Tuesday, June 29, 2010

GURPS High Tech G3 vs M14

In GURPS high tech, the m14 is JUST as good as the FN fall and better than the G3 at less than half the price. A battle rifle at $600!? Its not by some MIRACLE the M14 is less than half the cost difference. In fact going to gun sites the M1A IS $600 (the civilian, and semi-auto, version of the M14).

Roughly, from what I can find around the price is roughly $1,600 for the M1A. Extrapolating Gurps rules x 1.25 to get the value of Military Version.

My attention is drawn because I favor the G3 as a battle rifle. Quick scans anecdotal reviews come up the same. Strangely, the weight is glaring

G3 vs M14
Dmg 23 vs 24
Range 800/3750 vs 1000/4000
RoF 10 vs 12
Wt. 11.4/1.7 vs 10.9 / 1.6
Cost $1500/$35 vs $600/$31

In the wiki and gun sites
the G3
Wt. 9.7lbs
Note: clearly the 11.4 is 9.7+1.7. So they forgot to subtract the magazine weight.

the M14
Cost $2,000

If the Price of the m14 vs the FAl and the G3 were true then they would be the most common battle rifle around the world. Especially in poorer countries!

I agree with the damage since the G3 does have 17" barrel vs the m14's 20" a 1pt difference, which in gurps is exponential.

Having cleared this matter up. in a International Campaign, the G3 is the cheapest but lowest performing rifle among the stats I cannot verify for myself. Anyway 2,000-1500 sounds about right for battle rifle costs.

After had the chance to compare GURPS and Mongoose traveller, I like they graininess and detail of GURPS more. I can put in analogs of Modern rifles easily into the setting.

Injecting a little future-"realism" I can also make some of the battle rifles in bullpup constructions. Removing the stock from the full length is a BIG advantage when firing from cover. I should be applying half bulk penalty for weapons firing from tight cover in seconds or to hit. There is also the problem of left hand or right hand cover, which complicates the matter. Maybe a simple and fast way to adjudicate this is having to roll "cover traits" instantly and mark it in a post it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Boring Skills and what they are Good for; Player Skills

From the perspective of adventurers, livelihood skills are boring. Administration, Organization, Diplomacy and Management have a back seat to subsistence and productivity skills in lower tech environments.

Merchants is a very fine example of how value has changed over time. Eastern and Western culture agree that they lie outside the social order. As technology advanced and society progressed the Merchant or Businessman has become a pillar of modern society.

Today, Diplomats, Organizers, Diplomats, Researchers, IT, Management, Sales, Bureaucrats etc. are the modern armies of wars and conflicts that allow the losers to try again and again without fear of losing their life. Economic superiority is conflict that allows everyone to play and go home with their hides intact to try again.

Every modern livelihood or professional skill can be converted to very liquid cash. The better people are in these skills the more resources they can garner relative to time spent. Cash that can be used to make them more effective: either by investing on training equipment and supervision (which most people do for careers), professional equipment, and most importantly freeing up Time.

A character can have a "boring" skills, but if he is a top level manager, broker, investor, etc who only need to do 20hours or better very flexible hours he can Min-max the use of his or her time.

Player Skills.
My GM is planning to run Traveler and i'm just planning to play a pregen. I'm tired min-maxing and being asked to min-max for other people. Anyway, a real personal challenge for me is min maxing using the character given to me with my own skills. Old school gaming asks a lot for the players, so much more that the Player's skills become a necessary part. Critical thinking and Problem Solving skills ARE skill after all.

It is strange how they can be taken for granted. Min-maxing should always be a low-profile artform, its just like Magic tricks, once people know how its done regardless of how much work it requires they will take it for granted and devalue it. Preventing this kind of Irrationality, goes into the art of real-world munchkining.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Realistic Encounters Duration

its been staring me right at the face the whole time. Human endurance works in a range band because it factors in the group and the weakest brings down the strongest in averages. As it is both important for my games, and airsoft I realized that this rule of thumb is pretty handy.

