Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

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What should we do with the SDNW game?

Poll ended at 2012-01-05 08:47pm

Continue SDNW4, without changing the map or anything else.
4
15%
Continue SDNW4, but with a map change and retcons.
11
42%
Begin a reboot as SDNW5, with similar rules and an option on using the same countries, and try to recruit some new players.
11
42%
 
Total votes: 26

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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Shinn Langley Soryu » 2012-03-07 03:31pm

Consider how Shroom and Pezook gave their send-off to SDNW2 in the form of PRIME NOIR. I have a few ideas of my own in a similar vein, if only to give closure to a few of my own unfinished storylines. Everything else, I can probably just post in User Fiction. Soramirez Do Everything, Santo Domingo Rogues, Gallian War, Cananaan, Haruhitown Riots, all of it. Oh, what could have been.

If Steve wants to finish his own send-off, he should by all means feel free. However, there are quite a few of us here, myself included, who have a vested interest in how it should end. Then again, spending too much time in committee and not enough time just getting shit done was probably one of the reasons why this game died in the first place.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-03-07 03:45pm

I have two epilogues. One involves the giant plot hole that is the Eye of Sasha, and doesn't really interfere with whatever anyone wants to get up to not involving that. And one that involves me, Shep, and an idea we cooked up, and which has no effect on any other plot whatsoever.

From what I know of the metaplot Steve has in mind, it's too complicated to be easily put together, and too many of the people involved simply no longer have the time or inclination to do much SDNW writing, at least not any time this year.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Steve » 2012-03-08 12:12am

I wasn't suggesting a new moniker to avoid obligations of connections to the prior games, more like... simply starting something new. Completely new with no OOC baggage and expectations.

But it was just a thought I threw in.

And yeah, the metaplot storyline I was setting up was mondo huge. We weren't even halfway through Part 1... of three. :shock:
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-03-08 12:40am

Well, by my standards you hadn't written very fast. ;)

Anyway, I don't want OOC baggage or expectations, but I like the SDNW4 rules, and "SDNW" is a known brand on the site, which I think does more good than harm when it comes to recruitment.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Agent Sorchus » 2012-03-08 06:41pm

My thoughts, this thread was never going to save SDNW4. Mostly because it gave people an illusion of action which was comforting enough no one actually followed through with actions as necessary.

I'm thinking that the big flaw in SDNW is the gamy nature of it compared to how it has evolved. The first SDNW was just an RAR of Zor's, and as such there was a distinct you and the question is how do you rule a nation. Simple, with some character and growth. It even had a villain (thanks to Shep). SDNW2 was just a re-imagination of the original idea, with more npc and backstory but also more of a tendency to stasis. When SDNW3 came around it was more of a simulation of Alt history and had less character and less movement towards inclusive events. SDNW4 ran between SDNW3 and W2, with some people running 'themselves', with more people coming in as their first and playing the nation. (More of me in the second, and I know I was one of the weaker players.) SDNW4 did continue the tread towards stasis, almost actually adding it to the rules (ie: making it hard to invade, or even to get anything from such; making colonization impossible, basically making any advancement anathema to the game.)

Why do I mention it? Besides that I am wired on caffeine right now, the gamy nature of creation and balance between actors doesn't work with the lack of risk versus reward that SDNW4 had for some people. For many people there is no you to harm, no-one is actually thinking of going to war because there is no reward (except for the reward of getting rid of CN, but I have more about that later), and even if someone did go to war there was no reward. The universe would've been a nice place to roleplay in actually since it had a bunch of tensions (because some players were exceptional) and a fairly diverse place to be in, and it makes for a decent shared setting to write in. Too bad it was tied to "players" individually deciding the flow of time, and with that back to CN.

The killing blow is of course that we had these all inclusive events that everyone tried to get in on, and then things didn't happen. It doesn't work for a shared narrative setting since people jumped in for little reason and no real gain, and as a game it should have been dealt with by GM or democratic vote to outright ignore CN and all the problems that he brought.

I did have some fun, and have at least one story that was in the begining stages with Force Lord before his computer died and all interest was depleted. I might post it and a couple others later this year to close out my contributions to SDNW4.

What I would be most interested in is even less of a game, and more of a shared setting. People who instigate events like BEEEF also self police involvement in their event. I would hope people would be open with what they are intending, so that if say they fall of the face of the earth before completing the event they can be covered by someone else we has at least a small understanding of what they wanted.

