Freemarket: What happened?

edited June 2012 in Story Games
This is just a thread out of curiosity.

Freemarket looked nice, everyone was talking a lot about it, and there was a lot of buzz. However, people don't seem to play it all that much - or, if they do, they don't post here about it.

What happened? Was the finished game not what people had expected?
«13

Comments

  • I was wondering this myself the other day. I have and love Freemarket but I never play it. When it comes time to pitch new games, it's rarely on my list but I can't put my finger on why.
  • edited June 2012
    I've got a copy on my shelf that has seen the table twice. In my case it can be boiled down to a handful of factors:

    1.) High-concept - Most of the people I've described it to thought it was interesting, but not something they'd find compelling to play. For anyone whose roleplaying expectations are set squarely within 'shooty-fighty-high adventure', Freemarket is a totally alien experience. What? You can't die? Nobody can die? Wealth is meaningless?

    2.) Demanding - It suffers greatly from 'What do I do now?'. I suspect the fact that you can do anything is a prospect that some players find imposing. Clyde Rhoer brought this up on the podcast a little while back; when faced with a setting that asks this much of you as a player, it can be hard to cope with the sheer number of possibilities available to you. I also had some trouble getting players to wrap their heads around the game's social economy; i.e. the give and take of Flow. They felt like they were always on the verge of being broke, but didn't quite understand that with a little proactive roleplaying and interaction they could easily bump their flow up.

    I still really want to run a Freemarket campaign but I think it will require a very specific group of players whose tastes align with mine. I also should say, this isn't me saying 'All the players I ran this for suck!'. I suspect partly it was my inability to coax them into the mechanics; if I run it again it's something I'll have to be mindful of.
  • Posted By: AlexMayoI still really want to run a Freemarket campaign but I think it will require a very specific group of players whose tastes align with mine.
    This. A thousand times.

    The game is so fierce and balls-to-the-wall in the way it opens up play entirely to the character that it can't help but lead to shuffled feet and uncertainty. I know that, in comparison to a lot of the games I played when I first entered the hobby, the possibilities and control are so vast that it can lead to paralysis. The one game I played was pretty awesome, but it took us half the session to even develop our characters because we were coping with the system and it's possibilities - in the end we had a mood surgeon, a puzzle builder, an experience artist, and a cool synthesizer. I would love to play it, but when some players struggle to even roll with Apocalypse World, it can be a challenge to jump to Freemarket.
  • I confess I had a really hard time nailing down the fun in the game.
  • There is a very disturbing trend in my brain. As the years pass, I find that learning certain new games just from the rules to be very difficult. Usually it comes up with fairly deep board or war games. But Freemarket is one too. I've skimmed the rules and then started reading word-for-word and got about half way through before putting the book down. I couldn't keep track of what everything was and how the cards worked -- like while reading the section on how to do a thing, it was all simple enough but then when reading the next chapter, it just evaporated out of my head. I'm sure if someone else would learn it and run it, I'd be fine, but I'm the one with the copy in my local group. Maybe I just need to work harder at it. I really do love the idea of the game.
  • We're going to play some freemarket in olympia. I'd like to host a 3 session series, maybe next month.
  • edited June 2012
    We're playing Freemarket in Portland right now. We're, what, 3 sessions (+chargen) in? And having a blast. We have our issues with the game--I've won nary a Challenge since the first session, as Superuser; the play tends to be mechanically driven and not fiction first--but really, I like it a lot and we all are having fun. I already know that I want to superuse/play this one more. I'd like to really learn the inner workings of it, and be able to reliably Superuse it well.

    I think part of your answer, Matthijs, is that Freemarket is difficult. Not that it's incredibly difficult to learn how to play or run, but that it fucks with your expectations and asks you to learn how to play the game and change your approach to it over time. You can't just show up and push the story button, or show up and know how it all interlocks the first time (or three) you sit down to play it. It's much like Burning Wheel in that way. If you don't want a game that pushes back when you manipulate it and asks you to think about how it pushes back and change your approach from there, you won't like it.

    I'm in the process of writing up a replay of one of our sessions, as an experiment. I'll let you know how that goes, and if its comprehensible, when I'm done.

