Saturday, June 22, 2013

Apologies and White Dudes ... Gamer Edition (Ugh, it's always Gamer Edition Here)

I had been following the PA stuff because there are a lot of people around me who follow it for various reasons. I try to avoid them, for a whole host of reasons that aren't the point of this. What is the point is that someone said that Gabe had posted an apology about his complete ignorance of trans issues, and his hurtful and eliminating words. I checked out the website and much to my surprise there was an actual apology. With words that described how he had hurt people, and what he was trying to do to make it right.

That was a pleasant surprise. (EDIT Before Publishing: The short apology was far better than the longer one, assume I only read this and not this while looking for links because unpacking that second one is scope creep. That's a lovely shout out for all my IT Ops folks.)

Then, something else happened. I wasn't expecting it because I wasn't really expecting an actual apology. That was the whole "Forgive and Forget" vibe coming from a bunch of white dudes in games. Now, I have met a bunch of these white dudes. They are all really smart, really intelligent people. We share things in common, mostly being a white dude in games, but I think of them as up there kind of people.

That said, I should have expected this. You see, us white dudes have this thing where when someone apologizes for one thing it should immediately be applied retroactively to whatever other hurtful things we've done in the past. It's the whole divorced from history thing that happens whenever an apology comes up, the "forget and move on" kind of line that gets shoved around and in the faces of people who might actually have a point that is constantly blocked by the shouts of "MOVING ON!"

A couple of things to that.

The first one, is that as a white dude myself I feel I can say something without the whole MOVING ON shout getting thrown at me. Let me throw you an imperfect analogy at you. If someone keeps taking your things, I don't need to be specific they are nebulous things that you own make a list if you like, you're not going to like them very much.  Now say around the tenth thing says "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to take this from you" and gives you back your tenth thing. That's cool, it's appreciated. Now how about the previous nin--


Yes, he apologized. Good on him, it shows that Mike has the capacity to understand someone else's situation and realize the impact he might have had on it. This does not magically make the other times when he's not done that go away, nor does it absolve him of his previous actions.

What it is, is a start. If he wants to put his previous actions in the rear view mirror, you take that start and you build up from there. You can still make mistakes, and you can still learn and apologize from there but you have to keep trying even though people get angry at you, or upset because you messed up and verbally crushed them under that thoughtless thing, or that intentional jab.

To take from @wilw's don't be a dick line, because he's been another one of the well meaning white dudes who have been shaking his head wondering why people aren't just moving on, just because stopped being a dick this time doesn't mean you weren't a dick a bunch of times before. It just means you have the opportunity to show that you mean it, because it's not like there haven't been many times in history where people have apologized, looked like they meant it, and then brushed it off.

The second thing, I might point out, is something that struck me. Most of the people shouting MOVE ON ALREADY were the well meaning white dudes, and most of the people who were like "Well, okay that's a start" weren't white dudes. That's why I prefaced my opening with a "as a white dude myself" because chances are I'm going to get a different kind of reaction than everyone else who has been trying to remind folks that we don't live divorced from our history.

That's kind of one of the things you should take stock of sometimes. If you're sitting there with a bunch of people lamenting the fact that some people can't get over things, take a deep breath and look around you. If the people you're sitting with are, for the most part, white, straight, cis-gendered, dudes ... maybe you should rethink your position because there's a good chance that you're all wallowing in your privilege. You know, that thing that you have so you don't have to deal with this kind of stuff on a regular basis.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

#gamechef2013 reviews 30-33 w/ 8 French Game

Progress! Progress! We're at the 30 digits!

Game Chef English 2013

30. Seers by Michael Godesky (layout by Jason Godesky)

Twitter Pitch: An evocative storytelling game of magical realism. You are a Seer who must make deals with spirits while maintaining balance between them. 

The Good: Wow. I was talking earlier that there wasn't a game that caught my attention this year yet doing these mass reviews. This might be it. Quick, simple, elegant, interpretive and easy to pick up when you read the rules out loud.

The Bad: The only thing I might say is that I wish that there was a way to use any tarot deck. Probably not something usable for the limited space on the cards but I have a Froud deck that would be wonderful to use for this.