Mental and Physical Endurance Peeks in a 4 hour duration. Unlike the movies and in fiction, realistically even human will-power has limits and function in economies (according to Emotional Intelligence).

In very difficult tasks, Mental exhaustion is much a part of physical exhaustion because the reserve needed to push the body to its limits requires concentration and an effort of will.

Remembering the 4 hour rule comes in handy when planning for days resources. Knowing the average performance of everyone else, lets the players or the GM prepare according to the 4 hour rule.

Consider it a deadline, because after this point energy and concentration will have diminished significantly there is significant diminishing returns with certain continuous action.

Fatigue is more a Mental burden than a physical one, even if the body is rested. Pain, Will, Reciprocity, diet and contagious morale all affect the disposition of consciousness int he course of the day.

With the 4 hour rule, use it to prepare for optimum firefight activity for the opponents and not just the PCs. PCs basically try to use these hours more efficiently than their enemies, getting more done and gaining the most cost efficient strategic advantage in the course of the day.

In extreme discomfort or temperatures: cold or heat half this duration.

In airsoft, this means I pack as much gear as i would be able to use in 4 hours even if the event is supposed to be "whole day". If it is several days, I pack for 2x the 4 hour measure. The standard helps prevent over-packing or being under-equipped.

In your more realistic combat scenarios use this as mark for emerging mental fatigue that requires Sleep or its psychological equivalent.

The 4 hour rule works with most people. People with specially conditioned sleeping habits may ignore it. These are people who can reach a deep sleep in a few minutes and achieve what others would normally need 8 hours for mental replenishment. In GURPS this is less sleep advantage, meditation, deep sleep perk, etc. in real life, for normal people its part of soldier conditioning and sometimes found in efficiency geeks.

the use of sugar, caffeine, taurine (in sports drinks), nicotine, alchohol, over-the-counter medication regarding its affects to the observer and the people they know is an interesting source of information regarding performance efficiency.

We all have different metabolism, neurochemistry, and conditioning. there are drugs and conveniences like coffee that allow us to compensate for some pretty common disadvantageous dispositions. First hand experimentation in Min-maxing concentration and work performance by optimizing habits along with chemical augmentation is a very useful source of information about one's self and first hand awareness of mental limits and economies.

The level of self awareness and effort in personal management are natural outlet to apply Gamer Min-maxing and problem solving skills.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GURPS Talents, Multiple Intelligence, and Geekdom

lately my readings about Emotional Intelligence got me thinking more about the Multiple Intelligence Theory (note the difference between Theory and Hypothesis). the more I read about it, the more it dispels the illusion of all around natural born intelligence. I do admit there are certain prodigies and anomalies of all around intelligence but, these are so rare and far between that it makes gamers focus on a statistic that doesn't influence much of society or the most powerful echelons of it.

What to look at is most normal or the most commonly expected outcome as well as the "fortune" variable of being born in a situation with more or less opportunities or worse or better circumstances. This amount of simplification, I can tollerate otherwise is just too simple and grossly distorted given the complexity one needs to grasp reality these days.

I have a personal Bias with IQ, given that its been used for Racial discrimination and is a gross oversimplification of the complexity of intelligence. As a tool of measure it fails and has more problems than the specifics and clearer definition of multiple int.

This leads me to the GURPS talents which has become their way into a Multi-Int. basically as a GM I can Inflate the cost of IQ beyond 10 to x3 the value minus the per and will (that makes it 30cp or 40cp).

Talents and Geekery - Multiple Intelligence is part of the Age of the Geek, to fail to acknowledge this is to fail to acknowledge how geeks can be so good in their specific fields.

Memory should be a 10cp talent that gives +1 to ALL recall rolls instead of +10. As rare and odd the ability is like that of Kim Peek, it should be just as rare or expensive. As a munckin the crazy combos I've thought of and used with this combo are dangerous and can ruin many of the critical thinking aspects players by basically making their brain double as a computer.

Same goes with mathematical intelligence, EVERY +1 bonus should be accounted for by 10 points. The simple: automatic or the PC is automatically capable of this kind of math is oversimplified in a way that doesn't let people appreciate math. Those of us who find math hard, or need help in math can use the extra added scale of difficulty of math tasks.

