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Author Topic: Warhammer; Chaos! Order! Molasses!  (Read 6990 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2009, 12:58:34 AM »

Eh, maybe I can get away with saying "Same thing but faster" and it'll have an effect rather than raising eyebrows and having no chance of any change. Maybe some here wouldn't like it, but I like the session - if it was more condensed. I said basically the same thing about the David Lynch movie, "The lost highway" :)
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2009, 01:51:17 AM »

It seems you're stepping away from your own AP an into murky play (and murky design) in general. Just pointing that out, it's ok if that's the direction you want.

Right now I'm still focusing on your case specifically though. Looking at Ron's links, it appears the brothers vs you stuff has been going on for years, without ever being resolved. You didn't respond to my poking, so I either completely missed or you're dodging. I can't tell. Is this setup your main source for roleplaying? If so I'm starting to understand where your general "this cannot ever work" disposition is coming from. I might be totally wrong about that, but it's what I read between the lines of lots of your posts.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2009, 10:14:18 AM »

Hi Callan,

Quote
If I were to just write a hundred rules, with no intent on my behalf for them fitting together in any way at all, I'm sure on exposure to them (perhaps with some nifty fluff text and art) some group somewhere out there would "Know how to do it" with my hundred rules. When there is no fucking way to do it - I specifically just randomly threw rules together! I'm pretty damn sure that would happen - people would see a 'procedure' and 'the right way to do it' when there was none at all.

I agree, though a more purposefully designed set of rules would certainly give that group an easier time. I believe that coherent play is something that only the group itself can achieve or arrive at. We can give them rules that make sense, and cleverly written instructions, but they’ve got to get there themselves. Some groups do this effortlessly, those would be having fun with your 100 random rules in an instant. Other groups… don’t. So when you say:

Quote
The bad bit is the absence of recognition that it's a halucination - there's instead this certainty that "That's how it's done!", when it isn't how it's done, it's something they've invented

The thing that bothers me is the „how it’s done“. What is „it“? The way it should be done? According to whom? Every group must find, invent so to say, their own way. You are certainly right that there are many groups that haven’t, but think/claim they had.

But what kind of „design“ are you imagining that would „contain and constrain“ the hallucination? I would rather tend to think that no design, but the group's capacities of human awareness and communication would be the remedy.

-   Frank
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2009, 11:10:36 AM »

P.S.:

Some groups do this effortlessly, those would be having fun with your 100 random rules in an instant.

Maybe I should rather say, they would be having fun despite your 100 random rules.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2009, 03:40:31 PM »

It seems you're stepping away from your own AP an into murky play (and murky design) in general. Just pointing that out, it's ok if that's the direction you want.

Right now I'm still focusing on your case specifically though. Looking at Ron's links, it appears the brothers vs you stuff has been going on for years, without ever being resolved. You didn't respond to my poking, so I either completely missed or you're dodging. I can't tell. Is this setup your main source for roleplaying? If so I'm starting to understand where your general "this cannot ever work" disposition is coming from. I might be totally wrong about that, but it's what I read between the lines of lots of your posts.
Oops! I didn't read your post properly (I think I was reading just before I had to go out and didn't reread). Sorry!
Quote
The main vibe seems to be that your contribution doesn't matter, that it's all between Matt and Daniel. And they just happen to be brothers. They're attuned to each other, while you're the misfit left in the water outside the boat.
I don't think 'attuned' is right. It's more like, perhaps, a (cold) war of brotherly henpecking and that distracts them from third parties, for the most part. I'm not sure Matts contributions matter all that much either - he contributed alot of plans, and none of them were needed - he just snuck in, in the end.

I have to say, I played monopoly with my partner and son a few times recently - it's basically a big game of snakes and ladders. I'm not against just playing what is a big game of snakes and ladders with Dan and Matt (just faster!) - if I want to do anything deeper, I'll ask them or find others who might want to try if they decline. Sometimes I think the need to keep focusing on the fiction is to avoid the idea it always turns out to be a big game of snakes and ladders. Though to be honest, I'd like it if monopoly had say an hour or two shaved off of it (I think our games went for about five hours! We played on the floor and everyones knees hurt!).
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Callan S.
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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2009, 05:16:08 PM »

Hi Callan,

Quote
If I were to just write a hundred rules, with no intent on my behalf for them fitting together in any way at all, I'm sure on exposure to them (perhaps with some nifty fluff text and art) some group somewhere out there would "Know how to do it" with my hundred rules. When there is no fucking way to do it - I specifically just randomly threw rules together! I'm pretty damn sure that would happen - people would see a 'procedure' and 'the right way to do it' when there was none at all.

