Rage: Fascinating Story About a Card Game and It’s Community

I haven’t really had time to write. I’ve been both sick and busy, but even when I haven’t been busy, I’ve been working on a new board/card game for my friends and I to play! When I got stuck on a certain card draw mechanic and I decided to revisit old card games I remember having interesting mechanics for inspiration. Now I don’t even really remember if Rage was any good, but I definitely remember it being unique, at least to 10-ish year old me.

After having forgotten the name of the game years ago, it came back to me today. I had forgotten about it because A. I never had anyone else to play it with, and B. It was discontinued around the time I started playing. That and a couple mechanics were all I remembered about the game though. I was super surprised to find out that there’s a fucking incredible story behind what has been and is going on with the game now. Here’s a quick rundown of the story.

White Wolf Published 5 sets for Rage and then sold the license to Five Rings. Five Rings published an entirely separate version of the game with entirely new mechanics, but used the same card backs and same setting as White Wolf’s version. Five Rings was bought by Wizards of the Coast who were then bought by Hasbro. Hasbro discontinued the newer version of Rage letting both licenses lapse in the process.

Azrael productions wanted to provide both tournament support and bring both versions of the game back into print, but weren’t able to either acquire it or bring the game back into print because Hasbro were still partial owners somehow and said no, BUT while they(Azrael) were providing tournament support for the game they made an effort to distinguish the two versions of the game which were both called Rage up until that point, which is also the name of a card game using a standard deck of playing cards, further confusing them.
Version 1 which is the original and White Wolf’s version was called Rage: Apocolypse. Version 2, Five Rings’ was called Rage: Tribal War.

This is where things get cray. Since Azrael couldn’t get either company to continue printing cards and they were unable to acquire the rights to the game to produce new cards themselves, they assembled a group of fans to design the new cards for them. Unsurprisingly though, they eventually gave up on the project and their supposed rights to the newly produced cards, which I don’t think they could technically own. I imagine that’s what they wanted and why they gave up. That was all the way back in 2003, which is also the year that the first fan set was released.

So, the last ‘official’ set for version 1 (Apocalypse) of the game was released in 1996, but there have been 14 entirely fan made sets released since then!!! That’s disincluding, the virtual reprinting of the 18 best cards of the official version of the game and the set that’s currently in beta/play testing as of right now and a set that was abandoned for legal reasons lol. There have also been 2 fan made sets for version 2 (Tribal War) and what’s even weirder, is that the fan made sets are supported by White Wolf supported tournaments for the game offline, but can’t be for the online version because of legal issues with the art that’s used on the fan made cards even though they don’t own LackeyCCG, which is the program the community uses to play the game online. A card game discontinued in the mid 90s, fans still releasing nearing 2 sets per year for 11 years! Dayummmmmm!

What a cool story… Bro.

I also wanna give a very brief mention to a similar topic of similarly cool dudes who redesign old board games. Not even designing new mechanics usually. Staying totally faithful to the original designs, but just rewording and rewriting manuals, character sheets, maps and improving readability of the graphics and text. Even often contacting the designers when they can before doing so. Seems like pretty thankless work, but totes cool. Big shoutouuuuts to everyone who does that. I think I wanna try it in the future.

Full Schedule’s Button Drama

Final Round 17 a UMVC3 Viper player had a little drama surrounding him based on his modded stick’s button mapping.

So he has 2 micro switches mapped to 2 buttons, up forward(one for up, one for forward) same for up back. He was only disallowed from using it after reaching top 8. It’s tomorrow, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see if he actually isn’t allowed to use it. The reason it’s not allowed is because two inputs are mapped to a single button. Despite the fact that he had asked Mr. Wizard( TO of EVO) if it was allowed and sent the following diagram:

He had been using this scheme for well over a year. Here’s what I have an issue with. I understand why this is a rule, but at the end of the day, if he were to separate the two buttons into four, it would have the exact same result in terms of how it effects gameplay. So banning it mid-tournament is only going to fuck him over for this single tournament. He’ll have to hit three buttons instead of two to do a viper roll. It’ll be mapped like this:

If there’s to be a rule change and TO’s truly believe this shouldn’t be allowed then the rule should be if you have a stick then you can’t also map ANY directions to buttons. If they don’t do that there’s literally no recourse for the mapping of those buttons without also banning all hitboxes.

