The war on content

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

The latest issue of the 9th Scroll is here! You can read all about it in the news.

  • The war on content

    The war on content

    Here's a very general point about T9A that corresponds to problems I see from many different areas: we have something of a disagreement about whether to try to add content, or to try and cut content.

    First let me explain what content is; if you look at Xwing, MtG, warhammer 40K, heathstone, yugioh etc, you see:
    • A relatively simple set of "core rules" that's basically a few pages of text. For example, these are the yugioh rules.
      • The complexity of these "core rules" is front-loaded
      • These should be aggressively reduced in size because they are a barrier to entry.
    • A large collection of back-loaded "content". For example, a card in hearthstone or an army book entry in T9A
      • The complexity of these rules is "back-loaded" for most players: you don't need to know the vast majority of it.
    From the point of view of most players:
    • front-loaded "core rules" are a cost. You have to put in the effort to learn these rules.
    • back-loaded "content" is a benefit. You can explore it at your leisure and combine this content into your deck/army. It's what gets people hooked on the game and immersed in their army.


    The problem

    The problem is that T9A seems to want to decrease the amount of content in the game too aggressively and in unnecessary ways. You can see this from ideas like drastically cutting the number of lores of magic, wanting all army books to have the same number of units, really cracking down on the introduction of new units etc.

    For example, look at pushback by @berti and @Odoamar against @Altao 's proposed path of demagoguery:

    berti wrote:

    Why additional path for mass armies? Next step would be a path specialized on monster mash? Or for small MSU elite armies?
    Current path of magic should be balanced and not additional ones introduced.

    odoamar wrote:

    Next path is bad decisions. We have to look what paths are to common and why, and what paths are to rare.

    A path of magic in T9A contains 8 pieces of content. We have 10 paths, which adds up to 80. Demagoguery would increase us from 80 to 88.
    Hearthstone has a total of about 1,600 cards, M:TG has approximately 12,000. Why are we making a fuss about going from 80 to 88 spells? Demagoguery sounds cool! I want to model a goblin wtich doctor called "Don'git Tump" and his plan to "make the badlands great again", "build a wall and make da stunties pay for it"!

    As a second example, a lot of people want to bring new units into O&G; new GW monstrous cavalry, forge world monsters, etc. Now O&G already has serious content bloat problems. One version of the future that I see is that O&G army list restrictions are modified so as to give us a bit more design-space room, allowing the existing units to each have more space and also allowing new units. Another version of the future sees cuts in O&G units and no new stuff. This is certainly a battle in the war on content.

    Now there are some valid reasons for waging a war on content.
    • Too much content can feed into genericization, where design space is simply not big enough to contain the sheer quantity of content that is being added, so different bits of content end up looking virtually identical from a crunch perspective. This is bad because it breaks the fundamental link between fluff and crunch that makes the game immersive; units with different fluff should not have the same crunch.
    • Too much content can make internal balance really hard. And oh boy do O&G have that problem.


    The solutions

    The solution is IMO to embrace the idea of more content being a good thing, but to limit and mitigate the problems that come with a lot of content.
    1. Separate core rules from content and Organize content closer to where it is used: It may be desirable to just release card sets for each army and take the paths out of the main magic book
    2. Use small increases in core rules to facilitate large increases in content: such as splitting stats
    3. Organize content more hierarchically via keywords and generally try to make design and balance more modular
    4. Fix content that requires complex modifications to core rules (so that it doesn't): I'm looking at you, mad gits and gnasher wrecking teams
    5. Try to automate the balancing process for content: so that your design effort isn't so painful when more content is added
    6. Release new content in a drip-feed to keep people hyped about the game
      • have a process for good proposals such as the path of demagoguery or Orc Monster Cav where they can be balanced as part of the v2.0 stable rules, but saved up to be released 6-12 months after v2.0 or something.

    The post was edited 11 times, last by Warboss_R'ok ().

  • Okay, I have to admit that I was very skeptical about this post at first, but as I usually do, I read the whole thing while suspending my right to pass judgment.

    You changed my mind. I like what you're proposing here, and I see it as a very healthy perspective despite my natural inclination to distrust everything newfangled.

