Shining Dodecahedron

One geek's views on role-playing and games in general.

This place is all about discussing paper-and-pencil roleplaying games. I'm Jay, and I run this joint, but that doesn't make me smarter than you. This will all work best if I say things, and you say what you think about them, lather, rinse, repeat. With luck we can all understand the hobby a little better. If you have a topic that you would like me to start a thread about, post a comment here. If you've got something to say about characters (my ongoing topic du jour), post a comment here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Games In Between

I have been a largely passive observer of the indie-RPG revolution for several reasons. One reason is the reactionary nature of much of the movement. That is, lots of people get into RPG theory and indie-games because they are unhappy with their current gaming experiences. They use theory (not always consciously) to lash out at the games that have let them down. Now, before you get all pissy with me, I'm not here to insult anyone. I have often been a reactionary myself, complaining about systems that don't work very well for me (e.g. D20). Anyway, one of the results of the dynamics that go into RPG theory and the resulting indie-games is a kind of extremism. Either your game is cutting edge and new , or it's the same old shit repackaged. Not everyone gets to this point, mind you, but I have heard it a lot.

I've played a number of the cutting-edge indie games with varying levels of success. I'd like to play more, but those that I have played lead me to believe that both traditional and radical designs have their place. So my concern is this: if all the designers that are paying attention to theory and giving serious thought to role-playing are hell-bent on making a game that fixes everything and exists on the very cutting edge, then who will help to bridge the gap? Where will the games be that are mindful of theory but build upon the firm foundations of RPGs as we know them today?

All of this is just to say that while a game needs to be different to set itself apart from the rest, it needn't be as different as you might think. Look at Burning Wheel and Dogs in the Vineyard. Both are games that are highly respected by indie-folks with some cross-over into more traditional gamers. Both present some new ideas while keeping much of the foundation of traditional role-playing intact. Dogs is perhaps a little hard for players to grasp at first, but it has a GM who sets up the situation and players the NPCs, it has players who each control one character apiece, it has enough elements of traditional RPGs to be palatable and accessible to old gamers (who, like old dogs aren't so good at new tricks).

Find the games in between. Use them to get your friends thinking about new ways of role-playing that will be more fun for everyone. Dispel some of the myths of role-playing.


Blogger John Harper said...

I'm interested to know what games you're talking about when you say "reactionary" and "extreme." Partly because I'm curious, and partly to know where your barometer is.

I certainly don't want to debate which games "should" be classified that way, so you won't be getting any flack from me about your selections.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 6:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typically the descriptors "reactionary" and "extreme" are more applicable to gamers and game designers, rather then the games and/or game designs themselves (which are children born of a person's motivations).

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Find the games in between. Use them to get your friends thinking about new ways of role-playing that will be more fun for everyone. Dispel some of the myths of role-playing.

I suspect this part is denigrated a bit, due to the common wisdom being that "you can't sneak up on mode". If you play only "halfway" games, will that make it too easy to keep the old techniques? Will players just warp the new systems to match pre-existing expectations?

Thursday, July 14, 2005 8:37:00 AM  
Blogger Bankuei said...

I think the three big "extremes" that bug people out, in my experience, is GM Power, Stance, and resolution based on something -other- than physics. The closer you stick traditionally to these ideas, usually the easier of a swallow it is for the mainstream gamer.

Burning Wheel and Dogs both succeed well in these regards, because, although GM Power is more limited, Stance is more open, and that more than just physics can help resolve things- they're all very well disguised.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another issue is who it is you are trying to sell on a given game. If it's folks who are steeped in the trad. gaming conventions, a more conventional read may go over better. For people not from the culture, different things may make a game more accessible: simplicity, ease of use, familiar situations & contexts. Card games also do not have a gm.

Saturday, July 16, 2005 2:03:00 AM  
Blogger ACHILLE said...