    I probably should post about it more, but I'm just really bad at writing AP--I can't edit myself very well, and I don't like bite-sized AP.
  • Ran a bunch of Freemarket last year. It was super fun! It's true that the truly open sandbox nature of play makes it hard to know "what you're gonna get" before you start playing, unless you come to the game with a specific premise already in mind, and that's not really how it's meant to be played, I don't think. Because your MRCZ can be about and do literally anything, there's less of a concrete hook there. "Do anything" is really the hook. The resolution mechanics are also fun but they don't grab you by the face and demand that you engage with them, the way some games do (Mouse Guard and Dogs in the Vineyard come to mind as games that I would play just to watch the mechanics resolve stuff). So, after having played it a bit, I would be excited to play it again if someone else ran it, but I haven't been super excited to run it again or share it with other folks, for whatever reasons. There is definitely a bit of an intimidation factor too, I think, similar to Continuum or other games that defy normal setting conventions and expectations. That said, everyone should play Freemarket! It's great.
  • edited June 2012
    Posted By: J. Waltonunless you come to the game with a specific premise already in mind, and that's not really how it's meant to be played, I don't think.
    Didn't you do this when you ran it, Jonathan? How did that work out? I'm running it without any direction in mind, just reacting to the player's actions and trying to make trouble according to the rules, and it's working well (though sometimes all the trouble I want to throw gets wedged out of a session by all the users' proaction [y'know, proactive action. New term, FM-style])
  • Posted By: Paul BI confess I had a really hard time nailing down the fun in the game.
    I remember mentioning my critique to Luke and Jared on Twitter back in the day, but it goes something like this:

    Freemarket is a game that promises you a lot with its premise, and delivers very little in the way of moment-for-moment fulfillment of that premise.

    When I sat down to play the game, I thought: "This'll be about a group of renegade posthuman immortals out to make their mark on a fast-changing, wildly diverse space station. :-)"

    Instead, it was: "This is a game where your MRCZ shares half-a-cargo container apartment with another MRCZ, and every time you try to order pizza, you have to engage with a complex web of social reward mechanics. :-("

    I felt discouraged from doing pretty much anything. I was expecting something like Sneakers or Ergo Proxy, and instead I got Brazil, where nothing really works and impediments lie everywhere.

    So kudos to Luke and Jared for the design of the box and components, but for playing immortals with social tensions, (still) give me Amber any day.
  • Hans: Yeah, we did that a bit, but my attempt to inject metaplot or something into Freemarket was a mixed bag and, if I was doing it again, I would do more of the approach that you're trying: just follow whatever the players want to do. Following the players' lead was actually how we got to metaplot (Brandon decided that his character had been perfect deathed and came back with no memories of how it happened) but that meant I was making up all this stuff that was happening and not following the PCs around as much. It was okay, but not ideal for Freemarket.
  • It's just a niche concept, nothing more dramatic than that.
  • I personally would love to run/play this game, but I have failed in all attempts to get people interested in it.

    Part of my problem is that I don't even grok how to run the game. Some of the play advice is very Luke Crane-intellectual-level, and I get it on that level, but it has been hard for me to bring it down to a player level. (I don't have the chops to turn it into a 4-hour convention scenario.)

    New players are completely lost, as I have noticed.

    In fact, due to the meta-nature of the game, I wonder if it works best if all your Users have already been SuperUsers in other instances. The only way to play the game is to have already played the game.
  • Posted By: lin_fusan(I don't have the chops to turn it into a 4-hour convention scenario.)
    I've played one con scenario, and run another, and while I had fun both times, I think: The game is a total waste as a one shot. Don't do it. You're missing all the cool stuff.
  • Posted By: Evan TornerInstead, it was: "This is a game where your MRCZ shares half-a-cargo container apartment with another MRCZ, and every time you try to order pizza, you have to engage with a complex web of social reward mechanics. :-("
    Actually, that's kinda what I expected going in, and that's what I got! So overall, I was happy with the one-shot I played.

    However, it's a lot of overhead to learn. I think Freemarket needs a replay to help understand what you're supposed to do with it. Although that's kinda a thing I'm saying a lot these days.