Honestly the other thing was that going to Space was always going to be hard. I think the scope of our setting demolished peoples ability to write for it in small pieces like they did for SDNW2. So I think something smaller in setting, like a steampunk or magitek fantasy might be the place to start. (Though I am sure that many people will disagree with both of those suggestions, but there they are anyway.)

Now I think I am going to go bounce off of the walls for a bit till the caffeine and sugar rush were off.

Hell maybe I'll get a post done for ECR's role playing thread. I know I am overdue there.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Demiurgas » 2012-03-09 08:19am

I'd be interested in playing this, however you do that.

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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-03-09 12:54pm

Agent Sorchus wrote:My thoughts, this thread was never going to save SDNW4. Mostly because it gave people an illusion of action which was comforting enough no one actually followed through with actions as necessary.

I'm thinking that the big flaw in SDNW is the gamy nature of it compared to how it has evolved. The first SDNW was just an RAR of Zor's, and as such there was a distinct you and the question is how do you rule a nation. Simple, with some character and growth. It even had a villain (thanks to Shep). SDNW2 was just a re-imagination of the original idea, with more npc and backstory but also more of a tendency to stasis. When SDNW3 came around it was more of a simulation of Alt history and had less character and less movement towards inclusive events. SDNW4 ran between SDNW3 and W2, with some people running 'themselves', with more people coming in as their first and playing the nation. (More of me in the second, and I know I was one of the weaker players.) SDNW4 did continue the tread towards stasis, almost actually adding it to the rules (ie: making it hard to invade, or even to get anything from such; making colonization impossible, basically making any advancement anathema to the game.)
Colonization and expansion weren't really all that possible in the game before, except by conquering or assimilating a neighbor state (I seem to recall San Dorado doing this with Coilerburg in SDNW2, for example).

To fix that in any setting without breaking suspension of disbelief, you have to make the game very, very gamist and not very character-driven at all. Significant economic growth and territorial expansion simply takes much longer to happen than individual careers, unless you arbitrarily decide your nation is governed by immortals, which most people won't want to go with.

So while we could insert a 'slow expansion' option into a ruleset, it would probably be very hard to construct and overly complicated compared to, say, just having players arbitrarily declare that on their borders there exist various micronations and resource zones that they're gradually incorporating into their empire, and RP the conflicts and agreements over those regions without having complicated calculations for how much GDP they're worth.


As to the way SDNW4 differed from the originals... I'm not sure we could easily replicate the character-oriented success of the early games. I'd kind of like to, although I personally might be a bit uncomfortable writing myself in that position, but... frankly, SDNW was almost the only Zor RAR! that ever really took off to that degree, as far as I know. I doubt it's a repeatable event.

Whereas the "run your nation" option does allow for adequate inclusivity, or can- the main problem we had in SDNW4 was that the inclusivity sort of petered out in mid-2011, after the BEEEF. Massive shared events are good and important, but they have to be the right kind of event (like the BEEEF, where anyone could do whatever the hell they wanted, and unlike the MEHstomp, where everyone had to have their actions fit into some kind of agreed-upon Big Plan).

Why do I mention it? Besides that I am wired on caffeine right now, the gamy nature of creation and balance between actors doesn't work with the lack of risk versus reward that SDNW4 had for some people. For many people there is no you to harm, no-one is actually thinking of going to war because there is no reward (except for the reward of getting rid of CN, but I have more about that later), and even if someone did go to war there was no reward. The universe would've been a nice place to roleplay in actually since it had a bunch of tensions (because some players were exceptional) and a fairly diverse place to be in, and it makes for a decent shared setting to write in. Too bad it was tied to "players" individually deciding the flow of time, and with that back to CN.
The flow-of-time thing... I don't think it makes as big a difference as you make it out to. A lot of people didn't do anything with the months of time passing even with a ratio of real time to game time that was nearly 1:1. Others did a great deal with that time.

But really, what stories can you tell, what interactions can you have, that work better at a time compression of 12:1 than they do at 1:1? Did you have anything in mind that became in any way less possible because time wasn't passing quickly? Do you know anyone else who did?
The killing blow is of course that we had these all inclusive events that everyone tried to get in on, and then things didn't happen. It doesn't work for a shared narrative setting since people jumped in for little reason and no real gain, and as a game it should have been dealt with by GM or democratic vote to outright ignore CN and all the problems that he brought.
Yeah, that counts as a major "lessons learned" in my book, so if I'm going to be moderating the next game I'm going to bear it in mind.
What I would be most interested in is even less of a game, and more of a shared setting. People who instigate events like BEEEF also self police involvement in their event. I would hope people would be open with what they are intending, so that if say they fall of the face of the earth before completing the event they can be covered by someone else we has at least a small understanding of what they wanted.
I think that shared ethos belongs in a proposed SDNW5, yes.

