Author Topic: Playability vs Gameplay  (Read 2834 times)

Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Playability vs Gameplay
« on: April 27, 2020, 03:05:30 PM »
Playability vs Gameplay

Definitions:

Playability - The state or property of being playable. A measure of either the ease by which a video game may be played, or of the overall quality of its gameplay.

Gameplay - the tactical aspects of a video game, such as its plot and the way it is played, as distinct from the graphics and sound effects.

Some history about me.  I have been playing Armageddon since 2004.  I took a five year break between the years of 2013 - 2018.  I have been back approximately two years now, maybe a little under.  At present, we have many senior players returning to the game due to quarantine.  Hello!  Welcome back!

Since my return to the game, I have been struggling with the notion of playability vs gameplay.  I feel the above definitions are very important to start this discussion.

When writing a story, you can make whatever conflict you want because you’re in control of all of the characters and your job is to tell a compelling story.  The lore, the world, the stage you’re building that’s the game play.  Playability is how it all actually shakes out as a game.  When you enter that world how fun, rewarding and easy is it to actually play.  That’s an important distinction.  Things that are hard for a character, shouldn’t necessarily translate into a difficulty for the player.

The five key components to a good story are as follows:

Characters - Gameplay
Setting - Gameplay
Plot - Gameplay/Playability
Conflict - Playability
Resolution - Playability



Before we go into this it’s important to note, that resolution is defined as such:
the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter

This means there can be peaceful resolutions, tragic resolutions.  A resolution is not inherently a happy ending.  It is simply an ending to a storyline playing out.

Let's use gemmed magickers as an example.  Really could use any of the many prejudices in the game that can bring dimension to a world centered around murder, corruption, betrayal.  Prejudice can equate to conflict, which causes interest and plot.  Gemmed magickers are supposed to be on the outskirts of society, shunned and relegated to a particular part of the city.  This creates interesting characters, the gemmed quarter is the setting but once we get into plot how do we get to the point of conflict and ultimately resolution if avoidance is key?  Somehow, the gameplay elements need to lend themselves to playability elements. 

Avoidance doesn't bridge the gap.  It simply creates isolation.  I believe this challenge rears its head towards many factions in the game that end up isolated, and making the game feel more claustrophobic.  Examples?  Nobility from commoner.  Magicker and breed from society.  Merchant from average commoners.  Templarate from nobility.  Tribes far off from the rest of the world.

Complete avoidance does not render conflict and resolution.  So, in my mind some kind of plot element needs to link the two so that conflict can arise.  And not just once a real life year whenever some special plot gets ran by staff.  If the character specifications and setting do not lend itself to a plot causing conflict then gameplay elements must be altered.

I’d like to start a discussion around this for both players and staff about this, and how we can all improve our gameplay around this philosophy of story and world building.  What parts of the game can we use the plot to reconcile the game world, using the plot to benefit playability?

I think when people complain about RPTs, or pieces of the current in-game meta what they’re trying to say is that they're having an issue not with the game world but the level of playability.  Clearly, we enjoy the world we’re in but some elements of that world don’t always lend themselves to interesting plots and thus conflict/interest ceases to arise.   Or no resolution is given to conflict that does arise.  One day it just ceases to be.

I'm going to take a moment here to emphasize please don't mistake closure to say a death to resolution.  I am speaking more to large scale plots that then end up coming to close with a plop instead of a bang.

Many times, people also do not see a clear resolution to hours and months of gameplay which can lead to frustration.  There is also a difference between closure and resolution.  I think this also originates from large city-wide or world-wide plots being started where the whole city or world is privy to the conflict, but only a handful of PCs are entitled to the resolution.  I think this can be solved by ensuring all players involved receive varying levels of resolution.  City-folk are told one thing about the on-going resolution over time, while nobility or other small groups are given deeper details or “the real story” without propaganda. 

Conflict can take on many forms - inner conflict, like making a tough decision.  Combat.  Social power struggles.  Simple dislike.  A struggle for resources and so on.

What I would also like to see is a system that rewards characters and players for starting plots and conflict, even if they are on the losing side.  Arguably, you could say karma is there and often offered to players who play well.  Let’s look at the stipulations:

---Longevity
---Good communication
---Ability to roleplay
---Proven understanding of magick and its place in the game world
---Proven understanding of cultural and racial structures
---Contributes to the game
---Leadership


I would argue that some of the very things that lend itself to karma, plots and thusly conflict are the same things that will have you targeted in game.  How do we ensure that characters in game that wish to create conflict and interest aren’t immediately blasted by the mantis head?