    -Andy
  • It's a big book, cards and tokens. I mean I own it, but I'll sadly never play it.
  • So, if the traditional gaming model is "kill monsters/people and take their stuff," FM is literally the exact opposite of that: "make friends and give them stuff." That's my takeaway from having played 3 one-shot sessions of it, and not having read the text, so obviously I may be wrong. But once I understood that, the game seemed to make much more sense in my mind.

    I think it could also seriously benefit from a singe, one-page cheat sheet on how to deal with the conflict system. The character sheets are great, but the nuances of the card system, while not actually overwhelming, don't really fit onto them.

    Matt
  • Posted By: Deliverator
    I think it could also seriously benefit from a singe, one-page cheat sheet on how to deal with the conflict system.
    Oh yeah, the first thing I did was pull text from the PDF into a single-page word doc that has (almost) all of the Challenge actions. It's really necessary at first, but after a while it becomes less so. I'm assuming they didn't include something like this because of space/cost, and in that case, I think they made the right choice by including instead cheatsheets for Flow Costs and such. That stuff is a little more arcane and definitely needs looking up.
  • I think using Flow as the thing that powers everything a character does was a bit odd to grasp, because Flow is a social currency. Meaning punching someone is either socially risky or socially rewarding?

    Maybe a tweek or two to the rules would allow it to be used as a port to Phase Eclipse. Separating Flow from physical effort and splitting the Geneline stat into Morph and Ego would make it fit perfectly.
  • Posted By: Hans c-oI've played one con scenario, and run another, and while I had fun both times, I think: The game is a total waste as a one shot. Don't do it. You're missing all the cool stuff.
    But... but... how do I find people to play Freemarket if I don't run it at cons? Depend on my personality? (cries)
  • Posted By: lin_fusanPosted By: Hans c-oI've played one con scenario, and run another, and while I had fun both times, I think: The game is a total waste as a one shot. Don't do it. You're missing all the cool stuff.
    But... but... how do I find people to play Freemarket if I don't run it at cons? Depend on my personality? (cries)

    Well, that's a good reason to. In Portland I don't have that problem.
  • Best game I ever played. But not everyone is into it. My current group, I doubt I could lure them in, but I'll try. This game deserves to be bigger than D&D.

    I've run it once at a con - the goal was for them to make (cultivate) a cup of coffee. Took us three hours of play to get there. Good times.
  • I play entirely online these days, and sadly the mechanics of Freemarket (and Doe, and a lot of other good games) are pretty much impossible to do without a custom app.

    I'd run a game of Freemarket in a heartbeat if there were any way for me to make it work.

    There are a lot of online die-rollers, but there are precious few online card-table-simulation-engines.
  • As an outsider opinion, I'll offer up this:

    I balked at the cost of it.
    I heard other people interested in it, but they never told me why.
    I had bad experiences with other games by the same authors.

    But I will say this, and I mean it sincerely:

    I overheard both of them explaining the game and sitting down to play it at Origins a year (or two?) ago, and from their pitch it sounded interesting. Not what they were saying, but how they said it. They were excellent salesmen, and they were infusing enthusiasm into their players.


    But the game was closed off, and it didn't feel like an audience was welcome, so I left without learning more.
  • We had an absolute blast with it; I would like to go back to it sometime. To get the idea of how it plays, read our AP or the book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which you can download for free.

    I've read other APs, and listened to podcasts, and I've never found someone else's game that sounded as fun or interesting as ours was. I don't mean to sound condescending, and I feel bad for saying it. And of course every session of any game will be different, and reading/listening to APs is very different from playing the game yourself. But I do suspect that Freemarket is more prone to failure than other games.