A game where RAW savant level IQ bonuses that apply to ALL other specializations of intelligence is expensive would yield more interesting and more well thought out characters. particularly in the economics of character creation where people's weaknesses and blind areas are much more clearly defined.

as for Geekery. Expense in Talent has a corresponding Reputation bonus. The more talent, the more expert people see the character. From mere Geek towards Savant. Minor-Major geek (1 or 2 levels), Minor-Major Savant (3 to 4 levels)!

As for how Broad each geekery goes, it depends on the precedents a Player can dig up about MI. I guess the Gm can allow certain Talents depending if the Player can easily justify by getting previous examples.

Note that geekery can expand in Scope as well as intensity depending on the time spent. A 5cp geek can advance to level 2 with 5 more points or add more skills as a 10pt geekery.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Busy with Warsims (airsoft)

Airsoft can be seen as Larping with Guns, of course few airsofters would like to admit that or look at it that way. I know there is that stigma with Larping but at my age my thoughts are F-dat. I'm confident and certain about who I am to do what I think is good. There is also the matter of my studies about psychology, behavior economics and gametheory which support the exercise.

The way people wear their costume can be compared to the way mil-simers don their gear. I agree with the Confucian view towards rituals. Ritual arming especially when I can measure all the metrics makes sure all my gear is complete. Having played larp it can be similar, except that the gear is the gear and there is no special bonuses to remember.

The skills I need to hone in milsim and their GURPS equivalent:
Map reading - Land navigation (waaaaay harder than you think and a good compass is expensive)
Pathfinding - Land navigation
Undergrowth Movement - Stealth
Crawling - Stealth with HT
Using Rules of thumb to measure distance - Observation ( how else can you report strategic Intel if you can't measure distances accurately)
Team Maneuver - Soldiering under Formations or a Technique Average skill+0.
Hand Signals - Gestures
Gear Organization and placement - Soldiering OR Hiking. For organizing combat gear use Soldiering, for organizing food and supplies use Hiking.
Fast Draw and Speed Load - Fast Draw and should be a Weapon Technique. I think fast draw should be a technique derived from the weapon.

Anyway, the relation to RPGs is as a GM experimentation and first hand experience are powerful tools in description, narration, and saying what is plausible or probable.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

China and Technology; Gaming Assumptions

When ever there is talk about technology in ancient times, it seems there is always some misplaced reverence to china. Yes, china did have paper, crossbows, printing press, and other technologies ahead of other civilizations but at a difference of 200-400 years is just a notch in the life cycle of the ancient and medieval world.

I'm speaking this from my own readings about Chinese technology and the organization. To say one is better than the other, is rooted in a great misunderstanding of the unknown subject. It is true there are very few historical sources about Chinese history, technology and ancient anthropology but that should have made people more uncertain of any distinguishable advantage than be certain there is any definable advantage.

They are indistinguishable, when all the pros and cons are tallied. Note that the west had the Mediterranean and more varied geography which results to greater variety. China had to carve out canals when the west had the Mediterranean, Egypt and several Peninsulas.

Imperial China, or Rome in that matter was not as homogeneous or powerful as one would compare modern nations. China and Rome could only easily mobilize a tiny fraction of their resources because of their despotic and feudalistic organization.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kitchen sink setting

How do you calibrate a Kitchen Sink setting? I would begin with a survey of players, and how challenging they want it. Basically the players interested in the game should be interviewed and analyzed. What media sources: movies, tv, or books influence their concept of a kitchen sink setting?

The interview is important in knowing player expectations and ideas. A cordial and casual get together with drinks and tossing around cool ideas helps the GM have an intuition on the boundaries and concepts the players would like to see. As a reciprocating process the GM gets to also see if his own ideas fly with the players'. Its better to get assumptions out of the way, before the work begins in setting creation.

The session of brainstorming will slowly move into specifics. The GM would first look at macro, then towards details. Details like, how powerful or cinematic will the players be? Realism and Science are tools that aid players in such settings because realism is easier to argue because it is more objective than notions of cinematics and taste.

How the players visualize or expect themselves to advance matters alot. Players who like to keep it gritty see advanced characters as just wiser but at the cost of mistakes that leave permanent marks vs players who see themselves or characters advance to become the new powers that be.

Note that, Its always easier to work with players who enjoy the Journey more than the Goal. Accumulation of Imaginary power and one-ups-manship is common negative trait in RPG gaming, and spotting such expectations early matters a lot in matching expectations with players.

Calibration is an important aspect of A new venture. First sessions and opportunities for the Gm and the Players to see eye to eye should always be relaxed. Expecting the players to "Get the GM" immediately is asking for omniscience and the players to be mind readers. getting a feel of each other style and expectations is always an important. Any deviation of expectation, when the GM experiments has its credit and fault fall on the GM.

Sample Kitchen Sink Premise: kitchen Sink setting, is basically an alternate sci-fi where an event changes the progress of humans from space flight and colony to exploring dimensions within earth's time-space anomalies. Never having to develop spaceships, instead air ships, submarines, and tunneling transports that can carry massive amounts of capital from alien and conflicting parra worlds.

ecological spill over puts monsters into the earth. At realistic power level, humans are tech dependent. genetically altered humans have magic/psionics implants that is basically technological abilities in bioform. Of course these all require a powersource that the body can metabolize through direct blood infusion. All bodily function requries a metabolize energy source.

Brains with telepathic is actually a special biological radio that genetically adapted ability to translate and understand it. Needing a powersource to broadcast, special blood infusions are created to supply the function.

TK works the same way, so is Pyro kinetics etc. These all depend on element X which hare a valuable resource. Because tech is organic, it is self repairing and is designed to evolve to greater sophistication.

Humans are late adapters of this biotech, but still retain their mechanical technology. Elves have forgotten their other tech over centuries of dependence on their excelent innate biotech enhancement/aka psionics. Dwarves never liked the idea and have focused on genetic hardiness and retaining their mechanical and electronic technology. They come from high G "world" where they are specially adapted to.

Dragons exist because of parallel worlds that can support them. They also evolved intelligence and symbiotic technology. And throw in Hive mind Virus that needs Hosts as the undead. Other aliens can fill the fantasy stereo type. Parts of humanity Lost in future past version return: A Roman empire, a Persian Empire, a Age of Sail Empires, waring states.

Where does Low Tech function? Some areas strong radiation that interferes with non-bio chemical electric devices. Some places and areas require mechanical tech only. Some places cannot support Industrial tech because of Logistical problems. Without tech, the Biofuel to augment psionics/magic is very low and rarity of strategic resources like an Iron industry and inroads make the area very bare.

Time Space anomalies mar geographic features of the planet giving it the surface area of several worlds while maintaining near-earth like conditions.

Countries who used to occupy certain spaces have their time space messed up and have a lot of time advance in their area morphing them to something entirely alien yet familiar. In certain areas, 100 years pass in isolation, other 200-600 hundred, others just 20 years etc. In such times up becomes down, and whole cultures turn around or find a terrible fate or earn their destiny.

Begin with one area and a whole lot of ideas that make it past the cutting room floor. Then slowly build up with a solid set of premises. Pepper with preludes and small subtle foreshadowing of certain concepts.

When the setting is developed players can enter as Freetaders! Trading tech from X to Y, and dealing with a whole lot of barriers from monsters, politics and intrigue, and sci-fi fantasy aberrations.

All purpose environmental transport are in the form of Hellium Air ships that can stay safely out of reach of many land-terrors. "fighters" are ultra light armed fliers designed to take on sky predators.

Characters requiring MWs of metabolizable power to use their psionics is a easy way to balance "magic" and tech. This is because options and ability to do certain things scale at the same rate as technology. So a Radio and a Telepath are on the same par. except that a telepathy is more handy in tighter situations. Realistically speaking, biological functions that eat up physical space in the brain narrows intelligence and mental capability. All follows the economic rule of cost and trade-offs.

In evolution nothing is for free, this is also true in Physics in laws of conservation. All you can really do is make certain things more efficient, by rearranging things and getting rid of vestigial adaptations that are not anymore needed and which technology does a better job at.

Introducing Logistical Limitations to tech is important. Anyone who knows the wear and tear mechanical parts go through as they get more sophisticated can apply a simple bell curve of diminishing returns on high tech gear. the more high tech the more support. The GM fixes the equilibrium to his own more ideal tech level. You still have power armors, mechs, and sci-fi weapons but the economic cost is only affordable to few places and people.

Awesome armor Armor is Ablative, making resources a Juggling Act and part of the challenge. This makes players either work on balancing the budget or go for simpler technologies which is easier on the GM. The objective is making an easier to run kitchen sink setting.

Gaming, the Future of Education

It is easier and easier to cheat understanding with all the access of the internet. In one of the forums I'm part of, someone tried to use it to get answers for their homework instead of generating their own ideas by reading up on the matter. Being a nerd and part of a "diploma" factory and a friend who is working in my alma matter trying to teach Game Design and theory, I find it highly annoying to learn that out of 40+ students, only 10% is actually really interested in gaming and the rest are in it for the "easy" grade just because the term GAME is in the preface to the subject matter.

In the Philippines, there is no serious course for Game Theory or Game Design, and such disrespect for the subject matter is only natural given how education has really degraded in the country. because of government spending targeting the middle class, which can already afford education instead of the Struggling and Poor education is taken for granted by those who can easily afford it. The value of education goes down when Colleges like my alma mater are there to catch drop outs, and the general attitude where meritocracy doesn't matter as much as family and connections makes for a slothful professional environment over all and instigates the countries brain drain.

Looking forward, the only way to prevent "cheating" understanding is by making education more practical, hands on, more quickly gratifying, and less frustrating. That is where gaming will be in the future, I presume. The future is for the Parents who use gaming or who communicate the attitude that learning and Nerdy knowledge is fun to their children despite the stress and problems of their own educational systems.

My economic lessons have also made me aware of Americas metrics regarding education. (source Timothy Tailor) I admire that America is still one of the Highest spender to education in the world, and still generates most of the technological advance. From an economic and strategic perspective, Government spending on Social Goods are always subject to economies of scale. The Progress to more accountable and publicly efficient kind of health care services and social projects is what will improve the educational turn out and not just throwing money at education. The point of diminishing returns has been reached with some aspects of education, and resources is best reallocated to other tertiary or adjunct problems where the returns are much greater and complimentary.

Like in Neo-confucianism, All good must be tackled in the same time follows an a practical economic truth and not just a philosophical one. Families that benefit from government social good will bring down the cost of parental involvement in helping in children and their education... this also includes the parent's own pursuit of education and knowledge.

I envy the american school system that allows even the poorest a good quality education and a fighting chance to change their quality of life. As for the Philippines, distractions are abundant in politics, theocracy, rabble rouser, and terrorists.

The only chance my own kids will ever have at a decent education is If I am a mega nerd take a lot of time to communicate my value for knowledge, learning, details and enthusiasm through gaming. In the end, after the complication of economic, political and social challenges Gaming will win out as the best chance the next generation has.

*yes my alma matter was admittedly design to cater to the rejects of colleges, like myself. In a crystallized education system LONG outdated those who do not conform to the Parroting Text and teachers who ask their students to do Collages of the subject matter. Thats what happens when social justice has been ignored, and throwing money at education was the preferential expense. Over time, injustice adds up and inequality arises. Those who thrive on top has the least to gain from public education and have very few people to keep them accountable.

When america came and gave us universal education, through public schools, our entrenched oligarchy would eventually eat away the benefits of a more education and active population when they left. Social justice is not socialism, its accountability for a fairer system not punishing the Innovators as people who demonize sides or those who seek to profit from the power-shift would advertise.

Got the idea to write this after reading my Criminology for Dummies by Steven Briggs and how Gaming and Economics factored into it. Gaming is so powerful and educational tool, its nice to know there is a growing interest in it in blogs about Game Theory, Cognitive Bias (Dan Ariely's Blog), and Psychology (Psychology of Video Games).