The whole situation is fucked up and I feel bad for he guy because it only took place after F Champ and Neo got salty and took to twitter after losing to him. Some people are asking why Mr. Wizard is even weighing in though and it’s because of the EVO standard which is an attempt to standardize rules across major tournaments. Select plinking is allowed. One button dashing is allowed. A non-top player makes top 8 with a modded stick that was confirmed as legal and had been being used for over a year though needs to have it banned mid tournament.

Edit: I just wanted to add that one of the complaints that I’m seeing is that he can’t be punished for making mistakes with this set up. That’s incorrect. This whole conversation took place years ago when hitboxes were first releases. In vanilla MVC these allowed you to block in both directions at once. They addressed that issue in UMVC3 by making it so holding two opposing directions registers as neutral. So he would first have to move his stick away from forward and then press the button in order to not still be punished and there’s no way that hitting a button is faster than moving the stick from neutral to back to the point that it’s an advantage.

League of Legends Skinning

Pretty much every PC game is going to have a modding community even if it’s actively discouraged and typically not exactly legal.

There are a few different types of modding communities. Obviously it varies from game to game. A lot of times the separation of the modding communities from one another and the actual community stems from the developer/publisher stance on modding. The biggest exception is private servers. Private servers usually each have their own communities separate even from one another. Something like what I want to highlight, which is custom skinning, are generally one per game until some sort of split from within the community occurs. Sometimes it’s just rule changes and sometimes it’s due to an attempt monetize. Whatever the case, usually only one site survives unless one is so enormous that just a spillover can support itself as was the case with Curse and WoW back in the day.

First here’s the site:
All the skins are client side only.

It depends on the genre, but often the first communities that will pop up are skinning communities. This particular one came about while the game was still in closed beta. I guess I should say I’m not super familiar with unsupported skinning communities. You can’t really blame them, especially so early on. There were minor early forum antics, deleting links to it and many times having to state that they didn’t support it, but they were actually fine with it and not just through complicity. I wish that when they redid their forums all the old posts didn’t get destroyed so I could confirm, but I think during open beta they issued a cease and desist that there was a big kerfuffle over and one of their patches broke all of the previous modding tools and skins. Anyways, despite that they were actually supportive of it. They even used ideas for for skins based on the community’s designs. The earliest of which that I know of was Riot Singed. (One of?) the first Riot exclusive skins that they then began handing out to community members and the creator of the skin got first access to it a month or two ahead of time. Sometimes the staff would post in their forums and they have their own tags their now. It seems to be fully supported now which is great. I understand the reasoning behind the ” we have to be secretive about this because it could make or break us.” I’m so far removed from the game and community now that I don’t know what EXACTLY the current level of interaction is, but everything seems fine there. The site has really grown too alongside the league community itself. Most smaller skinning/modding communities just have a forum dedicated to it where everyone posts their work. They have legit search functions now, sort by champion all kinds of features. I just always really liked this community because it seemed soooo unlikely that Riot would allow that to go on. Then again they were also really the first game to nail micro transactions without being pay to win. All of the staff members were so friendly and communicative. I’m sure they still are, but with a community that size it’s hard to seem personable. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

The last thing I’ll say is just to restate that even though I don’t even play the game, I think the skinning community here because it still seems so incredibly unlikely to exist for a game of this type. I know DoTA does this too and I’m not giving props to Riot for not providing payment to skinners… I’m just saying I think the community is pretty rad. I’m surprised it’s still active, has grown and that it EVER existed at all due to the game’s monetization scheme and the small size of the company and at a pretty strange time for f2p games.