The only reason for rules in the 'game' was so that we had some means of adjudicating disputes, a sense of scale for distances and nations, and a frame of reference to explain how warfare in the setting operates. Everything else was left open. I wouldn't want to change that significantly, which is one reason I favor another space setting game using similar rules.
Honestly the other thing was that going to Space was always going to be hard. I think the scope of our setting demolished peoples ability to write for it in small pieces like they did for SDNW2. So I think something smaller in setting, like a steampunk or magitek fantasy might be the place to start. (Though I am sure that many people will disagree with both of those suggestions, but there they are anyway.)
This is a very difficult thing to figure out- there are a lot of objections to any single choice of setting.

Ultimately, one reason I favor space is that I think it draws proportionately more interest on this site than any other choice I can think of. I've got the feeling that the number of people who want to play space empires exceeds the number of people who want to play fantasy empires, even though there's significant overlap between the two groups.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Darkevilme » 2012-03-09 02:44pm

I for one favour sticking to space empires.

As for changing the scope of the game: If we make the game smaller yes we make writing certain smaller scale stories easier...but smaller scale stories can be written against a larger scope and if we make the scope smaller then larger scale stories become impossible unless it's the apocalypse...in which case you have half the players in the game trying to write the same story and it never gets written.

Overral while a scope change could be interesting i don't think it'd be necessary. We keep the scope as it is or take a note from the pre sdnw stgods and shrink it a tiny bit.

One thing i really liked about SDNW4 was it didn't suffer from power blocing. I've seen enough STGODs wither into stagnation as a pair of large power blocs form then promptly go cold war on eachother.

So so long as everyone plays nations with a healthy degree of disparate interests, paranoia and distrust the game will remain healthy.

With regards to risk reward. Sorchus might have a point that there wasn't a lot to gain from warfare against the sort of nation another player would own. It was invariably going to be an incredibly costly project that'd have little gain during the kind of timescales the game runs on. Unfortunately doing it otherwise would probably run into suspension of disbelief issues. Though I greatly welcome someone proving me wrong.

And yeah with regards to CN...as much as my writing part of his nation for him stands out as some of the most humourous stuff i've written during sdnw4... we really should have gone with the idea we used with those hive mind bugs who woke up from the long nap.. it was an elaborate hoax and Sasha was in fact a testament to why you shouldn't give hypernet access to insane asylum inmates with delusions of grandeur.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-03-09 04:00pm

Darkevilme wrote:One thing i really liked about SDNW4 was it didn't suffer from power blocing. I've seen enough STGODs wither into stagnation as a pair of large power blocs form then promptly go cold war on eachother.
Although it depends on the blocs- SDNW2 went that way and I don't think it suffered too much for that. Probably since one of the blocs owed a lot to people like Shroom and Siege trying to unite many disparate interests into CATO to counterweight the large, isolated MESSamerican power bloc.

So so long as everyone plays nations with a healthy degree of disparate interests, paranoia and distrust the game will remain healthy.
With regards to risk reward. Sorchus might have a point that there wasn't a lot to gain from warfare against the sort of nation another player would own. It was invariably going to be an incredibly costly project that'd have little gain during the kind of timescales the game runs on. Unfortunately doing it otherwise would probably run into suspension of disbelief issues. Though I greatly welcome someone proving me wrong.
If someone had convincingly written a war of conquest, I would be quite willing to rule that they got various forms of spoils from the conquered territory in the short run. It might be the functional equivalent of the Soviets carrying off slave labor and machine tools from East Germany in 1945, but I wouldn't object to that occuring in the game.

The main obstacle to that kind of rapid, sweeping military campaign is that all the nations in the game were more or less the same size. Which was originally meant to prevent that sort of campaign, because it kind of sucks to be the player on the receiving end.

