Thursday, September 17, 2015

Not Much Nomic

Looks like we’re hitting another lacuna where nobody’s really making any proposals. Is this because BlogNomic positions itself too much as “let’s make a game and play it as we go along” rather than basic Nomic, these days, and people are largely regarding it as a fixed boardgame once the basic gameplay is in place, where the only proposals to make are clever design additions?

There’s serious gameplay advantage to be had in Nomic by making trivial proposals that benefit yourself (just making sure that it also benefits a quorum of others - a different quorum each time), or which can sound out another player’s secret strategy by forcing them to answer a question about it in the form of a vote (where they’ll lose out if they bluff). But we rarely seem to see that happening any more.



18-09-2015 19:37:47 UTC

Most of my proposals used to be like that. The end result is that nowadays everyone votes my proposals down on principle. (I used to fight back against this via secret “slot swap” agreements with other players where we’d post proposals for each other, but that only really works if there are enough players to give a crowd to hide in.)

The last time I played BlogNomic a bunch (I didn’t really have time to do so then, and definitely don’t now), it was a dynasty based on Werewolf mechanics, and I managed to figure out the Werewolves quite accurately based on proposal votes (including submitting some proposals for the purpose). I still lost, though, because not enough players were willing to do things that were in their own best interest (perhaps out of a sense of fairness), which feels a bit disappointing (I’d prefer to have lost due to being outstrategized by an opponent).


18-09-2015 19:48:36 UTC

It’s also worth noting that in Agora, which is all about the metagameplay, I rarely put a scam in a proposal, nor submit a weighted proposal, intentionally (at least, not if I intend the proposal to be passed as a result of players voting for it due to a belief that it’s good for the game). I prefer to scam other player’s proposals, mostly (and will happily vote for a buggy proposal of someone else’s so that I can abuse it).

This might stem from what happened in the “Open It Up” disaster (summary: I submitted a biased proposal that would allow any player a dictatorship instantly after it resolved; a bunch of players saw the loophole but decided to exploit it rather than kill the proposal; you can sort-of imagine what happened next). Since then, I’ve been even more reluctant to make scam proposals. (Scam other things are fair game, though; there was at least one scam contract that I put a lot of effort into over the course of months, and which eventually failed due to me failing to anticipate which rule changes would be made in the meantime + being too vague in the message that started it off.) BlogNomic doesn’t have much except proposals and gameplay (nor does Agora atm and it’s worse for it), so either your proposals are to distort the gameplay (dangerous ground), or you’re improving the game (which stops after a while), or you’re playing the game (most common).

So I think BlogNomic’s mechanics and custom lend themselves a lot to a “make a game and play it” style of play, rather than a “pretend to make a game and then reveal you were making an entirely different game” style of play. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; BlogNomic tends to attract the sort of players who like the sort of play it normally has, in a typical feedback loop.

Josh: Ascendant he/they

18-09-2015 20:05:17 UTC

For what it’s worth, my last win was based on an (admittedly not very involved) scam proposal, and I think you can only go back to that well so often before you end up where ais is.

Kevan: he/him

19-09-2015 19:06:12 UTC

Is gameplay distortion really “dangerous ground”? Scams and deliberately selfishness aside, it feels as if a lot of bread-and-butter proposal gameplay is casual “maybe it would be fun to allow X” - and if you realise halfway through writing it that it would actually put you in a worse position, you change it or stop writing it. Which means (without any grand planning) that any given BlogNomic proposal probably adds something to the game which doesn’t disadvantage the person who proposed it, and most likely works in their favour a little.