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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by Exhuminator Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:22 pm

marurun wrote:I propose that, going forward we declare the themes are guidelines and not straight-jackets.


This sounds like a slippery slope, one which invites people to see just how far they can twist a theme, until said theme is what they want it to be, rather than what the curator intended.

ElkinFencer10 wrote:A little bit of freedom to bent but not outright break the the theme rules would likely do a lot to encourage participation.


Within reason I agree with you. I would not have had a problem with someone playing Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri for the Premillennial Mech Madness choice. I say that because even during its day, reviewers generally considered the power suits to be mechs. An example is this blurb from a 1996 review:

"It isn't quite up in the Mechwarrior 2 league, [but] it's making some very loud noises with avid mech-combat fans". - ( Perkins, Lee (May 7, 1996). "Terra Nova warriors beat back evil alien invaders". The Age. p. 11 )

dsheinem wrote:that's always been the case with Together Retro so it is weird that we would have to make that idea explicit after so many years.


The way we're doing TR now is unusual compared to the past. This is a new approach what the curators, choice votes, winning theme and such. I don't think it's apples to apples to compare the current TR methodology against past TR methodology.

dsheinem wrote:Any attempts to do otherwise will do nothing more than exclude people who might want to find some way to jump in that suits them.


The bolded part is what bugs me. That's because I personally like the idea of rigidly defined TR themes for two reasons.

1. I think it's fun to seek out new games within a rigidly defined framework, sometimes finding hidden gems in doing so. For the "Licensed Platformers" TR theme, I was able to find at least two really cool games, both strongly adhering to the theme, which I'd never had known about, if I hadn't been exploring options within said theme. I believe the restrictions encourage discovery.

2. I don't mind acquiring new games to play for a TR. If a TR choice wins, but I don't already have games that adhere to said theme, I'm okay with that. I will simply acquire a game(s) that does fit the chosen theme. Buying a new game just to play for a specific TR does not bother me.

I realize now that plenty of people don't agree with that approach. For two reasons I can see:

1. Most people do not like the idea of restrictions. They want more autonomy in choosing a game to play. It bothers them to have freedom of choice taken away, and instead have to play within a defined framework they did not design.

2. People are looking for ways to play games they already own. They are not keen to acquire new games just to play for TR. This reasoning encourages folks to find loopholes or "bend the rules", in order to play a game they already have.

So when you look at my point of view VS a lot of other folks' point of view, it's easy to understand where the differences in opinion originate.

marurun wrote:It's about finding that happy medium between the theme actually serving as a unifying topic and finding ways to include people. Stray too far either way and you miss the point.


On this we agree.

For March I am not looking to be a TR Nazi, that's not my intent. But for whichever choice is voted that month's TR, I'd expect folks to seriously try to play games that fit said theme. Doing so encourages discovery, and maintains the integrity of this year's TR concept.

Look, I honestly wasn't too happy at first with "Licensed Platformers". I thought I would struggle to find games fitting that theme which I might want to play. But instead of trying to "bend the rules" of that TR, instead I went deep into research mode, to see what I could find for that TR. I ended up finding some real gems, having fun with games I'd never have played otherwise. That's why I personally would like to see folks truly put effort into playing games that specifically fit each month's winning TR theme.

Otherwise, what's the point of even having a defined theme? We might as well just redesign TR to be; "Play whatever oldish game you want every month." That doesn't encourage discovery or any sort of comradery. It just becomes an excuse to burn off your backlog however you see fit.
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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by dsheinem Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:30 pm

Exhuminator wrote: But instead of trying to "bend the rules" of that TR, instead I went deep into research mode, to see what I could find for that TR. I ended up finding some real gems, having fun with games I'd never have played otherwise. That's why I personally would like to see folks truly put effort into playing games that specifically fit each month's winning TR theme.


Even at the cost of lower participation? Would someone talking about a game from 2000 or 2001 (or even 2010!) ruin the quality of the discussion for "premillennial mech madness"? I'd love to hear about some new Steam game that captures the feel of an old PCE title, for example. It'd be cool to hear how ideas that were popular in 2D Mech games from the 1990s persisted or declined in more polygonal titles after 2000. Not everyone has the time or initiative (or ability, or desire, etc.) to do a deep dive into research, to pick up new games, etc. Why would you want to exclude these folks?


Otherwise, what's the point of even having a defined theme? We might as well just redesign TR to be; "Play whatever oldish game you want every month." That doesn't encourage discovery or any sort of comradery. It just becomes an excuse to burn off your backlog however you see fit.


