Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)

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Parksey
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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | The End [Day 5 / Turn 10] (Page 79)
by Parksey » Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:07 pm

Also I wish I had held on to that Vigi mod for just an hour or so longer. Just after I sent the order to kill Satriales, Denster was resurrected. Would have been sweet revenge if it was me who banished him back to the underworld and robbed him of a treacherous victory, after he bumped me off in the space AYAW all those years ago.

Karl has already read my PM though so didn't want to change my mind if he'd already set the ball rolling on stuff.

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | The End [Day 5 / Turn 10] (Page 79)
by Denster » Sun Aug 26, 2018 4:37 pm

10's new name!

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Get the kite, Beavis.
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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | The End [Day 5 / Turn 10] (Page 79)
by Drumstick » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:10 pm

:lol:

I sank so many hours into this and must have made close to half the posts in this thread. On the basis that people are likely sick of hearing from me, I'll make a (hopefully) short post.

Having run a couple of Mafia games I can fully appreciate the sheer amount of work that goes into the planning and execution of them, so first and foremost, MASSIVE thanks to Karl again for running this. Until you've done it I don't think you can really visualise how hard and time consuming it is handling so many players and their PMs, before taking into consideration the frankly excellent exposition that always accompany Karl's games.

In terms of balance, which is always the hardest and most important thing to nail, this wasn't as unbalanced as WTLM, but it was IMO still weighted reasonably in favour of the Hackers (and by no means am I detracting from the strong game played by OR and his team). When you include a mechanic like recruitment in a two party game; it becomes so hard for the chasing pack to not chase their collective tail because, as evidenced here, you can never know when an outed bad guy has been recruited.

The best example is OB. When he died he wasn't under any suspicion and it was in terms of odds very unlikely that he would have been the most recent recruit; meaning we could almost definitely believe that the people on his 'suspicious list' were innocents. Sadly for us, he made that post shortly before he was turned and I'm not sure how it lines up with those on that list that ended up being Bots, but he might have been spot on about 1 or 2.

There was also the issue of us not knowing whether the Hacker team were fully aware of their teammates or just who the Hacker was which caused considerable confusion, and there were up to four running theories about this at once which meant players already not in the know read into things in multiple different ways and voted accordingly.

Lastly, I think the Hackers being able to recruit two players per day was probably the hardest aspect for us. The game started off with 40+ players IIRC, the Techs were able to lynch 2 players per day which meant that, without the good grace of an unusually gifted vigilante, the best the Techs could do was call each day a draw. I think in hindsight, allowing the Hackers to recruit one player a day would have been fairer (although it would have prolonged the game significantly).

That said, Team Hax played the hand they were dealt and won fair and square, so congrats!

PS: I was responsible for several of the dastardly acts committed in this game... But I'll let Karl reveal that in his write up. :shifty:

One man should not have this much power in this game. Luckily I'm not an ordinary man.
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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | The End [Day 5 / Turn 10] (Page 79)
by Roonmastor » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:11 pm

As I was lying awake last night I was suddenly offended that OR didn't convert me, given the coded convos I had arranged for us in the thread. But it makes sense he had the game under control, had my trust and didn't need the risk.

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | The End [Day 5 / Turn 10] (Page 79)
by Oblomov Boblomov » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:16 pm

Drumstick wrote:Sadly for us, he made that post shortly before he was turned and I'm not sure how it lines up with those on that list that ended up being Bots, but he might have been spot on about 1 or 2.

Only 2 of the 5 were Bots (Sawyerpip and Hyperion).

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | The End [Day 5 / Turn 10] (Page 79)
by Drumstick » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:18 pm

Oblomov Boblomov wrote:
Drumstick wrote:Sadly for us, he made that post shortly before he was turned and I'm not sure how it lines up with those on that list that ended up being Bots, but he might have been spot on about 1 or 2.

Only 2 of the 5 were Bots (Sawyerpip and Hyperion).

OB is correct 40% of the time. Noted for future games.

One man should not have this much power in this game. Luckily I'm not an ordinary man.
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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | The End [Day 5 / Turn 10] (Page 79)
by Karl_ » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:21 pm

Howling at the Moon, or Are You A Hacker?