I don’t have all of the answers, but I’m definitely interested in the player base’s thoughts on how to increase interest and playability.  Sometimes, I feel like when players complain about a lack of playability they’re told simply, “Well, that’s just how the world is.”  But the world itself is a game, a piece of art that is beholden to player and staff to shape into a game that is fun, engrossing and engaging.  The success isn’t just in building a world, but building a game world that encourages conflict.  And not just any conflict… deep, consistent, engrossing and dimensional conflict that leads to a satisfying resolution be it tragic or peaceful.

We see (what I think is) a great example of plot and world lending to playability with what’s become of Luir’s.  The plot has been tilted in Luir’s to allow for more conflict by creating an ongoing clear power struggle between the three great merchant Houses.  This is great, because there is now a process in place to allow for this.  I look forward to seeing it develop further.  Now there is an in-game power struggle dynamic that doesn’t involve the staff constantly having to pump out new and unique plots every real life week.  I would like to see more of this for factions in the game.  There are votes, there are bids, the result of coin and politicking has visible results in that vote.  The vote occurs between players, typical staff involvement is or should be at a minimum.  I really hope this kind of dynamic is built upon.  I would love to see something similar for nobility rivals and warring Templarate factions.

If you don’t have this built in conflict you run into staff having to constantly get involved and factions being overly segmented to the point conflict bubbles up as simple petty undermining and lies like a bunch of school kids being trapped in the same high school too long or in game events that end up being the same event over and over and over again.

I would love to start a dialogue with the community on this topic.  Where do you see gaps between playability and gameplay?  How can we, as players build on this and reflect a game world that we want to see and enjoy?


Conclusion for clarification since I know this post is a little windy:

I personally see areas in the world where there is a gap between gameplay (world, lore, setting, character structure) vs playability (how easy it is to play and enjoy the game.)  This manifests in a few ways.  Lack of interaction between pcs, this creates a reliance on staff to react as the game world.  The game world does not reflect the experiences of PCs, creating a lack of satisfaction and disassociation.

The karma docs encourage good game play but sometimes the game world punishes good, engrossing interaction and play.

I am asking the players - where do you see these gaps?  How can we bridge them to create a more satisfying game experience?

In conclusion things I would like to see more of (personally):

-Long-term, visible resolution to city-wide and world-wide events and plot lines.  Taking RL years to let people know what was going on in the only other city-state in the game leads to major confusion. 

-Gauge the reaction of the city and world by watching what PCs are actually saying and feeling instead of having the VNPC world's reaction be completely counter to what most PCs are experiencing, PC's shouldn't rely totally on VNPCs as to how to be told to feel.  It's really frustrating when board posts are made about what VNPCs are experiencing and there is no evidence or effect of the PCs in game.  It starts to feel like there are two cities. The one the VNPCs live in and the one PCs are actually experiencing.

-Build up lore around niches and factions, but find more improved ways for them to interact with frequency

-Build an infrastructure that creates conflict without turning staff into plot dispensing machines needing constant in game involvement

-Build deepening, nuanced conflict that is more than petty, exhausting, social squabbles - Think Game of Thrones intrigue (before it sucked) vs High School votes for classes treasurer popularity contest

-Have real resolution and effects to the aforementioned deepening conflict

-Find places in the game world that have gap between game world and playability and bridge that gap by using the plot to make clans, events, and RPTs more satisfying by having greater conflict and clear results to such

-Have a place in game for PCs that want to create conflict, otherwise you've got a bunch of PCs that live forever by being nice and mild which is not what the game is necessarily about

Important Note:  This is not a critique of staff.  In my opinion, many of the current staff are some of the best group I've experienced in my many years of playing.  They are working hard to do a lot of what I'm already suggesting, and many are trying to foster a great culture here.  These are just my personal thoughts.  There are many areas I haven't played in since my return and I think this could be a good discussion on how we as players can improve the game world.

TLDR:  How do we use the plot to bridge the game world, setting and lore structure to create a game that has good playability? (In this case meaning good conflict, deep conflict and satisfying resolution) without encouraging isolation and micro-gaming between factions across Allanak in the game world.  How do we keep player driven plot and conflict on-going as this occurs?

Edited to add formatting and some typo fixes, thanks Mansa and IsFriday for formatting suggestions to make a long post more easily readable.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 08:31:46 PM by Bebop »

Lizzie

  • Posts: 8191
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2020, 03:43:28 PM »
Your question: "How do we ensure that characters in game that wish to create conflict and interest aren’t immediately blasted by the mantis head?"

can't be answered. There is no solution. There are different approaches, and none of them will solve what you consider to be the problem.

In order to "ensure" - guarantee - that conflict doesn't result in immediate mantis head you have to somehow prevent players from choosing to PK characters that are new. If some new character is being a hard-core troll, pain in the neck, drama queen, and refuses to get out of MY character's face, and wastes my character's time and efforts in the limited amount of time I have available to be logged into the game, then that new character is fucking with MY plotline - and therefore has to go.

