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Author Topic: analysis: 2300 AD  (Read 1871 times)
Matt Wilson
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« on: October 10, 2002, 03:08:27 PM »

I've heard rumors of a re-release of 2300 AD at some point, so I thought it'd make for a good analysis subject. And I own a copy, so that helps.

I'm going to have to do this in stages, as I'm logged on from home (maybe I didn't catch this cold from Mr. Nixon. Maybe) and can't stay on for long. If anyone wants to pick up where I left off, that'd be double plus cool. I was hoping to get a discussion out of it.

The one I'm looking at is the second release of the game that was first published as Traveller: 2300. Anyone who wants to build on this thread can fill in where I'm mistaken, but I believe the name was changed due to some confusion with GDW's Traveller line and subsequent complaints.

released: 1988
company: Game Designers Workshop
Developers: Marc Miller, Timothy B. Brown, Lester W. Smith, and Frank Chadwick.

What you got for your $:

Carboard box, as in basic D&D, containing both a player's and GM's (Director's in this case) Guide, a folded, full color star map, and some booklets of charts and tables. The booklets are all staple-bound, black and white, with no covers on them. Oh, and you get some dice.

I think for the time, the box set was a brilliant way to go. It looks like the buyer gets lots of neat stuff, and all you have to dress up is the box. It's interesting to note that games like Donjon kick ass over 2300 in production quality. Layout and design for this game looks like a server installation guide.  -  How much of that, I wonder, is production costs, and how much is in the nature of the designer? Was GDW run by guys who didn't value flashy appearance as much?

Premise: Hard SF Roleplaying in the year 2300 AD, 300 years after WWIII ravaged the planet. There are marauding aliens, smugglers, pirates and anarchists for the PCs to deal with. I'd call it setting-based exploration.

I think that the settings of older games like this hold up really well. There's a ton of info to use, and GDW did what they set out to do, which was to make a very believable future that would provide some great heroic adventuring.

What the game brags about: "The most accurate star chart ever made," with real data from the Gliese near star catalog, a system that is "both playable and realistic at once," and what they call an "event resolution system," which covers everything from creating new equipment to mass combat.

The above is backed up in the game, but what's missing from a 2002 perspective is how to play. The rules seem a bit austere in the sense that dice control your fate in this setting, making the color of the game a little darker than I think the author intended, almost like Cyberpunk in space.

gotta stop there. thoughts? What would be different in 2002? Did anyone else play this game?
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Andrew Martin
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2002, 12:54:45 AM »

Quote from: itsmrwilson
What the game brags about: "The most accurate star chart ever made," with real data from the Gliese near star catalog,...


That star chart is very nice.

Nyrath (I forget the URL) has been converting star data for the stars around Earth into maps that can be used as SF game star charts (or Full Thrust colony maps...). Search for Nyrath using Google and one should be able to find it.

Quote from: itsmrwilson
...a system that is "both playable and realistic at once," and what they call an "event resolution system," which covers everything from creating new equipment to mass combat.


The system didn't work very well. It didn't really cover mass combat very well either, IMO. IIRC, the better system at the time came from MegaTraveller, in one of the supplements.

Cyberwear (even with the cyberwear supplement!) was very boring compared to the Shadowrun and Cyberpunk games at the time.

The art inside the game wasn't very good, with clear violations of perspective and similar, for example, a gun which seemed bent in half, or equipment which didn't fit, and so on.

Quote from: itsmrwilson
Did anyone else play this game?


Yes. I ran around a dozen sessions, IIRC. I found there were a number inconsistencies in the damage part of the combat system, that seemed broken, which caused me to stop play. In a later supplement for 2300AD, these problems were partly fixed, but then our group was playing something else.

It was disappointing that I only found the one adventure for it. So I was forced to adopt other SF adventures to fit, which, while fun for the players emphasized to me that the company didn't really want to support Traveller: 2300, so why should I play it? So we stopped and no player has ever asked me to run it again. They have for other game systems (most requested is TORG, so far).

I'm sorry, I've been fairly negative. I just wish it could have been better.
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Andrew Martin
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2002, 07:55:14 AM »

Interesting setting, but you're right, little in the way of "what to do?" Sure, some of the character types and setting ideas gave you vague hints, but for the most part it was always a challenge to figure out what to have the characters do (harder often to figure out why they were together, given the politics). With Traveller, at least you always had the "merchant tramp crew" concept to fall back on. This is very much a problem with a lot of games at the time.

Take Twilight:2000. Please. Here's a setting with lots of equipment notes, and the like, and an obvious intimation that you'd be doing some fighting. But otherwise, no indication of wha sort of things players whould be doing. Always devolved into "warlords of devastated europe" survival style game. Who do we shoot up today to get more petrol? Not good.

