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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 69 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [ORX] New Review at RPG.net  (Read 10464 times)
greyorm
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« on: May 18, 2007, 07:44:34 PM »

There's a new review of ORX up at RPG.net, by Christopher Richeson.

Some the points he makes I want to touch on with my reactions and thoughts.

  • Price: $20 is too much.
    I'm inclined to agree, to an extent. Orx has always seemed to me to be a $10 or $15 game, rather than a $20 game, but the production method being used sets the price for me. If I sell it any lower, I make no profit whatsoever. There is the option of a customer buying the PDF and printing it themself for ~$10, though if anyone knows of a much cheaper POD than Lulu, I'd love to hear from them.

    However, I have to wonder about that, too. You're always told not to under-price your product. This is the selling price of many comparable indie games I've seen (length/content-wise), so I wonder what would have made the $20 price tag more worthwhile? Or what would have made the expense worthwhile (if anything)?

  • Layout: Poor and amateurish.
    Feedback on the layout has been sparse, as is the layout, but of the opinions given to me regarding it, I have heard both, "Wow. Interesting. I really like that," and "Terrible! What were you thinking?"

    I admit, I did the layout myself and I wasn't completely happy with it, either. It isn't an Electric Ghosts by any means; it is very much the opposite. The layout is very basic, very plain, sparse and purely functional (hey, it's as ugly as an orc, I guess!).

    Would some flash along the borders have served the book better in terms of look?

  • Humor: Ugh, no more, please! Is there a game here?
    ORX is swiftly shaping up to be one of those games where you either hate the way it looks and sounds, or love the way it looks and sounds. The two reviews of ORX currently extant differ completely in their view of the humor, from "hateful, appalling and annoying" to "funny enough to buy the book just to read!" Non-reviewers who have read the text have given me the same feedback split right down the middle, from "HAHA! The humor is GREAT!" to "Please take the humor out!"

    I'm inclined to leave it in as a personal preference and for the readers who do get a kick out of it. I know, I know, the folks who hate the humor don't understand that choice at all: but it's like my wife and comedy movies, she just can't understand why anyone would spend money on creating them because the humor is a non-value to her. I suppose if you don't see the humor as a point of value, then it appears only as a negative.

Chris' review did highlight some problems I was worried about or saw myself in the text's presentation and writing. He's right about my not having the proper tools or time to do the layout more correctly -- there were a variety of problems formatting the book for 6x9 from the original 8x11 PDF that I simply didn't have the necessary time or technical knowledge to deal with -- and my being a bit long-winded here and there; on the other hand, he thinks the mechanics are clever and solid and the examples do their job well (something I was exceedingly worried about). Those two bits are actually the most important parts to me, and I think they are absolutely the most important part of any game.

Tongue-in-cheek Summary: So, sue me, it's white-box Gygaxian D&D. There are worse things it could be.

-----

I'm a virgin to this whole event, though: how does one proceed after having been reviewed at RPG.net? Does one simply say "thanks for the review"? Does one ask clarifying questions of the reviewer? Does one even reply to the thread?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2007, 08:47:39 AM »

Hey Raven!

I think the best bet at RPG.net is to show yourself as appreciative and not to give away any emotional ground. "Thanks!" says volumes to people - it means that their attention to the game (and money!) is noticed, and that's not a lie, you are noticing, and presumably value their time and money. But you're not kissing ass or trying to defend yourself, and given my experiences there, that pays off in a big way. RPG.net based sales are great for me; they always have been, and I'm inclined to think it's because people say "hey, that guy gave the reviewer credit for participating, but he's not bent out of shape."

Best, Ron
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greyorm
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2007, 02:34:32 PM »

Cool. I think that's what I ended up doing over in the comments on the review, and on Chris' journal as well.

That's also why I posted these bits here. Though I personally don't see any of the above as defensive, either, they were too close to that line of "emotional reaction" for me to be comfortable with in direct response to the review.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2007, 03:45:02 PM »

Do you want to discuss the points raised by the review further, by the way? Just asking for clarification, I don't have anything particularly mind-blowing to add.
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greyorm
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2007, 07:49:35 PM »

Do you want to discuss the points raised by the review further, by the way? Just asking for clarification, I don't have anything particularly mind-blowing to add.

I definitely would, if anyone would like to do so.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2007, 07:10:38 AM »

Cool. I think that's what I ended up doing over in the comments on the review, and on Chris' journal as well.

That's also why I posted these bits here. Though I personally don't see any of the above as defensive, either, they were too close to that line of "emotional reaction" for me to be comfortable with in direct response to the review.

Yep, I think you gave a very favorable response to a negative review and you're exactly the sort of publisher I'd want to do a review for again.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2007, 07:37:46 AM »

Ah, yes. ORX... I bought it pretty early in PDF, but haven't had a chance to play yet. No particular reason for that, apart from it being a PDF and me having more games than I know what to do with. I've read it a couple of times since then, both times resolving that "I want to play that", so basically it should be all right.

