Love Wins

June 28, 2015

Originally posted on Whatever:

I’m traveling at the moment so I can’t add much more to this than:Hooray! Marriage for all!

Also: Hey, I’m an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. I can marry people. I’m just saying.

Here’s the Supreme Court decision. Read it and enjoy.

I’m going to be in San Francisco this weekend. I suspect it’s going to be a hell of a party. I’m delighted I get to be there for it.

Oh! And! I wrote this eleven years ago, when Massachusetts became the first state to allow same sex marriage. I’m delighted to say that now it applies in every state.

It’s a great day. I’m glad to be here for it.

View original

A friend was quoted as saying that holsters are Steampunk’s Fanny Pack. I agree, but I think there is something to examine here. Nothing super serious or concerning or Tumblr-rage worthy, but interesting in regards to the genre.

I think this is an echo of violence being seen as a key part of the genre and style. One of the most common props is a weapon of some sort – usually a nerf blaster but most commonly a gun. Steampunk seems to heavily utilize the legend of the gun.

Part of that may just be the culture I is embedded in. American culture especially has a strong affection for the gun. We have them in nearly every action movie, show, or comic book. They are in our games and our photoshoots. The gun is, to western culture, an icon of power and self-possession.

This has been in no small part due to its utility in western expansionism and the romanticization of such.  The importance of guns (not specific items, but the type of weapon) as indispensable but also interchangable means by which to enforce one’a vision upon the world is central to much of western fiction and lore.

Not surprising, then, that it permeates the steampunk subculture as well. And the trappings of that follow suit, too. The thigh holster pouch, the hip holster placement for props, the holder holster either to hold belongings or often for aesthetics. These are echos of the gun.

This only becomes worrisome in some representations and when historic perspective is added. The gun and violence of many kinds was part an parcel to western imperialism and expansionism. What was romanticized as high adventure and exploration in fiction had its real life counter part in the cultural pillaging of the antiquarian Victorians and the spearheads of economic and political imperialism which would dominate much of the world.

So, remarkably, the villainous pith-helmet wearing, gun-toting character being pulled out just for laughs is less than funny for some as that imagery, minus the steampunk, was a real threat not long ago. But I would suggest that the tactical leather pouches that replace holsters have a shadow of this. The adventurer exploring some newly discovered relics is harking to those who pillages artifacts from cultures as old or older, often while enslaving, killing, or socially unbalancing local populations.

I’m not saying “no more steampunk”. I enjoy the aesthetic. But it is important to at least be aware that this is representative of a time in which the western cultures were violent and dangerous and we are playing in that image. By all means keep painting nerf blasters and wearing brown and copper, but imagine who you are depicting and what impact they had on their world. That holster may hold your wallet and not be shaped to hold a gun at all – but it is called a holster because it brings these images to mind. 

Just my random thoughts on the idea.

My original intent with the use of magic has begun to feel overwhelming. There are easily, in my current concept, as many spells as common skills – more in fact. This is supposed to be a fairly simple system. I think I can simply this by having each Fae type have the same spell list with themed effects for each type (Fire do damage, wind do knock back, etc), have the goblin and Saturnian do their own spell lists, and have human religious spell lists all be the same, themed to effect like the elemental ones.

Thus I’d only be writing four spell lists instead of twelve. The religious and elemental ones would simply specify what effect they’d take for each type (elemental arrow for all the Fae with identical costs and prerequisites but doing a different effect for each Fae type, etc).

It’d be a lot simpler and easier to write and implement, not to mention remember. 

I’m also thinking about mixed races. I don’t want them. The races are too different to interbreed. The only exception would be that humans and elves could produce a mixed race that has none of the elf attachment to magic, none of the human advantages, but was also immune to elemental magic and religious magic – including healing spells.

These are the things in my head.

On PC Burnout

April 8, 2015

Sometimes, no matter how much you love a character you play, it gets stale. You’re still happy with the game an your community, but the character seems to have fallen into a rut. Maybe you’ve reached all your goals or you just aren’t moving forward in that personal plot. There are innumerous reasons for a character to stall out. Maybe you just want to do something different. 