    Here's some thoughts on how to improve your Freemarket experience. I wasn't the Superuser for our game, so take them with a grain of salt:

    - Lots of people seem to form a MRCZ, give themselves a goal, then doggedly pursue that goal and ignore anything else that happens. Don't do that. Let yourselves be derailed on a regular basis; go off on tangents. Try Hacking something just because you feel like trying Hacking even though it doesn't relate to your MRCZ.
    - Corollary: Superusers, do everything in your power to distract the MRCZ from their 'mission'. Be aggressive. Distract them with shiny things. If you do it right their passion for their goal will last as long as the global enthusiasm for Kony 2012. Bring in the Next Big Thing. Then do it again, and again. Our SU was particularly good at this.
    - Social conflict, social conflict. Superusers, bully your Users into taking contracts they don't want. Users, browbeat NPCs into buying into your MRCZ's ridiculous crap. If you're defeated, go with it and see where failure takes you. It might not have dice but the game is definitely a cousin of Burning Wheel.
    - The rules say, create your characters, then create your MRCZ. It's not a mistake. Read the rules, and follow them.
    - Death is not permanent, so it isn't scary. What is scary is loss of control of your life. Being stuck in a cubicle with high-fiving douchebags because you agreed to it because you wanted something in return and you wanted to be liked and now you're in a place you hate but you can't leave because your flow will tank and nobody will like you anymore.

    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: Hans c-o</cite>We have our issues with the game--I've won nary a Challenge since the first session, as Superuser</blockquote>

    I dimly recall our Superuser also had this problem. I think it was because we weren't following the rules properly. Something to do with the order of play; if the Superuser does/doesn't take their turn first/last like they're supposed to, they can't Call the conflict early and it's harder for them to win. Go over those rules very carefully and make sure you're following them to the letter.

    I did have a few issues with the game:

    - Our characters had big Flow inflation where it would keep going up and up and we had nothing to 'spend' it on. I don't know if we ever worked out why that was the case. Might have been related to not losing enough conflicts as above.
    - The game says four players max but we had five and I don't think our game suffered for it. We just ruled that only four players could participate in each conflict.
    - Geneline keywords are really important. They're really hard to change (one character class can't change them at all) and if you can never fit your keywords to your conflicts your effectiveness is seriously diminished. I also recall complaining that the example characters had useless, vague keywords. Think about them very carefully. And Superusers, keep a close eye; don't let the players take Genelines like "good at everything".
    - If I ever ran this game myself I would ban the Repair skill. Just wipe it off the character sheets altogether. Our characters burnt through our stuff all the time and then at the end of every session we would argue about whether we should take half an hour to run Repair 'conflicts' for every single thing we burned. So, so boring, and it doesn't fit the world anyway. If you burn something, either throw it away or Recycle it into something different and new.

    God I loved this game. Reading the first posts of the AP was actually what got me into RPGs as an adult and I haven't looked back. I played the character Wilbert (TM) who appears halfway through.
  • Posted By: AndyHowever, it's a lot of overhead to learn. I think Freemarket needs a replay to help understand what you're supposed to do with it. Although that's kinda a thing I'm saying a lot these days.

    -Andy
    Yes!

    Also I wanted to grok the game but, like Christopher Weeks, half way through reading the rules my brain was erasing the memory of what I had read before and then I had to jump back and forth around the manual. Frustrating.
  • Posted By: AndyActually, that's kinda what I expected going in, and that's what I got! So overall, I was happy with the one-shot I played.
    Perhaps I had played too much Paranoia to find this game to be "one of a kind." I mean, Paranoia is largely based around the kind of Prisoner's Dilemmas found in totalitarian societies. Freemarket actually contains similar scenarios (i.e. do something really simple that, in the future, is horribly complex!) and a similar aesthetic (i.e. zany future crap whizzing and flitting all over the place). But the Prisoner's Dilemma society is replaced with the vagaries of a computer-governed Network Society without the necessary microelectronics to govern its intricacies. So whereas one knows how to comport oneself in a totalitarian fiction, one doesn't necessarily have the tools to make the Network Society work for them.

    So at least Freemarket fails (for me) at a more sophisticated level than most games.
  • Excramax! That AP sold me the game.

    My problem with it is that there were a lot of places where it looked like you guys were getting loads of Flow from NPC friend requests and Attaboys... but there is nothing in the rules to support that.

    It was always one of the confusing things about the game to me, that the mechanics seemed to be saying "You must complete activities in order to get flow" but the setting seemed to be saying "This is social media taken to the next level. Being popular will get you free stuff."
  • It's possible our GM was breaking the game, but happened to break them in an awesome way. I just realised he's already commented, above; maybe he can chime in. I was new to RPGs and wouldn't have known the difference.