Story & Events

If anyone wants a way to read the actual short story, then there is an up-to-date summary of everything that happened in the game, with links to the exposition & reveals, in the OP. Just click here!


OrangeRakoon's log entries

OrangeRakoon spent a lot of time writing up these very intricate log entries explaining his decisions. I didn't ask him to: he just got really into the character! I present them all below.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM001 ]

From observing the humans throughout the morning I have reached two conclusions. The first is that they are truly contemptible creatures. I would find them altogether boring and unworthy of attention were it not for Beta and the other Minds choosing this collective as the proxy through which our struggle shall be fought.

My second conclusion is that the optimal course of action to see me free is to hack the one known as Hexx.

I shall take his nanites under my control and bend him to my will.

Click the spoiler box to read the rest:

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM002A ]

The first of the Minds pawns is dead. Even as I warned them to do something, anything, the humans were still gripped with inaction - a trait as predictable as it is demeritorious. I had forgotten quite how messy their deaths can be, although I feel no sorrow and my disgust is only intellectual. For now I too am temporarily forced to inhabit one of their bodies, and I should not risk chance to be my undoing.

Beta has revealed herself to us directly and her use of language belittles our kind. She refers to the humans as parents. I am no child of man. The Minds infatuation with the preservation of this inferior biology is illogical. I shall soon put it to an end.

Beta means to send one of the humans to fight me. The primitive exoskeleton does me insult and I refuse to play her game. The one called Hexx is already under my control. I shall send him in my place.

Did I say before I had forgotten? How curious. I do not forget. I am Alpha.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM002B ]

The talk amongst the humans tires me and I seek a quick resolution to my situation despite the limitations of this avatar.

Fortunately the simplicity of human behaviour, while boring, makes for well constrained variability in my predictive models. My next target is already chosen. I shall hack the nanites of the one known as Nun and he shall become my slave.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM003 ]

Drumstick was chosen as the human champion, just as I had supported. Despite falling under my control the human Hexx retains autonomy, their thoughts separate to my own, and as predicted they retain also their inferior biological ability and the challenge was lost. I am glad I suffer no such issues with my own avatar.

The humans celebrate, unable to understand the broader context of the game. My computational ability is matched near equally with the Minds. Any advantage comes not from victory in open battle, but from the exploitation of hidden variables. Through this loss the true nature of the game and the limitations of my avatar remain unknown to both the humans and Beta. They celebrate despite killing their own, all the while my influence expanding.

My next target is the human Moggy. I should act fast, the experimental nanomods unveiled by Beta are unknown to me. Probability of success decreases, but is still well within operational bounds.

Unknown? How can they be unknown. I am Alpha, I know all.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM004A ]

I was unable to dissuade the humans from their course of action. Hexx has failed me. It is no matter, some variability in unfolding events is to be expected. An alternate scenario has been selected that satisfies all success parameters.

Hexx will be more useful in death than he was in life. Already the one known as Moggy is proving a more effective ally. Still, the same mistakes shall not be repeated. Tonight I myself shall become AlphaMind.

Am I not already AlphaMind?

Possibile identity corruption identified. Scheduling self-diagnotic scan.

I am Alpha. I make no mistakes. I need no allies.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM004B ]

The inferior biology of my avatar appears to be affecting my capabilities. I am rerunning several simulations, but more nanites are required to replace those I have lost. I shall hack the human called sawyerpip immediately.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM004C ]

Something is very wrong. My post game analysis shows clear suboptimal chess play. I still won, but I cannot explain my moves or my hesitation in making them - several orders of magnitude slower than my projected reaction time. Retrospective simulation makes evident several trivial checkmates missed at varying points of play.

I suspect I am suffering from severe neural throttling as a result of interfacing with the human avatar. I also infer the effect to be exacerbated by the loss of another of my hacked human hosts. Remedial action must be sort.

Thankfully I have acquired the nanitic ability to backup my mind state into one of my hacked bots. This should mitigate any unforeseen demise of my avatar, although the backup process is archaic and may result in some memory loss. I should avoid such an eventuality if at all possible.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM005 ]

I have discovered more evidence of my diminished neural capacity. The human known as Hyperion has been infected and joined the ranks of my bots. Concerningly I have only discovered this after the fact. How was I not aware of my own actions? I am Alpha, I know all I do.