But whatever the reason, you’ve lost the edge.

How you respond really depends on the reason for PC burnout. And while each person will respond differently, I have a few ideas that can help.

If you’ve hit all your goals, the obvious solution is to find new ones. A good way to do this would be to find a staff member that can handle plot and talk with them about some change that would seriously shift the PCs worldview. A formerly believed dead friend is actually alive and now an antagonist – and maybe they are even right in your PCs eyes. Someone teaches them a new faith, or hatters their current one. They have to repeatedly compromise their morals to save something or someone. Break something that has crystallized, or at least melt it.

This is risky – you may just find the character gives up, but at least it’s an amazing exit. The tragedy, the pain, te retirement xp bonus (I mean what?).

Maybe you’ve just been the same PC too long. No prob, bob – if your game allows, try an alt! Shelve your PC main and rock on with a new concept that plays differently! Or play both but back burner your main for a while. I plan on doing this with my main for Dystopia Rising who’s more or less retiring to the goal I set for him of back seating some and becoming part of his gangs economic and supply powerhouse while my alt is the one running around getting into plot and trying to kill everything.

And maybe your plot is stalled out. Talk to staff, see if there’s a way to move that forward a little or talk to friends to see if they help jump start your personal pursuits. Maybe give up and find new goals – just like real people, a character can know when it’s time to bail.

And there is always the blaze of glory – a character needs to be retired and there’s no way around it that he player wants to pursue. Staff is usually glad to let a player who wants to move on fire a PC at plot as ammunition. It gives the PCs and players something to remember and helps a floundering player get new bearings.

But remember, you only perm once!

The concept seems so obvious: everyone knows the standard tropes of the high fantasy LARP – elves and dragons and magic and arcane talents.

So I have to assume I’m doing something insane when I take the entire wish-fulfillment and power-tripping genre and dump out 90% of what draws those that play the genre. What am I doing, trying to make a game that no one who would look for it would like?

Hell, it may never play but I think it’s a fun idea. It’s not medieval or high fantasy, it’s a weird mix of fantasy and realism. A game that is meant to be both fantastic, but keep a foot on earth. A game that hard-caps power creep. A game that limits magic to the point of making it almost an alien and awesome thing. 

And I’m ditching character classes.

There we go, I’ve said it and we’ve now firmly and aggressively left DnD well behind with one choice. The full skill tree is open list with exception to racial specific skills.

Oh, and you’re limited to a specific number of skills – purchased or granted. That one won’t sit well but since we’re removing classes we need some way to keep players from doing ALL THE THINGS. 

And capping both health and power stats. Suddenly no one can just wade into a fight. No one can spam a high level skill all day. 

Oh, and weapons only do one or two damage each – and you assume, if you don’t see it, that it was two. No damage calls unless there was some specific attribute to the weapon or attack. 

Armor won’t have points, only reduction or traits. No invincible tanks.

Humans just flat can’t use magic outside of religious casting. Elves have weak magic, if any. Goblins have some arcane, incantation based magic, but it’s expensive and easily interrupted. Only elementals – the Fey – cast powerful burst magic. But their power stat is also their vitality.

But for as from as it sounds, this is meant to be a world where the nations and races, devastated by a series of plagues and wars and a massive magical disaster, have decided to try coming together and build a new future. Technology is growing and it is a shakey world-wide (ish) cultural renaissance. Philosophy and art and education have blossomed and a spirit of non-destructive exploration has taken root.

It is a grim fantasy, but one in which the peoples of the world now seek hope rather than dominion. At least, officially. People being people, some hatreds and greed still thrive there is not an end to all the aggression of the past. But people, as a whole, are trying.

The greatest threat is the uncertainty of this alliance of great cultures and peoples, and the shattered state of the world itself. A violent convulsion has rent the natural order and magic runs wild. Some believe that it is te same magic that the goblins use, or at least related in some way. Goblin scholars disagree, but they would, wouldn’t they?

Fell creatures roam free now. Magically twisted animals, undead, and even demons and angels, unseen in centuries, now walk the earth.

