Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Venture City Problems

Hey, welcome back to my blog. Here's a really depressing blog post.

("Oh great,  JD is going to talk about math again.")

My buddy Ron Blessing just ran a couple of sessions of Venture City Stories, a Fate Core game, with me, my wife, his wife Vern, and a couple of others.  I really like both Fate Core and Venture City, for reasons I'll describe later, but for the purposes of this blog post, what's more important is that it is incredibly popular.  There are a stunning 19 reviews for it at the time of this post, the overwhelming majority of which are five stars. There are 35 ratings, 25 of which are a perfect 5 stars. So this blog post is less an indictment of the game than an indictment of gamers since there is a major, glaring mathematical error in one of the core mechanics of Venture City.

It's disappointing as hell. Even in a very mathematically simple and solid system like Fate Core, RPGs continue to have major problems with simple probability and expected outcomes. And it seems like nobody cares. The designers don't care because the community doesn't care and it's time-consuming (and therefore expensive) to thoroughly evaluate the probabilities of a game system and come up with the answer to the question "is this what we want our system to do?"

Venture City Stories bills itself as a superhero game - as with most superhero games, the player characters are formidable and iconic. So a mechanic that has the expected result of a TPK when in conflict with some very basic street gang members is a mechanic that should leap out at people. But it didn't. It hasn't. And nobody quite seems to care.