Game Design Sins

Brock Savage

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Canada is messed up cause we use a mix of Imperial and Metric and it has confused the shit out of me my whole life. Weather? metric. Water (eg, pools)? Imperial. Carpentry? Metric. Tailoring? Imperial. It seems really arbitrary.
It's an odd situation in the US. Joe Sixpack still uses old timey feet and pounds but most of the important things like science, military, medicine, manufacturing etc use metric.
 

Lofgeornost

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Not defending the lack of a decent bundled price (which they really should offer), but if you're buying one or the other they shouldn't cost a very different amount as PDFs cost almost as much to make as hardcopy books because the cost to write, edit, and lay out the book is the same either way.
But is that really the case? There is the cost for the actual materials that go into the book, and the costs to print and bind it, and to ship it to the warehouse of the game company. And the taxes they pay on it as inventory as they wait to sell it. None of which exist with electronic files.

On the really significant topic, metric versus real measurements, I find it rather odd to think that metric is more fitting for SF games. I can see the point if the SF is near future from our world--our languages, measuring systems, etc. will still exist. If the game is set 'long ago in a galaxy far, far, away' or in the year 100,000,000, then the metric system has bugger all chance of existing. Its presence is just as jarring as that of other systems now current would be.
 

BedrockBrendan

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But is that really the case? There is the cost for the actual materials that go into the book, and the costs to print and bind it, and to ship it to the warehouse of the game company. And the taxes they pay on it as inventory as they wait to sell it. None of which exist with electronic files.

PDFs have all the same pre-production costs (edits, layout, art, writings, etc). There can be slight variance there if something in the print version is different. But it is usually the same.

They don't have the costs that print do in terms of the things you mention (though it is worth pointing out that there is a big difference between POD, offset, and whatever arrangements an individual publisher has for warehousing, sales, etc).
 

Brock Savage

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If the game is set 'long ago in a galaxy far, far, away' or in the year 100,000,000, then the metric system has bugger all chance of existing. Its presence is just as jarring as that of other systems now current would be.
As much as I'd be down for a weird fantasy sci-fi game that uses bloits and gloops I think it's a tough sale for most people.
 

Lofgeornost

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PDFs have all the same pre-production costs (edits, layout, art, writings, etc). There can be slight variance there if something in the print version is different. But it is usually the same.

They don't have the costs that print do in terms of the things you mention (though it is worth pointing out that there is a big difference between POD, offset, and whatever arrangements an individual publisher has for warehousing, sales, etc).
In your experience, what is the ratio between these two sets of costs? That is, the pre-production costs, which are the same for .pdf and print, and the printing/binding/shipping to warehouse etc. costs that are limited to paper versions?
 

mostlylurking

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when you start cooking with fluid ounces and cups, I'm out!
Don’t get me started with recipes.
It's as if cooks and bakers had looked at the imperial system and its derivatives and said: Needs more counterintuitively related units!

Additionally, at least US recipes seem to use volume measures wherever possible, even when weight measures would be clearly superior (e.g., when giving the volume of a chopped vegetable: How finely chopped? Do I press it in the cup? And why do you make me chop the damn thing first before I get to find out whether I have enough?). One of the funniest forum threads I've read (but which I've sadly lost) was a debate about the number of mini marshmallows that correspond to one big marshmallow, all measured in cups. Almost as good as that debate about the number of days in a week.
 

Brock Savage

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Additionally, at least US recipes seem to use volume measures wherever possible, even when weight measures would be clearly superior (e.g., when giving the volume of a chopped vegetable:
OMG this drives me NUTS. But the worst thing about recipes is the fucking exposition beforehand. Pictured below is every recipe on the Internet:



ba0.jpg
 

mostlylurking

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Additionally, at least US recipes seem to use volume measures wherever possible, even when weight measures would be clearly superior
OMG this drives me NUTS.
Such a relief to know that I'm not the only one. But why low popularity of weight measures? Are scales uncommon in US kitchens?
 