I can handle it ICly...through judicious use of plotline tools, or I can do it OOCly, through either a player complaint against them, or storage of my own PC. Either way, SOMEONE's fun with their character is going to end.
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Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2020, 03:52:41 PM »
Your question: "How do we ensure that characters in game that wish to create conflict and interest aren’t immediately blasted by the mantis head?"

can't be answered. There is no solution. There are different approaches, and none of them will solve what you consider to be the problem.

In order to "ensure" - guarantee - that conflict doesn't result in immediate mantis head you have to somehow prevent players from choosing to PK characters that are new. If some new character is being a hard-core troll, pain in the neck, drama queen, and refuses to get out of MY character's face, and wastes my character's time and efforts in the limited amount of time I have available to be logged into the game, then that new character is fucking with MY plotline - and therefore has to go.

I can handle it ICly...through judicious use of plotline tools, or I can do it OOCly, through either a player complaint against them, or storage of my own PC. Either way, SOMEONE's fun with their character is going to end.

I have several points here but I think the real question would have been in my conclusion:

Quote
-Have a place in game for PCs that want to create conflict, otherwise you've got a bunch of PCs that live forever by being nice and mild which is not what the game is necessarily about

If you don't have a place in the game for "zesty" characters then you have a game that treats these characters as little road bumps on the journey and you become reliant on staff for creating the larger conflict potentially.  And I don't just mean characters that say... kill your buddy, so now you want revenge.  I'm talking about characters that aren't interested in doing something as simple as not being nice to everyone since the docs states there should be clear bias and prejudice.

If every character that isn't buddy buddy with everyone is shunned or killed, you're creating a meta where everyone has to get along (aka ignore the docs that call for clear prejudices) or at least get along at a surface level.  If everyone in Allanak is pretending to get along on a surface level and stabbing each other in the back in the shadows, well... now you've got a new version of Tuluk.

How do we go about reconciling the two extremes aka isolation of races and niche factions vs allowing them conflict that results in satisfying conflict and story/resolution?  That is my predominant question.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 03:56:03 PM by Bebop »

Saiseiki

  • Posts: 199
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2020, 04:12:07 PM »
First, well thought-out and perceptive post.

-Build up lore around niches and factions, but find more improved ways for them to interact with frequency

I don't have the seniority to intelligently comment on a lot of the broad-strokes stuff that Bebop brings up.  However, I have been seriously considering the above.  Specifically, how to realistically get different groups of people together.  This is, after all, a game.  Presumably we're here to have fun and rp, even if that rp results in PK.  I'll go out on a limb and wager that the good majority of the player-base isn't wholly consumed with solo-rp (perfectly fine if you are!).  So, developing IC reasons for different factions to interact instead of splintering off is something that is inherently more dangerous than hiding in your compound, but also important to the health of the game IMO.

Still feeling this out with the current character.  I'm glad that this conversation is in the minds of the community.
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Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2020, 04:19:11 PM »
First, well thought-out and perceptive post.

-Build up lore around niches and factions, but find more improved ways for them to interact with frequency

I don't have the seniority to intelligently comment on a lot of the broad-strokes stuff that Bebop brings up.  However, I have been seriously considering the above.  Specifically, how to realistically get different groups of people together.  This is, after all, a game.  Presumably we're here to have fun and rp, even if that rp results in PK.  I'll go out on a limb and wager that the good majority of the player-base isn't wholly consumed with solo-rp (perfectly fine if you are!).  So, developing IC reasons for different factions to interact instead of splintering off is something that is inherently more dangerous than hiding in your compound, but also important to the health of the game IMO.

Still feeling this out with the current character.  I'm glad that this conversation is in the minds of the community.

This is my biggest point, and I know this post was a bit long.

But how do we stop PCs and clans from just isolating and hoarding wealth and information in their respective Estates, tribes and Temples and get them out there clashing on micro and macro scale without constantly needing the staff to intervene and shake up the world like kicking over an anthill.

If we constantly need staff ran RPTs and HRPTs to get the world to come together, spend coin, tear down shit and interact there's a problem with the meta.  Those things are fun on occasion but we need gameplay that encourages good playability - meaning deep interactions instead of isolation.

We shouldn't constantly rely on staff to know how the population at large is reacting, we should see that reflected more predominantly visible through the play of the PCs.

I also see a symptom that something is wrong when players who follow the documentation are punished when they actually enter the game and the game itself is not reflective of the documentation resulting in everyone constantly turning a blind eye to player after player engaging with the exception instead of the rule.

This is not the fault of any one player or staff member.   But it does ring some bells for me that that plot is needed to bridge the game world setting and the game play that's occuring.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 04:20:44 PM by Bebop »

Barsook

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Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2020, 04:21:42 PM »
How do we go about reconciling the two extremes aka isolation of races and niche factions vs allowing them conflict that results in satisfying conflict and story/resolution?  That is my predominant question.

