Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Sky is Falling

He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.  ~Harold Wilson

As we rush headlong towards the Malifaux 2nd Edition open beta so the amount of hatred for the announced changes increases on forums and Twitter.  This seems to boil down along these sorts of lines -
  • The game is going to be ruined
  • Its not Malifaux anymore
  • Why didnt they just make the changes I said, then it would be perfect
  • I don't want it to be dumbed down and thats what they are doing
  • Waaah Waaah Waaah*

However now we have a new target for our rage as yesterday Eric J (head honcho over at Wyrd) posted a blog article called Playtesters Lie and frankly it doesn't seem to have gone down well.  Even players who I normally consider sane and rational have been left with a sour taste in their mouths and have taken to the various forms of social media to express this.

The problem I have with this is that IMO Eric actually has it spot on and its something I see all the time in my real life job.  When we give out new pieces of software to folks via our beta program I can pretty much predict which features are going to get feedback from which testers and what that feedback is going to be.  This is because testers will always bias the use of the software to their own internal use cases and feedback will always be focused around that.  Gamers are no different.  We will look at how our masters are affected and our feedback testing will be naturally biased by that.  Eric has actually shown in his blog that he understands this and from a design point of view thats very important.

The other thing that this has knocked on is that I've seen folks saying that the public beta is all just window dressing and nothing will change.   To that I say bollocks.  If that was going to be the case they just wouldn't bother, M2e would have just been presented as a fait acompli at GENCON later in the year.   Will core tenants of the new ruleset change.  No, and if you thought they would you are deluding yourself, you aren't going to be able to rewrite the rules into what you want them to be, if you want to do that go start your own game company.  Yes that does mean that things like the new soulstone mechanics are here to stay.  What I'm certain you will be able to influence are things like SS cost of models, the language used to describe something (hopefully there is good clear robust langauge around LOS for instance) or how interacts on a particular strategy function.   

So will the world end when the M2e beta is released? No it won't (I hope) but its not going to be the same game that you have been playing for the last few years either.  The good thing of course is that noone is stopping you playing 1st Edition as long as you want.  The miniature police aren't going to come around your house and take away your V1 stat cards after all.

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.  ~Author Unknown

*OK possibly I haven't seen the last one, though sometimes it feels like it :) 


  1. Waaah Waaah Waaah!

    There, now you have seen it.

    I finally got round to reading Eric's post today and as with you I think it's an entirely accurate and valid reflection of how people behave. I could understand people getting offended if he'd said half of playtesters lie, because you might feel you're being singled out from the crowd, but no, every single last one of us are out to decieve him in our own unique way with our own unique biases.

    Personally I don't play anywhere nearly often enough to really contribue anything to the beta, but it won't stop me chewing the fat once it has been released and I'm sure I'll jot down a few notes of my thoughts/concerns/issues/feedback. This will be littered with my bias of 'the current version of the game is awfully complex' I seldom get through a game without doing something wrong. So I'll be looking for streamlined rules, I don't want the game dumbed down, but LoS, cover, cloud effects etc drive me nuts as to which ignores what. Stitched isn't cover so can't be ignored, but austringers ignore LoS so they can still attack, but this dude over here is at a -ve flip because 1 corner (as much as round bases have corners) is behind cover so it applies and.... Aaarghhh, lets make it consistent and simple please!

    1. Open - obvious enough, normal state of affairs
    2. Cover - -ve flip standardised
    3. Shrouded - like cover but cannot be ignored by effects which ignore cover
    4. Not targetable - Fully behind LoS blocking means you can't see them to aim anything at them barring specific LoS ignoring abilities.

    Once something like those 4 are defined please associate them with all abilties, don't have any exceptions to shrouded unless they are the total exception to the norm and very clearly worded. same for ignoring LoS.

    All of a sudden who can see what and what effects block what come into far easier to monitor categories defined by some key words and defined counters to those words.

    That's just my initial brain dump of the sort of rules baggage I'm bringing from V1 and would like to see addressed. I'm sure everyone will have their own pet peeve.

    And that's a rules concept, which won't be touched by playtesting I'd have thought, if they've not nailed that sort of thing down, then I doubt they'll listen to any feedback on it, because they must have clearly discounted that approach for a reason and my whining shouldn't be sufficient to change that.

    Anyways, nice post Mike, agree with you that V2 holds no real fears for me (ok, maybe 1, please don't nerf zoraida, make her more fluffy, more voodoo please!).

  2. Yeah, thats kinda what I meant but you said it more posh than I can do!

    Nicely articluated, good sir