One thing I have in mind for SDNW5, as a modification of the SDNW4 rules, is to make the NCP allocation of nations at game start a bit less predictable. A larger random element would go a long way to making conflict possible: nation A significantly outweighs nation B and is able to force them back, until B persuades C to intervene and the combined forces push the A-ians back to the prewar frontier, followed by D, E, and F forming a coalition to enforce the old borderline, blah blah blah...
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Akhlut » 2012-03-09 04:04pm

Don't forget that there was a fantasy STGOD that went on, however, it petered out more quickly than even SDNW3 (it only ran from Oct. 2008-Dec 2008). I think there were a few other fantasy STGODs in the past few years, but, as far as I've seen, they've all fizzled out in relatively short time frames. So, I think the space setting is the best one available to us at the moment.

I also think that the relatively light tone is the best one to use, at least historically for SDNet.

As for warfare among PCs: I think the issue with that is that no one wants to be on the losing side. I think that would inspire some ragequits as people lose control of their solar empires because one of the resident military buffs knows a lot more about how to control a vast military than some civilian nerd who got all his military knowledge from watching Star Wars or something.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Akhlut » 2012-03-09 04:08pm

Simon_Jester wrote:One thing I have in mind for SDNW5, as a modification of the SDNW4 rules, is to make the NCP allocation of nations at game start a bit less predictable. A larger random element would go a long way to making conflict possible: nation A significantly outweighs nation B and is able to force them back, until B persuades C to intervene and the combined forces push the A-ians back to the prewar frontier, followed by D, E, and F forming a coalition to enforce the old borderline, blah blah blah...
As long as it isn't based on post counts. :P

But, instead of a d6, like for 4, I'd suggest a d8 or possibly even up to a d12. That'd give enough variation to make for some fairly powerful nations, while not crippling the small ones horribly, and being reasonably certain of a large-ish middle grouping of nations.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-03-09 04:16pm

Akhlut wrote:Don't forget that there was a fantasy STGOD that went on, however, it petered out more quickly than even SDNW3 (it only ran from Oct. 2008-Dec 2008). I think there were a few other fantasy STGODs in the past few years, but, as far as I've seen, they've all fizzled out in relatively short time frames. So, I think the space setting is the best one available to us at the moment.

I also think that the relatively light tone is the best one to use, at least historically for SDNet.
All agreed.
As for warfare among PCs: I think the issue with that is that no one wants to be on the losing side. I think that would inspire some ragequits as people lose control of their solar empires because one of the resident military buffs knows a lot more about how to control a vast military than some civilian nerd who got all his military knowledge from watching Star Wars or something.
Yes, that is an issue. Personally, I think it best if wars end in negotiated settlements; between nongenocidal nondickheads this is possible. Think of the Franco-Prussian War- France got beaten like a drum, but all they actually lost was some money and Alsace-Lorraine, so they were free to rebuild and have a grudge match later.

War to the unconditional surrender of one side or the other is actually a historical anomaly, one that appears only when the power of the offense is overwhelming compared to the power of the defense. That was true during World War Two, and is true in colonial wars or certain wars fought in ancient times, but it doesn't have to be true in our SDNW.

Also, this is one of the reasons for the points system- the system rewards good strategy and competent writing, but does not allow you to say "my ships use tactic X and therefore yours are slaughtered." It also lets us set standards for how much a victory should cost.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Siege » 2012-03-09 05:51pm

Anyone that believes the failure of SDNW4 was due to anything but the bone idleness of vast numbers of its players is deluding himself. And if anyone believes the next game can be made to work with more or different rules instead of just having more people in it willing to jointly tell interesting stories is, in my not so very respectful opinion, an idiot.

The SDNW series of games is and has consistently been at its best when played non-competitively, and every incentivized gameplay concept so far dreamt up - be it postcount-derived stats, tech development or starship construction - has only rendered the game vulnerable to assholes playing to 'win'.

To take one proposed example: reverting back to a greater divide between players (as seen in games #1 and #2) is missing the point spectacularly. Randomized stats make some players vulnerable to being involuntarily fucked with by others. This does not encourage storywriting. What it does is push randomly disadvantaged players to hunker down and max their stats in order to make up for their deprival.

No-one will ever match the best bits of the SDNW games by implementing new or different rules, because those best bits have nothing to do with rules: they have to do with players conceiving a story, leading to secondary and tertiary reactions until you get the emerging cascade of narratives that is the game itself. In #2 Shepistan worked as an enemy because Shep and Lonestar from the beginning set out to tell that story. In #4 the Bragulans worked as an alien antagonist and the Imperium worked as a bunch or raving assholes because they were narratively set up that way from the very start.

