Tucci78 on June 01, 2012, 08:17:44 pm
I used to be a game designer, until I took an arrow in the knee . . .

Bah. The only part of the human anatomy that might be injured sufficiently to prevent a game designer from functioning is der Sitzplatz.  Ditto for developers.  

Now, a playtester with a knee injury might be occupationally disabled.  We used those gremlins to fetch pizza and the large-volume caffeinated sugary soft drinks now subject to prohibition under the regime of Mayor Bloomberg.  

(I foresee "Cola-runners" leaping the Hudson from North Jersey, bearing bladder-busting plastic buckets full of Mountain Dew to thirsty good old boys in Manhattan in defiance of yet another "progressive" effort to foreclose the exercise of human nature.)
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

myrkul999 on June 01, 2012, 10:53:49 pm
I used to be a game designer, until I took an arrow in the knee . . .

Bah. The only part of the human anatomy that might be injured sufficiently to prevent a game designer from functioning is der Sitzplatz.  Ditto for developers.  

Methinks the joke missed.

In gaming terms, they're throw-away NPCs, we're not likely to see them much again, and they're there specifically to make that mistake to advance the story. Rather like the fact that nobody much cares what calibre bullet it was that hit Archduke Ferdinand.

Ah, now there speaks an individual who has experience neither of creating works of speculative fiction for sale nor the design and development of a commercial role-playing game. 

Ain't no such thing as "throw-away NPCs" whose roles are to provide key plot points when you're putting a product on the market to sell among critical, voluble, demanding wargamers, SF fen, and other discerning consumers.

Well, I was thinking more along the lines of a tabletop RPG, where the standards are a little more lax. There, there is such a thing as a "throw-away NPC", though the players have the somewhat annoying tendency to turn them into major plot hooks. I read recently about a messenger who was just supposed to hand the players a message and then disappear, but ended up becoming the subject of an entire session of investigation. Minor characters who show up for one scene are pretty common in all sorts of fiction, though in this case, if they show up later for a more involved role, I'd be happy.

Tucci78 on June 01, 2012, 11:36:25 pm
In gaming terms, they're throw-away NPCs, we're not likely to see them much again, and they're there specifically to make that mistake to advance the story. Rather like the fact that nobody much cares what calibre bullet it was that hit Archduke Ferdinand.

Ah, now there speaks an individual who has experience neither of creating works of speculative fiction for sale nor the design and development of a commercial role-playing game. 

Ain't no such thing as "throw-away NPCs" whose roles are to provide key plot points when you're putting a product on the market to sell among critical, voluble, demanding wargamers, SF fen, and other discerning consumers.

Well, I was thinking more along the lines of a tabletop RPG, where the standards are a little more lax. There, there is such a thing as a "throw-away NPC", though the players have the somewhat annoying tendency to turn them into major plot hooks. I read recently about a messenger who was just supposed to hand the players a message and then disappear, but ended up becoming the subject of an entire session of investigation. Minor characters who show up for one scene are pretty common in all sorts of fiction, though in this case, if they show up later for a more involved role, I'd be happy.

Yeah? Well, I was thinking precisely "along the lines of a tabletop RPG," where "the standards are a little more lax" only among bloody incompetent designers and developers whose output fails to sell because the reviewers hate it and players refuse to waste time or money on it.

If your consumers are gamers who "have the somewhat annoying tendency to turn them [your so-called 'throw-away NPC' spear-carriers] into major plot hooks," consider that it's because your imaginative and intelligent customers are a boatload smarter than you are as a game designer and developer.  You're simply not bothering to meet (or capable of meeting?) their entertainment demands.

I liken the growth-beyond-intention of these bit-player characters (in both fiction and role playing games) to the "Yngvi is a louse!" phenomenon resulting from the publication of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's original Enchanter novella, "The Roaring Trumpet" (1940). 

It was a completely "throw-away" bit of background, and yet for decades afterwards, SF&F fen have merrily speculated on just who the hell Yngvi was supposed to have been, and why he so thoroughly pissed off that psychotic dungeon dweller.

Anybody reading here sufficiently literate to have any idea of how much fun has been had by stefnal types fiddling with possible "Yngvi" back story over the past seventy-odd years?
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

myrkul999 on June 01, 2012, 11:57:54 pm
Yeah? Well, I was thinking precisely "along the lines of a tabletop RPG," where "the standards are a little more lax" only among bloody incompetent designers and developers whose output fails to sell because the reviewers hate it and players refuse to waste time or money on it.

Well, not everyone gets paid for writing their adventures. Some of us have to squeeze in prep in between work, sleep, and changing diapers. For those of us unlucky enough to have to write adventures pro bono, writing a six-page backstory for every messenger boy, fruitseller, and cutpurse is a fond dream, but one that is not often realized.

