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  #1  
Old Jul 6th, 2020, 10:43 AM
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Outplay 2020 Feedback Thread

This is a feedback thread designed to help the organizers of 2021 Outplay better design the tournament. Feel free to discuss your thoughts and ideas in the OOC thread and post any thoughts and recommendations on this thread.

Please note that the goal of this tournament is to reward the best PLAYER. This includes all aspects of PbP, including effectiveness, ingenuity, character development and writing skills. This is the one thing that will NOT change from year to year -- and we would ask that any recommendations made have the tournament goals in mind.

This is not to be used as a complaint thread. Any posts that contain disagreements with the decisions of the GM's or the judging will be deleted from this thread. However, we are definitely open to ideas and suggestions on things we could do to improve the experience of the tournament.

We are asking that each person submit no more than ONE post on this thread, although it could be as long as you would like it to be and you may edit it as you see fit. Both players and readers are welcome to put suggestions here.

There will not be any responses to recommendations from the organizers on this thread.
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Old Jul 6th, 2020, 10:51 AM
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Hi team, just a quick note that it seems a bit hectic to throw all of the players into the same thread this early on, especially in a social round and especially since none of the round 0 characters were eliminated. I understand the spirit of that decision, but I fear that it will get very chaotic after the first round of introductions. Any kind of conversation between characters is very likely to be interrupted.

Note that I'm comparing this to previous years, where there were 8 players in round 1 and the group was split down the middle so that you only had to compete for airtime with 3 others in the social round.

EDIT: Nevermind.




The build-your-own-challenge bit for the skill round was really good. I'd love to see a version of that in future competitions
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Old Jul 9th, 2020, 12:38 AM
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So...um...initiative? I realize I'm a newbie and I don't expect to win. But I also don't know that I should be just jumping in and going first. That's my only suggestion. That some sort of random order should be observed. I have to say that I'm really enjoying everyone's posts. And I've certainly got much to learn about writing more interesting posts. I know that I should be interacting more with the other players to make things more interesting.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by DAquilina View Post
I actually think that would be counterintuitive. We need to pick our top three, so it's useful to see what their responses are.
Agreed. My problem is that I have four contenders for story that really grips me. I might have to use backstory to break the "tie" even though that's a four way tie for first!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackfyre View Post
When a round will be extended with, lets call it, open RP (that could potentially influence our chances for the next round), it would be great if this were announced along with the dates of the round for those of use having to make time for it.

Maybe it would be better if the "open RP" was just for fun and blowing off steam, and not graded material. Sometimes people work better under pressure, and sometimes they work better when there's no pressure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phettberg View Post
Regarding Shadowrun and the "Roles":

My opinion is that this is an absolutely terrible, pointless, seemingly arbitrary and terrible (bears repeating) idea. Almost made me quit on the spot, but quitting is lame. Instead I'll slog through the week with a large chunk of my enjoyment taken out back and shot three times in the head (by a second line role shooter, of course).

But to be more specific (almost constructive) in my criticism:

1.) Shadowrun is a point-buy system, which inherently enables players to make characters that mix and match what might be expected of class x y and z in other games. It's not D&D, nor an MMO. Characters that aren't just one thing are quite common, so why introduce a system that will penalise those people? I can only assume you wanted a level playing field between strictly support types and others, but no such playing field was present for the social rounds beyond a large number passing on to the next round making it easier. All it does it letting people chose the rope you get to hang them with. Why not just evaluate if whatever a character does was useful or smart in intent, regardless of what it is, then factor in the result of the dice? If you were worried about the initiative, well that favouring characters that built for speed is part of the game, a thing that I had anticipated would hold me back. That I could not gain points from being good at soaking damage and from causing damage myself at the same I did not.

2.) With the roles in place success necessitates metagaming. My original plans went out the window because I won't get points for soaking attacks anyway unless I don't want points for my attacks (and let's not speak about barriers and whathaveyou), and either way it seems like I will always have "dead" posts because I'll probably won't be able to make every action "count". If I'm to go further I can't be playing Shadowrun the game, I need to use Shadowrun to game the system.

