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So why do you think AEG sold L5R?

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Your conclusions about the "trainwreck" of Emperor are not ones I would endorse. Emperor was kicked off with Forgotten Legacy, and that sets over-the-top power level was, IMHO, a big cause of where Emperor Edition ended up. And, from what I can tell, that was a Brand decision, not a Design one.

 

I just would just disagree generally about whether Ivory was bland or miserable. It seems especially strange to slam CCG design for 2014 while praising everyone else, when that was the Year of No Fiction (because there was barely a story team left) and it seemed like a lot of folks were really unhappy with how the story prizes for that year went into choosing the new Emperor.

 

 

Daramere... from the player standpoint, what is the tangible difference between a bad "brand decision" and a bad "design decision" that damages the game exactly?  Ultimately, I do not think the average player cares much exactly who screwed up.

 

For my two koku... the overall game play (design, and balance) of Emperor Edition and Ivory were total garbage.  Also high on the list of problems were endless product delays, rules changes (and subsequent screwups), and a total lack of AEG understanding their deficiencies compared to the competition (LCGs, Magic, and Hearthstone in particular).

 

 

Thaddok

 

 

PS: I apologize for asking, but I feel compelled... how could you differentiate between bad brand and design?  Did you have some inside info?

 

 

Oh that is super easy.

 

Bad Brand = Commercial Failure.

 

Bad Design = The fault is within how the cards were designed. Both from a story and a mechanical perspective.

 

In fact you can have a game with Good Branding and Bad Design. Along with the vice versa being Bad Branding and Good Design.

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Daramere... from the player standpoint, what is the tangible difference between a bad "brand decision" and a bad "design decision" that damages the game exactly?  Ultimately, I do not think the average player cares much exactly who screwed up.

 

...

 

PS: I apologize for asking, but I feel compelled... how could you differentiate between bad brand and design?  Did you have some inside info?

 

 

I suppose yes, in that I was a playtester at the time, although I wouldn't want to imply that I have some direct knowledge of the decision-making process. The distinction I would make between bad design and a bad brand decision is why the cards ended up as they did. Your design team goes through their usual design and playtesting process, and then ends up with a stack of broken cards that warp the environment? That's on design. The power level of a set is jacked through the roof because it's a Direct to Player set and you want to make sure it sells lots of copies? That's probably on the brand team, not on the design team.

 

Does that really matter when you're the player and have to decide whether to continue playing? Maybe, inasmuch as one reason or the other might give you more or less hope for the future. Does it change whether or not that environment is good? Definitely not. Is there a good way for someone purely looking in from the outside to tell the difference? Not in most cases. Does it matter years later when people are slinging blame for the quality of an environment? I think it does.

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Onyx Empire storyline pretty much sounded like a reboot plan. It was supposed to redefine the Clans, make them iconic again, and cut off the last history and focus on new threat and how new generation tackles it. Again, it really looked like "we are in terrible situation, we need extreme measures if we are going to go on forward, what do we have to lose?".

 

And a very interested storyline it seemed to me. I might be biased, honestly,  being a Spider player but it looked like a good starting point to me. A little like the first of the original Star Wars movies, with the rebel Clans fighting agains the all-powerful Spider empire.

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It makes for a great Campaign Option, but I really don't like idea of it as a default setting. Setting one of many - in a heartbeat. Starting setting - doesn't feel right.

Still, you probably could go for a middle option, with civil war of two Emperors who ended up in a stalemate and are currently in kind of a cold war, preparing for the second strike.

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The problem with the Star Wars analogies, is that SW was primarily 2 factions. The empire(dark side) vs the Rebels(light side). L5R is 9 factions. Which is why having the primary antagonist as a playable faction works for SW but didnt for spider. In the 8 vs 1 scenario, either the antagonist is heavily featured a which is unfair to 8/9 of the player base, or they receive equal time and cease to be a credible threat. It's a lose lose scenario.

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Daramere... from the player standpoint, what is the tangible difference between a bad "brand decision" and a bad "design decision" that damages the game exactly?  Ultimately, I do not think the average player cares much exactly who screwed up.

 

...

 

PS: I apologize for asking, but I feel compelled... how could you differentiate between bad brand and design?  Did you have some inside info?

 

 

I suppose yes, in that I was a playtester at the time, although I wouldn't want to imply that I have some direct knowledge of the decision-making process. The distinction I would make between bad design and a bad brand decision is why the cards ended up as they did. Your design team goes through their usual design and playtesting process, and then ends up with a stack of broken cards that warp the environment? That's on design. The power level of a set is jacked through the roof because it's a Direct to Player set and you want to make sure it sells lots of copies? That's probably on the brand team, not on the design team.

