Communing With Code

Communing With Code

The phrase in the title was applied to computer games by a friend of mine. As in, "You're not playing a game, you're communing with code." I'm not going to say that computer games, or even solitaire, aren't games. They have rules and win conditions. Nevertheless, they are also in a very real sense algorithmically driven - even if randomized - puzzles without the variability or stakes or psychology that having a human opponent brings to the table. As I noted in my last post re: Battletech gripes, the limited ability of an AI to make decisions as the number…

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Battletech Gripes - and Games

Battletech Gripes - and Games

I've been enjoying the "Tex Talks battletech" historical overviews and sketches at the Black Pants Legion youtube channel, and more recently, the playthrough - with commentary - of the HBS Battletech game by Tex as the story of Scrombles the Mechwarrior. It's a game that - despite my not liking the PC dressing applied to the campaign, is a faithful interpretation of a game I've loved for decades. Funny as hell, but it reminded me of what is likely my biggest single complaint - stupid PC crap wedged in for no good reason aside - of Battletech as a game.…

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The Origins of Divine Right

The Origins of Divine Right

A while back I was invited to a group that was playing Divine Right on VASSAL several times a month - and we went out of our way to not only play the game, but over time, to figure out the ways to break the rules, and to find the edge cases. It is a game worthy of repeated play and attention, with every faction needing a different playstyle to win - and every faction having a chance. As a result, I enjoyed this interview over at Dev Game on the origins of the game and how it was built.…

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Lore and RPGs

Lore and RPGs

Bradford Walker recently penned an article titled "You Suck at Using Lore in Your Games." In it, he excoriates infodumps and dwelling on the background the GM created: Let me tell a truth born of 36 years in gaming: common gamers don't give a fuck about lore. They don't care because those responsible for communicating relevant information to the player(s) routinely fail to do so, and then get surprised when said player(s) get mad at missing information that suddenly is relevant to their situation. Why? Because they tuned out the GM while he droned on about something instead…

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Miscellaney

Miscellaney

A few odds and ends of catching up. First - Eric Raymond posted this a while back, but looks at the moral justification of Kyle going out in times of civil unrest as not only "not wrong", but a duty. That is, all males of military age who are or intend to become citizens of the United States are under federal statute the “unorganized militia”, and have the duty of the militia to defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic (as both naturalizing citizens and members of the armed forces swear to do). Kyle Rittenhouse…

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Traveller 5 - Why So Serious?

Traveller 5 - Why So Serious?

The other day I delved deeper into the T5 rules by showing how to develop a character. Yes, it came out complicated. Or is it? Let's step back a bit. The original classic Traveller character rules came from the era of Moldvay Basic and AD&D, but they had a different focus. D&D is class-based: you rolled your stats, chose a class compatible with those stats, and noted down the associated bonuses. You only had a few significant choices - mostly class and equipment - and there were only a few points of randomization: your base stats,…

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Traveller 5 - Thoughts, and Characters

Traveller 5 - Thoughts, and Characters

Marc Miller is a genius. Now, I'm not saying that T5, as incarnated, is going to be everyone's cup of tea, but going deeper into the wealth of tables available, the most relaxing thing about them is not that they are there when you need a quick and dirty lookup for something you didn't plan ahead of time, but that you can safely ignore them unless there is something going on that requires scientific/universe/random knowledge that doesn't naturally flow from the current state of the game world. One of the biggest mechanical differences is that almost every roll…

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Traveller 5

Traveller 5

As I slid back into playing in an AD&D campaign as well as running a twice-a-month Dimmermount-based campaign, I poked my nose back into Traveller. Namely - I had a few years back purchased the Classic Traveller CD-ROM from FFE which included the complete LBB's of the original edition as well as the consolidated "Traveller Book" edition, and all of the expansion books: High Guard for more advanced ship design and naval character skills, as well as expansions for scouts, ground forces, merchants, various adventures and deckplans, as well as many of the original boardgames from that era…

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