I hate to say it but getting rid of most of the great power houses in the form of the GHM's, all noble houses (minus the templars/Arm of Dragon) and the Byn. I don't really see the point of the Houses both in terms of playability and gameplay. While I do understand that the GHM's, Byn and House Oash are there for players to use as away to learn their character's crafts/magic respectively, but what do they really bring to the game world in terms of playability? I would rather see more smaller scale groups trying to get powerful.

Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2020, 04:29:35 PM »
How do we go about reconciling the two extremes aka isolation of races and niche factions vs allowing them conflict that results in satisfying conflict and story/resolution?  That is my predominant question.

I hate to say it but getting rid of most of the great power houses in the form of the GHM's, all noble houses (minus the templars/Arm of Dragon) and the Byn. I don't really see the point of the Houses both in terms of playability and gameplay. While I do understand that the GHM's, Byn and House Oash are there for players to use as away to learn their character's crafts/magic respectively, but what do they really bring to the game world in terms of playability? I would rather see more smaller scale groups trying to get powerful.

Honestly, Barsook.  You know what?  To a big degree I totally agree with you.  What is the point of noble play?  What can you accomplish?  You are there to be a mini-leader but you ultimately have almost no power.  You're just a part of the player base that's isolated away to bring some flavor in a mini-niche.  Templarate, definitely add some more structure and have more power and ability to float interaction between clans.  GMH, more often than not end up killing off the little guy and disappearing once their wealth is established.  Byn I think would be cool to be around to service/aid whatever factions are in game.  Mercenary play is universal.

Where I disagree with you is that I think instead of removing them the game play around these factions needs to be drastically improved so that they are satisfying to play, less isolated and bring actual depth to the game instead of providing he same RPTs dressed differently and basically being a source for little side quests or play executioner to the plebs from time to time.

DesertT

  • Posts: 942
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2020, 04:32:44 PM »
Not every violation of your character's convenience or outlook should result in the death of that character, especially for trusted/sponsored roles.  Try something else.  Banishment, dismemberment, fining, rumor-mongering, blackmail, there are various types of harassment, anything else.  The list of tools at your disposal is as limited as your creativity.  *glares*

We talk about wanting conflict, but if someone is conflictive with us, it turns pretty rapidly to murder time!!  Even on the smallest violations, all because we're desperate for conflict, then we end up killing the conflict and asking for more when you could've had a -far- more satisfying conflict if you left the PC alive and just accepted the challenge of responding to it in other ways.

Yes, Murder, Corruption, Betrayal, but come on...  Didn't staff already post the stats for character deaths and it was something ridiculous like, 99.5% of player deaths are NOT PK.  So seriously, BACK OFF the PK if you want more conflict and find more interesting ways to ENGAGE instead of ELIMINATE!!
The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Barsook

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Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2020, 04:44:04 PM »
Where I disagree with you is that I think instead of removing them the game play around these factions needs to be drastically improved so that they are satisfying to play, less isolated and bring actual depth to the game instead of providing he same RPTs dressed differently and basically being a source for little side quests or play executioner to the plebs from time to time.

Good point. You did bring up the recent Luir's plot and how that might affect the power play of the GMH's but that is going to staff led. It will just trickle down to the lowest of the low ranking family members of the GMHs. Maybe it would be nice to allow a trusted player to play a much higher ranked family member like Senior Agent so they can have a say and create meaningful conflict that's staff led. Yes, I'm aware of the glass ceiling problem but I think it would help to have players create the trickle down effect not the staff.

Or maybe only really have the agency and mercantile (A.K.A merchants not crafters) branch playable for all of the GHM's. Or is that a bad idea since it makes it more a niche?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 08:08:12 PM by Barsook »

Hauwke

  • Posts: 2104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2020, 05:31:26 PM »
If you all think that the GMH or the Byn or the Noble houses have no point other than to learn to play that role, you are clearly doing it wrong.

All of those roles can come with deep, enriching roleplay if you treat them correctly. A merchant is more than someone who crafts, they shape the game world's economy. They shape the equipment used to some degree. It is their place in the world, to sell and shape the world itself. The Byn? Thats there so that people can play a mercenary, it too comes with deep and enriching roleplay if you just step back and stop spamming kick and bash like an idiot and take a moment to enjoy the place. Is it for everyone? No, but it is definately more than 'spar spar spar' the clan.