    It is hard to follow some of Luke's games to the letter. Freemarket seems simple but there are these little details (like order of play) that are easy to miss and can catch you out. I'm GMing Burning Wheel now and I took a lot of shortcuts early on but I'm getting better at it.
  • Posted By: JackFractalnothingin the rules to support that.
    The Super User has his own Attaboy per session, and friending any user grants you 2 Flow. The book has an example of friending an NPC and getting flow for it on pp. 50-51.
  • "the goal was for them to make (cultivate) a cup of coffee. Took us three hours of play to get there"

    Yeah, and if you find that a feature, and not a bug, I can see how this game would appeal.

    My single play of it was literally agonizing. I eventually hated it, and felt a mixture of stupidity, guilt, and futility as a result, especially because of how badly I wanted to like it, or my perception that this was something I ought to understand and enjoy.

    I wonder how much of it is that as a retailer I spend my full-time work already engaged in what the game is presenting as novelty: a mix of social engineering and convincing people they want unnecessary things; it was an RPG that made me feel completely incompetent at my chosen professional career, one that I am reasonably good at in real life. I imagine it'd be like a game where you guys all play really inept game designers who can never get anyone to give a shit about their games.
  • Posted By: Jim CrockerI imagine it'd be like a game where you guys all play really inept game designers who can never get anyone to give a shit about their games.
    kpfs?
  • edited June 2012
    Posted By: stormsweeperPosted By: JackFractalnothing in the rules to support that.
    The Super User has his own Attaboy per session, and friending any user grants you 2 Flow. The book has an example of friending an NPC and getting flow for it on pp. 50-51.

    Yes, a single Attaboy.

    That's it.

    In the Excramax AP, they often describe 'floods of Flow' from doing wacky things in public. I do not believe a single Attaboy given to a single player could be considered a "flood".

    There's also no way to handle, say, getting fifty friend requests at once because you built a jungle in the middle of the plaza.
  • Posted By: JackFractal

    In the Excramax AP, they often describe 'floods of Flow' from doing wacky things in public. I do not believe a single Attaboy given to a single player could be considered a "flood".

    There's also no way to handle, say, getting fifty friend requests at once because you built a jungle in the middle of the plaza.
    I presume the AP is eliding that those are efficiency rebates from a group challenge.
  • I don't have the PDF on me so I can't check, but isn't the efficiency rebate offered by the computer as an incentive for collaboration?
  • edited June 2012
    Posted By: JackFractalI don't have the PDF on me so I can't check, but isn't the efficiency rebate offered by the computer as an incentive for collaboration?
    You can spend margin of victory on a rebate of flow invested (25, 50, or 75%). In group challenges each player gets the full rebate. So if it was a 30 flow challenge ("Field, grove"), and the group got a 50% rebate, each member would get 15 Flow. The jungle was a group cultivation challenge, I believe:
    From the Excramax thread:Next, they head out and find a likely spot to cultivate a rainforest. Taking some time, and with the help of the Janissary Wind who had promised to help them out in return for a place to stay, they set up the rainforest, force growing trees and plants, flowers and grasses. Bandy Needo leads the cultivation, directing the others. The hard surfaces are hard to graft bio matter onto, and Aggie tries toc lean up the mess before they manage to reprogram the sweeps and get them to accept the jungle as part of the corridor.

    The jungle is a tremendous success - they are suddenly awash with flow as people recognise their achievement, and walk through the newly junglified section of the corridor. They celebrate at a nearby cafe, where people gift them coffees and beverages. They are treated like rockstars.

    edit: clarified flow stuff
  • Posted By: Jim CrockerI wonder how much of it is that as a retailer I spend my full-time workalreadyengaged in what the game is presenting as novelty: a mix of social engineering and convincing people they want unnecessary things; it was an RPG that made me feel completely incompetent at my chosen professional career, one that I am reasonably good at in real life. I imagine it'd be like a game where you guys all play really inept game designers who can never get anyone to give a shit about their games.
    This is actually really interesting to me! (your thoughts, that is, on being a retailer full time then seeing your job -- which involves a lot of peddling and marketing -- in your game)