The game will focus on horror an bravery and kindness and community and discovery.

And, of course, the occasional dragon.

Pistol – Dagger

Allows the character to use single-shot foam dart blaster as a firearms physical rep. Must be single handed and use a manual spring powered firing system.

Pistol – Rapier

Allows the character to use manually-loaded multiple round foam dart blaster as a firearms physical rep (either Smart AR or revolver). Must be single handed and use a manual spring powered firing system.

Pistol – Sword

Allows the character to use magazine-fed foam dart blaster as a firearms physical rep. Must be single handed and use a manual spring powered firing system.

Remove Confusion

By spending five minutes consoling a character and two Plot Points, character may remove the Confusion status on another character. 

Resilience

By spent one Plot Point, the character may ignore the pain of a Graze or downgrade an Injury to a Graze during any period.

Rifle – Bastard

Allows the character to use a magazine- fed foam dart blaster as a firearms physical rep. Must be two handed and use a manual spring powered firing system.

Rifle – Claymore

Allows the character to use manually-loaded multiple round foam dart blaster as a firearms physical rep (either Smart AR or revolver). Must be two handed and use a manual spring powered firing system.

Rumormonger

Allows player to go to logistics and add a message to the rumor mill and to read what has been added thus far. Rumourmonger does not ensure rumors are true and players are encouraged to add rumors that are part truth, part falsehood.

Sacrifice

A character may declare sacrifice and accept a mortal wound on behalf of another character within arms reach and in their forward 180 degree arc line of sight. All combat must cease and the character may Monologue for thirty seconds after which they die. 

Close Mortal Wound cannot prevent this death but player may role play the attempt as long as they do not interrupt the Monologue.

Safe From Harm

By declaring “Stay your hand!” and using three Plot Points, a player may extend their hand, palm out and fingers splayed, and they may walk or stand without being harmed.  

This does not prevent others from speaking or fighting one another, necessarily, but represents the user making their position and protected status clear. Imagine the disguised king shedding his cloak or the general reminding a pike man of their ranks.

Another player may pay five Plot Points to ignore another player’a use of this skill for the rest of the scene, but doing so may have severe social repercussions.

Serve Drink

For every Plot Point spent, character may serve two drinks of at least 16oz and spend ten minutes conversing with their targets. Each target served this way, up to six, may disregard any Grazes on them.

The serving player may also spend ten minutes conversing with one target, each of them consuming a drink of at least 16oz. For each Plot Point they spend, their target gains one.

Set Injury

By spending one Plot Point and five minutes putting an Injury to rights, a character may reduce one injury to a Graze. If interrupted the Injury remains and the Plot Point is expended. 

Soothesayer

By spending two Plot Points and going to logistics, a character may gain cryptic insight into the intents, location, or prior actions of one character. The exact musing will not be a direct answer, but it will be true.

Steal

A character may speak to a marshal and declare their intent to use steal. By spending one Plot Point they quickly but blatantly may walk up to their target and declare “Steal” and take one visible item. Running is then advised.

Spending three Plot Points instead allows the player to specify which object they want and where it is, even if it is not visible, and stand next to the target for a full minute. After which the marshal will allow the thief to get away before walking up to retrieve the object, if it is where the thief believed. 

If they did not have the right location or the object is not reasonably steal-able (held in hand, locked container, etc), there is no effect. Target is unaware they have been stolen from.

Stealth

With two Plot Points and by crossing their arms in front of them, a character may move in darkness, unseen, up to a quick walk’s pace.

Another player may ignore this effect by spending three Plot Points per target. If they point out the target and call “There”, they may also negate that target’s use of stealth for three minutes.

Throwing Knives

Allows the character to use a contact safe foam throwing knife phys rep without a solid core. Throwing knives come in sets of eight. They maybe be used as melee knives if the character also has the Knife skill.

Classes+Skills

March 11, 2015

This is what I have so far…


Apothecary

The Apothecary creates vials of poison and exists in the world of the cloak and dagger. If you want to provide a deadly edge to someone and avoid being put to the edge yourself, this is the class for you. And you can even set a minor wound or hurt limb to rights.