Oh, one last super important addition. There are always people who make fetish requests. Every skinning community has at least one person who is constantly making requests for weird fetish models. I’m sure more people actually WANT them, but are too ashamed to ask. And to them, that one creep is hero. Pregnant is a big one, someone usually wants all the females wearing heels, doesn’t matter the genre or art style. I feel like there’s another big one I’m missing, but I will say that I’m genuinely surprised there aren’t more futa requests. I guess maybe they’re too embarrassed to even request it as a ‘joke’ as happens from time to time, not just with futa but any request like this… ” wouldn’t it be funny if…” The sheer awkwardness brings a single tear to my eye. Oh the beauty of witnessing someone else’s sexual shame from a distance. With a finger pressed to their lips I whisper, “Shhh. Just embrace it.” What an odd turn this took…

Fighting game bans and UMVC X

UFGT is probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a tournament. I love the character auctions and I love the mystery game tourney. I think Keits is doing a fantastic job.

UMVC X is going to be featured at. UFGT10. It’s UMVC3, but with bans. I held off on writing this, because there was a similar tournament to this in the past, but I haven’t been able to find any trace of it though I’m still looking. I think I remember the rules as it was pretty straight forward compared to this.

It actually took me a long time to get into fighting games, because of my perception of the community and their sort of outlook on the games and the role they played. What I mean is, almost nothing was ever banned. I think a big part of that is that those games were mainly played in arcades. If someone puts in a quarter and essentially pays to play you, you can’t really tell a stranger not to pick a certain character. I was a baby at that point in time so I wasn’t playing any games, but I think that’s where the philosophy comes from and it’s understandable. You also can’t ban anything that could be considered cheap though, or no one would be able to play any character except Ryu. So there’s the question of, at what point should the community take it upon themselves to alter the rules of the game to ensure a better competition.

I didn’t grow up playing fighting games. I grew up playing Armored Core, Monster Rancher, DMC, Black and White and others. Mostly odd games, that weren’t really intended to be played competitively and wouldn’t have been ABLE to play competitively if their communities hadn’t gone out of their way to create, impose and figure out a way to enforce an alternate set of rules that allowed competition. And then to ensure that the games were interesting, all of those games had both soft and hard rules. Certain things weren’t able to be enforced without threat if excommunication in a sense. So I never understood he idea of, “well that’s too difficult to enforce” because it’s not. If it it ultimately makes the game more enjoyable for a VAST majority of players and you’re able to not go overboard, then it’s not. If my 11 year old self can explain an alternate set of rules to a lobby on XBL and find a way to ensure that people follow them to the best of their abilities then I know a huge community of adults sure as hell can. So that differing philosophy played a huge role in why I had trouble getting into fighting games early on. I did still play them, just not competitively and being older I do understand the opposing argument better do that helps too of course. What also helps, is that the philosophy is changing somewhat. Something that old “let it rock until it becomes a serious issue” is still there, which I think is ultimately a good thing. But if we look at SFxT, TRB went as far as to ban infinites, but allowing up to 2 reps, which is unheard of in the fighting game community because of how difficult to enforce it would be. And you have situations like with Injustice, where Deadpool was considered overpowered on a specific stage(!), but rather than having loser get stage choice, built into the game was a 50% chance for either player to get the stage that they chose, so the NRS community chose to attempt to play the game the way it was assumedly intended to be played. So there are reasons to ban and not to ban and I’m glad they err on the side of not. Both my perception of it and I think in actually it was much different in the olden days and I still don’t agree with the never ever ban anything mentality. It should be said though, that in glitch ridden games like mvc2 and umvc3, they’ve done a good job of banning what they can. But again, those are more recent.

Live tournament settings are much different than single online matches in terms of rule enforcement and will continue to be until machines can locally record and easily play back all footage. I’m sad that neither PS3 nor XBone can do this, but with steam machines being Linux based, this becomes a possibility so I’m excited for that. No more non-streamed matches and less ingame disputes when you can instantly go back and look at commands to determine who was at fault for what.