    This is the main reason I ultimately gave up on D&D 3e until Ryan S's E6 hack: At level one, I had to make choices about my character NOW in feats and skills that would impact me much later: If I wanted to take Feat X, a powerful feat, as early as possible (level 12), then I'd have to take Y at 6th level, Z at 3rd level, and A and B at first level.
    At the time, I had just returned to the US from living overseas, and was basically restarting my career over from scratch in a new field, and doing lots of training for it. THe single most thing I stressed out about daily was "What do I learn next? If I want Job X, I need to learn This now, and That later, and That Thing after that... but if I do that, that will close me off from Job Y, which is also extremely interesting. I could learn This and This and This now, but that would increase my overall learning but would stymie me from getting Job X/Y faster..." ovre and over again.

    And when I saw it in my game, weekly, I had to fucking walk away.

    -=-=-=-

    I definitely had the same reactions to Freemarket as others: I love the concept, but really had no idea of where to begin. Someone last year (a huge fan of the game who ran it a lot) at CN organized a session of it which I played: It clicked! I understood the play, the setting, the back and forth, and determined how to Start. But that guy learned how to play from someone else. And THAT person learned how to play by being in a session run by Jared. It's a viral game! You have the rules to play, but to get that further injection of "what to do" or cool descriptions of the little nuances of Donut society, you need to have played in a session with someone who played in a session with someone who... back to the designers.

    ...which is why I really think Freemarket needs a replay or actual play podcast or something. Spread the virus without having to have played with someone connected back to the designer. Not that no one could play without having that lineage, but it definitely seemed to make things easier to crack the lid and bust out play.

    -Andy
  • I like FreeMarket. I've played in two sessions and run five or six, including two con games (one at camp nerdly, one at burning apocalypse). I think it's a fine con game as long as people are aware it's kind of demo-y in nature, since character generation is both crucial and kind of time-consuming for a 4-hour slot. Oh, and as long as the GM is prepared to teach the rules quickly and efficiently - I have hand-outs.

    My favorite thing about FreeMarket is that it makes goals like making art, running a business, into interesting and mechanically-supported gameplay. I also love the weird group concepts it produces. My least favorite thing is that it can easily a little too silly - I prefer it when it's kind of whimsical but the characters and their hopes and desires aren't a joke. You absolutely need to play a sample conflict before making characters, otherwise it's too easy to make a character that's incompetent in something they're supposed to be good at. A little explanation, though, and it should be fine.

    I should note that the sessions I've played have all been 1-shots, for no particular reason. I'd be interested to play a short campaign but haven't had the chance.
  • Posted By: AndyI really think Freemarket every novel game design needs a replay or actual play podcast or something.
    Fixed that for you.... ;)
  • Posted By: stormsweeper
    You can spend margin of victory on a rebate of flow invested (25, 50, or 75%). In group challenges each player gets the full rebate. So if it was a 30 flow challenge ("Field, grove"), and the group got a 50% rebate, each member would get 15 Flow. The jungle was a group cultivation challenge, I believe:
    Yyyes... but that's not quite what I meant. I know that you can get flow like that, but I was under the impression that the rebate system was an in-universe thing, like all the other flow rules.

    Which means that, just by succeeding, you're getting flow from the Interface, not from the people around you. Getting flow from people around you would be an explanation for a rebate, and would make sense in other games, but part of the charm of Freemarket is that the rules you use to play the game are the rules of the fiction as well.
  • I love FreeMarket. I've run it a few times, mostly as a one-shot, but once as a continued game.

    Where I see people getting frustrated, as pointed out in this thread, is when people have a different expectation of what the game does. A lot of that is when a player is playing a character who is WORSE at something the player might be able to do in real life. That's a damned awesome feature, I'd say. Think about the setting and how a lot of residents of the space station simply don't have the skills that we real-life people do here on earth.

    I think FreeMarket is the opposite of a power fantasy. Just because you can't die, it doesn't make you a superhero.

    It is the best sandbox game ever made, in my opinion. If the players don't want to play, create, and explore stuff they probably won't have fun. I think the game has more in common with some Play-Dough or a tub of Legos than D&D.