I agree, though a more purposefully designed set of rules would certainly give that group an easier time. I believe that coherent play is something that only the group itself can achieve or arrive at. We can give them rules that make sense, and cleverly written instructions, but they’ve got to get there themselves. Some groups do this effortlessly, those would be having fun with your 100 random rules in an instant. Other groups… don’t. So when you say:

Quote
The bad bit is the absence of recognition that it's a halucination - there's instead this certainty that "That's how it's done!", when it isn't how it's done, it's something they've invented

The thing that bothers me is the „how it’s done“. What is „it“? The way it should be done? According to whom? Every group must find, invent so to say, their own way. You are certainly right that there are many groups that haven’t, but think/claim they had.

But what kind of „design“ are you imagining that would „contain and constrain“ the hallucination? I would rather tend to think that no design, but the group's capacities of human awareness and communication would be the remedy.

-   Frank
This gobsmacks me, and yet I've come to see more and more roleplayers repeat things like this.

They'd 'get there' with my 100 random rules? Or despite them? There is no 'there' to get to, with or in spite of my 100 random rules! Seeing a 'there' is like seeing an image of jesus in some mundane object - it's not there. This seems 100% the hallucination I refered to, but being treated not as a hallucination but something actually being 'there'?

And how it should be done, according to whom? According to me, the author. Obviously it's incredibly easy to ignore the author. No, every group doesn't have to invent their own way. Or to reverse the position, who says every group has to invent their own way? Why is it that "that's how it's done"? According to whom? Who is saying every group must find their own way?

Atleast when I say how it's done for my game as author, someone might decide to listen to me cause they think I'm okay or know what I'm doing or whatever reason fits them.

When you say every group has to find their own way, who are you listening to, Frank?

As I say, I keep hearing things like this. I'm getting kind of desperate as to the why's of what is said.

Quote
But what kind of „design“ are you imagining that would „contain and constrain“ the hallucination? I would rather tend to think that no design, but the group's capacities of human awareness and communication would be the remedy.
When they can't percieve what is a hallucination, they have no capacity to control it. Which is exactly the case when one dreams at night and is unaware of dreaming. These dream moments pop up during roleplay and the person having them has no real idea they are siezed by a hallucination.

In a rifts game the GM had said aimed shots take two attacks, but you just lower your total attacks by two and have your attack now - you don't wait an attack/turn, then shoot the next turn. Then it came to reloading - "Oh no, you can't just instantly reload and shoot - that doesn't make sense!" and you have to spend an attack just reloading. There was no perception of what was halucination and what wasn't - aiming and shooting could be done on the same attack despite costing two, but reloading and shooting - that was insane, apparently! Seized by the conviction that that's how it is, was the GM.

I've probably failed at giving proper tone. Sorry about that, Frank. But I don't know how else to address this without having failed to address this?
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2009, 01:38:06 AM »

Quote
When you say every group has to find their own way, who are you listening to, Frank?

Actually, I stopped listening to the people 'round here who would tell me otherwise (for the record: Ron Edwards is not one of them). It's been "there and back again" for me, so this is a very well reflected position of mine, nothing anybody told me that I'm repeating. Also for the record, "there" is coherent play.

However, I see that my fundamental opposition is not helpful at this point. I will see if I can come up with something more productive, or else let others take over for now.

- Frank
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Callan S.
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« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2009, 04:31:30 AM »

Yes, it's your position, but you've presented it as raw fact, Frank "Every group must find, invent so to say, their own way". I'm not jumping on that to say it's wrong, I'm saying there's something we, together, must grab hold of! Something unseen is entwined in those words and it slips away all to easily otherwise, and yet seems to be behind so many things. Vital, yet invisible.

And again, there is no 'there' in my 100 rules. It's like as the old experiment where a class is handed out their individual horoscopes. They are then asked to rate how well their personal horoscope describes them. Then, after they've given their ratings, they are told to show each other their horoscopes - which of course, are all exactly the same. There was no personal horoscope there, and there is no 'there' in my 100 random rules. Any coherant play has nothing to do with the rules. I specifically invented the 100 random rules so as to be like the horoscope experiment from above - to demonstrate a human behaviour. Oh, I totally grant if it was coherant the group played a game - one they invented themselves, but they'd totally attribute it to the 100 rules. Which is the human behaviour I set out to demonstrate.
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Patrice
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« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2009, 04:56:16 AM »

It seems to me that the whole lot of later posts upon this thread are beating about the bush around the notion of System. When a game provides 100 random rules or a tight set of mechanical notions, it doesn't provide a System as such. I've also noticed such a tendancy to run into what you call "rules" (which I would call the Resolution engine) without any further question about the System itself. Rules by themselves, limited to the mechanics of the Resolution engine, don't provide any backbone for what a RPG is and don't allow any sort of play interaction to happen.