Please stop wasting invective on a humble GM, when you are meaning it for the designers.

Tucci78 on June 02, 2012, 12:11:28 am
Yeah? Well, I was thinking precisely "along the lines of a tabletop RPG," where "the standards are a little more lax" only among bloody incompetent designers and developers whose output fails to sell because the reviewers hate it and players refuse to waste time or money on it.

Well, not everyone gets paid for writing their adventures. Some of us have to squeeze in prep in between work, sleep, and changing diapers. For those of us unlucky enough to have to write adventures pro bono, writing a six-page backstory for every messenger boy, fruitseller, and cutpurse is a fond dream, but one that is not often realized.

Please stop wasting invective on a humble GM, when you are meaning it for the designers.

Yeah, I began to get the suspicion that I was dealing with a mere moderator - a "dungeon master" - rather than one of us grognard types who've done this stuff for profit. 

Moderators are, at best, the designers of scenarios to be explored by way of role playing game systems.  Professionals, however, during the 1970s and '80s heyday of tabletop gaming, commonly assembled complete and self-contained playable situations (not uncommonly called "quests" on the fantasy side, where most of the suckers were found, er, profit potential could be secured), and of those producers comparatively very high standards were expected. 

I'm thinking about how you've got to make your nut on this game to have the money needed to develop and publish your next one, and you're thinking about how to get the dining room table clear of stuff so you and your buddies can get in a session of Empires of the Middle Ages or some such other communal virtual bloodbath on a convenient Sunday afternoon.

Sorry.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 12:21:48 am by Tucci78 »
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

myrkul999 on June 02, 2012, 12:28:03 am
Sorry.

It's all good. I probably should have clarified that from the beginning.

You're right, though, in a published setting, I love seeing the detailed NPC descriptions, with the life story summary, and the "how to play" section. It's stuff like that that makes the product come alive. And believe me, if I had the time, I would detail every NPC to the same level, but often, I just have the time to pick a stand-out trait ("Walks with a limp from a war-wound", or "Speaks with a limp") and run with that to make the NPC memorable. It's the old joke, "Oh, he's got a name... must be important!".

Tucci78 on June 02, 2012, 12:38:43 am
I love seeing the detailed NPC descriptions, with the life story summary, and the "how to play" section. It's stuff like that that makes the product come alive. And believe me, if I had the time, I would detail every NPC to the same level, but often, I just have the time to pick a stand-out trait ("Walks with a limp from a war-wound", or "Speaks with a limp") and run with that to make the NPC memorable. It's the old joke, "Oh, he's got a name... must be important!".

Well, personally, I used to enjoy providing holographic background sketches for non-player characters as outré as possible.

F'rinstance: "Walks with a limp owing to having leaped from the third floor window of a peg-house in Aleppo, being pursued by five outraged catamites and an armed guard named Hassan.  Still very much attracted by Cub Scouts."
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

myrkul999 on June 02, 2012, 12:49:07 am
I love seeing the detailed NPC descriptions, with the life story summary, and the "how to play" section. It's stuff like that that makes the product come alive. And believe me, if I had the time, I would detail every NPC to the same level, but often, I just have the time to pick a stand-out trait ("Walks with a limp from a war-wound", or "Speaks with a limp") and run with that to make the NPC memorable. It's the old joke, "Oh, he's got a name... must be important!".

Well, personally, I used to enjoy providing holographic background sketches for non-player characters as outré as possible.

F'rinstance: "Walks with a limp owing to having leaped from the third floor window of a peg-house in Aleppo, being pursued by five outraged catamites and an armed guard named Hassan.  Still very much attracted by Cub Scouts."

This got a literal LOL. I'm giggling still, writing this. If you have a list of projects you've worked on, I'd be interested in seeing it.

Also, I just now realized I wrote "Speaks with a limp" up there... it's supposed to be lisp. Dur.

ContraryGuy on June 02, 2012, 01:01:31 am
The attempt to ban magnesium is, I assume, a parody of the equally ludicrous real life movement to ban chlorine.

Another parody of the real life chlorine movement is the movement to ban dihydrogen oxide.

Can somebody pass me a link to the attempt to ban chlorine in water?  I need a good laugh.

Dont knock the Campus Crusade to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide!

Regardless of scientific formulae, if youre going to mention a movement, you should at least get the name right.

Also, just so you know, my Amazon.com water is prohibited from being transported on airplanes.

Maybe because of the bright international hazard orange caution sticker on it that says: CAUTION: DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE DELIVERY UNIT.

Or maybe not.