The Other: Because of the way the games are reviewed, I don't know if this will make it. But it should make it to the finals, and it should be a strong contender for winning.

Would I play it? Brethren, we gather at this circle ...

31. Illuminati: Race to the Top! by Jonathan Janssen

Twitter Pitch: A light and humorous game where randomly generated agents fight their way to the top of the Illuminati pyramid.

The Good: This is like you too INWO, and turned it into a board/card/RPG game where you have to describe what's going on rather than rolling some dice.

The Bad: More funny? The game has such an opportunity for funny and it just doesn't go there. It needs to be ridiculous and silly, far more than you have it already. Embrace it, run with it.

The Other: Maybe make interpersonal conflict a little funnier too, but that's the same as above.

Would I play it? Yes, but with the silliness turned up to eleventy.

32. Infinite Elevator by Faith and Russell Portier

Twitter Pitch: A storytelling game pitting human roadies for alien rock bands against hotel employees in a futile quest to keep the rockstars happy.

The Good: Intergalactic prima donna rockstars, human roadies, and a lack of understanding of what's going on mixed with a wonky elevator that takes you places? This is a great game, and a great execution. The rules work well for what you're doing, and it does have the kind of confrontational aspect to the game.

The Bad: A personal preference would be to play more with the communication barriers that would happen in this kind of situation. There isn't a babble fish, so that would be something I would like to see, but by no means is it something that needs to be there.

The Other: Examples need to be more Rockstar-like. They want a bowl of green sluuuges, not blue sluuuuges because they're toxic. Just a thought.

Would I play it? Get me to the Crystal Methane Spa, I need to get that bowl of green sluuuuges!

33. Shuriken Survival by Peter Edwards ... with link to cards.

Twitter Pitch: 

The Good: This looks like a little fun bluffing game that you can play, and have it end pretty quickly depending on the cards you get. Short, fun little time sink.

The Bad: The rules need a lot of going over. You shouldn't have to write that you can play "psychological games" the rules should provide you with those opportunities themselves. I'd also dump the Lantern Deck. Have people attack who they want.

The Other: Also, maybe have 2 hits and have three locations to provide a few more options? You take 2 damage from one, 1 damage from another and miss? I'm just thinking about how much it would suck to get knocked out right away and then have to sit down and wait for everyone else to do cool stuff.

Would I play it? No, but only because again I feel it needs something changed to it in order to make it playable.

French Game Chef 2013


Pitch: La S.T.F (Société de Transport Ferroviaire) existe depuis 1894, ses trains de containers traversent tout le continent glacé pour livrer des marchandises entre les villes de Barite et de Kofia. Malheureusement les régions traversées sont infestées de monstres et certains d’entre eux pensent pouvoir profiter du train pour voyager gratos, mais heureusement vous êtes là. Vous êtes un agent de la S.T.F chargé de garder le train en bon état, d’inspecter les containers et d’éjecter les monstres et marchandises illégales
que vous pouvez y trouver. Mais en même temps vous avez besoin de fric alors des fois vous négociez un peu avec les bestioles, ou bien vous les maravez pour les dépouiller ensuite. Tsss. [The STT, the Society of Train Transport, has existed since 1894 and has kept goods moving between the cities of Barite and Kofia. Unfortunately, this region is heavily infested with monsters who look to take what they can from the train. That's where you come in, with kicking out monsters, and finding contraband the STT makes sure the goods get where they need to go. Of course, sometimes it pays to look the other way ...]

Le Bon [The Good]: Je comprends pourquoi ce jeux est une finaliste pour 2013. Une idée amusante, un méchanism qui vite, et flexible. Les examples sont parfait, et ont toujours illustré and illuminé les problèmes que j'avais avec le texte. [I understand why this is a 2013 finalist. Amusing idea, quick simple mechanics. Your examples are perfect and always illustrate a problem I'm having with the text]

Le Mauvais [The Bad]: Le seule chose qui, peut-être, est supplémentaire au jeux c'est le rêve. C'est pas une méchanism bizarre ou incongru, mais si il-y-avait qu'elle que chose à couper, c'est le rêve. [The only thing I might think is kind of on the outside is the dream mechanic. I don't think it's too out there, but if there was something to cut that would be it.]

