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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 86 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Game #1: Machina  (Read 2862 times)
Jason L Blair
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« on: May 23, 2001, 01:01:00 PM »

Dag, both JS and Zak have posted that they are working on games where players take the role of machines. Well, I have a game dealing with that as well (including a binary-based mechanic that isn't fully fleshed out yet). You can check it out here:

http://www.key20.com/machina

There are some typos and it isn't very well edited and the site's not that pretty but it does its job as my "portable" notebook.

Let me know what your initial impressions are, what questions you have, and let's get some discussion going on!

The site for the second game (entitled "Zodiac 12") will be posted soon. It's not nearly complete so any of you 133+ h4x0rz that figure out its URL will only find the barebones of what's to come.


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Jason L Blair
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Key 20 Publishing
http://www.key20.com


[ This Message was edited by: Key20Jason on 2001-05-23 17:03 ]
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Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer
Dav
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Posts: 432


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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2001, 02:05:00 PM »

Jason:

First, let me say that I really enjoy the premise.  You have a gift for word, my friend.

Second, with the d16 concept:  were you thinking of rolling 4 dice and tallying evens and odds (thus 1's and 0's), or actually contriving a sixteen sided combination of dice?  Or either?  

Okay, my real analysis is as follows, however:

I think it is a good concept.  The writing seems very emotionally advanced to be written by machines, even evolved/awakened ones, but that may be part of the point.  A good portion of the game seems built around emotional exploration of the character.  

This is good.

I am wondering if this is going to be built-in mechanic, or reliant on players (someone like Ron, who is narrativist in tendency already, and as such, would have a blast with such a notion)?  I ask mainly due to the fact that while many gamers could and would take this to great heights, there are a number of people who "need more" to their games.  Again, I realize that this is very early in the process to fully answer some of these questions, but it never hurts to ask what you have in mind.

Also, if this is a stand alone game, you may want to answer the question of what brought down man.  From the reading, I am willing to toss about that the machines bit the hand that fed, so to speak, but explicit description might not be bad (unless you are going metaplot, or leaving that open as a "GM answer this for yourself" trait).  

I see a lot of potential parallels to that new spielberg movie: "AI".  I haven't seen it (and if I have my way, wont ever), but you may want to be careful of this, as many people are likely to leap about in hair-pulling frenzies pointing fingers.  People are like that.  I have no idea why.

All-in-all, I see hours of enjoyment in a Blade Runner-esque (hell, Phil Dick-esque) notion.  I would like to point to Terry Bisson's "Pirates of the Universe", which is a great book, and the gens could provide tons of source material for some of the more aesthetic companion machines.

That's it for now.  I'll try to have something a bit more substantial later, but I'll have to re-read the material first.

Dav
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JSDiamond
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2001, 02:53:00 PM »

It sounds really cool.  I like the binary system, that's just elegant. I can't wait for that to be fleshed out.
I feel as though you could really easily include optional Director Stance rules with a system like that.

I also like the difference between 'awaken' and 'drone'.  Do the player's characters begin as drone?  Or by virtue of being player-characters, do they begin the game as somewhat awaken?

Will there be a somewhat explained setting (reasons, history, etc.) for the world mostly without humanity?
In GOLEM I'm leaning toward letting GMs make their own history and world setting.

Jeff Diamond
http://www.geocities.com/allianceprime">6-0 Games

 

 
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JSDiamond
Zak Arntson
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2001, 03:46:00 PM »

I've been toying with binary representation of attributes for Null Compliant (my robot-oriented game).  For player-understanding and rules-lightness, attributes range from 00 to 11.  00, 01, 10, 11.  I've been toying with dice mechanics.  I'm exclusively going to use d4s (mabye) and d8s.  A d8 gives you a value from 01 to 1000 (which would be better as 0 to 7: 000 to 111).  But I don't want to give people a lookup table to figure their binary roll value.

So one mechanic: The one's digit is a d4, the ten's digit is a d8.  There is also a "wild" d8 (maybe).  If you have a 1 in the proper digit, you roll the proper die.
00 = Wild (W), 01 = d4+dW, 10 = d8+dW, 11 = d4+d8+dW

But I don't like d4's, so I'm still brainstorming on a better method.
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Jason L Blair
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Posts: 636

Nothing is sacred.


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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2001, 04:07:00 PM »

Dav,

Quote

On 2001-05-23 18:05, Dav wrote:
Jason:
Second, with the d16 concept:  were you thinking of rolling 4 dice and tallying evens and odds (thus 1's and 0's), or actually contriving a sixteen sided combination of dice?  Or either?  


Direct translation of the dice into binary was the first thing that crossed my mind. However, would it end up that you'd need four different colored dice and had to line them up hoping you remembered which color was which? Dice mechanics can be a bear for me at times (Little Fears went through god knows how many systems). So nothing at all is really set in, I just know there's a mechanic there somewhere and I want to find it.

Quote

Okay, my real analysis is as follows, however:

I think it is a good concept.  The writing seems very emotionally advanced to be written by machines, even evolved/awakened ones, but that may be part of the point.  