Lofgeornost

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Such a relief to know that I'm not the only one. But why low popularity of weight measures? Are scales uncommon in US kitchens?
I have no idea in general, but I never owned one myself until a few years back when I needed one to weigh ingredients because I was on a special diet. We had an analytical balance in the basement when I was young, but it was used only for my father's wine-making endeavors, not cooking.
 

ffilz

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Not defending the lack of a decent bundled price (which they really should offer), but if you're buying one or the other they shouldn't cost a very different amount as PDFs cost almost as much to make as hardcopy books because the cost to write, edit, and lay out the book is the same either way.
Yet many publishers offer PDFs for 1/2 or even less of the print cost. And plenty offer free PDF with print.

I'm guessing that one justification for selling PDF at 1/2 print cost is that the cost of selling a PDF is minor (it DOES have a cost, but it may be pretty small per sale) and the lower price generates less complaints and increases sales enough to cover the various costs.

Or if you budget to pay for the preproduction costs from the print sales, then any PDF sales are gravy.
 

ffilz

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Such a relief to know that I'm not the only one. But why low popularity of weight measures? Are scales uncommon in US kitchens?
We didn't have a scale growing up. I have a digital kitchen scale, but I don't use it in the kitchen, I use it to weigh packages when I'm selling RPGs or Lego. And since US cookbooks don't use weights for most things, people have little incentive to have a scale.
 

Lofgeornost

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I'm guessing that one justification for selling PDF at 1/2 print cost is that the cost of selling a PDF is minor (it DOES have a cost, but it may be pretty small per sale) and the lower price generates less complaints and increases sales enough to cover the various costs.

That makes sense. It's also worth keeping in mind that the paper version is something that the buyer can resell--rarely, for more than he or she paid for it--while the e-version is not. So buyers may naturally expect .pdfs to cost a good deal less.
 

BedrockBrendan

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In your experience, what is the ratio between these two sets of costs? That is, the pre-production costs, which are the same for .pdf and print, and the printing/binding/shipping to warehouse etc. costs that are limited to paper versions?

I am not the best person to ask as I have a third party handling my printing, warehousing and sales. I can say that arrangement is one part of what sets our print cover prices (and as people might guess I have recently found out that paper and shipping costs are going to mean higher cover prices on my next two books). I'm also not the most business savvy person so my pricing on PDFs is probably not the best place to look for a pattern. But I usually try to set my PDFs at a reasonable price. Its tricky with PDFs because people are weighing a lot of things. I try to keep my PDFS in the 10 dollar range (some will go a little above that or below that) if they are complete rule books or sizable supplements. But people don't just set PDFs based on the costs of PDF itself. PDF is one of two revenue streams usually (print and PDF) and they need to make sure those two revenue streams generate profit (not that print revenue covers print costs and PDF revenue covers PDF costs). To generate profit a company may rely more on PDFs and so their PDFs could be priced accordingly (regardless of how much production cost that price is covering). Another calculation people make that doesn't have to do with production cost directly is what price is likely to generate the most sales and the most revenue (if you price too low, people think it isn't valuable or worth their time, if you price too high, people hesitate to buy it; prices are often set for psychological reasons as much as production cost reasons).
 

mostlylurking

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Are scales uncommon in US kitchens?
I have no idea in general, but I never owned one myself until a few years back when I needed one to weigh ingredients because I was on a special diet.
I didn't start using a food scale until 2007 and don't think it has caught on with the rest of America.
We didn't have a scale growing up. I have a digital kitchen scale, but I don't use it in the kitchen, I use it to weigh packages when I'm selling RPGs or Lego. And since US cookbooks don't use weights for most things, people have little incentive to have a scale.
I don't think many American portion their food and that's the main reason to use a food scale.
Thanks so much, guys! It's one of my (previously expected to be) eternal puzzles laid to rest. So it's a classical chicken-and-egg problem, just like the use of imperial measurements.
 

Lofgeornost

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Another calculation people make that doesn't have to do with production cost directly is what price is likely to generate the most sales and the most revenue (if you price too low, people think it isn't valuable or worth their time, if you price too high, people hesitate to buy it; prices are often set for psychological reasons as much as production cost reasons).

