Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Cycling down

A dynastic washup thread


Josh: he/they

14-02-2024 09:10:00 UTC

The final ruleset genuinely was getting somewhere, so kudos to Zack to sticking with it. Purely personally, I think scrubbing some of the secret information early and retheming to something less obtuse would have solved many of my issues with this dynasty.

JonathanDark: he/him

14-02-2024 14:22:11 UTC

I thought the theming was ok, but definitely having less secret information and a little more straightfoward gameplay early on might have helped. It’s a tricky business not trying to introduce too much at the beginning, but also providing a solid base of mechanics on which to build the dynasty.

Zack: he/him

14-02-2024 16:26:10 UTC

Here is the secret gamestate tracking spreadsheet:

The basic idea for the dynasty was that players would do all their actions through the clients, which would not only grant anonymity but also more power and influence the more Clients you had access to. I thought it would work well for a low number of players because one player could have many Clients. I think one problem was that the Clients were too balanced and there weren’t enough elements of strategy for any one Agent to get ahead. I also intended to propose a way for Clients to send messages to other clients which would have added an element of collaboration and deception, but that never came to pass.

I do regret the starting combo of too much secret info, lack of a solid gameplay loop, and No Private Communication. However, I feel like I tried to address every issue people expressed, and everyone voted against removing No Private Communication so I’m not sure what else I could have done. I also feel like there was a lot of pressure on me to fix things, but it was hard for me to know what direction people wanted to go in with no one really engaging in anything. I’m not sure if maybe people were hesitant to override things that I proposed, or if there is a general culture of not wanting to usurp established mechanics, or if just no one had any ideas, but I would have been in favor of drastic changes and major rewrites if it meant making a better game for everyone.

I’m also really baffled why no one even bothered to try hacking another Client. Brute forcing wasn’t the best hacking mechanic to start with, but I believe you have to engage with a mechanic to understand its flaws and come up with ways to improve it. No one did, so it was just a dead end. I was in a weird position where I couldn’t actually play as a client or do any hacking myself, so I couldn’t even see it as an outside observer because no one was trying it.

In the end I am sad it was left up to a dice roll even after we added an achievable win condition. If anyone had actually tried to go for a Blackout they would have either had a guaranteed win because no one else was going for it, or in the process things would have gotten a lot more interesting. Anyway, I think next time I will try and do something totally novel and far less structured.


14-02-2024 19:50:40 UTC

I think the main problem was that once people started losing interest, anyone didn’t really try to improve the situation that much, although most issues would probably have been completely solvable. Personally I was just too busy during the latter part of the dynasty, and I guess the general lack of activity was also reducing people’s motivation to contribute.

Using dice roll to determine the winner was completely unnecessary and should in my opinion be generally avoided. We could just have, for example, made an eventual blackout inevitable by making brute forcing faster, unstoppable and possibly a bit indeterministic, which would have resulted in the player with most initial reputation/clients winning relatively quickly.

Vovix: he/him

14-02-2024 21:32:25 UTC

@Zack I did try hacking another client, you wouldn’t let me :P

Vovix: he/him

14-02-2024 21:38:33 UTC

I don’t think the hidden information was really an issue, for me, at least. It was more that there didn’t seem to be a reason to do anything and there wasn’t any direction to plan for. Like, yes, having more clients was clearly better, but the only thing clients could do was download files that don’t do anything and collect information that couldn’t be used for anything. Placeholder mechanics are fine, but I think this dynasty’s placeholder mechanics were too open ended in their scope.