The narrator of the site (well, aside from the Design Notes) is Mother Andrea who is, by far, the most awakened of them all. In fact, she may not even be just a machine anymore. But since she communicates with the other machines via hologram and the central system (a computer-driven network that spans the majority of the main city but doesn't reach what are known as brownfields (abandoned zones), no machines (with the exception of Maria the First) have actual contact with her.

Quote

I am wondering if this is going to be built-in mechanic, or reliant on players (someone like Ron, who is narrativist in tendency already, and as such, would have a blast with such a notion)?  I ask mainly due to the fact that while many gamers could and would take this to great heights, there are a number of people who "need more" to their games.  Again, I realize that this is very early in the process to fully answer some of these questions, but it never hurts to ask what you have in mind.


Emotional growth is very important in the design of the game but I'm trying not to limit it to that. There is a whole, changed world to explore so people who play for adventure will find it there.

Quote

Also, if this is a stand alone game, you may want to answer the question of what brought down man.  From the reading, I am willing to toss about that the machines bit the hand that fed, so to speak, but explicit description might not be bad (unless you are going metaplot, or leaving that open as a "GM answer this for yourself" trait).  


There won't be much of a metaplot but if I pursue this to the final stages, I will explain what happened to man. The answer is really two-fold and, in a way, the machines did have something do with it.

Quote

I see a lot of potential parallels to that new spielberg movie: "AI".  I haven't seen it (and if I have my way, wont ever), but you may want to be careful of this, as many people are likely to leap about in hair-pulling frenzies pointing fingers.  People are like that.  I have no idea why.


I want to see that film just to rip off design styles. :wink:

Quote

All-in-all, I see hours of enjoyment in a Blade Runner-esque (hell, Phil Dick-esque) notion.  I would like to point to Terry Bisson's "Pirates of the Universe", which is a great book, and the gens could provide tons of source material for some of the more aesthetic companion machines.


Thanks, I'll check out the book.

Quote

That's it for now.  I'll try to have something a bit more substantial later, but I'll have to re-read the material first.


I'm going to correct some of the mistakes (gawd, I keep finding them... really stupid ones, too) and I hope to have some more material (I posted some prose in a now inaccessible to me forum over at GO. I'll try to get them up soon.).

Thanks for the comments and questions, I can't wait for more.

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Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer
Jason L Blair
Member

Posts: 636

Nothing is sacred.


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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2001, 04:12:00 PM »

JSDiamond,

Quote

On 2001-05-23 18:53, JSDiamond wrote:
It sounds really cool.  I like the binary system, that's just elegant. I can't wait for that to be fleshed out.
I feel as though you could really easily include optional Director Stance rules with a system like that.


Hopefully, I'll be able to pull it off. :wink:

Quote

I also like the difference between 'awaken' and 'drone'.  Do the player's characters begin as drone?  Or by virtue of being player-characters, do they begin the game as somewhat awaken?


I'll include rules on creating both newly awakened (and in that, how to create drone as well as guidelines through the initial awakening, so players can go through that if they choose). I think most will start off already awakened, though going the process of awakening I think could be a great rp'ing experience.

Quote

Will there be a somewhat explained setting (reasons, history, etc.) for the world mostly without humanity?
In GOLEM I'm leaning toward letting GMs make their own history and world setting.


There will be defined setting as well a history (I say a history since it will be what the machines are able to remember and piece together from the data available). There's definite merit in leaving an undefined setting (I really want to see GOLEM when it's finished) but I'm using elements I've already conceived to build important people and just the feel of the game, so a defined setting should really work out nice.


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Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer
Jason L Blair
Member

Posts: 636

Nothing is sacred.


WWW
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2001, 04:16:00 PM »

Quote

So one mechanic: The one's digit is a d4, the ten's digit is a d8.  There is also a "wild" d8 (maybe).  If you have a 1 in the proper digit, you roll the proper die.
00 = Wild (W), 01 = d4+dW, 10 = d8+dW, 11 = d4+d8+dW



Wow. That sounds pretty sweet. I like that a lot. Dag, why can't I think of that kinda stuff?


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Jason L Blair
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2001, 04:31:00 PM »

Hmmm...in my warped brain, the machines are humans who have just forgotten how to love...
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
james_west
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2001, 05:29:00 PM »

First, I have to say that the site itself is beautifuly designed and executed, and the text is very evocative. It is a game that I wouldn't mind playing. It has a strong fantasy feel to me that I like.

Thinking about it on a more abstract level, though, I'm not sure what effects you imagine as a result of them being mechanical. In what way is this not just a cyberpunk post-holocaust game with emotionally disfunctional characters ? While the special effects are different, I'm not sure in practice what seperates this from an array of existing games.

I'm being a little disingenuous myself here, in that I can actually think of a variety of interesting things - I'm just wondering what your take on it is.

                              - Eagerly looking forward
                                to the next idea.

                                    James
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Jason L Blair
Member

Posts: 636

Nothing is sacred.


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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2001, 06:55:00 PM »

Quote

Thinking about it on a more abstract level, though, I'm not sure what effects you imagine as a result of them being mechanical. In what way is this not just a cyberpunk post-holocaust game with emotionally disfunctional characters ? While the special effects are different, I'm not sure in practice what seperates this from an array of existing games.