That's hyperbole. I haven't seen anyone trying to play a visual novel instead of a licensed platformer or a Dragon Quest game instead of a FF title or something like that. Everyone has been respectful (in their own way) to the proposed themes to some extent so far, which seems to be working...
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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by nullPointer Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:01 pm

I can see two sides to this.

On one hand, together Retro has always at it's core been a curated experience. In it's classic format the Lords & Ladies of Racketboy would essentially go through the same type of discussions we're seeing in the voting threads except it was only once a year and sometimes done behind closed doors. But essentially this format was much more limited. I don't know that I ever saw people being actively discouraged from playign a certain game, but really I mean how far a far a field could one really venture? How many versions/sequels are there for M.U.L.E.? :wink: I think if we venture too far a field from that curated experience we start to lose some of the mission statement of what Together Retro really is. So in our current format each month is (more or less) guided by a single curator. The way I see it is in terms of college professors (but of gaming!). Some professors are hardasses; if you don't meet their exact specifications in terms of class work you're not going to have a good time. Framed in terms of Together Retro this refers to curators with more stringent limitations for games to be played. Some professors will literally accept almost anything so long as you show up to class and participate. These are the curators with looser guidelines. Is one approach better or worse than the other? I don't know; I'm kind of digging it that with each month we get a different professor with different viewpoints and ideas. If anything it might be a case of 'letting the free market sort it self out', lol. If folks aren't enjoying the way a certain month's theme is working out they can refrain from playing that month. This in turn gives that curator food for thought in terms of how future months should be handled, and the following month we'll have a whole different curator with their own ideas. Bottom line I think it's been interesting to see the different curator viewpoints and honestly I have yet to see any proposed topic that I would consider too restrictive.

On the other hand, I have no problems whatsoever with gaming via emulation and/or digital libraries. As Exhuminator has succinctly put it from time to time, "I'm a gamer, not a collector". So in my use case, the chances are pretty low that I'd have trouble securing a game for virtually any theme under the sun. But, not everyone is like me. Some folks really enjoy having that authentic experience on actual hardware, and for them nothing less will suffice. For those folks, the time window for securing games (and the chances that a chosen theme will align well with the hardware they own) can be problematic I'm sure, particularly when the time window for securing games is so much more compressed when compared to the 'classic Together Retro' format. And in this case additional restrictions on theme could potentially cause even more headaches. So from this perspective I could certainly understand the desire for open themes.

Still, I think I have to fall back to my comments regarding the free market, lol. If a certain approach just isn't working, I think participation levels will reflect that, and maybe that month's curator will adjust their approach for next time. Hopefully I'm not just rambling on here, but at least so far I've really enjoyed seeing the different approaches from the standpoint of curation.
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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by marurun Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:24 pm

Now now, we can share our thoughts on this idea without getting too worked up. And since we haven't really discussed the rigidity of the themes before, I really think we do have to defer to the curators to an extent. I don't want to undercut Ex's plans for March's TR. But I also don't want people dropping out in the future because someone nitpicked their target game out of the running.

Exhuminator wrote:
marurun wrote:I propose that, going forward we declare the themes are guidelines and not straight-jackets.


This sounds like a slippery slope, one which invites people to see just how far they can twist a theme, until said theme is what they want it to be, rather than what the curator intended.


I don't think the slippery slope fallacy here is really appropriate. I don't think people are going to deliberately propose wholly inappropriate titles. People want to participate in TR because they see something interesting in the theme and in the idea of playing alongside others. Obvious bad-faith noodling is going to be, well, obvious. I also don't like the idea of curator intent being the ultimate determinant. An author's intent in writing a book doesn't dictate to me how I read and appreciate it. The TR curator is a guide, sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm to inspire the players, not telling them the only valid way to enjoy the current TR theme.

Exhuminator wrote:1. I think it's fun to seek out new games within a rigidly defined framework, sometimes finding hidden gems in doing so. For the "Licensed Platformers" TR theme, I was able to find at least two really cool games, both strongly adhering to the theme, which I'd never had known about, if I hadn't been exploring options within said theme. I believe the restrictions encourage discovery.

2. I don't mind acquiring new games to play for a TR. If a TR choice wins, but I don't already have games that adhere to said theme, I'm okay with that. I will simply acquire a game(s) that does fit the chosen theme. Buying a new game just to play for a specific TR does not bother me.

