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Author Topic: Call for Playtesters; Let's Make a Deal.  (Read 4730 times)
Le Joueur
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« on: September 20, 2002, 09:42:43 PM »

I received an interesting private message yesterday.  It was about a comment I made over in Electronic Publishing Potential about not having enough setting to go to blind playtest.

Quote
I think you should make a very public offer...detailing what would be entailed by the customization.

Okay.  Darn.  I'm game; let's do it.  (Any other answer would just be whining.)

I'll make this official.  I want playtesters.  It's about time; we finally gelled the Genre Expectations Mechanix such that I think it might work now.  So the time has come for a blind playtest.  Well, not exactly blind....
    "Ah, almost.  There are a few provisos...a few addendas, some quid pro quo..." -- Robin Williams' Genie playing William F. Buckley in Disney's
Aladdin.[/list:u]
Y'see, the biggest problem is that we haven't got a 'setting.'  The system exists, all the pieces are ready (more or less), but we haven't actually built any one Genre Expectation yet.  A couple of times, I've been told I have a great facility for working them out (frankly, I cannot do so without my partner, joined at the hip and all).  So much so that some people are intimidated by the prospect.

That's okay, I never really meant Scattershot to be a full 'do it yourself' kind of operation.  The original intention was to make a single mechanical engine with which I could spit out products in a heartbeat.  Smaller products that fit together across a web of Transition nodes; Transition for people 'who like to tinker' with their games, smaller products for people who like to stick to one thing without getting 'stuck' in the wallet.

So where does all this lead?  A game needs playtesters, playtesters need a 'whole game,' a 'whole' Scattershot game needs a 'setting' (what we call a Genre Expectation).  And we don't have one.

So here's the offer.  You tell me what genre you want to try Scattershot out in and we'll develop it for you.  Your own personal, custom Genre Expectation.

What about the "provisos?"  You'll have to use whatever Scattershot is up in the forum.  I'll do my best to help explain how to put things into action.  You'll have to create the bulk of your own skills, advantages and disadvantages; I've got lots of spells, superpowers, magical abilities, and the like ready, but only rough drafts for what does have text.  I've found much of the unnatural/supernatural/preternatural stuff is really easy for me to work out, so that isn't a problem, just describe what you want.  Nearly all skills are 'average' and the costs of advantages and disadvantages depend on how severe you want them to be as a player.

"Addendas" will be written as questions come up.  Really, I need to get a feel for what questions people will have.  Some have said that Scattershot has too many innovations; I guess I'm too close to the project to see that.  All I see is the Genre Expectations Mechanix, the Experience Dice Mechanix, and 'no point limits' (based on the Sine Qua Non Technique).  Outside of that you could almost use GURPS Fortune-in-the-Middle-style for all it seems to matter.  Only a playtest will really tell for sure, I guess.

And that's where we get to the "quid pro quo."  The personal message made the cogent point about requiring "...an actual face-to-face playtest" in return for the 'custom-made' Genre Expectation.  It also requested that I "...should deliver the customization...journal-style."  (I think the playtest results should probably also have to be in a journal too.)  Seems reasonable; it'll certainly help me to 'think out loud.'  Heaven knows, I don't know everything and some of the kinds of genre I'm not familiar with will require an 'interview' process to work out the Genre Expectations.

One caution, this'll have to be strictly in Basic Scattershot Mechanix, 2 actions per turn action-management, residual modifier management (Combat Advantage and such), very little Following Actions and no scripted-involved-actions w/payoffs.  Another hurdle: we need to stick to the Scattershot Gaming Model partly because few Genre Expectations carry more than one Approach or Ambition (a few two-Approach symbioses are being considered, but let's not get ahead of ourselves) and partly because it's the lingua franca in this forum.

The private messenger felt that upon 'opening the gates' I might be overwhelmed with requests.  Of that I am dubious; if it becomes an issue then we'll make an arbitrary choice out of the posted requests, based purely on what interests us.  This isn't a popularity contest; we have to pursue things that grant us the passion to attempt to overcome our production schedule (you remember, 'as fast as grass grows').  However, we would like to do more than one...eventually.