Damn good question, James. And probably the biggest sticking point in its design. I have a shload of nifties that I can throw on top of it but are they just icing? I chose mechanical because that was what the initial inspiration was and then the idea of slowly gaining emotion came in and then some history grew from that but what you're asking seems to be more fundamental, more focused on the basis of the game. I'm about to go to sleep now, but it's something I'll definitely be thinking on. I'll post some ideas probably tomorrow. In the mean time, what effects do you (any of you) see?

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Jason L Blair
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Key 20 Publishing
http://www.key20.com

[ This Message was edited by: Key20Jason on 2001-05-23 22:57 ]
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Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer
james_west
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« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2001, 07:13:00 PM »

The short answer is, basically this is an excuse to come up with a completely alien race, psychologically speaking. You have no particular impetus at all to make THEIR emotional development AT ALL mimic normal human emotional development (which is, presumably, based on evolutionary concerns which are irrelevant to robots). What sort of ethics make sense to a creature which only reproduces in factories, has no history of cooperation=survival, etc. ?

If you have a game-mechanical system by which this whole
series works, then you perhaps could even have different paths. For instance, the ones designed as recreational could have SOME of the basic human drives programmed into them initially, and so would be closer to human. The logical process in others could be completely alien.

What it comes down to is, humans are pretty much humans from a mental point of view; these don't have to be, and there are a variety of interesting conflicts that could be based on it.

                   - James

[ This Message was edited by: james_west on 2001-05-23 23:15 ]
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Jason L Blair
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Posts: 636

Nothing is sacred.


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« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2001, 07:24:00 PM »

Also, now that I've had a chance to clear my head, using the servants of mankind as the newly dominant race puts us humans in the position of gods to these machines. Man is revered in Machina since man was, without question, their creator. And you're absolutely right about the alien mindset. Machines still see things according to their utility (such as the concept of mother, father, and child having nothing to do with sex, age, etc.). Machines have a different set of priorities and standards. The three emotions given at the site (empathy, anxiety, and enmity) will be defined part of the machines. They will rise and fall and the machine will respond accordingly. Granted, I could have just had a anti-memory bomb go off in our atmosphere and accomplished the same thing. And a clean slate should not be confused with dysfunction, really. Let's look at the Mona Lisa. An emotion (or emotional being) becoming dysfunctional is like taking a big black marker and running rampant on Mona's visage (moustache, graffiti, etc.). But these machines just have a clean canvas and through their experiences a painting will form.

Hey... ya edited your post while I was responding. :wink: Good call on the machine's initial programming influencing their emotional development. Hmm... okay, so to go back to Mona, each machine would have a rough outline (broad strokes) on canvas and their experiences would fill in with fine detail.

This is exactly the type of inspiration and focused thought I was hoping for. Thanks! And keep it coming!

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Jason L Blair
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Key 20 Publishing
http://www.key20.com

[ This Message was edited by: Key20Jason on 2001-05-23 23:27 ]
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Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer
Dav
Member

Posts: 432


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« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2001, 05:40:00 AM »

Giving some more thought to the binary mechanic in Machina.  I was thinking, have you considered using a hex system.  Meld a d10 and d6, simple, machine oriented, and versatile.  

Anyway, it was just a thought if you were having problems with the binary aspect.

Dav
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2001, 10:09:00 AM »

You could use Othello pieces, where white side = 0, black side = 1.  Then have the players flip a bunch.

Though the resolution should be pretty fast.  I'd hate to see people figuring whether 110010 beats a difficulty of 100111.

I keep trying to think of ways to do a d2, d4, d8, or d16. But I can't come up with a good method of rolling d2's or d16's without special dice.  That way, you could have an attribute of 1101 which would mean:
d16 d8  d4  d2
1   1   0   1


You could drop the d16, and use d8, d4, d2 ...


My current method is more of a style thing, so Null Compliant uses only d8's, and a roll of 1 2 4 or 8 is considered a success.  I know this is equivalent of flipping a coin, but the powers of 2 add something to the feel.  !Compliant doesn't require much in the way of a measure of success (to the Machines, things are pretty Yes/No), or the particular highness/lowness of a roll.

I've come up with a neat solution to my Null Compliant game, though I think it's more appropriate to the Machines of Null Compliant than most other games.  I'll post it soon.

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http://mailto:zak@mimir.net">zak@mimir.net
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[ This Message was edited by: Zak Arntson on 2001-05-31 14:10 ]
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james_west
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2001, 07:01:00 AM »

You'd be surprised at how fast you pick up thinking in binary. Back when dinosaurs were roaming the earth, around twelve years ago, a large part of my job involved throwing together hard-wired logic circuits at the drop of a hat, and I found eight-bit binary counting becomes natural in only a few hours of continuous use.

Of course, there's the issue of people being willing to spend even that much time on it, if it ain't their job.

I love the "Othello pieces" idea - it's a more finessed coin flip. It seems someone ought to be able to design a cool mechanic based on that.

             - James
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