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  #1  
Old February 12th, 2008, 10:30 PM
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Default Comments I Wish Mongoose Had Read...

I came across this perceptive comment on wargame design that seems to anticipate MGT:

The fraternal twin to stodgy design is "change far the sake of change." Here, the designer discards everything (he thinks), and refuses to be bound by "old fashioned" ideas. However, he has nothing better to offer - just a different (and usually more complicated) variety of stodginess.

--Steve Jackson and Nick Scheussler. Game Design Volume 1: Theory and Practice, p. 5, (1981)

On combat:

"Basically, the combat system should be a quick, simple tactical game in which the combat abilities of the pieces are drawn from the characteristics of the characters. Simplicity is the prime virtue of such a system. D&D, with a combat system so rudimentary as to be laughable, has proven immensely popular. Chivalry and Sorcery boasts a highly realistic combat system, which plays so slowly as to be seen only rarely in tournament play. The moral ought to be clear. Realism and detail are nice. Speed and comprehensibility are much more important." p. 37 (Emphasis mine).

Here are some comments on playtesting:

Playtesting is the process of playing a new game design, over and over, in order to spot flaws and improve playability. The importance of playtesting in the production of a finished game design cannot be overstated. Ninety percent of all game defects could have been corrected by satisfactory playtesting. There is no excuse far failure to playtest a design thoroughly before putting it on the market; it indicates either gross ignorance, total egotism, or an absolute lack of interest in giving the gamer his money's worth. ...A company or designer that is unwilling to playtest games should be in another line of work - it's that simple. (Emphasis mine)

...

When you feel that you have the rules the way you want them, and that the game works, you're ready for the second stage of playtest: blindtesting. The essence of blindtesting is that new playtesters are exposed to the game without the benefit of advice from the designer or other experienced players.
(Emphasis mine) (p. 33)

We're now theoretically "blindtesting"...see the problem?
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Old February 12th, 2008, 10:46 PM
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Considering that I've not enjoyed most of SJG's work, I don't give his theory much creedence...

I mean, yeah, he's had a few I really liked (TFT, Car Wars, Illuminati, Ogre), and a lot I think are total crap (Munchkin leads the list), and many that are not my style (GURPS)...

Likewise, in the software world, you have in-house alpha test, sometimes out-house alpha, both of which are looking at overall conceptual; then beta test where you're looking for bugs... SJ seems to advocate a similar approach. But some designers (Chris Pramas of Green Ronin comes to mind, as does Greg Porter of BTRC) start with a concept, and then mix the alpha and beta process. Hunter, as well, does this.

It's not a mark of a bad (or good) designer, it's a different process that can be done well or poorly.
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Old February 12th, 2008, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by aramis View Post
Considering that I've not enjoyed most of SJG's work, I don't give his theory much creedence...

I mean, yeah, he's had a few I really liked (TFT, Car Wars, Illuminati, Ogre)
Well, this was written during the time of those games that you liked. The games you hate came much later.

Quote:
It's not a mark of a bad (or good) designer, it's a different process that can be done well or poorly.
The designer of MGT has clearly failed to exercise even the most basic degree of common sense in the starship system. I also think that this is the case with the T/E system (I wonder if he's even figured out that the normal d6 probabilities don't apply to the T/E system; his unwillingness to adapt your system, or sables or anyone else's argue strongly for that conclusion IMHO) and with the initiative system. But their flaws are more subtle than the starship operations system, so there's more room for doubt.

In any case, I am not at all sanguine that this pile of crap will magically transform into something useful once playtesting officially ends Thursday.

Last edited by tbeard1999; February 12th, 2008 at 11:49 PM..
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Old February 13th, 2008, 12:00 AM
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Flawed logic is not of need corrected by time...

The underlying logic of the starship systems is evident to me, and sound. The specific execution is the flaw. And its a big one.

I have serious doubts, as well. But, unlike other companies, Mongoose seems to take 1st runs as a beta test... much like Mircosoft did with Win95... and Win98... and WinXP...

Their history shows this approach quite strongly: Bab5 RPG, MRQ, Conan... rush it out, take the best feedback, and do a revised edition.
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Last edited by aramis; February 13th, 2008 at 12:05 AM..
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Old February 13th, 2008, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
Flawed logic is not of need corrected by time...

The underlying logic of the starship systems is evident to me, and sound. The specific execution is the flaw. And its a big one.
Sorry, it just looks to me like an amateurish, half-baked attempt to shoehorn Star Fleet Battles into Traveller. And playing Traveler without SFB is like going hunting without your accordion.

Ill-conceived, ill-considered changes for changes' sake IMHO. And poorly executed. But excellent execution wouldn't have salvaged a crappy idea.

Quote:
I have serious doubts, as well. But, unlike other companies, Mongoose seems to take 1st runs as a beta test... much like Mircosoft did with Win95... and Win98... and WinXP...

Their history shows this approach quite strongly: Bab5 RPG, MRQ, Conan... rush it out, take the best feedback, and do a revised edition.
Well, I don't much like it when a company foists a product that they know is defective on the market. Especially when there's a chance to fix those problems pre-release.
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Old February 13th, 2008, 06:20 PM
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tbeard1999 ,

You forgot one more concept which I have observed many many times in the game hobby world.

Concept
I have produced product A, B, C, D and E which all were extremely well received. I know what I am doing that is why I have produced such great products. Everything that I produce or work on is a great product. If you don't agree you are wrong.



The above might be a little strong and extreme but close. Nothing wrong with feeling great about making great products but don't forget where you got them from. Lots of hard work and testing and agrueing.

From Been there and done that, and left before the stress of agrueing with the designers (playtesting to extremes) got way out of hand.

Dave Chase
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Old February 13th, 2008, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveChase View Post
tbeard1999 ,

You forgot one more concept which I have observed many many times in the game hobby world.

Concept
I have produced product A, B, C, D and E which all were extremely well received. I know what I am doing that is why I have produced such great products. Everything that I produce or work on is a great product. If you don't agree you are wrong.

The above might be a little strong and extreme but close. Nothing wrong with feeling great about making great products but don't forget where you got them from. Lots of hard work and testing and agrueing.

From Been there and done that, and left before the stress of agrueing with the designers (playtesting to extremes) got way out of hand. Dave Chase
Yep, that happens in the business world and certainly in my profession. That's why someone's CV should *never* be offered (or accepted) to rebut a legitimate complaint.
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