Well, any takers?  (Or any inherent problems with 'the deal?')

Fang Langford

If you really want to murder the two works, the rough analog between the Scattershot Gaming Model and Ron's GNS (outside the fact that his is about specific decisions and is aimed at diagnosing problem situations) goes like this.  Gamism compares to Joueur Approach to play.  Narrativism resembles Auteur Approach (that is Thematically Ambitious, leaning towards Referential to Gamemasterful Sharing).  Swashbuckler Approach reads like Simulationism with exploration of Setting, Color, and/or Situation.  And Avatar Approach is a little like Simulationism with exploration of Character or perhaps Narrativism with heavy Actor Stance (depending on Ambition).

Really, these are poor comparisons and I only include them because I'm tired enough that my better judgment is suffering.
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2002, 08:41:47 AM »

Hey Fang,

Just so I'm clear, can I ask, what exactly do you want a potential playtester to bring to the table, setting-wise?

1) Are you looking for something outre, but complex, like Kyle's Arumo (pre-d20 version) that will really test the potential for hooking Scattershot's mechanics to original settings via metaphor and genre mechanics?

2) Or are you looking for something established, with embedded genre expectations that would be rendered by Scattershot mechanics: "I've always wanted to play a Mississippi Burning game...an FBI investigation of a race crime during the 1960's."

3) Or are you looking for something even less developed, but like Arumo, original (e.g. "I've always wanted to run a game about an isolated convent of nuns dealing with an attack of space aliens."), which would allow for genre expectations and metaphor to be created, rather than discerned?

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Le Joueur
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Posts: 1367


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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2002, 11:33:20 AM »

Hey Paul,

Good question.

Quote from: Paul Czege
Just so I'm clear, can I ask, what exactly do you want a potential playtester to bring to the table, setting-wise?

1) Are you looking for something outre, but complex, like Kyle's Arumo (pre-d20 version) that will really test the potential for hooking Scattershot's mechanics to original settings via metaphor and genre mechanics?

2) Or are you looking for something established, with embedded genre expectations that would be rendered by Scattershot mechanics: "I've always wanted to play a Mississippi Burning game...an FBI investigation of a race crime during the 1960's."

3) Or are you looking for something even less developed, but like Arumo, original (e.g. "I've always wanted to run a game about an isolated convent of nuns dealing with an attack of space aliens."), which would allow for genre expectations and metaphor to be created, rather than discerned?

Well, I don't think we're ready for a 'hard test' like #1, but #2 or #3 will either work.  The important aspect is how clearly the requestor 'knows the subject.'

No matter how clear, concise, and familiar a #2 response is, I might not know it.  I'm well read, but I have definite weak spots.  Like in #3, I will have to interview the requestor about what they find important (and what is irreplaceable) about the genre as they see it.  From that I can suss out the Genre Expectations.  A potential problem with #3 is when the requestor doesn't have a solid grip on the primary elements of what their interested in.

The looser versions of #3 have some of the potential problems of #1.  Ultimately at that level, we could quite probably change the focus of the source material, eventually creating an entirely new game.  That isn't what I'm interested in testing at this point; what we're interested in is how well the system works at all.  Ideally, this would take place in a genre that the playtesters are comfortable and familiar with.  That way, in hindsight, they'd be able to answer questions about whether Genre Expectations helped or hindered play 'into' that genre.

Likewise, the playtesters don't need to be highly sensitive to issues of metaphor and motif, just able to say 'but I know what I like.'  If I create the Genre Expectation adequately, that is the simplest feedback.  I don't know if anyone noticed, but as Mechanix the Genre Expectations stuff is new and needs a simple roadtest.

So pick 'an old favorite' or something you 'really know' but never got a chance to try or even 'the old reliable' for comparison, this way we can see if it works at all.

Does that answer your question?

Fang Langford
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2002, 12:02:03 PM »

Hey Fang,

Does that answer your question?

Yeah, that answers it. Thanks.