If no one ever dies or loses, there is never a resolution to conflict. It is a continuation of the same conflict. Don't confuse the two.

number13

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Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2020, 06:10:11 PM »
eh
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 07:43:08 PM by number13 »

molecricket

  • Posts: 21
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2020, 06:19:01 PM »
That's what people are disputing, Hauwke, whether these deeply entrenched coded clans actually have that kind of impact on the world. I haven't been playing for very long, so I can't really say whether they do or not. But from what I've seen, there really isn't a meaningful scarcity of resources, or overlaps in spheres of influence that could potentially drive conflict. You can say "they shape the game world's economy", and I'm sure that's the intent with these clans, but whether or not that's something they actually do is something that's up for debate. I'm trying to think of two open, active clans that both want a resource that isn't abundant enough for both of them to have it, and I'm drawing a blank.
"...the females of this tribe wear may well be reckoned some of the sexiest on Zalanthas, particularly the bare midriff blouses and leather thongs many of the women affect." - http://www.armageddon.org

Is Friday

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Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2020, 06:26:55 PM »
That's what people are disputing, Hauwke, whether these deeply entrenched coded clans actually have that kind of impact on the world. I haven't been playing for very long, so I can't really say whether they do or not. But from what I've seen, there really isn't a meaningful scarcity of resources, or overlaps in spheres of influence that could potentially drive conflict. You can say "they shape the game world's economy", and I'm sure that's the intent with these clans, but whether or not that's something they actually do is something that's up for debate. I'm trying to think of two open, active clans that both want a resource that isn't abundant enough for both of them to have it, and I'm drawing a blank.
That is because the traditional competitors have been removed (Tuluk.) Templars don't really have an organic reason to compete because they aspire to different Ministries -- competition is therefore built on personality conflict rather than natural conflict.

There's very little to naturally have conflict about, in the game as it stands.
And then I sat there going "really? that was it? that's so stupid."

I still think the best closure you get in Armageddon is just moving on to the next character.

Hauwke

  • Posts: 2104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2020, 06:29:52 PM »
That's what people are disputing, Hauwke, whether these deeply entrenched coded clans actually have that kind of impact on the world. I haven't been playing for very long, so I can't really say whether they do or not. But from what I've seen, there really isn't a meaningful scarcity of resources, or overlaps in spheres of influence that could potentially drive conflict. You can say "they shape the game world's economy", and I'm sure that's the intent with these clans, but whether or not that's something they actually do is something that's up for debate. I'm trying to think of two open, active clans that both want a resource that isn't abundant enough for both of them to have it, and I'm drawing a blank.

Indies don't have any impact on the world at all though, none. By virtue of being independant.

By the logic in this thread we all might as well just stop playing. It will resolve the conflict and stop people playing the roles people have an issue with.

Barsook

  • Posts: 8125
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Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2020, 06:42:33 PM »
That's what people are disputing, Hauwke, whether these deeply entrenched coded clans actually have that kind of impact on the world. I haven't been playing for very long, so I can't really say whether they do or not. But from what I've seen, there really isn't a meaningful scarcity of resources, or overlaps in spheres of influence that could potentially drive conflict. You can say "they shape the game world's economy", and I'm sure that's the intent with these clans, but whether or not that's something they actually do is something that's up for debate. I'm trying to think of two open, active clans that both want a resource that isn't abundant enough for both of them to have it, and I'm drawing a blank.
That is because the traditional competitors have been removed (Tuluk.) Templars don't really have an organic reason to compete because they aspire to different Ministries -- competition is therefore built on personality conflict rather than natural conflict.

There's very little to naturally have conflict about, in the game as it stands.

Maybe it's time to close Allanak and focus on the Outpost as it seems that the recent staff led plot could be something big. But then again, world changing plots shouldn't happen often and they should linger for many RL years. We just need to rethink how things are done.

Or we are just on this part of the hate cycle.

ETA: That didn't make sense, didn't it?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 06:46:19 PM by Barsook »

Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2020, 07:39:58 PM »
That's what people are disputing, Hauwke, whether these deeply entrenched coded clans actually have that kind of impact on the world. I haven't been playing for very long, so I can't really say whether they do or not. But from what I've seen, there really isn't a meaningful scarcity of resources, or overlaps in spheres of influence that could potentially drive conflict. You can say "they shape the game world's economy", and I'm sure that's the intent with these clans, but whether or not that's something they actually do is something that's up for debate. I'm trying to think of two open, active clans that both want a resource that isn't abundant enough for both of them to have it, and I'm drawing a blank.
That is because the traditional competitors have been removed (Tuluk.) Templars don't really have an organic reason to compete because they aspire to different Ministries -- competition is therefore built on personality conflict rather than natural conflict.

There's very little to naturally have conflict about, in the game as it stands.

I don't have the attention span at present to read this whole thread but I like a lot of Numbers ideas.

Also this stood out to me, because there's a huge difference between Templars competing with one another which is totally normal, and there being no other city-state to try to bring down so focusing ALL of your frustration at your fellow templars and nobility.  I feel like the game is... bear with me on this analogy...