No wonder, given this, that they don't help nor sustain any coherent way to reach a common goal and play experience. So, to answer Frank, I'd say that, ok, granted "every group has to find its own way" given full understanding and agreement about the System of play. If you overlook the System and jump into Resolution mechanics, thinking that "it's the game", what you get is anything but a RPG, or rather a pretty dysfunctional one. Does that help with the "murk" issue ? There is a strong tendancy to take "what is this game about" for granted ("c'mon it's a RPG, we know what it's about") and to jump straight into mechanics, thinking that this is what is supposed to matter when we say System Matters. It isn't.
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2009, 09:46:15 AM »

I don't think 'attuned' is right. It's more like, perhaps, a (cold) war of brotherly henpecking and that distracts them from third parties, for the most part. I'm not sure Matts contributions matter all that much either - he contributed alot of plans, and none of them were needed - he just snuck in, in the end.

That's basically what I meant. It's not like they made a deal, it's a procedure that evolved between them without anyone being aware of it. Let me elaborate.

You have the classical older brother who starts GMing for the younger brother. Probably lots of times just the two of them.
The older brother manifests as a solid traditional railroading GM.
The younger brother is firmly stuck in the passenger's seat from day one, due to procedures and seniority. But he wants to contribute and be creative too. What are his options? Traditionally, two jump out:
1) Contribute meaningless color (what drink do you order at the bar?).
2) Pause the train and go wild imagining stuff that could happen by planning for it, regardless where the train actually goes.
Both options are harmless to the GM, as all they do is delay and not derail. It's good for the player, because he gets to say his stuff and the GM lends a willing ear.
Both brother are happy with what they got, being ignorant of other options besides the railroad track.

Enter Callan.
Callan wants to contribute, so the older brother gives him options 1 and 2. Younger brother jumps at the chance, but Callan wants to skip them and continue the train. So does Callan want to contribute, or not? Callan makes no sense to the brothers.

I have to say, I played monopoly with my partner and son a few times recently - it's basically a big game of snakes and ladders. I'm not against just playing what is a big game of snakes and ladders with Dan and Matt (just faster!) - if I want to do anything deeper, I'll ask them or find others who might want to try if they decline. Sometimes I think the need to keep focusing on the fiction is to avoid the idea it always turns out to be a big game of snakes and ladders. Though to be honest, I'd like it if monopoly had say an hour or two shaved off of it (I think our games went for about five hours! We played on the floor and everyones knees hurt!).

I can make sense of that, if snakes and ladders is an analogy of the RPG railroad. But then, you say you're ok with it, but in this thread you're complaining you can't get off the track. To me, you leave the impression that you're sick of it.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2009, 02:15:52 PM »

Hi Jasper,

Quote
You have the classical older brother who starts GMing for the younger brother. Probably lots of times just the two of them.
The older brother manifests as a solid traditional railroading GM.
The younger brother is firmly stuck in the passenger's seat from day one, due to procedures and seniority. But he wants to contribute and be creative too. What are his options? Traditionally, two jump out:
1) Contribute meaningless color (what drink do you order at the bar?).
2) Pause the train and go wild imagining stuff that could happen by planning for it, regardless where the train actually goes.
Both options are harmless to the GM, as all they do is delay and not derail. It's good for the player, because he gets to say his stuff and the GM lends a willing ear.
Both brother are happy with what they got, being ignorant of other options besides the railroad track.

Enter Callan.
Callan wants to contribute, so the older brother gives him options 1 and 2. Younger brother jumps at the chance, but Callan wants to skip them and continue the train. So does Callan want to contribute, or not? Callan makes no sense to the brothers.
Hmmm, that makes alot of sense. 'Contributing' IS, to them, planning alot or describing how you walk into a bar. If I want to contribute, then to them I look like I want to do that. Though I don't think they have ever RP'ed just with each other - GM/one player is very rare in our/their history.

So your sort of saying they set something up between them already, and after it's set up, I arrive. How it's set up is an arrangement between them, really?