    BTW, ping me to run it, and I totally will if you're in the Bay Area. (I'll just need to re-read the rules AGAIN!)
  • I just don't have any money right now.
  • Posted By: JackFractal
    There's also no way to handle, say, getting fifty friend requests at once because you built a jungle in the middle of the plaza.
    On of the Users in my game does these performance art pieces in public, and then friends everyone immediately. They rarely friend him back, and the ones who do...well. They're not exactly Tier 7's, if you know what I mean.

    Posted By: jessecoombsThink about the setting and how a lot of residents of the space station simply don't have the skills that we real-life people do here on earth.

    I think FreeMarket is the opposite of a power fantasy. Just because you can't die, it doesn't make you a superhero.

    It is the best sandbox game ever made, in my opinion. If the players don't want to play, create, and explore stuff they probably won't have fun. I think the game has more in common with some Play-Dough or a tub of Legos than D&D.
    That's...really interesting. I hadn't thought about it like that. Maybe that softens the blow of the super-steep MRCZ growth curve? The Users in my game are really into this. They're all about zoning in on min-maxed Flow play (which is cool, it still produces a fun game and good fiction, but with more out-of-character planning than I'd like) and trying to get their MRCZ up in Tier, which has been kinda frustrating for them.
  • Posted By: Andy...which is why I really think Freemarket needs a replay or actual play podcast or something.
    They had a series of Freemarket APs on The Walking Eye. As a listener I came away with the impression that the game was confusing, hard to engage with, and not much fun. In the weird followup interview Jared sort of implied that they had played wrong, but didn't seem inclined to really explain anything.
  • Ah, I meant a designer-produced replay or actual play.
  • I will only play it with:
    * mechanics geeks who will read the mechanics and play them
    * people who actually think about the future and can think about some game relevant issue

    Really, if you don't get off on interesting mechanics AND actually like science fiction I don't want to play this game with you.
  • Posted By: epweissengruberReally, if you don't get off on interesting mechanics AND actually like science fiction I don't want to play this game with you.
    I don't want to play with you either!

    But I'm excited about putting together a campaign for Freemarket! I've had a lot of fun at the conventions I've played it at.
  • Posted By: AndyBut that guy learned how to play from someone else. And THAT person learned how to play by being in a session run by Jared. It's a viral game! You have the rules to play, but to get that further injection of "what to do" or cool descriptions of the little nuances of Donut society, you need to have played in a session with someone who played in a session with someone who... back to the designers.
    I believe this is why Luke Crane hasn't created a dedicated forum for Freemarket (unlike Mouse Guard or Burning Wheel). His meta-ness extends to the real world; he wants us to emulate the Social Engineering to get more people to play and to Thin Slice his own game to extract the meaning as well as play.

    As an artistic dedication to theme, this is awesome. As a way to get people to play this game, not as awesome.

    I mean, I spent hours on the Burning Wheel forum trying to figure out how to play Mouse Guard, and that was supposed to be the most accessible of his game texts.
  • Hi everybody!

    I’m playing in Hans’ game. Big long post incoming!

    Let me first say that I am having a hell of a lot of fun. The cards and the gamey stuff is really hot and irresistible. Also I whine. Loudly. Whatever complaints I have have not compromised my enjoyment of the game, and I think Hans is doing a damn good job.

    My perceptions of Freemarket are based on about 12ish hours of play, and about that much conversation with some of the other players.

    The biggest driving factor in my experience is Flow. You literally cannot try to do anything without it, and in order for you to pursue any goals or have any impact on station culture at all you have got to spend spend spend. However, when doing stuff on your own, there is no way to even break even on the Flow rebate, and what rebate you do get back it at the expense of actually being effective. It’s kinda damned if you do damned if you don’t. Not to mention going up against the SuperUser solo is tough.

    The flip side of this is group conflicts, where you have a much better chance of stomping the SuperUser and can get huge amounts of Flow rebate. Our play has often focused around finding just about any excuse to fit other Users into conflicts, because why in the hell wouldn’t you? It’s the only reliable way to be effective and the only reliable way to get Flow.