 

Does that really matter when you're the player and have to decide whether to continue playing? Maybe, inasmuch as one reason or the other might give you more or less hope for the future. Does it change whether or not that environment is good? Definitely not. Is there a good way for someone purely looking in from the outside to tell the difference? Not in most cases. Does it matter years later when people are slinging blame for the quality of an environment? I think it does.

 

 

Fair enough... my experiences and perceptions are without the benefit of any "insider information" that others may have had.

 

Though I have to say that even if I knew that the problems were with brand management (instead of my initial reaction to blame the playtest/design)... I do not think that would have affected my decision to stop playing the game.  To put it somewhat less politely... if the person(s) at AEG who have the final say makes boneheaded decisions that result in the game going off the rails... the overall gameplay is equally screwed up.

 

... my two koku.

 

 

Thaddok

 

 

PS: Daramere... based on your post, is my understanding correct that AEG Brand Manger(s) had the authority to "up the power level" of the cards designed?  Or give some kind of directives to the design team?

PPS: How did that trickle down to affecting playtesting?  Were playtest results simply ignored... I had a similar experience playtesting for Decipher with the Lord of the Rings CCG back in the day (as in playtest being ignored completely).

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To be honest, I believe doom town was made too complicated for most people.

 

@ topic,

L5R has always had problems on card design from the beginning of the game up to even now. Problems which were addressed, or which they attempted to fix that either created more problems (though they did fix some issues such as the complication of the game) or made some aspects of the design non functionable or overpowered.

 

What reeled most people in from the old crew was the story line, the grandness of its scale, and what drew in most of the new folk was the ability of the players to influence this story line.

 

For me, the story line was what kept me playing both the RPG and the CCG, not the mechanics of how either was played.

The game will always have problems, and I don't even think FFG will be spared as there will always be aspects of the game that will be unbalanced if you take it into a loyalty perspective of people playing for their own factions, clans or themes.

 

L5R is a wonderful and beautiful landscape and the only loser here is AEG. But if they gave it up because they love the game, to another that could handle it better, well they may have my respect for that. It would depend totally on what John Zinser and crew were thinking.

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To be honest, I believe doom town was made too complicated for most people.

 

@ topic,

L5R has always had problems on card design from the beginning of the game up to even now. Problems which were addressed, or which they attempted to fix that either created more problems (though they did fix some issues such as the complication of the game) or made some aspects of the design non functionable or overpowered.

 

What reeled most people in from the old crew was the story line, the grandness of its scale, and what drew in most of the new folk was the ability of the players to influence this story line.

 

For me, the story line was what kept me playing both the RPG and the CCG, not the mechanics of how either was played.

The game will always have problems, and I don't even think FFG will be spared as there will always be aspects of the game that will be unbalanced if you take it into a loyalty perspective of people playing for their own factions, clans or themes.

 

L5R is a wonderful and beautiful landscape and the only loser here is AEG. But if they gave it up because they love the game, to another that could handle it better, well they may have my respect for that. It would depend totally on what John Zinser and crew were thinking.

 

One thing is for sure.  I never want to hear anyone say the word Love followed by the word Letter in my gaming circles.  

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...

L5R is a wonderful and beautiful landscape and the only loser here is AEG. But if they gave it up because they love the game, to another that could handle it better, well they may have my respect for that. It would depend totally on what John Zinser and crew were thinking.

 

Actually, I think AEG are winners here also.  Specifically, a few weeks ago, they were clearly losing L5R from the playerbase and profitability standpoint in a very public, very obvious death spiral that was brought on by their inability to adapt to the current gaming marketplace (which included different business models, higher player expectations, stronger competition, and a variety of other errors).

 

Now, with FFG throwing them a "sell L5R to us and it will survive"... they get some financial return for the sale (which they honestly did not earn at all), and are saved the ugly spectacle of putting their former flagship product out of its misery (which I believe was only 6 -18 months away).  The ownership change really is the best thing for AEG as well (maybe even more so than for FFG in the short term).

 

 

Thaddok

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...

L5R is a wonderful and beautiful landscape and the only loser here is AEG. But if they gave it up because they love the game, to another that could handle it better, well they may have my respect for that. It would depend totally on what John Zinser and crew were thinking.

 

Actually, I think AEG are winners here also.  Specifically, a few weeks ago, they were clearly losing L5R from the playerbase and profitability standpoint in a very public, very obvious death spiral that was brought on by their inability to adapt to the current gaming marketplace (which included different business models, higher player expectations, stronger competition, and a variety of other errors).

