I’m hesitant to link this, simply because Den Beste seems to be inundated with emails as it is, but I think it’s a really cool article about the history of ship/fleet warfare. This sort of thing does not interest me at all…or at least, I never thought it did. Den Beste’s overview was really informative, though, and I read it beginning to end.
He originally started out planning to write about the plausibility of and possibilities for future/space fleet warfare. To do this he had to begin with descriptions of the history of fleet warfare, and it got so long that he decided to put off writing the space part! I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with on that front.
There’s your introduction…remember that he does not want emails, so if you just want to shoot the breeze about this article, post your comment here! ;D If you have some sort of life-altering, fascinating, amazing insight, then you can probably go ahead and email Den Beste. Disclaimer stated…here’s the link!
Some of my last posts on the AMRN (I haven’t posted recently, and I’m thinking yet again of quitting) were for Milla Frank, currently the XO of the UNS Etrakis. Mr. Justice hadn’t been posting much for Captain Youngman, so I was pretty much the active senior officer during a rather interesting crisis: first contact. (For our fleet, anyway; it came out that our government already knew about the aliens. Also, since it’s Macross, you could argue that it’s not really first contact since we’ve already met so many other aliens…but I’m not here to discuss semantics!) I had to make executive decisions about deployment, get our people out of harm’s way and, later, negotiate a truce with the new aliens while trying not to look like a sissy.
This was really the only time in my almost five years of playing on the AMRN that I felt that I both had a decent grasp of what I was doing and that my actions had a direct impact on the game universe. In short, I was actually playing the game and having a hell of a lot of fun at it.
Virtually all of my fun in the past came from non-combat, relationship-motivated character interaction. There is a disparity between “combat” and “down time” that many players and GMs have remarked upon. “Combat” is meaningless flying out to attack the enemy of the week (or month, or year), typically never quite finishing the mission, and having a neat resolution packaged up by the GM that essentially nullifies any actual impact you had on the game. This can happen under a single GM–perhaps s/he simply doesn’t have the time to rewrite his/her plot, or something–but it’s most noticeable when one GM leaves and another takes over. The successor typically has no idea what occurred in game or what it might have meant for the characters, so s/he simply washes the slate clean. Convenient for him/her, annoying for the players.
Down time, on the other hand, is not so closely monitored by the GMs, so the continuity is maintained directly by the players. If my character starts flirting with another character, that character will be affected, and so will anyone observing. Flashbacks to this occurrence could happen months later (real-time). It was in those times that I really felt that I was building story.
At the same time, though, I always had the niggling feeling that I wasn’t building a complete story. Yes, characters are the most important thing (at least, to me), but the setting and the events of the universe are part of what shapes the characters. Much of what I have done in the game could be done anywhere. There is nothing that makes my characters’ relationships and motivations particularly bound to the world of Macross. A few little changes, and we could plunk them right into, say, the United States Civil War. When I started realizing this, I started losing my interest in the game, and it’s been declining ever since.
My experience with Milla has shown me what a real game can feel like. In fact, I strongly believe that that experience is the only reason I read Den Beste’s article all the way through. I had been thinking about similar principles in order to create a favorable outcome in my game…and because I was having a direct impact on what happened (to an entire fleet!), the learning was actually interesting.
I don’t gain anything by knowing mecha statistics. The GMs don’t know them, either, so they tend to resolve rounds in general ways that don’t depend on the combination of mecha type and actions. The GMs who do “know” mecha stats often disagree with one another, meaning that there is no general consensus and therefore no point in trying to learn. Why bother, if there’s no guarantee that my knowledge will be useful? If I get the same result by simply understanding the basic principles and maybe adding a few mecha-specific details, why bother taking it to the next level? What is there to be gained?
This is most likely why I find mecha stats so boring. I have no time for knowledge I don’t have a use for.
I would like it if there were some way to give all players the feeling I had during the first contact (or whatever) scenario. I’m not going to say it was perfect–at times I felt as if I was being “guided”–but it was a hell of a lot better than pretty much all of the rest of my AMRN experience. There is no perfect game, because people are all different…but I think that having a direct impact on larger-than-life events would add a long-missing excitement for every single player.