... a sauce, that has been reduced.  Yes, now it's more concentrated but it's gone from a sweet juice, that's been reduced down so that it's too bitter and the servings get a bit much a bit quickly.  Something has been lost by reducing the game to one city-state.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 07:49:29 PM by Bebop »

Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2020, 07:44:57 PM »
Also, wanted to specify upon thinking about this further and how this could come across this is not in relation to the recent RPT.  I love that shit is getting smashed up and turned around.  I love that staff are giving us stuff to do during quarantine. This is not about RPTs or any one person or event so much as a discussion on how to improve gameplay and foster PC interaction instead of having gameplay that encourages clan and player isolation and hoarding with no consequence and without needing RPTs to get sections of the game to cross over.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 07:56:45 PM by Bebop »

Barsook

  • Posts: 8125
    • The Sense of Openness
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2020, 08:21:52 PM »
Maybe we need to really focus on player created micro conflicts rather than the macro staff led world changing conflicts? It's something that I noticed playing my current character is I don't really care up to the Luir's plot for the big stuff, just the character development of mine and the impact that my character was creating.

Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2020, 08:54:56 PM »
I would add this to my original post but then people might miss it:

Some great examples of social clans that encourage interaction with others:

Encourages Interaction:

The Byn
The Luir's GMH dynamic
Merchants of the GMH
Tribes encouraged to sell and trade

Less Interaction:

Tribes far out and away from others
Magickers, especially gemmed
Southern hierarchy
GMH leaders who no longer need sales

Say what you will about things being "fluffy" in the north but at least there were clans that would take non-humans and encourage interaction between races an those with different socio-economic status.  Nobles didn't just have aides to serve them they were expected to patronize the culture and arts.  This helped them to use commoner PCs to outdo the others.  In some ways they were less subtle with under cutting each other than the south has become.  The non-humans were still relegated to their own Circle but they were allowed to be there.

I'm not saying Tuluk is the perfect example of encouraging player interaction, it wasn't.  There was a reason it didn't seem very "on-theme" at times.

The ironic part to me too, is that we reward players that have a good track record with leadership roles, desert elves or magicker karma... but these roles effectively largely isolate them from a good chunk of the player base.

This is where I'm saying we need to work on building a bridge between the game lore that detracts from playing and interaction.  I have a theory that when there are less opportunities for deeper interaction and conflict, shallow inner conflicts arise where they shouldn't and they do so prolifically.  It makes the pool feel shallow even when it's not because you have players so relegated to their respective niche.

Ultimately, it seems when this happens exceptions to the lore begin to arise with frequency and the meta starts to reward players for isolating, staying out of trouble, keeping to themselves and ultimately NOT creating conflict that keeps things interesting.  Sometimes players evade conflict so strongly that it begins to bend the guidelines set by the lore where their should be prejudices that cease to exist.

Then, it becomes increasingly important for staff to manifest as the game world and render plots as a distraction.

That's where I see an issue.

How can we reward player driven contact and interaction?  How can we change the gameplay to reflect that playability level?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 09:04:20 PM by Bebop »

number13

  • Posts: 1108
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2020, 09:10:00 PM »
>The ironic part to me too, is that we reward players that have a good track record with leadership roles, desert elves or magicker karma... but these roles effectively largely isolate them from a good chunk of the player base.

That is a fucking great point, that somehow never occurred to me before. Karma takes our best players and dumps them into a cave.

I deleted a long winded post that veered too far off the topic at hand, and just enumerated all the stuff I'd change if I could. The truth is, I'm unlikely to play again, at least in the near future, so it's largely feckless complaining anyway.

As Bebop originally posted, I would be cool if there was a way to reward players for generating 'good' plots. And I wish there was a way to get into the game without having to grind up yet another character for the x100th time in a row. Combining the two ideas, perhaps there should a system where meaningful kudos (both from players and staff) convert into points that can be spent on your next character to give them automatic (and significant) skill bumps, so long as the character is either mundane or touched.

To forestall circle jerks, maybe only staff kudos should apply, but player kudos are taken as a suggestion? I don't know. There could be players who just don't get their fair share of attention. There could be some wildly differing opinions on what constitutes a character that's creating good content for the rest of the player base.

....

Aside from all that, reiterating from my previous post, my continuing, decade-long belief that certain types of non-mundane abilities are bad for plots. In particular, psions, certain types of whirans, and old-school drovians (and new school drovians? I don't know) have often killed my fun, and very rarely provided any content that I would consider interesting.

That's not the fault of the players behind those characters. It's the design of problematic abilities. There's ways to fix it. For example, certain traditionally long range abilities could require that a character is in the same room or an adjacent room. Invisibility could suck a whole lot more -- with a much shorter timer. Stuff like that.

...