If any of this was disclosed before applications opened then I was not aware of it. Just tell people that they can't have a dodgy melee fighter or a soak-heavy shooter (etc) if they want to have the best chance at going further. I would not have applied and saved myself some grief.
I honestly saw your character, Colmo, as being effective on the battlefield, creating a barrier to protect all the runners on your team. And then in a later round, calling the lightning. I liked ALL the characters in the first round, but some I found more compelling than others. *I* personally did not find your character tiresome, that was only said in character.

Last edited by Bhelogan; Jul 31st, 2020 at 01:21 PM. Reason: Posts merged, 1 post per person in this thread please.
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Old Jul 9th, 2020, 12:22 PM
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UF's notes
Round 1So, since the questions are all the same in this section of the competition, maybe secret the different groups to just those who want to be with that sponsor? All the groups can be unhidden before the voting so you can read up and make an informed vote. Even if different people have the same idea for a response, maybe having the groups hidden will let the judges know the ideas are fresh and not just copies.

Not saying anyone is copying here. Just an idea. I've actually enjoyed commenting on the antics going on around with the other groups.
Round 2I agree With Phettberg on the static nature of the combat round kind of taking danger out of a Shadowrun firefight. I kind of liked the way that in 5 turns we slowly determined what was going on as a collective and the week ended naturally instead of just being cut off so it felt like in some ways we had agency. But in reality, it was both relatively easy to avoid damage and easy to hit the enemies and nothing we did changed the flow of battle (until the last physical barrier). Some extra complications round to round like replacements moving to cover (and perhaps forcing the players to move as well), environmental effects or area effects, etc. would have gone a long way to make the combat feel more dire and shadowrunny. I get that the speed of turnaround on complicated shadowrun combat required a simplification especially in the first come first served nature of Outplay, but it may have been taken a bit too far.
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Old Jul 10th, 2020, 04:25 AM
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April Appreciation mechanics would be interesting to implement during site events like Iron DM, Outplay, Hall of Fame. Might be a nice attraction to the events and promote greater participation between players and audience, DMs, and everyone really.
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Old Jul 11th, 2020, 05:13 PM
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When a round will be extended with, lets call it, open RP (that could potentially influence our chances for the next round due to the player votes potentially taking those open RP posts into account), it would be great if this were announced along with the dates of the round for those of use having to make time for it.

Combat round
I feel that the scoring mechanisms of "soak/dodge an attack" were a litte problematic in the SR bracket. In game, it's of course preferable not to be targeted at all (and thus never face the necessity of having to soak or dodge), but 5 (or maybe even 10) points are nothing to scoff at. Add to that the fact that we had 5 enemies to 8 characters, some would naturally be "left out", especially if the enemies went after the most dangerous and/or most obvious targets.

I think the easiest fix would be to have a more even number of enemies/characters (though I totally understand why we didn't split the SR group into two).


SR might also want to consider awarding points for tactical help for things that take an action, require no roll but do give an advantage. For example, taking drugs. Or taking the time to pass along a drug or a patch, or applying a (stim) patch to an ally (which doesn't require a roll either, I believe).

Skill challenge
It was an awesome idea to let the players come up with their own challenges. Instead of rewarding luck (in picking just the right skills/having the right equipment on the sheet) this made it possible for everyone to shine. It's definitely something that should remain a part of outplay! (Though probably, as was the case here, in a later round, seeing as the whole setup plus the challenge lead to really long posts. ^^)

Last edited by Blackfyre; Aug 16th, 2020 at 11:46 AM.
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Old Jul 14th, 2020, 07:16 AM
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So I’m going to suggest a radical shift for next year. Traditionally the “popular” systems are the ones used for outplay and that works because it brings in people and until recently it brought in a massive surplus of people. But with the sheer number of niche systems and people going away from the “core” as well as the “popular” ones not only being more mechanically complicated but in some cases not accessible for free, perhaps it’s time to consider a new approach.