    Cheers, mate!
    "I know my own soul, how feeble and puny it is: I know the magnitude of this ministry, and the great difficulty of the work; for more stormy billows vex the soul of the priest than the gales which disturb the sea." --John Chrysostom

    Force Organization Theory
  • Warboss_R'ok wrote:

    The solutions

    The solution is IMO to embrace the idea of more content being a good thing, but to limit and mitigate the problems that come with a lot of content.
    Separate core rules from content and Organize content closer to where it is used: It may be desirable to just release card sets for each army and take the paths out of the main magic book
    Use small increases in core rules to facilitate large increases in content: such as splitting stats
    Already happening in V2.0
    Fix content that requires complex modifications to core rules (so that it doesn't)[/b]: I'm looking at you, mad gits and gnasher wrecking teams
    As and when each book comes along for review, all parts will be looked at.
    Try to automate the balancing process for content: so that your design effort isn't so painful when more content is added
    Its almost impossible to "automate" this process. Certain design methods are being used to ensure that it follows the same path
    Release new content in a drip-feed to keep people hyped about the game[
    Already planned as can be seen in the constant news items we post up and in the scrolls
    have a process for good proposals such as the path of demagoguery or Orc Monster Cav where they can be balanced as part of the v2.0 stable rules, but saved up to be released 6-12 months after v2.0 or something.
    Once V2.0 is finally finished and cemented, that will be it for 4-5 years, there will be no extra editions. We can then concentrate on the books so that by the end of it, every book has received the same treatment, by the same team and is balanced correctly. There is lots the team need to do, we just need the time to shoe horn it all in.
    http://www.bugmansbrewery.com - The largest most informative Fantasy Dwarf website on the net, covering every dwarfers needs from forum to tactics, balls to ships!

    Advisory Board

    Head of Public Relations

    Bugmans Brewery Owner (Dwarven Holds)

  • I worry about the whole 'nothing new for years' thing. I don't think thats healthy, nor is it wise.

    Games and communities are kept alive by consistent new content. It doesnt have to be great redesigns every 2 months...but maybe SOMETHING new every quarter...whether it be a new unit, a cool scenario, SOMETHING.

    Having no new changes or additions for years....I disagree thats the way to go.

    Conceptual Design Team

  • Spot on Warboss. The current proposed static cycle may very well kill T9A (sry for being a tad negative here).

    A while back I suggested T9A should stop the full AB reworks and release small chunks info of new units + add a little fluff and scenario in short releases.

    Anything to break this cycle, which may result in some AB's getting any form of an update after 4 or more years.

    T9A can bring this to the next level and open up that can of "awesomeness"!
    Booooooaaaaaarsssss .... Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge !!!
  • HJFudge wrote:

    I worry about the whole 'nothing new for years' thing. I don't think thats healthy, nor is it wise.

    Games and communities are kept alive by consistent new content. It doesnt have to be great redesigns every 2 months...but maybe SOMETHING new every quarter...whether it be a new unit, a cool scenario, SOMETHING.

    Having no new changes or additions for years....I disagree thats the way to go.
    @Pellegrim there will be new army books coming out over those years, the entire team has a plan to roll them out asap. Maybe it be less then 4 years who knows! Brett are still waiting for a new book for years now
    http://www.bugmansbrewery.com - The largest most informative Fantasy Dwarf website on the net, covering every dwarfers needs from forum to tactics, balls to ships!

    Advisory Board

    Head of Public Relations

    Bugmans Brewery Owner (Dwarven Holds)

  • I know thats the intention, and it's noble, but it stil means some AB's will have to wait maybe 6 years or more. As I honestly don't see them pumping out more then 2 a year (and thats still a great effort!). It's just not engaging enough in my opinion. At the end of the road you have a very solid and unique wargame, yet, as the OP described, is relatively limmited in content. It's very much worth exploring expansion options.
    Booooooaaaaaarsssss .... Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge !!!
  • Pellegrim wrote:

    I know thats the intention, and it's noble, but it stil means some AB's will have to wait maybe 6 years or more. As I honestly don't see them pumping out more then 2 a year (and thats still a great effort!). It's just not engaging enough in my opinion. At the end of the road you have a very solid and unique wargame, yet, as the OP described, is relatively limmited in content. It's very much worth exploring expansion options.
    We have a better plan then that!
    http://www.bugmansbrewery.com - The largest most informative Fantasy Dwarf website on the net, covering every dwarfers needs from forum to tactics, balls to ships!