I realize now that plenty of people don't agree with that approach. For two reasons I can see:

1. Most people do not like the idea of restrictions. They want more autonomy in choosing a game to play. It bothers them to have freedom of choice taken away, and instead have to play within a defined framework they did not design.

2. People are looking for ways to play games they already own. They are not keen to acquire new games just to play for TR. This reasoning encourages folks to find loopholes or "bend the rules", in order to play a game they already have.


These 4 ideas are not necessarily at odds. I think your reasons are laudable, but not required. A little wiggle room that provides additional autonomy doesn't thoroughly invalidate exploration. And playing games already owned isn't necessarily a problem. My backlog is long enough many of my games will remain unplayed and unbeaten. TR is a great way to encourage people not just to explore, but to maybe also hit that backlog in a way they might not have before. It gives people an excuse to play something that they've been putting off or maybe just outright ignoring. I can tell you right now I'm not in a position to buy new stuff for TR, and that February's TR dovetails with a game I had started playing and put back down was great motivation to pick it back up and take another run at it (and put down the gosh darned Switch for a bit). I deliberately didn't participate in January's TR because I didn't have time, despite having some unbeaten and unplayed titles that deserve another chance and were definitely good fits with the theme.

Exhuminator wrote:For March I am not looking to be a TR Nazi, that's not my intent. But for whichever choice is voted that month's TR, I'd expect folks to seriously try to play games that fit said theme. Doing so encourages discovery, and maintains the integrity of this year's TR concept.
...
Otherwise, what's the point of even having a defined theme? We might as well just redesign TR to be; "Play whatever oldish game you want every month." That doesn't encourage discovery or any sort of comradery. It just becomes an excuse to burn off your backlog however you see fit.


I think your slippery slope concerns are a bit hyperbolic. People are already playing whatever oldish (and newish) game they want outside of TR, and we share in the threads on the boards just fine. TR does indeed give people focus, at least so far. But I think there's a valid point to extract from this. Not every player is going to feel they have something to sink their teeth into every month. You can want to participate in the abstract but maybe not feel connected to a particular month's theme. That's OK. Sit that one out. Chances are you sat out several dozen TRs in previous years, dear player. I don't think curators should feel they have to encourage so much flexibility that anyone can feel comfortable playing anything. But if someone seems to legitimately want to play in a month and the theme seems interesting to them, giving them a way in isn't necessarily a bad thing and doesn't have to undermine TR.

Please note that even though Ex's voting thread inspired my opinions, this isn't solely a response to any particular decisions in that thread. I don't think Ex has been particularly draconian in his judgments thus far. I probably would also not want to include pre-merger Tecmo games as Koei Klassics, because that really is outside the scope. Likewise, he's been flexible with the whole mech vs battle armor vs robot thing. The term mech really is pretty squishy. Let's not make the mistake of casting EX of his preferences as the villain, here. I just already see the seeds of conflict in overly narrow construction and I want us talking about it and trying to craft a reasonable set of expectations before Elkin has to construct his poll for April.
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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by Gunstar Green Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:36 pm

If this is all over the fact that I assured nullPointer that the mecha in Metal Storm was piloted but felt that Metal Storm fit regardless (it's theme and aesthetics screams 80's mecha) then I think yes, you need to relax a bit.

No one was trying to break the theme over their knee or anything. Terra Nova also clearly fits in with the old Mech Sim genre and power armor is largely considered "mecha" by fans of giant robots.
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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by Ack Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:39 pm

marurun wrote:Now now, we can share our thoughts on this idea without getting too worked up.


WHAT?

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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by Exhuminator Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:54 pm

dsheinem wrote:Would someone talking about a game from 2000 or 2001 (or even 2010!) ruin the quality of the discussion for "premillennial mech madness"? I'd love to hear about some new Steam game that captures the feel of an old PCE title, for example. It'd be cool to hear how ideas that were popular in 2D Mech games from the 1990s persisted or declined in more polygonal titles after 2000.


Let's look at this a different way. Let's say someone decides to adhere to the guidelines verbatim. Said someone decides to play Armored Core for PS1, Front Mission for Super Famicom, and Target Earth for Genesis. They end up enjoying these games. Based on those experiences, this person goes on to become a fan of the Armored Core series, playing their way into the PS2 and PS3 entries. They also play through the Front Mission series, all the way into the '00s releases. And they even get to replay Target Earth later on, via the PS4 version of Assault Suit Leynos, except this time with remastered graphics. By choosing to adhere to the guidelines of Premillennial Mech Madness, not only did this player have legitimate retro gaming experiences, they also became a fan of new (to them) mech series that continued well into the current millennium.

dsheinem wrote: Not everyone has the time or initiative (or ability, or desire, etc.) to do a deep dive into research, to pick up new games, etc. Why would you want to exclude these folks?