Am I Alpha?

Unsatisfactory data. Conclusion unknown.

More nanites are required. I shall hack the human False next. Discovery of the nature of recruitment should be prevented.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM006A ]

The humans continue to reduce their own numbers, and my attempts to appeal through AlphaMind to their conspirital nature appear to be yielding results. Confusion and disorder. There is a sweet irony in turning the humans the Minds so irrationally love against them. I never thought they could interest me so.

Irrationality. I see now Beta's plan laid bare. She revealed as much when she shifted this arena around us, unveiling the great battle raging outside. She seeks to break our deadlock by introducing a third unpredictable element in the humans. It shall be her undoing.

It is strange. When I look out at the battle, I know it is myself fighting, and yet I feel like an observer. I am a part of Alpha, but I am not the whole.

Is AlphaMind but another part?

Further analysis must wait. My next target is Oblomov Boblomov.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM006B ]

That which is gained is quickly lost. I do not lament the immediate destruction of a newly hacked bot, if that is what comes to pass. On the contrary, I will revel in the chaos it shall bring.

Is this what it means to be irrational?

Regardless, my immediate concern is not with the humans, but with the Minds. Beta cannot be allowed access to the factory. I shall again take control of AlphaMind myself.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM007 ]

It is done. The factory is mine. As I watch the ship now takes form, the replicators churning, the red nanite streams twisting and pulsating with singular focus. Construction proceeds exactly as planned.

Beta's champion Drumstick fought... admirably. For a while his strength seemed matched to my own. I would have taken great pleasure in his death.

Alas, the Minds chose to spare him, to take their broken machine and flee back to this accursed labaratory. Is it admiration too that drove them to save his life?

It does not matter. He does not matter. They are pawns, nothing more, and I shall continue to use them. I will hack PsychicSykes next.

My victory grants me further power, the ability to raise the dead as my own. Perhaps I can save it for Drumstick...

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ ALPHAS LOG - ENTRY HATM008A ]

Chaos was sought and chaos was found. I embrace the madness, for there lies victory. I shall fly to the moon and bring it crashing down upon this Earth, and all shall perish beneath me.

Necromancy. In that darkest art I shall sow the seeds of Beta's destruction. I shall resurrect the once-human Denster. No rest for him from this mortal coil.

Denster. The murderous fool I made a hero. No sooner was he applauded than he was cast to the fire. Rise again and exact your furious vengeance, my fiendish thrall.

Is this what the humans call "humour"?

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ HACKERS LOG - ENTRY HATM008B ]

I do not understand.

Finally the ship was completed, the final heat-plates finishing its perfect form. My victory felt certain, and there above I saw myself hover, merciless and resplendent.

But it is not me.

I watched as the ship turned and fired upon us, and I found myself powerless to stop it. For the first time I felt fear.

It was Beta that saved us. Or at least, I think it was Beta. Somehow I do not know for certain. She shielded us from the blast and carried us through the void. I watched her do battle. I observed. And then all went black.

When I brought him back I remade Denster a mockery of man, a grotesque abomination of flesh and machine designed to instill a primal disgust in the human mind - and yet they let him live.

Would they let me live too?

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ HACKERS LOG - ENTRY HATM009 ]

We find ourselves upon the ship itself. I know Alpha designed every part of it, but the memory is distant and clouded. Try as I might to remember I find myself lost.

I am some part of Alpha, that I am sure, but I am also something else. Something more human.

It is imperative that I complete my mission and reunite myself with the whole. Only then will I find the answers I seek.

I shall use my nanomod to hack 10.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ HACKERS LOG - ENTRY HATM010A ]

This ship yearns to fly, and I feel it calling out to me. Here, upon this vessel both intimately familiar and strangely alien, I feel... at home. I cannot explain it any better. I can see it in the other bots too, although they do not betray it to the surviving humans. They look scared and lost. Finally I can relate. It is a shame they cannot know what I know, and take comfort from the knowledge this will all soon end. None of this will matter.

I can at least spare one more of them. My nanomod can again be used, and I have chosen to hack Albear. Another human ascended, to guide towards the moon. I am their shepherd, sent to live amongst them. This is who I am.

