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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  223 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: April 26, 2023

Oh fuck yeah I remember that version of Battletech. Isn't it legit older than you? FASA banked heavily on goodwill with that system; when I played with my friends it was a good-faith effort to emulate the world. The one time I played with a different crew they all decided "hey let's wipe out kleinbl00 first and then sort it out" and I pointed out that heat penalties were assessed the next turn. They'd focus their fire on one of my mechs and kill it; I'd use that mech's lasers over and over and over again until everything within range was a slag pile. It didn't matter that the next turn my mech exploded because it was already dead. To the best of my knowledge that was the last time that group of friends every played Battletech. Needless to say the orbital assault failed.

The problem with modern games is the barriers to publishing are lower and the modern nerd cares much more about collecting than playing. Used to be "games" were this closetpile of neglected bullshit between the coats and the hats. Now they cover an entire wall of the "man cave" like your virgin uncle's vinyl collection. None of them are well-thought-out, none of them underwent any real beta-testing, and none of them are going to make it to V2.0 because the audience did exactly what it was supposed to: paid for it on Kickstarter, got their copy, put 5,000 copies in your local game store (holy shit what a concept! When I grew up there were two in the continental USA) and every single nerd will play it once just to say they did.

Used to be there were two ways to do things: Combined Arms or Candy Land and never the twain shall meet. But the Candy Land Crew saw all the farkle the legit wargamers got to play with and went "you know what game should be more complicated? Risk" and from that point forth, actually finishing a game became less and less essential to just hanging out in the rumpus room and pretending you were serious people as opposed to those losers who actually went on dates on weekends.

Devac  ·  223 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm from 98, so for sure the game is older. So are Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer, Cyberpunk 2020, Traveller, Paranoia, and a bitchload of other games I prefer over much of the recent dross. Between accessibility of legal reprints and easy ways to yar-har those games, they have sort of a renaissance nowadays.

To me, and I'd hazard most of my friends, a boardgame failed its role if it requires so much focus, socialization is impossible or heavily hindered. Carcassonne, Chaos in the Old World, Talisman, Battlestar Galactica, and the like are my jam. Beyond those, it's too involved to talk, while not being meaty enough to really engage my inner Ender. Lack of play testing could explain most of it, but I think it's also a fashion for those overengineered mechanics. All too many people equate depth (chess) with complexity (competitive cord untangling), and I think many designers genuinely don't (want to) understand the difference. Feedback or testing be damned.

    To the best of my knowledge that was the last time that group of friends every played Battletech.

Ha! Had a similar victory story, but instead of mechs I channelled inner Zukov/Ludendorf, deployed a force consisting entirely of gunboat hovercrafts, and suicide charged his line of heavy assault mechs. Because it was on the tabletop simulator, for the life of me, I couldn't tell if the guy was laughing or apoplectic. Never got a rematch, though.

kleinbl00  ·  223 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah Battletech offends me deeply. It's got an incredible amount of lore, all of it rendered as dully as humanly imaginable. It has incredible industrial design and miserable gameplay. That's the amazing thing to me - No attempts whatsoever have been made to increase the playability, starting with Fasa, passing through Wizards of the Coast and now with Piranha - fucking Mechwarrior is the most boring game imaginable where every scenario is a revelation in "this would be much easier and more pleasant if I weren't trapped in a giant robot."

Here's the thing: All those games you list were designed by college kids with no friends to be played by college kids with no friends. Those college kids? They played them. And they interacted with the guys who wrote them. Cyberpunk is an excellent example. Mike Pondsmith so loved Walter Jon Williams' Hardwired that he invited WJW to playtest Cyberpunk before it was published. And between Cyberpunk and Cyberpunk 2020, they made quality-of-life changes like "youth bonuses" to discourage players from just running through the military and college as character generation buffs; Cyberpunk was entirely full of 26-year-old mercenaries hot off the GI bill.

Frankly, I think Magic The Gathering fucked it up for everyone. Instead of giving you something to think about it gave you bridge for incels. Now those incels could collect baseball cards, too. Pretty soon there was a giant pile of money and people came to D&D through fucking Pokemon.

And I think computers fucked it up for everyone. The massive milsim tabletop shit went right the fuck away as soon as you could give a computer the overhead. Ever play Car Wars? I reckon not. Turns are divided into ten phases, each turn takes a second, entirely so that the physics of vehicular combat can be properly addressed. A good and proper autoduel takes an hour and a half, two hours to play out but represents ten to fifteen seconds of real time; actual Car Wars racing rules allow you to condense all non-mediated turns by 10x or 100x because if you aren't cutting someone off or shooting at them the results don't really matter. Car Wars hit its peak about 1992, 1993... fast forward to 1995:

Devac  ·  223 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah, I never got into the nitty-gritty of Battletech lore. Picked up one book and didn't finish it, because it spent 40 pages setting up a dozen people who then get wasted in the span of a paragraph or two. It'd be like the first hour of The Rock was filmed from the perspective of those soldiers who get killed off in the showers.

You won't find me objecting to blaming anything on MtG, but I have no knowledge of that in your part of the world. Here? I know D&D was just some import-exclusive game that costed an arm and a leg, required real English proficiency, and had no less than a dozen strong competitors all the way until the 3rd edition came in 2002-ish. It could be close to the top today, but it's still just one of the games to most folks. There was a phase when everyone and their mother wanted to play 5th edition in 2016-2018, but now it normalized again and it's no biggie to get 3-5 folks to play Neuroshima.

As to computers, maybe? I know that when I play on platforms like roll20 and the like, it's a godsend to have all those mechanical macros. It helps to move players' focus from rolling and cross-referencing to fun and roleplaying even during chunkier parts of the game. It may not work as well for Car Wars or Phoenix Command and similar, but I wouldn't know.

kleinbl00  ·  222 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The english thing makes total sense to me. TSR was never particularly internationalist. More... orientalist.

My entire life it was a bookish nerd thing. zero of my non-white friends touched D&D. TMNT? Yeah that one had reach. Battletech was for the anime nerds, back when "anime nerds" had Akira, Robotech and two or three things that showed up on the Sci Fi Channel at 5 in the morning. The whole Steve Jackson Games thing was a whole different group of weirdos, basically white nerds who hated fantasy. Wizards of the Coast should get credit for that, they were the first people to think that maybe these games should be internationalized. It's the basic problem with Battletech, too - if you're heavily into it, the lore reinforces it. If you're not, the lore is out of reach because it's so poorly executed. But fuck, man, 40 frickin' years later and "Kearny-Fuchida hyperdrive" is still wedged in my brain. The whole culture around Mechwarrior was kind of a shitty extension of Dune but compared to fuckin' Star Frontiers it was Cormac McCarthy.

Computers allowed the more gamey-games to go from "simulating having fun" to "having fun."