Author Topic: Zeitgeist  (Read 4164 times)

Mad Dr Jeffe

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Zeitgeist
« on: October 05, 2003, 10:00:30 PM »
So I was looking through Victoriana (a new steampunk game from Heresy Games that uses the Fuzion system) and I just got angry. Angry for two reasons, one its a solid game, not great, but solid (stay with me I do have a point) and two its a decent history of the Victorian age.

Still dont follow me? Its supposed to be a fantasy Steam Punk game!  Now fans of the Genre already know that the subject is well covered, either with Space 1889 (Heliograph games), or Gurps Falkenstein, or even a prized copy of Castle Falkenstein (Which can be easily ported to fuzion with the book comme il faut).
For a niche genre the markets really flooded, and you dont do anything innovative?

Thats why im angry, well that and the authors rather simplistic and overly patriotic view of the latter half of the 19th century.  
The game has no Zeitgeist, overemphisises modern concepts and uses Dwarves, Orcs and the Michael Moorcock elf known as the Eldran. Yeah humans with pointey ears for no good reason! It makes me sick.
Plus when a reader gets to a history chapter he gets a boatload of badly written tripe mixed with real events.
The inclusion of magic doesnt do much for the world, (almost all adventures are on the gutter level) and social class is emphesised, but more for its disharmonizing effect and not really as a roleplaying tool.
Victoriana is effectively Shadowrun in the past.
Arrrgh

What makes me angry is that most people wont know the difference.
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Slant

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2003, 11:13:55 PM »
Actually the idea of Shadowrun set in the Victorian age sounds pretty damned cool, but I understand what you are saying.  It seems like you really know a lot about the time period in question, so maybe it ticks you off because you can so easily see the inaccuracies where perhaps most other readers wouldn't.  

Maybe it would help to look at the game as set in an alternate world that is similar historically to our Earth, but still contains vast differences.  Honestly, I've never read the game book, but it sure does LOOK impressive.
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Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2003, 11:39:38 PM »
I though it sounded cool too, thats why I bought it. It is a neat concept, but not really neccisary for me because Falkenstein has rules for converting over to cyberpunk.

But dont get me wrong, its not a bad game,... just a mediocre one. It has a really bland rules set, trivializes the causes of the day (while pretending to know what they are talking about) and gets way to sterotypical. Dwaves are gin and beer swilling tunnel digging gruff folks, Eldran are pointy eared dainty upperclass types.

The only part that I did like was the use of beastmen as a race. Imagine being a ratman Valet, or a Lion General . Neat concept but sullied by the inclusion of gnomes, elves and dwarves.

And fusion, blech... now some neat stuff has been done with fuzion like Usagi Yojimbo or Champions for example but Victoriana just doesn't use the rules well.

And they tried to do too much history and not enough world background. When I played shadowrun I had a good idea of what Seattle looked like, felt like, tasted like even. But London the city they want you to run the game in barely recives a treatment. What would have been cool would have been a map of London in 1857 or even England itself by region. Instead we get maps of all the Empires without any atempt being made to have an epic game.  I found myself asking, if they want me to play in london why do I have a huge world map of the British and French Empires?
« Last Edit: October 06, 2003, 12:08:19 AM by ElJeffe »
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The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2003, 08:22:33 AM »
I don't think elves and dwarves are necessarily evil. Sure, I don't usually include them. But it seems like a silly criteria for hating a system.

Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2003, 11:01:49 AM »
Sure it is, when they are included for no good reason and when they become humans with pointey ears.  
But they arn't the reason I hate the game, I hate how boring the rules are and how bland they have made the setting.
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42

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2003, 03:34:01 PM »
Just for argument sake, Jeffe, I think you have some faulty reasoning. First all of the Steam Punk references you mentioned are ancient in publishing. Barnes and Noble and other book distributers generally consider anything that was printer over 2 years ago, to be ancient. After two years a book has reached it's peak as far as potential buyers. Sure there will be a few, but for the most part the book is just hogging valuable shelf space. The most recent publication you mention had a 2000 publishing date, which makes it old.

The other problem is that you seem to think that publishers care about having a fan base. Fan bases are nice when you're George Lucas and know that you can't really produce anything of quality, but you still want to make money. For the rest of us, we need new blood. That means that we need to wow those people who are unfamiliar or only marginally familiar with our product or genre. Does that make sense?

As far as the elf thing. You're absolutley right. I hate elves.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2003, 03:34:55 PM by 42 »
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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2003, 05:03:24 PM »
I'm going to make sure all my future recruits for my corp of assassin ninja priests are elves.

Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2003, 05:40:16 PM »
Quote
Just for argument sake, Jeffe, I think you have some faulty reasoning. First all of the Steam Punk references you mentioned are ancient in publishing. Barnes and Noble and other book distributers generally consider anything that was printer over 2 years ago, to be ancient. After two years a book has reached it's peak as far as potential buyers. Sure there will be a few, but for the most part the book is just hogging valuable shelf space. The most recent publication you mention had a 2000 publishing date, which makes it old.



Not true, GURPS steampunk and Gurps Falkenstein (which has dual rules) has been subsequently reprinted, I think its on its third or fourth printing. Space 1889 was just reprinted and Fudge even has a Steam Punk Setting out... add Victorian Vampire, The Mad Science Wackiness of Savage Deadlands (soon to be released) and the sleeper hit Gaslight and you have a really crowded genre.

Quote
The other problem is that you seem to think that publishers care about having a fan base. Fan bases are nice when you're George Lucas and know that you can't really produce anything of quality, but you still want to make money. For the rest of us, we need new blood. That means that we need to wow those people who are unfamiliar or only marginally familiar with our product or genre. Does that make sense?

Thats my point, nothing about this game has any wow factor, it doesnt take advantage of the genre, and it devolves into a rather boring treatment of european history. Which isn't that different than now.

Heres a concept from the book for example. European society is less advanced than it would have been in real life because of Magic (the greeks and Romans did a lot with it) but somehow magic fell so completely out of fashion that Europeans took to technology to replace it.
So Europeans are magically the inferior of every other culture and their technolgy doesn't give them any advantage that magic doesn't, yet they've somehow managed to take over the world.
How? If a Chinese sorceror can summon an Army of undead ghosts who are impervious to harm and the British Marines have cannons that cant hurt them how do the Brits win?

I mean its a book that touts the idea of social revolution and then glosses over the need for that revolution.

I also hate that they made most Africans into Orcs, personally I think that is just tacky and crude.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2003, 06:13:41 PM by ElJeffe »
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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2003, 05:43:15 PM »
But competing with GURPS is hardly glutting the market.

Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2003, 06:01:24 PM »
When Gurps has two games dealing with Steampunk and one shares a duel rules system (yes Falkenstein has its rules availible in Gurps Castle Falkenstein), oh and dont forget Space 1889 reprinted by Heliograph last year, or NAGS for Fudge also reprinted last year. I would call the market glutted for the Steampunk Genre.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2003, 06:04:05 PM by ElJeffe »
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42

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2003, 07:17:06 PM »
I would have to say that reprints don't count. It's the same product, just repackaged. Actually, Steve Jackson often doesn't even bother to repackage it. Reprints also almost always have lower sales. Reprinting is just a publishing tactic to keep shelf space and to keep pushing a product no one wants anymore.

And my point about the wow factor is that people who are already familiar with what is out there aren't exactly the best target. You need to wow the people who are only vaguely familiar with steampunk. And from what you have been describing of Victoriana, it sounds as though it would intrigue people who have just started role-playing, maybe just graduating from D&D, and like the whole Solomen's Mine and Frankenstein environment. Maybe some poor junior high students that have become League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fans would be interested.

Also, teenagers (as a whole) spend more on entertainment than people in there twenties or older. For example, statisticly, about 60% of teenagers will read a book for leisure in a given year in the US. Only around 20% of adults will read a book for liesure in a given year in the US. So are you starting to see what demographics Victoriana might be heading for? It's not people who know about Space 1889.
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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2003, 07:18:11 PM »
Tolkien races tend to be gimmics outside of his own stuff. D&D style elves are just arrogant humans with a slow response time. I have always been slightly more favoured towards human - only settings, since i notice that people tend to create D&D style stereotypes for all the typical races.  Those races in LoTR are actually really different from the D&D ones - just compare the elves.

On the steam punk side, i don't like the genre as a whole so i disregard the entire lot. I like uber nifty and sleek technology (stuff that makes cool whirring noises earn brownie points). not clunky and slow stuff. So i don't like steampunk technology.

Assuming i am thinking about the right genre, since if i ain't then i am rambling quite dramatically off the threads topic.
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Fellfrosch

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2003, 07:40:29 PM »
More or less. Wild, Wild West, as crappy a movie as it was, is a good example of Steampunk.

Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2003, 08:11:36 PM »
Reprints do count in roleplaying especially when they are well packaged, like Gurps.  Space 1889 has been gone for so long that it's effectively a new game and it looks better on the store shelf than Victoriana (which for some inexplicable reason put some of their worst art on the cover)
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Re: Zeitgeist
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2003, 08:14:06 PM »
I should point out here that 42 has more experience and education about being a publisher than you do Jeffe. What he's referring to what people buy in books, and yes, RPGs are typically books and generally follow that trend.