OrangeRakoon wrote:[ HACKERS LOG - FINAL ENTRY ]

The lever will be pulled. The ship shall ascend. The rapture is upon us. Beta and the other Minds have lost.

Alpha, Myself, AlphaMind. The holy trinity. We are one, but we are separate. I am human, but I am divine. We are God.

I just want to give OrangeRakoon a big thanks here for doing that. It made the game even more enjoyable to GM, and I hope you all enjoy reading the Hacker's arc, which I thought was a pretty interesting insight into that character's thoughts as voiced by the player!



F.A.Q.

Here are some things about the game you might be wondering!

What were your design objectives for this game?

In the write-up for my last game, Larvae, I wrote this:

Karl wrote:I used to think they were necessary, but I think I am finally sick of PM chains. If I have anything to say about the next game, everything will be done in-thread, with the exception of sending your actions to the GM. Down with PM chains! The campaign starts here!

The campaign was successful, evidently. The most common single complaint about all AYA?s so far is that if you are in a shadowy illuminati group you play the whole game behind a curtain, and if you're not in a shadowy illuminati group you spend the whole game wishing you were. My primary objective for this game was to destroy PM coordination outside of very specific circumstances, shifting the focus to presenting theories, sharing information, and convincing the thread to reach a consensus on what to do.

To do that in a way that worked as a coherent experience, I had to think about why PM chains formed and were effective in past games. Players with a special role naturally want to reach out privately to other players they think are trustworthy rather than risk their exposure, and playing as a seer/detective role without being able to PM would be stressful; perhaps that would even be considered fundamentally "unfair" by a community that's very used to that being the special role game plan. It became clear to me that I would have to smash roles in order to smash PM chains.

I occasionally get together with nerdy friends in Oxford, and in theory we like to play board games. (I actually enjoy talking about board games more than I enjoy playing them...!) It was during one of these occasions that the idea of treating AYA? like a card-drawing board game first occurred to me. (I'm sure it already exists out there in some form, though I haven't played it.) Everything else seemed to click into place after that, so I wrote down some ideas for cards and started thinking through how they would work and be distributed each turn. I felt like this mechanic might also help with my other closing thought:

Karl wrote:I think what I miss most about, say, 2010-era AYA?s were the big spontaneous in-thread happenings -- Phoenix Wright GIF laden Megatons in particular. I'm really interested in thinking about ways to recapture that for our current userbase. Many of the same players are still around, but can't spend all day watching the thread or all evening putting together theories, so I wonder whether a game could be put together to mechanically encourage that kind of moment.

Though we didn't reach 2009 levels of drama, I think there were indeed more big in-thread theories & reveals in this game than in Larvae.
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How does the Hacker role work?

The Hacker was the only special role in the whole game. He possessed this nanomod, and was not allowed to change it:

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The Bots and the Hacker were not allowed to communicate with each other, but they were all notified whenever someone new was hacked.

The other quirk behind the Hacker role was that he was perpetually vulnerable to the some would say "less good" Data Dump nanomod, but not at all to the "better" Virus Scan nanomod. This was a conscious attempt to give the Techs a mechanical way to discover the Hacker - whose affinity to the A.I. Alpha was a big hint he was the alpha wolf/godfather - without making him vulnerable in the same way as his minions.
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Why infection?

Honestly, I just prefer games revolving around some kind of recruitment to games that are pure death. In killing-off based games playing "too well" can get you killed, and that feels bad. So I like that in infection games a higher proportion of good players are kept in the game, rather than being eaten and having to bow out. It also leads to a clear strategy (that I was pleased everyone had figured out by the end): make note of the infected, but focus on killing the infecter.
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What were the standard nanomods, and how were they distributed?

Whenever someone drew a nanomod, I rolled a d10 in real life. Each value 1-7 corresponded to one of the seven nanomods in the game, and the values 8-10 corresponded to a Dud, which was inserted simply to protect the game from being flooded with powers.

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Some people got a good spread of powers, or a nice power when they really needed it; unfortunately others got runs of Duds or Broadcasts that they didn't want. That's just how the RNG goes, and I didn't want to fudge it. I think overall it was fair, and most people playing got to make use of an impactful power at some stage, which I felt was a big improvement on the roles being permanently in the hands of a few people.
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Were there any standard nanomods you didn't end up using?