Tucci78 on June 02, 2012, 01:08:43 am
I just now realized I wrote "Speaks with a limp" up there... it's supposed to be lisp. Dur.

That was a typo?  Nonsense.  I thought "Speaks with a limp" was bloody eloquent. There are speech impediments such an expression covers which could only be defined otherwise in terms out of Dorland's.

Most of the stuff on which I'd worked thirty and forty years ago is way to hellangone out of print (goddam "collectable," in fact).  Succumbed to recycling by now. 

I was not involved in anything produced by those sons of bitches in Lake Geneva, being by formal engagement much more an adherent of SPI in the days before the TSR clowns swept in and destroyed all good will (along with most of the market value of the company) by voiding the lifetime subscriber agreements for Strategy & Tactics and Moves magazines.

And, besides, I came early on to prefer the character generation and conflict resolution systems Steve Jackson and his people cooked up for Tunnels & TrollsMuch easier path by way of which neofen could be introduced.

Y'see, I knew Gygax and Arneson when their company was nothing more than an outfit that published rules for "toy soldier" tabletop military games, from the medieval and smoothbore musket eras through World War II tank battles.  "TSR," after all, stood for "Tactical Studies Rules."  They ran in the gaming world along that track which tended to sacrifice playability for "toy soldier" faux-"authenticity" that those of us used to playing on either checkerboarded or hex-gridded maps (Avalon Hill, Simulations Publications, Inc., Game Designers' Workshop, etc.) simply would not tolerate.

TSR got the market share, but I'll never concede that they managed it by turning out a genuinely more elegant, workable, or entertaining product mix, particularly after the lawyers elbowed first Dave Arneson and then Gary Gygax out of the company. 
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

ContraryGuy on June 02, 2012, 01:09:28 am
How is an oligopoly different from an oligarchy? This is the first time I encounter the former term...

Ok, Ok, maybe I use the wrong oligo+suffix, so sue me; it late.  Yes, I probably meant oligarchy.

How is any AnCap society that is larger than the population of Jacksons Hole, Wyoming (In January) any different from oligarchy?

One of the biggest criticisms of AnCap is that it  cannot support its own society in large populations.  New York City, as a whole cannot be AnCap, only its constituent neighborhoods and boroughs can be.

ContraryGuy on June 02, 2012, 01:21:31 am
Well, I could rationalize on several levels, but let's just put it down to "willful suspension of disbelief." If these business had thought of that solution, where would the dramatic tension come from? Fiction needs conflict. So if it is conceivable that these guys were clueless, I have met my obligation as a writer. The focus is not on them, it is on the threat created by the Masscons.

In gaming terms, they're throw-away NPCs, we're not likely to see them much again, and they're there specifically to make that mistake to advance the story. Rather like the fact that nobody much cares what calibre bullet it was that hit Archduke Ferdinand.

Ah, now there speaks an individual who has experience neither of creating works of speculative fiction for sale nor the design and development of a commercial role-playing game. 

Ain't no such thing as "throw-away NPCs" whose roles are to provide key plot points when you're putting a product on the market to sell among critical, voluble, demanding wargamers, SF fen, and other discerning consumers.

These inventions require in their creation and use the application of ingenuity and quality standards which mesh seamlessly with the effort invested in focus characters and their actions. This scrupulous adherence to best practices is required in order to maintain both general entertainment value and that willing suspension of disbelief which is the consumer's contribution to the bargain between storyteller and audience.

Besides, it not uncommonly results in the serendipitous development of characters you can really use to much greater effect later. 

What fiction writer hasn't had that kind of delightful experience?

Unfortunately, you have committed that most grievous of lay-errors:  you falsely reasoned that RPG meant "video game".  RPG means "that time-wasting hobby of table-top, in-person pencils paper and imagination activity which only nerds, dorks, geeks and Hollywood celebrities engage in".

aka Role-Playing Game.

Its ok, you werent supposed to know.  Its apparently above your pay grade.  Friend Computer says: Have a Happy Day-cycle, Citizen!

Fnord.

ContraryGuy on June 02, 2012, 01:23:44 am
I used to be a game designer, until I took an arrow in the knee . . .

Bah. The only part of the human anatomy that might be injured sufficiently to prevent a game designer from functioning is der Sitzplatz.  Ditto for developers.  

Methinks the joke missed.

In gaming terms, they're throw-away NPCs, we're not likely to see them much again, and they're there specifically to make that mistake to advance the story. Rather like the fact that nobody much cares what calibre bullet it was that hit Archduke Ferdinand.

Ah, now there speaks an individual who has experience neither of creating works of speculative fiction for sale nor the design and development of a commercial role-playing game. 