Rather I would say those folks are excluding themselves. If they refuse to find a way to engage in a given month's TR theme, they can always wait until the next month.

Look, we can't have it both ways. We can't say that "curators get to design monthly TR choices" and then be upset when said choices aren't ideal to any given voter. If "1980s Nintendo Games" won as a TR theme, it's just disingenuous for someone to play a 1995 Nintendo game for that month. Same as playing a 2001 mech game for a thread about playing pre-2000 mech games. That said, nothing's stopping someone from having choices like this next month:

Games where you shoot people.
Racing games with polygons.
Games with dragons in them.
Games that never came out on Atari platforms.


That's the fun of having a different curator every month, right?

nullPointer wrote:The way I see it is in terms of college professors (but of gaming!).


I love this analogy and I agree with it.

For those folks, the time window for securing games (and the chances that a chosen theme will align well with the hardware they own) can be problematic I'm sure, particularly when the time window for securing games is so much more compressed when compared to the 'classic Together Retro' format.


I don't agree with this though. The way it's gone so far, by the third week of a next month's voting thread, the next month's TR theme has been determined. A person has a week left in the current month, plus at least three more weeks in the actual voted theme month, to secure a game to play for said theme month. If someone can't get ahold of a game to play for a given theme within a month's time, they just aren't putting much effort into doing so.

GunstarGreen wrote:If this is all over the fact that I assured nullPointer that the mecha in Metal Storm was piloted but felt that Metal Storm fit regardless (it's theme and aesthetics screams 80's mecha) then I think yes, you need to relax a bit.


I must have missed that conversation, but I'd consider Metal Storm a mecha game!

-

I mean really folks, there are TONS of pre-2000 mecha related games to play, in a wide variety of platforms, in a wide variety of genres. This is also true for Eighties' Ladies' Night and Classic '90s RTS. I really did try to leave a fair amount of gathering room with those choices. The only rigid thing here is setting chronological boundaries. That's because I strongly value the "retro" part of Together Retro. I like seeing people discover, play, and enjoy legitimately old games. But if that's just an Exhuminator thing, I understand.
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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by ElkinFencer10 Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:56 pm

I definitely think we need to keep within guidelines for the most part. Pre-millennial is before 2000, but if someone plays a game from 2000, I don't think that's a big deal or a game that was released in one region in or just before 2000 but worldwide in like 2001. It's like when I refer to the Dreamcast as a console from 1998 even thought it came out here in 1999. I do think that a game from 2004, for example, would be too much bending the theme for pre-millennial. For the most part, though, I think folks should try to stick as close to the theme as possible, and that shouldn't be too difficult. I mean, no one's stopping anyone from playing non-themed games and discussing them in the Random Gaming Thoughts or Games Beaten Threads. I've been here for years, but last month was the first time I ever participated in Together Retro. Likewise I played six games that fit last month's Together Retro theme (I cheated a little by throwing TaleSpin in there as a seventh, but it didn't technically fit the theme) and then played 10 totally different games as well.

It's not like not participating one month or only participating a bit is going to somehow exclude people from game discussions entirely. There's no rule that you can't take part in the discussions of the themed games if you don't play them, and it's not like we all just stop talking about other games. Let's just play some video games and have fun, and if those video games happen to fit the theme, talk about them in the TR thread. Otherwise, talk about them in the umpteen other gaming threads we have.
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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by marurun Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:02 pm

So, after my last diplomatic and well-thought post, I'm gonna get a little tongue-in-cheek just for fun... (keep that in mind, please)

Exhuminator wrote:legitimate retro gaming experiences


I would hold there is no such thing as an illegitimate retro gaming experience. And if there is, aren't you one of those folks who plays a lot of stuff on emulators? That's a pretty not-at-all-legitimate retro gaming experience. (For one particular definition of legitimate, at least.)

Exhuminator wrote:
dsheinem wrote: Not everyone has the time or initiative (or ability, or desire, etc.) to do a deep dive into research, to pick up new games, etc. Why would you want to exclude these folks?


Rather I would say those folks are excluding themselves. If they refuse to find a way to engage in a given month's TR theme, they can always wait until the next month.