Thanks for the reply. This last is a very important point, I think. Publishers will of course be chasing the optimal point on the supply-demand curve. It seems to me that e-versions make this easier, or maybe more flexible. With a paper copy, there is an minimum price below which the publisher is losing money, so the price can't drop below that even if it would increase sales considerably. With an e-copy, that's less true--or the minimum price is much, much lower.
 

Sharrow

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But is that really the case? There is the cost for the actual materials that go into the book, and the costs to print and bind it, and to ship it to the warehouse of the game company. And the taxes they pay on it as inventory as they wait to sell it. None of which exist with electronic files.

On the really significant topic, metric versus real measurements, I find it rather odd to think that metric is more fitting for SF games. I can see the point if the SF is near future from our world--our languages, measuring systems, etc. will still exist. If the game is set 'long ago in a galaxy far, far, away' or in the year 100,000,000, then the metric system has bugger all chance of existing. Its presence is just as jarring as that of other systems now current would be.
It may have changed since then. but a few years back SJGames outright stated that the costs weren't that different, because the cost of printing wasn't that big a part of the overall cost of bringing a book to market.

Of course the metric system probably wouldn't exist in the far, far future, or in some completely other galaxy (that somehow has humans in it). However, it 'feels' more SF-like than Imperial/US customary, because it's got consistent scaling (powers of ten), and avoids having to use constants when converting from one unit to another or when working with multiple units. Basically, metric is cleaner.

Now, in a fantasy setting, customary measure works because it's derived from things you can use to measure stuff without fancy instruments or even a ruler brought in from elsewhere. Also, a lot of the steps and divisions are by three or four, and they're easy to work with in your head, and their product (twelve) divides up easily in may ways.
 

Sharrow

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Yet many publishers offer PDFs for 1/2 or even less of the print cost. And plenty offer free PDF with print.
I specicifally noted that I wasn't defending not having a bundled cost reduction - I think they should, and not including the pdf with hardcopies in kickstarters is just BS (and I hadn't noticed because I don't do hardcopies very much these days - no room for them and shipping is a killer these days).
I'm guessing that one justification for selling PDF at 1/2 print cost is that the cost of selling a PDF is minor (it DOES have a cost, but it may be pretty small per sale) and the lower price generates less complaints and increases sales enough to cover the various costs.

Or if you budget to pay for the preproduction costs from the print sales, then any PDF sales are gravy.
I would guess that a huge number of these publishers are small enterprises with most or all of their staff part-time. They most likely don't go through as many stages of editing, play-testing, re-writing, re-editing, proofing, etc. that SJG does. That would make their production costs without printing considered smaller relative to the cost of printing, and thus they can afford more of a discount on their pdfs.
 

A Fiery Flying Roll

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Yet many publishers offer PDFs for 1/2 or even less of the print cost. And plenty offer free PDF with print.

I'm guessing that one justification for selling PDF at 1/2 print cost is that the cost of selling a PDF is minor (it DOES have a cost, but it may be pretty small per sale) and the lower price generates less complaints and increases sales enough to cover the various costs.

Or if you budget to pay for the preproduction costs from the print sales, then any PDF sales are gravy.
I suspect the opposite is also true; there's some companies that deliberately price the PDFs higher as a way of driving people to the print edition. That's the most likely explanation with Osprey I think; their main business is print books. Not even gaming books, I'm pretty sure that the games division is a minor part of their income stream, much like someone like Rebellion. (And another factor there is that if they can get people to buy print they aren't giving Drivethru a cut because they publish in house).

I agree that PDFs should be bundled free or at least heavily discounted with the print, but I'm not sure that cheap PDFs should be the benchmark for PDF only purchases.
 

robertsconley

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But is that really the case? There is the cost for the actual materials that go into the book, and the costs to print and bind it, and to ship it to the warehouse of the game company. And the taxes they pay on it as inventory as they wait to sell it. None of which exist with electronic files.
Here is a quote from one of the site where you can order a print run from.
1658545607203.png

For this quote for a print run of 2,000 books each book bound and printed with a cover cost $1.21 each.
 

xanther

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No, it feels weird to me as well. The abstracted 1 meter = 1 yard doesn't bother me but 2 lbs = 1 kg would drive me nuts. I can't put my finger down why. I weigh, measure, and portion food frequently so the difference seems a lot more meaningful to me. But if someone said 2 yards = 2 meters for RPG combat I am like "fine, fuck it, we aren't building a rocket ship LOL."
It's because 1 yard =1 meter is off by 10% and 1 kg = 2 lbs is off by 12% :smile:
More likely, your typical distances indoors are on the order of single digit yards but with weight it's often in the tens of kg.