Quote
I can make sense of that, if snakes and ladders is an analogy of the RPG railroad. But then, you say you're ok with it, but in this thread you're complaining you can't get off the track. To me, you leave the impression that you're sick of it.
Have I? Feel free to quote me - but I'm pretty sure I'm not deluding myself here? The title even has molases in it - it's not that were on tracks, it's that were on tracks and it's soooo sloooooow! Not that I'm in love with railroading, I'll grant, but if the group game goes that way (and if it is an arrangement I'm not party to, as above) then I'm okay with it, but just faster. Monopoly faster too, by a couple of hours!

Heh, I've run some bits of the D&D basic games (I've bought the last three - kind of find them facinating) for my partner and son. My partner is pretty firm on it either only lasting 30 minutes, or she'll decline the offer. Now that's damn fast! And kind of ironic as she initiated to play these five hour monopoly sessions. I've asked her about it and it seems the repeating structure of monopoly is easier to get into for an extended time. But that's another (interesting) topic! Thanks!


Hi Patrice,

I don't know. I see plenty of people driving at traffic lights correctly, or paying for groceries and taking the goods. It's entirely possible to have a system without discussing it (let alone inventing it), having learnt the skills behind it all prior. This all seems an impossible thing to many roleplayers - it almost seems that along with making an intricate game world or whatever, crafting a system between participants is part of what roleplay IS to them (and perhaps blurring game world and system between real people is the heights for them). I see no reason why system must be invented by a group, except that some people like that. Which, while no reason for it is apparent, means it isn't any sort of physical requirement of roleplay that groups 'have' to invent their own way and/or their own system.
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Patrice
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« Reply #26 on: July 15, 2009, 11:07:59 PM »

Hi Patrice,

I don't know. I see plenty of people driving at traffic lights correctly, or paying for groceries and taking the goods. It's entirely possible to have a system without discussing it (let alone inventing it), having learnt the skills behind it all prior. This all seems an impossible thing to many roleplayers - it almost seems that along with making an intricate game world or whatever, crafting a system between participants is part of what roleplay IS to them (and perhaps blurring game world and system between real people is the heights for them). I see no reason why system must be invented by a group, except that some people like that. Which, while no reason for it is apparent, means it isn't any sort of physical requirement of roleplay that groups 'have' to invent their own way and/or their own system.

But it's what they do anyway. The party that "likes" crafting a System is simply aware of the fact, whether the other is not. The "skills behind it" aren't anything chewable in themselves if you don't come to an agreement about the way you put them in motion. "Invent" is maybe a too strong word here, let's not get caught in it, I am willing to phrase it again if you wish, something like "have to figure their own way". What happens when you're not aware of this "figuring" thing, is that you assume an agreement that has never been discussed and just go play. When it works, that means that you're all lucky or empathic enough to hace had a simil
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Patrice
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« Reply #27 on: July 15, 2009, 11:09:31 PM »

*sigh*

(sorry, lousy keyboard here)

...similar grasp of "the skills behind it". At least until an issue sprouts.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2009, 02:36:22 AM »

Hi Callan,

Quote
Yes, it's your position, but you've presented it as raw fact, Frank "Every group must find, invent so to say, their own way". I'm not jumping on that to say it's wrong, I'm saying there's something we, together, must grab hold of! Something unseen is entwined in those words and it slips away all to easily otherwise, and yet seems to be behind so many things. Vital, yet invisible.

Alright then, if you want to pursue that line of thought further, I’m all for it. Just tell me if I’m derailing. I’ll have to digress a bit.

The most important point Ron made in “System does matter” is that there are different modes of play, and different sets of rules (referred to as “system” in that article) may facilitate, or fail to facilitate, a certain mode. That is true and well, but it does not mean that the rules and procedures as laid out in the game text must, or in fact should, provide an exact instruction of how to do everything and anything in the game. If you look especially at Spione, you will see that it deliberately leaves a lot of space for an individual group to define, invent so to say, the way in which they want to use the tools provided by the design. Not in terms of Drifting the game, but rather in terms of the little bits and pieces on all layers of the Big Model, and how they best suit the group’s needs. (Ron, please correct me if I’m wrong.) The design still facilitates Narrativist play, but how various groups play the game coherently may be quite different, on all layers of the Model, and one groups functional approach might well be dysfunctional to another group. 

Looking at my personal experience with role-playing, I have come to the conclusion that the idea of a designer telling a group exactly how to play is a red herring, and whenever a group tries to second-guess the designer, trying to play the game “as intended” (as opposed to “their own way”), they are bound for a very artificial play experience with little emotional investment. That’s how I ended up not having fun with My Life with Master. Whereas when I played Polaris and the group followed its intuition, I proclaimed we had transcended the rules only to learn that with one very overt exception, we had been playing the rules as written, and yet it had been decidedly different than previous play experiences with the same game. Ben confirmed that this was intentional on his part.