 

Now, with FFG throwing them a "sell L5R to us and it will survive"... they get some financial return for the sale (which they honestly did not earn at all), and are saved the ugly spectacle of putting their former flagship product out of its misery (which I believe was only 6 -18 months away).  The ownership change really is the best thing for AEG as well (maybe even more so than for FFG in the short term).

 

 

Thaddok

 

 

I think that a lot of people forget that L5R was in dire shape.  It's easy to flip a table when you think something you love is gone forever. It's harder to come to terms and look at silver linings.

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Trading hands, one company to another, can be beneficial to an IP.

Its the time a company has to give an existing IP a "fresh face" of sorts.

It allows them to market and reintroduce it to public eye.

Which will allow them to draw attention to this game and allow its popularity to grow.

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PS: Daramere... based on your post, is my understanding correct that AEG Brand Manger(s) had the authority to "up the power level" of the cards designed?  Or give some kind of directives to the design team?

 

The Brand Manager is the boss of L5R, unless Zinser was personally involved. You would have to speak directly to those involved to get a good picture of the dynamics of particular situations, but ultimately the Brand Manager is in charge, whether it be cards or story or prizes (there are, for example, a number of story things that people - including me - have given the story team flak for that were not their decisions). My guess would be that Brand was not in general particularly involved in messing with card/set design. But Direct to Player sets had extra financial stakes.

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And probably has similar influence over the story. My understanding is that the general ideas ; the grand vision would be brand, while story or design get to figure out how to implement these in practice. 

 

I would figure that things like "Let's put enlightenment up for grab", "Let's bring Iuchiban back", "Let's have some mega-invasion of the empire" and so forth would be brand, not story decisions. Story then got to figure out how to work tournament winner decisions and stories in the way that works...least horribly with the setting. 

Edited by Himoto

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They'd used the "It'll all get better next edition" card too many times.  All the punches were used up.  They'd even used up the Special Bonus Punches granted by getting a new Brand Manager all the time.  So the meal ticket moves to a new company, and it gets a fresh shiny set of punches to use.

Edited by IsawaChuckles

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They'd used the "It'll all get better next edition" card too many times.  All the punches were used up.  They'd even used up the Special Bonus Punches granted by getting a new Brand Manager all the time.  So the meal ticket moves to a new company, and it gets a fresh shiny set of punches to use.

 

And let's be fair -- FFG's a heavyweight.

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And probably has similar influence over the story. My understanding is that the general ideas ; the grand vision would be brand, while story or design get to figure out how to implement these in practice. 

 

I would figure that things like "Let's put enlightenment up for grab", "Let's bring Iuchiban back", "Let's have some mega-invasion of the empire" and so forth would be brand, not story decisions. Story then got to figure out how to work tournament winner decisions and stories in the way that works...least horribly with the setting. 

My impression is that Brand was typically more involved in story/prizes than that. I think you could see a lot of that this year where Dave was very big on trying to get everyone to fight with each other, and so you had the GenCon clan dinner choices of coming up with someone to have a grudge against, and the Kotei prizes that didn't just let you protect yourself from the coming storm, but also let you jack other Clans' icons. And before that I would lay money that the ST did not want P'an Ku showing up and messing with the political succession conflict story, in no small part just so he could then be defeated as the GenCon prize. Handing out a stack of Egg duplicates also has Brand's fingers all over it - jazzy sounding prize, dilutes the setting, no way the ST could actually incorporate into the ongoing story in any serious way. And the second mega-game ended up as a mess in part because the brand manager who set it up then left.

 

Let me emphasize that this is mostly just what I think. Nobody in AEG is pointing fingers at anyone else. It's just an opinion I've built up over years of interacting with those involved.

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If you forgive my analogy, brand to me seems to be like those executives of the network/studio meddling with the creative process of your favorite show/film. And then, when it's slowly recovering from their terrible decisions, they cancel it.

 

Not that I have a ton of insider knowledge of film and television either.

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The problem with the Star Wars analogies, is that SW was primarily 2 factions. The empire(dark side) vs the Rebels(light side). L5R is 9 factions. Which is why having the primary antagonist as a playable faction works for SW but didnt for spider. In the 8 vs 1 scenario, either the antagonist is heavily featured a which is unfair to 8/9 of the player base, or they receive equal time and cease to be a credible threat. It's a lose lose scenario.

 

I think this is a really good point, and deserves to be called out. the game badly needs a solution to this problem. i mean, granted, AEG never solved it and they kept the game going for 20 years, so its not what i'd call an imminent threat to the games survival, but i think that it would make the game overall better. 