Confidant

The nurse, the lackey, the sidekick, the plucky companion – these are the confidant. Able to help those around them shake off the confusion that conflict can cause and regain the will to keep on working towards their goals. And maybe even make the ultimate sacrifice for their retainer.

Doctor

Healing, saving lives, and endin them if need be – hopefully to get away with it, too! Doctors are vital in Verona, but they are too often too late.

Fool

Ah, the fool. Untouchable and wise, but perhaps not as touched or foolish as others think. The fool has a diverse repertoire and is able to deliver as sharp a barb with his tongue as with a thrown dart. And woe to those that harm the Fool.

Hedgewitch

The hedgewitch, the wise woman, the herbalist – she can cause or cure an ailment, stop the worst of harm from killing, and sometimes speak of truths she ought know. A life at risk of persecution by those who otherwise patronize her talents has taught her to slip away quickly.

Lord

The master of all he sees – or at least of all he owns – the Lord is the walking embodiment of “speak loudly and carry a bigger stick.” Few would attack a noble, and those that do often live gofer a short while) to regret it.

Merchant

With words as sweet as candied cane and pockets as deep as oceans – or so they’d like to think – but if you need it there is a good chance they can get it. One way or another. Or they now who can.

Noble

Well-spoken and armed, family of a Lord know they are also responsible for being as much soldiers as diplomats. And sometimes – spies.

Oracle

Known for their soothesaying and madness, the Oracle is not often safe alone, but neither is any who harms them.

Priest

Life savers and orators as well as dispensers of wisdom, priests are usually patronized by Lords of varying power and influence.

Soldier

Most of the ability to make war falls on the heads of those hired by Nobles and Lords for such tasks. Soldiers are well-armed and bet able to survive assault.

Troubadour

Performers, born and bred, he troubadour can strengthen the resolve of other and calm their distress with their acts. But they are not without the ability to defend themselves and if one should fall, it would be unwise to be the one that causes it.

Villein

The common folk of Verona have a variety of skills that let them do a variety of things though without the influence that others are known to have. But from the villein you gain many consumables and tools, and it is the commoner that spreads knowledge in whispers and knowing glances.


—————————

Black Market

Nothing says connections like getting hold of illegal goods or trading in ill-gotten gains for favors down the road. A player may use five Plot Points or two stolen items to obtain any of the following:

  • One vial of poison
  • A pistol or knife
  • Fives minutes to spy on any location out of character (this represents sending a spy NPC)
  • Forged documents or sigils
  • Special plot items
  • A “favor” from another random member of the Black Market. 

The risk of Black Market is that as one can call on others, one is also expected to fulfil the same agreement. Those that do not face possible harm or exposure.

Cloak

Expending one Plot Point allows the character to remain unseen as long as they remain in darkness and unmoving or at least 75% hidden from all viewers. Crossed forearms signal use of this skill. 

Another player may see through this skill on one target by expending Five Plot Points.

Close Mortal Wound

A character with this skill may use three Plot Points to stop another character from dying. They must role play staunching a traumatic wound and suturing or packing and taping it as needed for three minutes, during which their death timer is paused.

If they complete this on their prone and willing subject, the Mortal Wound is downgraded to an Injury. If they stop or are interrupted, the wounded character dies within thirty seconds and cannot be saved. The Plot Points are spent regardless.

This skill may not target self.

Cooking

By serving an actual meal and expending two Plot Points, a player may heal up to six people so long as they take part in the meal for at least twenty minutes. Grazes are removed and Injuries become Grazes. The targets must participate the entire meal without interruption aside from conversation.

Create Antidote

Poisons cannot be cured and unless an antidote is used within ten minutes of being poisoned, the poisoned character dies.

Antidotes are created by first expending two Plot Points and role playing the mixing of herbs and substances for ten minutes. The result must be at least a five ounce container with water and a white label. Water must be consumed for effect.

Create Poison

Poisons are illegal in Verona – the creation or possession of such. In fact, it is death so much as to speak of such things by the Prince’s law. 