    Advisory Board

    Head of Public Relations

    Bugmans Brewery Owner (Dwarven Holds)

  • I really think doing this significantly would sink the balance of the game or dilute the actual value of said content. You quote hearthstone and MTG (I'll speak mainly about the latter as I barely played Hearthstone), but these games are hardly balanced with the vast majority of the cards being completely uncompetitive, and a few overpowered card dictating the meta. This is intentional as it's a good market strategy for MTG to have players buy boosters until they finally end up with the overpowered mystic rare card they need. Meanwhile, you see a power creep over the years to get people play buy the new edition over the last one when it comes out. The old editions become rapidly obsolete, and are always quickly forbidden for no one can claim to balance sheer the number of combo that would open up.
    Are you really creating sustainable content in this game? Not really, more like overturning the content used by the players.

    But there is another reason why these games have that much content in total: they are collectible card games. People are not necessarily motivated by playing the game, some just like to collect and trade cards. Again, this is a very commercial approach, and while I totally see why it is rewarding for the customer/player too, it is not the path T9A is following.
    We're making fewer things but we explore more in depth what we do, whether it is in terms of background, balance or design. Rushing more content for the sake of getting more new content (a route in which it's never going to be enough) - if that means the quality of it must go down as a trade-off - is not something I would personally like to end up with.
    I prefer that we think things through and ensure everything we have has a purpose/role first.

    When I say this I mean to talk about the content from the team, of course you have also the (homemade) content proposed by the community itself to feed in this "extra" personal input. And I bet that at least 90% of this community content is going to be "back loaded" as you say. One more reason for us to make the "front loaded" content top notch - it is the framework that determines how much room "back loaded" content can explore.
  • Pellegrim wrote:

    Spot on Warboss. The current proposed static cycle may very well kill T9A (sry for being a tad negative here).

    A while back I suggested T9A should stop the full AB reworks and release small chunks info of new units + add a little fluff and scenario in short releases.

    Anything to break this cycle, which may result in some AB's getting any form of an update after 4 or more years.

    T9A can bring this to the next level and open up that can of "awesomeness"!

    I rather like the idea of releasing fluff piecemeal myself, to be honest.

    Campaign Team


  • @Shlagrabak

    I don't think we should ever have 1600 or 12000 units/spells in T9A. It's more like when you look at 10 lores of magic you could easily say 'can we think of 5 more that would fill some cool niches', rather than 'is 10 the absolute minimal set we can get away with'.
  • Warboss_R'ok wrote:

    @Shlagrabak

    I don't think we should ever have 1600 or 12000 units/spells in T9A. It's more like when you look at 10 lores of magic you could easily say 'can we think of 5 more that would fill some cool niches', rather than 'is 10 the absolute minimal set we can get away with'.

    It could be - it is definitely a matter of scale and total size of content to balance and give flavour to.
    I'd say it's not unthinkable to consider 16 more spells instead of five lores actually. ;)
  • IceKing wrote:

    Well put together but the "keyword" idea screams of AoS.... I don't like AoS
    The grudge is still fresh.

    What I also like to see is flexibility in army building. Look at 8th Edition 40K for now. I could easily build an Iron Hands army with Mechanicum units and (if they make HH units compatible with 8th) Gorgon Terminators.
  • Some of the suggestions will trigger some serious AoS defense reflexes. :D
    But even though I don't like AoS GW's premise wasn't too bad. They tried pretty much what was suggested in the OP: Simple core rules with bite-sized content additions. The problem is: their core rules were bad. The overall concept was not.

    If implemented well, this would lower the barrier of entry significantly and help keeping veterans hooked.
  • Doesn't AOS now require multiple books etc? When you add up all the extra "content" bits, you could have just published a large rulebook at the start and be done with it. Having multiple bits everywhere makes it hard to keep track off.

    The idea is understood, but I am not sure anyway of doing it nicely.

    I think you will find V2.0 will flow a lot better
    http://www.bugmansbrewery.com - The largest most informative Fantasy Dwarf website on the net, covering every dwarfers needs from forum to tactics, balls to ships!

    Advisory Board

    Head of Public Relations

    Bugmans Brewery Owner (Dwarven Holds)