It doesn't matter how awesome your ruleset is. If you've got no-one willing to tell a story, you've got no game.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-03-09 06:19pm

I know. Fooling with the rules around the edges won't change anything critical, one way or the other. It won't make the difference between a game that lasts 3 months and a game that lasts 12.

But speaking for myself, I don't know any way to make the players good against their will, or any way to find reliably good players except to recruit a lot and hope that some of them are worth the trouble. Even people with great past track records may turn out to be uninvolved if real life kicks them hard enough.

The way I see it, active players will be active as long as the ruleset doesn't conspire to tie them into pointless knots, and I can at least hope to keep the ruleset from actively getting in their way- which means not creating complicated core mechanics that demand their ongoing attention. So I'm trying not to do that- not to ask people to abide by something like the detailed SDNW3 system that allowed for all kinds of national expansion and development and detail, at the cost of forcing people to compile annual budget reports and fuck around in SpringSharp designing million ton battleships just to have parity.

At the same time, idle players will be idle no matter what I do- there's the off chance that a ruleset might spark some ideas like "commerce raiding" or "come up with a clever one-off nation-state that enriches the game a bit by existing," but that's about it. If someone decides to fuck off and ignore the game for three months, there's not a lot I can or should do to stop them. The best I can think of is to try to stick players whose odds of being active are shaky out in the periphery, where they won't create big problems by getting in the way.


Now, you were one of the most active half dozen players for the duration of the game's healthy period. So tell me, Siege, how do you think we should do it? You're totally right that games live or die on the interest and activity of the players, and nothing else makes much difference. What do you advise?

Should I scrap the idea of variable NCPs altogether? Should I scrap NCPs themselves?

Do I need anything like the military point/GDP system? Remember, the purpose of that was to ensure some kind of approximate military parity between states, to keep idiots from writing themselves flawless victories, and to keep super-milgeeks from coming up with theoretically 'cheap' hardware that outperforms other people's expensive hardware. Do I need to worry about that? Or would it be smarter to rely on stuff like the O1W Shroomalian campaign, with players exerting themselves in opposition to the wanking fool, as a way to keep things from getting too out of control?

Do we need a mod or mods for the game? I can believe that the answer is "no," or that the answer is "yes." I'm not actually sure what to think. If we do need one, would it be better if it wasn't me? I can believe that too- but who?

Are there any other things you'd like to weigh in on? I'm actively hoping for good advice here, because I don't want to be responsible for a screwup, the way I played a partial role in screwing up the SDNW4 endgame.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Akhlut » 2012-03-09 06:46pm

For this game, I'm not sure how much the rules were a problem. I'd like some variation in the power of nations, but I think the main issues are more ones of endurance. If someone can't think of something to write, well, there's not much any of us can do. So, we need to figure out an environment that fosters such creativity.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Siege » 2012-03-09 06:56pm

I think the game should come together organically. That's how the K-Zone worked, because the players involved worked out before the start of the game how the zone fitted together, what the balance of power was and what everybody's role in the proceedings would be. Come to think of it, that's also how Frequesue worked in the early days of #2. And how, I presume, the Shep-Lonestar business worked. If you have that sort of working relationship the rest of the game comes naturally. So no, you don't need NCPs. You don't need military points, or a GDP system, or anything of the sort.

What you need is players willing to collaborate and, most of all, communicate with each other. You need an OOC thread that isn't used to bitch at each other but to work out compromises, you need players who trust each other and know they won't get stabbed in the back, you need people to stay the fuck away from places like chatroom clubhouses that aren't frequented by every other player, you need a couple mods who are fair and decisive, because you need to foster a creative atmosphere instead of the toxic, accusatory vibe that existed the end of #4.

So in my opinion just about the only thing you need is common sense. Stop thinking in terms of mechanics. Mechanics can only be used to generate boundaries, not to generate content that's actually interesting by itself. Start instead thinking in terms of synergy. How do you generate interesting storylines? What's the framework for the balance of power? How do you get people to play villains? And how do you compensate if people drop out half-way? None of this has to be necessarily difficult to set up, but in my opinion you have to set it up before you start, because going off half-cocked again would be a bloody shame.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Akhlut » 2012-03-09 08:08pm

Very astute remarks there, Siege.

So, do we want to work on another one now, given that it's been two months since the last one fell apart, or do we want some more lag time? I think that if we have a pretty open conversation between everyone BEFORE a proper start of the game should be useful in the way Siege said. If we can get people to agree to be villains, to agree to how the various regions will be comprised and the balance of power within, and the like, then I think we'd be in a much better starting position than we were for 4, and definitely over 3.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Demiurgas » 2012-03-09 08:14pm

Is a newborn baby allowed in this conversation?