By spending first two Plot Points and then role playing mixing herbs and substances for ten minutes. The result is a one ounce container of water which must be marked with a black sticker.

Poisons may be applied to blades, swallowed directly, or added to ONE serving of food or drink.

If the substance is inspected by scent it is clearly poison.

Curse

With a dying breath, a character may curse another, ensuring their eventual demise. The cursed character loses all their Plot Points and their next Injury is upgraded to a Mortal Wound. If they consume a poison, they die within seconds.

Diplomacy

Five minutes of talking and one Plot Point will favorably incline another character to the one using this skill – so much as nature allows. The Montague Lord will do no more than stay a moments violence or some excessive punitive act by the Capulet Lord, but a Neutral Priest could gain a vial or two of Anitdote from a Hedgewitch that would otherwise not trust him.

Of course, you have to converse peacefully for five minutes, first.

Disguise

By wearing a completely different outfit, tying a yellow handkerchief on a wrist or ankle with a single knot, and spending one Plot Point, a character may disguise themselves as anyone, but at the risk of discovery. Should the weakly tied handkerchief/bandana fall off, the disguise fails and the character is revealed a fraud.

Encourage

With this skill, a “good talk,” and the expenditure of a single Plot Point a character with this skill may, two times, grant another character two Plot Points.

Fair Escape

With a single Plot Point expenditure and a clear and unobstructed exit from a scene, a player may declare Fair Escape and leave the area. 

By spending three Plot Points, another character may take three steps and make one violent attack from where both characters are when Fair Escape is declared. 

Gain Craftable Item

By spending three Plot Points at Logistics a character with this skill can obtain any crafted item. But if it is an illegal item there may be repercussions. After all, only the Black Market offers anything close to anonymity.

Knife

This skill allows the user to wield a single 18″ or less contact safe boffer.

Monologue

By holding an open hand straight up and expending one Plot Point, a character may monologue uninterrupted for up to two minutes outside of combat. The player signals the end of this ability by making a hand motion like a knife cutting through the air.

Pistol – Dagger
Pistol – Rapier
Pistol – Sword
Remove Confusion
Replace Item
Resilience
Rifle – Bastard
Rifle – Claymore
Rumormonger
Sacrifice
Safe From Harm
Serve Drink
Set Injury
Soothesayer
Steal
Stealth
Throwing Knives

More Mechanics…

March 10, 2015

Plot Points will not refresh. This is to ensure their use is intentional or desperate and add to a heightened sense of certainty. Each character will be given a set amount of Plot Points which will be decided upon in play testing. The first three play tests will not have a cap, but testers will report how often they used them and how important each use felt.

I am torn on having some physically destructible represent Plot Points or just having it be a matter of an Honor system. This is meant to be theatrical, so I’m leaning toward just trusting my players to play the story, not play to “win.”

Build points are harder to define. Each profession will pay one Build per skill (some are going to be required purchase with certain classes – these may or may not be free depending on how future discussion and testing.

The skills from the common, the Villein, list will each be two or three Build. Since the Villein class may ONLY select from this open list, they will receive twice the Build of other classes to make them workable if less “unique”.

My first instinct is to have each player receieve seven to nine build. I don’t think this will be a skill-heavy game – most of this be decided by politics socializing, and violence. And there are no combat skills beyond the ability to use the weapons.

This makes me think I could run this as a pickup at a convention, but I’m perhaps being a bit overexcited by the prospect that this joking idea could be at all viable. It is that or it will be a fantastic reminder that adapting existing media to playable form is a bit of a pain.

By the way, a character without a combat skill may use three Plot Points to, for one attack, use a weapon they do not have the skill for. They may not enter game with this weapon but may obtain one in character if they find the means to do so. But it would have to be a pretty desperate act…

Players may enter game with a nerf blaster or contact safe physrep for the skills they have. Throwing knives are capped at eight because I like eight. If the player also has knife, they can also use it as a melee Knife on another person inflicting normal Knife damage.  All throwing knives must be twelve inches or less with no solid core.