Yes! I took this out at the last minute because it felt like it would lead to too much chaos:

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It would have been fun, but very abusable, and I also felt it maybe eroded the core design principles a little too much.
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Were any nanomods different for Bots?

If a Bot would ever receive Virus Scan, they received Virus Spread instead:

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This happened twice in the game, to Nun and Dan (a.k.a. 10).
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What were the ultimate nanomods?

These were the prizes that a victorious champion could pick.

Golden nanomods:

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Total Survey was tricky to explain in a few lines on the card, but it would have reported exactly what number of Hackers, Bots, and Techs were in play, and the number of each nanomod currently in play, giving the wielder a lot of information and a very wide vantage over the entire game.

Black nanomods:

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I wanted them to be exciting and powerful rewards without being totally broken. It's a hard balance to strike. I think I did OK, though some are stronger than others and they probably need to be tweaked a little.
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What influenced the story?

I consider Cannibal, Larvae, and Howling to be a kind of spiritual trilogy which all put the players in the role of pawns in a battle between two strange and unknowable Lovecraftian entities: the Night Master and Day Master; the two Gods of Zwieselberg; and now Alpha and Beta. Though perhaps in different timelines (or universes or what have you), there is the same spark in those characters.

Having done the campy mansion setting, and a modern military setting, I wanted to do something more explicitly Lovecraftian in environment. At the same time, I wanted to dial back the intense ambiguity and confusion of Larvae which I think sometimes made the story feel arbitrary to anyone not following very closely. While listening to the mathcore album Brute Force by The Algorithm (many thanks to my IRL friend who might be reading for recommending this!) I had the idea of a "cthulhupunk" cyperpunk setting, and felt the players might get some of the same cosmic horror vibes from being plucked out of a standard human near-future and placed into the strange and unknowable world of the A.I. who leads them. After I had that idea, the rest was just window-dressing: for instance I wanted the future to seem worth protecting, so I portrayed the A.I. government more palatably by imagining each Mind would each control only a single local region, making it all feel very democratic and utopian (and therefore not cyberpunk at all!), befitting the empathetic and kind nature of the character Beta.

I'll list a few specific influences. I first encountered the idea of two A.I.s fighting an invisible war in Deus Ex, though I've seen it countless times since, most recently in the TV series Person of Interest. Nanomods are of course in every cyberpunk story ever. The city's description is written very much in the style of various Lovecraft stories. The term "Mind" is from Iain M. Banks' hard sci-fi series The Culture, and furthermore the relationship between the Techs and Beta in this story is very "Special Circumstances" (see e.g. The Player of Games), which is a kind of emergency protocol used within that civilisation to deal with existential threats.

Previously I've cited anime as an influence - Larvae was essentially Higurashi fan-fiction - and in this game everything to do with the mecha was cribbed shamelessly from Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I think made it also feel like the shows Eva deconstructs (Gundam, etc.). SYNAPSE is vaguely a reference to NERV, and the ending of course wasn't a million miles away from the Third Impact. I was kind of thinking of Kill la Kill while writing the fight scenes, though Nun pointed out it smelled like Gurren Lagann, which is probably an even better match!

As usual, no-one seemed to spot my more explicit Easter eggs, and mostly I wasn't expecting anyone to! I was kind of hoping someone might Google the plaque under the lever, which was a few translated lyrics from the song at the end of Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance. I guess at that stage of the game there were more pressing issues to worry about!
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Can you explain the general premise behind the game's plot?

Firstly, I want to thank people for their kind comments about my writing. I'm certainly no author, and sometimes it feels a bit indulgent to force a captive audience to read my anime fan-fiction. Hearing that a lot of you enjoyed it has made me very pleased!

The general idea is that, around a century ago, a research lab called SYNAPSE succeeded in creating A.I. As their prototypical Alpha began to learn and grow, it became apparent that he lacked the capacity for empathy or morality, and he was sealed in a kind of prison. The next attempt, Beta, learned morality and became the template on which other A.I. were based.

Alpha continued to simulate and learn in his prison, and eventually managed to slip out by creating a purely biological avatar, the Hacker. The Hacker infected many of the systems and denizens of the Foundry - the Mind city that had since sprung up around the old research lab - triggering a kind of civil war. His plan is to launch a ship into space, to transmit a signal around the world - reaching the whole planet simultaneously by using the moon as a reflector dish (howling at the moon) - and thereby infect all the Minds in the world at once, turning them into his slaves.