L'Autre [The Other]: J'ai une image des agents de la STF qui arrive et voix des monstres dans les paquets, prendre un moment, et après fermer la porte. [I have this image of STT agents opening the door, seeing a bunch of nasty monsters in the parcels, there's a pause when everyone looks at each other, and then they close the door behind them.]

Jouons [Would I play it]? Le train part à midi-trente. [The train is leaving at 12:30.]

Thursday, June 6, 2013

#gamechef2013 reviews 25-29 w/ 7 French Game

We're almost at the 1/3 mark, we'll see if I can keep up this pace or if my mind will explode.

Game Chef English 2013

25. Elevated State by Julius Kuutti

Twitter Pitch: A scifi roleplaying game about emotions and their power. Play a logical cyborg that is suddenly taken over by strong emotions. Struggle to maintain balance between emotions and logical thinking. Which road will lead to the Elevated State?

The Good: Clearly something inspired by Nordic LARP, where the play is really about the emotions about the characters. If this is something you're into, then this is a very good quick introduction to that kind of game where dealing with raw emotions and the fall out from them. Going from nothing to having ONE POWERFUL EMOTION RIGHT NOW is a pretty interesting concept.

The Bad: I think there just needs to be a little bit more on the set up and a bit more close out, if you understand that. I think having a scene where the players get to be emotionless would make it easier to feel the impact. There also needs to be talk about what happens at the end, after the game, because I believe that's part of the philosophy. Not only do you have an emotional game, but you provide support for the people afterwards.

The Other: I should read up more on Nordic LARP just to know, but it so doesn't interest me personally that's its hard. This was about me because the other sections were longer than what a lot of other people got ... so there.

Would I play it? No, see above.

22. Exit from Purgatory by Martin-Pierre Frenette

Twitter Pitch: A card and dice game in which the players are all dead and are trying to leave purgatory

The Good: Doing something non RPG related for Game Chef is always interested because it shakes it up, and I give you full marks for trying to make a dice and card game.

The Bad: I don't think it did what you were hoping for. There isn't much of a consistent theme, and the challenges that you're doing don't seem to match up with what's going on. I see what you're doing there, I just don't think you did it, or got near it really.

The Other: I'd take this one back to the drawing board and try again. Even if you ditch most of the Game Chef stuff, it would be a back to the drawing board thing.

Would I play it? Purgatory seems just okay for me. I'll sit here.

23. Jacob's Ladder by Johan Nordinge

Twitter Pitch: Humanity has built a Space Elevator. When they travel up, they take some things with them and other things are left behind. What will you sacrifice to save mankind?

The Good: I think having the "3 out of these 4 things will happen" and the GM gets to pick out of a list of those is great. It provides you with a way to define the kind of things you see happening, while still giving the players a lot of uncertainty as to what is going to happen.

The Bad: Thematically, the game is a little all over the place. They've built the space elevator, who controls it. We've used it to colonize other places? Wait, but how because I thought the control was still disputed and ... the game needs a lot more focus on its theme.

The Other: What type of dice? I couldn't find reference to the kind of dice you would roll.

Would I play it? Not in it's current format, which means I'm going to go forward with the "if I have to mod it, I'mma gonna say no" which may make me a hypocrite from before but ... whatever.

24. Black Cavern by Clinton Dreisbach

Twitter Pitch: You wake, cold, wet, hungry, and naked. You can see nothing. You are trapped in a black cavern. Will you ever make it home? Your memories are all the tools you have to make it back.

The Good: This could be a very, scary game. You're stuck in the dark and you don't know how you got there? There's a whole host of things that can happen, and go wrong and terrify people. Awesome.

The Bad: There's this concept you might have heard of, it is called a character sheet. With all the stuff you want them to mark, just give them some boxes with titles. Really, it doesn't have to be fancy or anything. Also, while I love the idea, and think it could have been really creepy you pull back a little bit from what it could be. I think the whole "using your memories from above and then become a denizen of the dark" needs to be something more than mechanical in nature. I don't know, it just lost me there.