I wish I could take you up on this, actually, because I've got a few game ideas that I've long harbored without knowing what to do with them, and what you're essentially offering is to customize Scattershot to suit such a game idea. I think your metaphor stuff has incredible potential for delivering a sort-of Premiseless, "low threat" Narrativism, so the offer of this customization work by you to suit one of my ideas seems like a fantastic and generous one. I'd love to see if satisfying narrative can emerge from your metaphor, genre expectations, and transitional mechanics. I think, though, that I've tapped my regular group twice in the past few months to playtest my own game designs, and that it's in the group's best interests for me to relax my dominance of what we're about. But I'll be following with interest.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Le Joueur
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Posts: 1367


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« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2002, 09:20:56 PM »

Thanks, Paul, Ron, and Mike,

I'm sorry you can't help Paul; have you considered my production pace (you remember, 'as fast as grass grows')?  If it turns out to be a difficult Genre Expectation to parse out, it may take months.  Maybe you should toss in your idea anyway; if it took that long, perhaps your players might be ready.

You know it Ron, (well, except the Zap! Comics) I grew up with these.  (Did you forget Dreadstar?)  Sounds intriguing, perhaps a little off the mainstream for comic books, but I can see a few possibilities.  I already have a first draft list of some 295 superpower examples to cut down from (haven't redrafted it since I clarified the Basic-Intermediate-Advanced split in the Scattershot Mechanix).

And Mike?
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Can I get an order of Traveller, please? And can you have it ready by Thursday night? Scattershot will replace GURPS, which I'm currently using.

Short answer?  No.

Long answer, given my continuous reference to our production speed, I'm guessing the "Thursday night" stuff is in humor.  I've played a little Traveller and even less Mega Traveller [sp], but the only product I own is the 1983 Starter Set Boxed Edition.  Still, I find space opera an intriguing genre, unfortunately Traveller, as written, is built to support some pretty far flung variations.  (Last I heard, some rogue AI virus had infected most starships, turning these 'vampire ships' against mankind; but I might be confusing it with another game.)  So, you're going to have to get a lot more specific by tomorrow morning.

Really, the heart of this project is getting to the 'meat' of what you want to play.  Ron is nearly there, but I sense a few missing parts I'd need to ask about.  To make it a little simpler, I've posted portions of an article where I describe what goes into the template of what I would build on for this project.

Likewise, I'd like to give everyone at least a week to chime in with their proposals (not everyone reads the Forge as often as I), so as intrigued as I am already, I want everyone to have a chance.  (Though I may thumbnail a few ideas based on extant offerings in the meantime; they probably won't be 'ready for playtest.')

Thanks for the interest, I know I'll get at least one good idea out of these proposals.  You guys are great.

Fang Langford
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Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2002, 07:31:18 AM »

Hey Fang,

Maybe you should toss in your idea anyway; if it took that long, perhaps your players might be ready.

Well...in my opinion, the great unmet need in roleplaying is a playable time travel game. But I'd hate to distract your energy from someone who might playtest sooner than our group.

Perhaps time travel is already on your radar as a future Scattershot supplement?

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2002, 06:03:48 PM »

Whoa! Hey guys, couldja go a little slower?  (I've split these threads off at Converting to..., Time Travel, and Cosmic Zap.)  I put up the Combined Technique so you'd know what terminology I was going to be using. I appreciate the furvor, but if you want me to create the GenEx for you, you'll have to leave figurin' those things to me.

I'd like it if you could keep your requests in plain english (with heavy source quotes) and let me sling the Scattershot terminology. I'm not sure yet that I have conveyed what it means here.

Other than that, you've got us more excited over here than we've been in a long time.

Fang Langford
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Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Le Joueur
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Posts: 1367


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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2002, 07:07:26 PM »

While it should be obvious, I think I'll just mention it to be clear.  I've been splitting off all the proposals for custom Genre Expectations to their own new threads.

So far with have:
    Mike's
GURPS Traveller conversion.

Ron's Cosmic Zap! request, based on 70's Marvel space adventure Comics.

Eddy's Second War for Heaven idea, based on research for his own game.[/list:u]I'm very happy to work on all three at the moment.  As conjoined development, they're progressing at a slower rate than I expected.  We seem to be able to keep up.

I look forward to seeing how the playtest works out when the Genre Expectations are ready.  Thanks for all the requests!

Fang Langford
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Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
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