And a final (hopefully pertinent) thought, considering how hard it is to find interaction in the game at times, we should be looking at loosening restrictions on certain types of characters interacting with others. Why can't there be elven aides, dwarven militia soldiers, or gemmed Byn mercs? From a game play perspective, only the gemmed taking mundane roles is problematic. That could be fixed with some balance work.

Maybe a trade off of taking a gem is your spells are far weaker, but as a bonus, you get to join mundane Allanaki based organizations?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 09:15:18 PM by number13 »

tapas

  • Posts: 385
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2020, 11:49:36 PM »
Removed because, as it turns out, snark and flaming is pretty pointless to a discussion.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 11:06:52 AM by Shabago »

Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2020, 11:54:08 PM »


Wait what?  Let's be nice to each other please and assume the best intentions.  Let's remember Draugr's post and all that.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 11:07:37 AM by Shabago »

Lizzie

  • Posts: 8191
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2020, 11:58:14 PM »
I'm having trouble understanding this perception. Karma players are rewarded by being "dumped" into a cave with their karma options? No one is telling them they should use the options they're given. These are opportunities for them to incorporate into their roleplay, whether they choose to make use of them or not.

If it isolates them, then it's because that's how they've chosen to play the role. I've played mostly social characters. Even when I played a pretty hard-core maxed out ungemmed whiran who never set foot in any city ever, I still had plenty of interaction with other rogue mages. It was absolutely a social game, in addition to being a coded game.

When I played a defiler, the defiler part was hidden. As far as I know, no one in the game actually ever knew my character was a mage at all. And if they did, she lived a long time in social interactions before she was killed off for political reasons, so it appears it didn't have any impact on my roleplay of her.

Indies can form groups, and often do. It's recommended that new players NOT choose to go the indie route, precisely so they have an opportunity to learn the social roleplay aspect of this game's theme and genre. Some players come in and choose to ignore that advice, and get upset when their lack of understanding and attempt to learn, bites them in the butt in short order. It's not that they "have to conform" but rather -they need to know which social conformities they are choosing to go against, so they can make intelligent decisions that will lead them to fun rather than frustration.

Things like - not bowing to a templar AND saying "I don't bow to anyone but my god" when the templar orders them to bow. If the *player* doesn't understand how profoundly wrong that is in the theme of the game, then of course they're going to be upset when the soldier drags them off to jail, and of course they're going to get upset when their character is ganked by the NPCs because he fled away from being subdued. But if they go into this knowingly, and intentionally disrespect a templar, then they can have fun being the renegade, and accept that their character might die, and there won't be any "upset" to get.
Talia said: Notice to all: Do not mess with Lizzie's GDB. She will cut you.
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Bebop

  • Posts: 4104
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2020, 12:40:38 AM »
I'm having trouble understanding this perception. Karma players are rewarded by being "dumped" into a cave with their karma options? No one is telling them they should use the options they're given. These are opportunities for them to incorporate into their roleplay, whether they choose to make use of them or not.

If it isolates them, then it's because that's how they've chosen to play the role. I've played mostly social characters. Even when I played a pretty hard-core maxed out ungemmed whiran who never set foot in any city ever, I still had plenty of interaction with other rogue mages. It was absolutely a social game, in addition to being a coded game.

When I played a defiler, the defiler part was hidden. As far as I know, no one in the game actually ever knew my character was a mage at all. And if they did, she lived a long time in social interactions before she was killed off for political reasons, so it appears it didn't have any impact on my roleplay of her.

Indies can form groups, and often do. It's recommended that new players NOT choose to go the indie route, precisely so they have an opportunity to learn the social roleplay aspect of this game's theme and genre. Some players come in and choose to ignore that advice, and get upset when their lack of understanding and attempt to learn, bites them in the butt in short order. It's not that they "have to conform" but rather -they need to know which social conformities they are choosing to go against, so they can make intelligent decisions that will lead them to fun rather than frustration.

Things like - not bowing to a templar AND saying "I don't bow to anyone but my god" when the templar orders them to bow. If the *player* doesn't understand how profoundly wrong that is in the theme of the game, then of course they're going to be upset when the soldier drags them off to jail, and of course they're going to get upset when their character is ganked by the NPCs because he fled away from being subdued. But if they go into this knowingly, and intentionally disrespect a templar, then they can have fun being the renegade, and accept that their character might die, and there won't be any "upset" to get.

No one is saying magickers have to go in a cave, or that nobles have to stay in their estates or breeds have to go live on a dung heap (heh, heh.)  What I'm saying is I'd like to see a meta that rewards players for roleplaying, putting themselves out there and I'd like to see more world building that encourages world interaction between clans and player driven friction --- especially since we're down to one city state.

Right now we have a meta that encourages clans to 1) isolate from one another 2) rewards safe play, undermining the prejudice and conflict the game needs to thrive without constant staff involvement.