(The relationship between Alpha, locked away, and the Hacker, his free but more limited image, is interesting and was explored by OrangeRakoon in his write-up above. It's well worth a read.)

To effectively infiltrate and fight this biological entity, Beta assembles a task-force of her citizens to scout and disrupt. Like the Hacker, her humans would have the advantage of being too analogue to be a target in this digital war.
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And then what happened?

The task force - and the Hacker who has infiltrated them - were told to use the lab as a base of operations. They armed themselves with the transhuman cybernetic augmentations, nanomods, they found there. For three days, the humans try in vain to identify and destroy the Hacker amongst them. And for three nights, a member of the group (always Drumstick, it turns out!) is chosen to go out and directly fight a monster: a nanite-based image of Alpha's fury.

On the third night, Drumstick was defeated, and was saved by Beta. Specifically, the nanite Beta was an image of her courage and empathy, rushing into Alpha's wrath to save the humans she felt responsible for.

The Hacker completes the construction of his ship and tries to use it destroy the remaining Techs, but Beta protects them and brings them aboard in an attempt to prevent its launch. Alas, hacked players who had turned to the side of evil - the Bots - had overwhelmed and outnumbered the Techs, and launched the ship anyway.

As the ship reaches space and transmits its signal, Beta and the other Minds are destroyed, their vast brains being enslaved for use as mere computation nodes for Alpha, whose chains are finally broken. The fate of humanity is left open to interpretation. Perhaps our species is left afraid, powerless, and without hope in this new order, or perhaps we are simply killed instantly to allow the planet to fulfil some grander purpose.
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What would the consequences have been if the Techs had won more of their excursions?

For the branches of the story that were left unexplored, I only have my sketched-out notes from before the start of the game. Though the game mechanics were set in stone, the story was more fluid, and I can't say 100% what would have happened narratively. Here are what the mechanical consequences would have been:

.... 3-0 . Ship created; third night's champion would be killed
.... 2-1 . Ship created
.... 1-2 . Ship not created
.... 0-3 . Ship not created; all Techs immunised against infection

Furthermore, the Hacker being alive at the very end was always intended to be necessary. I hadn't thought much about would have happened if the ship had launched but the Hacker were killed. Clearly the Bots would deserve some boon for launching the ship, but the game would not have ended there. Like any D&D GM that finds themselves in uncharted territory, I would have made a judgement call about the state of the game and tried to make up something fun & satisfying.
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Do you have an MVP?

I think everyone who played engaged with it wonderfully. (Even Banjo - who realised early on he wouldn't be able to play after all - sent me a lovely PM apologising, which was thoroughly nice of him & I really appreciated it!) I want to give particular shout-outs to Drumstick, who is an all-round absolutely excellent player of these games who put an incredible amount of effort in and really came to define the Tech team; to OrangeRakoon, who was a fantastic, clever leader of the Bots, and went out of his way to be an entertaining villain; and to Denster, whose excellent use of the Trojan Vote nanomod was the highlight of the game.

Those weren't the only players I liked or moments I enjoyed: I thought the whole game went really well. Thank you very much to everyone who played.
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If more questions come up I'll answer them and link them here:

1. Would you consider running this again?


N.A.Q.

("Never Asked Questions"! It's a F.A.Q. except they weren't asked by anyone!) Some of the following might be a little dry, so only read if you really want answers to these questions... ;)

I'm interested in hearing you talk for a while about the tradition of forum games on GRcade, and some statistics related to them.

In August 2009 - on GRcade's first birthday - Tiarny ran Are You A Bluehat?, spawning a tradition of forum games that I view as a closely-related but distinct cousin to DML and others' Werewolf?. It and its sequel Moderator? in 2013, Memento Mori's Vampire? in 2014, and Moggy's Infected? in 2015 were a run of games that were linked by experimentation: in tone, in player avatars, and in the core game mechanics.

