Thursday, January 17, 2013

Historical activity

Curious about activity rates here at BlogNomic, I’ve just compiled some data on the number of proposals made each month - it’s felt significantly quieter lately, and I wondered whether that was backed up by the numbers. The data’s available on the graphs wiki page if anyone wants a look.

So there’s a clear dip there - 2012 was our first year since 2005 in which we never reached more than 100 proposals a month. In 2010 we had an average of 90 a month, in 2011 it dropped a little to 81, but last year we only managed an average of 53 proposals a month. Any thoughts on what might be happening here? Have we just drifted into a general tendency among older players to tinker less with the ruleset, with new players respecting and reflecting the reduced proposal rate? Is that a bad thing, or just a different way of playing?


Josh: he/him

17-01-2013 13:21:17 UTC

Interesting data. It would be interesting to see historical player numbers data, but that’s probably impossible to compile with any reasonable degree of accuracy.

Kevan: Oracle he/him

17-01-2013 14:07:35 UTC

It’s tricky, but we can get a somewhat useful number by measuring the number of players who made at least one post to the blog in a given month. I’ve added that data to the spreadsheet and the graph page - as we’d expect, there’s some correspondence, and 2012 saw us dipping into the low teens more often than in previous years. Hmm.

Josh: he/him

17-01-2013 14:50:39 UTC

Oh, thanks! That’s interesting.

I think that decline feeds itself - fewer proposals creates fewer ideas for other players to spark off of. A gut observation, and I haven’t checked this extensively, is that rulesets aren’t necessarily getting shorter, but proposals are passing more easily and the level of ruleset challenge has, on the whole, dropped. It could be that that’s a shift in emphasis - that the current crop of players are more interesting in making a game (or having a game made for them) then playing it than perpetually tinkering and breed in ruleset scams, and that on the whole BlogNomic has moved aggressively away from the kind of nomic play typified (in a sense) by Agora; it’s possible that the aftermath of the invasion propelled some of the players looking for that type of game away from BN, to BN’s detriment.

I’m half-inclined to reintroduce the old pan-dynastic scoring mechanism.

Josh: he/him

17-01-2013 15:06:41 UTC

(The period of high activity that started in late 2008 seems to have ended more or less with the invasion, but then it could just be something else, like BlogNomic being a hitherto-unknown global-economic-downturn-sensitive indicator.)

RaichuKFM: she/her

17-01-2013 17:05:13 UTC

The way I’ve been playing this really is more of a game you can edit then breed in rule scams. I don’t know how it was before, but it seems fun to me now. I probably wouldn’t mind an emphasis shift back, but I don’t think this is bad either.

Clucky: he/him

18-01-2013 06:37:04 UTC

Part of me wonders if its theme related. The good stuff has been done.

I also feel like there has been more of a shift towards more rigid gameplay structures early on which limits proposalig. Maybe its just me. But like, compare the start of this dynasty to now once more stuff is in place…

Kevan: Oracle he/him

18-01-2013 11:35:42 UTC

True, it felt we were leaning more towards gameplay last year. I think we only had one dynasty that sprawled horizontally and hit the “this is going nowhere, let’s just vote for a winner” stage, and this is probably a good thing, really.

I quite like collaborative game design, but it seems a bit of a shame that we’re maybe not all playing “true” Nomic here, where “changing the rules is a move”. There’s no reason why we can’t have both - a solid gameplay structure should really make it easier to click new rules on top, or to tweak existing ones in your own secret favour.

The player turnover is, I think, enough to rule out any concerns about post-invasion unease, or a paucity of news ideas. I think it’s probably just a mood thing, with new players taking a cue from older ones, and it feels like BlogNomic has moved through a few of those over the years (there was once a trend for voting down imperfect proposals so that we could get them right, but it seems to have passed). And perhaps that’s fine, but it feels like we’re missing out on some of the fun and power of actual Nomic. Proposals should always be a useful tool towards victory, whether it’s about modifying rules in your (and some other people’s, but not your immediate rivals’) favour, building a scam, or simply trying to distract people.


18-01-2013 15:55:27 UTC

As this is really only my first Dynasty being involved, I don’t have lot of other experience.  But I do really like the ‘gameplay’ - I liked the secrets and stuff that came out of this.  The one other time I played Nomic - where it was more turn based - there was a lot more rule tweaking and revision than interesting gameplay.  Albeit, that’s in part due to the ruleset having flaws in it (It was a ruleset that I built, modified off Suber’s original rules, adapted for playing on FB). 
Recently, before I got into this, I was invited to a game on Google+ Communities, which again I made a new rule set - which I modeled more off this asynchronous voting system (which I like a bit better, since then turns aren’t an issue and play is up to interested players).  Unfortunately, that never got off the ground.
One thing I would like to try, but I’m not sure exactly how it would work, is to introduce an element of cooperative gameplay and win conditions.  I’m not sure how the Auspex would be chosen, though.  Though - is it necessary that there be an Auspex?

Kevan: Oracle he/him

18-01-2013 16:52:14 UTC

No, we’ve had six “metadynasties” which have lacked an Auspex-equivalent. I can’t remember if we’ve ever actually had a dynasty with more than one Emperor at the same time - there’s no reason why we couldn’t try it.

Josh: he/him

18-01-2013 17:40:06 UTC

Not to mention that most nomics don’t end up with an Emperor role, which is largely a relic of the Dynastic system we use here.

In some ways I’m surprised it’s not been tampered with / threatened more often. Perhaps a fundamental look at BlogNomic’s core structure would be interesting?


18-01-2013 18:27:34 UTC

I like the Dynastic system - having the rules overhauled on a large scale can be annoying.  Also,  it gives structure for interesting, themed gameplay, without real tampering with core systems, like voting or rule making.  The one thing I’m surprised about is that there is no immutable vs. immutable set of rules - they’re all up for grabs.

The other thing I like about the dynastic framework is that it provides a continuum of play.  People can ‘win’, but there’s still a (meta) game ongoing.  In contrast, without the dynastic framework, it would need to halt and restart each time.

The main disadvantage of Dynasties is that the ruleset around the dynasties isn’t really meddled with too much.  This can be both good and bad.  Maybe there is a way to separate playing in a Dynasty from playing Meta-Dynasties.

As a last thought, and this is another advantage of dynasties that I like: Dynasties permit an easy changing goal system, with a variety of win conditions.  In the traditional Nomic, the game is always about scoring points through rule making and winning with points.  Although I haven’t played too much - changes to this are both difficult and consistent.  A dynastic model allows for a lot of different styles of games and wins.  The fact that points are scored differently in different games makes each one interesting.  More so, it allows the easy institution of of other goals.


20-01-2013 13:54:16 UTC

The dynastic system has historically proved good at attracting new players and keeping them interested for a while, but bad at retaining players long-term.

(Also, plenty of other nomics don’t use points as a win condition. The other big one is Agora, which tends to have multiple different win conditions running in parallel, each of which only reset the gamestate that pertains directly to that win condition and usually don’t interact with the other ones.)

For changing the core rules, we sometimes have dynasties designed for messing with the core rules, or playing nomic as nomic rather than a subgame. I don’t think we’ve had one for a while, but they tend to leave the core rules better than they started. (The other time the core rules tend to be updated is in response to scams.) They frequently are metadynasties, too, although they don’t have to be.


20-01-2013 13:55:27 UTC

Oh, and nomic generally is quieter than it used to be. There used to be something like four or five major nomics at any one time; now, there are only two (Agora and Blognomic), and Agora has been quiet for months, it’s struggling too.