I'm not saying the game is in an absolutely terrible state.  It's definitely not.  But I do think this is an area we could improve.  I don't want to see less conflict or prejudice, I want to see more of it.  But some how we need a meta that makes those paths cross.  Somehow, and again I don't have all of the answers, I want to see players rewarded for keeping prejudices, starting conflicts but also I want there to be less inherent isolation.

Also, as it happens karma, trusted roles do often inherently have a bit of isolation built into them.  Nobles have social restrictions, as do gemmed, muls, magickers, etc.  Restrictions I think we need to keep.  But as I posted above, the meta is encouraging a low level of risk and high insulation.  I feel like in part the conflict between the two city states would have people seeking out allies on one side of the fence or by sitting on it.  We don't have that now world wide.

With Tuluk around you knew to some degree you had to get out of your hole and start working it because at some point one side was probably coming for the other, and they'd be using the Post in the middle as access to get at each other.  There were a lot more opportunities to bring the game world into the fold.

I feel like I'm repeating myself but it's like how do we keep the prejudice and potential for conflict without creating these niche little worlds withheld from the public at large.  I think with Tuluk gone that's more of an important topic than ever.  I don't want to re-emphasize what I've already posted but yeah.  I'm not sure your response really addresses what I'm talking about here.

How do we reward players for taking risks and fostering interaction between clans and story lines?

This is what I'm saying... if you're playing a gemmed or undesirable and people aren't isolating you to some degree the world is failing you because the docs make it clear about where these groups stand.  But... on the other end of the spectrum, because safe play is increasingly rewarded with longevity, coins and accolades you have people ignoring prejudices so that they don't become a target.  So we have a game world encouraging prejudice but a meta that doesn't do much to encourage that.

To me, that's something wrong with the meta when people can not interact, and can not engage with player driven conflict without death or exclusion that should be reserved for actual undesirables.  It's creating a meta where instead of staff flavoring the game with their plots, PCs are desperately reliant on staff run plots because it's difficult to jump start player created conflict.  Over the past two years I've seen this obstacle again and again.

Tuluk being gone is a huge loss to player run conflict.  Then you take the fact that you've created got a ton of niche groups with their own locations and social norms peppered throughout the game.  Now, with no other city you've made a lot of factions super insular.  When a group has to look internal instead of external for conflict, you're going to get a very shallow story line and people killing each other over petty reasons.  This is going to reinforce the idea that player conflict is unwise if you want to keep your character, and the longevity of characters that take few risks, or don't uphold prejudices further lends itself to the idea that the current meta is play it cool, engage in staff ran plots, just try to get along with everyone.  That is counter to the game lore.

We need factions to better overlay.  We need built in motivations for PCs to engage with the rules that don't involve isolating away from each other and playing it safe.  And part of that playing it safe comes with the pendulum swinging the other way.  Being safe means allowing absolutely NO conflict that would permit any risk.  Meaning, again petty PKs and shallow plots arise over and over because PCs are forced to look inward to their clans or to the same few meager places to get it and have been trained to not tolerate any modicum of threat or insult no matter how petty or small.

I'm by no means saying the game is shit right now, it's not.  I love, love, love some of the changes taking place.  But if Tuluk is gone we need something to take it's place.  Some kind of dynamic, or place or we need it to reopen newer and better than before.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2020, 12:43:24 AM by Bebop »

number13

  • Posts: 1108
Re: Playability vs Gameplay
« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2020, 01:12:06 AM »
You don't need a second city state for conflict. There's Rinth vs Allanak, GMH vs GMH, rebel ginkers vs. everybody.

What you need for conflict is conflicting interests and a means of interaction.  Probably not what you want to hear, but given how low the actual player counts are (players actually playing, versus people just idling on their mortal PCs) we're back to the situation as it was at the dawn of the MUD, where you really had to work super hard to find anyone to even talk to. Expanding out that play area to a second city state compounds that problem.

It's demotivating. I know [place I was last in] is a ghost town with few players. I don't know where (if anywhere) make a character that could actually end up with buddies to hang with and enemies to fight. Where would I go to do that? The fact that I don't know is a problem. A second city state would exacerbate that problem.

The player base needs to be concentrated, not spread out. It could be facilitated by maybe drawing up two warring sides, and telling players, "If you want in on the fun, go to this area and join one of these two factions. If you want to be on the sidelines doing your own thing, be elsewhere."

One of the nice things about the old end of the world plots is I could just type into my background, "Has heard of [big threat] and wants to join in." I mean, it helped that we could hit 90 on peak, so no matter where you were, there were probably going to be some PCs.

Right now, I have no fucking clue where I would go to get in on whatever stuff is maybe (or maybe not) happening. I guess Luirs? The answer, sadly, is going to be 'find out IC', which in 2020, is a pretty weak answer.