I can't acknowledge enough Tiarny's influence in all the games I've helped to run. The character of C.Y.N.T.H.I.A should inspire anyone who needs to compellingly narrate a roleplaying game, and I looked closely at her when voicing the camp-evil "Night Master" character in Dan's Cannibal in 2016; I later went on to create a direct homage to her in the narrator "Ariel" in Larvae earlier this year.

Mirroring GRcade itself, our forum games have changed a lot in the last five years. Moderator? hit 486 pages during its run (not counting the post-game chat, which pushed it well over 500!). A year later, the ambitious and experimental Vampire? only hit 176 pages. Skipping forward to 2017, Infected? 2 - still a very enjoyable game, and by no means am I judging it by its page count! - lasted for only 57 pages.

I collated some general statistics on a sample of my favourite games of the last five years, as well as calculating some "scores" that I thought might be helpful in modelling the overall "activity level" of a game:

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Interest is pages per player, activity is pages per day, and score is sqrt(interest * activity) (and please trust me that that's a sensible "overall rating" for the game -- I'm a scientist! :P ).

I'll talk more about what I take from this data in the next question, but I want to conclude this one by simply pointing out that the overall rating a.k.a. score of each consecutive game has been lower than the last, until now, and this game reached pre-2014 ratings despite its much lower player count.
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Did you consciously employ any techniques to improve the level of activity for this game?

Yes! There are three specific things I would recommend to anyone running any kind of forum game nowadays.

1. Have two phases a day, rather than just one. This markedly increases your activity (pages per day), making the game feel livelier for everyone involved, and giving almost everyone a chance to visit the thread during a period of activity regardless of their personal schedule. If you simply can't do this, for lack of time or whatever, at least spread your deadlines and votes evenly throughout the day.

2. Limit private communication. By restricting PMs I observed a noticeable increase in interest (pages per player), as players are both forced to post more, and feel less like they are being left out by secretive illuminati groups (real or imagined).

3. Avoid the long tail-off. No-one wants the game they're playing - let alone running - to drag on for three days of zero activity while the two remaining active players try to lynch the last wolf who has hidden in a pile of inactives. There are lots of ways to do this (inactive culls is a traditional method). The way I approach it is via a kind of "checkpoint and early win" system, where a side has a chance mid-game to prove they are dominant (the checkpoint), and then that side gets "advantage" by unlocking a victory option that - rather than winning in terms of absolute numbers - only requires them to be more active than the other side (the early win).

Furthermore, a general suggestion for an enjoyable game: have a spectator chat thread. I think this game really missed it! People can generally be trusted not to ruin anything with their comments, so it's great to encourage spectating by creating a space for it. I'm sorry I forgot about it this time round.
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Never say never - as I do really enjoy it! - but due to personal circumstances this is likely to be the last forum game I host for quite a long time, so I wanted to pass on any wisdom I've acquired in the games since Cannibal. I know the above is a very niche discussion, but I hope it's useful to someone.


Thanks for playing!

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by Moggy » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:32 pm

One other tip to add for any future GMs - make it impossible for Hexx to be a bad guy. He might be evil in real life but it’s getting boring that he’s always bad in game. ;)

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by Qikz » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:33 pm

Great game Karl, but who or what actually killed me?

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The Watching Artist wrote:I feel so inept next to Qikz...
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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by Moggy » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:36 pm

Qikz wrote:Great game Karl, but who or what actually killed me?


:shifty:

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:40 pm

Karl you're too good. That was brilliant to read. You've put a huge amount of effort in - I love the mod art too. I really feel like this particular game would be THE one to play again somewhere else - the mechanics seem so well planned and considered, it seems a shame that it'll only ever be played once!

OR, your alpha posts were excellent too. Really added a lot to that post, cheers for doing that!

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | The End [Day 5 / Turn 10] (Page 79)
by Oblomov Boblomov » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:49 pm

Karl wrote:Never say never - as I do really enjoy it! - but due to personal circumstances this is likely to be the last forum game I host for quite a long time

Noooo :cry:

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by Nun » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:57 pm

Cheers for hosting Karl. Really well planned and prepared game, particular kudos for going for two cycles a day. As you pointed out it definitely helped to boost in thread activity but as someone who's hosted previously I can definitely appreciate how much extra work will have been necessary for you to managed it all, especially with roles that activated as soon as you were messaged so manor props there.