The Other: Powered by Apocalypse, huh? You know I ... I give up I guess. Look, I love Monsterhearts, AW and DungeonWorld as much as the next people. They're great games, but every time I see them in a game now I'm getting annoyed. Can we get a new indie bubble?

Would I play it? Nope, unfortunately not. It lost me, and with all the games I'm looking through when it loses me, it loses me.

French Game Chef 2013

7. Contressence par Frédéric Gérard

Pitch: L'essence de l'Homme l'entraîne t-elle vers le bas ou vers le haut? Jouez le. [Does the essence of man veer towards the low, or the high. Play and find out!]

Le Bon [The Good]: L'idée de prendre l'inverse, et de voir l'humanité à travers la perception des extra-terrestres qui veulent éduquer l'humanité est amusante. Ce qui est parfait, c'est que c'est un JdR qui est joué dans une autre JdR. [I love the idea that this game is humanity through the lends of the aliens that want to educate humanity. It's also perfect, because it's an RPG you play within an RPG.]

Le Mauvais [The Bad]: Peut-être un peu plus de directive pour intégrer Contressence dans des autre jeux. Un moment who vous pouvez dire que les Wagner vont augmenter ou changes les joueurs. [Maybe a little more direction on integrating Contressence in your game. A moment when the aliens will augment or change you would be helpful.

L'Autre [The Other]: La première directive? Ha! [Ha! The Prime Directive!]

Jouons [Would I play it]? Ca dépend sur le jeux qu'on va jouer dessous Contressence. [Depends on the game with play Contressence in.]

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

#gamechef2013 reviews 21-24 w/ 6 French Game

Progress! Progress!

Game Chef English 2013

21. Adapt by Paulo Rivas

Twitter Pitch: A funny game about living in an isolated colony in the middle of an evolutionary experiment, while trying to keep on with your life.

The Good: The fun fact in the character sheet made me snerk out loud. I like the whole "elevator to get to where you're going" and that's a problem in and of itself.

The Bad: But I've played this game, and it's called Paranoia. And it's not even something that's trying to take something and do it different ... this is Paranoia with a slightly different mechanic and goal.

The Other: I know I'm not one to talk, because I tend to not really review things for contests like this. But this game could have used another look through. Yes I know it says Alpha version but ... there's a lot of little things just a regular read through would catch.

Would I play it? I'm sorry citizen, but your happiness lies in another game. You wouldn't want to be a traitor to the computer.

22. The Wicked World by Brian Engard aka. Other Guy

Twitter Pitch: A noir detective game about angel PIs sent to Earth to thwart the plots of demons and their minions.

The Good: The theme, because I've always been  fan of this kind of game. I loved In Nomine, and this has that wonderful Angels/Demons Good/Evil kind of feel but takes it in a very streamlined way. I do also like how the mechanic is a very much all or nothing kind of thing, one person is going to get the narration rights and the rest of you can burn.

The Bad: My there is a metric fuckload of prep before the prep. It's all important, and all very useful but if you don't like cutting and pasting then this is not the game for you. I might have wanted a little bit more on the demons too, but that could very easily extend this beyond the scope of what Game Chef can do.

The Other: Would it be possible to get all good traits? Would you pick something negative if it comes through your scars? I would like to see more with the mystery map as well, I don't know quite what but I think it needs to have more of an impact that just tracking stuff (though tracking stuff is good).

Would I play it? We shall fight these creatures until the very bitter end, for the good of the host and for humanity.

23. Hollow Realm by Jacob Possin

Twitter Pitch: The Realm of Filth and the Bitter Realm fight over this world. You are a Lamplighter, and you seek to end this conflict. You are the defender of this Hollow Realm

The Good: While I do enjoy it, I'm glad that you've gone away from the Angels and Demons kind of angle that a lot of people have. Also, I like the idea that you've set out some Campaign Frames, and that there are two paths to losing yourself.  

The Bad: I know that there's a mechanic for spending points after the roll to keep narration rights, but there isn't anything really other than that to make people spend it. After reading it, I felt that I would rarely use that because I don't feel my character threatened by losing rights.