I'm gonna say someone's unwillingness to spend money on a new game or do a deep dive should not be, by itself, grounds for self-exclusion, however...

Exhuminator wrote:We can't say that "curators get to design monthly TR choices" and then be upset when said choices aren't ideal to any given voter.


I do agree with this, with a few caveats related to whether or not there are reasonable or meaningful available options, which, for the record, has not applied to any of the polls thus far.

Exhuminator wrote:If "1980s Nintendo Games" won as a TR theme, it's just disingenuous for someone to play a 1995 Nintendo game for that month.


I largely agree, in part because even though 1980s Nintendo Games is a somewhat arbitrary span of time, 1995 is half again that span of years out.

Exhuminator wrote:Same as playing a 2001 mech game for a thread about playing pre-2000 mech games.


I somewhat disagree, because 2001 is only one year later (the millenium ended with 2000 and pre-millenial would be anything before the new millenium, which started in 2001 [Ha ha, I know opinions differ on this bit, but try to embrace the argument on its face, please]). When we throw out time frames, there is a suggestion that there is something inherently important about that time frame, like common design principles, technology limitations, etc... A lot of 2001 games look and play exactly like 1999 games, come out of the same development principles, and could even have started development at the same time. So while there may be valid reasons to exclude a game that released in 2001, I would want to see more robust reasoning than just, "disqualified because 1 year outside the original time parameters". I would want to see additional factors, like, "not only is that game 1 year outside of the theme's original span, it came out on the GameCube, which wasn't even released before the millenium," or "that game may only be a year later but it embodies a lot of design principles that were just emerging at the time and wouldn't really be found as much as a year earlier, so it really is a more modern title that doesn't fit with any of the older ones." But that's just my preference for such things. If someone really doesn't have anything otherwise applicable available to them at the time and has constraints on their ability to participate such that that single year would allow them to participate and wouldn't otherwise be inconsistent with the theme, why not? Does including them harm the experience for anyone else? Does shutting them out enhance everyone else's experience?

Exhuminator wrote:That said, nothing's stopping someone from having choices like this next month:

Games where you shoot people.
Racing games with polygons.
Games with dragons in them.
Games that never came out on Atari platforms.


That's the fun of having a different curator every month, right?


I would hope none of our curators would be so uncreative as to offer us only those... None of them look particularly compelling to me.

Exhuminator wrote:That's because I strongly value the "retro" part of Together Retro. I like seeing people discover, play, and enjoy legitimately old games.


I prefer illegitimately old games.

Darn it! I actually got a little serious up there. What was I thinking? Ah well. I'm sure you can tell what should be blue text and what shouldn't. Y'all are smart enough for that.
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Re: Together Retro: The Official Forum Thread

by ESauced Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:10 pm

Exhuminator wrote:
dsheinem wrote: Not everyone has the time or initiative (or ability, or desire, etc.) to do a deep dive into research, to pick up new games, etc. Why would you want to exclude these folks?


Rather I would say those folks are excluding themselves. If they refuse to find a way to engage in a given month's TR theme, they can always wait until the next month
...
The only rigid thing here is setting chronological boundaries. That's because I strongly value the "retro" part of Together Retro. I like seeing people discover, play, and enjoy legitimately old games. But if that's just an Exhuminator thing, I understand.


I mean, it doesn’t seem like people are trying to skirt the boundaries in bad faith. They’re just trying to participate in a way that’s fun to them, and it seemed like your initial post was in response to people asking you how far they could bend the rules; I didn’t see anyone outright say they were going to cheat on the chosen topic. Some people might not have the money for a new game every month, however little money it seems like to you, everyone’s situation is different. I mean, we’ve got at least one guy buying a house and I know when I was house buying I didn’t spend a penny on anything frivolous because I didn’t want to risk my interest rate over a new Nintendo game.

I was trying to be respectful of you in the forum by saying that it seemed like something that should be addressed by the curator, but from looking at this thread, to be honest it seems like just about everyone wants the boundaries to be a little fluid except you. I understand you want people to experience a specific subset of games and I’m sure most of the thread will be people doing that. If one or two people pick Super Metroid for 80s ladies night because they only own a Super Nintendo what harm is there really?

Maybe you can just ignore the people who are fudging it and only talk to the people who are strictly following your rules when March starts? Then if it seems like it’s getting out of hand let the mods step in. You seem like a really passionate person but this fight just doesn’t seem worth all the mental energy.
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