Stabbing is not allowed, close range “stabs” are to be done with a light touch of the blade against the body.

No head or groin shots. Strikes to the hand with a knife are not allowed. Dart or thrown knives cause the hand to drop what is in it, hits to the arm do not disarm, but still disable the entire limb. The attacked player may switch hands to attack, but must be clumsy about it.

There will be more tomorrow a I write out descriptions of each class and skill. Doing so will take time so I don’t think it’ll be ready until late afternoon. I appreciate any feedback you have.

Montague+Capulet

March 10, 2015

So I have a mad idea, a LARP version of a prequel to the 1996 (you’re allowed to feel old or nostalgic) Romeo+Juliet starring DeCaprio and Danes. It seemed funny, then viable, then impossible, then I started writing a rule set. Here’s what I came up with and I aubmit it here for perusal and discussion.

The first choice was clearly about style. I wanted to embrace the heavily latin-influenced imagery of the film as well as the SoCal glam of the mid nineties. So this is also going to have to be done during the summer. I’ll ask all the players to bring as many props as they can, wear lots of high saturation colors, and just aim for the same hyper-bright chic. It’s a genre choice.

Along the same lines, combat should fit genre, too. Nerf dart blasters – spring powered only, MUST be painted. The only boffers will be knives. Anything under 18 inches.

Speech won’t be scripted but must be Elizabethan, or at least somewhat affected as such. No heavy and terrible accents, just the language. I’ll have to get an Elizabethan primer written up. 

Mechanics I wanted simple. Like, understood in ten minutes simple. So let’s start with time. Friday morning will be for orientation and OOC getting to know everyone’s character in person. You can convey the backstory in text, but Leguizamo’s Tybalt needed to be seen to be understood. 

Game begins at noon, Friday – scene one, act one. Two households in separate buildings. Depending on location, I will assign specific locations. But at minimum there will be a neutral church, a Montague house, a Capulet house, an the Prince’s house (staff lodging). Each group will begin in their assigned buildings at noon. From there we are game on. This first act, there may be no Mortal Wounds. Any Mortal Wounds inflicted will be downgraded automatically to Injuries and such actions so early on will quickly spiral thing into chaos.

Act two begins at midnight. Mortal Wounds are still automatically Injuries unless either player uses a Plot Point to make it Mortal. During the second act, I expect the violence to begin being truly exceptional.

The bell tolls noon, and act three begins. Mortal Wounds are no longer automatically down graded. Injuries cannot be healed or down graded. This is the climax as all hell breaks loose (or not – players are a surprising lot). The players will be carefully pushed towards some sort of conflict – whether they resort to violence or not is up to them.

Midnight. Denouement. The dead, if any, come forward to speak. The prince has his say, and the curtain falls. We debrief, chat about the game and how it went, aftercare as needed, and then revelry.

The mechanics are simple by design – my goal is that no one ever need to clarify what is happening, mechanically. 

The players are given a set number of Plot Points which they may spend during the game to use skills or alter chance. 

There are three types of damage – Graze, Injury, and Mortal Wound. A Hit to the Torso is considered Mortal – the character will die in five minutes unless healed. A hit to the arms or legs is an Injury – the limb is disabled until healed and cannot be used for any Skills. Injury to the torso means the character is unable to in more than twenty steps and has difficulty in all actions. After four hours or until the next twelves, which ever is longer, an injury becomes a graze.

Injuries may be bought down to Grazes with a plot point. A Graze has no mechanical effect but pains the Grazed character some. 

Foam darts and melee weapons all damage the same way. Thrown knives Injure on the first and second torso hit and cause a Mortal Wound on the third. 

Sometime during five minutes after receiving a Mortal Wound, a character dies unless healed. 

There is a short class and skill list.