Being a scientist for a long time have no trouble converting between the two, or temperature either.

My trick on distance is 1.5 m = 5 feet to a very good approximation;
on weight use 1kg = 2.25 lbs, which is also very, very close....much closer than I bother to "weigh" things in my game anyway.
 

SJB

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How about some imperial to imperial conversions?




MeasureTranslationImperial Conversion
PesFoot11.6”
PassusPace58"
Mille PassusMile1,618 yards
LibraPound11.46 oz
 

AsenRG

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All the gallons are equally real. Winchester gallon. Elizabeth gallon. William corn gallon. Old English ale gallon. Queen Anne wine gallon. Guildhall gallon, Jersey gallon. Guernsey gallon. Irish gallon. US liquid gallon, US dry gallon. They are equally real, but they aren't equal. And none of those is equal to the Imperial gallon.
Nah. Only one of those is real:devil:!

That's the way to give yourself comprehension problems. The term "Imperial gallon" (and Imperial pint, bushel, etc.) were introduced specifically to distinguish the newfangled units of 1824 from the old English units that remained in use in the USA. In this context "Imperial" means exactly "not US".
Well, except here's what he really meant...:shade:

Of course the funny part is he is right as I am an American and I didn’t even realize at American measurements and Imperial measurements were different. :shock: I might not have paid attention in school that day
No problems, man. If it wasn't for nitpicking, the Pub's favourite sport, we could have just waited for you to confirm or deny...:grin:
Also, thank you for clarifying. BTW, the real reason I remember your gallon is probably because I found it logical that if you're not using a decimal measure, you'd use a measure that divides into a number that's itself a power of two (128=2^7)! Makes it much simpler to get a half (or quarter) of anything.

On the really significant topic, metric versus real measurements, I find it rather odd to think that metric is more fitting for SF games. I can see the point if the SF is near future from our world--our languages, measuring systems, etc. will still exist. If the game is set 'long ago in a galaxy far, far, away' or in the year 100,000,000, then the metric system has bugger all chance of existing. Its presence is just as jarring as that of other systems now current would be.
As long as people keep having the same number of fingers, decimal systems are still going to be most likely to be in use.
Also, you can always get a page from Chinese measures. Those survive (with minor changes) since the times of Qin Shihuangdi, who also made them decimal.
I don't see a reason to believe metric would be any less viable, especially since it's also decimal:tongue:!
 

xanther

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Decimal measures rock in a digital and mathematical world, but measures based on 12 rock when you have to divide things by look and feel.
With 12 you can readily divide by 6, 4, 3 and 2. Also if you look at the old measurements a lot are based on how much you need or can readily carry, etc.

One thing I always liked is a bushel of grain is pretty close to one person/month of food, which makes perfect sense...and how an acre is about how much land you can plow in a day with an ox.

In game terms, for me, those kinds of things are for flavor. I don't care about weights under 0.5 kg or a pound, nor about being precise on distance. Distance measures are only "precise" to within about 10% let's say.
 

AsenRG

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Decimal measures rock in a digital and mathematical world,
So, like ours, and how hi-tech SF is likely to be. That's exactly the point:thumbsup:.

but measures based on 12 rock when you have to divide things by look and feel.
With 12 you can readily divide by 6, 4, 3 and 2. Also if you look at the old measurements a lot are based on how much you need or can readily carry, etc.
Sure, all systems have their advantages and disadvantages. But simple fractions solve that issue nicely within the decimal measures.