Wrote a little about myself, rules and bans. Let’s talk UMVC X. This is a side tournament at UFGT 10. Each pool will consist of 16 players. Each player upon entering the tournament will get 1 ban. All 16 bans for a pool will enforced within only that pool. If there are doubles, there are no re-bans. Once pools are over, rather than structuring a bracket, the players will be broken into 16 player pools again and their individual bans recompiled. Until there’s a top 16 in which the same will happen. I think the intended effect is that, due to people not wanting to ‘waste’ their bans only the perceived ‘game ruining’ characters like Doom, Zero, Vergil and Morrigan or potentially fewer characters than that will actually even end up being banned in a given bracket. And if the community likes it, considering how much the general perception and hype around the game has died off lately, this style of tournament can either continue to be run or be a method to test the waters in actually hard banning some of those characters in future tournaments to maybe bring some the community back. It’s a really smart decision compared to the other style of ban tourney I heard about from a couple years back, where the banning served as a mandatory strategy and ultimately led to worse overall gameplay. That tournament as I remember it, had 1-1-1-1 style bans for each match. So each player would just ban 2 of the opponent’s integral characters, and this is the most important part, even if that player’s characters weren’t very good to begin with. That didn’t promote more variety the way this is intended to. I think they also play on lowest damage settings which didn’t really solve anything because this was before everyone was doing infinites.

Anyways, I like UMVC X. I hope it does well. Kudos to Keits for coming up with it and I hope more tournaments play around with alternate rule sets and bans. It can only be a good thing for TOs and players to take responsibility for the game instead of relying on developers to give them what they want. That’s not always possible and even if it is, not everyone will agree. If you’re not competing you don’t have to follow tournament rules, make up your own. The goal is to have fun after all.

Twitch Plays Pokemon: robots entertaining robots

So here’s a quick rundown of what Twitch plays Pokemon actually is first. Pokemon is being played on an emulator on stream. Anyone can type a command into chat and a program reads it and does that action in the game. Obviously, the more people in stream giving commands, the harder it would be to give the correct command even if everyone had good intentions, so the ability to type strings was added. Up, up, down, down, left, you know the rest. Then of course, there’s the struggle between cooperative and non-cooperative players. So another feature was added. Democracy and anarchy. You can type either to swing a meter. If it’s in anarchy, things work as stated above where all actions take place in order, in democracy every action goes to a vote.

The community there who is dedicated to playing the game in this fashion have written faqs and guides, essentially ‘we need to do this, then this, then this’. Even if the people actively playing the game all have good intentions they may have a different idea of what should come next to this is essential in achieving any goal in the game, since the people just trying to fuck things up don’t necessarily need a goal. If anything they only need to bring the game to a grinding halt which will happen any time the game falls back into anarchy. That happens any time they hit peak viewers.

So, they’ve actually accomplished quite a bit in the game so far. Are there more community members than non? Can the cooperative really prevail over the uncooperative. Not exactly. This is what’s really taking place. A bunch of community members are running bots to input commands and simultaneously keep the game in Democracy mode. They use a seperate chat to communicate and run the bots at night, not to accomplish anything but to keep the Pokemon from being released and to keep from losing progress. So it’s essentially a Twitch stream run by a bot taking inputs from other bots. And the number of bots vastly outnumber any actual number of players/watchers. They periodically use the bots to infiltrate other streams and spam chats that have a lot of viewers. It also explains why most people never actually see anything being accomplished. All that progress comes in spurts while hardly anyone is viewing because that’s when the actual players have the most control and are at the least possible risk.

I had to use a little finesse to get into their chat. They should maybe be a little more secretive? Although I guess what’s it hurting? But it does kind of ruin the core concept of it. Although the idea a botnet vs a botnet in is pretty entertaining too.