CLASSES

Apothecary

  • Create poison
  • Set injury
  • Pistol – dagger
  • Cloak
  • Fair escape

Confidant

  • Encourage
  • Set injury
  • Cloak
  • Sacrifice
  • Remove confusion

Doctor

  • Set injury
  • Close Mortal Wound
  • Knife
  • Create antidote
  • Fair escape

Fool

  • Safe from harm
  • Monologue
  • Throwing knives
  • Sacrifice
  • Remove confusion
  • Curse

Hedgewitch

  • Create poison
  • Create antidote
  • Fair escape
  • Close mortal wound
  • Soothesayer

Lord

  • Diplomacy
  • Rifle – (any)
  • Monologue
  • Curse
  • Safe from harm

Merchant

  • Rumormonger
  • Gain craftable item
  • Steal
  • Diplomacy
  • Replace item

Noble

  • Diplomacy
  • Pistol – (any)
  • Monologue
  • Sacrifice
  • Stealth

Oracle

  • Soothesayer
  • Monologue
  • Curse
  • Confusion (permanent)
  • Fair escape

Priest

  • Monologue
  • Close Mortal Wound
  • Remove confusion
  • Create antidote
  • Sacrifice

Soldier

  • Pistol – (any)
  • Rifle – bastard
  • Throwing knives
  • Knife
  • Resilience

Troubadour

  • Safe from harm
  • Diplomacy
  • Throwing knives
  • Encourage
  • Curse

Villein

  • Pistol – dagger
  • Pistol – sword
  • Pistol – rapier
  • Gain craftable item
  • Steal
  • Diplomacy
  • Set injury
  • Cooking
  • Serve drink
  • Rumormonger
  • Disguise
  • Black market

I’ll write up a description of each profession and skill later, but they’re all fairly straight forward. 

Beyond this the important thing is to remember this is not many to be simulation. The goal is drama and style and story.

Two households, both alike in infamy, in fair Verona, where we play our scenes, with ancient grudge comes ancient duty, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Uninstalled. Permanently.

September 4, 2014

Let me say that Ghost Recon: Phantoms is one of the best concepts in FPS that I’ve hit on in a while. I love the slide into cover; I adore the weapons and the class balance; the maps are endlessly frustrating in usually good ways (if often a bit linear).

But I’m uninstalling and forgetting this game forever. The fact I can’t purge it entirely from my Steam account will be a sad gravestone on top of a failed experiment.

And the game, I am sad to say, was murdered.

Because allowing people to buy and use weapons FAR above their rank entirely imbalances the game. And it’s just not good enough for me to buy and buy and buy. I’d have gladly paid thirty for this game with no complaint, if the buy-in on weapons were restricted to rank or a slight rank advantage. I’d be fine with the mystery boxes being exceptions. Camo and aesthetics are of course always welcome free-to-play purchasables.

But you’ve ruined the balance. You could have just kept games matched by weapon power. You could have limited how much above your rank you could equip. You could have just had small power bonuses.

But free-to-play, pay-to-win is not an acceptable strategy, and it hurts a game long run. Because eventually people who want to play without all the mini-transactions, without buying gun after gun, will leave. And then the number of players dips badly. New people dry up, and the game, instead of having the long run that, say, Starcraft had or Everquest or WoW, you’ve got a flash in the pan that could have been something absolutely fantastic – that honestly is fantastic, but gets cut down before it can shine.

Because, UbiSoft, you wanted a fast buck. You played the short game, not the long one. The most common complaint in your forums is based on this imbalance. I scroll and I see suggestion after suggestion about how to fix this, but the high paying players, or “whales”, get treated to a game that utilizes the unsaying or low-paying players as cannon fodder. No wonder the turn over for the game is so high. They claim a huge player base, but it seems that is based entirely on the number of people who’ve downloaded, played, and left the game out of frustration.

I really really enjoyed this game. It was solid. The mechanics deserve, frankly, better.

I won’t be recommending this game. I recommend people who aren’t willing to fork over too much money for too little avoid this game entirely. Game devs: Play this. Play this game. It’s a fantastic set of mechanics. The balance, when right, is amazing. The weapon concepts and classes are brilliant. This game had all I could have wanted,  but burned it.

UbiSoft, you never got a cent from me through this game, and now you never will. If this is how you plan to do Free To Play, I’ll be avoiding this dev team in the future. I wish you better ideas and ethos in the future.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: