MeFiNomic III August 21, 2011 3:40 PM   Subscribe

It's time for another game of Nomic.

There's another game of Nomic which has just begun, but is going at a stately pace and could use an injection of verve and energy.

It's located here: Google Groups link. Here is the extant Ruleset. You'll see it's rather different from the standard rules - from my understanding, there are a few additions (regarding 'sportsmanlike' behaviour and the awarding of points) which are holdovers from the last game of MeFiNomic. There's nothing too difficult or onerous, though. (And if you don't like it, well, that's the point of the game - join it and change it.)

If you're concerned about time commitments, don't be - you can miss up to about a week without being declared a 'sleeping member', going by the current pace. And even if you do get declared as such, you only have to post a new thread: "I'm not Sleeping anymore!" and you'll be considered 'Active' again.

If you want to join, you'll need a sponsor. Any existing player can sponsor up to three other players at any one time, so if you want in, just send me a MeFimail and I'll do what I can.
posted by WalterMitty to MetaFilter-Related at 3:40 PM (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Dang. I don't have a Google account.

What if mefi had a short/small memory caching API, for minigaming turntaking networking? Then a browser-based gaming framework would let your move be cached for your opponents/team pickup next time they poll. Make it really KISS. Nothing big: enough for dice games, card games, word games. For a game like nomic, the wiki would supplement the card/dice game, ie. hold the rules & maybe the long score.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:34 PM on August 21, 2011


So using Gamefilter as the place to do it didn't work out last time?

That's too bad, but nobody said anything to me, so I wasn't aware. Ah well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:07 PM on August 21, 2011


That's too bad, but nobody said anything to me, so I wasn't aware. Ah well.

Wasn't Gamefilter's fault or anything, and it was awesome of you to be as accommodating about tweaking the site functionality to help fit the game. There's just a lot of non-overlap between what-a-nomic-needs and what-a-forum-needs that seemed to lead to mismatch-related overhead even with the accommodations.

There was a bunch of discussion in the game threads themselves toward the end of that last game's tenure on Gamefilter, but none of it was Stav Must Do Something About This stuff so I don't think anybody felt like trying to put it on you or require you to get involved is all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:21 PM on August 21, 2011


Sorry Stav, I personally have no idea how it got shifted from Gamefilter to Google - I wasn't active in the first game, and by the time I got into this one it was already on Google.
posted by WalterMitty at 5:33 PM on August 21, 2011


The last game was far more acrimonious and troubled than what I'd normally expect from a game of nomic. Accusations of sockpuppetry seemed to be rampant towards the end. The game broke down after a series of incidents which saw a few people (including a judge and at least two admins) leaving in anger and frustration.

Is all of that being taken into consideration in the way this current game is being structured?

Because if not, no thanks. It's not worth the waste of time.
posted by zarq at 6:10 PM on August 21, 2011


Awwww, I'm disappointed mefi doesn't play well together.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on August 21, 2011


I really enjoyed the playing up until the very end, but it was clear that there were quite a few who didn't see the game the same way I did... After I left the game I made a point of not looking, ever again. But given this public announcement and request for new blood, I'd be very interested in hearing a bit of blow-by-blow AAR.

So, what happened? Who left? Is this really a completely "new" game, or are there stragglers from last time still holding in there?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:22 PM on August 21, 2011


I'm not qualified to comment on that, Meatbomb, as I only really joined this game and didn't take part in the last one.

The current one seems to be floundering on a lack of consensus or clear direction as to where the game is going; the rules are a mixture of wordplay/ dice-play/ attempts at creating in-game items. A number of ideas are floating around, including virtual gameboards and inter-player 'war' (that's a new one). Exchange is civil but it does feel like nothing much is happening, which is why I created this post.

WRT acrimony, I'm currently engaged in a spirited discussion with 'Sai' as to whether I deserve to be yellow-carded for saying "I'm only unhappy with what I
(rightly or wrongly) at Sai's assholery/ dickishness" and then trading sarcastic comments with him. (He may just possibly have a different take on the matter - he thinks I should be yellow-carded for flaming, I think he was unnecessarily provocative.) It's a storm in a teacup, I think. He chose some words poorly, I responded poorly. *shrugs*
posted by WalterMitty at 7:31 PM on August 21, 2011


Meatbomb, the players in the new game are all players from the old game. (Except WalterMitty, who was never active in the old game.) We decided to restart as a technically separate game because that made some players feel more comfortable, but we did keep a few rules.

The troubles present in the last game were indeed taken into consideration in the formation of the new one, and we have a Sportsmanlike Behaviour rule. As WalterMitty has mentioned, though, this game isn't free from conflict, either. I'm not really sure where we'll end up, but I think so far that having a mechanism in the rules for dealing with conflict is probably helpful--anger piled up in the last game, and at least in this game the misunderstanding that's going on is being addressed.

The main benefit of Google Groups over Gamefilter for a Nomic is that we can operate without an admin. We all have equal editing privileges, and the site tracks all changes. I think Admin status was a key cause of the acrimony and issues in the last game, and removing that problem completely has been highly beneficial.
posted by equivocator at 7:47 PM on August 21, 2011


Mmm.

So, who else left after I did? I see a player list, but as it still has my name on it, and marked "active", I do not put too much stock in its accuracy.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:50 PM on August 21, 2011


I think Admin status was a key cause of the acrimony and issues in the last game, and removing that problem completely has been highly beneficial.

That would have been easy enough to make happen with a new game at GF, but no worries: carry on!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:52 PM on August 21, 2011


Meatbomb, this is the current player list.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:59 PM on August 21, 2011


That would have been easy enough to make happen with a new game at GF, but no worries: carry on!

That wasn't really the issue... the game itself broke down, and the players who didn't quit voted to switch to Google Groups for a number of reasons. Probably the main one was to make it really feel like a new, and different game.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:01 PM on August 21, 2011


So, who else left after I did? I see a player list, but as it still has my name on it, and marked "active", I do not put too much stock in its accuracy.

That basically stopped getting updated when the game dissolved.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:02 PM on August 21, 2011


Also, btw, sdoleck on MFC and in the Nomic game.

The current game has been going pretty well, if slow. The current drama that WalterMitty is incidentally involved in is in no way as severe and bitter as some of the arguments in the last game. The game has as a fundamental goal, however, good, sportsmanlike conduct from all participants. The general conflict is basically on where people see the game going at this point (which is the whole point of Nomic! Yay!).
posted by DoubleLune at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2011


equivocator: " The troubles present in the last game were indeed taken into consideration in the formation of the new one, and we have a Sportsmanlike Behaviour rule. As WalterMitty has mentioned, though, this game isn't free from conflict, either. I'm not really sure where we'll end up, but I think so far that having a mechanism in the rules for dealing with conflict is probably helpful--anger piled up in the last game, and at least in this game the misunderstanding that's going on is being addressed.

Good. That does seem like an improvement.

I'm fine with conflict, and with rules that shake things up a bit. But it felt as if certain people in the last game had become way too paranoid, and that others had simply decided that working towards a common goal (a functional game) wasn't worth the effort. It was all very frustrating.

The main benefit of Google Groups over Gamefilter for a Nomic is that we can operate without an admin. We all have equal editing privileges, and the site tracks all changes. I think Admin status was a key cause of the acrimony and issues in the last game, and removing that problem completely has been highly beneficial."

Also good. Thanks for explaining.
posted by zarq at 8:58 PM on August 21, 2011


Funny thing, I've been a MeFi and MeFight member for years and this is the first time I've had interwebs drama going on. Hopefully it gets resolved soonish, it's more annoying than aggravating and I don't want to waste any more time and/or effort on it, it's not worth it.

The game itself is otherwise pretty fun so far, it's fascinating watching it evolve.
posted by WalterMitty at 9:17 PM on August 21, 2011


Nomic is a game in which changing the rules is a move.

So it's a Worldcon committee simulator then?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:48 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This looks like way too much fun for me to pass on, god help me. MeMail sent.
posted by dg at 11:23 PM on August 21, 2011


I hung on in the last game for quite a while. I think the thing I find most interesting was that the game took on a sort of Godelian quality -- all the difficulties came from things which were not covered by the rules, but expanding the ruleset to deal with them just created an ever-expanding vortex of potential difficulty.

I haven't look at the the rubric but the 'unsportsmanlike behavior' rule sounds like an attempt to deal with that -- but clearly the definition of 'unsportsmanlike' is a subjective one which means that it actually can't be codified into the ruleset.

I don't know if this is a bug or a feature of Nomic -- I think the latter -- but it was sure an eye opener for me.
posted by unSane at 5:25 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


FWIW I thought Meatbomb was by far the most interesting and entertaining player in the last round, although I'm pretty sure a lot of other people disagreed vehemently.
posted by unSane at 5:26 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I must admit, seeing him try to nominate his non-English speaking mother-in-law into the game was pretty hilarious.

"I'll just play for her! It's totally above board! I swear! Sockpuppet? Nooo! You wound me with such scurrilous accusations, sir! She exists, see? Here's a picture of her!"
posted by zarq at 5:44 AM on August 22, 2011


IIRC I proposed volunteering my time to advise and translate for her, zarq. But yeah, go ahead and spin me as the bad guy. She is still heartbroken, BTW, and don't think she'll ever have the courage to try working with computers and exploring the Internet ever again.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:57 AM on August 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Meatbomb: "IIRC I proposed volunteering my time to advise and translate for her, zarq.

And pandemonium ensued.

But yeah, go ahead and spin me as the bad guy.

No, no. I'm doing nothing of the sort, Brother Meatbomb. I salute your creativity.

If not the ensuing pandemonium.

Besides, it was totally worth it just to see an admin say something like "Ye gods! What have we done?!"

She is still heartbroken, BTW, and don't think she'll ever have the courage to try working with computers and exploring the Internet ever again."

Buy her a MeFi account. Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.
posted by zarq at 6:56 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like to think if Metafilter was a town, Lake Wobegon would be our Shelbyville.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:49 AM on August 22, 2011


So WalterMitty has used up his 3 allotted sponsorships; if anyone else would like to play, let me know and I'll sponsor you. Unless you will create pandemonium.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:56 AM on August 22, 2011


Sounds... weird. I'd like to try it. Mefi mail sent.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:59 AM on August 22, 2011


I quit in the great migration too, and more or less for the same reason: Meatbomb's antics were the best thing about the game, and without him there it was pretty clear to me that things were going to collapse. I'm impressed that it's still going; that's a better outcome than I expected!
posted by gerryblog at 3:00 PM on August 22, 2011


So it's a Worldcon committee simulator then?

It's internet Calvinball.
posted by doublehappy at 3:17 PM on August 22, 2011


But, er, where Calvin accepted that Hobbes' (and on one occasion, Rosalyn's) prima facie legitimate exploitation of the rules, the previous MefiNomic membership threw a collective tantrum and started a new game somewhere else.

The conflict, of course, in the previous outing, was between those who were playing to win, and those who were playing to create some sort of neverending lottery of Babylon. The criminalisation of gamesmanship in the new incarnation is, I think, an insurmountable flaw.
posted by doublehappy at 3:23 PM on August 22, 2011


Different people want different things from Nomic, as they do from all sorts of games. You see this even in games as degenerate and constrained as Monopoly, where differing house rules reveal that some players want to navigate luck and market economics to eke out a narrow plurality stake in the board's real estate, and some players want to gamble at winning the lottery, and some players want to see how many $500s they can lift from the bank while no one is looking.

Navigating the varied and often unstated expectations of players is a challenge in any gaming collaboration, but that challenge is far greater with open-ended games. Pen and paper RPGs are the touchstone, here: anyone who has spent significant time playing these games can vouch that for a game to be stable and to bloom you need a really solid DM with a vision of how to keep the game on the rails and/or a set of players who really get where one another are coming from and understand what one another want out of the session or the campaign. Without either of those, you end up with a bunch of people playing a bunch of superficially similar games in the same room and nothing really clicking.

Nomic is another game like that, but while it starts with more structure (an explicit ruleset that itself defines the sequence of play in discrete steps, vs. "You are in a tavern in a port town in southern Darkdale Island, the smell of mutton wafts from the couldron...") also starts with less of a sense of direction ("change the rules" to what? to what purpose? with what goal? vs. e.g. a general sense of shared purpose to reveal a presumably somewhat preconceived narrative). Nomic rulesets often include a stated win condition (including Suber's original draft, I think), but it's an anemic thing and by definition mutable, which in a game all about mutating the ruleset is not exactly a grand mandate.

So some folks feel like Nomic is a game where you try to get 100 points so you can win, and everything else is wankery. Other folks feel like Nomic is a game where you try to prise apart the ruleset by the gaps to prove that the gaps exist. Others still feel like it's a game where you try to build something new—a story or a game-within-a-game or a commentary on legal systems—from an intentionally bland starting point. Some folks feel like it's a game of arguing about the implementation of the game. Some feel like it's a game of applied legal conservatism, others like it's a game of applied legal liberality.

None of those people are wrong in any fundamental sense; those are all valid ways to play Nomic, since Nomic makes no claim to knowing what it is about or how it should be played. The difficult part is that when you have different players who are respectively hoping to play different games, it's hard to know that until it manifests as inter-player conflicts. Those conflicts themselves might be fun, or they might be frustrating, and there's as good a chance as any that even the players in conflict or on the outskirts of it will disagree about whether fun or frustration is what's taking place.

So, it's hard. Nomic is a game that benefits a fair amount from having players talk frankly before commencing about what sort of game they want, which is most doable when the folks playing have played before, ideally enough to see games go in different directions and know what kind of territory is out there. Being able to say up front that "this is the sort of game I'm wanting to run" or "this is the sort of feel we're collectively interested in" is really valuable for avoiding a breakdown later on from players either losing interest or walking away explicitly unhappy.

Which is not to say new folks shouldn't try Nomic. They absolutely should, partly because it's a fascinating game (and one I personally have great affection for) and partly because there aren't enough Nomic players in the world and we can always use more. But new players should go in open-minded, and experienced players should try to be communicative about this stuff with each other and especially with the new folks so that there's a minimum of unrealistic expectations about, at the very least, the more dealbreakery basics of the game dynamic.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:49 PM on August 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


As was also the case in posts during the last game, cortex is completely right about where we went wrong and how. The New Nomic is a build-something game... we don't yet agree about how to go about it, I think. Some people would like to plan to consensus and then build the rules, while others (for example, me) would like to build something free-form, rule by rule, and see where it goes. But we're all still fairly new Nomic players, so we'll see what happens! I hope our agreement is enough to take us more than one turn into the game this time--and I think it will be.

I'm also happy to sponsor new players, since the sponsorships are flying off the rack.
posted by equivocator at 7:25 PM on August 22, 2011


Different people want different things from Nomic, as they do from all sorts of games. You see this even in games as degenerate and constrained as Monopoly...

I now am so tempted to add some sort of "if you don't buy the property you land on, it goes up for auction" rule on my next Nomic turn to start making up for all the times that people have played Monopoly wrong. I guess this shows what kind of Nomic player I might be (by this I mean a stickler for rules as written, not someone who would try to use one game to make up for the other people doing it wrong in the universe)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:22 AM on August 23, 2011


There's nothing wrong with a game composed of rules from other games, MCMikeNamara.

I'm interested in joining, WalterMitty.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 8:19 AM on August 23, 2011


Right now I've exhausted my allotment of sponsorships (i.e. each player gets 3 sponsorships), and if I'm not wrong I believe DoubleLune has as well. I've started a [Sponsorship Needed] thread on the group; if you need a sponsorship, I'll put your name (and the names of any other MeFites who MeMail me to join the game) up on it, but there's no guarantee you'll get one, since it requires a willing sponsor.

I didn't vote on the rule - it was there from the beginning - but I suppose one reason for it is to ensure the roster doesn't get too big too quickly.
posted by WalterMitty at 9:17 AM on August 23, 2011


I didn't vote on the rule - it was there from the beginning - but I suppose one reason for it is to ensure the roster doesn't get too big too quickly.

Actually, it was more to prevent people bringing in sockpuppets and such and to make sure we could control the type of players who joined. This rule came into place in the first (unsuccessful) game during the early tremors of disruption.

I honestly think that anyone who wants to play a clean and honest game would be totally welcome.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:45 AM on August 23, 2011


« Older Mystery Meat Links   |   Favourite Tags Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments