Monday, June 17, 2024

The Culture: Videogames Superseded Tabletop For Conventional Play By 1980

Do you want to know why I keep harping on Conventional Play being surpassed and superceded by videogames?

What do they go on about? "Muh Narrative" (read a fucking book, and not the wizard book) and "Muh One True PC/Party".

That got solved by 1980.

This is where "Rogue-like" came from.

The following year, Conventional Play had its first Muh Narrative videogame.

Which would soon have others joining the party over the 1980s.

SSI's Phantasie would join that list by the end of the decade alongside the officially-licensed Gold Box AD&D games.

Now add in the Japanese games such as the long-running Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series, then arcade games for more fast-paced versions, and it becomes very easy to see why those not already involved in the tabletop hobby by 1990 presumed that "RPG" meant "videogame genre".

Yes, 2nd Edition. Yes, Palladium. I was there; I remember.

And I recall that getting anyone to play any tabletop game at all who was not a Gross Nerd was like pulling teeth, and then it was 2nd Edition, The Anne Rice Game, or Uncle Kevin's Kitchen Sink Non-Game (which still has the best wholly unintentional tie-in movie adaptation).

They were right to refuse, and not just because of who did the pitching.

They didn't have to round up a bunch of people to play. They didn't have to put up with bad behavior. They didn't even have to worry about purchase prices because by 1990 we started to see rentals be a thing.

They had a better Conventional Play experience before Ronald Reagan left the White House.

You had something closer to the real game with folks playing Car Wars, BattleTech, and SpaceMace 39K.

Meanwhile, people now going on about how they were playing the real game all this time were deep into Not Teaching Hobbyists What They (Claim To) Know like the Boomers they are.

And folks wonder why I say Conventional Play in Tabletop is screwed.

The fight got lost nearly 45 years ago. It's been nothing but a long, slow defeat ever since.

Why should I stick with a losing proposition when videogame alternatives are 100% superior and the real game gives me all I ever wanted from this hobby. Tabletop Conventional Play has never delivered, and it cannot deliver, so I welcome its demise in Tabletop.

And you can take your wretched "industry" with you.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Culture: Death To The Get Along Gang

First, if you haven't seen the Dunder Moose stream with Jeffro and BDubs, fix that now.

After that, go read Jeffro's post-stream blogpost because he's throwing it out there and I'm catching that pass to run it downfield.

It's time to kill a cancerous trope. Again.

Face the wall!

Now that I have your attention, it's time to define the term: "Get Along Gang" is the result of a Longhouse-borne nagfest where everyone at the table is meant to always be together on the same side. I've bolded the keyword there, because cooperation--as it is in proper wargaming--has to something a player chooses because it is better than defecting.

Yes, that's right, straight up Prisoner's Dilemma stuff.

Conventional Play and it's anti-game presumes that Get Along Gang is all but hard-coded into the game. That's not how the real game works.

What if “playing your role” meant pursuing a set of objectives that necessarily set you at odds with the other players in your campaign? If that’s so, then 40 years of rpg history has been wasted delving into an approach to gaming that is intrinsically unfun.

Some people suggest we are blowing this Braunstein thing out of proportion. Citing Boot Hill is just not enough to persuade them. Vague recollections from people who were obviously high when they were playing D&D with Gary Gygax back in the day are supposed to be a completely iron clad counter.

It’s stupid.

--Jeffro Johnson, from the above-linked post.

He points out the obvious Player-vs-Player elements in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition from there that supports this position.

The conclusion is obvious: This is not only a wargame, it is driven by Player-vs-Player conflict from top to bottom.

Domains are meant to be as contentious as pre-Modern domains were in real life. Gods are meant to content in the world for power and influence. The very structure of the game is set up to foster conflict over both the short and the long term. All of that conflict filters down to the lowest level of play because it is only those with the will to win that are going to reach the pinnacles of power, prestige, and influence in any campaign and thus in the hobby as a whole.

As I have said for a while now: Show Up With A Plan.

You will need to cooperate with others at times. Just as you are not married to your character sheets, and thus can freely rotate through a stable of characters as you like, you are also free to cooperate or not with others as you like- and that will be, should be, driven by the ambitions that you have for that character.

Yes, even if you're playing a shitpost of a character, that remains the case. Today Bob the Weasel scrambles to filch a pursue from some Normie twat in the markets. Tomorrow he's wormed his way into the leadership of the Thieves' Guild, and if you have no clue what to do with that car bumper you just caught then it's your man's ass- and you had better hope that he merely gets murked instead of something worse.

What does this mean? It means that a lot of long-standing tropes about Player Dickery need to get tossed out the window as they stem from false premises.

This is that Diplomacy influence I mentioned previously making itself felt, and with this restored perspective everything about the hobby changes, for the better. Time to replace the Get Along Gang with a more suitable idea, one ready-made for memeing.

Play To Win, Gamer!

Now you see why the real hobby is anti-commercial. Now you see why you don't need to Consume Product. Players provide all the content you will ever need BECAUSE THEY NEED IT TO WIN THE GAME! Who needs modules when players scheming against each other does that far better and for free? Who needs Yards Of Books with toys galore when players will make them up to gain a competitive advantage? Who needs to be Forever Referee when running the campaign compels having multiple people rotating through the Big Chair as play progresses, something that also guts Referee Dickery and strings offenders up by their own intestines because that damages campaign integrity.

Conventional Play's biggest poison pill will be forced out, and this exposes that well over 90% of "RPG" product is utterly worthless and pointless.

With these receipts in hand, it is now conclusive. Real RPGs are games. Games are there to be won, and therefore good play means learning how to win at the game. You can #winatrpgs. You can earn your place at the Clubhouse if you can win at D&D.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Culture: Gamers, Don't Fear The Memer

"Hey, what's this I heard about memeing shit up?"

Let's say that you're playing a Magic-User. You decided that you want to get into the racket of creating your own monsters because you hit 7th level and learned Polymorph Other. Then you read up on Potion Creation in the Dungeon Master's Guide and realize that your Magic-User can now create potions.

And then you realize that potions also include spell effects delivered by liquid means other than drinking it, like magic oils, and you get an idea. You pop open your Discord app and drop the Referee a Direct Message.

"I want to make potions of Polymorph Other to turn victims into nigh-brainless flesh-eating giants, only I want to make it something I inject."

The Referee, a few hours later, says "Show me the clip you're thinking about" and--being exposed--you do.

"I figured" the Referee says, "Go for it."

Thousands of gold and a few months of real and game-time later, your man has his Titan Serum ready to go.

That same time, the Referee gets a message from another player running a Cleric that casts Commune and ends up asking about things that include the MU's Titan Fluid.

Unfortunately for the MU, that Cleric worships and serves the Fear Owl.

And the Cleric has a Thief as a Henchman. Hijinx ensue!

The result? The Titan Serum is stolen and successfully reverse-engineered by a friendly MU.

Things go from bad to worse when the MU takes a slave he bought off a Hobgoblin tribe, offers him the power for revenge and turns the slave into a Titan. Then, mid-transformation, the MU turns invisible and thus the Titan can only see the Hobgoblins. Chaos ensues.

The Cleric uses the Serum in a similar manner to create fire-and-forget bioweapons upon strongholds of the Fear Owl's enemies.

During which time the Referee is in DMs with another player playing an Elf Fighter/Magic-User able to make magic items. After a stiff drink and some emails to a guy used to write for TSR, he debuts his anti-giant weapon just in time for all the Titans spawning.

Man, that Assassin's going to have his work cut out for him.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Business: The Future Of The Hobby Is Not Commercial In Tabletop


BDubs is correct on how those stores should reinvent themselves as Clubhouses for men to play in private away from nags, scolds, entryists, etc. as it would be a great opportunity to revive the Social Club of the 18th and 19th centuries while fulfilling the hobbyist desire to actually play the game.

Those that want to continue pushing product have already pivoted out of Conventional Play, first to Big Two comics and now to Manga in addition to boardgames and cardgames (and, for some, a sizable Used Product section). Even that won't be enough if things go on due to how superior online storefronts are.

Which means that we are, like with Big Two comics, seeing an ongoing collapse that is being ignored and downplayed because of Muh Narrative.

"But VTTs!"

Yes, I see you in the back screetching your head off about online play.

If I'm already using a PC or tablet to play the game, why not go that one extra step and solve ALL of my Conventional Play gripes in one go BY PLAYING A REAL VIDEOGAME INSTEAD?

Fuck Roll20 and all the VTTs. I would rather fire up Dark & Darker, Path of Exile, or Guild Wars 2 among other many cheap-or-free-to-play options.

This is what all of those folks being smug about VTTs don't get; if you're already this close to playing a videogame then you can just take that last step- and both Divinity: Original Sin games as well as Baldur's Gate 3 are the Proofs of Concept that prove my position correct.