Bore the hell out of people with Criminology for Dummies in your Games :P Useful knowledge that can protect you, happens to fun, and is useful to pass on.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Airsoft Season is back in the Phils; Economic perspective substitutes for Common Courtesy in GMing

The elections gun ban is over and now its time to get back to some warsims.

Experimentation and Scientific Investigation into mundane things are what fuels much of my sense of wonder. A sense of wonder that makes me enjoy RPGs. warsims are not just a great way to exercise but another kind of RPGing. Its basically a few places removed from actual combat and it is a challenging problem solving experience.

One of the things I'm more and more aware off becuase I study cognition is how time limits all thinking. Another thing I realized in combat that keeps you running is that you can't speak while your running, unless you want to burn through your blood oxigenation even faster.

Breathing, that annoying habit the body needs gets in the way of so many things. Respiration and Metabolism, the body over all have fine nuances that is a matter of life and death in combat. Ever get a cramp from crawling or duck walking? ever wonder how much effort it is to maintain combat readiness? There is a lot of stuff taken for granted in rpgs, so much that in more experienced or aware one gets of all the problems that can happen, the more I realize mental discipline is usually the only thing divides failure or survival.

In the times, I'd rather just get shot than endure another 10mins of crawling in 39 degrees Celsius in full gear I think I should be making them roll against discipline more often in everything that requires patience and goes against expectations.

Strangely my team captain, likes to play than run games. I would like to play in tables that have such economic approach to details. I don't mean that GMs should require the players spend HOURS on details.

Economic Perspective instead of Common Courtesy.

For a game that lasts 4 hours, making players spend HOURS on character design and details doesn't make for great efficient return on investment. Scaling the amount of detail management to a few minutes is enough. Rolling for Skills like Packing, Strategy, Soldiering, Hiking, and other skills that have with it the implication of knowing what the job is about enough to check if anything SOP is forgotten. For unusual circumstances apply a penalty.

That economic perspective and rule of thumb: How much time prepping vs how much time enjoying is an important measure if GM or Player requests are valid. Imagine when a players ask the GM to prep for something only to throw it out the window. Same goes with the GM asking the players for their time and effort only to throw it out or under-utilize it.

Economic perspective can substitute for Empathy and Common Courtesy. Maximizing Game Utility and enjoyment can be the GM's meta-game over the game. Seeing what works well and mastering it, while including his own little experiments and R&D for better techniques. A GM doesn't need to Max out Happiness, especially when there R&D is pulling down the grade. He's just after maximum sustainability, through the R&D.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rifts for $0.24 at Amazon and Kitchen Sink Setting

Rifts is at $0.24 and about 70 copies being sold. Its possible to basically just use the Core Book of Rifts for fluff and just use GURPS 4E (ultra tech, high tech, supers and psi) for all the crunch. Just get the key elements, go to 4chan and Deviant art for all the Mecha and tech gear Images and calibrate a hierarchy. Just throw out anything that doesn't fit the hierarchy or needs recalibrating, print it out like an errata sheet to be used as a appendix to the original source.

It can be a labor of love and its not actually Converting, its doing what GURPS does best Taking the Premises and Making the system fit it.

Although, with all the awesome mech, weapons, and futuristic warrior art I don't see why someone just get make their own kitching sink setting.

Kitchen Sink Settings are an exercise of Logic and Consistency. State the Parameters and Premises than edit everything to fit these key fundamental ideas.

Addressing all the Hard Science Consequences making Earth an Inter-dimensional (feel free to call your setting any of the following) Crossroad, Nexus, Junction, Impasse, Intersection, etc. in the middle of a Hight tech yet unusually Conventional War can be summed up in a one page proposal or spiel.
I recommend GURPS Action and Dungeon Fantasy to build Epic Templates.

Since Space and Time is Warped you can expand the scale and geographic features of the map equal to how your Airship or Hover transport take Days to cross vast stretches. You can actually have a fire-fly aspect going on, and just throw in Hollywood Astro Physics to plug the gap.