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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Darkevilme » 2012-03-09 08:26pm

Everyone is allowed to take part in the conversation Demiurgas. You just have to expect to take flak if you say anything stupid and you're golden.

As for what's transpired thus far. Honestly I have to wonder if Siege ever gets tired of being right. Cause lets face it. The K-zone was the most awesome part of the last game and it was formed using the metric he described. If we could have the whole galaxy be the K-zone then that would be an emphatically good thing. Admittedly what might make that harder is the K-zone was to my knowledge four friends with an established way of doing things where as the galaxy as a whole is made of sundry yahoos and strangers to some degree. That being said i'm pretty sure so long as there's a blanket level of maturity in place sundry yahoos and strangers shouldn't prove an impediment.

As for reason to play villains? Villains are pro-active. They don't have to care about small things like keeping their kleptomania in check or respecting the borders of sovereign territories or correcting moral myopia. Villains get to pursue their own agenda and stir shit up in the process. The 'nice' people mostly end up with fairly localized pro active deeds and a lot of reactive ones when some crazy with a starship digs a crater in their front lawn.

I for one don't plan next time around to run quite as much of a complacent kitty on the radiator who only bats at those who bother, frighten or annoy it.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-03-09 08:31pm

I need considerably more time before I am in any position to moderate a game. Recruiting new players on a serious scale, drawing up a map, and any discussion of rules, are all things I want to be involved in... IF people think I'd make a good SDNW5 mod. Nominations are open, and I don't mind someone else taking charge for now.

But having conversations now can't hurt, as long as we recognize that they're nonbinding and that no one should get huffy if some of the ideas thrown around in them now don't get implemented in the final iteration.
Siege wrote:I think the game should come together organically. That's how the K-Zone worked, because the players involved worked out before the start of the game how the zone fitted together, what the balance of power was and what everybody's role in the proceedings would be. Come to think of it, that's also how Frequesue worked in the early days of #2. And how, I presume, the Shep-Lonestar business worked. If you have that sort of working relationship the rest of the game comes naturally. So no, you don't need NCPs. You don't need military points, or a GDP system, or anything of the sort.
Agreed. They're not necessary, but some of us find them helpful- simply as a mechanism to mediate interactions, the way the electromagnetic force mediates the interaction between charges, and in doing so makes interaction possible.

If I see a groundswell of support for 'the only rule is 'no rules,'' fine. I'm basically content with that.

If that doesn't happen, I think I'm going to stick with the SDNW4 rules, or a version that is at most slightly different from them, because the one nice thing about the SDNW4 rules is that they didn't get in the way too much. I don't want to make a fetish of optimizing the rules, either- there are some things I think couldn't hurt and might help, but they're not important and I'm not married to them.

Again, we could totally go for fewer rules than SDNW4 had, I wouldn't mind doing it, if I see that groundswell of support.
What you need is players willing to collaborate and, most of all, communicate with each other. You need an OOC thread that isn't used to bitch at each other but to work out compromises, you need players who trust each other and know they won't get stabbed in the back,
I'll work on it.
you need people to stay the fuck away from places like chatroom clubhouses that aren't frequented by every other player,
This is arguably true. There is, I must say, a counter-argument: the clubhouses can foster creativity as well as negativity. We had valuable players in the game (in the short term, fgalkin, in the longer term, Mayabird) who joined because of the ongoing nightly chats. We had some ideas that were organized and hammered out collaboratively in the chats. It's a mixed bag.
you need a couple mods who are fair and decisive, because you need to foster a creative atmosphere instead of the toxic, accusatory vibe that existed the end of #4.
I'd do my best.
So in my opinion just about the only thing you need is common sense. Stop thinking in terms of mechanics. Mechanics can only be used to generate boundaries, not to generate content that's actually interesting by itself.
Yes- and I don't really want to be fretting over rules indefinitely. The main reason I'm still talking about them is that I don't think we're anywhere near ready to start the game. What I'd like to do, actually, is settle rules relatively quickly once I have time to be heavily involved in getting this thing going, then spend a much longer period trying to bring in players, get a feel for what they want and how to fit them together, and generally try to lay the groundwork for all the synergy and ideas and roles that you want worked on.
Start instead thinking in terms of synergy. How do you generate interesting storylines? What's the framework for the balance of power? How do you get people to play villains? And how do you compensate if people drop out half-way? None of this has to be necessarily difficult to set up, but in my opinion you have to set it up before you start, because going off half-cocked again would be a bloody shame.
All right. Any ideas?

Off the top of my head:

-Balance of power should be multipolar, especially if the game has two dozen or more participants. Having some blocs is good, though, because the people playing a bloc can collaborate on stories about their friendship (you and Fin), while rivalry between blocs motivates stories about enmity (you and Shroom). But the blocs should not be too large, or they become un-coordinatable (the MEHstomp; Pendleton suffered from this but the effects were partly suppressed because it broke down into a few discrete stories and collaborations).

The blocs should define themselves organically.

-Getting people to play villains is an ad hoc thing. It is advisable that 'villains' be played by intelligent, devious, and responsible players. Players who are stupid will get themselves into bad positions and look foolish, which causes ragequits. Players who are not devious will not see good ways to be antagonistic. Players who are irresponsible will cause the wrong kind of antagonism.

I will try to cultivate this, because it's important, but it has to be done organically, like the creation of power blocs.

-Compensating for dropouts... that's a really tricky one. Brute force retcons only work up to a point. One thing I'm hoping to do is put unreliable players on the periphery, I've already talked about that. We might hand off control of a dropout to another nation, such as an 'antagonist' player who could use control of the nation effectively to create more Interesting Times.

Do you have any other ideas?
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Force Lord » 2012-03-09 08:47pm

I kinda tried to portray the Centrality as a wanna-be expansionist power, even if it's limited by the fact that it's pretty much alone in doing its schemes despite the support of its external followers. Hence why you saw me trying to insert the Centrality everywhere, though I occasionally overstepped my mark and paid for it. In hindsight, I should have done more work for certain storylines that were started but never came to fruition, either by lack of ideas or simply sheer laziness.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Akhlut » 2012-03-09 09:22pm

RE: Dropouts: I think that depends on how someone drops out, to an extent. If someone like STAS BUSH STAS BUSH STAS BUSH drops out because he's too busy trying to be the Vanguard of the Proletariat, but he's still posting on N&P a bunch, then the people involved with him on storylines can drop him a PM or three about how they think the story should progress and trying to still work with the person who drops out until the story reaches completion.

On the other hand, if someone just plain drops off the face of the earth for months at a time, well, maybe they should be out at the periphery and if someone uses their characters respectfully and intelligently, well, they shouldn't be able to really complain about it. :P

And, if we have another situation with a person like Chaotic Neutral again, who posts a flurry of shit and then disappears forever, well, we can always just use Q to perform a damnatio memoriae of their nation.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-03-09 09:28pm

I agree with everything you said, Akhlut, except I'm not sure Q is (or will be) actually Q. Though that's close enough for government work. It's... complicated. :twisted:
Force Lord wrote:I kinda tried to portray the Centrality as a wanna-be expansionist power, even if it's limited by the fact that it's pretty much alone in doing its schemes despite the support of its external followers. Hence why you saw me trying to insert the Centrality everywhere, though I occasionally overstepped my mark and paid for it. In hindsight, I should have done more work for certain storylines that were started but never came to fruition, either by lack of ideas or simply sheer laziness.
Actually, FL, it worked well. I've said it before, with half a dozen more like you the game would probably still be running. The fact that this would entail a lot of overstepping is just fine, as long as the overstepper has enough wit and sense of humor to be able to withdraw rather than stomp up and down on unstable ground until they fall off the cliff.

Your one mistake, and I made more of it than you, was to put too much mental energy into storylines that affected only your own nation. Things like Crevecia (?) really didn't matter much to outsiders, so they never drew engagement. By contrast, the "Centrality in the Outlands" storyline was a prime mover of game events for at least a few weeks, and got several people interested and active. Sure, you got a little overheated at the end, but I'd much rather have to deal with that than have to deal with inactivity and inertia.
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Agent Sorchus » 2012-03-10 02:15am