And if you want to be single-player? Have you seen XCom, Xenonaughts, the classic Jagged Alliance games, and similar titles? Plenty of the same things that Conventional Play offers without all of the shit you have to put up with AND IT'S CHEAPER!

Oh, and if you want your Muh Narrative and Muh Historical Fiction, start with the acclaimed Kingdom Come: Deliverance and skip using any PDF product online. You'll actually get to play the game.

Commercial action in Tabletop is in its twilight. Once the stores are gone, only online storefronts will remain and those will slowly consolidate outside of publisher-specific fronts. This will mirror a long-overdue decline in commercial action in production, meaning that more people will go the Basic Fantasy route of non-commercial publishing if they do anything at all.

You will go to Vidya, you will quit entirely, or you bend the knee to Jeffro and seek admittance to the Clubhouse. This definitely means you, store owners.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Culture: The Decay In Conventional Play Has Been Here A Long Time

"But you can't say that Conventional Play is just a shit videogame."

Yes, I can. Behold! Nethergate: Resurrection from 1998. Now available on Steam and GOG (and updated to run on later OSes), this old PC game has everything that was a regular topic of discussion and publication back in the day but did all of it better.

There is also a Celt campaign.

Ladies and gentleman, at this time a declining TSR saddled the trivumverate that rooked Gygax out of the company published the following titles for AD&D2e (the first suck edition):

Or you could use some GURPS books, or some Pendragon supplements, or several others that are now forgotten.

Go ahead, tell me with a straight face that you can recreate the premise of Nethergate and get a game running at the same cost, in the same time, and reach anywhere near the same satisfaction or reach a definitive conclusion in the same amount of time played.

You won't. You won't even get most players to give you the time of day. When Dancey took over, he found this out via the survey but many online then (like me) had plenty of stories of failed attempts at pitching and execution. Conventional Play is far more constrained than either critics or Cultists will admit. That's why so many bled off to boardgames and videogames; those media did better at satisfying the want.

Follow SOBS to Vidya, bend the knee to Jeffro, or quit entirely. Those are your fates, Cargo Cultists. Choose. Now.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Culture: Why Do The Bros Have A Future When Conventional Play Does Not?

"Okay Walker, if videogames are eating Tabletop's lunch so bad, why do the Bros have a future?"

Because, try as they might, the videogame people are not yet able to do what Real D&D does with a fraction of the effort or resources.

"What do you mean?"

In videogames, the closet any get are the MMORPGs. Among them, only a few even try. Among the old titles, it's EVE Online.

After that, you're looking at games that either tried and failed (Star Wars Galaxies) or aren't out yet (e.g Ashes of Creation, Pax Dei). All of them will fall way short, take far more effort and expense, and--due to commercial incentives--will deliberately lack all of the feedback mechanisms that Real D&D (and thus Real Adventure Gameplay) possess.

Come down to it and I might as well just post the meme.

The Bros are able to routinely outplay, outgame, outclass, outentertain, outengage, and flat-out dab/clown/mog billion-dollar corporate enterprises with three books from the 1970s, a chat channel and a dice bot (the latter pair for free).

Go watch that Dunder Moose stream about the last round of Battle Braunsteins in the #BROSR. You're not even getting close to that in any MMO. You're not getting that in a survival game like Rust, Valheim, or Kenshi. EVE is as close as it ever got, and that still lacks a lot of key elements to what the Real Game is.

Player-controlled Factions? Controlling armies with Hero Figures? To do that, you need some form of RTS game as no MMO does that since EVE falls down there.

Players' mans at any level able to pull off stunts that turn into the catalyst for a Braunstein event? No MMO, or any other videogame, comes close.

No MMO allows for this. No videogame allows for this. The medium cannot allow for it by its nature. That's before commercialization. Electronic media cannot allow for this exercise of agency, even with the best intentions. Only the Real Game allows for this.

This is why the Bros have a future in Tabletop. Tabletop is a medium of user--player--agency. The Braunstein roots are where this agency springs from, not the Longhouse convention of Le Epic Game Master-as-Storyteller. Conventional Play is just a shitty offline videogame, which is why it loses to videogames when it isn't actually some Theater Kid's Art Therapy grift.

And man, have you seen the showcases yet? So much Theater Kid Art Therapy grift rotting both Tabletop and videogames.

Conventional Play cannot hold out when it loses coming and going. The Real Game, as recovered by the Bros, can't not win time and again. The only reason we got here is because a lot of old-heads turned out to be either retards or double-talking faggots.

And I resent being lied to by Boomers here as much as I do everywhere else.