Writing purely on the basis of reading the game, I have to agree with the note about humour, I didn't like that. Part of it was that the game is written in a bit of a confusing manner in general, so humorous asides are the last thing I need when trying to riddle the dice economy. The feel is similar to Capes and Fastlane, both games that are a bit difficult to visualize without actually taking out dice and chips and making your own notes while reading the book. This also compounds with the layout; the layout itself (going by the PDF here) is not bad at all, but the complete lack of diagrams and sparse use of captions or other structural devices makes it painful to try to find or remember stuff. As an indication of how difficult the game is to grog, usually I learn pretty much any roleplaying game on one read-through, and have occasionally ran games from memory months after reading them. I couldn't beging to try that with ORX right now, despite reading it twice now. I vaguely remember that there's some kind of cycling GM dice pool and various sources of bonus dice for players and such, with an overall adventure structure based on how the GM assigns his dice, but the details are all foggy. I'll need to keep the text very close when actually playing, referring to it during each separate step. This is usually a sign that the game is written in an unnecessarily confusing manner.

So that's my angle on the points brought up by the review. For the price, I think that it's completely fine wherever you decide to set it - there is no right or wrong answer to that. The layout does not suffer from the lack of graphical elements, but it would need more emphasizing structures and ideally, diagrams and lists of pertinent rules points. The humour is annoying, but does not impact the actual game, so I don't particularly care, except when reading the book.
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greyorm
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2007, 03:07:10 PM »

Thanks for your thoughts, Eero.

For what it's worth, I myself have to keep the book nearby when playing. I have to wonder if that might have had an impact on my writing the rules out for others and their overall clarity. I can also understand the humor getting in the way of clarity in that instance, by creating more text to parse through when searching for a rule you already aren't sure of.

Given that the character sheet and most of the game consists of a lot of "moving parts" -- values that are changing from move to move -- I can see the need to follow along as one reads in order to best visualize what's happening. How do Capes and Fastlane deal with this problem, or do they do so any better?

...it would need more emphasizing structures and ideally, diagrams and lists of pertinent rules points.

Ok. These are good ideas, but I'm not sure exactly what the book needs: what structures should be emphasized (and how)? I can think of a few diagrams that might be useful, but I'm interested in knowing what subjects you think would be better clarified by such? I also have a crude rules flow-chart that I never finished that sounds like it might be helpful, but would a list of rules points be more helpful as an appendix, or right in the text somehow?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2007, 04:03:03 PM »

Let me get back to you on details of what I would represent and how; I'll have to take another read-through with the book, and I'm a bit busy this coming week.

As for Fastlane and Capes, their general problem is that they do not offer much of a detailed, structured over-view presentation of their material either. Fastlane is just possible to get by reading very slowly and making notes, but I literally understood nothing except the general gist of being very technical from just reading Capes; I had to see it being played before I even understood that there are such things as inspirations, say. The important view just disappears in the chaos.

The general problem with all three of these games, if I may wax generic here, is that they present themselves in a procedural manner. This is something of a problem when a game has a complex, web-like resource economy, because a procedural representation only ever explains you one perspective at a time; this time you're in this position, so you move dice to dice cup A, the book says, but it never gave a generic overview of what those dice at A are for or where they go next. Even a simple flow graph of all the resource cycles in the game, with notes of their purpose, would be immensely helpful in learning any game that leans so centrally on resource cycles. Not having such representation is fine for a game like, say, Sorcerer or Dust Devils, which likewise have resource cycles; in those games you're supposed to be acting event-by-event and adjucating each action as you go, with the rules generating the resource cycle in an implicit manner. It's a quite different situation if there are pools feeding each other all over the place, like the games I mentioned do.

Then again, I just might be overstating the case of complexity for ORX. I'll really have to read it again before shooting my mouth off more. Let me return to this in a week or so (or perhaps a couple of days, if work permits), and I'll say something specific.
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greyorm
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2007, 09:08:11 AM »

Very interesting analysis. I'd tend to agree, at least where ORX is concerned (as I haven't read Fastlane or Capes). I am now racking my brain trying to think of procedural games (rpg or not) with clear instructions that I might take a look at to see how they handled presentation of their rules, and I will also take a second look at the flowchart I had been working on with your statements here in mind.

Let me get back to you on details of what I would represent and how; I'll have to take another read-through with the book, and I'm a bit busy this coming week.

No problem, thanks for taking the time.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2007, 02:07:35 PM »

This ROS thread may help a bit.

RoS rules also suffer from being very procedural with little overview of what the system looks like in action (one of the problems cited in the thread).  I provided some commentary on what the game flow looks like including where some of the strategic decision points are and that seemed to be helpful.
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greyorm
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2007, 05:27:29 PM »

RoS rules also suffer from being very procedural with little overview of what the system looks like in action (one of the problems cited in the thread).  I provided some commentary on what the game flow looks like including where some of the strategic decision points are and that seemed to be helpful.

Thanks for the pointer, Ralph. I'd read the thread, but hadn't taken that away from it, so I'll reread it with an eye towards.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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