Mike
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2002, 08:31:54 AM »

Andrew:

Good stuff, although, yeah, I didn't want the analyses to get too negative, in case there are some fans of the game out there. But I'm going to break my own rule and say that I never understood a 30-second combat turn where you could take 2 actions, one of which was to ready a weapon.

I find that as a game consumer, I'm more affected by game presentation than some. An acquaintance of mine bought 2300 and came up with dozens of ideas, where I stared at the pages in confusion.

Also, I found it odd that a supplement I picked up - I think it's the one where the exploration ship visits the Pleiaded - came across as a bit mystical, where the main rules seemed so austere and mundane.

Contrast this with something like Deadlands, or better yet, Sorcerer, which basically says, "here's how to start up a game." With 2300, there was the problem of not generating a likeable character, combined with an somewhat hazy premise of where to put that character, even if it turned out okay.

Hmm, what would 2300 need if it were re-released? A modernized rules mechanic, a chergen system with no random rolls, and kickers. Anything else?
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2002, 08:47:50 AM »

Quote from: itsmrwilson
Good stuff, although, yeah, I didn't want the analyses to get too negative, in case there are some fans of the game out there. But I'm going to break my own rule and say that I never understood a 30-second combat turn where you could take 2 actions, one of which was to ready a weapon.
Well, Mr. History and context, this would be due to the fact that this was seen as an improvement over D&D's one minute combat round, but still worked with the miniatures rules (Striker, q.v.) associated with Traveller.

To make a good re-release of 2300, would, I think, require a completely new system. While "good for it's time", all Traveller systems are now very much showing their ages. There's just too much that needs changing to considser keeping any of it. And unlike D&D3E (which could have done thins too, but decided not to for reasons of fan loyalty), there's proof that people would not be adverse to such changes in the Traveller system which has already undergone seven editions.

Mike
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efindel
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2002, 10:23:46 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: itsmrwilson
Good stuff, although, yeah, I didn't want the analyses to get too negative, in case there are some fans of the game out there. But I'm going to break my own rule and say that I never understood a 30-second combat turn where you could take 2 actions, one of which was to ready a weapon.
Well, Mr. History and context, this would be due to the fact that this was seen as an improvement over D&D's one minute combat round, but still worked with the miniatures rules (Striker, q.v.) associated with Traveller.

Historical correction:  D&D has had six-second combat rounds since the 1977 (Blue Basic Set) version.  AD&D, however, kept the one-minute round up until the Combat & Tactics stuff came out in the late '90s.  

Exactly why the folks who did first and second edition AD&D didn't switch to a shorter round when Basic D&D already had, I've never understood...

--Travis
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2002, 12:17:14 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: itsmrwilson
Good stuff, although, yeah, I didn't want the analyses to get too negative, in case there are some fans of the game out there. But I'm going to break my own rule and say that I never understood a 30-second combat turn where you could take 2 actions, one of which was to ready a weapon.
Well, Mr. History and context, this would be due to the fact that this was seen as an improvement over D&D's one minute combat round, but still worked with the miniatures rules (Striker, q.v.) associated with Traveller.

Mr. Existentialism, my dislike of that rule is in fact within the history and context. I disliked it in 1987. ;-)

With regard to Striker, there's a whole new line of discussion. Has any company ever released a RPG + Tactical Wargame combo that worked really well in play? I've seen systems that seem all right, but it never went over well with the group.

Quote
To make a good re-release of 2300, would, I think, require a completely new system. While "good for it's time", all Traveller systems are now very much showing their ages. There's just too much that needs changing to considser keeping any of it. And unlike D&D3E (which could have done thins too, but decided not to for reasons of fan loyalty), there's proof that people would not be adverse to such changes in the Traveller system which has already undergone seven editions.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2002, 12:47:21 PM »

Quote from: itsmrwilson
With regard to Striker, there's a whole new line of discussion. Has any company ever released a RPG + Tactical Wargame combo that worked really well in play? I've seen systems that seem all right, but it never went over well with the group.


Warhammer? Worked "really well" is going to be very subjective. But Warhammer does have an RPG, and a Miniatures game that work together. To the extent that they each have problems this perhaps can attest to the fact that such a compromise is bound to be problematic.

Mike
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2002, 02:05:53 PM »

Quote from: itsmrwilson
With regard to Striker, there's a whole new line of discussion. Has any company ever released a RPG + Tactical Wargame combo that worked really well in play? I've seen systems that seem all right, but it never went over well with the group.


Isn't DP9's Heavy Gear stuff set up this way?  I can't evaluate the "worked really well," but I think this was/is an explicit goal of that system.

Gordon
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