The goal of outplay is not to create the best mechanical character. Using the system correctly and then creatively using the tools your character has is the core of what makes Outplay different than creative writing or IronDM, you make a character in the system, then you throw said character at the scenario over and over until it gives or you do. To that end I propose that micro RPGs be considered for future contests. Many times they are available free or made by people that would be willing to work with the site. They have rules that need to be known and used, and mechanics to employ, but it would put everyone on even footing with the mechanics, be relatively simple for judges and players to dive into, and focus on OutPLAY rather than OutCRUNCH. I’d be willing to help with anything like this, and it would also allow for a more condensed contest, not requiring two and three DMs and multiple judges and a plethora of different games/threads.

Just something to consider for the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wynamoinen View Post
That's interesting. Would you mind linking to a system or two that you have in mind?
So what immediately comes to mind is mecha hack which is based on black hack and both of those are available for $8 total. The mecha hack pdf includes character creation, equipment, enemies, gm rules and resource sheets all within 45 pages. The player facing stuff is under 25 pages. So something like that. The true micros like lasers and feelings or the 200 word RPGs might be too simplistic for this competition. I could endeavor to find other games if this is something of interest for exploration.
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Last edited by Bhelogan; Jul 31st, 2020 at 01:23 PM. Reason: Posts merged, 1 post per person in this thread please.
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Old Jul 14th, 2020, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Scimmy View Post
To that end I propose that micro RPGs be considered for future contests. Many times they are available free or made by people that would be willing to work with the site.
That's interesting. Would you mind linking to a system or two that you have in mind?
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Old Jul 20th, 2020, 06:18 AM
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Regarding Shadowrun and the "Roles":

My opinion is that this is an absolutely terrible, pointless, seemingly arbitrary and terrible (bears repeating) idea. Almost made me quit on the spot, but quitting is lame. Instead I'll slog through the week with a large chunk of my enjoyment taken out back and shot three times in the head (by a second line role shooter, of course).

But to be more specific (almost constructive) in my criticism:

1.) Shadowrun is a point-buy system, which inherently enables players to make characters that mix and match what might be expected of class x y and z in other games. It's not D&D, nor an MMO. Characters that aren't just one thing are quite common, so why introduce a system that will penalise those people? I can only assume you wanted a level playing field between strictly support types and others, but no such playing field was present for the social rounds beyond a large number passing on to the next round making it easier. All it does it letting people chose the rope you get to hang them with. Why not just evaluate if whatever a character does was useful or smart in intent, regardless of what it is, then factor in the result of the dice? If you were worried about the initiative, well that favouring characters that built for speed is part of the game, a thing that I had anticipated would hold me back. That I could not gain points from being good at soaking damage and from causing damage myself at the same I did not.

2.) With the roles in place success necessitates metagaming. My original plans went out the window because I won't get points for soaking attacks anyway unless I don't want points for my attacks (and let's not speak about barriers and whathaveyou), and either way it seems like I will always have "dead" posts because I'll probably won't be able to make every action "count". If I'm to go further I can't be playing Shadowrun the game, I need to use Shadowrun to game the system.

If any of this was disclosed before applications opened then I was not aware of it. Just tell people that they can't have a dodgy melee fighter or a soak-heavy shooter (etc) if they want to have the best chance at going further. I would not have applied and saved myself some grief.

Now that the round is over some more feedback on how it felt to me on the SR side: The scene felt extremely static, very like a shooting gallery. When I read that enemies would replenish each round I had not realised that they would be always of the same kind and appear in exactly the same spaces. It felt a bit strange how the characters were zipping around the battlefield when the enemies didn't think to move at all. And then the retaliation seemed not to get much coverage in the individual gm updates, which did not help to make these enemies feel real and alive. The stakes were not there, which did not feel Shadowrun at all.

I realise that there needs to be some simplifications to make the competition manageable for the judges, and this was exactly why I had no idea that there might genuinely be something fishy about the situation. Let's say I didn't have a strong reason to believe that the thing was intentionally or suspiciously static, but it seemed more likely that for judging it works best to have us beat up some crash test dummies in creative ways. It's only five posts in the round, which isn't a lot of in-game time, so it genuinely took two or three updates to catch on, and then there's nearly no time left anymore. Some of it was teamwork, because my character could have been informed that there was a high probability of illusion magic going on, but then the round just ended before that really became a thing for Colmo, which compounded the whole thing.

