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Author Topic: Interview at Primeval Press  (Read 5225 times)
lumpley
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« on: March 01, 2005, 12:44:03 PM »

Primeval Games Press Designer Interview: Vincent Baker

So that's fun.

-Vincent
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2005, 06:31:48 PM »

Quote from: the interview
What game has most profoundly impacted your development as a role-player or as a designer?

Oh, Ars Magica, no doubt. If you want, you can look at everything I've done in RPG design and theory as my attempt to solve the problems that Ars Magica poses.


So Vincent.. Are you saying that KPfS and DitV are both Ars Magica Heartbreakers?

Nah, good interview. I like the emphasis you make on the personal connection, esp. between designer and players. I think that's a way underexplored angle.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Judd
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2005, 08:37:53 PM »

The Indie Explosion games I played in really upped the ante as to what I expect at a Con game.  I never went to cons because the gaming tables were such a crap shoot but its as if now I have a whole posse of tables that I know will be solid the moment I sign up.

Guess what I'm sayin' is, I hear ya.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2005, 08:39:55 PM »

It's like I said: All I want is to be able to sit around, hang out with my friends, occaisionally throw out an idea, and produce high art.

yrs--
--Ben
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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student, second edition


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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2005, 05:08:00 AM »

What Ben said. Plus thanks for sayin' nice stuff about my game.
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lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2005, 06:44:25 AM »

Quote from: Lance
So Vincent.. Are you saying that KPfS and DitV are both Ars Magica Heartbreakers?

Yes.

Well, commentaries on Ars Magica anyway. I've only just recently started to think about designing a genuine Ars Magica heartbreaker.

Puppies especially though. That's game's all about Ars Magica. People think it's about Vampire - that makes sense to me, Vampire's all about Ars Magica too.

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2005, 07:54:19 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
Puppies especially though. That's game's all about Ars Magica. People think it's about Vampire - that makes sense to me, Vampire's all about Ars Magica too.


Well, I've never played Ars Magica, and I've played Vampire twice, and once was with you 12 or 13 years ago, so explain.

My assumption about con games was 'What, how can I play with you guys? It takes years to get a vibe going, and I just met you, and you're all totally unsexy nerds.'

Thanks to the you-folks-meeting at Dreamation, I now I realize all that sexual tension can exist in a one-shot if the game and players are right. I'm not going to go so far as to say the quality of players doesn't matter, but if the rules are designed so minmaxing is the same as being socially functional, it goes a long way toward making an excellent, visceral experience.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Judd
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2005, 08:17:09 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
Quote from: Lance
So Vincent.. Are you saying that KPfS and DitV are both Ars Magica Heartbreakers?

Yes.

Well, commentaries on Ars Magica anyway. I've only just recently started to think about designing a genuine Ars Magica heartbreaker.


Wow, really?

Ars Magica was the first game I ever ran for an extended period of time, a year and a half in college and I never would have said Dogs in the Vineyard and Ars Magica in the same breath.

Interesting.
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John Burdick
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2005, 08:31:24 AM »

Vincent,

One of the guys I play with likes the Ars Magica handling of magic. We've never played it because we mainly play his own games or indie games. Since he praises the magic rules, I've tried to read the book. First I tried borrowing his copy. I don't know what edition it is. I found the writing style distracting. After not being able to get through it for a while I returned the book.

I now have the free fourth edition pdf. Now I'm having a problem getting through it because of the vis plundering and killing any effectual mage that rejects the Code. I also feel a lack of guidance as to what else players might do in the game. What I find odd is that I don't have the same problem with White Wolf's Dark Ages: Mage. This book is a retcon of Ars Magica looking back from Mage the Ascension. Reading DA:Mage is what prompted me to give reading Ars Magica another try. A lot of the color is shared, which helped me get past the earlier difficulty with the prose.

I'm wondering if the qualities of Ars Magica you're commenting on through your games are part of my odd reaction. (While on the subject of your games, you're a terrible person for killing puppies in an abstract non-physical manner. I'd like to try Dogs in the Vineyard.)

John
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Emily Care
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2005, 09:59:53 AM »

I think what Vincent is talking about is the way that AM splits up the who-does-whatness of a role playing game.  Multiple GMs, multiple characters, co-world building etc.  Two whole little pages in a rules book that change the experience completely if followed, but with nothing more in the way of how to do it, or how to do it well.  

And, of course, I'd say Dogs & Puppies are about AM via the course of years of discussion on the Forge.  The design you did before the Forge,  Vincent, was way different, and dealt with way different concerns. (I'm thinking of Jastenave here).

Just my $.02.

best,
Em
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Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2005, 07:57:25 PM »

Quote from: nikola
...if the rules are designed so minmaxing is the same as being socially functional, it goes a long way toward making an excellent, visceral experience.


I recently realized that two of my favorite designers, Vincent and Rebecca Sean Borgstrom, design games exactly that way.  Rebecca admits as much HERE:

Quote from: R. Sean
I write most games very explicitly so when people sit down, throw together the best character they can, and play kind of twinkily and tiredly, it works out with the kinds of stories I want.

That's what I aim for.

This apparently never comes across.


I think it's unlikely that this is a coincidence, however, it's somewhat disturbing considering that I, on principle, disagree with this approach to design, preferring to write games that place a lot more trust in the players to be socially functional human beings who are capable of "playing nice" together.  Then again, maybe I'm being overly optimistic.  In any case, definitely food for thought.
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pete_darby
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2005, 03:46:28 AM »

Jonathan:

I think it's not a question of restriction, it's a question of reward.

If your game says "You must play this way, or you're playing wrong" I think, screw you, guy.

If it says "You can play any way you want, but if you play my way, you get cookies", I go, hmmm, cookies.

Rebecca's definitely a cookies designer, but she admits she tends to talk about the cookies but not how you get them.

Any functional game has to rely on players being socially functional. Explicitly punishing dysfunctional behaviour is, IMHO, dysfunctional (since any social problem cannot be solved by game rules).

But mechanical reward for particular fuctional behaviours makes cool folks feel cool.
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Pete Darby
lumpley
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« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2005, 08:19:44 AM »

Quote from: J
Quote from: lumpley
Puppies especially though. That's game's all about Ars Magica. People think it's about Vampire - that makes sense to me, Vampire's all about Ars Magica too.


Well, I've never played Ars Magica, and I've played Vampire twice, and once was with you 12 or 13 years ago, so explain.

Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein*Hagen made Ars Magica, right, and then Mark Rein*Hagen went on to make Vampire 1. They both have their list of character types - the bestial type, the crazy type, the power-hungry type, the political type, the anarchic type, the militaristic type - the disciplines in Vampire replace the Arts in Ars Magica, both provide rules for creating inexperienced characters straight out of their "embrace" or their "gauntlet." All kinds of stuff like that.

But that's just superficial. Here on his site, Jonathan Tweet talks about religion in the games he's designed, and let me quote a bit of it:
Quote from: Jonathan Tweet
Thus, the Christian God is the ultimate power in Ars Magica. The PCs, wizards and their allies, are outside society and outside the Church. While the game generally portrays the Church as a rival power to the Order of Hermes, it is the wizards who are in the wrong and the Church that is in the right. It suits me that the wizards, with their great learning and power, don't also have the advantage of being doctrinally correct or in God's good graces.

Let's play characters who defy God. Wizards, vampires, puppy killers.

-Vincent
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