The Other: When being inspired by something, you don't always have to use elements of it in order to put it into the game. This is particularly true with this version of game chef, so calling them snowflakes felt a little ... well ... out of place.

Would I play it? I'm on the fence with this one, there needs to be more menace in the rules in order to make me feel like I'd want to.

24. Finding Haven by Manu Saxena

Twitter Pitch: A sci-fi rpg where V meets Logan's Run in space.

The Good: The fact that you're setting up what you want from the climax of the story ahead of time is interesting, it gives you something to keep striving for right at the beginning of the game.

The Bad: The relationship stuff seems not something that remotely important to the game. I get the idea behind the whole Relationship Quotient and the C&C but ... I just think it's one of those things that might have gotten the axe and an edition session.

The Other: Soylent Green is people man! People!

Would I play it? Not really, but note I'm feeling kind of ornery tonight so that might have something to do with it.

French Game Chef 2013

6. Sables par Olivier Morvan

Pitch: Paris, dans un futur proche. Une drogue révolutionnaire, Oniros, permet à ses usagers de pénétrer les songes d'une autre personne et de partager les siens. Le monde doit désormais composer avec une réalité virtuelle plus puissante que n'importe quelle simulation informatique. Mais la jolie médaille a son revers et certains on eu tôt fait de transformer le rêve en cauchemair. L'état is donc mis sur pied une nouvelle unité de Police, la Brigade de Répression Onirique surnommée la Brigade des Sables. Les Joueurs incarneront ces flics atypiques capables d'investiguer dans les univers intagibles du Rêve. [Paris in the near future. A revolutionary drug, Oniros, allows its users to enter the dreams of other people. The world now has to deal with a virtual reality more powerful than any computer simulation. It also doesn't take much to turn a dream, into a nightmare. Which caused there to be a new police force force, The Sandman Brigade, who are there to keep the dream peace and investigate the intangible dream universe.]

Le Bon [The Good]: L'Action du jeux est bien expliqué, avec beaucoup de détailles interessant. Le dessin du document et le plus meilleure dans la compétition à jour, même si il arrive a 30Mo. [The setting is wonderfully detailed, and the layout is the the best I've seen in the competition, even if it's 30MB]

Le Mauvais [The Bad]: A part de l'action, il n'y a pas d'autre chause qui m'intrigue. C'est un JdR typique. C'est pas une problème grave, et j'espère que je ne devient pas comme une de ces misers qui déteste tous le jeux << typique >>, mais avec tous les autre jeux c'est le seule chose qui m'arrête. [Besides the setting, there isn't a lot else here that's interesting. It's not a bad problem, and I hope it doesn't make me one of those curmedgeons that dislike anything 'typical," but with all the other games it's the one thing that stopped me about this one.]

L'Autre [The Other]: Ack! 201X? Si vous allez mettre une date, mettez une date. Le date avec X c'est frustrant parce-que c'est comme vous ne voulez pas être responsable pour votre choix. [Really? 201x? Look, if you're going to put a date in, put a date in. Using a date win an X is frustrating because it's like you don't want to be responsible for your choice.]

Jouons [Would I play it]? Oui!

Monday, June 3, 2013

#gamechef2013 reviews 17-20 w/ 5 French Game

A little over 1/5 of the way there! Let's keep this show a rolling.

Game Chef English 2013

17. Uncertain Paths by Gareth Hanrahan

Twitter Pitch: A semi-competitive storytelling engine of certain fates.

The Good: The part where you're constantly faced with the "which one do I pick?" option for deciding what happens to this hero is awesome. It could even last longer if each player had their own character and you took turns going around and being the masks for everyone else.

The Bad: I think the traits section needs to be cleaned up, it could have been a lot simpler for the same kind of effect.

The Other: I wouldn't call it even semi-competitive, mainly because there isn't a competitive element to it. Quick fix, give Mask players a point or something when they get picked. Now you're really going to want to make sure you get picked.

Would I play it? Haha! You picked the worm! Now I'm going to do horrible things! Muahahahaha!