So Crossing Boundaries and Planes of existence might take Days. Planes of existence are in all 3 dimensions, requiring to flight up to hit Land, or underground to find another world, or underwater to etc... Several Dimensions might exist side by side and travelling a few meters over ground may lead you to the wrong dimension.

Then there could be mid ways and land between lands.

of course in this kind of setting, to magic and the supernatural has to be either scaled against technology or explained. The bottom line is not to make things too complicated when being mixed. Again, fix the premise so that when people start putting two and two together your setting won't implode.

Kitchen sink settings are too much work alone. They can be awesome, even from my kill-joy point of view but the work involved is massive. although come to think of it, they should make the best MMOs.

As something so scattered, such an MMO setting would need a TON of vision and not just an aesthetic but awesome organizing and consensus building skills.

If there was only Harn in the Philippines

Having seen the quality of Harn up close, I am sad to wonder why it never came to the Philippines. Or if it did, why is it so inaccessible. Having seen most of the materials I can get my hands on, the quality of the products is by far the best i've seen.

This brings me to what I've learned in business about marketing. If you learn the cognitive biases then you are more likely to catch yourself when I'm exhibiting the flawed logic. Marketing is all about exploiting cognitive biases.

Knowing who I am, what I want, and what I believe in gets better and clearer with a pursuit for knowledge and introspection. This is usefull because it helps me judge my own feelings and Ideas if they past several tests of rationality and consitency.

What has this got to do with Harn? A good product is not based on how much work people put into it, but how much a marketing person can add value to the product. Compared to some other products, Harn is VERY well researched. What I mean by well researched, is that I've tried reading up and finding those facts where they base their ideas on and they take up a lot of resources and a lot of books. Those things cost money and TIME, but not everyone will want to pay for those things.

Looking back at the TON of Errata DnD 3.X had gone through because their production design is to capitalized in user compulsions, short attention span, and escalating demand for power. I don't mean to imply people are Irrational, in the contrary when you purchase something you like, that is very rational. What is strange or peculiar is how we build up value.

If you follow Psychology of Video games, a book they love to quote and I also like to read is Predictably irrational. My brothers and I spent a lot of Money and DnD 3.X. and after it all, the material is very hard to use without having to bring in all the other books to "balance" each other out. Again, I like to remind people I used to run Epic Games and had really bad acid attacks because of the work involved (it was more stressful than work!).

My 3ed GURPS books far out value the usability of my DnD 3.X books. This is because they fluff can is always free for the system to adapt to it. The write ups matter more than the crunch, and because of the logical narrative and descriptive, I'm free to adjust the system to fit the "reality".
As for the DnD 3.X it only works in the context of DnD.

Harn, would have been awesome with GURPs as the System gets better in reflecting reality while resolving things much faster and logically. I mean, after reading the intro and borrowing some of the copies to check out, Banestorm? whats that?

I remember when I studied Forgotten Realms for my players. I didn't like the setting but I needed an epic setting for a game with established characters I can just move around. Fantasy is so subjective, compared to History. Each nation, keep saying they are the mightiest but there is no real way to measure. History and Real world data, there is an OBJECTIVE way to measure and because of that arguments are easier to put down.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Living with One Self: Introspection and Education from RPGs

I've bought myself some introduction to Criminology as part of my Emotional Intelligence studies and I find it interesting how it compliments my understanding of Economics.

What intrigues me is how crushing poverty or growing up in inhumane conditions create Sociopaths or what is socially regarded as callous or cruel people.

From game theory and behavior, It is not just grow up in a bad environment or being predisposed to deviance makes people "bad" but growing up with a set of Incentives that actually reward behavior that becomes unsustainable.

Deceptive Pandering and Manipulative behavior is a natural strategy that quickly gets rewarded. Children can easily develop that "face" of having to keep one set of behavior when another set is frowned upon and discouraged instead of the incentives realigned to encouraged core virtues.

Like the Corporations that Get Too big to fail, a person can get by with deception skills at the expense of any practical skill eventually being too big to fail or own up to their deficiencies.

