th, 2018 10:00 AM

Over on another site, sorry link gone from my browser, I occaisionaly post in a forum there thats about making dungeons, towns, etc. out of plastic, or rubber/wood floor tiles, etc. Some of them there 3D print miniatures to use as characters.

Blue Ghost June 16th, 2018 01:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aramis (Post 588158)
Board games have changed quite a bit. Don't see many new chit -pushers, and when you do, the chits tend to be 3/4" to 1" in size, rather than the longstanding default of 1/2" ...

... the more popular wargames are either minis on hexes, minis on spaces (think Axis and Allies), blocks of wood with labels, or using small cubes.

Wood bits are also super common now.


RPGs still have the traditional segment, but also have added the storygames, the hybrids (Fate, Cortex Plus), and a wide array of points in between.

What is notable, tho', is overall, complexity is lower than the late 80's peak.

Yeah, and just to put things into perspective, not every game made by SPI, Task Force, GDW or what have you, had huge rule books and all that went with it. But there did seem to be more of an ernest attempt to present a concept for consumption, as opposed to (what feels to me at least) market researching a product and presenting that concept tailored to generate interest among a target group to generate revenue.

An old favorite of mine, The Creature that Ate Sheboygan (a quick net search here), was an SPI microgame, and it wasn't extremely complex. In fact it's a lot simpler than a lot of stuff published by mainstream game publishers. But there's a kind of authenticity to it in that it's my feeling that there weren't a large team of marketers behind the product, but just some designers who pitched it, designed it, and put it out on market. Others in the microgame category...Intruder Alert by Task Force, Car Wars by Steve Jackson, Barbarian Prince by Dwarfstar, not all of them had lots of rules, but they were solid products without a lot of flash.

Oh well. Maybe I'm just over examining a non-issue. But it's like a decade ago I worked at a local Barnes and Noble, and it struck me that a lot of authors were corporate identities hired by publishers to push a series to make money. I almost get that kind of feeling with today's RPG / warsims.

Thanks for the replies. I hope I'm wrong on this a parallel here, on my old "The Night Stalker" DVD Dan Curtis the director / producer for that film and its sequel that evolved into "The Night Stalker" series, stated that "in those days we just did it", meaning produce a film. He states that you had an idea, pitched it, and if it was good enough, they shot it. And in this interview (before he passed away some years back) he complained that nowadays a film has to be developed (market researched) and molded into something that was socially significant (some social psychology). And where to me Traveller and et al games have certain themes coursing through them, they don't strike me as being like this new crop of games.

Eh, just some mindless rambling thoughts here. Thanks for the replies.

Blue Ghost June 16th, 2018 09:17 PM

Some quick examples here of old school gaming;

Ice War ( https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3560/ice-war ), where the Soviets and US face off in Alaska. A simple yet daring and entertaining game, gaming out a possible tipping point in the cold war.

Asteroid Zero Four ( https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/...roid-zero-four ) another cold war era product that has the US squaring off with the Soviets in space. Great fun, somewhat involved, and the counter silhouettes could have had more imagination put into them, but a solid game all the same.

The Creature that Ate Sheboygan ( https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/...-ate-sheboygan ), an homage to all those giant monster films from the 50s and 60s. This one was really fun. And unlike the previous two games it wasn't some semi-disguised tactical exercise, it was just a good old fashioned monster movie game.


Trailblazer ( https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5201/trailblazer ) this one is another favorite, where you're essentially a business man who ventures out to seek new goods, star systems and trade routes to build a business empire (in space). Note the most excellent cover art by our own favorite Dietrick.

Starship Troopers ( https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/...rship-troopers ) this one I never bought, but, and GypsyComet might remember this him being a local and all, this game used to be displayed at The Tin Goose at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, towards the back with all the cool warsims and RPGs. Unlike the previous games, I actually never bought nor played this game, but next to the old Star Fleet Battles designer's edition, and the LBBs, this was one of my first glimpses of scifi gaming.

Just a bit of a stroll down memory lane. I'm thinking Major B is right, gaming has refocused, but perhaps not changed as such. I guess my summation is that there seems to have been an attempt to breach warsims and RPGs into a big business model by dumbing down some of the content and sexing it up with more professional graphics.
Whatever. A good tactical or strategic game like old school stuff isn't going to go away nor kowtow to some marketer's scheme.

I'm sorry big business has compromised so much media from popular music to movies to books, but I think independent authors will show that old fashioned individual creativity still wins the day. Thanks again for the replies and for reading.

IISS Team Leader Blue Ghost, jumping outbound for the Vargr Extents in his Wayne Peters' special Florian class 100 ton scout ship.

aramis June 17th, 2018 04:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Blue Ghost (Post 588190)
Whatever. A good tactical or strategic game like old school stuff isn't going to go away nor kowtow to some marketer's scheme.

Actually, the market has reduced them to (mostly) the secondhand market, and even there, they're not selling well.

There's no return on investment for most highly detailed or large-counterset wargames.

Even Star Fleet Battles is falling to it's younger sibling, Star Fleet Command, and to Mongoose's ACTA-SF.

Serious brainburners don't sell; that which doesn't sell doesn't keep getting made. The player base who might have played instead are playing computer games.

Condottiere June 17th, 2018 05:23 AM

Three dee tabletops probably will sell, the majority of the calculations performed by a computer, though the primary cost will be graphics, whether they can actually create units and landscapes that are visual, or if you require goggles or enhancement devices for players and spectators to be able to see them.

Actually, transferring the current two dee virtual experience into enhanced reality.

Pokemongoose Go.

Blue Ghost June 17th, 2018 07:54 AM

It's my opinion that counter and paper map games don't have the visual appeal they once did. I think there is a market for more complex offering, but I think the sexier looking stuff simply has more superficial appeal.

The old microgames from SPI, Task Force, SJGames and whoever else, I think were like an interesting book at the bookstore. That is they had an intriguing cover with some interesting copy on the back side of the box or shrink wrap package that told you about the fiction and setting.

And I think that particular market's been altered and dumbed down for the sake of casting a wider net. If the practicalities of return on investment dictate that, well, then I guess that's just the way life is.

But again, not every game has to be "War in the Pacific" or whatever else. I think a lot of the old games could be updated, and, in my opinion, would prove viable with nice quality maps and playing pieces, and none of the rules would have to be changed.

Oh well, it's just my opinion.


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