One thing I always liked is a bushel of grain is pretty close to one person/month of food, which makes perfect sense...and how an acre is about how much land you can plow in a day with an ox.
Yup. Makes total sense.
In game terms, for me, those kinds of things are for flavor. I don't care about weights under 0.5 kg or a pound, nor about being precise on distance. Distance measures are only "precise" to within about 10% let's say.
Sure, that's about all that you need in a game.
In fact, what's the most relevant distance measure for an adventure-focused game? Long/middle/close distance. Those can be covered by range zones just fine and actually much more immersively (for me:tongue:).
 

xanther

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Such a relief to know that I'm not the only one. But why low popularity of weight measures? Are scales uncommon in US kitchens?
Yah scales are fairly uncommon but the glass Pyrex brand measuring cup is the most common kitchen item I understand.

Most of the time it doesn't matter unless you are baking. Those I know who bake professionally (especially vegan based) are very precise.

I could be more precise of course, was bench analytical chemist for a time where you calibrated your glassware and took into account the buoyancy of air when weighing something. To brag, I always got an A+ in organic chem lab...now on the other parts not so much.
 

xanther

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....

Sure, that's about all that you need in a game.
In fact, what's the most relevant distance measure for an adventure-focused game? Long/middle/close distance. Those can be covered by range zones just fine and actually much more immersively (for me:tongue:).
My preferred game measure is one where the units align with the values of Strength for example. For example, if you have a Strength of 10 you can carry a weight of "10", then give some general guidance what "10" means in real world units for design/GM purposes.
 

AsenRG

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My preferred game measure is one where the units align with the values of Strength for example. For example, if you have a Strength of 10 you can carry a weight of "10", then give some general guidance what "10" means in real world units for design/GM purposes.
Alas, not many games use this:thumbsup:.
 

ffilz

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It's because 1 yard =1 meter is off by 10% and 1 kg = 2 lbs is off by 12% :smile:
More likely, your typical distances indoors are on the order of single digit yards but with weight it's often in the tens of kg.

Being a scientist for a long time have no trouble converting between the two, or temperature either.

My trick on distance is 1.5 m = 5 feet to a very good approximation;
on weight use 1kg = 2.25 lbs, which is also very, very close....much closer than I bother to "weigh" things in my game anyway.
Yea, I've used 3 m = 10 feet forever (but somehow didn't connect that Traveller's 1.5 m squares were 5 foot squares until recently... :-) )

One thing for me is that distance measurements sort of feel more abstract. The 1 m or 1 yard hex (or 2m/2yd) is just an abstraction. Weight (mass) on the other hand somehow feels less abstract.
 

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Everyone's still going the wrong way :smile:

It's a lot easier to multiply by 2.25 in your head, then it is to divide things by 2.25 without external assistance.
 
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sharps54

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Yea, I've used 3 m = 10 feet forever (but somehow didn't connect that Traveller's 1.5 m squares were 5 foot squares until recently... :-) )

One thing for me is that distance measurements sort of feel more abstract. The 1 m or 1 yard hex (or 2m/2yd) is just an abstraction. Weight (mass) on the other hand somehow feels less abstract.
Just think of weigh in stones, that helps make it abstract for me :thumbsup:
 

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Yea, I've used 3 m = 10 feet forever (but somehow didn't connect that Traveller's 1.5 m squares were 5 foot squares until recently... :-) )

One thing for me is that distance measurements sort of feel more abstract. The 1 m or 1 yard hex (or 2m/2yd) is just an abstraction. Weight (mass) on the other hand somehow feels less abstract.
Same here and I've been mulling this over for a couple of days trying to figure out why that is. I think the thing is, is that distance can be abstract, or at least relative; distances are just as likely to be measured in units of time as they are lineal measures. So a mile to a tortoise vs. a car are 2 very different things, but a meter or a yard are almost identical to two combatants closing on each other in a RPG combat in terms of the time needed to close distance. Mass on the other hand is absolute and only gets hard to conceptualize when you start to discuss truly massive amounts of mass (hundreds of ton(ne)s or more).
 

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For me 'Crunch' can mean several things. Examples are from my own personal experience. Your mileage may vary.

1) (the most obvious) the rules are hard to understand. No matter how many times you read it, you are better off playing the game with someone versed in the rules to show you how they work and why. Left to your own devices chances are you toss the book on a pile to sell or say 'fook it, I'll wait till my IQ is 20 points higher'. These games quite often need a calculator to run. Maybe the game is broken and won't run without serious house ruling - so much so that it becomes it's own thing. Another issue might be trying to shoehorn System X into genre Y. Some systems just don't fit.
Example: Traveller 2300AD combat rules or Shadowrun 1e Hacking rules.