It’s a bit like those guidebooks for sex: They cannot promote the one way to do it, they can only help you along in finding out what works for you, at the time, with the partner(s) you have. And next time you’ll have to figure out a new way to do it that fits the time and the partner(s) you have then. Plus, there are a lot of different functional ways to do it, pick yours for today. It’s only problematic if you pick kinky and your partner picked nice and slow. Also, some of those guidebooks have been invaluable to some couples, while other couples may have found the same guidebook entirely useless. All of this transfers very well to role-playing, and role-playing guidebooks.

This is far from saying system doesn’t matter after all, or has to be invented from scratch by the group. But system can only facilitate coherent play. Never can system in and of itself provide a model for coherent play, or tell the players what to do. What’s more, if players play only for, let’s say, the “Reward” provided by the Reward System, well, then they’re playing a game of numbers and the actual fictional content, what happens to the characters, becomes mostly exchangeable. At least in my experience.

Now, that was the digression, for the lengthiness of which I apologize. It has nothing to do with your Warhammer game, except it’s why I see your proposed solution of “design” as problematic.

A “there” or “it” that is coherent play—tight, vivid, emotionally invested play—needs a vision. A vision shared among the participants, probably dynamic, changing and adapting as the group moves along. This vision is the “invisible” thing you are talking about, the subject of your “hallucination”. Maybe you are throwing two different things together with your term of “hallucination” (correct me if I’m wrong).

First case: The players do not, in fact, play coherently, or have a clear vision of coherent play they strive for. However, they are in denial of the fact that their play is incoherent. Maybe it’s not dramatically incoherent, like in your example, just a little erratic and abashed. Not terribly annoying, just not yet really “it”. But the participants claim it’s “it”. They have some contradictory notion of “it”, learned from other role-players or gathered from books, and aspire to that, but they cannot put together in their heads a clear picture of what “it” looks like, exactly, and how their actions in play facilitate “it”. Here, you’ve got your hallucination alright.

Second case: The game played (rules and prose) does not provide a very clear idea of “it”, but the players have their “vision” nonetheless, because they made “it” up themselves. Note that there are different opinions of what a coherent design looks like, see my digression above. If you ask me, even a coherent design would, by necessity,  require the group to figure some things out by themselves. I think you are bothered by the fact that in this case, the “vision” cannot be placed to a source, cannot be easily nailed down. But that doesn’t make it a hallucination.

It’s not about the designer’s, but about the group’s shared vision, arrived at through personal human interaction. In my opinion (maybe a matter of preference), the best thing a game designer can provide to this end is advice in clear, well written prose. I don’t like the “board game” approach. I’m a role-playing geek, not a board-game geek, for a reason. If you’d rather prefer a board-game with a bit of Exploration thrown on top, that’s fine, but I suggest that in that case, you will effectively be playing a game of numbers with very little to no real investment into the SIS. Is that what you want? Or is it what you settle for?

You’re now saying “just faster” would be fine, and sure, it would be an improvement. But originally you had other valid criticism as well. That other criticism was rooted in a very clear, concise judgement of the individual contributions, how they did not serve a purpose (a perceivable point of play, i.e. Creative Agenda), or how they did not make a whole lot of sense in the context of the SIS. You (Callan) have a vision of coherent play, only it’s not shared, or even understood, by the others. And they, in turn, don’t seem to have such a vision, just an hallucination, as termed by you correctly (my first case above). Snakes and Ladders can be a substitute, but not a vision of its own.

- Frank
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #29 on: July 16, 2009, 04:45:14 AM »

And that brings those two threads back together, thanks Frank!

Indeed, you're the beast from the jungle, Callan. The brothers are unaware of life outside their biosphere, they are unaware that there's anything outside the suburbs they've lived in all their life. They've agreed to live in those suburbs by never traveling out of them.

And it's not only the railroad that's the problem, but the way the entire game is played. Here's a quote: "it's soooo sloooooow!". This is saying that the fun:unfun ratio is fucked up. You can find some redeeming qualities, but they're too few, too little, to really give you a good time. Consider playing work, consider fun your salary, do the math, and find out you're performing slave labor. Toiling time and again without significant payoff. Sure, you live, but are you satisfied with that?

Oh, it's not that bad! What? Not so bad that you'd tear your hair out and run from the room screaming? Only so bad that half the time you're eating yourself up from the inside, all quiet? Well perhaps, but it's bad nonetheless. Otherwise you wouldn't have started this topic the way you did.
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