Destructive Behavior can come out even with the best intentions.

Studies about how gray life really is and how the painful details make decisions much harder is a mark of courage to own up to the Truth and make decisions with full and unbiased knowledge.

Knowing real suffering kinda makes me averse to oversimplified morality, or morality blind to ethics.

Role-playing Games feed my virtues, because these very problems are what make up my set of template circumstances to throw at players. Hard choices are only hard when you know what your trade offs are and we learn that we really can't say what we really value.

The very essence of a hard decision, is when our own internal inconsistencies come up: in concepts we take for-granted day to day, the quality of life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

1st to Sell RPGs China?

What RPG group will be the first to penetrate the China Market? I'm not saying small bits, but really a Line of books.

Dialects in China are mostly spoken. Putonghua or Standard Speech, is pushing out the other dialects. I know this from a friend who is Chinese citizen and lives in the Philippines. the momentum towards Mandarin is natural because people want to be able to work and learn anywhere in china. Government pressures to get the law straight and easy to understand is also a factor. Countries and People who want to participate in the china market have want standardization so that they only have to learn one language instead of many.

So who will be the first to really break into the Chinese market and start growing?

Generic game Systems have the best chances because they have less and less cultural ideas infused in them and more technical and fact-like chunks. GURPS is a natural, in fact there is a GURPS lite in Simplified Chinese.

Other than contacts and marketing are problems solved by Business Savy, the Problems Faced by Game Design is how ethnocentric the system can be.

A System that more divorced from a setting speaks the language of Logic and Science. So part of the problem is a Game System that makes it easier to translate concepts without having to give the multi-cultural audience a lesson on history and context.

Looking from a more Humanistic view: a good game system can separate cultural perception of the setting from the system better because its assumptions are more empathic, and there fore more multi-cultural.

I'm beginning to realize that in order to understand other cultures better, one has to be a better role-player or empath to be able to put themselves in the other cultural perspective. This highlights how much Game and Role-playing are very seperate. There is so much Role-playing or Empathy some people are willing to exercise and there is so much Game or Structural Mental Exercise people would want out of an RPG before it stops being fun.

A Humanistic and Scientific System, can be one of those lofty goals worth aspiring towards as a Game Designer.

I'm big on RPGs are the best Educational Tool there is, as it teachers RPing which is Empathy and Games which is Rational Intelligence. There are around 10+ million taking the college entrance exams. Using that as a statistical base, for all the other ranges of incomes and peoples that can fit the possible gamer profile.

Anyway, just even selling a Basic Game System that is All Incased with Setting and Game System. Even if the cost of production, translation, publishing and distribution, and marketing were to be around $45k i think it would still make a profit. The cost would much lower if the the person who tried to do this wore all the hats and just had to pay for the marketing (x5 the cost of the product; $25k marketing). earning that $25k back would certain.

Design it as an educational product using all the studies based on the key skills RPGs emphasize and that goes a long way. If he is a Good GM and he can run in chinese thats a bonus too. Translating all the GMing Kaizen into a book is a good follow up supplementary product. If the GM knows Confucian philosophy that also helps, sell the educational aspect.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Copyright and Game Systems

Copyright and Game Systems

Copyright is tricky because, it can lead to stiffling of innovation instead of rewarding it. Paladium suing of the use of the term "Rifts" in a game kind of strange. It serves as an example where someone can just sit tight on a product for years, fail to innovate or catch up to the rest of the market, and still make a money.

In fashion, you can't do that, this TED video is great at explaining why. I'd like to think that I'm as hungry to innovate as fashion designers. That I'm open to criticism and laying all the assumptions of my design on the table for everyone to see.

you might want to check the comments for the opposing views.

Related to Games, I'm pro open RPG tools. In fact thats what i'm doing for my pet game project. Why I am making my own open RPG system for people to tear up the chunks they like to use and put out there again without having to give any credit for me is explained very well by this video by the RSA.

Again the idea has to be marketed without all those nasty details. Google was run like this but had hit on some problems. So take it with a grain of salt and if your more into it, check out the actual study for the pitfalls and caveats.