Nice blog. Have you seen your google rating? BlogFlux It's Free and you can add a Little Script to your site that will tell everyone your ranking. I think yours was a 3. I guess you'll have to check it out.

Tip Of The Day
Click Fraud and How to Deter It

Pay per click (PPC) advertising continues to gain popularity in the online marketing world as an effective and inexpensive way to drive targeted visitors to web sites. Research firm eMarketer reported that between 2002 and 2003 the paid search listing market grew 175 percent.

Major trusted search properties such as Google, Overture, FindWhat, Search123 and Kanoodle, all offer PPC campaigns in which you pay only when someone clicks through your banner ad or link. But PPC also has an enemy--click fraud--and understanding what it is and what to do about it should also be a key part of your PPC campaign.

What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is when someone or something generates illegitimate hits on your banner or text advertisement causing you to pay for worthless clicks. AS PPC campaigns have grown in popularity and keyword prices and bidding have become more competetive, click fraud is on the rise.

Online marketers are becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of click fraud. According to CNET News, some marketing executives estimate that "up to 20 percent of fees in certain advertising categories continue to be based on nonexistent consumers in today's search industry."

This estimate is certainly unsettling for advertisers who, recently, have been paying hefty amounts bidding on desirable search terms. Financial analysts report that in the year 2004 advertisers are paying an average of 45 cents per click. Compare this to 40 cents in 2003 and 30 cents in 2002 the bidding wars continue to rise.

Who's Doing it and Why?
Click fraud perpetrators are most often motivated by trying to increase revenues from affiliate networks or attempting to damage competitors' revenues by forcing them to pay for worthless clicks. The Google Adsense program, in which affiliates receive payment for clicks whether they are real or not, has caused great concern for Google and has intensified its focus on click fraud.

Those engaged in click fraud use a variety of techniques to generate false clicks. Low cost international workers from all over the world are hired to locate and click on ads. The Times of India provided investigative reporting on payment for manual click fraud happening in India. Unethical companies may pay their own employees to click on competitor ads. Last but not least, click fraud can be generated by online robots programmed to click on advertiser or affiliate ads. Some companies go to great lengths creating intricate software that allows for this to happen.

How Can You Deter It?
Many advertisers know about the possibility of click fraud but generally haven't done much in the past to prevent it. Some feel that if they complain to any of the search conglomerates, it could ruin their free listings. Others feel like the problem is beyond them.

"It is a bigger problem, but folks just don't want to take the time to track it down because it's a complex problem," stated John Squire, of web analytics firm Coremetrics, to CNET. "Given that some of the largest marketers manage up to 1 million keywords in a campaign the data can be difficult to crunch."

Companies who do understand and report click fraud to search engine properties have had success receiving refunds for fraudulent clicks. For those advertisers who want to address the possibility of click fraud in PPC campaigns, good option do exists. At the most basic level, advertisers can use general auditing many have been known to compile lists of sites that generate high numbers of clicks but not sales. This will indeed put up a red flag.

On the other hand, because click fraud is advancing at such frequency, click fraud detection companies and software have been popping up all over the country. Let's take a look at some of the options:

- - This fraud detector tracks all PPC search engines, detects multiple IP's, and even pops up a "ClickMinder" after a potential abuser clicks repeatedly over five times.
- ClickDetective - ClickDetective allows you to track return visitors to your site and alerts you if there is evidence that your site may be under attack. Its reports show you every click in real time rather than a summary hours later.
- BogusClick - BogusClick can help advertisers determine competitor IP addresses, originating PPC search engines and/or partner sites involved, as well as keywords used.
- Clicklab - Clicklab employs a score-based click fraud detection system that applies a series of tests to each visitor session and assigns scores. Calculations are made to indicate bad/good sessions to show an advertiser the quality of traffic.

Click fraud is a big problem in search engine marketing that's only going to get bigger in the future. It is wise for any online advertiser to implement some auditing system. Why continue to waste precious campaign money?!

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