 

i say this as a spider player too. its not like we're not aware of the problems that the current arrangement causes, because it causes us grief too. we have lost SO MUCH the last few years, because every story is us vs rokugan, and we can't possibly win even half of them. especially not when we've been as terrible as we've been. Thats honestly why i was kind of looking forward to onyx: i was hoping that it would remove us, in a weird way. the clans would be playing for various survival prizes, trying to setup their eventual victory in the next edition, and when that came along the spider or whatever we were then would probably have not been the same. i dunno. i don't honestly know what the solution is.

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And probably has similar influence over the story. My understanding is that the general ideas ; the grand vision would be brand, while story or design get to figure out how to implement these in practice. 

 

I would figure that things like "Let's put enlightenment up for grab", "Let's bring Iuchiban back", "Let's have some mega-invasion of the empire" and so forth would be brand, not story decisions. Story then got to figure out how to work tournament winner decisions and stories in the way that works...least horribly with the setting. 

My impression is that Brand was typically more involved in story/prizes than that. I think you could see a lot of that this year where Dave was very big on trying to get everyone to fight with each other, and so you had the GenCon clan dinner choices of coming up with someone to have a grudge against, and the Kotei prizes that didn't just let you protect yourself from the coming storm, but also let you jack other Clans' icons. And before that I would lay money that the ST did not want P'an Ku showing up and messing with the political succession conflict story, in no small part just so he could then be defeated as the GenCon prize. Handing out a stack of Egg duplicates also has Brand's fingers all over it - jazzy sounding prize, dilutes the setting, no way the ST could actually incorporate into the ongoing story in any serious way. And the second mega-game ended up as a mess in part because the brand manager who set it up then left.

 

Let me emphasize that this is mostly just what I think. Nobody in AEG is pointing fingers at anyone else. It's just an opinion I've built up over years of interacting with those involved.

 

 

True. Then I'll reformulate to "A lot of the ideas are brand, and implementation is the story team left to figure out how to make Brand's vision work". 

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The problem with the Star Wars analogies, is that SW was primarily 2 factions. The empire(dark side) vs the Rebels(light side). L5R is 9 factions. Which is why having the primary antagonist as a playable faction works for SW but didnt for spider. In the 8 vs 1 scenario, either the antagonist is heavily featured a which is unfair to 8/9 of the player base, or they receive equal time and cease to be a credible threat. It's a lose lose scenario.

 

I think this is a really good point, and deserves to be called out. the game badly needs a solution to this problem. i mean, granted, AEG never solved it and they kept the game going for 20 years, so its not what i'd call an imminent threat to the games survival, but i think that it would make the game overall better. 

 

i say this as a spider player too. its not like we're not aware of the problems that the current arrangement causes, because it causes us grief too. we have lost SO MUCH the last few years, because every story is us vs rokugan, and we can't possibly win even half of them. especially not when we've been as terrible as we've been. Thats honestly why i was kind of looking forward to onyx: i was hoping that it would remove us, in a weird way. the clans would be playing for various survival prizes, trying to setup their eventual victory in the next edition, and when that came along the spider or whatever we were then would probably have not been the same. i dunno. i don't honestly know what the solution is.

 

I would have liked to see a situation that would put the Spider in the role the Targaryen had in A song of Ice and Fire, before the Robert's Rebellion happened. I mean a single faction that conquers the whole land with Oni (instead of Dragons) and then we make a time jump when the dynasty is well established, and has long standing alliances to other clans but also the spider has become more moderate and no longer use any Oni. That means they would also have used a divide and an conquer strategy, like the Otomo used for the old imperial line, maybe it is only Kampeki who switched over to the be the imperial families, while keeping the rest of the clan as a separate entity which thus can be played without it being also the imperial faction. Anyway, the key is that the other clans never united against the Spider and Kampeki and his successors never gave them a reason for them to do so... but I guess to get an actuall emperor who knows how to do politics is to much to ask for L5R, the only time ever got that was basically with Kachiko who knew how to play the clans against each other and since then one incomepetent leader after the other.

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People have said as much above, but I think it bears repeating: AEG doing the reboot in-house, with the same announcement and timing, would have been excoriated by the players.  Moving to FFG resets the goodwill counter, with most choosing to look at this with optimism.

 

Late Emperor and early Ivory may have been a low ebb for the game, but the work done to make Twenty Festivals a solid play environment was bearing fruit, as was the repopulated Story Team and the player engagement with the Clan Path Choices.  It's a shame that the cutoff happens here, in the middle, with the incredible story beats and card environment planned for Onyx never getting a chance to fully play out.

 

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