2) The rules are easy enough to pick up but have been described poorly in the book
, causing you to headscratch and go back over it or ask others. Maybe it's a layout problem or there are just too many goddamn charts. You'll get there in the end, but it feels like you poured a bag of nuts and bolts into your mouth to chew on whilst you do it. A lot of games suffer from this.
Example: Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls missile combat rules. Rolemaster 1e, Marvel Universe RPG (the diceless one)

3)
The book is hard to read. It's a mess or the font is too small. This makes the rules - regardless of crunch - nigh on impenetrable. You'd have to have a lot of time on your hands/patience/literally nothing else better to do than to slog through this or make sense of it. The game might be easy enough to play once you do but you'll probably never know because life is too short. Maybe it's a language barrier. Maybe there are better things to do than waste time on this because you know it will be the hardest of sells to a group.
Example: Spacemaster 1e (what a mess), Chivalry & Sorcery 1e (how small?), Superhero 2044 (first supers game and had some gems of good ideas but mostly unplayable), Chimaera (probably the worst Supers game I own. I can't tell what language the author regards as their first but pretty sure it isn't English).
 

Sharrow

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My trick on distance is 1.5 m = 5 feet to a very good approximation;
This is a very useful one to me because D&D 3.x, etc. use 5' squares, and Traveller (well, Classic and Mega, anyway) used 1.5m squares. Now if only GDW hadn't gone with 2m squares for all their Twilight: 2000 maps and floorplans (they did quite a lot of floorplans in their stuff, which was a very helpful play aid, IMO).
 

Sharrow

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No problems, man. If it wasn't for nitpicking, the Pub's favourite sport, we could have just waited for you to confirm or deny...:grin:
Also, thank you for clarifying. BTW, the real reason I remember your gallon is probably because I found it logical that if you're not using a decimal measure, you'd use a measure that divides into a number that's itself a power of two (128=2^7)! Makes it much simpler to get a half (or quarter) of anything.
I'd be all for the US gallon if they'd made sure the fluid ounce remained the same size as 1 oz. of water by weight. Because they didn't, it's just a pain because it's got an annoying conversion of weight of water to volume (yes, this is something that I care about, if/when I'm being nitpicky about measuring systems). On the other hand, it does make a US quart fairly close (0.946, call it ~95%) to a Litre in volume.
 

Sharrow

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For me 'Crunch' can mean several things. Examples are from my own personal experience. Your mileage may vary.

1) (the most obvious) the rules are hard to understand. No matter how many times you read it, you are better off playing the game with someone versed in the rules to show you how they work and why. Left to your own devices chances are you toss the book on a pile to sell or say 'fook it, I'll wait till my IQ is 20 points higher'. These games quite often need a calculator to run. Maybe the game is broken and won't run without serious house ruling - so much so that it becomes it's own thing. Another issue might be trying to shoehorn System X into genre Y. Some systems just don't fit.
Example: Traveller 2300AD combat rules or Shadowrun 1e Hacking rules.
My mileage on 2300AD definitely varies - I thought it's combat was simple (OTOH, I was probably comparing it to something like Aftermath! at the time). I agree with you on the Shadowrun hacking rules, though - they were over-complicated.

3) The book is hard to read. It's a mess or the font is too small. This makes the rules - regardless of crunch - nigh on impenetrable. You'd have to have a lot of time on your hands/patience/literally nothing else better to do than to slog through this or make sense of it. The game might be easy enough to play once you do but you'll probably never know because life is too short. Maybe it's a language barrier. Maybe there are better things to do than waste time on this because you know it will be the hardest of sells to a group.
Example: Spacemaster 1e (what a mess), Chivalry & Sorcery 1e (how small?)
No argument about these. The wierd thing about SM 1e was that while Rolemaster wasn't an amzingly well written game, it was reasonably sensibly organised and laid out. So how did SM, written and published by the same people, using the same core system, come out so bad?
 
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