Obviously not being more creative more quickly or taking a turn to fly around in astral was my fault, but the scoring system was like a monkey on my back. The way these categories were worded made it sound like it wasn't actually worth it in terms of going further in the competition.

Last edited by Bhelogan; Jul 31st, 2020 at 01:22 PM. Reason: Posts merged, 1 post per person in this thread please.
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Old Jul 31st, 2020, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phettberg View Post
Now that the round is over some more feedback on how it felt to me on the SR side: The scene felt extremely static, very like a shooting gallery. When I read that enemies would replenish each round I had not realised that they would be always of the same kind and appear in exactly the same spaces. It felt a bit strange how the characters were zipping around the battlefield when the enemies didn't think to move at all. And then the retaliation seemed not to get much coverage in the individual gm updates, which did not help to make these enemies feel real and alive. The stakes were not there, which did not feel Shadowrun at all.

I realise that there needs to be some simplifications to make the competition manageable for the judges, and this was exactly why I had no idea that there might genuinely be something fishy about the situation. Let's say I didn't have a strong reason to believe that the thing was intentionally or suspiciously static, but it seemed more likely that for judging it works best to have us beat up some crash test dummies in creative ways. It's only five posts in the round, which isn't a lot of in-game time, so it genuinely took two or three updates to catch on, and then there's nearly no time left anymore. Some of it was teamwork, because my character could have been informed that there was a high probability of illusion magic going on, but then the round just ended before that really became a thing for Colmo, which compounded the whole thing.

Obviously not being more creative more quickly or taking a turn to fly around in astral was my fault, but the scoring system was like a monkey on my back. The way these categories were worded made it sound like it wasn't actually worth it in terms of going further in the competition.
I'm kinda with you on this. Too be honest, it does feel like that to some degree I was punished for being too creative. Enough to matter, I don't know. [Though in fairness, could just be that I'm bitter and biased. I'll let you know if things change. :P]
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Old Aug 16th, 2020, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wynamoinen View Post
That's interesting. Would you mind linking to a system or two that you have in mind?
Or the 'known' but not huge systems to level the playing field like...

Fate Core, Traveller, FUDGE, GURPS - something with complete online and perfectly legal to use SRDs... if you really want to get crazy, land on Wizards d20 and span everything from Fantasy through Space Opera. You might try a dice-less system one year and see what happens if you pull the mechanics side out all together.

Speaking of crazy... here is an idea and one I would actually propose. Hide the system mechanic!

Players just focus on their narrative and the system stays hidden behind the screen until the contest is over. Players would have to adjust their tactics and narrative to the outcomes described by the Round Referee and other players. Judging is based solely on player creativity and reactions with the game environment and other players (PvE, Coop and PvP depending on the round and setup).

Scores by Judges who can see both sides of the screen advance players due to their quality of post/writing, success in problem solving and interactions with the players/Referee. If there is a mechanics score, it would only be on format, readability, etc. of the post, not the outcome of some check. Bonus for 'out of the box' thinking.

BTY, this is not a dig on this or any previous Outplay. This has been a GREAT year and challenge... so have the previous year's work. These are just some thoughts I had base of comments I'm receiving and my own personal ramblings about mixing things up in future years.

Just some thoughts. - Sav
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Old Aug 24th, 2020, 02:52 PM
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For whoever runs outplay next year:

Site announcements are good, but you need to do Banners too!

Get the current years winners involved early (something we completely forgot to do this year) in the planning phase, or involved in a cameo, if they are not planning on playing again.

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Old Aug 24th, 2020, 03:29 PM
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[preface]: I know this is not always possible and wish to thank the judges for all the time they poured into this.

The day-by-day judging feedback at the round's end was a very helpful thing and I would honestly have loved to see more of it.

I know it calls on a great deal of effort from the judges though and could understand why that might not be feasible - especially in the earlier stages. Nevertheless, I felt I was able to get a better feel on my shortcomings by being able to see a day-to-day review instead of a 'week in review' paragraph.
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