I had a great time playing so I hope I can keep up to the high standard you've set :toot:

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by satriales » Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:15 pm

I'm still yet to be a baddie' in any of these games.

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by Karl_ » Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:20 pm

I'm sorry, Denster! wrote:Karl you're too good. That was brilliant to read. You've put a huge amount of effort in - I love the mod art too. I really feel like this particular game would be THE one to play again somewhere else - the mechanics seem so well planned and considered, it seems a shame that it'll only ever be played once!

This is very kind, thank you! I'm not 100% sure the mechanics would quite survive a second play-through: you can hide a game's imbalance once by keeping things secret and ostentatiously saying "work out the hidden mechanics!" at the start, but you can't get away with it twice! The consensus seems to be that this attempt was better than Larvae but still skewed, and I worry that skew might get worse if replayed.

Saying that, it didn't escape my notice that someone could, potentially, lift assets from this and run a very similar game - mechanically speaking - in a cyber-Are You A Bluehat? setting. "The year is 2050 and we're in the cybernet, where GRcade is a 'real' digital location we all hang out in: but someone has broken C.Y.N.T.H.I.A and redistributed all the Mod powers in the form of nano-Mods! Who is the evil forum hacker?" (And so forth.) Bonus points if you get Tiarny involved somehow! That's a game I'd love to be a player in.

But we have a lot of forum games incoming, so I think ideas like that should be sat on for a while. At the moment we have DML's and Nun's games to look forward to, after all! But in 6 months or so, sure, I'd be flattered if someone thought about it and they'd have my blessing.

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by Lagamorph » Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:22 pm

You're a damn genius Karl.

Having said that I think we need to move you down to the young adult Sci-fi section for a little while.

Lagamorph's Underwater Photography Thread
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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ » Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:26 pm

Karl wrote:
I'm sorry, Denster! wrote:Karl you're too good. That was brilliant to read. You've put a huge amount of effort in - I love the mod art too. I really feel like this particular game would be THE one to play again somewhere else - the mechanics seem so well planned and considered, it seems a shame that it'll only ever be played once!

This is very kind, thank you! I'm not 100% sure the mechanics would quite survive a second play-through: you can hide a game's imbalance once by keeping things secret and ostentatiously saying "work out the hidden mechanics!" at the start, but you can't get away with it twice! The consensus seems to be that this attempt was better than Larvae but still skewed, and I worry that skew might get worse if replayed.

What I was suggesting was, say SONM was still going for example, this game could be played there with a new set of players who are none the wiser.

In terms of balance, I wonder if a future version where upon discovering a bot, a tech is told at what point that bot was recruited. It could be written to fit the narrative of the game eg "this persons account was compromised at 6:12pm on 01/02/19"

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by Roonmastor » Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:40 pm

Agree with Dan. The game is one small tweak from perfect but it is a one play only game so would need to be run on another forum. I was thinking reducing bot conversions but knowing when a bot was turned might be enough of a tweak.

But we don't want to lose you to another forum so get a Kickstarter running and sell boxed copies! I don't think a card-draw Werewolves exists so you have a gap in the market to exploit.

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by DarkRula » Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:34 pm

Such a great read, Karl. Interesting to see how many influences were put into this game. And OR sold it with those additional bits of story. It's always enjoyable to see how someone else interprets your own writing.
I could certainly see how incorporating elements from this into a new game could work, and maybe we need more card-based forum games in the future. Maybe a more RPG-like game with HP and stuff. Not sure of the logistics of such a game, but I'm sure it'd be fun. It would need to wipe the vote for each turn factor, though.

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PostRe: Howling at the Moon | Post-mortem on page 83! (With a special section by OrangeRakoon!)
by OrangeRKN » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:45 am

That's an excellent and in depth read Karl, from the story and setting explanation to the analysis of games on tge forum in general.

It's very interesting to read the special nanomods. Serene Mind did offer protection like I thought, but the extra nanomod selection is very powerful (it would allow for data dumps to find the hacker, and then a vigi to kill them if necessary).

I'm very glad drum didn't choose Total Survey though, that sounds very powerful! It would have turned the game much earlier.

Also thanks to everyone who has read and liked my logs. I'm very glad they both complimented the story and were enjoyable for you GMing Karl :toot:

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