    This is further exasperated by the Experiences. I don’t have the book in front of me to check numbers, but my feeling is that the game itself values certain Experiences over others. It does this by assigning specific Flow values to certain tasks, which vary greatly between the various uses of the various Experiences. The result is that some Experiences are much better at gaining Flow than others, with results in that User being more able to do stuff than others, which results in that player being able to contribute more boldly than others. Granted, this is an oversimplified summary, but I have felt this each time we’ve played.

    My User’s expertise is Ephemera, which is quite possibly the most Flow ineffective Experience in the book. My best bet to score Flow on par with other Experiences is to stage a public event and friend request everybody who saw it. I’ve got like 270 outstanding friend requests, only of which a small fraction will confirm, which provides very little Flow, and comes with strings attached. Not to mention whether or not that any of that takes place is all up to the SuperUser. Admittedly that is a shittly thing to do to the SuperUser. Sorry Hans!

    The result is that I feel like the game is telling me that what I’m trying to do isn’t worth doing.

    And then you’ve got MRCZ stuff. When I read the text, it seemed to me that it was saying something to the tune of “Change Station culture, and be changed by station culture.” And it puts a huge emphasis on working together and MRCZs. You go through this process of designing your MRCZ and designating a goal or mission statement for your MRCZ. And the text is all like “Go for it, as you grow your influence will grow to!” It has a big section of MRCZ tier challenges to go with this.

    This is my biggest complaint. The tier challenges are ridiculously tough Flow wise. The only way a MRCZ - regardless of the fiction - to get Flow is at the end of the session, and then it’s only a tiny little bit, and maybe you actually lose some. You might do a couple tier challenges in a six session game. You might even win one. But there is no way you are going to really advance as a MRCZ beyond that.

    Instead, there is a way to infiltrate a high tier MRZC with creative applications of certain Experiences (there’s a thread somewhere). But even if you do that, you can’t change what the MRCZ is about, and there is seemingly no other way to become a high tier MRCZ. Is there another way? Perhaps, but I don’t see it. I think MRCZ group challenges would fit thematically and mechanically, but those are explicitly not possible.

    So this is where I feel the game may have lied to me. I need to check the actual claims made in the text before actually evaluating this. But in my interpretation the game says “Change and be changed and let’s see what comes of it” which is very enticing. But when it gets down to gameplay it’s more like “vision vs. influence,” which would be cool if (a) the text expressed this and (b) if mechanical expression of this wasn’t “conform or become irrelevant.” Ultimately I chose the vision side of this, and at every turn the game has told me that my User and what he’s doing it irrelevant. In my struggle to try and become relevant I have become a Flow whore as I try to exert influence while staying true to my vision. However, I doubt it will ever be possible for our MRCZ to ever become relevant, since the only way to have MRCZ influence is to abandon your MRCZ for a powerful one by use of the few character types the game allows to be useful.

    I’m really curious what fiction-first gameplay would be like here, because the game seems to strongly incentivize gaming for Flow, and seems to grossly de-incentivize anything regarding narrative agendas. I wonder if I misunderstand this, but I can plainly see how my decisions in game are affected by the assorted game mechanisms, and I can’t seem to get away from them. In my mind our Users in this game are essentially faceless and their doings trivial. There are a couple neat fictional things cropping up, but those are 100% Hans. The game itself doesn’t seem to care for them. I know “story game” is a nebulous term (and nebulously applied, as well), but I would, and do, hesitate to call Freemarket a story game in the sense that, say, Vincent Baker’s games are story games. So yeah, tell me more about this.

    Freemarket is lucky that it’s so very fun that these issues don’t inhibit gameplay and the enjoyment thereof. I kind of like staging (in game) public performance art pieces that criticize the Freemarket way of life.

    Again, I whine loudly but I am having fun Hans. Thanks for running this with such enthusiasm, and double thanks for putting up with assholes like me.

    But seriously guys. If I'm way off here tell me about it.

    Tayler
  • We had a lot of fun with it. (I was in J. Walton's game)

    But... we always have fun playing RPGs. We're good at having fun.

    I think the game design is cool and has lots of fun bits. I'd definitely play it again. I think the hook is pretty weird, which is why it hasn't gotten a lot of sustained attention.
Sign In or Register to comment.