Siege wrote:I think the game should come together organically. That's how the K-Zone worked, because the players involved worked out before the start of the game how the zone fitted together, what the balance of power was and what everybody's role in the proceedings would be. Come to think of it, that's also how Frequesue worked in the early days of #2. And how, I presume, the Shep-Lonestar business worked. If you have that sort of working relationship the rest of the game comes naturally. So no, you don't need NCPs. You don't need military points, or a GDP system, or anything of the sort.
This did work great in the K-zone, but was screwy elsewere. Up in the north where I was there were two semi active players and a bunch of nothing, and of course Zor who payed attention but didn't post. I think that instead of creating nations in a vacuum you really do need to decide your neighbors and how you all will work together to craft story.
What you need is players willing to collaborate and, most of all, communicate with each other. You need an OOC thread that isn't used to bitch at each other but to work out compromises, you need players who trust each other and know they won't get stabbed in the back, you need people to stay the fuck away from places like chatroom clubhouses that aren't frequented by every other player, you need a couple mods who are fair and decisive, because you need to foster a creative atmosphere instead of the toxic, accusatory vibe that existed the end of #4.
The bolded was what I considered the death of SDNW3. Thanas played things so close so that no one else could interact with things he put in motion. IN addition to this people need to understand that while things come up the story must continue for the good of all, but to do it in the friendliest way possible. 1
And how do you compensate if people drop out half-way? ... but in my opinion you have to set it up before you start, because going off half-cocked again would be a bloody shame.
We did say at the begining of SDNW4 that we were going to trim out ADHD lemmings from the game, but never did and never had a good idea of what an ADHD lemming looked like.

But basically what Siege has said is good enough for me.

1) I got a little peeved with all the delays in the Stomp myself. First we were going to attack in January 3401 and then in Febuary, and it kept on getting pushed back so that peoples SoD wouldn't be broken in amassing and preparing an invasion. Too bad. This is a written narrative that needs to focus on what is interesting, and while some of the prep could be minorly interesting it was nothing compared to what I considered the interesting situation of what to do in the now occupied nation. An almost East versus West Germany (with a Central Germany of the Centralists who are just that bad at diplomacy) would've been more interesting than pew pew, even when an eldritch event happens. I guess I should take from this that I should be more open with my opinion of events and what I am interested in.
Simon_Jester wrote:At the same time, idle players will be idle no matter what I do- there's the off chance that a ruleset might spark some ideas like "commerce raiding" or "come up with a clever one-off nation-state that enriches the game a bit by existing," but that's about it. If someone decides to fuck off and ignore the game for three months, there's not a lot I can or should do to stop them. The best I can think of is to try to stick players whose odds of being active are shaky out in the periphery, where they won't create big problems by getting in the way.

Do we need a mod or mods for the game? I can believe that the answer is "no," or that the answer is "yes." I'm not actually sure what to think. If we do need one, would it be better if it wasn't me? I can believe that too- but who?
The first idea is just going to put less popular people far from any interesting event that they might be able to react to at the least to stay active. It is just going to end with a small cliche or two writing interior stories that other players have no way to get involved in. Like with the SDNW2 character-storyline. Only those that played 2 could really do anything there, unless the players actually sent them off into someone elses backyard to do things (which never happened, they went to Earth and Terra Nova where no-one did or knew anything to write in.)

As for mods. Yes there needs to be someone who can be quick and decisive, but that we are usually more than able to police ourselves. Especially if we are more open in communicating what we want or dislike or need others to do to continue writing. And most the time a quick consensus of players would find a happier solution than a Mod (though one might be useful in calling for a consensus). Also keeps things from getting personal. But I also think that those that instigate stories should basically Mod their own storyline. As for who? Not you or me or anyone specific. Not yet. It could almost just be a passing title, if it weren't for the traits a mod needs, ie being quick and decisive and even handed.



Actually what if a major part of our Universe (since the majority of voices so far favor more SciFi empires, though no door is closed yet) was that travel was not objective, but subjective and capable of changing? This way a player who drops off the face of the universe can simply have their nation effectively move distant to others, and that distance that might otherwise prevent people from interacting in a story can be negated for the benefit of just that story. And distance could be added for the benefit of the story too. Though neighborhoods are my preferred idea (See above) this could be combined to a degree (but this post is too long already, if anyone is interested in more of a hybrid of the two I'll do another post.)
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Re: Poll Thread Re: SDNW4/4.5/5

Post by Agent Sorchus » 2012-03-10 02:32am

Addendum; For those of you that are wondering why I am wanting to go with a none space setting, I want to not see space daemons and elder gods being fought by hypertime AI's with beam saber Amazons waiting in the wings. (Not that the Amazons were the problem factor for me.) SDNW4 started simple with Espers; but by the end we had Sasha, a whole nation of daemons, and another fleeing vengeful elder gods. Either Allow craziness from the beginning or don't have it at all. It is just a matter of tone.
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