Ain't no such thing as "throw-away NPCs" whose roles are to provide key plot points when you're putting a product on the market to sell among critical, voluble, demanding wargamers, SF fen, and other discerning consumers.

Well, I was thinking more along the lines of a tabletop RPG, where the standards are a little more lax. There, there is such a thing as a "throw-away NPC", though the players have the somewhat annoying tendency to turn them into major plot hooks. I read recently about a messenger who was just supposed to hand the players a message and then disappear, but ended up becoming the subject of an entire session of investigation. Minor characters who show up for one scene are pretty common in all sorts of fiction, though in this case, if they show up later for a more involved role, I'd be happy.

Its OK.  Tucci never has had a sense of humor.  And apparently doesnt get out enough to absorb pop culture.

ContraryGuy on June 02, 2012, 01:28:52 am
I used to be a game designer, until I took an arrow in the knee . . .

Bah. The only part of the human anatomy that might be injured sufficiently to prevent a game designer from functioning is der Sitzplatz.  Ditto for developers.  

Methinks the joke missed.

In gaming terms, they're throw-away NPCs, we're not likely to see them much again, and they're there specifically to make that mistake to advance the story. Rather like the fact that nobody much cares what calibre bullet it was that hit Archduke Ferdinand.

Ah, now there speaks an individual who has experience neither of creating works of speculative fiction for sale nor the design and development of a commercial role-playing game. 

Ain't no such thing as "throw-away NPCs" whose roles are to provide key plot points when you're putting a product on the market to sell among critical, voluble, demanding wargamers, SF fen, and other discerning consumers.

Well, I was thinking more along the lines of a tabletop RPG, where the standards are a little more lax. There, there is such a thing as a "throw-away NPC", though the players have the somewhat annoying tendency to turn them into major plot hooks. I read recently about a messenger who was just supposed to hand the players a message and then disappear, but ended up becoming the subject of an entire session of investigation. Minor characters who show up for one scene are pretty common in all sorts of fiction, though in this case, if they show up later for a more involved role, I'd be happy.

Its OK.  Tucci never has had a sense of humor.  And apparently doesnt get out enough to absorb pop culture.

After reading the rest of the thread, it appears I was wrong about Tucci.

But, Tucci shouldnt be putting us "mere moderators" down.  If it werent for "mere" people buying his product, he'd be flipping burgers with the rest of us.

Tucci78 on June 02, 2012, 01:33:51 am
How is an oligopoly different from an oligarchy? This is the first time I encounter the former term...

Ok, Ok, maybe I use the wrong oligo+suffix, so sue me; it late.  Yes, I probably meant oligarchy.

How is any AnCap society that is larger than the population of Jacksons Hole, Wyoming (In January) any different from oligarchy?

One of the biggest criticisms of AnCap is that it  cannot support its own society in large populations.  New York City, as a whole cannot be AnCap, only its constituent neighborhoods and boroughs can be.

I don't think that either of you guys are getting it.

An oligopoly can develop in a completely free market - one which is not subject to the normative interventions of politicians or bureaucrats thuggishly intent upon ostensible "fairness" - if entry costs in that market segment are by nature necessarily very high or sources of materials are (even for a brief number of years) so limited that only a few market actors can reliably command access thereunto.

Another circumstance in which oligopoly obtains can be in situations were one producer (a monopoly) or a few producers (an oligopoly) are so goddam efficient in their production and marketing methods that the capital investment costs of getting into competition with them are not not possible to recoup by a new entrant. 

Think of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and the provision of ingot aluminum for many decades.  They held their own bauxite mines, their own fleet of oceangoing ore carriers, their own refineries, and they delivered satisfactory quality and quantity at good prices to their customers.  Every damned time somebody else tried to horn in on Alcoa's dominant market position, the directors and management simply dropped their prices because that was the competitive strategy least costly for Alcoa. 

Government goons breaking that "monopoly" did nothing more than to screw the customers by raising world prices for ingot aluminum. 

An oligarchy, by contrast, involves the sovereign power of government - the agency in civil society delegated the exercise of the "breaking things and killing people" police powers - in the hands of a set small number of people who cohere to exclude other citizens from even nominal participation in the political process.

In this regard, we're not talking "market share" but the mechanism of administering lethal force under the color of law.  Oligarchy is therefore a bunchaton different from oligopoly, and anybody who can't appreciate the difference is invited to consider a real estate property I've got along the East River in the city of New York, a structure historic in character, robust in physical plant, traversed by millions of vehicles and pedestrians every day, and therefore ripe for exploitation as a source of tolls.

I mean, who wouldn't pay good money to get the hell out of Brooklyn?
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

 

anything