18. Quarantine by Adam Hake

Twitter Pitch: Your crew has been stranded on a hostile planet. Rescue is coming in a few days, however some of you are infected with alien parasites, and you don't know who to trust.

The Good: Smaller party like games are always something to strive for. I love playing The Resistance and Werewolves of Miller's Hollow but they take at minimum 5 or 8 players minimum.

The Bad: This has all the things that makes me not like Werewolves of Miller's Hollow or the other various games. There isn't any hints as to why someone might be infected, it's just by guess and by god which isn't as much fun as it could be.

The Other: Game needs a heat meter, or a thermometer or something! More information!

Would I play it? No, unfortunately.

19. The Flasher by Guy MacDonnell

Twitter Pitch: The misadventures of an exhibitionist trying to get off on a flashing fix. I am so sorry.

The Good: There really isn't anything good about this game. Seriously, I get the "I am so sorry" but I have nothing good to say about the game.

The Bad: Look, the fact that you put a "positive reaction" to flashing someone in the game speaks volumes. Uninvited exposure is never wanted, that's why it's uninvited. This is why there are clubs and things where people can to go for their various fetish needs, and even then uninvited things are never wanted because they are uninvited.

The Other: Seriously, I mean just ... fuck. I don't care actually about the design if I can't read the game without getting pissed off. And I did read every single fucking aggravating word of it.

Would I play it? Both fuck and no.

20. The Merlin Worm by Josh Porter

Twitter Pitch: Mind controlling parasites are travelling back I. Time through memories to destroy all humans at the source. There is one your brain and you must not let anyone know or super soldiers from the future will murder you.

The Good: I like the dual dice roll of highest getting something, and lowest getting something. Also the whole taking over thing seems particularly awesome, and I kind of wish it had more of an impact other than narratively.

The Bad: I don't quite see the need to keep the Questions secretive. It seems there to kind of be there. Also, you need to be clearer about the coins. The flipping coins are the big ones and the little coins are for the character sheet? Why two sets? You could easily work off of one sheet for this, no?

The Other: My usual caveat. If you're going to do a setting for something like game chef, where there is a limited time frame to do things, you should avoid using unfamiliar and possibly racist or appropriative settings. Not that this really happened here, but any place where you use because of its exotic otherness might not be a good idea.

Would I play it? Maybe once, just to get the feel for it.

French Game Chef 2013

5. P(au)(o)mmés par Anthony Boulanger

Pitch: Vous êtes des Homonculus modelés par le Runelige Thormaelf dans l'unique but de retrouver le drakkar et le corp du Roi Olaf pour lui permettre d'avour des funérailles dignes de ce souverain. Durant votre périple, choisirez-vous d'accomplir votre mission quoi qu'il en coûte ou goûterez-vous à la vie loin des chaînes d l'asservissement? [You are Homonculus, modeled by the Runeliege Thormaelf in the goal of discovering the drakkar and the body of King Olaf to give him his proper funeral rights. On your journey, will you choose to accomplish your mission regardless of the cost, or will you fight for your freedom]

Le Bon [The Good]: Ce JdR est vraiment ambitieux. Il y a beaucoup de mechanisme en jeux, et l'idée de jouer des Homonculus au control des Runelige est un idée que j'aimerais voir de plus. [This is a very ambitious idea for an RPG. There's a lot of mechanics here, and the idea of having that under control of a far distant figure is something I'd like to see.]

Le Mauvais [The Bad]: Cependant, il y un peut trops de runes pour moi. Aussi, j'ai pas vu beaucoup de machanisms pour votre liberté.  [However, there's a lot of runes, too many for me. I also didn't see a lot of mechanics that would deal with your fight for freedom.]

L'Autre [The Other]: La majority de ce document et utiliser pour la creation des personnage. Un example de jeu, ou des idée pour jouer le jeux sera bien apprécié. [Most of the document is the character creation. Some game examples, or ideas on how to run this would have been appreciated.]

Jouons [Would I play it]? Non, mais ces à cause de mes limites, et non pas celles du jeux. [No, but I think that's more because of my rusty french than the game.]

Firestorm Ink's Fan Box